Chelsea Leigh spent the last three years of her life studying French at Concordia University in Montréal, but she’s now living in New York City and working as a makeup artist. She says she’s the sort of girl who never wore makeup in high school until she discovered Sephora… and the rest was history. She went looking for a product to cover her acne prone skin and walked out with newfound confidence. Here are the best makeup tips from a professional makeup artist, plus her advice for girls who dream of having a career where shopping at Sephora is part of your job.

How did you get into doing makeup?

I can’t really say I was one of those girls who was obsessed with makeup at an early age. In fact I was a bit of a tomboy! I cringe looking back at my lack of makeup skills in high school, and I don’t think it was until a visit to Sephora in my first year of university that I could see how makeup changed my confidence. I went in search of something that could cover up my acne (which was particularly bad at the time), and I walked out with a product that not only covered up my acne but gave me confidence I never expected. (In case you’re wondering, the product was the Kat Von D Lock It Concealer.) From then on I could see how makeup can change the way you feel, and I began to experiment more. Then I became a full on addict.

Chelsea Leigh MUA

What advice would you give to aspiring makeup artists?

I would say just dive right in. I toyed with the idea of becoming a makeup artist for years but I never felt like I could actually do it until I was “ready” skill-wise. I started out practicing on friends and took a few photos that I then put on Model Mayhem, which is a fabulous networking site for models, photographers, and artists, and from there I booked quite a few (unpaid) shoots which helped me build a network and portfolio. I also did makeup for a lot of test shoots with various modeling agencies which allowed me to build experience and network further. I also would advise aspiring makeup artists to email a few MUA’s in their local area asking if they need assistance… even for free! It’s the best way to gain experience and start out in the industry.

What is your favourite part about your job?

My favorite part of the job is definitely interacting with the models, photographers, stylists and clients I get to work with. I have made so many friends over the years, and there’s nothing better than when a client asks me back to do makeup for them again!

What has been the craziest experience you’ve had as a makeup artist?

I recently did a wedding that was truly unique in that the couple hired three makeup artists to do makeup for not just the bridal party but also about 45 or so of their guests! The other artists and I had about four hours before the ceremony to make everyone look beautiful, and then I stayed on to touch up the guests during the reception. I must have done about 30 or more people by the end of the day. It was a workout!

Chelsea Leigh MUA

What are your favourite fall/winter beauty trends?

I love berry coloured lipstick for the fall, and reds for the winter. Hardly revolutionary, I know, but it will always be a trend for me! For berry shades I recommend MAC Rebel or Rimmel Kate Moss Lipstick in 107, and for reds I recommend MAC Ruby Woo & Russian Red.

What is your favourite trick as a professional makeup artist?

My favorite trick is definitely using the Beauty Blender. It makes everything look flawless! If I find I applied too thick of a coat of foundation, blush, bronzer, anything, you can just blend it away with the Beauty Blender and you get a flawless finish every time. The original brand really is the best, but there are plenty of good dupes you can find at Ulta or the drugstore if you’re on a budget!

What products should no girl ever leave home without?

Mascara 100%. Every girl looks better with mascara! Also, lip balm — there’s nothing worse than chapped lips!

What is your morning makeup routine?

I usually go for a more natural look during the day, so I focus more on evening out my skin tone with foundation. I’ll then apply a bit of bronzer to the cheeks and forehead, as well as the crease of the eyelids to add a bit of warmth. Then of course mascara and maybe a nice cat flick eyeliner. The nice thing about keeping the eyes neutral is you can definitely pair it easily with a bold lip or a nice nude. Right now I’m loving Mac Brave lipstick paired with Soar lipliner – it gives you that perfect Kylie Jenner lip color!

Chelsea Leigh MUA

What advice do you have for girls who want clearer and fresher looking skin?

My advice would definitely be to cleanse your skin every night and wash all that makeup off! If you struggle with acne like I do, I’ve found that keeping my skin very hydrated helps a lot. That means drinking a lot of water and also using great moisturizers in the day and night. I love the brands Amie and CeraVe because they’re great for sensitive skin.

How do you match your beauty look with what you’re wearing?

I don’t like when things are too matchy matchy (ie. pairing green eyeshadow while wearing a green sweater), so I would always say when in doubt, keep it fresh and neutral. If you’re wearing darker colors like black and navy, you definitely can get away with more of a dramatic smokey eye, and if you’re wearing light whites and greys, keep the makeup more on the neutral side. Just have fun with your makeup and don’t take it too seriously!

Visit Chelsea’s website and Instagram for more tips!