Makeup & nails
A Q&A With Canadian Makeup Artist Julia Dantas
From Greenbank to Glam Masters, small-town girl Julia Dantas is taking the makeup business to new heights.
by : ELLE Canada- Oct 25th, 2021
Courtesy of Julia Dantas
Born and raised in Greenbank, Ont., Julia Dantas never expected to make it big, but her ever-growing passion for all things beauty–one that she developed at a young age–has taken her from rural Canada to the semi-finals of Kim Kardashian’s TV sensation beauty competition Glam Masters. And within just a few years, Dantas became a makeup ambassador for Burberry beauty, worked with Lizzo, created a series of online masterclasses and workshops and even published her makeup manual, The Biz Behind the Beauty. We caught up with the beauty-preneur to learn more about what ignited her passion for makeup, what it was like meeting Kim K., her most important beauty commandments, and to get her ultimate Zoom makeup tip.
How did you discover a passion for makeup?
“I’ve wanted to be a makeup artist ever since I was five years old. Growing up, my mom was always in the spotlight—she was an author, a motivational speaker and a personal trainer who was on TV quite a lot. She would often get her makeup done or do her own and I always thought it was so inspiring to see how makeup can really transform you. Sitting with her in the makeup room was always such a special time for me. Aside from that, I’ve always been interested in business. My mom has her own coaching school and is very business-savvy so that’s obviously carved a path for me.”
What is your definition of beauty, and where does makeup fit in?
“To me, beauty is just an amazing amount of confident energy. You know when you meet somebody for the first time and think to yourself ‘that person is so beautiful’, almost as if they have this radiating energy of positivity and confidence. I think the place where makeup fits in, is not in the “oh they just put makeup on and they look more beautiful”, but it’s the way someone can put makeup on and step into this confidence and can do anything they put their mind to. I feel like beauty is just your own energy and confidence, and it’s not about a person being more beautiful than another, it’s about their aura, their chi.”
During your high school years, you’ve had to overcome major challenges. Can you talk about what those were and how they turned out to be catalysts for your success?
“When I was in high school, my appendix ruptured and it was a really scary time. There were nine drainage tubes in my stomach, and I was on life support for several weeks. I had an IV in my neck that damaged the vein going into my right eye and it resulted in Horner’s syndrome in my right eye. Apart from everything, I was super frail, I had lost a lot of weight, had quite a few scars, and the damaged eye prevented my pupil from dilating. That made me really self-conscious. At that point, I loved makeup but I hadn’t started playing with it. Truthfully, makeup became an impactful tool for me around that time (grade 9). It wasn’t something I used to look pretty, it was a tool I used to almost create these optical illusions in which I was able to make one eye look smaller, make the other one look a bit bigger, and make my cheeks look plump since I was so frail. It was such a powerful tool in helping me regain my confidence. I realize now that that’s when I started to really love makeup. It helped me transform into this confident person. From that point on, I decided I wanted to give that confidence back to others. Even though, at the time I had thought, ‘Why is this happening to me?’, I now realize that it was something I had to go through to be able to make other people feel great about themselves. It allowed me to see makeup from a completely different perspective and understand that with makeup there are no limits.”
Tell us about the following years. You went to makeup school, graduated top of your class. How did that lead you to become a contestant on season 1 of the reality TV competition Glam Masters?
“I lived in Greenbank at the time, a small town outside of Toronto and I commuted two hours, morning and night because I couldn’t afford to live in the city. There were many other makeup schools that were closer to home, but I knew I had to go to the best. Shortly after graduating at the College of Makeup, Art & Design (CMU), somebody DM’ed me and said “Julia, you need to apply to Kim Kardashian’s new TV show.” In order to become a contestant, one of the requirements was that you needed to be an influencer and have a bulk following. I was still living in Greenbank, I was a nobody at the time, but I decided to apply, thinking ‘what are the chances, there are probably millions of applications’. I filled out this huge questionnaire, and at the bottom of the page there was a contact email, so I decided to reach out saying that I knew I didn’t have all of the requirements but that I was really good, sent a few photos of my work and said that I’d love for them to take a chance on me. They wrote back right away, thanking me and saying they’d love for me to do an audition. I was either 18 or 19 at the time and really shy. I was so anxious to fly down to do the audition, but I knew this would be a really impactful and life-changing opportunity so I pushed myself.
When I got there, there were three different groups and we were told our makeup challenge was to create a look that resembles both our ego and our alter ego in only one hour. I don’t know exactly what I was channelling but it came out really amazing. I created a theatrical cheetah on one side of the face and a soft glam look on the other side. Shortly after they called me and said they wanted me on the show.”
Can you reflect on makeup challenge that you remember vividly when shooting the show?
“One beauty challenge in particular was the graffiti challenge, which was during the semi-final episode. I did something very editorial, while still being a little bit theatrical, with really soft, clean, glass skin. I actually ended up winning the challenge and was published in Marie Claire.”
Did you get to meet Kim [Kardashian]? What’s she like in person?
“None of the contestants actually met Kim on the show, however, I did end up meeting her afterwards. The cool thing about Glam Masters was that it allowed me to become a part of all of these new circles that I never thought I would be in—specifically with different celebrity makeup artists and amazing people.
I met Kim at the Makeup by Mario masterclass and she is just so stunning and her skin is flawlessly perfect. I have actually stayed in touch with Mario who was a judge on the show. He did my makeup for an event in Toronto and he still messages me. It’s so nice that he’s still looking out for me after our time together on the show.”
What doors did being a finalist on Glam Masters open for you?
“Almost everyone on the show was from the States, we were only three contestants from Canada. I did however receive a year-long partnership with Burberry beauty, where I was their Canadian makeup ambassador, and I travelled all over Canada doing masterclasses for them. I’ve also been creating content for CBC Life for about three years now.
I met Alexx Mayo on the show, and he’s now the celebrity makeup artist for Lizzo. We really clicked, and he’s now brought me on with him which has opened up so many doors for me. I’ve worked at some major events like the 2020 Grammys, SNL and the VMAs. Normally I’m assisting Alexx, which is still so amazing, but at the Grammy’s I did all of the backstage dancers’ makeup.”
What are your most important makeup commandments?
“It’s all about finding what works for your specific face shape and features. Especially if you’re a makeup artist, you need to know what works for certain features, different faces, and eye shapes.
The second thing would be to become comfortable with your tools. You have to figure out what you want to achieve. If you’re looking to have more plump cheeks, you focus everything on the apples of the cheeks, but if you’re looking to have a more structured, chiselled face, you’re going to focus on putting everything a little bit higher.
I also love doing monochromatic looks, they look stunning on everyone. Even if it’s just your base. I’ll do a little bit of blush on the cheeks and on the eyes, to make it look cohesive and then dust it over the whole face, and if you have a lipstick that’s similar in colour you can apply that too. It pulls together any makeup look.
The last thing is skincare. It’s a huge must. I have super dry skin so I need to exfoliate and use a good serum. Skincare is key to makeup and if you don’t have good skincare, your makeup won’t sit.”
If you could only use one makeup item for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“That’s a tricky question, but I’m a brow person. I feel like if my brows are done I’m unstoppable. I absolutely love the Glossier Brow Flick. I’m really into natural-ish makeup looks these days and really fluffy brows, so I feel like if I don’t have any makeup on other than my brows, I’m good.”
What are your go-to essentials for the perfect fall look?
The perfect fall look has to start with glowy skin, and I’ve been absolutely obsessed with Biossance products for all my skincare needs. As for makeup, I love the Makeup by Mario Master Mattes palette for a fall eyeshadow look because it has a great variety of neutral and warm tones. I recommend a brow pencil, like the Benefit Precisely my Brow, for a quick fluffy brow look, paired with the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Freeze, to hold your brows in place. For the perfect fall lip, it’s all about nudes! I love a classic nude liner paired with the Makeup by Mario lip palette (you can mix shades to create a deep or more neutral nude). Lashes are less of a focus this year, but if you really want drama without the headache, try a lash lift and tint or a lash serum to give your own lashes a “facelift”. I love the Eyeenvy serum to grow my own babies.
Any Zoom makeup Tips?
“My go-to is using Nudesticks and playing it up by applying it on multiple areas on the face. Honestly, layering is key, so if you’re using a cream product, you always want to set it with a powder, especially under bright lights, to lock everything in place.”
How did you pivot when the pandemic hit?
“My end goal—being a celebrity makeup artist—has not changed. I started educating over three years ago now and was doing in-person masterclasses and workshops. But given that we were in lockdown and I really couldn’t fly anywhere, I decided to build an online course to help people during the pandemic. The eight-week makeup course consisted of eight different makeup looks as well as weekly live business sessions on using your social media, growing your email list, building contracts, reaching out to people and all of the things people don’t really discuss but that are fundamental to any business venture. I’ve launched and had four sold-out Online Makeup Certification Masterminds. The amazing thing is that my students now get 40 percent off M.A.C. cosmetics for life. I’m now training people from Australia, the United States and Canada, it’s so amazing. I love that I can reach out to these people and help them and create this really empowering boss-babe tribe of people.”
What’s in the pipeline for 2022?
My goal is to continue providing amazing value through my online makeup manual, The Biz Behind the Beauty, for aspiring beauty entrepreneurs to learn everything they need to know in order to build a successful beauty business. I’m also continuing to teach my online Makeup Certification Mastermind, and we have so really exciting things in the works for early 2022, that we can’t share quite yet! I’m excited to finally get back to travelling and working with incredible talents and assisting major celebrity makeup artists.
Shop Julia Dantas' Top Makeup Products
Are there any active or upcoming makeup classes our readers can register for in the next few weeks/months?
“I will be launching another eight-week Makeup Certification Mastermind in late fall, and anyone who’s interested can join the waitlist here. You can become a certified makeup artist and learn all the biz strategies to launch a successful beauty company. You can also always sign up for our Beauty Society and get access to past resources, master the ‘gram, get your tech questions answered and join in on an uplifting and empowering community of beauty-preneurs. The first month is totally free to come hang out, and you can sign up here.
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