Amanda Shackleton, of Sayulita Bridal Beauty, has over 20 years experience in the fashion industry as a hair & makeup artist. After having lived and worked all over the world, she recently decided it was time to slow down her pace of life, and after a visit to Sayulita, she immediately thought, “this is the place.” She started looking for a house, and just last month, bought Casa Amanecer, which is also a vacation rental.
How did your passion for hair and makeup develop?
Well, it was actually a fluke. My dad is an artist, a painter, and his work studio was attached to the house when I was growing up in New Jersey. I spent a lot of time there and would paint some, but I never considered myself an artist or a creative person (until I started doing hair /makeup). After high school, I went to college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, thinking I would go into a 9-5 career, but after 2 years I still didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living. I didn’t realize it then, but all my friends would end up in my dorm room asking me to help them get ready and borrow from my wardrobe. I always loved fashion, but never thought of it as a career path. It was actually my parents who said I should take a year off and think about a more artistic career. My parents, both Brits, decided to move back to the UK, so I went to London to give myself a year off, which was very eye opening for me. Here I was in this big, international city, living with eight hairdressers who were from all over the world. This is where my interest in hair and makeup began.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I was walking down a street in London and saw a big makeup school that had glamorous photos hung up that had been taken on-set, with big, bright lights, etc., and I thought, “this is what I want to do.” So, I enrolled in the yearlong program, and learned how to do all kinds of makeup, from theatrical to horror tv & film to making mustaches to special effects. I also learned everything about hairstyling. However, once I graduated, that’s when the real work began. In this super competitive industry, you have to start out this itty, bitty person, doing anything you can. You work for free for years to make a name for yourself, and networking back then isn’t what it is today. We didn’t have social media, cell phones, or beepers. All we had were landlines, and I’d call photographers, take my portfolio to them, and maybe get called for a test shoot or unpaid work to see if they liked my work.
When I moved back to the states (Chicago), I had to start all over again. Being a more moderate city than London, my portfolio was a little wild and crazy for the taste of Chicagoans, who wanted to see a more conservative makeup & hair style. It was in Chicago that I got my first “real” client, Playboy Magazine. The makeup artist didn’t show up for the shoot and I got an 8 am call from a photographer’s assistant friend of mine. I was out the door and on set in no time. Thats how I got my first break, it was the turning point in my career. I started working for Playboy three days a week, quit my waitressing job, and could finally pay my bills doing just hair & makeup.
After a few years in Chicago, I was ready for NYC. This was the city to be if I was going to fulfill my dreams and I went not knowing one single person. Eventually, after a lot of hard work, tears, and rejection, I got my first agent. Slowly my career took off. I started with smaller magazines, like Seventeen, Good Housekeeping, and Soap Opera Weekly. And then within a year or two, I was working all the time and traveling a lot. The jobs kept getting bigger and bigger as I met more people, until one day I finally got the call every make up & hairstylist dreams of. I was booked with two of my favorite supermodels for Vogue.
How would you describe your style of work at Sayulita Bridal Beauty by Amanda Shackleton?
I’m definitely not a heavy-handed makeup artist. I don’t try to make people look like someone they aren’t, unless it is part of the assignment. For real people, meaning people who are getting married or want to look their best, my style is natural and sexy, a little sultry. I like to concentrate on people’s eyes and play them up, and keep everything else pretty natural looking. I do refine some of the features a little bit, but try to make the makeup look undetectable. You also need to understand color theory, face, eye shapes, and skin texture to achieve your goal. It’s important to be able to work on all skin tones, ages, and ethnicities.
In any artistic field, it’s the same basic principles, but with makeup, the skin is your canvas. A good makeup artist knows how and when to hold back, and uses certain products that the general public may not know about. It’s not about how much makeup you put on a face, but the techniques and tricks you use to to achieve your goal of a beautiful polished look. Every day I see untrained makeup artists who don't understand these theories. In the age of You Tube trained makeup artists, there’s a lot of misinformation and bad advice out there. With the onset of HD cameras, these theories really come into play. HD cameras pick up everything, so the saying “You need a lot more makeup because you are being photographed,” is no longer true.
You’ve worked in major cities around the world. Will you share more about this?
I worked in Italy off and one for three years, and had an agency there. I basically went wherever they sent me, and did all the big fashion shows, Valentino, Armani, Versace, etc., as well as catalogues, advertising, and magazines. I also would go work somewhere warm in the winters, picking areas that were considered fashion hubs. I spent winters in South Africa, Miami, and Australia because it was warm and clients would shoot their summer clothes there. I also had agencies in Germany and Holland so I would work there or they would book me on jobs with crews shooting in the US, the Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. That’s how I got to know Mexico and always knew I would end up here eventually.
You’ve also had many celebrity clients. I’d love to hear more.
I lived bicoastal about three years. New York has basically always been my home, but I only lived there about half of the year. When I started working between New York and Los Angeles, I ended up with a really wonderful agent in LA. This is when I started working with a lot of big celebrities. Some of them were so nice and some were not so nice, and I had to be intuitive as to if they wanted to talk or not. I worked Harrison Ford for a week promoting one of his movies. Everywhere we went we were swarmed with people. It was so much fun going to all the different tv shows. I’ve also worked with Martha Stewart on many of her projects, Sarah Michelle Geller was a long time client, and Pierce Brosnin, such a gentleman and handsome! I also currently have an agent in Nashville and work with some of the big country stars. It’s a different world to what I know in fashion, but it’s always upbeat and people are so nice in the South.
With the heat and humidity in Sayulita, how does makeup application differ from the colder climates in which you’ve also worked?
It’s important with the heat that the makeup doesn’t come off. Here, airbrush makeup works well. It’s meant for long wear and won’t melt off. So, first I fix any areas that need attention, and then I airbrush on top of it. With the two layers of makeup, it stays longer. And airbrush makeup looks really good, very natural. Also, waterproof mascara is super important, and putting powder on top of makeup sets it, and helps it to stay on. A little spray of makeup set after that and the makeup holds really well.
For hair, you need to be careful. A lot of brides want to wear their hair down, which isn’t a great idea in the super humid months or on the beach if it’s windy. I like hairstyles that are swept back loosely and undone looking. We always find a happy medium in between, or I suggest wearing it up for the ceremony and then pull it down for the reception.
What is it about Sayulita that made you want to open your business, Sayulita Bridal Beauty by Amanda Shackleton, here?
Well, I knew I wanted to slow down my pace of life, and find a better work / life balance, and Sayulita seemed the perfect place to do this. I also think think that brides who come to Sayulita, particularly from the States and Europe, have a certain style of makeup they see themselves wearing. I think they want to have someone who knows what they want and that’s when my fashion background comes in. It’s about pleasing the client and not just doing what I want, and also finding a great balance between keeping the hair and makeup looking good in person, as well as in pictures. I thought it would be helpful to offer a style of makeup that maybe isn’t around, or be another option for people.
For what type of occasions and events do you offer your services in Sayulita?
Really any special occasion that people want to look pretty for, not just weddings. I also hope to do some fashion work here. There are so many clients I know who would love to shoot here because of the beautiful scenery and many locations Sayulita has to offer.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m really excited for this change and to be a part of the Sayulita community. Starting over again is something I haven’t done in awhile, but everyone I meet is super helpful. Having a smaller more personalized community is important to me after years of living in a city.
For shimmery eye tips from Amanda, click here.
To learn more about how Amanda became a successful Makeup Artist and Hairdresser, click here.