Being the Best Bollywood Makeup Artist | Sandhya Shekar

The makeup and beauty industry is booming in India and across the world.

A good portion of that has to be thanks to a few different factors as it relates to the Indian makeup industry:

  • YouTube
  • Bollywood
  • Indian Weddings and Bridal Makeup
  • Hollywood and Indian Actors
  • Diverse looks across the globe
  • Fashion and beauty bloggers

I recently sat down with my buddy Sandhya Shekar to talk makeup, being one of Deepika Padukone’s favorite makeup artists and traveling the world learning makeup from the world’s best.

Who is Sandhya Shekar?

If you follow Bollywood celebrities, Instagram fashion bloggers or the makeup and cosmetics industry India..the real question is Who Isn’t Sandhya Shekar?

She’s from Mangalore, got started doing makeup for small shoots after working in the media industry and then hustled her way to the top.

We talked on the Birdy Num Num podcast about the makeup industry, upping your skills and how to be a makeup artist in India and beyond.

1. How Did You Start Doing Makeup in India?

Sandhya: I was working at Yes Bank and got bored with that. So I asked some of my friends who were in styling and fashion about it, and just thought let me take some courses.

My goal wasn’t even to work with many stars, it was just to pay the rent and see if I can make this a viable career option and do a few bridal shoots.

Then I went to a one month course in Mumbai and did another course at the London School of Beauty, and came back to Mumbai and started assisting other makeup artists.

Then after 8 months of assisting, in 2005, I got my first gig with MTV.

2. What should people know about having a career in the makeup industry?

Sandhya: I think with our job you have to keep studying, all the time. Just like a programmer has to be up to date on all the technologies, so do we have to stay on top of the latest styles and trends.

For example, I used to do one look that required six different tools. Now years later it only requires 3. As you progress you then are rated based on how efficient you can output quality work and being to update is how you get there.

So even though I’ve been at this for like 15 years now, I still go take a 3-5 day masterclass if I see anything is happening in Mumbai or elsewhere with folks I respect.

3. How did You Convince Your Parents?

Sandhya: I left Yes Bank over a 3 month notice period, then I came home for a few months before heading to London.

They thought I would get into the Bollywood machine and get “corrupted” or “exploited” but in all honesty that’s not been my experience at all.

4. What is Contouring?

Sandhya: (laughs) It’s when the light falls on your face in a flattering way.

5. Were you always into beauty as a profession?

Sandhya: Yes I think so. I used to stain my lips and cheeks with beetroot and other things since my mom wouldn’t let me use her makeup. I kind of got into all of that at an early age.

6. You were at the Met Gala with Deepika Padukone’s team as one of her makeup artists. How was that?

Sandhya: Honestly it was such a fun experience. We had our schedules, we got briefed properly on her outfits and her changes and it was just so exciting to be a part of. Bollywood and Hollywood are both great so it was nice to see two sides to that coin.

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The full one-hour interview links are below, but the major lesson I think we can all take away from the beauty and makeup industry is that like with anything, complacency can ruin your career.

Sandhya started her journey in 2005, but a lot of people look at her now or her 70,000 Instagram followers and think wow she’s so great and so popular.

But with anything in life, the highlight reel is far from the reality of the behind the scenes, and quite literally Sandhya earns her showreel behind the scenes.

Questions for her? She’s reading this blog and agreed to answer questions if you comment below.

Let me know if this helped you or any comments?