Jadyn Ngo, makeup artist has worked with celebrities Arden Cho, Louise Roe, Clare Grant, Kofi Siriboe, and Lexi Atkins. Jadyn sat down with Blend This Trend to share her philosophy on inspiration, her secret to flawless skin and her latest approach to creation. Read on to learn why Ngo is anything but your typical artist.
I met Jadyn on set in 2014 while working with my dear friend and photographer, Jenn Collins. In between clouds of hot pink powder we bonded over all things ranging from makeup to dim sum.
Recently we celebrated our reunion on the set of a commercial for Airbnb, where I had the pleasure of catching up with Jadyn on her latest endeavors. It was exciting and inspiring, to say the least!
From the life-changing events that lead to her brave decision to leave her career in animation to the subtle details that mark her mastery as one of the best makeup artists in Los Angeles, Ngo’s career has been nothing short of an inspirational tale about following your dreams.
What early experiences inspired your interest in hair and makeup?
When I was younger, I remember going to the mall and seeing these beautiful beauty and fashion campaign ads and thought they were magical. I didn’t understand that world yet, but I remembered thinking, “I wish I can create that!” I didn’t start playing with makeup until I was in college, and got into doing bridal for a bit.
What was the catalyst for making the “big leap” to doing makeup full-time?
Since I was 4-years old, I was always fascinated with hair. I didn’t know that I wanted to be a hairstylist, but I had this weird thing where I had to braid every person’s hair that I saw. Growing up in an Asian family, that’s not something you think about. You’re going to grow up to be a lawyer or doctor, you know? That’s engrained in your mind.
As I graduated high school and went on to college I never knew what I wanted to study. I knew I enjoyed drawing since I was little and I loved animation and comic books. When I saw Finding Nemo I decided I was going to get into animation and that it was going to be my career. Yet it never felt right, like I was missing something.
I wasn’t loving animation since I felt like a fraud thinking, I don’t see a future in doing this. In a way, I felt like I was picking up someone else’s dream because in animation I didn’t have that drive. So I said, “I can’t keep lying to myself.” There’s a part of you that wants to prove to your parents that you chose the arts and now you feel like a loser, and I think that’s honestly why I stayed in animation for so long…much longer than I wanted to. I didn’t want my parents to see me as a failure. It was at least two to three years of going back-and-forth between deciding whether I should pursue makeup.
How would you describe your signature look and what is it about your style that sets you apart from other makeup artists?
I’m almost afraid to say I have a signature because I feel like I am constantly learning. I am constantly experimenting. I will say that I take pride in skin work – skin is something I really spend time on. I want the model to look like she is wearing as little foundation as possible by giving her that flawless look.
Going into a job, that is what I want to achieve – to make them look as effortless as possible. That’s how I would want to wear my makeup, I wouldn’t want for it to be noticeable. It’s always easier to pile on lots of makeup and call it a day, but it’s just knowing when to stop and knowing when it’s enough. Just letting the face breathe. I also like a little pop of a bright lip or a smokey eye, just to add some contrast.
What is your secret to creating a “flawless” finish?
It’s a combination of knowing which product to use and also the technique that works for you. Every makeup artist works differently. If you want natural skin, you wouldn’t pile cream foundation onto the entire face. It’s all about building. Start out with a little, then observe and see what you need. You can always add on.
What is your approach to preparing for a job?
Even though you know what you’re going into, you don’t really know exactly how you’re going to execute the look. I do research, but I try not to over-research because I don’t want to end up duplicating what I’ve been admiring for the last few weeks.
You have to think outside of the box but at the same time be flexible. Be on your toes and be open to change because you may have a look that you really want to do, but if it doesn’t work, you can’t do it. You have to let it go, not get attached and be willing to wipe it off and start over.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I love to look at people’s work on Instagram because it’s a place where I get to see beautiful work of people from different parts of the world. Sometimes it can be just a test shoot but it is so amazing! There’s always something that inspires me and makes me want to experiment.
During my last shoot I didn’t want to keep repeating the same thing: the glossy lid or crazy smokey eye. I didn’t want to do what I already knew how to do, so instead I went to Michael’s and walked around the store. While I was there, something caught my eye and I ended up using it for one of the looks. I would have never thought of it if I had just stayed at home. Sometimes you have to go out and just walk around, not expecting anything just let it come to you.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome during your career as a makeup artist?
Growing up I was very shy. It had never been easy for me to put myself out there and meet new people; let alone reaching out to people that I look up to or wish to work with. But once I worked up the courage to do so, it opens so many doors and opportunities. I get to work with super amazing and talented people who I now get to call friends or even considered as family. I would have missed out on so many fun experiences and special moments with them if I had stayed in my comfort zone. It’s amazing how it can lead you to a very beautiful place.
You don’t know what’s going to happen – that uncertainty of whether you’re going to find that next job or not, you just don’t know where you’re going to end up. At the same time, it’s exciting! Sometimes we forget to celebrate these small achievements in our paths, but they make you appreciate things more. When you work with wonderful people, you appreciate it so much more because…oh honey, it could be so much worse! It makes you always come prepared.
Where do you see yourself this time next year? Any artists you look forward to working with? Or any cities you’ve been itching to travel to?
I want to work a bit in editorial, commercial, beauty and fashion campaigns. I would love to work in Japan. I mean, it’s a country that’s so well-beloved. I’ve always wanted to go there, but if I could go there for a job it would be even more amazing. My dream is to work with Hung Vanngo. He’s my unicorn – I love him! And of course, Pat McGrath the Legend.
Information and images provided courtesy of Jadyn Ngo at http://www.jadynngo.com
Follow Jadyn on Instagram @jadynngo as she embarks on her exciting journey, you won’t be disappointed!
Looking for more inspiration?
Learn how to re-create this cat-eye look (plus two more!) by Jadyn on Beautylish!