Women Who Inspire: Sophie Marcs MUA and Esthetician
“My mission is to be prepared for anything. I emphasize the notion that beauty comes in all different forms.”
“Hair and makeup” inspires visions of celebrities, glamour and special occasions, but for some it can be a daunting experience. Meet boss babe Sophie Marcs -- makeup artist, esthetician and member of the LGBTQ+ community who has turned her chair into a safe space. Based in New York City, Sophie went from women’s studies to beautician with the goal of emphasizing diversity, inclusivity and empowerment in beauty. She and her team serve “all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and gender non-binary individuals” and also offer wedding and drag makeup services.
NUDEST: How did your studies contribute to your business style?
Sophie: I studied women’s studies and went to a women’s college. My education made me more mindful of diverse representation in every aspect of our lives and that’s something I strive to incorporate into my work. Nowadays, “women’s empowerment” is used as a marketing tool. People want to say they’re all for it, but they don’t want to embrace intersectional feminism and the different identities that come with it. I think it’s important to be a leader in whatever field you’re in and for me, that means encouraging my co-workers to be open. I own a queer-friendly business and part of that is creating a space where we can share our experiences and knowledge.
It’s also important to remember that learning doesn’t end with a degree. While my background in women’s studies heavily influences my practice, it hasn’t taught me everything. When working with clients, I always need to be conscious of their needs and educate myself of what those needs are. For instance, different skin tones and ethnicities may have different beauty needs. I’ve sought out information on my own and learned a lot just from working in the field. In the end, it makes my artistry more accessible because we can work with different skin types, skin tones, hair textures, etc. My mission is to be prepared for anything. I emphasize the notion that beauty comes in all different forms.
N: When did your love for beauty start? Were you always interested in it?
S: I’ve always been interested in all things beauty. I was that little girl, playing with (and ruining) my mom’s makeup. It was another creative outlet for me and still allows me to nurture my creativity. When I was in college, I got more serious about it and started buying the right tools and just experimenting. My skin was struggling around that time, so I took an interest in skincare and makeup and sought out the best ways to work with my problem areas. It really helped my self confidence. I also had friends in film and theater who let me do their makeup for shows. It gave me some practice and helped me develop my portfolio.
N: You put makeup on other people for a living. What are your holy grail makeup products?
S: For eyeliner, I love the L’Oréal carbon black felt tip liquid liner. I also love the Hourglass Ambient Lighting blush in Mood Exposure. It’s a great neutral tone that works well on a lot of people. For the most part, I enjoy drugstore products and use them all the time. I really love the Essence Pure Nude highlighter, Wet n Wild’s Photo Focus foundation, the Ardell demi wispy lashes, Real Techniques brushes (bomb and affordable!), and Mario Badescu’s facial spray to add moisture.
N: What about skincare? Any tips?
S: Because everyone’s skin is different, I recommend going to a spa or skincare studio to get a professional opinion. People in retail stores may know their stuff, but it doesn’t compare to getting a professional opinion and products that work specification for your skin type. In my own skincare routine, I tend to use Image’s Ormedic products, Dermalogica’s Ultra Calming line of products and anything anti inflammatory to calm down the redness in my skin.
N: Advice for people who want to pursue a career in the beauty industry?
S: The industry is very broad. You can do makeup for fashion, beauty brands, bridal, TV, film. My advice would be to find which industry and work environment you like best and go from there. Then, you can figure out what you need in your kit and start asking yourself where should I live? Who do I need to meet? What kinds of events should I attend? Makeup might start as your side hustle; learn when to say no. If you’re able to, work a retail job where you get to beat faces all day everyday! That way, if an opportunity comes along you’ll be prepared because the fanciest products won’t work if you aren’t experienced.
N: What inspires you?
S: Honestly, it’s kind of cliché, but clients who feel great and give great feedback. Seeing an improvement in their skin long term, or even just knowing they feel comfortable in a safe space when maybe they hadn’t felt like that somewhere else. Bright colors and nature inspires my artistry. I also just like looking at someone’s face as weird as that sounds. I love looking at combinations of colors and textures, and when I look at someone, I see themes and a vision I want to create. Then, I just paint it on the canvas.