How a local Latinx makeup artist is transforming music into makeup

Story and gallery by KILEE THOMAS

Just like her bio says on her Twitter profile, Madeline Maldonado is a “local Starbucks barista with bold eye looks.” Maldonado is a Latinx makeup artist and beauty guru from West Jordan, Utah, who is gaining tremendous notoriety and recognition in the online beauty community. Her popularity comes from her creative, bold and artistic makeup looks that are often inspired by her favorite bands, their album covers and merchandise.

“I get inspiration from a bunch of different things, but I think the main thing is music. Just like drawing, you can listen to a song and draw what you’re feeling. It’s the same thing with makeup,” Maldonado said.

Maldonado said music launched her makeup career in September 2018 when she posted a makeup look on Twitter that was inspired by one of the Meet You There Tour posters from Australian band, 5 Seconds of Summer. The band’s lead guitarist, Michael Clifford, retweeted her look and provided Maldonado with a platform and the numbers to gain some major online recognition. As of today, this post has over 18,000 likes.

She approaches her looks like a painter approaches a canvas. Maldonado said the looks can take up to four hours, depending on the amount of detail and how much surface area on her face she is planning to cover with makeup.

Her looks are no small endeavor and makeup rookies should be forewarned. One look can be completed with the use of only one eye shadow palette, while other looks require four or five palettes, she said.

As a member of the Hispanic community, Maldonado said she believes her ethnicity will give her a leg up in the beauty industry. “My culture gives me an advantage. I feel that being a Latina helps inspire a wide range of culturally diverse individuals. It helps me connect with creators from all around the world and as I create a platform for myself, I aspire to spread cultural awareness through my message and my art,” she said.

She said she believes the makeup industry is growing in terms of diversity, but there’s still a lot of room to go. “All different types of people do makeup now, but the first makeup artist I started watching was Jaclyn Hill (one of the leading makeup personalities on YouTube). Because she had blue eyes, so many colors complemented them and it made me hate my dark brown eyes because the makeup didn’t make my eyes pop like hers did,” Maldonado said.

“My plan is to begin a YouTube channel where I am able to explicitly teach and inspire others. My hope is to create a diverse community where people can express their feelings, creativity and spread positivity,” Maldonado said.

According to Forbes, “It’s never been a better time to be a beauty entrepreneur.” And for good reason. The beauty industry is one of the largest markets in the sales industry, which is why it’s the perfect place for “women to self-start their way to big-time success,” according to Forbes.

Statista reports that in 2016, the cosmetics industry in the United States generated more than $62.46 billion and that videos on YouTube containing beauty-related content were viewed more than 169 billion times in 2018.

Maldonado said she believes YouTube and social media are the future of makeup. “You definitely need to have a large social following to get started. I think I could do makeup for a long time and not get a big response or recognition until someone with millions of followers notices me. That’s what sucks about the way the beauty industry is going. It’s not just about talent,” she said.

Anyone who takes a quick glance at her Instagram feed, which is jam packed with colorful makeup looks that resemble art more than they do makeup, could tell you that she has a gift. But, it wasn’t always this way, Maldonado said.

Maldonado said she has always been artistic. She danced her whole life, loved her painting and drawing classes in high school, but she didn’t have any idea that makeup would end up being her creative outlet.

She credits her older sister, Marisa Barber, for being the source of inspiration to get her started in makeup. “I had zero clue what I wanted to do after high school. I was a little lost until one day I was going through my sister’s makeup and took interest,” Maldonado said.

Barber is proud of her little sister’s accomplishments and said she believes she has the skill to be a successful social media influencer. “There is a huge platform set for these aspiring makeup artists and I feel that all Maddie needs to do to make it big is the right equipment. She definitely has the talent and personality to be entertaining,” Barber said in a text.

Until Maldonado creates her YouTube channel, she does recreational and experimental makeup looks for her close friends and family. Whether it be for senior pictures, portraits or her personal favorite, Halloween, she “creates a story with meaning behind it. The masterpieces she paints on faces are beautiful,” Barber said in a text.

Maldonado’s older sister is one of the people she feels comfortable experimenting her beauty looks on. Barber said she feels that her sister is always professional when she is sitting in her makeup chair. “She always makes sure that I am happy with my look by constantly checking throughout the process how I am feeling and self-assessing her work,” she said.

Barber appreciates how open Maldonado is to new ideas and collaboration when it comes to her clients, but thinks letting Maldonado work her magic without outside input generates the best results. “For me, I like having her work freely on my face. She gets in a zen type of state and the work she produces is magical,” Barber said.

Leigh Ventura, a previous makeup client of Maldonado’s, said she is in awe of how Maldonado takes a piece of art to new levels. “Most people, like myself, would just see the album cover and try to use the shades of the colors to create a look, but she does more than that. She thinks outside of the box and I think she actually goes into character. I’m a big fan of her work, huge,” Ventura said in a text.

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Maldonado was inspired to create this look after watching 5 Seconds of Summer’s Valentine music video. Photo courtesy of Madeline Maldonado.

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Maldonado created this makeup look based on the band BTS’ “Love Yourself: Answer” album cover. Photo courtesy of Madeline Maldonado.

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 Maldonado spent five hours creating this floral makeup look based on Shawn Mendes’ self-titled album. Photo courtesy of Madeline Maldonado.

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Maldonado spent four hours creating this look. The look was inspired by 5 Seconds of Summer’s Meet You There Tour Live album cover. Photo courtesy of Madeline Maldonado. 

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 Maldonado created this makeup look based on the Meet You There Tour Poster. Photo courtesy of Madeline Maldonado. 

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The products used to create Maldonado’s Shawn Mendes self-titled album makeup look, sprawled out across her vanity.

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Maldonado created this stormy eye look after listening to Forever Rain, written by RM of BTS. Photo courtesy of Madeline Maldonado.