All That Blings is Crystal! - Celebrity Hairnista Crystal Oliver

I discovered Crystal Oliver (pictured below) on Twitter, after reading a tweet from La La Vasquez former MTV VJ and fiancée of pro basketball player Carmelo Anthony suggesting that we (fellow Twitters) should follow her hairstylist Crystal.

So of course I did, and was instantly smitten by her. Crystal’s obviously a very busy lady despite the demands of being a mom and tending to the tresses of her celebrity clientele, and hitting the books, she still finds the time to play resident hair expert to fellow Twitters, doling out advice on a variety of topics from hair weaves and relaxers to healthy hair care.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Crystal to find out what inspires her, what she feels has given her a competitive edge and why thinks education is paramount.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! How long have you been in the industry?

Crystal Oliver: I've been doing hair for almost ten years and I've been a Celebrity stylist for 5 years.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! When did you know you wanted to be a hair stylist?

CRYSTAL OLIVER: I started out at a Los Angeles Performing Arts High School as a Dance major. I became a mom at 16 years old. So to me that meant it was time to stop playing around and get serious with my future plans. What started out to be a way to express my style and make a few bucks, became a passion of mine. I've been styling hair and developing my career ever since.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! Other than a cosmetology school have you had any additional training or education that you believe has helped you to stand out amongst the sea of hair stylist?

CRYSTAL OLIVER: After school I went to Sebastian seminars, Wella cutting classes, and I shadowed Kimberly Kimble for two years. Finishing cosmetology school is like completing high school. Yes, you can get an ok job after, but your options will be limited. It's important to continue education because this industry is ever changing and growing and it will pass you by if you don't update your skills.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! Are you a freelance stylist or do you work in a salon?

CRYSTAL OLIVER: I do it all, lol. I freelance by way of referrals from friends and clients. I work at a Salon in Los Angeles, and I'm in the works of joining an Agency, which manages Hair, Wardrobe, and Make-up Artist, I'm really excited about that.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! Would you say that you have a niche, or is there anything particular that your clients or industry peers would say you're known for?

CRYSTAL OLIVER: Some people tell me I'm somewhat of a perfectionist. I tend to stress myself out by being this way, but that’s what drives me to strive for excellence.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! So you're know for your perfected coifs, nice! Crystal, when was your first big break?

CRYSTAL OLIVER: I was 20 years old when I got the opportunity to braid Janet Jackson's hair. That was a dream come true for me. Who would have thought a girl from Compton would have had the chance to meet Janet Jackson, let alone to be able to braid her hair.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! Wow that’s amazing! So, what inspires your work?

CRYSTAL OLIVER: Any time I do a job, whether it’s for a photo shoot or a client looking to spice their look up, I tear out photos from magazines for inspiration. Photo tear sheets help the stylist, client, producer or photographer to finalize the look and vision for the image we are trying to accomplish. So if at any time you see a hot photo in a magazine, tear it out, save it, and recycle the rest.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! What would you say are the biggest misconceptions about being a hairstylist, especially working with celebrities?

CRYSTAL OLIVER: One big misconception is that we are limited to doing hair of the same ethnicity. Well, to me, hair is hair. If a stylist is able to be skilled in styling one texture of hair then they can also learn to be skilled in styling every texture of hair. On a larger scale, producers and photographers need to see work that can appeal to a variety of audiences. So it’s important to show diversity in your portfolio.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! What advice do you have for the cosmetology students and the new stylists who are hoping to one day work with celebrities?

CRYSTAL OLIVER: Be patient, pay your dues, have follow through skills, be humble and keep chit-chat to minimum. Celebrity clients need to know that you can be trusted with their image as well as their personal space. It's ok to have fun and be easy going, but do as Big Mama said. " Only speak when spoken to." It sounds a little extreme, but practicing this will take you a long way. Hairstylists get a lot of perks and become popular, but never forget who the star is. If you do, then more than likely you may not get rehired. It’s best to start developing these habits with your devoted clients. Do not neglect them as they are the foundation to your of your business and they should not forgotten.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! Lastly ,before we wrap up, Crystal do you do any type of mentoring or training classes?

CRYSTAL OLIVER: I have not given any classes or mentored anyone yet, but within the next year I will be doing seminars at cosmetology schools and salons. Also, hopefully I have helped someone with this interview.

Despite the fact that this Hairnista's destiny is as high as the farthest star her feet are planted firmly on the ground. You have to love that! Follow Crystal on her Twitter to find out when those seminars launch.

Ciao for now...Class is dismissed!

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Fab Mag Cover - Iman Chanel

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Beauty Schooled! Approved Links


Scissor Boy - Hairstyling Secrets

Go Green Tour - James Wealthy &

Hair Designer - Virtual Classroom Education

Arrojo - Classic Cuts Seminar

Stilista Agency Workshop - Stylista Agency Artistry Workshop


Backstage Beauty - Behind the Scenes Beauty from Fall/Winter NYFW

Hair Trends - Current Hair Trends from around the World

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It's All Relative In HD - MAC Master Class

Last week I attended a MAC Master Class at Chicago’s MAC Pro store. The class: Demystifying Hi-Def, was headed by Emmy® Award winning makeup artist Marie Delprete and celebrity makeup artist and Director of Makeup Artistry for MAC Gregory Arlt.

Demystifying Hi-Def addresses the conflicting information regarding makeup application for HD, debunking the myths and providing the facts.

In addition to being very informative the class was also plenty of fun. Both Marie and Gregory do a fantastic job at holding their audiences attention.

There was the customary introduction, Gregory introduced Marie and provided us with a little background on her makeup career. She took over from there and immediately delved into the challenges associated with doing makeup for Hi-Def then followed by some achievable solutions, which she also performed on a model. Watching Ms. Delprete work was definitely a treat.

Have you ever scene a photograph of an actor or model and thought to yourself I wonder how the makeup artist did that? Well… I had plenty of “Oh so that’s how…” moments throughout the three-hour workshop. Besides how many people can say they had the opportunity to see an Emmy® Award winning makeup artist at work? While most people are celeb groupies I’m rather fascinated by the people behind the scene (the makeup artists, the hair and fashion stylists) that are responsible for the images we see.

Next up was Gregory, he’s so charismatic that you instantly love him and understand why his clients do too. Gregory did his model in real-time (that means he talked and worked). While the tips and techniques Marie provided were mostly for television, Gregory schooled the class on “real world” red carpet techniques, you know those images that wind up on the pages of US Weekly and People magazine. What I enjoyed most about Mr. Arlt’s presentation is that though his model was Caucasian he provided the product equivalent to the shades he used for darker tones.

I give the class a B+, only because I felt there was way too much information to cover in that short period of time. Also, it's been my experience that instruction with hands-on helps me to retain information better than just taking notes. I would really love to see MAC create a hands-on HD workshop.

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned artist I definitely recommend this class, I’ve discovered that no matter how much you know there’s always something you can learn by watching another artist’s makeup application.

You must be MAC Pro member to attend MAC Master Classes. For more information regarding classes or becoming a MAC Pro member visit the MAC Pro website.

Ciao for now… Class dismissed!

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Practice Practice Practice

I surf the web on a regular for new and different things for my kit or supplies and equipment that others may find of interest to post on the blog. Recently, I found these interesting practice palettes.

There’s one for lips and eyes and then another to practice eyebrow tweezing! When I was in makeup artistry school at Columbia my aesthetics instructor gave me a makeup mannequin to practice with. HATED it! However it did come in handy when I started practicing performing lash extension services. I would glue a sparse strip lash to the mannequin then fill it with the lash extensions. I did that for months before I performed the service on my clients. As any technician would tell you the key to becoming successful at your artistry is practice practice practice. A common complaint I hear from students is that it is often difficult to find a model to practice new techniques. I'm hoping that I've found something that will help.

I purchased all three of the palettes pictured here, doesn't the brow one look kind of creepy? I'm dying to see how that one works, you're supposed to be able to practice brow tweezing with it. Once they arrive I’ll check them out and update this post to let you know if they get the Beauty Schooled! stamp of approval.

Ciao for now... Class is dismissed!

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Caution: Proceed with Fashion - Opé the Style Artist

I have been fortunate to have met the coolest and most creative people on Twitter. Yes, some people really do network via Twitter and there are some exceedingly hard working and incredibly talented individuals -- take for instance Opé, or Opéthestylist depending who you ask. I have to admit it was the name that drew me in first because Opé is a Nigerian name and like me she is of Nigerian parents.

For this self-taught artist who has been drawing literally since she could hold a pencil, (she has sold some of her works) styling is simply another artistic outlet on real-life canvases. Hold on to your sketch pads when working with this artistic dynamo Opé comes with her own warning label: “When cut, I bleed fashion…”

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! How long have you been in the industry?

Opé: Too long not to be a worldwide name yet... lol! I have been on my own styling for about 3-1/2 years longer for other assistant experience.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! When did you know you wanted to be a stylist?

Opé: When I could not be a fashion designer... and that is a long story
, I went to work for Betsey Johnson and worked for her for 9 -1/2 years and while I was there met up with people who were styling at BET and pulling from the store I managed and I thought... "Wow, I would love to do that."

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! I’ve seen some of your work, you’re an amazing stylist you definitely have a good eye for fashion, did you receive any formal education or training?

Opé: Thank you, I have always loved fashion, I did not go to school for it but I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil. Everything else was a blessing from God. I did not choose fashion, fashion chose me.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! When was your first big break?

Opé: Haha and lol! I have not seen it just yet... perhaps soon.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! What inspires your work?

Opé: I pray to God for him to bless my creativity and I believe that my prayer life inspires me the most but I am inspired by art I most love Pablo Picasso and the work of some of my favorite fashion photographers.... Richard Avedon, Ines Van Lamsweerde, Michael Thomspon, Craig McDean, Steven Miesel, Sebastian Kim I really could go on for a while. I love great
photography. I am a visual person and I am also inspired by my surroundings and conceptual ideas that come in my head late at night.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! What would you say are the biggest misconceptions about the industry and fashion styling?

Opé: That it is completely glamorous. There is a lot that goes into styling before a stylist gets to the shoot. The research, actual pulling and the returns... it is not fun and is completely outside of the actual shooting. People forget that you have to actually get all the clothes and therefore don't anticipate the work. You actually need to be in shape and have good stamina.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! Do you style for individuals or do you mostly style for print work?

Opé: I do both equally.... money is green, lol, need I say more?

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! What advice do you have for someone new who is trying to break into the industry and wanting to work with celebrities?

Opé: People always ask... the best way is to work as an assistant and then conduct your own tests because as an assistant you can't use the pictures you can only use the credit on your assistant resume. So by testing you get to exercise all that you have learned and build your book. I still assist as much as possible. I am humble enough to understand that I can learn from anyone.

Thank you Opé!

To view more of Opé's work and booking information be certain to visit Opé's website, Or follow her Twitter.

Ciao for now... Class is dismissed!

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From Hair to There - 50 Hairstylists

Are you considering a career as a hairdresser, but are unsure of where to start? Or, do you wish that you could have just a few moments with your favorite hair architect find out what it really takes to become an in-demand hair stylist?

Author Rick Morton created a book with you in mind, 50 Hairstylists features interviews with the top 50 hairstylists from around the world.

Whether you are a student stylist, just starting out in the beauty industry or a veteran looking for a fresh perspective to renew your passion you will find this 188 page book both enlightening and inspiring. 50 trendsetters on all things hair reveal invaluable insider information including how they found their niche within the industry, what they wished they had learned in school and what if given the opportunity they would do over again.

The book includes not only your favorite US based hair rock stars like Nick Arrojo, Orlando Pita and Oribe but their European and Canadian counterparts as well.

I love the fact that all 50 of the stylists are asked the same questions and as you would expect the answers vary greatly in some regards but in others especially on the topic of education they are all on the same accord -- education is HUGELY important.

You know my position so it should be of no surprise that my favorite question was: Is there anything left to learn?

On that note I’ll leave you with the adopted Beauty Schooled! mantra: “You can tell the mark of a true professional by what they are willing to learn after they know it all.”

Ciao for now, class dismissed!

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Faith Hill Covers Redbook - Makeup Transformations

For the May issue of Redbook magazine Faith Hill underwent some amazing makeup transformations as Twiggy, Grace Kelly and Brigitte Bardot.

The Redbook photos attest to how important it is as a professional makeup artist to understand and study makeup looks and iconic beauties of the past. As an artist you will want to know how to recreate or interpret looks from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond. If you choose to work in film you may even be required to recreate looks from the Victorian and Renaissance Ages.

This advice also applies to hair and fashion stylists, understanding historic makeup styles are critical in the event you are required to style hair or pull wardrobe for shoots or filming. One way to become familiar with looks of the past is by researching photos of beauty icons and by watching old movies and video.

The library can also be a helpful place to find resources, in addition I have compiled a list of many of these books. You can find the links in the left sidebar.

Ciao...Class is dismissed!

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Peeper Pimp - Marcus Miller MAE

I ran across Marcus Miller’s (top left) work some time ago surfing for makeup artists on MySpace. My first impression was like whoa, this guy's blending game is sick! The eyes literally danced off the screen. The vibrant colors, the contouring, and the lashes were all done with the precision of a skilled artisan. It was obvious that Marcus Miller had a gift! However after chatting with Marcus I soon discovered there was much more to be said about him than "celebrity makeup artist". What struck me most about Marcus is that he’s such a sweetheart, and incredibly humble to boot. This past Mother’s Day weekend Marcus was doing free makeup for moms “just because”, how many celebrity makeup artist do you know that would take the time to do that?

I had the chance to chat with Marcus Miller to find out what inspires him, what he says are people’s biggest misconceptions about celebrity artists, and what he thinks it takes to make it in the industry as well as how you can hook up with him for some one-on-one makeup artistry education.

How long have you been in the industry?

MARCUS MILLER: Since 2001.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! When did you know you wanted to be a makeup artist?

MARCUS MILLER: When I met Tyler Perry on his first play (Beauty Shop). A friend of mine was in the play and we met them at their hotel in Maryland. The makeup artist was there and when I saw all of her tools I thought, I love makeup and I want to do the same things that this artist does.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! Your blending game is insane! Did you receive any formal makeup education?

MARCUS MILLER: I practiced, practiced practiced on any and everyone, my friends, family members and at times even myself. Practicing is important.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! When was your first big break?

MARCUS MILLER: My first big break came in 2001 when I ran into a member of Sisqo's (Dru Hil) group Loveher at a radio event in Baltimore. Three months later I received a call, they wanted me to be their makeup artist.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! What inspires your makeup?

MARCUS MILLER: Wow, a lot really! My grandmom was really into makeup and I was so intrigued by the total transformation process, but also I love art and things as simple as leaves growing on trees and the changing of seasons.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! What would you say are the biggest misconceptions about celebrity makeup artists?

MARCUS MILLER: That we’re stuck up or not willing to help other artists.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! What advice do you have for someone new who is trying to break into the industry and wanting to work with celebrities?

MARCUS MILLER: Most importantly, be humble. Allow your work to sell you. Stay in prayer and seek God for guidance. Network everywhere you go!

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! Once last question before we wrap up. Do you provide lessons to artists?

MARCUS MILLER: Yes, I do. They can contact me by email, for more information.

Visit Marcus' website for contact info and to see more of his work. You can also follow Mr. Miller on Twitter.

Photos: Marcus Miller

Ciao for now... Class is dismissed!

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Makeup Artistry Education - Interview with Sandy James Part II

Before I spill the details I had two last questions for Sandy regarding the Stilista Artistry Workshop.

Beauty Schooled! The Stilista Artistry Workshop is designed for the experienced makeup artist, what advice can you offer to someone new to the industry seeking to gain experience before attending your workshop?

Sandy James: The easiest way is to start with a job at a retail cosmetics counter. Most cosmetic lines offer free training and workshops for their employees. Not only are you getting free education, most cosmetic lines offer deep discounts to their employees, thus enabling the artist to build his or her kit. Assist established makeup artists. There's nothing like watching a master at work. There is so much more you learn by actually being on set picking up tips from an experienced artist. Assisting an agency artist is also a great way to get your foot in the door with that agency.

Beauty Schooled! What makes the Stilista Artistry Workshop different from all the other workshops out there?

Sandy James: With Stilista, you will:

o Train in a real photography studio
o Hands on training with real models
o Test with a reputable published photographer and agency models
o Consult with a celebrity artist while you are testing
o Review your current portfolio with an industry agent

Stilista's Advanced Makeup Artist Workshop is designed for the experienced makeup artist who is looking to learn advanced techniques for television, HDTV, film, editorial, fashion, beauty, fashion, bridal, and airbrushing makeup application. Learn how to make yourself more marketable by learning the basics of hair styling and fashion styling so you can command higher rates. Learn how to airbrush, and take advantage of discount offers for airbrush machines. These intense, information-filled classes are taught by celebrity makeup artists James Cornwell, Jenn Quin, and Lilly Rivera from New York. Practice all of these techniques on REAL models, not on each other.

Why is this the Stilista Artistry Workshop better?

It allows you more time with the instructor to perfect your craft.
Also, find out what agents are looking in a portfolio and how to build a portfolio that is marketable to agents. Learn how to grow your business and who to contact for work in the industry.

What's the hardest part of building your portfolio?

We believe it is most difficult for artists to find excellent photographers and models to test with. At Stilista, we've done the work for you! Package B allows you to test with photographer Tim Coburn and agency models approved by Stilista Agency and Tim Coburn. Receive two beauty shots for your portfolio, a value worth well over $600.

If you are looking to take your makeup artistry up a notch, this workshop is for you! The next workshop will be held near the end of July in Fairfax, VA. An announcement will be made in the next Stilista Newsletter. To sign up to receive the newsletter, go to, and enter your email address at the bottom of the page. Details and registration are available at the Stilista Agency website, or contact Sandy James at

Ciao for now… Class dismissed!

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Getting Noticed! - Interview with Sandy James of Stilista Agency Part I

How do I get noticed? How do I land a gig with a big cosmetic or fashion house? How do I get signed with an agency? If you have ever asked yourself any or all of these questions, grab a pen because I have some answers for you!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandy James, founder of Stilista Agency, Baltimore and D.C.'s newest agency representing talented and experienced Hair Stylists, Makeup Artists, and Fashion/Wardrobe Stylists in the Baltimore/D.C. Metropolitan area and in New York. In part one of this interview Sandy dishes on what it would take to make the cut at her agency and in part two she scoops on this incredible portfolio building workshop she created for makeup artists.

Beauty Schooled!
What do you look for in an artist or stylist (hair and fashion) looking to sign with your agency?

Sandy James: As an agency keeping a small roster, I look for versatility, experience, drive, attitude, and a great portfolio. Without a great portfolio, I can't sell the artist/stylist to the clients.

Beauty Schooled! Other than talent what attributes would you say are important for makeup artists and hair and fashion stylists to have in order to obtain longevity in the fashion and entertainment industry?

Sandy James: Attitude, professionalism, and drive are very important to obtain longevity in this industry. Face it, no one wants to hire a diva. I've been in contact with many artists and stylists who were bigger than their britches. We are here to serve our clients, not the other way around. Professionalism is also a must. Celebrities spend enough time dealing with the paparazzi. They don't need an artist or stylist asking for autographs or inviting themselves to the after party. Drive. If you don't have the drive to educate yourself and learn new techniques, technology, and trends, then you won't be able to keep up with up and coming artists and stylists.

Beauty Schooled: What would you say are some of the greatest misconceptions about the industry?

Sandy James: I think the biggest misconception is that it's all glamour. You go in, pop some color on some lips, tease some hair, or throw and outfit together and you walk out making thousands of dollars. That is not true. It's long hours in places where you may not have proper lighting or set up and have 10 minutes to beat a face that actually needs plastic surgery to make it look good. Artist and stylist that make thousands of dollars a day are rare, but they have put their time, blood, sweat, and tears in the industry and deserve to be there.

Next session: Part II Get the scoop on Sandy’s portfolio building workshop.

Ciao for now… Class dismissed!

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