22 December 2023

Kiama makeup artist to the stars finds beauty in transforming Illawarra brides

| Kellie O'Brien
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Meryll Faulkner Making Faces Makeup Studio

Making Faces Make-Up Studio’s Meryll Faulkner has travelled the world but feels at home doing makeup designs for Illawarra brides. Photo: Phil Winterton Photography.

Kiama’s Meryll Faulkner has travelled the world training with internationally renowned makeup artists, touched up the faces of Kylie Minogue and Keith Urban, and had her work featured on television, film, music videos and magazine editorials.

However, doing beautiful makeup designs for Illawarra brides and special occasion looks during peak party season are among her great joys.

Meryll started Making Faces Make-Up Studio in Sydney in 1998, after working with Myer and Max Factor.

“Then I did a diploma with Patricia Hutchence, (the late INXS frontman) Michael Hutchence’s mum,” she said.

“She had an academy at North Sydney, so I trained in film and TV work.”

Patricia wasn’t the only big-name film makeup artist Meryll had the opportunity to train with over her 25 years, having studied in Hollywood with Oscar nominated makeup artist Tina Earnshaw in 2003.

“She did Titanic, The Talented Mr Ripley – she did so many beautiful movies,” she said.

“I just stalked her when I was in Sydney and I kept sending emails – ‘I want to come over. Is she doing classes?’ and her publicist came back and said, ‘Yeah.’”

She also attended advanced classes in Paris with Atelier Maquillage and travelled to New York and studied with the runway fashion makeup artist Victor Noble in 2016.

“Special effects and injury, even though I learned it, it’s not my thing,” she said.

“Beauty is my thing, and editorial.”

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The instigator for her pathway into business was a friend who owned Beauty Warehouse, which sells beauty products for industry professionals. One of those products was Paris product line Atelier.

“She knew I was a freelance makeup artist and she asked me to come in and road test it and see what I thought,” she said.

Falling in love with it, Meryll started running seminars and masterclasses using Atelier, then realised the beauty industry could use more training, so rented space in Sydney and started Making Faces Make-Up Studio and her professional makeup school.

During that time, she taught and mentored some of the industry’s leading makeup artists.

“That was my first studio and I used to teach people professional makeup,” she said.

Eventually, Meryll began to burn out in Sydney and sought a sea change in the idyllic town of Kiama, where she could still run her makeup school and do makeup designs for brides.

The makeup school ran successfully until the pandemic hit, when she decided to close it and focus on bridal makeup and personal makeup lessons.

“I wound it up after all these years when COVID hit because everyone needed models,” she said.

“It was a short course, but it was pretty intense, and I was teaching a lot of people that want to freelance and do what I do, as far as bridal, glamour and editorial.”

Among her achievements, the one she’s most proud of was the development and creation of the Art of Makeup Awards, which ran under her direction for more than 13 years at the Sydney International Beauty Expo and is now known as the Face2Face Makeup Awards.

“It was massive and all the big companies were there,” she said.

“I did go to America and did a bit of a spy there because they had a lot of them over there.

“I looked to see how they were doing them and I came back and I said, ‘Yeah, we could do one here and leave it open, not for big companies to take over, but for the everyday beautiful makeup artists’.

“It was good at showcasing a lot of really talented people and I felt special giving that back to the industry.”

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Meryll’s industry connections meant she was able to attract celebrity judges like international makeup artist Martin Bray and it unearthed many of Australia’s leading makeup professionals.

“I had a lot of wonderful support in the industry, and it’s an industry that you don’t hear a lot about,” she said.

Nowadays, Meryll’s bridal and glamour work is complemented by work in film, TV and music – taking her back to her earlier training.

“At the moment I’m doing a bit of film stuff which is really lovely with Screen Illawarra,” she said.

“I did a music video with Nick Bolton and his production company – it was a big 60s theme.

“Another thing I’ve loved since I’ve not been teaching so much is the Channel 10 series called Mass To You At Home.”

She is ongoing lead makeup artist for the show, which is one of Australia’s longest running TV shows, allowing those unable to attend a parish to still experience mass each Sunday at 6 am.

“We did 18 episodes in a week of that. That was filmed in Fairy Meadow,” she said.

“They come from all over Australia – and not just the priests, because it’s a great big production.”

Meryll said while social media had changed beauty, especially with younger people having more awareness around looking after their skin, mature women were also coming to her for one-on-one lessons to keep up their appearance.

“To be honest, beauty has no age,” she said.

And of her plans?

“I think I’ll just keep doing it until I’m in the nursing home and I’ll probably still keep doing it then,” she said, laughing.

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