Photo credit: Arthur Matsiko/TIA

Make-up is such a trendy business that you will not fail to find a make-up studio in all the cities of the world. Thus, on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Royal Suites Hotel in Kampala, I am seated by the swimming pool with friends when I notice a group of people. In their midst is one lady who keeps moving from one person to the next, after spending about 20 minutes seemingly working on every face in the group.

This, it transpires, is the cast of Deception, a recently concluded television series that was showing on Uganda’s local television channel NTV. At the centre of the group is Shivan Komugisha, who is applying make-up to the actors. Because Deception has just ended, I attempt to ask a member about the agenda of this ‘make-up meeting’. She warns me to “just watch the space” before she moves away.

An actress gets makeup on her face
An actress gets makeup on her face

Creating her own employment

It turns out that Komugisha, the group’s make-up artist for the day, is an MA student in Management at the Uganda Management Institute (UMI). In April 2014, while studying for her bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Management at Uganda Christian University (UCU), Komugisha attended a workshop for entrepreneurs in Arusha, Tanzania. “The aim of the workshop was to prepare us to discover our talents and skills so that we would be able to create our own jobs, as opposed to becoming job seekers in a world of unemployment,” Komugisha tells me.

On her return, she pondered what she could do to escape from joblessness after graduation. Realising that she had a love for art and deciding to channel that in a practical way, she started applying make-up to her face, shaping her eyebrows and eyelashes. She kept practising until she realised that she had moved a step closer to perfection. Eventually, she invited friends to her hostel room for a free make-up session. She bought the products she was using from her pocket money. Komugisha continued offering free services to friends until she realised she had mastered the skill.

Even men can have their beauty enhanced
Even men can have their beauty enhanced

Marketing on social media

Komugisha is one entrepreneur who has successfully taken advantage of social media. It was not until April 2016, when she started posting pictures of some of her clients’ faces on her Facebook and Instagram accounts, that people started contacting her for gigs.

“Social media has been such a great opportunity for me in terms of marketing,” says the 24-year-old freelance make-up artist. “Although I don’t have a make-up studio yet, I make sure I meet all my clients whenever they contact me.”

Komugisha works on all types of client and the application depends on the event they are going for. For example, she has worked on brides and grooms, graduands, children for birthday parties, musicians, actors and actresses. She can accommodate groups and individuals.

“My clients have also done a lot of marketing me. For example, when I work on a group and they are satisfied with my work, they pass on my contact details to other people who are interested in my services. So, the chain keeps growing,” she says.

A model after wearing makeup
A model after wearing makeup

Looking towards the future

Komugisha admits that her sweat is sweet because her work is raising the tuition fees for her master’s degree at Uganda Management I. “I decided to go back to school and study management as part of my business journey,” ambitious Komugisha says, adding that she will also study cosmetology further.

“My dream is to set up a studio with enough room for me to train more make-up artists. I want something more and that is why I have decided to invest further in my education so that once I start the journey, I should not look back,” she says.

 

Makeup is believed to enhance beauty.
Makeup is believed to enhance beauty.

Does make-up have hidden costs?

Make-up products are applied to the skin, lips, eyelashes, eyebrows and nails, among other parts of the body. But is the intended aim of enhancing beauty achieved without compromising the user’s health?

In addition, make-up products are not cheap. For example, Ulthera, an anti-ageing treatment, which must be applied by an Ultra-licensed healthcare professional, costs at least 800 Euros.

Just as Komugisha and I were concluding our conversation, Deception actress ‘Nalweyiso,’ aka Sarah Sentongo Kisawuzi, joined us. She told me that she believes make-up to be necessary because it enhances beauty. “You can do without it, but make-up really draws you out in a way that even a person who is at a distance can better recognise you,” she said. However, she warns that if make-up is not applied carefully it can distort one’s face.

It has also been argued that chemicals used in make-up products contribute to the ageing of your skin because they dry out the natural oils and essential vitamins and minerals present in human skin. Consequently, your skin loses its natural moisture and texture, and develops wrinkles and dry patches. The prolonged use of make-up could possibly make your skin look older than it actually is. And since it is almost impossible to get the youthful glow back, the marketers of cosmetics are launching products that help counter the effect of ageing that has been cause by them.

Shivan Komugisha applying makeup to the cast of Deception.
Shivan Komugisha applying makeup to the cast of Deception.

In 2007, it was revealed that tea tree oil in cosmetics and creams could increase the risk of catching the so-called ‘superbug’ infections in hospital. Exposure to low doses of the oil made pathogens such as MRSA (the staphylococcus infection that is resistant to anti-biotics), E.coli and salmonella more resistant to antibiotics.

“Because essential oils are natural products, the public often assume they must be safe,” Frances Fewell, director of the Institute for Complementary Medicine was quoted as saying in the Guardian. “You should never apply any sort of essential oil directly to the skin without diluting it first in a suitable carrier oil. Tea tree oil has become very popular, and many people have started applying it directly to deal with acne and skin infections. In fact, this is a very aggressive oil. The skin can dry out, blister or form a rash.”

As the world shows no signs of letting go of make-up, the unanswered question still stands: Does make-up outshine natural beauty?