Trailblazing makeup-artist Maha Alselemi aka @maha.gram, is making her mark in the ever expanding landscape that is the beauty industry. Inspired by a masterclass with Mario Dedivanovic, make-up artist to none other than Kim K, the 23 year old Londoner is also, perhaps unknowingly, part of a burgeoning movement reshaping traditional views of Muslim women.
Slapp sat down with Maha to talk life on the beauty counter, diversity and hot yoga.
Tell us a little bit about your journey? How did you get into beauty?
I’ve always loved makeup but never thought to actually pursue it as a career. I always saw it as a personal hobby, while also doing makeup for friends and family.
My first inspiration to really go for it was at the masterclass by Mario Dedivanovic! His masterclass was amazing and took me to the next level of understanding makeup with a professional approach. I then got my first job at Bobbi Brown and went freelance soon after.
What’s your day to day routine like?
I prep my skin with the Fresh Rose Deep Hydration toner, moisturise with a “pure enough to eat” Vitamin E oil, infused with vitamin C and let that sink for 15-20 minutes. I then use concealer, put on some brows, blush and mascara. Lastly I use the Skindinavia Bridal spray - it’s the only one that actually works to make makeup last all day and night.
How would you describe your signature beauty look?
I like to call it juicy skin. It’s really just about flawless natural skin that looks really plump and hydrated, with a glow from within; paired with a soft defined eye and perfectly framed brows!
If you could only Slapp on one product, what would it be?
This question is so hard! I can’t decide between concealer (I can’t live without that) and my second option: my favourite lipstick of all time from M.A.C called Taupe. I would use it as a blush, blotted lip, and lid colour.
What do you love most about the industry?
The creative side! It’s so fulfilling. I love doing shoots and being inspired by the unique beauty of the model I’m working on.
What’s your favourite medium in order of most used: YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat?
Instagram, then YouTube and I hardly ever use snapchat!!
What is your experience of diversity in the industry?
Working on a beauty counter in the heart of central london, I got to apply makeup on people from all over the world. It’s been such a pleasure and honour to have met them and practice applying makeup on them. Moving into freelance it’s been my aim to represent as much diversity as possible and celebrate it through my makeup artistry. I’m really lucky to be able to do makeup on all skin tones, and I think it’s important to take that skill and use it to represent diversity as much as possible, in an industry that is so heavily set in its ways.
Something you would change?
Well I personally have never found a perfectly matched foundation. I have tried to match myself at almost every foundation/beauty counter available in London. Most people on the darker/medium/olive range can relate, especially if you are mixed ethnically. You will notice if you look at every single concealer or foundation line, there is a gap between medium to medium deep that nobody has filled. I would love to work with a brand and formulate the correct olive undertone for us olive queens so we can stop looking so pink!
How do you stay healthy: body and mind?
I love hot yoga. When I do it it keeps me grounded. It’s so important because it allows your brain to relax and connect with your body. It also gives me amazing skin and hair!
I also try to limit animal products in my diet to once a week. I feel so light and full of energy when I eliminate them and stick to a whole foods, plant-based approach.
My two beautiful sisters! They’ve both allowed me to do their makeup for years growing up and will always be my muses.
A feeling! I really believe there’s no way to define beauty. It’s about feeling beautiful and loving yourself. I always try my best to make my clients or models feel beautiful, because without that there’s no point in what I’m doing.
Would you share an early beauty memory, or biggest beauty mistake with us?
My earliest beauty memory was using the chocolate cone at the end of a Cornetto as a lipstick! After that I upgraded to stealing my mum’s Diorshow mascara, Chanel frosted plum lipstick and Estée Lauder Double Wear foundation. My mum is several shades lighter than me and I wore them everyday to school when I was 11. You can just imagine how that looked. I would remove it all with vaseline in the school toilets before I came home 😂
Last/most frequently used emojis?
What’s next for you?
I don’t have many plans. I put my heart and soul into my work and so far it has opened doors for me, that I could only have dreamed of. My ultimate goal is to just be recognised for my work. I hope to do more beauty campaigns with artistry driven brands; and work with designers to create makeup looks for fashion week!
Follow Maha: @maha.gram