BANGOR, Maine — “This is going to feel funny. You’re going to want to sneeze,” said Kristin Collins, 20, before dipping her fluffy makeup brush into a container of bright green powder and dusting the nostrils of her model and friend Allyson Holmbom, 21.
A native of Greenville, Collins was deemed to be one of the nation’s most talented student makeup artists on May 16 when she won first place in makeup artistry at this year’s Empire Beauty School Future Professionals Expo Competition, a weekend event of seven hard-fought cosmetology competitions judged by industry professionals.
More than 2,400 students from Empire’s 102 schools across the country attended the seventh annual event in Hershey, Pa. Only one student per school was chosen to compete in each category. Collins won an in-house makeup competition to represent Bangor’s Empire Beauty School, from which she graduated this spring.
Influenced by the Mad Hatter from “Alice in Wonderland” and Alex in “A Clockwork Orange,” Collins’ award-winning makeup design was both eerie and enchanting. A disassembled clock flowed in a green river of cogs and numbers across Holmbom’s forehead and down one cheek to end just below her collarbone. A veil draped from an elaborate top hat to shield one of her shocking eyes, both of which had been clouded with contacts to be as white as her bizarre wig.
On Wednesday, instead of re-creating the design, Collins decided to test out a newer design, one she had practiced on a mannequin only once before.
“This one just happened when I went out walking [on the Bog Walk in the Bangor City Forest] one day and I almost stepped on a snake and I freaked out. I said, ‘Why don’t I do a snake?’ It’s kind of embarrassing how I came up with it,” Collins said.
Applying dark shades of eyeshadow just below Holmbom’s cheekbones, Collins dramatized the contours of her face. From her hairline down to her eyebrows, a dark V-shape added to the illusion that Holmbom’s slender face drew to a point — like a serpent. Shimmery yellow and green scales popped from the brown shades. Everything was done freehand.
“There is no question that Kristin has the talent and motivation necessary to succeed as a makeup artist and we expect her to have her pick of fabulous job opportunities when she graduates from Empire Beauty School,” Frank K. Schoeneman, CEO of Empire Education Group, said in a prepared statement.
In addition to her expo trophy, Collins received prizes including a Make Up For Ever professional makeup kit valued at $1,000.
While Collins transformed Holmbom into a beautiful serpentine creature in less than an hour, she answered a few questions about her experience as a makeup artist and as the first student from Bangor’s Empire Beauty School to win first place at the national competition:
Sarnacki: What was it like to win the national competition?
Collins: I had won the makeup competitions I was in [at Empire] — three of them — and my biggest goal was to be able to win the in-house competition because that was the biggest thing I could win [at Empire]. If I didn’t win in Pennsylvania, I wouldn’t be upset about it. When you were done doing makeup [at the national competition], you had to leave your model in there in the competition room for an hour so they could judge them, and Ally said, “They kept coming back to me! They kept coming back to me!” It was overwhelming when they read Bangor, Maine, and I saw Ally’s face on the screen.
S: What are your plans now that you’ve graduated from Empire?
C: I’ve been looking into the Joe Blasco Makeup School [Hollywood, Orlando, New York] but it’s kind of pricey. I want to go to the West Coast because my ideal goal is to work on movie sets doing extreme crazy makeup.
S: What would be the ideal television show or movie to work for?
C: I would say probably one of the only shows that do extreme stuff would be “America’s Next Top Model.” Once in a great while they do some of the basics, but nine times out of 10, it’s something outrageous. I’m not a very quiet person, so everything I do is pretty loud.
S: Do you enjoy applying everyday makeup?
C: Yes, depending on what it is. I like color and some people don’t. If they want outrageous eye makeup then definitely, but I think just neutral tones are kind of boring, I guess.
S: What are three makeup items that you wouldn’t leave home without?
C: Foundation of some sort — anything that will cover what it has to [she uses Make Up For Ever] — mascara and blush.
S: Do you have any particular tips for daily makeup application?
C: Make sure you blend your lines. I can’t stand when there’s a complete different color from their face to their neck. Pick the right colors so that you aren’t wearing colors that don’t go at all with your skin tone or your clothing. If you’re very red in your face, you don’t want to wear more red.
S: What are some things you keep in mind when planning to do makeup?
C: Their eye color, their skin tone and how their face is laid out. If they have really high cheekbones, you don’t need to do a lot of contouring because they’ll do it on their own. If someone has a really prominent feature on their face, you have to work with it and not against it.
S: How did people back home react to you winning the competition?
C: Oh, god. A couple of us went up there a couple of weekends ago. They didn’t believe it. They didn’t believe I did it in an hour. Everyone knew about it. It was like I was a small-town hero, kind of. [Holmbom’s] mom asked if I wanted to do makeup for the Fourth of July.