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Makeup Artist Extraordinaire: Arianne Damboise Tells It Straight

When you talk to Arianne Damboise, known as Benefit Cosmetics' "Makeup Maven," you're instantly uplifted. Here's a makeup artist who knows her stuff, has a passion for the art of beauty, and tells it to you straight.

Beauty school is important, she says, but most of all, the purpose is to "get in and get your license." What will really further your career beyond those imperative foundational basics are the advanced classes you take, shows you become involved in, and "feeling out what you're most interested in," she explains. "It's all about assisting people, [helping] with local fashion shows and theater groups." Her mantra: Make your start count, and the glamour-job accolades will follow.

Arianne's career, which has spanned almost 20 years, has exposed her to a wide array of beauty responsibilities. She's evolved from her first apprenticeship with eyebrow expert David Starr to working the runways of New York Fashion Week, acting as makeup artist to Hollywood faces and San Francisco socialites, even guest hosting on QVC as a Benefit representative. She now serves as the National Makeup Artist and Beauty Director for Benefit, a role she loves, says Arianne.

Believe it or not, the "Arch Empress of Brows" -- as she is known in California -- wasn't always certain that the industry was right for her. "I went to beauty school because I didn't know what else to do. High school bored me, and my mom was a cosmetologist, so I thought, 'Fine, I can go from there.'" Sure enough, she started realizing the love she had for the craft. "Before I knew it, I was playing with the makeup kits, and doing open cuts and bruises. I was so excited."

Her passion soon developed into a glamorous career as a skilled aesthetician, makeup artist (it's all about creative instinct, she advises), and teacher. Being a teacher, she explains, is integral in relationship building with your clients -- something that will ultimately ensure your success. "Don't just do this to be a star," Arianne explains. "Help your clients take what they have and show them how to evolve into who they want to be.

"You're the expert," she urges. Share that with others and they'll come back for more.

Although her career has journeyed down many runways of opportunity (she also developed and managed Benefit Brow Bars for Macy's), the one constant was seeking opportunities that would allow others to illuminate the best in themselves.

"I knew I wanted to be someone where I wasn't a number, but a person," explains the makeup artist for Benefit's founders, the Ford Twins. Arianne believes she was afforded such opportunities because she took time to feel out what she wanted to do, and worked hard to discover her strengths. And for aspiring beauty school students and future pros, that usually means volunteering your time and talents in the beginning.

"When I worked for David [Starr], I assisted him a few months without being paid," she says. "I didn't start off in some high-profile job, but I was dedicated."

Bottom line: It's all about specialization and strength development. Find what you're good at, she says, then take courses at beauty schools to hone and master those talents. "From there, build a clientele, build a great reputation, and learn how to market yourself.

"To be successful you have to get out there, love your job, and be driven," she continues. "Discipline really counts."