Celebrity Makeup Artist Mary Phillips Is Unstoppable

“That feeling of helping someone feel good about themselves? That was always very addictive to me.”

They say you can tell a lot about a person by how they take their coffee. Myself? Hot, cold, room temperature, a day old — it doesn’t matter, I’ll drink it all. What does that say about me? (Don’t answer that.) Makeup artist Mary Phillips, on the other hand, likes her coffee to be “either really, really hot or really, really cold.” I overhear Phillips place her (very respectable) order as I walk into the room to interview her, and she insists she’s never understood how people can make a cup of coffee and leave it out before returning to a lukewarm cup an hour later. (Guilty…and ashamed.)

So, what does it say about Phillips that she takes her hot coffee scalding and her iced coffee freezing? If you’re down to read into it as much as I am, then you’ll agree it means she’s committed, sure of what she wants and does things the way they are supposed to be done. And as I learned during my chat with the celebrity makeup artist, this is all totally accurate.

With over 2.5 million followers on TikTok and Instagram combined, and an A-list client roster (think Hailey Bieber, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Jennifer Lopez and Dua Lipa), Phillips is one of the most booked-and-busy makeup artists in Hollywood. Her underpainting technique (a method of doing concealer and contour underneath foundation, rather than on top) exploded to such an extreme level on TikTok last year that calling it viral feels like a wild understatement. And given her extensive list of celeb clients, her work graces pretty much every red carpet there is.


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How did this all happen? Like I said, commitment, self-confidence and precision. Which brings us to the makeup. Over the last 18 years, Phillips has become known for her masterful makeup application on some of Hollywood’s biggest names. In fact, she’s the artist behind some of their signature looks — think: J.Lo’s glow and Kendall’s sultry eyes. She was recently in Toronto for a L’Oréal Paris masterclass (Phillips is a brand ambassador and did the makeup for Kendall Jenner’s first L’Oréal Paris campaign last year), but her love for makeup started long before she completely and utterly mastered the art form.

“I knew from a very young age that I wanted to do makeup,” says Phillips. “Like, a very young age. My friends would come over and I’d do their makeup, and I’m sure some of them weren’t allowed to come back,” laughs Phillips. “My parents would be like, ‘What? They’re just playing dress-up.’ But the other parents were like, ‘Our daughter can’t wear red lipstick. She is literally six’.” It wasn’t until she was a little bit older and started doing her friends’ makeup for proms and school dances that she became hooked. “That feeling of helping someone feel good about themselves? That was always very addictive to me,” says Phillips. “I knew I had to do it forever.”


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But when she told her parents she would be pursuing makeup artistry as a career, “it was crickets,” says Phillips. “They were like, ‘Wait, what? So you don’t want to go to college?’” However, Phillips’ parents — who, you’ll recall, were supportive of their once-six-year-old daughter mastering the art of a red lip (slay) — eventually came around to the idea. “They asked, ‘OK, what do you want to do?’ and I said ‘Celebrity makeup.’ And they were like, ‘Alright. How are you going to do that?’ and I responded, ‘I have no idea but there is no other option’.”

Because Phillips grew up just outside of L.A., she was able to continue living at home with her parents as she went to cosmetology school and started taking on jobs assisting other makeup artists. Today, she’s one of the go-to makeup artists in Hollywood, and — no gatekeeping here— she is eager to see what the next generation will bring to the industry. “I have learned the craziest eyeliner techniques from 18-year-olds on TikTok,” she says when I ask why she’s embraced social media with open arms, especially when it would have been just as easy to close herself off to a public platform that can be quite demanding and time-consuming in nature.

@makeupbymaryphillips thanks to everyone who came out to my @L’Oréal Paris toronto master class hosted by my girl @jaclynforbes❣️#lorealparis #masterclass #maryphillipsmakeup ♬ Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!(Edit) – Scotty & Wilcox

“In the beginning of my career, I would pull up to newsstands and buy every magazine that was doing cool beauty spreads, and I’d spend days on the floor of my apartment making tear sheet books, or going to the drugstore with those tear sheets and trying to colour-match L’Oréal Paris lipsticks.” (For inquiring minds, Phillips’ present-day fave is L’Oréal Paris Infallible Matte Resistance Liquid Lipstick in “Le Rouge Paris.”) And while that was all so much fun, now all of that information is on TikTok and Instagram. These platforms are full of so much education.”

“And honestly, I think most makeup artists today are getting their inspiration from social media,” says Phillips with a smile. “Some just lie about it.”

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