Make it up

Local makeup artist on the local industry

To contact Harrington, visit <a href=""></a>.

To contact Harrington, visit

Reno is an interesting place for makeup artistry. The proximity to Lake Tahoe brings many weddings and bridal makeup to the local industry, but it also brings some people who sport more natural looks than other cities.

Local makeup artist Jessica Harrington moved here from Los Angeles five or six years ago and stays busy working freelance, at a makeup retail store and going to school to be a hairdresser.

“I'm really busy here because of the Tahoe venue,” Harrington said. “It gets me a lot of business, lots of referrals from past brides. It's a very small town in Reno, so everybody starts to get to know each other.”

She said that makeup for weddings takes up about 70 percent of her business here—much more than back in Southern California—but she doesn't get as many opportunities to do specialty makeup here, which is partly because of the film and television industry in Southern California.

“Reno being a smaller, kind of a hometown feel versus L.A.—we do have a little bit more of a conservative crowd, and there's a lot of very natural people from the lake kind of a crowd,” she said. “People who don't wear makeup or people who want all vegan products or they want natural looks. I do get people who have gone their whole life without wearing makeup, where in L.A. I didn't really run into that.”

Reno also saves more dramatic looks for nighttime and special occasions, whereas in Southern California people would wear those looks all the time.

“The smokier eye, the more dramatic brow, the brighter lip—in Reno they're still a little afraid to pull it off,” she said.

Harrington said that Reno has been a great location for freelancing business-wise because the industry isn't overflowing with makeup artists here, and the community in the industry is very friendly.

“I feel like because it's a smaller town, it's not as saturated with makeup artists,” she said. “There's only a few girls that I'm out there doing freelance work with that I kind of compete with, but at the same time, they're all friends as well.”

Harrington said that although she loves to do makeup of all kinds, she really enjoys doing more creative looks when she can.

“I do get so busy with bridal makeup that I like it when I have the opportunity to step out of the box or do photo shoot makeup, body makeup, airbrush body makeup,” she said. “It's nice to kind of change it up and do different looks. I love it when my drag queens come in, and I get to do more theatrical makeup, special effects makeup around Halloween.”

The themed crawls also bring some exciting business in. She especially enjoys doing makeup for the zombie crawl.

“The special effects and the blood and bite marks and bruising and dirty zombie makeup is really fun,” she said. “I love it.”

Trends in makeup change constantly and also depend on the person. Harrington said that she gets to know her clients a little bit prior to making them up to figure out what look they want and how much makeup and color they will be comfortable with. In most cases she schedules a trial or preview session, too. “There's a lot of investigating when it comes to makeup,” she said. “They might show me a picture, and it could be a picture of celebrity with a ton of makeup on, a huge contoured cheek, contoured nose, really dramatic black smoky eyes, and this could be a person who has never worn makeup in their life. I have to kind of recommend what's going to look best on them but also what they're comfort level is going to be.”

She said that healthy looking, perfected skin is always in style, but summer trends include bronzed skin and colored lips.

“Anything with more of your tangerine and your orange tones and purples are huge right now,” Harrington said. “And it doesn't have to be a bright purple, it can be eggplant or a burgundy kind of purple.”

Fall colors will be on the shelves in stores next month and will include more coppers, silver and glitters or shimmers. Harrington said that many makeup looks come from celebrity or runway looks, but they have to be customized for the individual and occasion.

“A lot of times you see a runway look and you say you would never wear that, but you can incorporate one part of that style,” she said. “So it doesn't have to be glitter over the whole eye lid, but maybe a little shimmer on the inner tear duct or a little bit of glitter underneath and to the lashes.”