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‘Skin is the canvas’


‘Skin is the canvas’

Jessica Candage was 8 years old when she developed an interest in hair and makeup. Her mom’s best friend ran a hair salon, and she always itched to help out.

“I was always fascinated with the beauty process and couldn’t stay out of her salon,” said Candage, who lives in Westbrook.

Though her family encouraged her to study music after high school, Candage, who competed twice on “American Idol,” decided to pursue her No. 1 passion. So she decided to study cosmetology at Spa Tech Institute in Westbrook, and landed her first makeup gig for Miss Maine USA at age 19.

“I’ve always been an artist,” she said.

Candage, now 29, is a professional hair and makeup artist for various occasions, from photo shoots to proms, weddings, beauty pageants and more. For the past two years, Candage has been nominated forTheKnot.’s annual “best of weddings” for hair and makeup.

Makeup artist

Her regular clients include Miss Highschool America, Mrs. America, Miss America, Miss New Hampshire USA and Miss New York USA. In addition to pageants, she also works with models and actresses, and women who want to learn the art of applying makeup.

“My main focus is anyone that needs me to help them feel their best on their big event,” said Candage. “I have been very fortunate with the wedding industry.”

Candage provides her hair and makeup services for about 150 weddings annually, mostly in southern Maine and New England, but she also travels internationally for work.

The most rewarding part of her job, she said, is when women look in the mirror after she’s done with their makeover and they like what they see.

“I just love making people feel pretty,” said Candage.

Maine Women spoke with Candage about current hair and makeup trends and the impact she aims to have on her clients.

Q: Why is a woman’s hair and makeup important in terms of her overall style?

A: Hair and makeup is the frosting on the cake. It can totally change the way a woman feels and looks and there are so many options to change the look based on the mood of the evening, or the outfit.

Q: How have makeup and hairstyles changed since you began your career?

A: Honestly, beauty is a revolving door. Trends come and go, and come back around again. I think the only thing that has changed the game is Pinterest. There are so many photos of inspiration, so girls have trouble choosing their look because there are too many options now.

Q: What are the current makeup and hair trends? What is your favorite hair/makeup technique?

A: I think girls lately have been fascinated with contouring, strobing (highlighting) and wearing a lot more makeup than in the past. Making a bold statement of some kind. I think it’s fun. I love painting, so this is just creating a work of art on a person versus paper. My brides keep me on my toes, which I absolutely love. It’s never the same thing.

Q: Do you have any advice for women who don’t normally wear makeup, but would like to start?

A: Just trust your artist, allowing them to do what they do and being very honest with them. Make sure to voice the things you don’t like and the things you do. Have photos of inspiration for your artist to see, because their idea and your idea of natural will never be the same. And remember makeup is supposed to be fun. Don’t be afraid to ask your artist questions so you can take those tips home with you to practice and play.

Q: Are there certain makeup techniques you use on some women that you wouldn’t use on other women?

A: Every face is different. I could never do the same thing on every person and expect the same results. Skin is the canvas, and sometimes I have to take more steps to make a clean canvas on one person versus another based on age, ethnicity, skin care, allergies, diet, etc.

Q: What impact do you hope to make on your clients? Is there a certain message you are trying to send?

A: I just hope that my clients feel as beautiful as I see that they truly are without makeup. Essentially, the makeup look I create for them is a small reflection of the beauty I see when I look at their clean canvas. The goal is to bring out their unique beautiful features.