Makeup artist Mariolga Pantazopoulos might be based in Boston, but that doesn’t mean she stays put.
From Paris to New York City to Miami, she has been caught jet-setting across the globe to help beautify some of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces.
Eliza Dushku, Jennifer Garner and Selena Gomez have all taken a seat in Pantazopoulos’ chair and awaited her magic wand (aka, makeup brush) to transform them.
When she isn’t glamming up greatness, this makeup artist extraordinaire is sought-after on the local Boston scene, with her commercial and editorial work earning a Best of Boston award from Boston magazine and The Improper Bostonian’s Boston’s Best award.
Surprisingly, days of dolling up clients is a far cry from Pantazopoulos’ tomboy life growing up San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“Growing up I was surrounded by beauty, since my mother and sister were very glamorous, but I was more like a tomboy who played volleyball and hung out by the beach,” she laughs. “Even though I didn’t wear makeup, I was always collecting products and would save my money to buy Vogue magazine. I would tear out advertisements and hang them in my room. I guess we now call that a vision board.”
Those “vision boards” served her well.
“As a teen, I used to do all my girlfriends’ makeup before going out. I would do mine in the back of a cab, if I got to it. I have always done makeup, but I didn’t see it as a career until college,” she says, recalling her time at Pratt Institute in NYC studying fine arts and finishing with a Fashion Merchandising degree and marketing minor at Lasell College.
It was here that an internship styling hair and makeup for photographer Steve Cicco’s New England School of Photography fashion photography class changed her life’s trajectory. “He gave me my first paid gig and that’s how I meet Maria Menounos as a model for the first time,” Pantazopoulos remembers. “Once I did my first photo shoot, I knew that’s where I belonged.”
Fast forward to 15 years of freelance makeup artistry, Pantazopoulos’ work has been published in People, Glamour, the Boston Globe, and New Beauty, and her corporate clients run the gamut from Burlington Coat Factory to The Paper Store. She has also sent her looks down the runways at both Boston and Paris fashion weeks and created her own product line DB Cosmetics, all while being a proud mother of three.
Exhale magazine sat down with Pantazopoulos to discover her thoughts on natural beauty, her hush-hush tricks, and what she puts in her makeup bag.
Exhale: How can makeup boost a woman’s confidence without compromising her sense of natural beauty?
Mariolga Pantazopoulos:Makeup should enhance a person, not change them. We can boost our own beauty when we simplify things and let go of what no longer serves us. Your makeup bag is no different. Just because a lip color looked great when you finished college doesn’t mean it stills works for you today. Let it go. Makeup should be fun and evolve in the same way your wardrobe does. It’s an accessory like fun heels and a glitzy clutch. Like any good closet, you need your basics to start — the right complexion product that fits your lifestyle and skin needs, a pop of cheek color, definition in your eyes, and a tinted lip balm.
What's a product everyone is obsessed with but don't really need?
Everyone’s face is different, so not every new product or trend works. Everyone is obsessed with highlighters and over-the-top contour techniques. When it comes to contouring, it’s not cookie cutter. To be honest, once we put any makeup on, we are already starting to contour our face. It’s not about how much product we use. It’s about where it goes.
What is your go-to trick to transition day to night?
A bold lip is the quickest trick in my book. Slick your hair in a ponytail, curl your lashes, add extra black mascara, and then the right shade of lip is all you need. If you’re not a lip person, sweep on your best eye shadow, define your lash line with eyeliner, and put on lots of mascara. If precision is a challenge, smudge the liner for a diffused effect and add a touch of color to your cheeks.
Your work has been described as “looking like it’s melted into the skin, not on top of the skin.” How do you impart such a natural look?
Natural real-looking skin is important, but let’s not mistake that for no makeup. Some of the most natural looks take longer than a crazy smoky eye. How to approach this look is based on your needs and skin texture. The selection of your complexion product is important. For example, if you have dry skin, don’t use powder-based foundations because your skin will never look natural that way. I prefer to work with creamy formulations that allow enough coverage and are easy to blend for a lighter application.
What’s in your makeup bag? Is there anything you can’t live without?
One thing I personally can’t live without is good skin care. Well-hydrated skin is everything. If your skin looks good, everything else falls into place. But, my makeup bag its pretty sad, since I hardly wear any. I have BECCA Under Eye Brightening Corrector, Benefit matte bronzer in Hoola (the most universal shade ever), Maybelline curling mascara in black, L.A. Girl Pro concealer, Burt’s Bees lip balm in pomegranate, and a few lip colors — anything from NYX to Dior. I also keep a little container of brown sugar. Sometimes, I mix it into a paste with milk or coconut oil and scrub lips with it when they’re chapped. If I have to pick a must-have tool from my makeup bag, it’s my lash curler.