Makeup artist looks to the web to make a name for herself

The soft light illuminates the side of Sara Zaro’s face as she stares into the viewfinder. With the video camera rolling, she pinches a brush between her fingers and swirls powder over her face.

For Zaro, makeup is an artist’s palette and her face is a canvas.

“Is cheerleading a sport?” Zaro muses. “Yes, I feel like makeup artistry is an art form. I think a lot of people consider it as an art form, especially moving into this generation of people.”

Her dream is to transform her artistic passion into a full-time career doing makeup tutorials on YouTube. It’s a dream that may seem crazy to some, but Zaro said she’s simply following in the footsteps of the very same artists who taught her through the screen of a computer monitor.

Sara Zaro Feature Image

Sara Zaro demonstrates how to apply eye liner during one of her video shoots. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate student wants to be a successful makeup artist on YouTube.

YouTube allows users to monetize their content, which gives them the opportunity to earn a slice of the ad revenue generated by their content. Several of Zaro’s favorite YouTube makeup artists such as Jaclyn Hill, Desi Perkins and Chrisspy have made six-figure salaries from the ad revenue their content has generated.

Zaro has been posting content on the site for a year now. During that time she’s posted 16 videos, gaining more than  9,000 views. Her subscriber count is at 49, a number too modest to generate the needed traffic to monetize. But she’s not deterred. In fact, the low numbers are motivation. Speaking to others who have made it on YouTube, Zaro has learned a few things, such as doing giveaways once she hits 100 subscribers.

“You ask these YouTubers how they got to where they were and they say for the first couple of years it was slow going — ‘I learned how to do better videos,’ ‘I got better lighting over time,’ ‘I found my personality,’” Zaro said. “A lot of people are willing to give you advice. They’re not hoarding the secrets of the trade, which is really nice.”

Zaro’s aware not everyone can make it big, but she’s found encouragement from her sister, Liv Vogel, who has been a frequent subject in her videos.

“As an art major, I like viewing how she sees my face as her canvas,” Vogel said. “I’m not very creative with my makeup so I like watching the channel because she always has a new look, which is hard to do when using the same materials.”

A balancing act

At the moment, the dream of doing makeup online remains a dream, often put on the backburner by more urgent matters, such as her education and work. The Alliance native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln grad wants be a Spanish teacher and is pursuing a master’s degree at UNL. She’s taken her first step down her career path by teaching a Spanish class at UNL.

But she has additional ambitions.

“I would love to do this (YouTube) as a job,” Zaro said. “It sounds crazy, but I would so much prefer becoming more and more a part of the YouTube industry even more than the makeup industry. The next step for me is making connections within the YouTube world, because I already have connections in the makeup industry.”

First steps

Zaro’s first step into the world of makeup artistry came in the form of a part-time job working as a Clinique consultant for Younkers in 2013 to help pay the bills while studying at UNL. Being thrown into the professional world of cosmetics, Zaro soon discovered how little she actually knew about makeup and that she would have to relearn something she’d been doing all her life. Natural curiosity and a strong desire to improve her craft had Zaro looking to YouTube for help.

“I’d watch so many girls, learn how to do things and I’d go back to the counter and be a superstar,” Zaro said. “It’s learning where to see colors, lights and shadows that you have to learn.”

Freelance work soon followed, which was the next logical step. Zaro has done makeup work wedding parties, proms, and pageants, including doing makeup for the 2014 Miss Nebraska winner Megan Swanson. While the freelance work is nice, Zaro believes the future of the makeup industry is through the Internet.

“Outside of the counter there’s no other way to get yourself known these days,” she said.

Complicated process 

And so, Zaro finds herself in front of the camera again, shooting another video.  The magic starts in a small corner of the upper floor of her three-bedroom apartment, which she shares with her husband and another roommate. Two light umbrellas pour over her the surface of her work station. An orderly line of brushes, mirrors and trays slotted with an endless variety of powdery skin tones fill out the table.

The small setup may be simple, but it displays Zaro’s sense of pride and investment into this dream. After an hour of preparation, an hour and a half of filming, six hours of editing  and an hour to upload, Zaro’s tutorial is now online. It’s a long and complicated process for an eight-minute finished product.

While some may scoff at the idea of her ever making a career on YouTube,  Zaro won’t let anyone or anything discourage her from achieving her dream.

“There are some people who purposefully bring hate to your life,” she said. “I don’t know if they don’t think I can do it or they don’t want to think that somebody else could do that.”

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