Fourth-year student Abi Oladesu is beautifying clients through her business Desu Beauty

Abi Oladesu has been doing makeup for most of her life. She started having fun with her mother’s makeup from the age of 10 and decided a few years later to challenge herself to increase her skills. She did someone else’s makeup for the first time when she was about 16.

During her second year at McMaster University, the biochemistry student started thinking about taking makeup more seriously. However, it wasn’t until she was quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic that she decided to take the leap and start her business, Desu Beauty on Oct. 30, 2020.

There are three components to Oladesu’s business. As she has received many requests for makeup tutorials and enjoys teaching, she decided that she would post makeup tutorials on Instagram and offer beginner and intermediate lessons.

The second part of her business involves posting her own makeup looks in order to improve her skills and show clients what she can do. Lastly, she does makeup for clients’ weddings, photoshoots, proms, graduations and other events.

 

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It is important to Oladesu that when she does clients’ makeup, she isn’t turning them into a different person but highlighting the best parts of them. This goal stems in part from her own experience with makeup. When Oladesu was a preteen and early teenager, she used makeup as a way of hiding her face. Now she uses makeup to accentuate her features and seeks to do the same for her clients.

“Obviously nobody wants that for themselves, but I don't think there's anything necessarily bad about [being self-conscious] in the sense that we all feel self-conscious once in a while. We're in a society where the beauty standards are very high and they change all the time, but it's important to remember . . . you're the one that at the end of the day determines your worth to other people,” said Oladesu.

"We're in a society where the beauty standards are very high and they change all the time, but it's important to remember . . . you're the one that at the end of the day determines your worth to other people," said Oladesu.

This mission is embedded in the name of Oladesu’s business. While she originally called it Desu Beauty as a reference to the last four letters of her last name, she realized upon reflection that it had a deeper meaning for her.

“I'm a very large fan of anime and so desu . . . basically means “to be” . . . I am [also] Christian [and] in the Bible, it's like “we are beautifully and wonderfully made” . . . So to be that beautifully and wonderfully creative person, you have to love yourself in every aspect, whether that's with wearing your natural face out and being super proud of it or getting the skills to do your makeup really well so that every time you look in the mirror . . . you’re like, “wow, I feel beautiful, I know I'm beautiful.” . . . I want you to be the best version of yourself or at least to look at yourself and be like "wow, I feel like that beautifully and wonderfully made person,"” explained Oladesu.

Since she started, Oladesu has received positive reception and a lot of support from family and friends. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic has decreased the number of events for which people would get their makeup done. At the same time, Oladesu credits the pandemic with giving her the time to start her business.

 

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Oladesu also sees online classes as a blessing for her since she started her business. Instead of spending all day on campus and then doing makeup appointments, she can better make her own schedule by doing makeup during the day and watching recorded lectures afterwards. Managing the business alongside her demanding degree and other commitments has also encouraged her to better prioritize her time.

Oladesu looks forward to continuing to grow her following and reach more people through her business. As she will be graduating soon, she is considering how she might integrate her love of makeup into her career.

“I'm definitely a cautious person so . . . right now, I definitely am going to finish my biochemistry degree and I'm going to see if I could get a job with that. But working with makeup has gotten me interested in cosmetics in general so [maybe] I can mix my biochemistry major with cosmetics and then possibly go into formulation or something along those lines,” said Oladesu.

"I definitely am going to finish my biochemistry degree and I'm going to see if I could get a job with that. But working with makeup has gotten me interested in cosmetics in general."

To other students with a skill they are considering turning into a business, Oladesu says to just start. She recalls that she felt the need to have high-quality foundations in every colour before she began her business. However, since she started, all her clients have used colours that she had already had.

“There's nothing wrong with humble beginnings. You don't have to have everything, you don't have to have the best of everything," Oladesu said. "It's better to just start because honestly, I feel like people appreciate watching you grow and watching you improve.”

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By: Danielle Collado

I often find myself faced with the internal battle of whether or not to wear makeup on a daily basis. For the most part, I take the time to apply my everyday look. Days when I’m tired or in too much of a rush to do my makeup I fear that I’ll be judged for not caring about what I look like. Why is it that if we go a day without looking the way people are used to seeing us, unwanted comments are almost inevitable?

“You look tired.”

“Are you sick?”

We’ve all been victims to the subtle shaming of a makeup-less face. But as often as women are shamed for not wearing makeup, we are also shamed when we become dependent on it.

TV ads featuring the best looking celebrities have always taught us that we need makeup to be as beautiful as them. For some reason, a woman is only powerful and desirable if she looks put together. The way she achieves this is through her perfect eyebrows and the right shade of lipstick. Studies have shown that women who wear a considerable amount of makeup are always taken more seriously than those who opt for a more natural look.

A New York Times article from 2011 entitled “Up the Career Ladder, Lipstick in Hand” states that makeup makes women appear more competent and amicable. According to the article, makeup can also increase people’s perceptions of a woman’s likability and trustworthiness. If makeup can enhance these valuable workplace traits, is whether or not we choose to wear it really our choice? In 2014, an article from the Huffington Post called “Makeup Is Not A Prerequisite For Success” challenged the notion that makeup is necessary for workplace professionalism. Sally McGraw argued that there are no laws stating that women must wear makeup in the work-place, and that there are other ways to look professional without makeup. Although these articles represent completely different opinions of makeup in the workplace, both contribute to the manipulation of what women should consider the “right” way of thinking.

Women are shamed regardless of whether or not they wear makeup. An example of this is the recent social media trend featuring a woman’s before and after makeup pictures with the caption “Girls, stop lying to us.” This form of shaming a woman for wearing makeup is particularly hurtful because it targets what she looks like without makeup, while simultaneously shaming her for altering her natural appearance. It is the perfect example of how society convinces us that we aren’t good enough regardless of what we do. Even celebrities are victimized as soon as they are spotted without makeup in public. “Demi Lovato leaves the gym looking like a mess” is considered a worthy piece of news in modern media, because breaking the illusion that celebrities always look like they are red-carpet ready is somehow frowned upon.

While society is busy looking for ways to tell women what they should and shouldn’t do with their appearance, they’re failing to remember one very important thing a woman has complete control over her decisions. Although makeup is something that has become normalized, opinions regarding how or when a woman should wear it are unwanted and unnecessary. Women do not need makeup to feel beautiful, but there’s no doubt that we will continue to wear it, and we shouldn’t be shamed for that choice.

Photo Credit: Dominique Godbout

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Staying healthy comes hand in hand with awareness, and Think Dirty helps promote exactly that.

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