Made for make-up

Nigel Stanislaus attributes his success in the make-up industry to being in the right place at the right time

For Singaporean make-up artist Nigel Stanislaus, becoming make-up director for Maybelline New York was all about being in the right place at the right time.

The 37-year-old, who declines to disclose his real last name, says that most of his breaks in the beauty industry have come about because of good timing.

In an interview with The Straits Times, he says: "The story of my life is that there is always someone who is ill or giving birth and needs somebody to replace him or her, and I put up my hand and say 'I'll do it'."

The gregarious make-up artist was here in December for the filming of the fourth season of reality television series, Asia's Next Top Model. He is based in New York and was a guest judge as well as the make-up director for the show.

The episode, in which he appeared as a guest judge, aired last month.

Make-up artist Nigel Stanislaus started doing make-up at weddings and parades in Melbourne, Australia. ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG


  • I bought this in a store in Florence, Italy. It is not real crocodile skin. I thought it would not last that long, but it has actually travelled around the world with me for four years. I feel like I can fit half my apartment in this bag and it is very hardy.

  • Things in his bag

  • Fan

    I bought this for $2 from Daiso. I bought it so that I can fan my models when I do their make-up and they start perspiring. It also helps to dry up the serum I apply on their faces.

    Photo of my mother

    This was taken in 2014 by my 10-year-old nephew at a wedding in Sydney. That is his signature at the bottom. My mother gave it to me to keep in my wallet and when I see it there, it reminds me to call or text her.

    Phone case

    I was in Queens in New York when I saw this most ridiculous-looking thing. How can you ignore it? So I bought it. It is just kitsch.

    Lavender essential oil

    My cousin gave this to me some time ago and it is amazing. I travel quite a bit and have to sleep in different hotel rooms. I put a few drops on the pillow so that I have a familiar scent that helps me relax.

    Tom Ford perfume

    I love luxurious, old world type fragrances. This one is kind of like a smoking cigar, James Bond type of scent. I have at least four different Tom Ford perfumes.

    Maybelline New York compact foundation

    There are often cameras filming behind-the-scenes footage when I work for fashion shows or magazine shoots so I have to powder my face. It also has sun protection, which helps to prevent pigmentation.


    supplement tablets I get this from Australia. Since I meet people every day and travel so much, it is easy to fall sick. This helps me feel better when I catch the flu or am feeling tired.

    Rose quartz

    Every time I hold this, I think of what I am grateful for and that helps me be a happy person. The rose quartz stone is supposed to stimulate gratitude and that helps to centre me.

Born in Singapore to a businessman and a housewife, he studied apparel design at Temasek Polytechnic before national service, where he joined the Singapore Armed Forces Music and Drama Company.

"That's where I get my theatrics from. How can you not, with that bunch of crazy fellows?"

He then studied graphic design at Monash University in Melbourne, where he also started working part- time as a make-up artist. The job mostly consisted of doing make-up at weddings and local parades.

After graduating, he continued to freelance as a make-up artist in Australia. He worked his way up from washing brushes and getting drinks backstage during fashion week to creating looks for campaigns with Australian brands such as Bardot, Lovisa and Cotton On.

Apart from his work on the fashion and accessories campaigns, his outgoing and mischievous personality also made him memorable. So when Maybelline started asking around for potential make-up directors, those whom he had worked with recommended him.

He was called up for an interview and was offered the make-up director role at Maybelline New York in 2009. Stanislaus, who divides his time among Asia, Australia and the United States, creates the make-up looks and trends for the label.

"I create looks using the latest products and also participate in making instructional videos for consumers which are released when the looks debut on the runway or in campaigns."

Besides Asia's Next Top Model, he has also worked on other reality TV shows such as Project Runway and The X-Factor. He has worked with celebrities such as models Suki Waterhouse, Agyness Deyn and Coco Rocha as well as actress-singer Hilary Duff.

Stanislaus, who acknowledges that he has his dream job and is grateful for it, has always loved make-up.

"I have always been very vain and very bossy. I am still vain and bossy, but now I'm just fatter."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'Made for make-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe