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Marie Kondo's Makeup Artist: Megumi Asai On Skin Nècessitès

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You may have caught her name most recently attached to everyone’s favorite Queen of Tidying (yep, that’s right, she’s Marie Kondo’s makeup artist!), but she is far from being a newb in the industry. Having cut her teeth as an assistant to celebrity makeup artist and photographer Robin Black of “Beauty is Boring,” the LA-based ​Megumi Asai created a plethora of epic beauty looks for NYFW, major magazines, and fashion campaign shoots before landing the gig with Marie Kondo.

At a time where diversity in beauty remains an industry focus, artists like Megumi Asai—who is known for creating stunning looks on (and for) women of color—are important players in the conversation. Nécessité caught up with Megumi Asai to get the inside scoop on her biggest career challenges, working with Marie Kondo, and the top 5 makeup nécessités she could not live without.

Where are you from originally?

I’m from a small town in Japan in Gifu prefecture. I was surrounded by nature.  It was a beautiful place to grow up. 

What brought you to Los Angeles? How long have you been here?

I’ve been in LA for almost 10 years.  I wanted to connect with the world through my craft and challenge myself. Moving to the US was something that I knew I wanted to do and Los Angeles was really the starting point.  Then I found a community in which I felt connected and so I stayed.

How long have you been a makeup artist and how did you get your start in the industry? What is your educational background?

The first time I did makeup for someone else was when I was in high school. I drew eyeliner for my friend and it was different than what people were used to seeing.  Then other friends started to come to me to do their makeup too.  It wasn’t long before I was doing someone’s makeup almost every day in the girls’ restroom.  That feeling of making someone feel good about themselves through my makeup felt really good, and to this day I still remember that very clearly. I started my career in Japan.  In Japan, makeup artists are required to become hair stylists too so I have a background as both a makeup artist and hair stylist.  

 After I moved to LA, I met Robin Black, a makeup artist (now also known as a photographer ) known for Beauty is Boring. I started assisting her. Through her projects, I was able to experience NYFW, major magazines, and fashion campaign shoots. I learned a lot from Robin. Her creativity is inspiring.  She is a very thoughtful, caring person, and extremely talented makeup artist.  She was a great influence on me.  

What is the most challenging part of your career?

The challenges changed throughout the years. I constantly try to grow as an artist and put myself in more challenging situations. I recently became a mother and that has added a completely new dynamic. I took time away from work to be with my daughter and that has been important to me and is a time that I will cherish forever.  She gives me inspiration. Now, as I’m starting to get back to work and taking more jobs, it’s a challenge to balance the time at home with my family and work. It is a learning process and I believe that balance is important.

How would you describe your signature look and what is it about the technique that sets you apart from other makeup artist?

My makeup has a very natural look. One of the models I worked with once said, “this no-makeup makeup look is a serious art.” I love being told  “She is beautiful” not “her makeup is beautiful.” But I also love to create fun, edgy makeup for shoots. 

How does makeup make you feel?

Makeup is confidence. I believe makeup is a great tool that helps express who you are on the inside and what you feel like telling the world today.

What’s in your makeup kit?

Makeup light. I often do makeup at the hotel or on location where the lighting isn’t great. Lighting is important so this is a must-have!

What are your top 5 makeup nècessitès?

  • Brushes that I order from Japan
  • SUQQUE eyelash curler 
  • LAURA MERCIER foundation primer-radiance 
  • NARS radiant creamy concealer 
  • TOM FORD shade and illuminate 
  • What should women avoid when doing their own makeup? 

Don’t focus on the tiny spot on your face use a small mirror, take a step back and look at the “whole face” to avoid overdone makeup. 

What are your skincare product nècessitès?

I like The Essence and The Silk cream from Tatcha. It hydrates dry skin and makes it soft and smooth. It gives your skin enough moisture and I use the cream to put a shield to it. Coconut oil is also great to keep moisture in the skin and slow down the evaporation. I’ve been using for my daughter too. I think it’s good to have for dry weather like LA. I also like to use face masks and face rollers.

What’s your favorite color to use on darker skin tones? 

I can’t pick one. Purple and emerald green looks great against dark skin. Blue and grey make darker eyes pop. Yellow is always fun to play with on darker skin. Gold and bronze shimmering eye shadows are gorgeous on warmer-toned skin. And a simple bold deep red lip color. 

When you first did Marie Kondo’s makeup, did you feel the need to declutter your kit before working with her? 

I design my kit according to the job or the client, so there was no need to declutter.  For Marie Kondo, I did let myself get inspired by her theme “Spark Joy” when choosing specific makeup items. 

Greatest inspiration, what motivates you in your craft?

To see women become more confident and to see them feel happy when they look into the mirror, motivates me the most and brings me lots of joy.

Best advice you ever received

Be yourself. It’s simple, but I always keep it in my mind. 

What advice would you give an aspiring makeup artist?

Love what you do and have fun. Try to surround yourself with people whose work inspires you and try to find your style.  

 Photographer Credit: @ibuki_k

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