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The foundation of self-esteem

Lauren Moore works as a makeup artist to help boost women's self-esteem. Photo by Stella Atzenweiler.

The foundation of self-esteem

With wavy dark locks streaming down to the small of her back, black eyeliner rimming her eyes and gold eyeshadow becoming the backdrop to miles of eyelashes that flutter, Lauren Moore is the epitome of perfectly put together 20-year-old. Upon learning that she is a makeup consultant one might shake their head in a way that says “of course.” Assumptions of her knowledge only spanning that of mascara and lipstick cause onlookers eyes to roll, but that’s just what they are, assumptions.

Moore isn’t a makeup consultant simply because she loves cosmetics. She has adopted this profession in hopes to change the image of beauty that makeup companies have fostered, hoping to climb the ladder and change the status quo.

Moore, a consultant for Lancome, a high-end company owned by Loreal, focuses more on the relationships a consultant can build. “From the day you start training, they tell you it’s about the relationships, there are so many products that are so similar you have to set yourself aside,” Moore says. Upon being hired Lancome, the company flew her out to San Francisco to undergo training to teach her various makeup techniques and consultant skills.

Her classic uniform consists of all black, much different from what you might see her wearing around campus, as she is a communications major at Arizona State University. There is nothing overly flashy about her, which is that aesthetic Lancome strives for. She masters the look of “effortlessly French chic,” as pushed by the company.

Lancome caters to more high-end clientele, and as Moore runs the Lancome section at an Ulta, it is more difficult for her to make her numbers than a consultant stationed in Nordstrom. This is the most difficult part for Moore to tackle since she is the only consultant at her location. However, she herself has sold $40,000 worth of product in just a few months last fall.

Customers are on to the behind the scenes demand for sales, and the negative stigma of consultants is present. Moore has had customers approach her and instantly say, “so what are you going to try and sell me?” Despite this persona, Moore tries to keep her need to make her numbers and her duty to the customers satisfaction balanced.

As Moore is also a student, she understands monetary struggle. “I’m a student, I’m conscientious of money… so when someone expresses to me they’re not comfortable paying $45 for foundation, well, neither am I. But I can’t express that... When every item is at least $35... it becomes a balance of keeping in mind people’s economic standpoint, and the fact that if I don’t make my goal I will get a nasty email (from my boss),” Moore says.

Despite her account executive pushing her to make her numbers, when Moore encounters a customer it isn’t just about that. It is about catering to their needs, whether it be a new lipstick or a healthy dose of revamped self-esteem.

“In a way you just work at a makeup counter, but you really have all of these things. People expose their whole life to you, and that sort of goes into why people think it’s an industry that makes women feel like they are not quite enough, but it’s really the opposite I feel,” Moore says, as she reflects on the various customers she has encountered over her few months with Lancome.

From an early age, Moore was interested in the world of cosmetics. Her mother didn’t wear much makeup, which led Moore to be even more curious about colorful tubes of lipstick and shimmering palettes of eyeshadow. She would see girls working at makeup counters and want to do the same thing.

“I wanted to be around these beautiful things, and help people with them,” Moore says.

Moore’s most memorable customer was a woman who came in on day and with Moore’s help, tried on a new mascara. When Moore told her how beautiful she looked with this minor revamp, the woman expressed to her that despite being married for 30 years her husband has never told her that she was beautiful. As Moore goes about helping customers, she keeps this woman in mind.

Similarly, she has had a customer tell her she is in abusive relationship, and another expressed to her she doesn’t usually like to go shopping due to different anxiety disorders she faces. It is instances like these that remind Moore that this process is a vulnerable experience for most, “people come to us almost as an outlet,” Moore says.

Along with becoming that outlet, Moore makes sure to cater to each customer’s needs specifically. She tries to avoid being invasive as some consultants might be. 

“When someone comes to you saying ‘I don’t like to wear a lot of makeup,’ do not sell them a full coverage foundation, and a smokey eye, to me it’s about making people feel comfortable,” Moore says.

On a similar note, many women that come in are not initially receptive to certain aspects of the consultation. Moore has had customer’s come in and ask her to match their skin tone to a specific foundation, but when she has to remove some of their current foundation to match it correctly, the customer becomes hesitant or looks around. “Not everyone is comfortable in their own skin, and you have to be respectful towards that,” Moore says.

Much like their customers, Moore feels the pressure to look perfect, since they sell products to enhance beauty, they have to follow certain restrictions on appearance while on the clock. “It’s hard because people stare at you all day… and I’m like ‘I’m really stressed out this week, I’m breaking out, I’m pretty sure I just smeared my eyeliner, my bronzer is not blended…’ it’s a lot of pressure to look a certain way,” Moore says.

This is something Moore struggles with even more with balancing her work schedule, as some weeks grow more difficult than others. 

“I just stayed up until five in the morning writing a paper… and oh, let me get a full-face on and have everyone stare at me all day,” Moore says.

Moore, however, does not need a degree to climb the corporate ladder within Lancome, saying her degree is more of a "personal victory." 

She believes that herself, or really any woman, can truly have it all and has carried this aspiration to her education. 

One week when balancing her hectic schedule was a struggle, a client asked her what she did outside of her job as a consultant, when Moore answered she is a full-time student as well, the customer replied in awe, “when I was your age all I ever thought I could be was a mother,” reminding Moore of the privilege her education is, and how far women have come in recent years.

Moore hopes to advance in the company to uphold Lancome’s aesthetic. While in San Francisco for her initial training, she saw a Lancome advertisement with Kate Winslet, but it was unlike any makeup advertisement she had seen. “It was so authentic, it was a real woman, you could see the lines around her eyes… I want to move up to corporate to uphold that image,” Moore says.

Within the numerous facets of her profession, Moore has one common theme, to make people feel good about themselves. 

“Everyone has something special about them… being able to accentuate that is rewarding,” Moore says.  

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