Q&A With Celebrity Hair/Makeup Duo Bryce Scarlett and Quinn MurphyLEFAIR
With a combined repertoire that includes working with the likes of Nathalie Portman, Lily Aldridge, Gigi Hadid, Allison Williams, Kate Upton, and most recently, Freida Pinto and Kendall Jenner, celebrity hair stylist, Bryce Scarlett and makeup artist extraordinaire, Quinn Murphy are on fire. Six years ago, these two handsome gents fell hair over heels into a professional relationship and tonight they are resting after a long photo shoot.
Inside the dimly lit back room of Toca Madera, a West Hollywood restaurant and lounge where sexy cocktails, organic Mexican fare, and decorative purple skulls are abounds, they appear comfortable and composed, wearing their majorly black attire. While they don’t consider themselves a hair and makeup duo per se, and play well with others, they know each other’s aesthetics inside out and they have developed a rhythm that you can physically see.
From the pensive looks they share, to the way Bryce uses his hands to make a point and motions for Quinn to answer a question. These two may work behind the scenes, but they live for revealing and flaunting a woman’s inner and outer beauty.
MR: Why is hair and makeup important?
B: I think, other than clothing, hair is one of the first things people notice about you. I think people are emotional about their hair and carry, dare I say, an unhealthy amount of their identify in it. I don’t think there’s anything else outside of plastic surgery that you can alter on yourself, and feel drastically different. A change of length or color can make you feel like a new person, like you’ve stepped into a new chapter of your life.
Q: Some people use makeup to hide. It can be a mask for the kind of woman who would never be seen without her makeup. I believe not wearing any makeup says as much about someone as wearing a face full of makeup but personally, I like to see women be as adventurous and thoughtful with their makeup as they are with their wardrobes. People put a lot of subtleties into their appearance but maybe it’s not important. Maybe it’s just playful. Makeup is only as important to the woman who’s wearing it and if wearing a red lip is important to her, then it’s important.
MR: What is your favorite part about hair and makeup?
B: I was a very shy child and I think that I’ve always been enamored by the fact that you can do things with your appearance and be perceived differently by people. It’s a romantic idea.
Q: My approach to makeup is always based on the woman who is in my chair. I like to use her lifestyle, personality, and features to inform what I do with her makeup. It isn’t necessarily about the bells and whistles and showing off as an artist. I enjoy the subtleties of the craft that may go unnoticed— the makeup that no one knows is there, finding the perfect shade or tone for her complexion.
MR: Tell me about your introductions to hair and makeup
B: I grew up in a hair salon. My mom is a hair stylist. I remember sitting in the salon in San Diego on a couch that’s print greatly resembled the wallpaper at the Beverly Hills Hotel. As a small child, I was reading fashion magazines, speaking to adult women and watching them get their hair done. I’m very close with my mom and I was absolutely influenced by her being a stylist. But my mom is also very beautiful and I have more memories about watching her get ready. I love watching a woman get herself ready and I’ve always wanted to be a part of that. I’ve always thought there was something chic about a woman doing her own hair.
Q: My mom is a preschool teacher. She creates things all day with kids. She only wears mascara and foundation. She has incredible red thick hair. That’s her thing. I did a lot in my life in opposition of my mom. Had she been really good at hair and makeup, I might not be as interested. I always wanted my mom to have the French tip acrylic nails that were so popular in the 90s and a proper blowout, but she was never that woman, and she still isn’t. I have to strap her into a chair to put any kind of makeup on her. It’s okay though because I really get to own what I do and it’s not a legacy. I choose it. She’s influenced and inspired me in other ways. While she’s not a makeup person, she is an artist. She’s color sensitive and has a good eye for aesthetics—color, shape, nature. She knows nothing about the fashion industry but I value her guttural artistic opinion instincts and opinions on my work.
I think my love and fascination with makeup started with skin and skin care. Skin care is everything. No matter how rich or poor you are, or how much you spend on skin care, having beautiful skin is probably the ultimate luxury. Skin represents youth and it’s the foundation of everything you put on top of it. We live in a society that celebrates natural beauty and having beautiful skin is the holy grail of natural beauty. My appreciation for skincare kind of spiraled into makeup and beauty. I never grew up thinking, “When I grow up, I’ll be a makeup artist!” but I always loved fashion and beauty aesthetics. I remember every year when the September issue came out, that was the one time my mom and sister would buy Vogue. It was for them but I always wanted to take the issue, read it myself and be a part of that. The woman has to look as beautiful when she leaves the chair as she did when she arrived. If that doesn’t happen, I haven’t done my job.
“The woman has to look as beautiful when she leaves the chair as she did when she arrived. If that doesn’t happen, I haven’t done my job.” -Quinn
MR: What kind of imagery inspires you?
B: As a kid, my favorite past time was watching “I Love Lucy.” It’s all I wanted to do. I loved everything she wore. I used to get in trouble from my mom and dad for watching it too late. Then when they would go to bed, I would crawl back to the TV and turn it just loud enough so that I could hear it and they couldn’t. I would be so careful about the volume on the TV but I would laugh so loudly that it would wake them up! Since I was probably 14, my favorite movie has been “To Catch a Thief.” I remember the first time I saw it. I was enamored. The costuming and hair and makeup were really exciting to me. The plot is solid but you can watch it solely for the imagery. I still watch it on flights because I can tune in and out.
Q: I’ve always had tear sheets. I save magazine beauty inspo. It’s funny— I can look back at images I’ve saved and the things at the beginning of my career that I thought were incredible, some of them are still incredible and some don’t stand the test of time. I remember when I was an assistant and still learning a lot, watching the people I assisted felt like magic. High fashion models come into photo shoots and they look like mutants— freakishly tall, super skinny, long fingered creatures. If they walked into a bar with a bunch of straight guys, they wouldn’t look at these models like they would look at a woman who’s more commercial. There’s something esoteric about them. This is a beauty that every woman has and I didn’t know how to see it for so long. I couldn’t see what the makeup artists were going to create. Eventually, I learned how to see a woman Being able to see her is what I thought was magic. Not only can I see it now, but I am able to bring out the best in a woman while preserving her beauty. The woman has to look as beautiful when she leaves the chair as she did when she arrived. If that doesn’t happen, I haven’t done my job.
MR: What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself through your career?
B: I’ve learned a lot about my resilience. Anything creative and freelance is hard and lonely. You really have to have the stomach for it, you know? There’s a lot of rejection, so much rejection. On set, hair and makeup artists are usually just within a few feet from the photographer, ready to step in and arrange things at a moment’s notice. In hair and makeup, every time you step into a set, especially on big shoots, you’re exposing yourself so much with every little action. I flip one piece of hair and I’m waiting for them to react as to whether they find that pretty or not. Being that vulnerable is exhausting. On a good day, it’s an uplifting and positive experience but on the days it’s hard, you can beat yourself up all day long.
Q: I’ve learned that life is about experience. Things that would make me nervous at the beginning of my career, I now laugh about. The same thing will happen again in 10 years. It’s about doing something so many times you know you can do it. There’s no way to cheat that. It comes from doing your time. It’s okay to be afraid, but walk through it and accept that fear is a part of everything. Let it be there and keep doing what you have to do. I’m constantly doing things that scare me, but that’s how I’ve grown.
MR: How has the fashion and beauty industry changed over the last few years?
Q: Social media turned our industry on its head. It is a whole new element added to our industry that wasn’t there before. Instagram came along and really changed the game. The industry has moved so quickly in the direction that social media has taken it and now and people are aware of so many new hair stylists and makeup artists.
B: Some people are hesitant to join social media at first. But you have to get on board. You can’t fight the system. I’ve heard that actresses see our Instagrams before they even see our portfolios or websites. I get great jobs from social media all the time. More and more, it’s becoming about followers and it’s even affecting Hollywood. There is now an algorithm for fame and it’s dangerous. The line between fashion and celebrity is more blurred than ever.
Q: The line doesn’t even exist anymore.
B: You can’t be a fashion elitist and turn your back on celebrity anymore.
MR: How do you excel in this tough industry?
B: I always say, “Observe and let people come to you.” That’s exactly how I started in this industry. I was 19 years old working in LA in the best salon in the country. I swept hair and stayed out of the way but I watched very closely.
“Observe and let people come to you.” -Bryce
Q: There is no set path because everyone’s journey is individual. Focus on improving yourself all the time so when opportunities present themselves, you are ready to face them. Concentrate on your own craft and personal growth rather than others. In this career, you must have a balance of artistry and personality skills. Those who have both can realize their full potential in the industry.
B: I think you get to a certain tier and everyone is really talented and then it’s about how you are to work with. Is a celebrity going to want to travel with you and ask you to be part of big jobs because they just like being with you? This girl is spending hours and hours of her day with you for weeks on end. It doesn’t always matter how beautiful you make them look. They also have to be comfortable with your energy and enjoy your company in some way. That being said, it’s important to do good hair. If you have both talent and people skills, you can transcend into greater things.
MR: What is important to you as an artist?
B: I went to the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica. It’s an amazing school. The cutting program is unparalleled. But even though it taught me to cut in a way that I never would have before, I realized I was more passionate about styling than cutting. Learning to shape and mold hair without necessarily having to cut is my passion. My whole thing for styling came from a love of clothes and fashion. I moved to New York City to be more involved in that. I hesitated becoming a hair stylist because I wanted to be a fashion stylist. I just happened to like hair and be a solid hair stylist. When it comes down to it, I am obsessed with getting dressed and building a look. It’s all about the ultimate image. It’s how someone is perceived at an event. I love the fact that this one look exists temporarily in time and space and you can start new every time.
Q: For me, it’s important to recognize that makeup is about style. It’s not about perfection or changing people’s features. I’m not trying to change anyone in my chair. The trend on Instagram is contouring. This is sort of where makeup meets plastic surgery since it’s an illusion of building bones where they don’t exist. It’s a way of changing and hiding. I prefer to use makeup to enhance a woman’s style.
MR: Bryce, tell me about Quinn.
B: We have a reputation of working together but we don’t want to alienate other artists. We love working with other people too. We just happen to be close friends who respect each other’s work. Discovering this friendship and alliance has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career thus far. Our connection has a lot to do with being in the same stage in our careers at the same time. It grew organically, going through the same things together, sharing rooms, sharing the same economic struggles that everyone does when they’re first starting out.
Q: I couldn’t have done it alone!
B: We were encouraged by the fact that we get along so well. We are comfortable with each other and that makes other people comfortable with us. In this industry, everything is so collaborative and has to work. If two people in the group can work together, that is one element you know will be good.
I think Quinn’s greatest strength is restraint. I think a large majority of his talent stands in the realm of “what not to do.” That’s a really big part of what we do. It’s easy to walk on set and do a bouffant blow out and red lips, to do everything, or as we say, “put a dick on it.” What’s difficult is being able to stop yourself and say, “This girl needs so little.”
MR: Quinn, tell me about Bryce.
Q: What Bryce is more interested in than anything is someone’s potential. It’s the makeover that really sends him through the roof. For him, it’s more about the process and the reveal— what can I help this person achieve? What can I help this person become?