Karen Abi Saab – Shuhra.com
Christian Abou Haidar has made a name for himself in the world of make-up by going against the stream. Known for his characteristically European style, Christian favors the fresh, clean and light looks over the dramatic theatrical make-up that has become the staple for Lebanese women. The risk he’s taken, however, has paid off well. The go-to make-up artist for huge advertizing campaigns such as Aishti, Aizone, Etoile and ABC, Christian has found success in hard work and has become the make-up artists international and local celebrities turn to, most notably Haifa Wehbe, Helene Segara, Paris Hilton…
Shuhra: What got you interested in becoming a make-up artist?
Christian: I’ve always been interested in make-up. I remember that even back in school, whenever our class would put on a play, I’d draw with chalk on the girls’ faces. But as I grew older, this fascination with colors turned into a focus on painting, and then again grew into an urge to learn make-up. But it wasn’t something I could do since there are no schools in Lebanon that teach professional make-up. So instead I ended up majoring in English literature and then in Sociology, and I worked for a while in Dubai, before coming back here and taking the final decision to take up make-up professionally.
Shuhra: How did you learn professional make-up?
Christian: I started out taking courses with Kryolan and at an institute called TLC. I then trained under a professional make-up artist here in Lebanon, and I’m currently taking master’s level classes in Dubai.
Shuhra: How did your family react to your decision to become a make-up artist?
Christian They didn’t know at first. It was only when I graduated first at my school and the teacher wanted to invite my parents to a small graduation party that I had to tell them. I still, however, didn’t tell them it was something I was considering seriously. I had to camouflage it with my sociology studies!! They weren’t too excited about it at first…
Shuhra: And now that they’ve noticed it’s not temporary… do you feel your accomplishments have changed their mind?
Christian: Actually now they always encourage and support me… When they realized this was what I really wanted to do, they were a 100% with me!
Shuhra: What would you say is the most important tool for a make-up artist?
Christian: Besides the brush… it’s knowing what looks good and what doesn’t.
Shuhra: Do you mind being around women all day long?
Christian: Not at all! First of all, I’m doing something I love. Second, it’s a challenge for me to find what suits each client. I want every client to leave feeling like she looks her best. I search for her strong points even if she doesn’t know them… you wouldn’t believe how much it affects a woman’s mood, some people come in feeling down and leave happy and lifted.
Shuhra: How big a part does the make-up artist play in taking decisions on behalf of his clients?
Christian: Well, before I start I always take the time to ask the client what she wants, to give me an idea of what she feels like… but if I find that what she has in mind does not fit her look, her character or even the occasion I usually suggest something else and reach a compromise. When someone wants to imitate someone else or comes in for the theatrical make-up, I simply refuse and refer them to someone else… this is not my specialty at all!
Shuhra: Which feature in a woman’s face do you think should be most played up?
Christian: The complexion… once you get that down perfectly, everything is smooth from then on. When I buy my products I try having the largest range to suit any skin tone. Even the same face has different colored skin in different places.
Shuhra: What products do you prefer the most?
Christian: Yves-Saint Laurent and MAC Cosmetics both support me, but I also use NARS, Urban Decay and Trish McEvoy products. Every brand has a product that stands out and it’s wiser to benefit from each and choose the best.
Shuhra: Do you find working on fashion and advertizing projects challenging? With whom do you prefer working the most?
Christian: When working on an advertizing project you can’t play around a lot with ideas. There’s a layout you have to follow. But when it comes to editorial shoots and beauty shoots, it’s more flexible and you’re allowed to be more creative. My favorite projects are the ones I do for Aishti and Aizone. The team they bring in is international and they accept daring creative ideas… they let me use lipstick on the eyes, blush on the lips… and that’s why the results come out so amazing.
Shuhra: When would a make-up artist say they’ve finally made it?
Christian: They should never think that, because then you’d be done… It all depends on your ambitions and goals. A lot of doors will open for you, but you got to choose the right ones to step through. Everything comes in its good time. You have to work hard, challenge yourself and learn from others. There’s no book on make-up!
Shuhra: What’s your advice to women?
Christian: Women in Lebanon find fault with everything! I have to say there is no one that’s ugly, just like there’s no one that’s perfect. If you’re aiming for perfect, it’s not going to happen… it’s draining and unrealistic. Be happy with what you have and work on making it better. And do not imitate others!!