Given her early obsession with face painting, Eliza’s future as a professional makeup artist was pretty inevitable. However, it took a while for her to pursue it professionally. Upon graduating from the University of Oregon, Eliza embarked on a 10-year career in advertising, public relations and business development for companies including Nordstrom and AOL.
After relocating from the East Coast to the San Francisco Bay Area, she decided to turn her childhood passion into a profession. Eliza became a regional artist for Laura Mercier Cosmetics, traveling the Bay Area for events with its team of national artists and founder Laura Mercier. Soon after, she trained at Fred Segal Beauty in Los Angeles and established herself as a freelance hair and makeup artist.
Her initial focus on weddings and special occasions quickly expanded to commercial photo shoots for advertising and editorial clients including Nordstrom, Conde Nast, Dockers, 7x7 Magazine and HP, affording her the opportunity to work with acclaimed photographers such as Sam Jones, Ben Watts and Steven Sebring.
Today Eliza does hair and makeup for weddings, events, portraits, commercial clients and in-home makeup instruction. When she's not working with clients, she's usually obsessively researching and trying new products or taking classes. Off the job, she loves watching Oregon Ducks football, spending time with family and volunteering at her kids’ school.
A Quick Chat with Eliza Desch
What’s the most important thing a hair and makeup artist brings to a wedding?
ED: A fun, chill attitude! Flawless hair and makeup is key, since pictures are a big part of how you remember the way you looked on one of the most important days of your life; but I think the memory of how you felt on that day is even more important. I want to play a positive role in that experience. Any bride I work with should feel like she’s hanging with a friend – just one that just happens to be really good at hair and makeup! And during the big event, she should feel confident and gorgeous -- the best version of herself.
Do you have a signature look?
ED: If I had to define it, I’d say classic or natural. Trends are important, but no one wants to confuse their wedding photo with “Prom ’97” 20 years down the road. Getting locked into a “signature” look doesn’t work, especially when I’m styling multiple members of a wedding party. Everyone can and should look beautiful; my job is to help define and enhance what that means to each client. But after 10-plus years as a makeup artist, I have developed one unshakeable belief: the most gorgeous makeup looks all start with great skin – a.k.a. impeccable foundation.
What’s your current hair and makeup obsession?
ED: What isn’t? I’m obsessed with researching and trying just about every new skin care, makeup and hair product on the market. LimeLight by Alcone, a collection of phenomenal pro makeup products that have been a part of artists’ kits for years is now something I can offer to my clients, which I’m thrilled about. Brows are always a big focus, because a great shape does amazing things for the whole face. Staying up on new application techniques and tools is especially crucial in my work with advertising and editorial clients. In fact, I just designed a custom-built chair that lets me switch between the perfect heights for doing hair and makeup.
What gets you flustered?
ED: Nothing my clients would ever notice. I need to be calm so they know I have their back. I would never send a woman down the aisle or a model to the set with any detail overlooked – and that often includes things outside of hair and makeup. Maybe it’s OCD, but over the years, the result has been trust and great relationships I truly value. Okay, I did experience a few palpitations when I got a last-minute call to do [Vogue Editor-In-Chief] Anna Wintour’s makeup for a Bay Area event. It turned out well, so I guess my hands weren’t shaking too badly!
What’s the most surprising request you’ve had from a client?
ED: I think of the “surprise” requests I get as “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments. I had a bride ask if I could style her groom’s hair and prep his skin a bit. Men’s grooming is a regular part of my work for commercial photo shoots and professional headshots; men’s skin and hair have to look just as good (but even more natural) as women’s. In wedding photos that will last a lifetime, there’s no reason the groom shouldn’t look just as polished as the bride, so Men’s Grooming is now part of my Weddings and Occasions service options.