Offline, Rosie-May Bartlett is a full-time waitress. But the moment she logs into her social media accounts, Rosie-May shines as a makeup artist. Affiliated with some of the world’s top makeup brands…
Social media-based makeup artist Rosie-May Bartlett, known to her followers as @muarosiemay, has never been one to shy away from the limelight. A theatre starlet from a young age, Rosie-May believed she was destined to follow the path of her idol Audrey Hepburn.
However, upon reaching her 20s, Rosie-May grew disenchanted with the industry, because she felt it was stifling her creativity and individuality. And so she stepped off the stage, turned in her Disneyland Paris cast member badge, and ventured into the unpredictable world of online beauty.
This decision, though difficult, has certainly paid off. Her creative, vibrant looks and fizzy personality have captured the attention of thousands of followers across Facebook, Instagram, and more recently TikTok. As well as massive makeup brands Milani Cosmetics and Morphe. Morphe – which has previously collaborated with star influencers James Charles, Jaclyn Hill, and Pony Park – reposted Rosie-May’s work to its Instagram audience of over 10 million earlier this month.
Still feeling the buzz of Morphe’s support, Rosie-May offers insight into social media success, shares her story, and reveals how she envisions herself as the future face of her own company…
HOW DID YOU GET INTO MAKEUP ARTISTRY?
I’d grown up as a performer from a young age, and can recall spending most of my time on a stage. Audrey Hepburn was a huge inspiration to me growing up. As a little girl, if you asked me what I was going to be when I grew up, I’d tell you I was going to be an actress just like her.
Naturally, I studied theatre and worked in professional productions throughout my childhood. I went on to study it at university. But seven months in, I felt it wasn’t right for me. And so I packed up and left, and made the decision to audition for Disneyland Paris. A month later, 18-year-old me moved her entire life out to France.
But over time, I fell out of love with the performance industry. I became deflated, because I’d spend most of my time taking out my piercings, covering up tattoos, and dyeing my hair back to its natural colour. Pretending to be someone I wasn’t, just to impress casting directors. I began to feel like I was acting before I’d even stepped foot on a stage. Like my entire life was some kind of show itself. And so I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me anymore.
Growing up in theatre, I had always seen what goes on behind the scenes. The sets and the costumes. But I was particularly always fascinated with the makeup department. I was amazed at how much work went into what these artists do. And the level of what they could achieve with some brushes.
When I left Disney, I started to really experiment with makeup. About a year after, I set up my Instagram account and began to post pictures of my work. It’s the same account that got me to where I am today in the makeup industry.
DO YOU DO MAKEUP ON CLIENTS?
I do makeup for close friends when I’m asked for a favour. But I’ve never actually done client work before. I’ve thought about it, for sure. I just worry I’d get bored of hearing, “Can I have a smokey eye and a nude lip?” Whilst that’s a look I often wear most days, I worry that, if I did other people’s makeup for a living, I wouldn’t get much of an opportunity to do some of the wild creative things I do regularly. I think I’d end up having to wait for Halloween every year.
But as far as my own content goes, my looks are on myself. I don’t think I’d have the heart to put another person through the things I do for a good look and photo!
WOULD YOU EVER RETURN TO THEATRE – PERHAPS AS A MAKEUP ARTIST?
There are times I always sit and wonder, “What if I’d stayed in theatre?” But I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. My only stage now is the shower, where I can sing with no one listening.
I would love to try my hand at makeup within the theatre industry. And I’d love to expand my knowledge of SFX. I think I’d love working with creative makeup in a professional environment. But I also don’t think I’d ever let go of the social media side of beauty.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE SOCIAL MEDIA SIDE OF BEAUTY?
To be completely honest, I think I just fell into it. I didn’t set out to be a beauty influencer. I still don’t even like to label myself as an influencer. To me, I’m just sharing what I love. It so happens that there’s people out there who enjoy watching me. When I started experimenting with makeup, I never set out to post pictures and share my journey online.
I watched bigger influencers sharing their work and I think that was a big inspiration. My best friend played a huge part in encouraging me to share my art, so I have her to thank for pushing me. And I also have a friend called Xenia who I met in an old job. We shared a love for makeup and fell into the same thing. So I think we’ve given each other the push to share our work. Especially when we were both starting.
WHERE DO YOU GET INSPIRATION FOR YOUR LOOKS?
Inspiration for my looks honestly comes from anything. The brain is a weird and wonderful thing. Sometimes, I’ll participate in certain trends circulating the makeup industry. But my looks tend to just be weird and wonderful things I think up.
A lot of my ideas come to me as I’m going to sleep. I’ve learnt to keep a diary beside my bed full of even the smallest things I think of. So I know I can come back to it and apply that idea to a look.
Inspiration can come from anywhere: a movie, a drawing, an object, or material. And sometimes there is no inspiration at all. I’ll just sit down with products and brushes, and whatever happens, happens.
YOU MENTIONED AUDREY HEPBURN WAS AN INSPIRATION GROWING UP. WHO ELSE INSPIRES YOU, IN TERMS OF MAKEUP?
I wouldn’t say I have a particular person who inspires me. But I look up to young artists such as Abby Roberts for her creative talent, as well as artists like Keilidh Cashell and Jamie Genevieve because of how they’ve done in the industry. The success stories of artists such as themselves tend to be what inspires me. Starting with creating makeup content to becoming owners of their own brands.
I’d like to think one day I’d be the face of my own makeup brand. But I wouldn’t say I look to an artist for makeup inspiration as such. I think I’m quite set in creating my own name and style. My plan, first and foremost, is to be able to do what I do now as a fulltime career. But the dream without a doubt would be to have my own brand one day. Baby steps.
IF YOU WERE TO OWN A MAKEUP BRAND, WHAT WOULD BE ITS UNIQUE SELLING POINT?
As a vegetarian, it would be important to me that a brand I owned would be entirely cruelty-free. As for my USP, I don’t think that’s something I could say right now that would make my brand thrive in years to come. The beauty industry and its audience are always growing and changing. Years ago, makeup was heavily targeted to women only. Now men are hugely influential within the industry. When I was younger, the rage was all about owning your own MAC lipstick.
In today’s world, Generation Z couldn’t be further from that as an audience. And that reflects within the industry. Now it’s all about inclusive brands that aren’t wasting money on unnecessary packaging, and are putting effort into quality cruelty-free ingredients. And so I think determining a USP for a brand now may not apply in years to come when forming a brand.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT MAKEUP?
I think self-expression is what I love most. I love that there’s no limit to expression with makeup. There are no rules to who can and can’t use it, or what you can and can’t do. And I love that, in today’s world, makeup has developed from simply being an everyday task in people’s routines to a genuine, respected art form.
I’m also just a sucker for a good pair of lashes. And I thank the makeup gods that on a bad day I can go from a 2 to a solid 8.5!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LOOK SO FAR?
It’s funny… as an artist, I find I’m constantly learning new things and improving. So when I complete a look, I tend to be proud of it for about a week until I look back and think, “I could do so much better.”
I think as an artist I’m my own worst critic. And I find that my favourite always tends to be whatever I’ve done most recently. Maybe it’s something to do with the thrill of creating something new. But if I were to pick one, I think I’d pick my milk bath look. Not because it’s the most complex or artistic, but because it is without a doubt my most successful look to date.
MORPHE RESHARED THE MILK BATH LOOK ON THEIR INSTAGRAM. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
In 2020, I was lucky enough to become affiliated with Morphe brushes as part of their GlamFam. So the brand gifted me products to help me in my makeup journey. I also have a unique discount code for my followers to use to save money on the Morphe website (use code GLAMFAM1172).
However, having my photo reposted was a complete coincidence. It was actually a look I’d created many months prior. So it must’ve been seen and then reposted by the brand. It teaches you that as a creator you should never delete your work, because you just don’t know who might see it.
HOW DID GETTING BRAND RECOGNITION IMPACT YOUR CAREER?
It had great benefits… it gained me followers. Although a following doesn’t equal relevance, it all helps. And it gained me and my looks further recognition across the platform, as well as other platforms such as TikTok. But to just have the recognition from the brand was mind-blowing to me. Because brand recognition is truly what gets your work out there and brings opportunities to you.
The TikTok of the look has over 250,000 views. Thinking my work has had so much recognition reassures me I made the right decision I did years ago!
Keep up with Rosie-May Bartlett and her work on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. For more local Fashion and Beauty stories, click here. Also don’t forget to follow HQB News on our socials. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.