Roi Santos cover
Roi Santos cover | Foto: Roi Santos cover

Roi Santos: Bring Out the Best in You

Por: Karen Limón

24, November, 2021 en Maxhealth & Beauty

A makeup artist like Roi Santos sees things beyond the surface not paying attention to what they are but focusing on the potential of what they can be. As beauty is filtered in our own perception, Roi’s gift is to unshackle one’s inner glow so they can shine and uncover their true essence.

Roi always dreamed about working in the beauty industry. “At a young age, I already knew I was different compared to my peers who didn’t share the same interest as I did. During the 90s, while boys loved to play with toy guns, I gravitated toward the girlie stuff and was more fascinated in dressing up my dolls to make them attractive for my toy Ken,” he shares.

Roi was born in the Philippines but migrated to the US at an early age. “Overall, my childhood was amazing. I am severely blessed to have wonderful parents that have guided and supported me,” he relays. Roi recalls an incident when his mother accompanied him to a department store to buy a casual short-sleeve shirt for a gathering at school. “The entire row of shirts were color-coordinated with shades of black, red, green, orange, brown, blue, yellow, pink, and purple. I didn’t think twice and of course, chose the girliest colors―pink and purple,” he quips. To Roi’s surprise, his mother bought all the shirts he had selected with no qualms. Roi has never forgotten that experience which depicted his mother’s unconditional love and acceptance.

In high school, Roi was bullied for the outfits he wore, possessing a thick Filipino accent, and his odd mannerisms. To improve his speech, Roi would enunciate the characters of the cartoon shows he watched. Undergoing puberty involved skin issues and dealing with his sexuality. “I knew deep inside I was different. I felt useless and ugly with no star quality,” he divulges. Despite being ridiculed, Roi learned to embrace his flaws acknowledging that this is what makes him special. “If I had the power to go back in time, I would warn my younger self that being an adolescent will be the toughest time of your life. It’s going to suck and people can mess you up and take advantage of you. I couldn’t comprehend back then that I needed to embrace these quirks because that’s what makes me unique and being authentically me is what people are going to love me for,” he confides.

Since Roi suffered from cystic acne, he searched for makeup at various department stores to cover his scars and blemishes. “I would ask numerous questions from the sales clerk ranging from color correcting to using the right shade of concealer and foundation for me. Learning about makeup exhilarated me and I felt like I opened Pandora’s box. The whole process brought me joy and I was amazed that I could achieve intricate and glamorous makeup.” He smiles.

What initially started as a need to treat his skin developed into a makeup artist career for Roi who has been in the industry for ten years now. Roi started experimenting with makeup on his mom and sister who presented themselves as his guinea pigs. After encountering many trials and errors, he managed to cultivate his craft. Shortly after, his peers recognized his natural and flawless makeup style and that’s when Roi booked his first gig which brought about more clients.

To learn more about the beauty industry and advance his skill as a makeup artist, Roi pursued a degree in Cosmetology at the College of San Mateo and is now a licensed cosmetologist. “After obtaining my license, I was hired as a Salon Apprentice at Barberia Salon in Foster City and worked there for three years. The owner was so impressed with my makeup skills that he requested me to create his own makeup line to sell inside his salon. He named the brand MYA after his granddaughter’s name, which means ‘Make yourself amazing.’ I remember being so ecstatic like a kid in a candy store. It was a dream come true because I was very much involved in the creation of the makeup which became a sought-after product for our clients—a one-stop-shop.” An inner glow radiates from his eyes. Unfortunately, the salon closed due to the Covid pandemic, but this big break opened more doors for Roi. “Given my young age and fresh out of school, I consider this to be a rewarding experience and definitely a beautiful badge under my belt,” he adds.

Roi is a well-rounded and versatile makeup artist, who isn’t intimidated to go beyond his comfort zone. His makeup style is polished, with a twist of a modern flair combined with special effects. “I always ask my clients about their preferences and what they want to achieve so I can get to know them better and establish a trusting relationship. This is fundamental because once a client trusts you, everything will fall into place,” he states.

After Roi becomes more acquainted with his clients, he finds the right undertone of concealer and foundation to match their skin type. “This is crucial since each skin type has to mirror the formulas of the foundation they use and choosing the right undertone will ensure that both face and neck match,” he informs. Roi advises choosing the right shade of lipstick and eyeshadow to compliment the outfit they are wearing. “Makeup shouldn’t change you, but instead reveal who you truly are.”

Roi expresses his creativity by transforming his clients’ looks into an enhanced version of themselves. “I am a perfectionist who ensures that every client feels welcome, leaves with a great experience, and most importantly they have a new friend. Witnessing the glow on their face after their natural beauty has been transformed is priceless. After learning makeup tips and tricks, I promised myself that someday people will come up to me and say, ‘because of you Roi, I didn’t give up.’ I aim to be a role model.” He beams with pride.

Although beauty comes in different forms, Roi believes that beauty is universal and contains the inner light that shines through one’s smile and gentle eyes injected with confidence. “I love teaching my clients self-love, confidence, and joy. It’s not about having the perfect makeup brushes, colorful eyeshadows, the right shade of concealer, or a creative hairstyle, but about telling a story without saying a word,” he declares.

While Roi has come to terms with his past of being bullied and having to deal with his skin condition, he still recalls how each time he looked at the mirror and his inner saboteur would tell him that he was not good enough, but that all changed when he started eating healthy food, exercising, and taking care of his skin. “I became dedicated to bettering myself. I can confidently do anyone’s makeup because I’ve learned there’s no way I can help other people feel good about themselves without loving myself first,” he says.

Roi is currently a Service Coordinator at Sephora in Burlingame and his job has provided more opportunities for him. He is extremely blessed to be working with Nicole, an amazing Store Director, and Jayde a remarkable Service Lead, who trained him so he can represent the core values of Sephora. “Through their ample support and patience, I have maximized my potential to be the best employee one can ever be,” he says.

Roi believes in synchronicity and being at the right place at the right time. “I wouldn’t have met Rufa Mae Quinto if not for my job and am forever grateful to her because she took me under her wing and introduced me to her inner circle. And because of her, I met the amazing photographer Vinnie Gotti who provided this magazine feature. The stars are aligned and the rest is still unwritten. Anyone can be a makeup artist but not everyone can be a star.” He winks.

As Roi evolves in his career, his future goal is to create his signature makeup line that he can be proud of. Aside from that, Roi plans to be an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community so he can use this platform to share his experience regarding his sexuality. Roi concludes this interview with nuggets of wisdom inspired by his makeup. “I live and breathe makeup. My purpose in this world is to make everyone feel like a million bucks. I’ve learned that everything you put on is the essence of something that was created. Don’t be afraid to unleash the magic from within.”

Through makeup, Roi Santos defines the source of beauty and the authenticity of who you truly are. He brings out the best in you.

INSTAGRAM: @roithemakeupartist