This Local Makeup Artist is Unveiling Thirty-One Spooktacular Halloween Looks Throughout October
Learn how Melissa Rodriguez first came up with MELtober and get a sneak peek of what she has in store for the rest of the month.
While some of us may be just beginning to think about what creepy costume we will don two weeks from now, others, like Providence-based makeup artist, Melissa Rodriguez, already have plenty of ideas to choose from. Rodriguez has been celebrating spooky season all month long with MELtober, a self-made Instagram challenge where she debuts a different (incredibly realistic and creative) Halloween-inspired makeup look each day from October 1st to the 31st. We caught up with the immensely talented local beauty guru to learn more about how she first got into makeup, what inspired her to take on the challenge, and a get preview of what she has planned for the grand finale.
How and when did you start getting into makeup?
Since I was a young girl, I was always interested in makeup. I’d always play around with my mom’s collection, but it wasn’t until high school when I got a job and was able to buy my own makeup that I got into it more seriously. Immediately after high school, I practically lived makeup. I’d watch YouTube for hours on end and followed so many makeup artists on my social media, always learning new techniques and new products. I immediately knew it was my passion, and loved creating looks. Around April 2017 was when I decided to pursue my makeup career. I applied at MAC in Nordstrom at the Providence Place Mall and (to my surprise) was hired. I worked at MAC for a little less than two years before deciding to move on and start my freelancing career. On September 2018, I quit and decided to start freelancing while traveling to people’s homes as well as working weddings. Now, as of September 2021, I’ve been working from my own studio space.
Tell us more about the services you provide and clients you typically work with. Do you only serve Rhode Island or beyond as well?
I provide both glam and bridal services as well as one-on-ones where my clients can come in and sit with me to have a private, customized, two- to three-hour session to perfect their own makeup routines. I specialize in a full glam makeup look. I have clients who come in for birthday glam, night-out glam, photoshoot glam, you name it. I also provide travel bridal services for full bridal parties and/or just the brides. For my individual appointments, I do work in-studio — I’ve had clients travel to me from as far as New York, as well as other neighboring states like Massachusetts and Connecticut. I also provide travel services for bridal makeup. I’ve traveled to New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and even had the greatest blessing of working out of the country in both the Dominican Republic in 2021 and Greece this past July.
Have you always been a big Halloween fan? How about horror movies? If so, what’s your favorite Halloween/horror movie and why?
I have actually always been a huge Halloween fan! Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved all things spooky. I also absolutely love horror movies. It’s hard to pick a favorite — I’ve watched so many, from the classics to the cartoons to even the remakes of the classics. But if I had to pick just one, for entertainment, I’d say Halloween. For some reason, these are the movies I watch EVERY Halloween season.
But for the makeup [aspect], I’d say Disney’s “Halloweentown.” I absolutely LOVE looking at all of the makeup of every character in those films. The amount of different characters, all of the colors, it’s all so amazing to me!
What was the first character makeup look you ever attempted?
The very first character makeup look I ever attempted was a simple Halloween pumpkin.
Tell us more about MELtober! When did you first get the idea for it and what inspired you? What is your process for developing each look?
I got the idea for MELtober in 2020. A friend of mine actually came up with the name! During quarantine, for some time, I was feeling very uninspired in the makeup department. I guess the mixture of not being able to work and staying home really got me in a funk. It wasn’t until after quarantine when things started to open back up and I was working regularly again that I got the idea to attempt a few Halloween makeup looks for my followers. I actually never planned to do the thirty-one daily looks, but the very first post I uploaded (the pumpkin) got so much positive feedback on my Instagram that I was so overwhelmed (with joy, of course), and I said I could do thirty-one looks. Why not, right? In fact, from the very first look, everyone assumed I was going to do all thirty-one days and I did NOT want to disappoint!
My process is a little here and there. I do plan a list throughout the year, but it’s more of a tentative list as I get ideas from my followers and friends and family who send me videos, pictures and characters. I don’t only pick characters I’m familiar with, but once I decide to do one I don’t know, I do watch the show and/or movie for them. I don’t practice the looks, I kind of just wing them, honestly. I have done a few where I wasn’t satisfied with the finished look and redid them. Looks have taken me as little as two hours and as long as eight-and-a-half hours. I’d say on average, though, it takes roughly around three to four hours!
Which look is your favorite so far? Which are you most proud of?
My favorite looks thus far:
2020 — The Corpse Bride.
2021 — Skull, Scream mask, and the Mad Hatter.
2022 — Billy the Puppet.
The look I am most proud of, however, is the Mad Hatter. This was actually one of the first looks that I had to paint a character’s clothes on my body for. I was so nervous for this one because, at first, I did doubt myself with all of the details it required, but after finishing it and seeing how good it looked for me, I was so proud of myself!
Which look was the most challenging to pull off?
The most challenging look for me thus far was definitely Billy the Puppet. I had to create the illusion of an open mouth and eyes and, by far, this was the look that I had some trouble with. But instead of completely removing it mid-process, I pulled through and was so happy I did because I absolutely loved it. I actually didn’t want to remove it after taking my pictures and videos!
Can you tease any of your upcoming looks for the rest of the month? Did you save the “best” for last on Halloween?
I actually haven’t decided which is my final look. But I do have an idea. I have two options: one from a VERY popular Netflix show and another from a CLASSIC Halloween movie that (hint hint) just had their twenty-ninth anniversary! But I honestly haven’t decided because I’ve loved so many of the ones I’ve already done. I keep telling myself they’re all the “best” for me!
Do you have any tips for those who will be attempting to do their own makeup this Halloween? Do you have any products you’d recommend?
I think my biggest tip for anyone attempting their own makeup is to be patient. The looks do take quite some time and sitting that long does require a lot of patience. Also, do not feel discouraged if you don’t get it the first time or even the second. Perfection doesn’t come instantly and this is something I also remind myself daily! I’d hate to see anyone get discouraged because they didn’t get their desired look on the very first try because, even for me, I’ve had to do looks multiple times before perfecting certain techniques. Some of my favorite products are the water-based paints from Mehron, Graftobian, and MAC cosmetics. These are so easy to work with since they are water-based all you need is a brush dipped in water and the color pay off is amazing (also the removal with soap and water is easy, so that’s also a plus.)
Are you planning to participate in any other IG “challenges” throughout the year?
I have done challenges during Christmas time as well. In 2020, I did a MELcember where I did twenty-five days of Christmas looks! And in 2021 I did twelve days of Christmas where I did twelve looks leading up to Christmas.
This year I’m thinking of keeping the tradition going and doing something for Christmas, as well. I’d love to do a Valentine’s Day series, too!
For those looking to utilize your services, how far in advance should they book? Is there anything else that would be helpful for them to know prior to booking?
For individual appointments, my calendar is open up to two months in advance. My calendar opens up every first of the month. Meaning, November opens in September and December opens in October, etc. For anyone looking to book glam makeup appointments, I always say the earlier the better since my weekends are usually booked quickly soon after opening up my calendar. I do have a website to book all of my services and this is the most efficient/ quickest way to secure an appointment. All a client has to do is open the calendar, pick their date and time and pay a $20 deposit upon booking. I do not take appointments via email or DMs (with the exception of bridal services.) All bridal services are required to book via email and for this I do recommend a year to year and a half in advance. I am currently already receiving inquiries for 2024, so for any future brides, it is never too early to book!
If you’d like to follow along with the rest of MELtober and see which look she chooses for the grand finale on Halloween, check out her instagram, @mrodriguez_xo. If you’ looking to learn more about Rodriguez’s makeup services, head to melissarodriguezmakeup.com.