This is what it's like being a makeup artist during COVID-19

"Life has been put on pause," says Mika Brzezinski’s makeup artist, Wilbert Ramos.
Wilbert Ramos, professional makeup artist and hair stylist.
Wilbert Ramos, professional makeup artist and hair stylist.Courtesy of Wilbert Ramos.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Wilbert Ramos

The life of a makeup artist and hair stylist during the coronavirus pandemic is uncertain, sad and frustrating. One day you’re living the glam life, making everyone look like the best versions of themselves,, while the next day you’re hiding at home from an invisible killer.

I’ve been working for “Morning Joe” at MSNBC for 12 years. My husband, Bismarck Maisonet, is also a makeup artist but for “Fox and Friends.”

Like many Americans who work in the beauty industry, our jobs have been put on hold. When you must stay six-feet away from someone, it is literally impossible to do what we do. Life has been put on pause.

There has been a silver lining in this pandemic, as Bismarck, our 15-year-old son Dorian and I are able to spend time that we would not normally have together. But this, too, has been difficult, in terms of our son’s school work and social life. We are lucky that our son knows that the only way to stop this pandemic and avoid getting sick is staying at home. But when you are a teenager, your friends are everything. How many times a month can you play Monopoly and cards with your parents?

We don’t live in a house, we live in an apartment in the Bronx. Going outside safely in New York City is hard. We don’t have a balcony or a backyard. We are stuck in a 1,000-square-foot box.

I know that as much as my son says he is OK, that he is not. He is bored and misses school and friends. We get calls from friends in Puerto Rico, where we are from. They also send us photos of themselves at the beach and in their backyards, and it makes us sad because we don’t have that right now. And we don’t know for how long this will last.

Before COVID-19, we were thinking about buying a house. So, we were working on saving money between our two jobs and taking on private clients, sometimes working 16 straight hours a day. The pandemic has put everything on hold. Since the social distancing order, there is no work. And saving money, for now, is out of the question. We've been donating a little of the extra money we used to spend on school transportation and eating out to help other families in need.

The good news is that we are still being paid by our companies and we will be forever grateful. But we also can’t help to wonder, like many Americans, how long this will continue, especially if we’re not working in the studios?

I love my job so much and am doing what I always dreamed of. I just hope I’ll be able to continue to do it, not only for my own fulfillment, but to help support my family and put my son through school. The uncertainty keeps me awake at night.

From left to right: Bismarck Maisonet, Mika Brzezinski, Dorian Ramos and Wilbert Ramos.Courtesy of Wilbert Ramos.

I think COVID-19 will change the makeup industry. We’ll have to wear masks and gloves, at least for the time being to keep everyone safe. We’ll have to be extra considerate and thoughtful. Safety must come first. I don’t get sick often, and if I do, I wouldn’t come to work anyways because I understand that we are in clients’ faces for at least 30 minutes. Others who work in the beauty industry need to understand this as well.

It’s been interesting watching the talent that we work for doing their own makeup from their homes. They are doing the best they can, but I can’t help to want to jump in and fix little mistakes so they can look their best. Vanity aside, makeup is a confidence booster, especially for someone who makes a living in front of a camera.

I can’t wait for the world to get rid of this virus, so we can all go back to work and do what we love.