This week, our #COTW is 17-year-old makeup and SFX artist Milly Layla Henderson.
Based in Silloth in Cumbria, Milly's work ranges from stunningly flawless glam and more traditional make up looks to incredibly life-like and mind-blowing SFX (special effects) makeup. Her Instagram is full of incredible creations, including zombies, aliens and horror movie style gore.
Milly has also amassed an impressive 11.7k following on TikTok, where she showcases her looks in a variety of creative ways via TikTok challenges, makeup tutorials and more.
We got the chance to catch up with Milly and talk about what inspires her, her future goals and rising above the fear other people's opinions.
Tell us about how you first got into makeup and SFX makeup, what has your journey been like as a makeup artist so far?
Well I have been playing around with makeup my whole life really, but it has just been the past few years I have really focused on my makeup skills. My Dad has played a big part in my creative side as he taught me how to draw and develop my artistic skills, every Halloween he used to sit me and my sister down and do elaborate Halloween makeup on us which I think has helped me a lot watching my Dad do it.
SFX makeup is still quite a recent thing in my skill set. I came across it from watching a lot of YouTube videos and tutorials. I always wanted to give it a go so I think it was 2019 when I started learning myself how to do SFX, buying the tools and equipment to learn the basics. I’m still learning everyday new techniques and skills whether it be from my Dad, my tutor, or YouTube videos.
Who or what influences and inspires you?
A couple of my big influences in the SFX/ body art world would have to be a YouTuber called ‘Glam and Gore’ she is crazy talented in what she does. Her work is a lot of prosthetics and gore. Also, there is a body paint artist called ‘Madeyewlook’ on YouTube she is incredible, she does a lot of illusion work using just paints. A lot of the people that I’m around as well like friends and family influence me as well in that they are always coming up with new ideas and looks for me to create or that they want to see me do.
What has been your favourite look to create so far and why?
Ooo this is a hard one, I think it would have to be day 25 of my 31 days of Halloween challenge. This was the ‘accidents at work’ look me and my Dad came up with the idea, this one was well planned in advance as we needed to plan how I was going to pull it off. A lot of things changed from the first/ original idea as it was either not going to work or we had developed the idea. To get the final images it was a bit of a task, but we managed, my Dad was taking the photos for me, I had part of a scaffolding pole in my mouth, I had to hold it under my jaw and my Mam came and helped by holding the one above me, I’d say we had good teamwork.
TW: Special effects gore makeup
What advice would you give to someone looking to start getting into makeup?
I would say just go for it. I know for a long time for myself especially when I was in secondary school I cared so much about what people at my school were going to say, So I put off starting my makeup account. I kick myself now thinking about it because it shouldn’t matter what other people think, if you are enjoying yourself and other people enjoy seeing it, you shouldn’t put yourself down by focusing on the negatives all the time, which you will get. I know it’s easier said than done sometimes, but when you start to focus more on the positives, like the nice comments or your achievements you will start to love what you do more.
What does makeup mean to you?
I’ve always been an artistic person I feel like makeup to me is a way for me to get my art across to the world and it expresses the way I feel. I also feel like makeup can change a mood or how you are feeling to some extent as when I’m feeling low if I do my makeup I instantly feel a little better and confident. I love the transformation as well, like when you watch people do makeup looks it’s intriguing to see and trying to guess what the look will be. The same happens when I start a look with no planning, I’m curious what I will come up with and what the end result will look like.
What drew you to SFX makeup?
A number of years before I tried SFX makeup I watched it on YouTube and in films and was drawn to the level of skill and how the artist makes it look so realistic. I loved SFX as it was different. On apps like Instagram when you used to search stuff like ‘make up looks’ or ‘makeup’ it was all glam like Smokey eyes and bold lips which is still amazing but I like stuff that's different, so I think when I started to see these crazy creative makeup looks I was so amazed. They are my favourite looks to create; I think they always will be.
We love your TikTok content, could you tell us a bit about how you decided to start your TikTok and why?
Originally I started on Instagram and just Instagram, but as TikTok became more popular I decided to start to post tutorial type videos on both platforms to get a wider range of audience. I started my TikTok back in 2018 doing makeup looks. When I started using TikTok for my makeup it helped me build confidence in myself and my skill even though I wasn’t getting loads of likes or followers it was just the few comments telling me how good I was, it made me realise that I might have found something to keep pushing and carry on doing. Which I have and it’s started to pay off a little bit, but even though I have more followers than when I started, I’m still pushing as much and as hard.
'Every Halloween my Dad used to sit me and my sister down and do elaborate Halloween makeup on us, which I think has helped me a lot watching him do it.'
You have a very impressive TikTok following! Do you ever feel nervous creating content for so many people to see? If so, how do you deal with this? Is confidence important when it comes to being a makeup artist?
No not really, when I’m creating a new look instead of feeling nervous I class every new creation as a challenge to overcome nervousness and to make it exciting. I think the only time I have ever felt nervous is when I have really liked a creation, I was scared it wasn’t going to do well or the message would not get across. Confidence is always important as with everything. As you can see straight away when someone isn’t feeling confident. As long as you have confidence and finesse you can make it big in the makeup industry as people will look at your work, but you need to be a good person as well.
What plans do you have for the future?
Short term I’m doing another 2 years at college I will be doing level 4 and 5 in media makeup which will be amazing for developing my skill set. I will also continue to produce work for my social media platforms. Long term I want to either develop my own business or try to get into film makeup which is a big dream of mine.