A PURA Muse is a woman who inspires us with their content, business, work ethic, values or beliefs. This woman is aligned with the goals and motivations that we strive for each day here at PURA Botanicals (if they are already a PURA lover, it makes it all the better!). Our monthly muse is working to elevate their community through their business, volunteerism, or their commitment to wellness, and they consistently advocate for well-being & intentional living.
The PURA Muse May 2021: Hair & Make-up Artist Anna Nenoiu
Your love for fashion and beauty runs deep...can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a fashion/celebrity hair and makeup artist based in Toronto?
Growing up in Transylvania, Romania, I was immersed in the art and magic of plant-based, time-honoured beauty rituals. One of my earliest memories is lying back on a table every week while my grandmother washed my long, dark hair with homemade soap and rinsed it with cold water and vinegar for extra shine. Sometimes, we would use lemon juice to add natural highlights in the summer. You can imagine me as a ribbon of flowing hair, bounding through the Romanian fairy tale countryside of lavender fields and orchards which were peppered by medieval ruins. My grandparents had a mill and a bakery and I can still remember awakening to the smell of bread wafting through my windows every morning. My family valued arts and culture and my father was one of the best bassoon players in the world. I fondly remember escaping to museums and galleries together as a family. Growing up, self-care was a celebrated and shared experience with other women and I have so many memories with my grandmother, mother, aunts, and great-aunt. As women, I feel that we were very liberated in the acceptance of the self. The men joined us in our self-care rituals when we would visit the natural thermal baths for rejuvenating vacations. Living together as a multi-generational family, my grandparents were also a fundamental part of raising me and as I grew older, I remember grooming and shaving my grandfather every Sunday before church (and continued to do this when I went back to visit as an adult).
At the tender age of sixteen, I followed my mother to Canada in search of a brighter and democratic future. Leaving my closely-knit, extended family was heart-wrenching, but I looked to Canada as a veritable ‘Garden of Eden’. My first impressions of Toronto were varied as I found it to be conservative in the arts world compared to European standards, but also full of life and colour in other ways. In Canada, drugstores lined with rows of cosmetics, deodorants, and fragrances delighted my senses. Growing up in the countryside where we relied on naturopathic remedies, I had never been in a drugstore with such an extensive array of products, so you can imagine my awe and excitement!
I finished my education in Toronto and studied painting and sculpture at York University. Pouring over fashion magazines in the library, I was blissfully unaware that my obsession with style would eventually lead me to my career as a make-up artist. When I was asked by a friend to help out with make-up on a photoshoot, I jumped at the chance and went door to door in my apartment complex, borrowing make-up from my neighbours. As an artist, I was both delighted and anxious about creating art on a live subject, but this became the ‘aha’ moment that launched my entire career. I started calling up photographers in Toronto to ask for opportunities they may have for aspiring make-up artists. I loved it from the very beginning and those feelings of being on set and creating inexplicable beauty with other artists has never left. When I started, I was bartending on the side before moving ahead, full-steam into the life of a freelance make-up artist. At the time, I was also a single mother and freelancing was a terrifyingly fluid career choice. On the other hand, this lifestyle also gave me time with my precious daughter, Kyla. I have always worked to make my daughter proud and encouraged her to follow her passions and find fulfillment in her career. Lately, I have become more acutely aware of how my life has come full circle as my upbringing has profoundly influenced how I treat the model/celebrity/client in my chair and I always do my best help them glow from the inside out. As I have grown older, I have also noticed that while physical beauty may fade, the essence of a person will always shine. It would seem that I have been on a journey to inspire beauty from within from the very beginning.
What have been some of your career highlights and/or favourite creative projects that have brought you the most joy?
I have always been counting my career blessings as there have been so many. One of my first career highlights was a job with Harper’s Bazaar in Thailand for a bridal shoot. To be able to see such a uniquely gorgeous part of the world was a dream fulfilled. I remember being recruited to work as a make-up artist for a Gucci fashion show in Florence and how seeing Jared Leto and Selma Hayek in the front row was ‘pinch me’ incredible. It was also very affirming for me to be working together with the best make-up artists in the world.
I would say that my milestone, celebrity career highlight was when I worked with Brooke Shields. Working with any celebrity is always a highly secretive experience and I usually don’t have stage fright, but I was very nervous with her (I was obsessed with Blue Lagoon at the time and Brooke Shields was my teenage beauty idol). I was thrilled that I would be touching those famous eyebrows! I remember her as being very lovely, warm, and that we had the best conversation. I have come to realize that the relationship between make-up artist and their subject is a very intimate experience as personal stories and values are shared in confidence. After working with Brooke Shields, she recommended me to her PR agency in NYC. For me, it is the biggest compliment to be trusted by someone else’s inner circle; especially when they have such influence. I firmly believe that connecting with others in an authentic way has brought incredible opportunities and I have always carefully nurtured my professional relationships at work. I can’t help but mention working with Lady Gaga as being a career highlight as well. I remember her as fierce and fabulous!
As your family and career have evolved over time, how do you think your definition of ‘self-care’ has changed? How are you practising self-care during the extended lockdowns in Ontario?
Over the course of extended lockdowns, I have realized that there are so many layers to self-care. Slowing down to nurture the body, mind, and spirit is the number one most important thing in self-care and brings about the truest sense of self. My skincare routine literally translates to physical relaxation as human touch (even it if is your own) is very calming. Spending time with self is so important and as the societal norms of self expression - such as beautiful dresses, high heels and the joys of a stunning red lip - have been stripped away, our standards around beauty have changed. Through the pandemic, I have been focused on cultivating inner beauty and developing a more simplified self-care regimen. As the largest organ, the skin manifests stress and throughout the last year, I have been refining my daily skincare regimen to include both healthy and comforting routines. Harkening back to my childhood at-home beauty rituals, I have been transforming my home in downtown Toronto into a haven for meditation and beauty. At the beginning of the lockdowns last year, I experienced so much familial loss as my treasured grandparents both passed away. Meditating, walking outside, drawing baths and then meditating again have helped me heal and find new strength from within. Once or twice a week, I try to go for a sunrise walk with my dog which has been a very grounding experience in and of itself. I have also been engaging my mind by taking courses in digital marketing, creating social media content for a local medispa platform, drafting online newsletters and branching out into graphic design and video editing.
As a beauty expert and self-care guru, how have you incorporated PURA into your daily and/or weekly skincare routines? What sort of tips and tricks have you discovered in terms of how to use PURA potions in a multi-functional way? Do you have a stand-out favourite PURA potion?
I have had such a pleasant experience with PURA and thoroughly enjoyed the texture and efficacy of each product. PURA offers high-end luxury that is uncommon in natural skincare products - not only is PURA’s packaging luxurious, the delicate botanical aromas of their potions are heavenly. Recently diagnosed with Addison’s Disease, I had an unexplained allergic reaction on my face last week and PURA’s Radiant Face Drops relieved my inflammation and completely restored my natural glow. I cannot rave about this product enough! I love how it is so versatile - I use it on my face, rub it into my cuticles, and using it on-set (over make-up), it gives the skin an otherworldly luminescence. I also love PURA’s Princess Clementine moisturizer as it is such a lightweight formula. I use the Rosemary Clarifying Mist daily since it is paradoxically refreshing and calming at the same time. I also practice self-massage with the Cocoa & Rose Body Oil and spend time massaging the pulse points on my hands, feet, and neck. The aroma of this oil is so delicate and soft with feminine rose notes grounded by sensual cocoa and vanilla.
What is next for you and has the pandemic changed how you have thought about your career trajectory? Please share with us a bit about launching your newest endeavour: The Beauty Confidant.
I have been birthing my latest project during COVID - The Beauty Confidant - as a way to share my knowledge and expertise with those who are not in my make-up chair. I have been in the beauty industry for twenty-five years, so I feel as though I can confidently refer to myself as an expert. Over the years, I have found that great skincare sets the stage for a successful makeup application. The better you feel, the more you radiate outwardly. My idea for The Beauty Confidant started with sharing make-up tips and tricks and has evolved into sharing my favourite products, teaching how to cleanse your beauty cabinet (i.e. replace conventional beauty products with more natural ones), and distill words of beauty wisdom I have gleaned over many years. The beauty world can be such an overwhelming experience and I would like to take out the guessing game by offering personalized skincare and beauty recommendations through my online platform. As I was working on set one day, I realized that my relationship as a make-up artist to client, celebrity, or model was so intimate - that the person within arms reach in front of me was literally sitting in a sort of confession chair that encouraged us to share our deepest selves with each other in confidence. I want to treat my audience as through they were one of my very best friends sitting in my make-up chair - with an approachability and intimacy as if we were sitting face to face. I am very close to launching my website at the beginning of June. I will also be featured on The Beyond Beauty Project podcast at the beginning of next month. It’s all been part of the process of learning to share my lived experience with others in an individual yet widespread way. I’m very much looking forward to helping women face the world as the very best version of themselves!
When it is safe to jump on a plane again, where is the first place you will be going?
Home - back to Transylvania where I grew up. As this pandemic has continued for so long however, I have realized more and more that home is not a place, but rather a state of being with those I love very much.
Follow Anna on Instagram: @annanenoiu for more skincare and make-up inspiration.