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Nam Vo's Journey to Becoming a Celebrity Makeup Artist

Nam Vo's Journey From Bridal Makeup Artist to Instagram Queen of the "Dewy Dumplings"

"Throughout the last 12 years in New York City, I really manifested my dreams here, and it turned out to be much bigger than I could ever even imagine for myself." 

The defining moment of her career came a few years after her rise to fame on Instagram. At that point, she was so used to saying yes to every job offer she was given as a freelancer that when she could finally say "no" comfortably, she felt like she'd officially made it. "That was a pivotal moment for me," Vo said. "That's when I knew that I'd done something right and I'd had some level of success. I was like, 'You're doing OK, dumpling. You're doing OK.'"

The celebrity clientele started rolling in shortly after. Paris Hilton was one of the first people she worked with, and the relationship came organically. "Because of Instagram, celebrities find you," Vo said. 

The whirlwind of opportunities — from big-name clients to brand deals — that followed still has Vo pinching herself. "I feel tremendously grateful. I used to hang out on Avenue C, date DJs, eat $1 pizza — throughout the last 12 years in New York City, I really manifested my dreams here, and it turned out to be much bigger than I could ever even imagine for myself." 

Still, through it all, there was always one underlying certainty: "It would always have to be beauty," Vo said.
Image Source: Bonnie Mills / Courtesy of Nam Vo / Getty Images

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Welcome to Big Break, where some of the most influential figures in the beauty industry reflect on the moments that made them — from the good to the bad and everything in between. Here, celebrity makeup artist Nam Vo shares how she moved to NYC with a dream and worked her way up to gaining celebrity clientele like Paris Hilton, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Kylie Jenner and building an army of "dewy dumplings."

You know the dewy-skin look that practically everyone on Instagram is trying to emulate? You have Nam Vo to thank for that. But long before she had her own little army of "dewy dumplings" and she was swiping highlighter onto famous faces, Vo was just a girl in California who was obsessed with models, actresses, pageants, and all things beauty.

"I didn't grow up around glamorous people at all," Vo told POPSUGAR. "I just was always attracted to glamour and powerful women." That manifested in giving her friends makeovers and doing makeshift photo shoots, but it was all self-taught. The little beauty knowledge she had at the time came from the nail salon, which she frequented with her aunts.

"Growing up in a Vietnamese culture, women prioritize their skin," she said. She knew from a young age to be "scared of the sun" and to invest in good products. "They would spend, like, a hundred dollars on face cream, and it was always Shiseido." She still remembers her first beauty splurge as a teenager: Shiseido Bio-Performance.

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