PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Actors and actresses usually hit the red carpet and awards shows looking pretty glamorous, like at Wednesday night’s People’s Choice Awards.
Most often, it’s thanks to help from stylists and makeup artists.
One local makeup artist is making international headlines for her work and her determination to overcome some difficult challenges.
“Today we’re going to do an extremely vibrant look,” said makeup artist Jessica Ruiz.
For Jessica Ruiz, every face is like a fresh canvas that she transforms into a work of art.
For this 27-year-old, the artistry begins the moment she picks up a makeup brush with her mouth.
“It motivated me to the fullest,” said Ruiz.
Born with arthrogryposis, a congenital muscle disorder that affects all four of her limbs, Jessica refused to let her disability become a disheartening disadvantage. By middle school, she was applying her own makeup, even practicing on friends.
“I got to be honest it wasn’t the perfect, you know the perfect eyeliner or the perfect mascara, it was a mess,” said Ruiz.
After applying to beauty schools after high school, she says she was rejected by every one.
“They told me that cosmetology was not in, you know the best efforts for myself because of the way that I did makeup with my mouth. Um they said that it wasn’t sanitary,” said Ruiz.
So Jessica studied videos and taught herself a technique that she’s now mastered.
“The good thing about being able to do makeup with my mouth is that I am so close to the base, so lines are extremely precise,” sad Ruiz.
“The first time I was amazed. I was wondering like how is she going to do my makeup with her mouth and then when I saw the aftermath it turned out beautiful.”
Her work has landed her the lead makeup artist role for Philly Small Business Fashion Week and she’s received several mentions in national publications like Glamour and People magazine.
“Philly Small Business Fashion Week is all about giving opportunities, it gives a platform for small businesses to showcase their talent so if I were to turn her situation down it would have kind of been contradicting myself,” said Dawane Cromwell of Embacy Management.
Despite limited mobility in her arms, opportunities seem limitless for Jessica, who is living out her dream one brush stroke at a time.
“Can’t is no longer in my vocabulary and a disability is all within the mind. Only you can limit yourself to what you are capable of doing,” said Ruiz.
For now Jessica works out of a small studio in South Philadelphia, but she’s well on her way to accomplishing her dream of one day owning her own salon and creating her own makeup line.