MUA Spotlight On: Joanna Alva

TGIF! It’s about that time again to meet another talented MUA. Let me introduce you guys to Joanna ♥. She was born and raised in Sunnyvale, California. By profession, she’s a Paralegal and a Notary Public. Her passion for makeup started at a young age, however, she hadn’t fully emerged until a year ago. When she graduated high school she considered going to cosmetology school, but the idea of doing hair and nails wasn’t appealing to her. What steered her towards makeup recently was that she craved creativity in a way that she was not able to express at work.  After doing a lot of research on different schools, she decided to take a certified makeup course with a local makeup artist. The reason why she didn’t want to take a mainstream beauty school course is because she felt it was more beneficial to learn from a makeup artist who was currently working in the field and who could give her real life experience. She’s learned a lot and has applied everything she’s learned to her freelance work.


What is your favorite high-end brand?

I’m currently obsessed with anything and everything Anastasia Beverly Hills. There are a lot of amazing brands like Urban Decay, Kat Von D, Nars and Make Up For Ever, but my obsession at the moment is definitely ABH.

What are 3 makeup items you couldn’t possibly live without?

I’m going to have to go with 1) ABH brow powder, because I could probably double up and use it as a shadow, 2) ABH Liquid Lipstick in Dusty Rose, because the formula and color are simply to die for, and 3) the Sephora Collection High Precision Liquid Liner in Black. I feel like a bold lip, fierce liner and well-defined brows are all a girl really needs. Everything else is just fun and creativity.

What’s your favorite drugstore brand?

I can honestly say I’m a huge fan of E.L.F. Cosmetics. I feel like they’ve done such a good job of bringing affordable products to the public that get the job done. Yes, I can rave about Maybelline and L’Oreal. Their products are great, but to be completely honest, when I think “drugstore” I think affordability, and yes they’re affordable, but it’s not that big of a jump in comparison to say Sephora brands. E.L.F. is definitely the most affordable and I commend them for that.

What type of beauty product do you buy the most of (mascaras, concealers, lipsticks etc)?

I tend to gravitate towards buying lip products, i.e liquid lipsticks, lip pencils, glosses, etc. I love how a lipstick can totally change a look, from subtle and natural to bold and edgy.

What is the most common makeup faux pas that you see?

Brows!!! I’m not a fan of “mad brows”. LOL

Do you have a “beauty budget” or do you spend freely?

I definitely don’t have a beauty budget, but that doesn’t mean I don’t shop with the beauty budget mindset if that makes sense. I like to limit myself to shopping when I know I’m getting a good deal.

What’s your favorite lipstick?

As mentioned before, I’m in love with ABH Liquid Lipstick in Dusty Rose, but I am also liking Kat Von D’s Lolita.

Describe your everyday makeup look.

This is a hard one, I don’t really have an “everyday” make up look. I tend to coordinate my outfits with certain makeup looks. However, with that said, I do wear a lot of black and my “everyday” look would consist of a black winged liner with some Demi Wispies, light contour, blush/bronzer, highlight, and a colored lip.

What’s your favorite mascara?

Favorite mascara goes to Benefit They’re Real.

Is there any celebrity that you get your makeup inspiration from & why that celebrity?

Rachel Bilson, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis – basically all women who have a cute sense of style and their makeup is more on the classic side.

Do you have some favorite beauty gurus? If so, who?

There are quite a few Youtube/make up gurus that just look flawless every time. Huda Kattan, Jaclyn Hill, Desi Perkins, LustreLux, Christen Dominique, DressYourFace, the list goes on. But, these ladies are my makeup inspirations for sure.

If you could leave the house with only ONE makeup product, which would it be?

Just one?!?!? Okay, I’m going to say a lipstick, because there are always sunglasses. 😉

Are there any brands that you try to avoid?

I’m pretty open to all brands, I think some are just amazing all around and everything you buy is great. Other times it’s a bit of trial and error until you find a product you like. I don’t like saying I dislike a certain brand unless I’ve tried everything they have to offer, which is pretty hard. I may say I don’t like certain products, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something else they have that I don’t absolutely love.

Do you usually “haul” or buy items here & there?

I haul, and mostly at Sephora. There are so many things in that store, you go in looking specifically for one thing, you come out with your hands full.

What’s your favorite skincare brand?

I wouldn’t be able to give you specifics just yet. Skincare is something that I’ve just begun experimenting on. There are so many brands and they all have different purposes. However, I am currently using some Origins products that I like (ie. face wash, exfoliant, eye cream, and night cream).

What is one beauty tool/brush that you’d recommend to anyone?

The Beauty Blender without a doubt. I use it for foundation, concealer, setting powder. I think everyone can benefit from getting one.

What is one beauty product that you’d recommend to ANYONE & why?

do actually recommend falsies to everyone I meet. Although it is a bit tough to get the hang of putting them on, I think they are super flattering on everyone, and there are different styles to match different personalities.

If you had to give up one makeup item for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Mascara, I skip that step often when applying falsies, as long as I curl my lashes I’m good to go.

What is your absolute pet peeve when it comes to other people’s makeup?

I said brows already in the sense that some people overline their brows, create unnatural arches, or create their brows according to their mood, but another pet peeve of mine is brow grooming. I like well-kept brows. I’m also not a fan of shaved off brows.

Share a beauty tip/trick/hack.. whatever you’d like to call it. Lol

I think going with a bold wing can be difficult unless you’ve had a lot of practice, but, believe me, we all have our moments. I like to look directly in the mirror and slowly draw small lines, going back and forth between both eyes making sure the wings are symmetrical. Sometimes you can get too ahead of yourself and draw one really good wing, then the challenge is getting the angles to match. I haven’t tried the stencils yet, however, it seems like an awesome idea.

What’s the best way for future clients to reach you?

Future Clients can reach me by email at or text at (408) 702-0964. Since I work during the week, it’s often a hit or miss if they call. But texts and emails I find are easy to get back to. With at least a weeks notice, I can make any day and time work.

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