Kiss & Makeup Studio is Best of Ascension in many ways

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Sarah Bess, Owner and Operator of Kiss & Makeup Full Service Studio in Geismar, Louisiana

The first thing anyone would notice about Sarah Bess, Owner and Operator of Kiss & Makeup Full Service Studio in Geismar, Louisiana (she may agree) would be her dark, pink hair.

"This is me at least four days out of the week," Bess said. "I don't wear makeup. I don't get all prissy, dressed up. I also think that's why 90 percent of our clientele loves it here. Because they don't feel like they have to be 'to a T' to come in here.

"They know that they can come in their work uniform if they just got off a 12-hour shift. They know they can come in here if they are dressed up. It doesn't matter. They can come in here in their pajamas if they want to."


For starters, Kiss & Makeup offers a vast list of style options. Every hair service is offered from color, cuts, highlights, balayage, to makeup services, skin services, facials, waxings, airbrush tans, hair extensions, and eyelash extensions.

"We pretty much do everything but massages and nails, basically," Bess said. "It's good for people who don't want to go to a thousand different places. It's good for people who just like to trust one team to do pretty much anything that they need."

Additionally, the studio throws Botox parties once a month for people who want that service.

"The Doctor's name is Jason," Bess said. "He's amazing. We call him 'Dr. B.'"


Bess has been at the current location of Kiss & Makeup Full Service Studio coming up on two years in June. The studio is located at 13375 Highway 73 Suite J in Geismar, La. But the Kiss & Makeup name has belonged to her for seven years. She has been doing makeup for 11 years.

Bess herself works as a professional makeup artist, licensed esthetician, laser technician, and airbrush tan specialist. But also on the Kiss & Makeup roster (in no particular order) are Hair Stylist Amber Whipple, a professional cosmetologist and certified color specialist; Hair Stylist Tehya Orgaz; Lash Extension Artist Nikki Krieger; and Lash Extension Artist and "Hair Slayer" Renee Buchanon.


"When I was in high school, I was into [makeup]," Bess said. "I went to East Ascension. I was born and raised in Ascension Parish.

"When I graduated from EA, I told my mom that I wanted to do makeup. But she said, 'No, you need to go to college for a semester just to make sure.' So I went to River Parishes, and my major was theater. I was still into the creativity thing.

"My theater teacher told me, 'You need to be in the makeup world. That's your calling.'"

Bess told of a monologue that was a part of the final for the class, and it had to do with makeup.

"He could tell by the passion I had behind it," she said. "He kept me after class that day and told me, 'You don't need to be here. You need to go pursue what you need to do.' I fully believe that if he didn't have that conversation with me I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing.

"After that, I went home and told my mom. She was like, 'okay, let's get on it.'"

The only problem is that they don't have makeup schools in Louisiana, explained Bess. She moved to Orlando, Fla. and was accepted into an everyday, four-month program at Joe Blasco School of Makeup.

"They focus on beauty, old age, cinema makeup, special effects--pretty much everything that you would need to touch base to make it into movies or whatever you want to do," she said. "That's what introduced me to special effects."

Blood & Guts

"I didn't know that I liked the blood and guts, the gore, and all that kind of stuff until then," Bess said. "And that's what brought me into the 13th Gate haunted house and the Halloween World. That's what I'm obsessed with."

The story goes that Bess moved home after her Blasco program was completed and began waitressing and working at Merle Norman.

"I was doing two jobs for a little bit," she said. "I decided that I wanted another education behind me, just in case the makeup thing didn't work. So, I went to Aveda in Covington and got my esthetician license to do skin stuff. I started that in August."

But in September that year, Bess took a shot at employment with the 13th Gate and got hired on as a makeup artist.

"I thought, what's the worst thing that could happen? And then I got hired."

She had to rush back and forth from Baton Rouge to Covington during that time, but it didn't bother her. She's on her 11th year now with the Baton Rouge haunted house. "Still doing it," she said. "I'm never not doing it."

So additionally to working at her studio during Halloween Season, Bess is part of a team of seven or eight makeup artists who get 150-200 people ready to perform at the haunted house each night.

"It's not a boss situation," she said. "It's let's work together to get this done, because we've got to get open. The owner, Dwayne Sanburn is the best person to work for in the world. He's the motivation that made me open this [studio]. I tell him all the time that he's my inspiration. Even though he's total scary in haunt world, he sees beauty in everything. He's a great boss and an amazing person. It's a team effort in there."

Best of Ascension

Bess loves the haunted house gig so much that she'd do it for free. She doesn't mind the loss of sleep during that time of year. October is homecoming season, so the studio is also busy with Dutchtown and EA students. She gets business from all over the parish.

Even though Dutchtown High is right down the road from her studio, men and women from all over the parish take advantage of Kiss & Makeup. Bess said men get haircuts there but also have makeup done.

"For Halloween, men are all about it," Bess said. "They sit in the chair and say, 'Go to town. Gore me up, bloody me up, let's do this!' And I'm all about it!"

Bess will even take a client outside and sling "blood" all over them. But it comes with a price. She said for a basic Zombie it may cost $100 dollars, but more intricate looks with prosthetics, etc. could range from $100-$200 dollars because of prep work.

"Guys come in here all the time. It's fun! It's just Ascension Parish, period," Bess said. "Especially with us winning Best of Ascension two years in a row."

Admittedly a tomboy (with black hair) as a child, Bess said she wants her clients to feel comfortable in whatever condition they arrive to the studio in. She is completely against the stereotype of if you look a certain way, you have to do things a certain way. Then she explains the stark contrast of working a wedding during the day and slinging blood on someone at night.

Makeup Art

Part of her ability to handle gore stems from her childhood. Both her mom and dad are nurses, she said.

"At the kitchen table, you're talking about guts on the floor," she said. "Whatever, it doesn't bother me. It's life."

Truthfully, Bess may be on the forefront of art in Ascension Parish. She does consider herself an artist.

"No, I'm not painting on a canvas or doing stuff on a sign," she said. "But a bare face is a canvas, regardless if you're making it pretty or if you're making it 'scary,' or making it whimsical, or doing something creative to it, you're turing it into something beautiful.

"If it's your type of beautiful or someone else's type of beautiful, it's the same thing with painting. Just because I like something doesn't mean you're going to like something, but it's still somebody's type of beautiful, and my job is to make the person sitting in my chair feel their type of beautiful."

Bess gets inspiration from Oscar-wining makeup artist Ve Neill, who worked on films like "The Hunger Games," "Beetlejuice," and "A Star is Born." Bess worked on FX film "Mysterious Island," but currently is not pursuing work in film and TV.

Family & Future

Bess remains a humble person. She said at one point in the interview that she puts everything into God's hands. She also added that her family is responsible for her drive. Her dad, Anderson Brown, passed away when she was 10. She said she owes her work ethic to her mom, Patricia Farmer, who eventually remarried.

"My mom put it in my head that nothing is going to be handed to you," she said. "You have to make sure that you are good, no matter what. You're not going to rely on anybody, whether it be a man, your best friend, your sister, or brother. You have to make sure that at the end of the day you have your own, even if you're married.

"[Mom] also taught me to follow your dream. If it's your dream and you are determined enough, you will make it happen. Bottom line. My dad was the same way. And even at a young age, that rubbed off on me. Being a man and a nurse, back then he helped me understand that.

"Nothing can stop you as long as you work hard and you believe in yourself. It's limitless. And you can take the punch backs people give to you, because you're going to get that whether you're in business for yourself or for someone else."

She also mentioned her stepdad Rick Farmer, for being amazing, and her two sisters. "He doesn't understand the makeup world, but he's encouraging," she said.

Lastly, Bess said that she loves New York but wants to eventually travel to Paris, Los Angeles, Los Vegas, and Miami. But for now, she's staying busy.

"Saturday, we're going on location for a wedding. It's in Hammond. Weddings are hard, but they're so much fun."

This advertorial was paid for by Kiss and Makeup Full Service Studio