If you’re keen to book makeup artist Denise Ochoa for a shoot, event or wedding, be prepared to stand in line or do it months in advance. The hardworking industry favorite is often booked in back-to-back shoots, both in and out of the city. Her signature natural, clean “no make-up” style garners a loyal fan base of showbiz’ best and brightest such as heavyweight names like Sarah Geronimo, Toni Gonzaga and Kathryn Bernardo. She is a workhorse in every sense of the word and deserves all the success on her plate, having started her career in the late ‘90s doing magazine work during the golden days of print. Back then, she didn’t have an assistant or a driver and did everything herself, even driving through traffic from Quezon City to Makati just to make it to two photo shoots in a day! This kind of tenacity is what defines successful people, that, and a lot of passion for their craft. Truth be told, apart from her skills, her secret to longevity is her dedication and professionalism and that genuine love for meeting people. These days, Denise is also a mom living in the suburbs, far from the glitz and glamour of her work life and loves the distance (literally), making her present for her son and husband while enjoying the slow pace and fresh air.

We thought the Pullman Mini Train case is perfect for the makeup maven, a pair made in beauty heaven—being that the design of our latest bag is inspired by a beauty kit, and she, one of the most in-demand in the country. (She did a collection with makeup brand Happy Skin! A testament to her talents and skills.) True enough, she uses the Pullman as a retouching kit but also as a bag for all her essentials, albeit edited down to the bare necessities. Read on and get to know this remarkable artist.


Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Denise Ochoa, makeup artist.


When did you start your career?

I started in 1999, so I’m actually on my 20th year. My mom franchised a salon and she envisioned me to be the manager of the chain of branches in the future but I actually ended up being hands on and started doing hair at first. I used to do cut and color, but I eventually discovered my love for doing makeup. The rest is history.


What was your very first project?

It was a feature in Manila bulletin. A fashion feature in the newspaper for a fashion brand called Anonymous. It was for Shannen Torres who used to be a VJ for MTV Phils. I don’t even know if she remembers me, but of course I remember everything that day because I think it was when I discovered that I enjoyed being involved behind the scenes.

Back story is, at that time, we had 2 franchises, Anonymous and Salon de Orient. The branch where we put the salon in was really close to the Anonymous warehouse whose marketing people, I actually met and became friends with. So when they needed a makeup artist for a newspaper fashion editorial feature which was just done in their HQ, they called us. Since our salon makeup artists were busy with their respective appointments I had to go and represent.


Why did you decide to pursue makeup?

I think it’s the other way around; everything just fell into place. It wasn’t really my ambition to be what I am now. I didn’t have to do much effort in marketing my services. I guess everything just flowed naturally because at that time, there were not a lot of makeup artists. It was just a handful of us so when I got my exposure as a makeup artist, the inquiries just kept on coming. I did all kinds of gigs: weddings, fashion shows, editorials, on stage makeovers, TVCs, print shoots, etc. I never stopped accepting and so here I am today, doing what I have developed so much love for. I am just really thankful that my love and passion for makeup is really what fuels me to keep going until this very day. It helps that the people I work with are fun to work with, too! I've developed a lot of friendships doing what I do.


Congrats! 20 years! I don't think you'd last this long if this was just a job to you.

Despite the job being the same for 20 years, I always get excited to do different kinds of looks on different kinds of faces in every encounter. Nothing compares to the feeling I get after doing a face, or even just the whole process of beautifying or plain enhancing, it’s just so satisfying to my soul. When the whole look is finished and we start taking pictures or videos, the excitement grows all the more and it just makes me really happy when the clients showcase the finished product and you see their faces glow with joy. If you get that kind of feeling everytime, I don’t see any reason to get tired of it at all.

What inspires me aside from my passion in makeup, is LIFE itself. There is so much to love about it. This gift of life that is given to me, my relationship with my Creator, my family, career, the world we live in, the simple things we do everyday, the people we interact with. I always find joy in the littlest things and so I do find a lot of sources of inspiration. I sometimes find myself to be spontaneous, which I actually like, because I think, those are when you go with life’s natural flow and you are actually allowing God to direct your steps and lead you where you can be truly happy. Just like where I am now.


What is the best life advice you've gotten and from whom?

When my mom was alive she would always tell me these:
1. Aspire to be in a daily state of gratitude though quite hard to do. One day everything will fall into place because God has seen the goodness in your heart. 

2. Do good, not because others are watching. But simply because it is the right thing to do in God’s eyes. 


Was makeup always your first love?

As mentioned, I actually used to cut and color our in our salon. I didn’t really wear so much makeup when I was younger. I would only have lipstick and powder on. But when I started playing with makeup, I realized that the joy I get from helping beautify our clients was something else. Then I remembered, when I was a kid, I used to play with my mom’s makeup. But I would normally put it on my sister, a friend or my yaya. Haha!


Favorite makeup look to do?

Clean, classic. I usually don’t like overpowering the natural beauty. It’s always been my look.


Beauty icons you follow?

A lot but I find Audrey Hepburn’s beauty the most classic. I really like Grace Kelly’s too. Both of them would be on the top of my list.


If given a chance to be something else for a day, what would you be?

I've always been interested in business and technology but I ended up doing makeup. Those are worlds apart. But I really do love both. Given the chance to be something else, I'd probably want to be in the business side of this industry like, maybe, having my own Sephora mixed with techy stuff...or build my own makeup empire. Maybe all I want to be is to be a SUPERWOMAN! Haha!


Also how many kids do you have now?

1 only. But it feels like 5!


What qualities do you look for in a bag?

I like spacious bags that have good quality especially if it’s leather. It has to be sturdy since I go to different kinds of locations all the time.


How would you use your Pullman Train Case?

I sometimes use it as a retouching kit, or a personal bag that has everything that I usually need everyday.


What would you put inside apart from makeup?

Wallet, perfume, phone, powerbank, hand sanitizer, earphones, mints, tissue


What do you like about it the most?

It’s design, the color, and the quality. I like the size too.

Tips on how to efficiently edit what you put in a (smaller) bag

1. Carry an atomizer if your perfume is too big or buy purse sized / travel sized perfumes

2. Bring multipurpose products like lip and cheek tint or multi-use pots.

3. Try to bring what you just actually need.


INTERVIEW Anne Bella Arguelles

Follow Denise Go-Ochoa on Instagram (@deniseochoa)