Photobook Interviews: Zefane



Independent Makeup artist Zefane from Malaysia is definitely a woman who knows what she wants. More snugly known as Zef, she’s also a former gymnast and a So You Think You Can Dance (Malaysia) Season 2 (2008) contestant. Her work includes weddings, events, galas, theatrical plays, and even special effects.

Photobook got the chance to meet up with this gorgeous woman and enjoyed a lovely conversation over dinner on what makes her, her.


1. Come say hi and introduce yourself.

Hey guys! I’m Zef, and yeah I’m a Makeup artist. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, but I had spent quite a number of years in Ohio, USA, and London, UK, as well. I’ve only been doing this for five years now but it’s a path I discovered that I had a profound passion in. I’ll admit that while there were times that it wasn’t all that smooth sailing, and maybe even not as glamorous as some of my friends may think, but it’s something I feel very strongly about.

Personally I’m a very laid back kinda gal and I enjoy good music, good food, and good company. Hmmm… what else? Oh, I’m also a ballet dancer!


2. Okay then. So how did you get into Makeup as a career?

Well I began experiencing Rosacea in my late teens and became very self conscious of my appearance. I wasn’t tomboyish or anything of the sort, but I wasn’t exactly a girly girl either, and my skin condition was really bothering me. I wanted to have better and flawless skin through make up (asides from medically managing it) and figured no one’s going to just stroll along and randomly give me a full on lesson so I signed on for Makeup school (Face Art Academy Malaysia) during the weekends whilst in Uni, just to learn the proper know-hows.
*Rosacea is a skin condition which principally affects the face.

That’s where I really got into it. I fell in love with everything there was to learn about makeup, cosmetics and the industry.

It wasn’t easy. It was all taught mostly in mandarin and I don’t speak a word of it. Luckily I caught on quick through the demonstrations and with the help of a few english speaking classmates. From there I moved on to school with Pixiwoo in Norwich, the Illamasqua School for Bridal Makeup, Cirque du Soleil Masterclass in London and Val Garland masterclass.

By 2010, I got my first makeup job with RTM (a local TV station), and things just sort of went on from there. I even won an award for a job I did with KLPAC.


“To bring out and
compliment the inherent beauty”


3. Who have you worked with?

I’ve worked with some cool brands like MTV, MTV Asia, Tatler Magazine, klpac, Kakiseni, Media Prima and Astro. I was also lucky enough to have been engaged for some personalities like Sofea Jane, Aishah Sinclair, Tony Eusoff, Jay1, and Edison Chen to name a few. I’d do makeup for their events, shows and even photo and video shoots.

LisaLisa Surihani (left) and Zefane (right)


Models edit4. Pretty cool… but what’s your creative process like? Do you have a particular style?

Haha! I know this is going to sounds absolutely ridiculously cliche, but I sincerely believe that balance and simplicity is the key to a beautiful make up. To bring out and compliment the person’s inherent beauty without affecting structure or function of the person. I’m not looking to transform them, but more on unleashing their best traits to suit whatever event or theme of the day.

I’m not really sure what others would call it, but I see it as inspired beauty.



“…thriving on fantasy and fairy tales,
on impulse and innocence.”


5. At Photobook, we’re big on moments and memories. Here’s something we frequently ask our feature personalities – Tell us about a very memorable experience you’ve had.

That’s easy! It’ll have to be when I did the makeup for Sofea Jane back when I first began my career. Oh my gawd was I starstruck when I found out! I mean, I grew up watching her and idolising this undeniably stunning woman. She was MY Audrey Hepburn and here I was talking to her and applying her makeup.

I was called in by Kakiseni to be part of the preparation team for a movie premiere in Kuala Lumpur of all the attending VIPs. So I came for the job and went about my work, applying makeup like I’m supposed to. Then Sofea walks in and that’s when I found out that she was one of the short film directors. I was so nervous. But she was really nice and sweet, that the entire experience seemed so surreal.


6. What about your heroes? Who are your influences?

Oooh I got a few of them. I’m a big fan of Val Garland, Andrew Gallimore and Sam & Nic Chapman (The Pixiwoo sisters), but my all time would be Topolino. He’s simply an artist that uses the human face as his medium and makeup as his tool. The guy just takes things to a whole other level. He is incredibly private and he’s notoriously known for having a tool kit no bigger than a handkerchief. It’s all skill and imagination with him, thriving on fantasy and fairy tales, on impulse and innocence.


7. Now you’re obviously more than just makeup. What are your other passions?

Well I guess like many others, I’m really into music. I’m actually going through a grunge cycle right now, enjoying a lot of the early 90’s stuff like Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden.

I’m also very much an avid yoga practitioner, although I’d say I’m far from being a Yoga master. Combining yoga with my love of activewear, I recently kicked off my own brand which I call Altruist. I don’t really want to discuss much about it at this point since there’s just so many things yet left to do but I would like to start highlighting it already. It’s a more high-end range of sports apparel, leisure wear and athletic clothing, with really dynamic and jazzy sort of designs. I’m very thrilled about it.





8. So that’s going to be your next big adventure?

Yeah, very much so. Although I’m going to be splitting my time between the two as much as I can, I guess I’ll eventually have to dedicate more of my efforts and resources over to developing Altruist.

Personally it feels like a flip to the other side of life for me, considering how aggressive, domineering and hardline the makeup industry is, compared to my experiences in activewear so far. Although makeup and activewear offer similar challenges, I’ve seen the giving, collaborative and versatile side this industry has. We’ll see.


Check out Zefane on her Facebook page at Zef Zakaria
and on Instagram at Zefzakaria!

You can also find out more of Altruist at Altruist Activewear



Red DressMake up for Indonesian model, Ayu Lind, for an advert photo shoot.

EffectSpecial effects make up sampling

Zef and Blondiewith Julie Begin, Cirque du soleil makeup artist.



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