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Meet Karl Pua of MUA PUA in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karl Pua.

Karl, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I can’t say, I’ve always loved makeup; but I have always loved creating art although I never pursued a career in it, educationally. I was actually going to school to be a French teacher. It wasn’t until I had no choice but to drop out of SF State, did I reconsider a profession in art. I couldn’t afford tuition and the limitations that came with my citizenship status disqualified me from receiving financial aid. I’ve always been pretty studious so this change of course really threw me in for a loop.

With all the free time I had, I explored my interest in makeup and quickly developed it into my craft. I would go to Barnes & Noble’ to read books on makeup, study fashion magazines and watch YouTube tutorials. I would even go to local MAC counters to gain as much insight as I could from the employees. They eventually gave me the nickname “The Sponge” because I would come by so often, thirsty for knowledge. Soon after, I was offered a position at the counter I frequented most.

My longtime friend, Victor (@victorhugo.jpg), approached me one day to do makeup for a photoshoot for his Fashion Photography class, and he would refer his classmates to me for their assignments. I instantly fell in love with the culture and decided on a career in fashion. Even though I never attended the art school, I felt like I was growing alongside these fashion photography students, but as a makeup artist. I built up my portfolio, working with local photographers and agency models, which helped developed my eye to produce agency standard work.

Victor and I took trips to LA to collaborate with industry creatives and models to add to our portfolios. After the first trip is when I decided that I needed to be in this city to advance in my career. I made the bold move to Los Angeles three years ago and I’ve regretted nothing since.

Has it been a smooth road?
The last thing I would describe my journey as is smooth, especially upon relocating to LA. I didn’t know very many people and I had no family here, so I had to be self-reliant. It was my first time moving out of my parents’ place and life could not have given me a swifter kick in the ass. I don’t come from a neighborhood where we talked about mental health, and subsequently, it was my downfall. I knew nothing about mental health and self-care in that respect, as I was completely aloof to my vulnerability. I walked through life thinking I was invincible and didn’t need help like I had a point to prove. Not long after, I developed a severe anxiety disorder and fell into a deep depression, negatively affecting my relationships and my craft. Overcoming this stage in my life is something I’m incredibly proud of and I’m a big advocate for mental health awareness because of it.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with MUA PUA – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Although I love all subtypes of makeup, my specialty is in editorial makeup. It’s something I could never get tired of, as possibilities are literally endless. And, it really proves that beautiful makeup doesn’t have to be conventional and monotonous.

I’m known for my work with skin. My philosophy with makeup is that it should be seamless and invisible. My favorite looks to execute have always been fresh-faced, luminous, barely-there makeup. My ability to identify and enhance subtleties backs my affinity for natural looks and I believe that sets me apart from others.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the fact that I’m surrounded by like-minded creatives, but the vapid materialistic part of LA culture is something I can do without.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: 424.324.1189
  • Email:

Image Credit:

@nichole_m_photo, @saliminima, @victorhugo.jpg, @rajat, @samwolov, @Jeffryaposas

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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