Updated: Nov 5
Those who have gone to Miss Derm’s Makati branch surely know of Maria Jezzil Erika Santos—or Jezzil, as most would call her.
Her radiant and vibrant personality makes it hard not to notice her. She’s born with a cleft lip, one of the many things that make her unique. And her works speak of her mastery of the craft.
But what makes her truly remarkable is her journey into the world of semi-permanent make-up (SPMU). Her transformation from a young, challenged artist to one of the salon's head artists is a testament to her relentless determination and unwavering passion for beauty.
Not all beginnings are easy
Jezzil's story began when she just turned 20 years old. It was 2020, and she had to stop studying because of the pandemic. “At first, wala talaga akong idea in PMU,” she recalls, saying that she originally wanted to be in hospitality management. “My aunt convinced me to give this [PMU] a try. Sabi ko pa, ‘Ano ‘yun?’” Jezzil narrates. “I love puting-make-up, and we used to have a salon. [Pero] nu’ng pumasok ako dito [sa industry], this is to tally different.”
Before Miss Derm, Jezzil worked with a different salon for a while as a microblader. She got the needed experience and put her initial training to work there. But everything she thought she knew changed when she joined Miss Derm in 2021.
Miss Derm PMU artist Jezzil's Journey
“Starting here, even if you had an experience, you must train again with models,” she says. “Nahirapan ako kasi ibang iba ‘yung naexperience ko doon sa previous company ko compared dito.” All Jezzil knew about PMU then was the kind of work she’d been used to at her previous job. She immediately realised that she wasn’t as good as she thought she was, especially in microblading. “It was not a walk in the park.”
The intensive training at Miss Derm proved to be a challenge for her, leading her to almost give up. “I almost gave up,” she admits. “I was questioning if this is my path. Though dito talaga ako [sa Miss Derm] got trained well.”
“When I joined Miss Derm, I learned here ‘yung standard na kung paano mo ihahandle ‘yung client, how to follow their desire, and how to make them happy,” she says. What helped her the most, she says, is having colleagues like Sir RJ and Ms Michelle, who are ready to support her when she stumbles and a boss who encourages her to pursue her best work.
Now, at 23, Jezzil became one of Miss Derm’s head PMU artists—handling about 4 to 7 clients a day and continuously improving her skill and craft.
It wasn't just the rigorous training that Jezzil had to deal with but also a personal battle she fought quietly. She was born with a cleft lip, a condition often a source of self-doubt for many in her shoes.
“Nu’ng una, everyday, iniisip ko kung okay lang ba ako sa industry na ‘to,” she says. “Cause I'm going to meet and interact with a lot of clients. So, what if hindi nila ako maintindihan? What if hindi nila ako tanggapin kasi meron akong kapansanan?”
But she powered through. It became the driving force behind her determination. She saw it not as a hindrance but as a unique perspective.
“Naging inspirasyon ko rin na hindi idahilan ‘yung pagkakaron ng disability. Ito ‘yung naging dahilan ko para ipakita na kaya ko rin kung ano ‘yung ginagawa ng ibang tao,” she says.
Jezzil approaches every day with positivity and grace. “Doon ako nagfo-focus sa kung anong practical na mangyayari. Kasi, kung lalo kong iisipin ‘yung mga negative na bagay, magrereflect din ‘yon sa work ko.” In a world that so often emphasizes physical perfection, she stands as a testament that true beauty lies in the strength of character and the power of the human spirit.
Practice makes progress
Looking at her now, one might think Jezzil has already defied all odds to become one of Miss Derm’s head artists. But the truth is, she still believes that there is always room to grow and refine her skills.
“I’m proud because I consider myself young in this industry but hindi na rin masama ‘yung isang taon na [na-achieve ko ‘to],” she says. Still, Jezzil always carries that beginner mindset: always willing to learn and believing that her best work is yet to come. “Hindi ko iniisip na, ‘Kaya ko na ‘to eh, so ito na ‘yun.’ Nagfo-focus ako [sa improvement] hindi lang para mapantayan ko ‘yung ginagawa ko, kundi para mahigitan ko pa ‘yung ginagawa ko before.”
When she looks back at her experiences, Jezzil feels proud of her journey. But most of all, she’s thankful. She’s thankful for Miss Derm. And she’s thankful she didn’t give up.
Right now, Jezzil is excited of three things. Firstly, to meet a new breed of microbladers. “Kung may mag jo join na new and I see them na nahihirapan, happy ako na matutulungan ko sila. At [hopefully], maging inspirasyon din sa kanila kung paano ako nakarating dito.” Secondly, to go back to school. “My plan is to be a working student if ever na kaya at maluwag ‘yung schedule.” And lastly, to making every single day a learning opportunity. “Sa araw araw na ginagawa mo, dapat may natututunan kang lesson—maliit man or hindi. Kasi doon tayo mag-i-improve.”