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Making monsters (and princesses)

Hair stylist Jennifer Jones provides haunted Halloween makeup services during last weekend in October

COURTESY PHOTOS: JENNIFER JONES - Beaverton's Jennifer Jones, a full-time stylist at the Chop Shop's XOXO Salon in downtown Hillsboro, adds Halloween makeup to the list of services she provides each year. Beaverton’s Jennifer Jones loves Halloween.

She always has, she said, because it’s the one day of the year when we can dress up to become whoever we want.

But over the past four years, Halloween has taken on a different meaning for her.

A full-time stylist at the Chop Shop’s XOXO Salon in downtown Hillsboro, Jones looks forward to the last week in October because that’s when she adds Halloween makeup to the list of services she provides.

From skulls and Disney characters to pop art and zombies, Jones is capable of completely changing a person’s appearance with paint, makeup and other accoutrements — and the transformations are astounding.

“I always tell my clients that I’m more excited than they are about how they’re going to turn out,” she said. “Seeing what they come up with — it’s not just my imagination, it’s other people’s imaginations. And I like to bring their ideas to life.”

Jones has been perfecting her talents for 15 years — since enrolling in the theater makeup program at Mt. Hood Community College in 2001.

“Growing up, I was a theater kid,” Jones said. “I was on stage performing, but I always had an interest in hair and makeup — like most girls do. And when I got to community college, I took that first (theater makeup) class because it was a requirement for the theater programs that I was in. And that’s when it all changed.”

Jones was hooked. She worked on hair and makeup for all the community college’s theater shows during the three years she was enrolled, but concerns about how she could make a living at it stalled her forward momentum for the next 10 years.

In 2011 Jones enrolled in beauty school. After completing the two-year program in 18 months, she began offering hair and makeup services for weddings, quickly establishing her name in the industry over three years.

Now, along with her regular duties at the salon, Jones has weddings scheduled years in advance, working 38 on average between May and October — the typical wedding season, she said.

She also provides the theater makeup services for Riverside Performing Arts Studio, a children’s production group in Portland, where she’s worked on several productions over the past three years, including the Wizard of Oz, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Alice in Wonderland.

But it’s still Halloween Jones looks forward to the most.

“Halloween’s my favorite because I don’t get to do it as much,” she said. “Being so saturated in the wedding community and being here behind the chair doing normal hair and makeup, when Halloween comes up it’s awesome.”

Interestingly, she’s not a big fan of Halloween’s more grotesque side, though.

“I don’t know if it’s because I have two small kids, and since having them it’s made me squeamish,” she said. “I’ll do it if someone asks, but it’s unusual. People don’t ask for it very often.

“I’m waiting for that day someone’s like, ‘I want my eye socket hanging out.’ Then I’ll be like, ‘Oh, man. OK. Let’s do this,’” she continued. “(But) my demographic tends to be a lot of women, and women don’t tend to ask for gore. And even the men who’ve come to me have mostly asked for creepy clowns.”

Jones said gore feels easier than the makeup tricks for which she’s better known “because you slap some fake blood on something and it’s going to look gory,” she said.

It’s more challenging, she said, to produce a look that makes people question what they’re seeing.

“Having the theater background is super handy because there are things that I know that other artists — if you’d never had that education — just wouldn’t know,” she said. “Certain lighting techniques, or facial contouring — I could make you look 80 if I wanted to. It’s pretty amazing.”

Jones will be painting faces at the XOXO Salon Saturday, Oct. 29, between 2 and 6 p.m. To set up an appointment, call 503-341-6791.