“I’m doing so well with swatching right now,” joked legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath during a morning event to celebrate the launch of her eponymous brand’s forthcoming Mothership V: Bronze Seduction palette — a 10-pan offering of matte, shimmer and glitter jewel-toned shadows. “This normally takes a lot of nerve to live-swatch.” McGrath, whose two-year-old makeup company was recently valued at a staggering $1 billion dollars, borrowed a team member’s arm and got busy swiping the pigments on in the now-ubiquitous diagonal swatches we’ve become so accustomed to seeing across every cosmetics brand and beauty influencer’s Instagram feed.
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“Now you believe my swatches online, right? They’re not fake! I know you all think it’s all computer-generated because you know I love a tech-y moment, but this is real,” said McGrath to a room of captivated editors. But truth be told, swatching has been a controversial topic lately, with multiple brands coming under fire for botched attempts at getting it right.
In January, YSL was called out for an image that featured a dark-skinned model’s arm swatched with six shades of its All Hours Concealer — every single one laughably too light for her. In August, Becca Cosmetics drew criticism when an image promoting its Skin Love foundation range featured what essentially equated to a blackface arm (a light-skinned model had been made up to look darker), and subsequently issued an apology. As breadth of shade range has become more of a priority to makeup brands — shout-out once again to reverberations of the Fenty Effect — the marketing has failed to catch up in many regards, often beginning with egregious oversights in model casting.
Meanwhile, as a Black woman herself, there was never a question that inclusivity and diversity would be an integral pillar of McGrath’s brand from the outset. Not only has she paid careful attention to ensure that the pigmentation and quality of every product under her eponymous umbrella would work on any skin tone, but she also proves that to be true by showing every product on every skin tone as much as possible. On McGrath’s Instagram, in the Pat McGrath Labs campaigns and on the brand’s website, there is no product that’s shown simply on one skin tone.
At McGrath’s press events, there are always at least three models on hand with a variety of complexions so that editors can get a full understanding of the products’ capabilities, too. And for McGrath, this dedication to inclusivity is personal. “I just remember as almost a child shopping in department stores and seeing all of these beautiful colors and then they never worked on my skin, or they were too bruise-y on pale skin,” she recalled, adding that when it comes to creating the products in her own line, “there’s so much study that goes into every formula, scientifically” to make sure products won’t be exclusionary for anyone based on the shade of their skin.
“It’s about the colors working on every skin tone. It’s so important to know that you’re not left out, that there’s not any skin tone, or any of us, really, who are like, ‘Oh my goodness, only three colors in this palette work for me,’” she said. McGrath has always communicated to her entire team that diversity isn’t optional — and that it starts with model casting. “Working with girls of every skin tone is so important, because if you don’t show the looks on all sorts of skin tones, how do you even know what you can buy, what suits you, what’s right for you?” she said, specifically citing Duckie Thot and Paloma Elsesser as two models of color the brand has worked with from its early days.
If you’re a beauty junkie, you know that navigating the world of makeup can be a pretty overwhelming experience. Whether you’re in the market for a new concealer, translucent powder, or setting spray, there seems to be a million options for each—who has time to test them all and find the very best one? Luckily, that’s what beauty pros are for.
Vogue reached out to five noteworthy influencers and makeup artists who are all gaining large followings for their stellar makeup looks. This includes Neon MUA and Robert Welsh—both of whom create colorful eyeshadow looks like no other—and Wayne Goss, who has nearly 4 million followers on YouTube. If you’re a Lil Nas X fan, you may also recognize Anthony H. Nguyen’s work: He serves as the rapper’s makeup artist, and has created many of his memorable red carpet and video looks (like this graphic liner for the “Montero” video). Meanwhile, Shantanu Dhope—whose Instagram tagline is “Brown Boys wear makeup too”—also creates eye-catching beauty looks that incorporate his Desi culture.
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Beyond simply creating enchanting looks, these pros are also proving makeup is truly for all—whether female, male, or nonbinary. Dhope, for instance, says he proudly wears makeup because, “I feel we do not have enough brown skin representation in the beauty industry, especially brown men wearing makeup. In India, a boy wearing makeup is still a very new concept, and a lot of people consider it to be a taboo.” Goss also specifically encourages men who are new to makeup to experiment and have fun with it. “When it comes to makeup, most men tend to want to enhance their looks without anyone knowing they’re wearing any,” says Goss. His tip to achieving the perfect beginner look? “Make sure you apply ‘little’ and avoid over-application. Less is more. And never be afraid of blush—healthy skin has some color to it.”
Below, read on for these five beauty artists’s top products for everyone to try.
Call me biased, but my collection of face palettes with Midas Cosmetics is something that everyone needs in their kit. These palettes are pigmented, buttery, and most importantly, they have the range. My focus with creating this collection was to make sure that everyone can have access to effective contours and bronzers, whether you are fair and need products that don’t run orange, or if you’re deeply rich and are tired of not having access to contours and bronzers that actually show up on your complexion.
This is a recent must-have for me. I love this powder because it is truly translucent. The All Nighter collection is known for being waterproof and locking in your makeup for hours, so being able to finally have a product that helps with sweat and shine that is also a true translucent powder is a gift from the makeup gods.
I will always love NARS foundations because they have such a wide range of shades and undertones, plus their formula is always top-tier. Out of all of the NARS foundations, this is the one that I always find myself reaching for, because it offers a nice amount of coverage without looking cakey, while also giving you the natural, healthy glow that everyone wants.
MannyMUA in my honest opinion has one of the most impressive influencer brands in beauty, because he’s not afraid to play with color and concepts. All of his palettes are truly impressive (especially his revamped Life’s A Drag Facelift palette), but if there’s one palette that I will also grab, it’s the Strawberry Dream palette. Reds and blues are some of the hardest colors to work with in terms of shadows, yet these shades are so pigmented and blend like a dream. Everyone needs this palette.
With the classic technique of soap brows becoming a more recent trend, and many brands releasing their version of brow grooming waxes, this is one of the only brow products I have found that draws smoothly and precisely over a waxy texture. After grooming brows into that fluffy look, this pen is also perfect to draw strokes of hair on the brows, without losing the overall look.
I find a lot of highlighters can look textured or obvious on the skin—either because they contain glitter, or because the shades are slightly off, with a metallic finish. This highlighter is the complete opposite. There are multiple different shades that complement skin tone, instead of the highlighter being just pink or gold for example. When applying this highlighter, you notice how it effortlessly blends, and almost becomes one with your skin. And because it’s buildable, you can start at a natural “glowing from within” to a more dramatic glow.
Beauty Bay has always been a go-to destination for me when looking to try new products and brands, as they offer everything from drugstore to high-end products. Their own brand’s eyeshadows, at drugstore prices, offer high-end quality. Every texture, matte, shimmer, and glitter are extremely pigmented and blend beautifully. They all have an almost creamy texture that is easy to build, and are a pleasure to use when creating a makeup look.
Patrick Ta Major Sculpt Crème Contour & Powder Bronzer Duo
One thing I get asked a lot is “what’s the difference between bronzer and contour?” These compacts are the perfect representation of what a bronzer and contour should be. The bronzing powder provides just the right amount of “sun-kissed” without being orange, and the cream contour shades create the perfect ‘bone structure-mimicking’ contour colour, which blends naturally into the skin. If you’ve had trouble finding your perfect contour shade before, or perhaps are intimidated by the idea of contouring, this product is the perfect place to start, and stick with.
I cannot leave my house without grooming my eyebrows. I just run this product quickly through my brows to give me a clean and fresh looking brow. It gives me the right amount of color without looking over done.
Selena Gomez and her Rare Beauty line kicked off the spring by launching its gorgeous new eyeshadow palette. Now, the beauty line is upping its primer game with its new Always an Optimist Pore Diffusing Primer—and celebrating the launch with a stunning In My Prime campaign shot by beauty influencer and photographer Alissa Ashley.
Gomez handpicked Ashley to capture her subjects “in their prime.” In the video above, Ashley and Gomez discuss their career journeys and what they envision for the campaign.
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“I had this idea for a campaign, and it was going to be called In My Prime, and I wanted it to be a photography series of basically people showcasing who they are in their prime, whether they’re just wearing the primer and nothing else or they do a full face of glam from the eyeshadow palettes,” Gomez told Ashley. “I just wanted it to be about being in your prime and how you feel more than how you look. I thought your photography was incredible, and I thought this would be a right fit, that we would get to do this together, and I want you to have full creative control, which is the best part because I kind of can step back and see what you do.”
Ashley told Gomez that photography had been a longtime passion of hers: “I’ve always liked photography, and my aunt bought my first camera off of eBay from this random guy. But I really, really liked it. And then somehow, some way, I got into makeup. I think it was maybe because I watched my mom do it, and I liked that a lot and then I went to college a little bit, but then I was like, ‘okay, this isn’t really feeling fulfilling,’ and I knew I wanted to do more makeup stuff and then people would ask me to do YouTube videos. [And I was like,] okay, I guess I’ll do that too so I did that and then I don’t know, I feel like it just happened so quickly.” Ashley’s career took off, and at this point, Ashley has 1.1 million Instagram followers and over 2.08 million YouTube subscribers.
Ashley added that in 2019, “I reached a point in my influencer, YouTube career where I feel comfortable and now I want to feed more of my photography passion.” Initially, Ashley was known for her self-portraits, but “I wanted to take pictures of other people.…I get more enjoyment out of that these days because it’s different. It’s weird. Being in front of the camera, it’s natural now, but being behind is just so much more fun.”
Ashley’s In My Prime campaign, with its first look images debuting on ELLE.com, is a first for Rare Beauty. “We’ve never done anything like this, so it’s going to be really exciting, and I think that it’ll be an opportunity for a bunch of other people to see you and to see the work you’re doing, and I think that it’s going to be a blast,” Gomez told Ashley.
Ashley, with full creative control over the shoot, photographed two subjects for the campaign, Chloé Vero and Deli Lèvon, wearing the primer. (Photos above).
Ashley spoke ELLE.com about why she tapped Vero and Lèvon for the shoot. “I was drawn to the campaign concept at first,” she said. “I love celebrating the idea of ‘in my prime’—when you’re in your in flow, feeling your best. It’s the way I feel when I am behind the camera. It’s my passion and Selena recognized that! I wanted to work with Chloé because her story, as a model who’s also a talented bass player, is so unique. And I came across Deli Lèvon on Instagram! His personality shines through his images; I wanted to use this campaign to get to know him better.”
Rare Beauty’s Pore Diffusing Primer is a light-weight gel, made with hyaluronic acid and a botanical blend of lotus, gardenia, and white water lily, that helps soothe, calm, and nourish skin of all types. It’s the product to start makeup application with and gives skin a matte texture, blurs pores’ appearances, and helps keeps your makeup on longer. It’s one of Rare Beauty’s biggest makeup essentials and available at Sephora, Sephora’s JCPenney locations, and on Rare Beauty’s site.
“One night over a glass of pinot, we sat down and asked ourselves why it was so hard to find the perfect nude lipstick. That conversation sparked an idea, and that idea became the brand we are building today. We created Mented Cosmetics because we believe every woman should be able to find herself in the world of beauty, no matter her skin tone. We know you’ll love being put first – because when it comes to beauty, no one deserves to be an afterthought.”
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“From our original nude lipsticks to eyeshadow palettes to blushes, each of our makeup products is perfectly pigMented to match your skin tones. We want all women, from light to tan to dark skin tones, to feel like they have makeup that actually works for their complexions, so we’ve created the shades to help accomplish that. Start with our shade finder to find your perfect match and then begin building your collection today! We guarantee you’ll find your new go-to or a fun addition to your makeup routine.”
I’ll be honest: I’m highly skeptical when it comes to beauty brands founded by celebrities. But Selena Gomez has proven me wrong with her brand, Rare Beauty, and it’s now dropping a new spring collection.
The line features four brand-new Rare Beauty products: Stay Vulnerable Melting Blush, Stay Vulnerable Glossy Lip Balm, Stay Vulnerable Liquid Eye Shadow, and the Stay Vulnerable All-Over Eye Shadow Brush. With the exception of the brush, all of the products have the exact five-shade range with names that pretty much speak for themselves: Nearly Apricot, Nearly Rose, Nearly Neutral, Nearly Mauve, and Nearly Berry. In short: This collection is a makeup minimalist’s ultimate fantasy.
And thanks to the brand, Allure editors got to try the line before anyone else to give us the early reviews. Below, see a breakdown of the products, how they perform, and whether or not they’re worth backtracking on your New Year’s resolution to buy less stuff. Spoiler alert: They probably are.
Stay Vulnerable Melting Blush, $21
“I was biased the second I opened the retro-looking compact, but I have to hand it to this blush formula: Using the word “melting” in the name was a very intentional choice because that’s exactly what these blushes do upon touch. And that texture (combined with tons of pigment) is exactly what makes it so easy to apply either with fingers or a makeup brush.”
Thorne’s on the exact same page, even though cream blush isn’t exactly her thing. “I’ve recently gotten into cream blushes, but unfortunately some formulas are a bit too sheer for my brown skin,” she says. “These blushes didn’t come to play any games. They leave a healthy dose of pigment on the checks. I love how creamy and blendable they are.”
Stay Vulnerable Glossy Lip Balm, $18
Rare’s new lip products are a little mystical because you truly can’t limit them to one category. They have the nourishing quality and balmy consistency of a lip mask but they shine like a gloss — plus, they have just enough pigment to qualify as a lip tint. “Because they’re so simple and comfortable, I know they’re quickly going to become one of my go-to products for last-minute, Zoom-meeting makeup. The best part’, as Thorne will tell you, “is that anyone can wear any of these shades and get the same slight color and high shine.”
“The neutral and berry shades spoke to my soul the most, but I really liked the neutral shade because, despite the sheerness, its gorgeous caramel hue looked lovely on my lips with some brown liner,” Thorne says.
Stay Vulnerable Liquid Eye Shadow and All-Over Eye Shadow Brush, $20 and $15
Neither editors are frequent users of liquid eye shadows, but this formula is so easy to use it has convinced them to change their view. “The eye shadows are basically identical in shade to the blushes and glosses, but these are far thicker, creamier, and pigmented (as they should be). You get full-color payoff in one or two swipes; from there, you can let it dry down or blend it out to a subtle, sheer finish.”
And that’s where the All-Over Eye Shadow Brush comes in. It’s got a fluffy, tapered tip so application requires only two steps: Swipe some shadow all over the lid then wipe the brush lightly back and forth until it’s all blended out.
Self-Taught. Makeup Artist. Photographer. Entrepreneur. Founder. Mother. Black woman.
In a world focused on labels, Danessa Myricks has continuously broken boundaries and built a world of beauty for people from all races, ages and genders.
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Starting out as a self-taught makeup artist, Danessa learned how to use products in unconventional ways to create stunning looks. Ignoring industry norms, she began to teach other artists about her techniques and product selections, and created a name for herself in the beauty world. After turning heads at some of the largest brands, Danessa led product development for some of the most successful launches in history at brands like KISS and Benefit Cosmetics. But she knew the world of makeup still felt exclusive to many, so she decided to launch her own brand, Danessa Myricks Beauty. Every product developed by Danessa and her team isn’t designed for just one application. All products by Danessa Myricks Beauty are multi-functional and created to work in multiple places and on all faces. Creatively combining artistry with product manipulation, she designs and launches some of the most high-performance products on the market.
Danessa has created looks for celebrities, worked with entertainers in music and film and collaborates with other brands and artists to push the beauty industry forward. She trains makeup artists and enthusiasts worldwide and continues to create some of the most innovative and inclusive beauty products on the market. But the most rewarding part of her work is hearing from people who felt underrepresented, unseen or ignored by beauty brands who finally land at a brand made for all, Danessa Myricks Beauty.
Beauty can feel like an exclusive world. Danessa Myricks Beauty was founded on the principle that race, gender, age and personal style should not limit anyone from experimenting with makeup and discovering their signature look. When we launched we reimagined what makeup can be and developed innovative multifunctional products that work everyplace on every face. Our high-performing products give makeup artists and consumers alike the freedom to play outside the box.
“As a self-taught artist with limited resources, I had to get creative with the products I had access to. Over the years I learned how to create stunning looks while using products in unconventional ways. When I launched my own brand I knew I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing. I wanted every person to feel like they had found a brand that represented them and gave them freedom to enjoy makeup. I love that no one else makes products like we do and we will continually strive to innovate in the beauty space.”
Danessa Myricks Beauty has taken makeup out of the box.
All are invited to discover an inclusive world of beauty with no boundaries.