“I started my platform when I was about 14, when I was a freshman in high school. That was the year that my mom started letting me wear makeup to school — I had always wanted to wear it before, but she hadn’t let me. When I was finally allowed to wear makeup, I was so excited that I started watching a lot of YouTube videos and doing so much research. I would literally write things down on my phone and go to the store and buy all of the things I wrote down. I kind of became a source for makeup advice for all of my friends during that time, especially a lot of my friends on Twitter.”
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #35 series on my blog.
“That’s kind of why I wanted to create this platform. It was just a source for them to use. I would post my favorite foundations, different videos that I liked, and photos of other peoples’ makeup that I was really inspired by — because, at the time, there wasn’t really a platform like that on social media in general but especially on Twitter highlighting women of color in the makeup industry. I really wanted to be a voice in that and really highlight that niche. My career started to grow but I was also just a regular teenager in high school, so I graduated high school early at 16 and then, after high school, I decided to go to aesthetics school.”
Jamie Genevieve @Jamiegenevieve. Makeup artist, YouTuber, CEO, an overall STUNNER!
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #31 series on my blog.
What do you do?
Make-up artist, digital creator and founder of Vieve.
What do you love most about your skin?
I have little beauty marks on my right cheek and one prominent one under my right eye, which I love to fill in and enhance. I never disliked them, but after receiving messages from others saying that seeing me embrace and love my beauty marks made them love theirs too, now I really do love them. I’m grateful that my skin is pretty resilient too – there were a few consecutive years where it took a bit of a beating when I was finding my groove with make-up. Plus, I wasn’t exactly skincare savvy back then!
What one skin issue do you wish you could fix?
Probably scarring. I can be a bad picker, especially when I’m a little stressed. If I do have a naughty pick, the marks can last for weeks, but I’m getting to know my way around gentle acids and vitamin C, which help a lot. I try my best to leave my skin alone, and since I started double cleansing every evening, I’ve noticed my skin is much smoother in texture and I’m hardly getting any blemishes. Double cleansing is something I only started doing at the beginning of lockdown and I love it! I usually start with an oil cleanser, like the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Cleansing Oil, and then go in with a cleanser that has a bit of lather, like the CeraVe Foaming Cleanser.
What’s your favourite skin product and why?
Only one!? I’m going to say two if that’s okay… I absolutely love the SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier, because it’s so gentle and soothing but really floods my skin with hydration. I use it day and night as a first step in my routine and have done for a fair while now, I’m on my third bottle! My second pick is the Ole Henriksen Phat Glow Facial. It’s a treatment mask and my go-to for when my skin needs some TLC – I love using it before an event. Super easy to use, you just massage it into the skin until it goes from pink to white, leave it on for 15 minutes, then wash it off to reveal your bright, glowing, baby-soft skin. It’s brilliant for decongesting my skin, getting rid of any dry patches and giving me a beautiful fresh canvas for make-up.
What was your first skin product purchase?
I think it might have been a Simple moisturiser, or maybe it was a Boots own-brand… I just remember it smelled like cucumber and, of course, at the age of 13 or 14 I probably used it once every few weeks! It’s so funny to think back on that time now that my skincare routine is something I enjoy making time for every day and night. I can’t think of anything better – as much as I love make-up, I love taking it off too.
What’s the one product you wouldn’t be without?
I love my Nurse Jamie Facial Roller. It’s a must whenever I travel (and so good the morning after a few glasses of wine!). I’m trying to get into using my gua sha tool but I think I need a lesson on how to use it properly – or maybe it’s just that I love other people doing it for me! I love to treat myself to a facial too – booking myself into spas is one of my favourite things to do.
Take us through your Sunday skincare routine:
Sundays are my favourite self-care days. I usually spend the whole day in my comfies and I definitely squeeze in a bubble bath. In the morning I keep it super simple: I whack my SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier on and then a nice moisturiser – I love the Glow Recipe Watermelon Juice when I want something light and fuss-free. Something I’m trying to be strict with is wearing SPF, so every morning I make sure to use one. I really like the Shiseido Clear Stick UV Protector SPF50 – it works great under make-up, too.
Cosplay fans know that the key to creating a good look requires the right outfit, good makeup, and the perfect wig to match. No one knows this better than Snitchery, née Eleanor Barnes, whose 1.1 million followers on Instagram and 611K on YouTube log on to see the anime, comic book, and cartoon-inspired looks she’s created. Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, and even Cardi B have all gotten the Snitchery treatment, re-imagined with stunning accuracy by the 23-year-old influencer.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #28 series on my blog.
Creating so many different characters means Barnes has to have a lot of wigs — and some styling skills to boot. But whether she’s buying a unit that perfectly matches the character she’s trying to emulate or she has to snip it into submission, her wig collection is vast and unlike the kinds we see from many wig enthusiasts. Yes, the lady is a fan of a lace-front made from human hair, but in her world, synthetic units rule.
ALLURE: I watched your hair journey video and you mentioned that you initially started wearing wigs to cover up your damage and thinning. When did it become more about you liking the look of wigs as opposed to hiding your hair?
SNITCHERY: When I started cosplaying — that would be around the time when I made the switch into looking at wigs as a creative expression instead of just a means for me not to have to deal with my hair in the morning. [I started wearing wigs for personal use] around 2015, and pretty much right away I was wearing them on Instagram, too. But it would just be whatever wig I had at the time that I was wearing around my college campus. Essentially, I was considering it my hair.
Around 2018, I started wearing wigs for cosplay. I had a little bit more money at that point than I did in college, and it was a great way to mix things up on Instagram. Obviously, with the cosplay, it’s essential. When I started cosplaying, I was not super comfortable showing my body online, so I was doing what I called “beauty-based cosplay,” which was shoulder-up, very makeup and predominantly wig focused. Wigs became really important in my job.
ALLURE: How did you initially get into cosplay?
SNITCHERY: I’ve loved cosplayers for the longest time. I’ve been really involved in their culture since I was 13, maybe. I would see [the ones] who would go to conventions when I was a young teenager. I didn’t know how to sew, so it was always super intimidating to me, these people who would do amazing costumes and wigs.
I slowly started dipping my toe into it through [dressing up for] Halloween, so that if it didn’t work out or if I wasn’t very good, I could just say, “These are Halloween costumes, no big deal.” But people loved [my looks] and I ended up loving doing it. So I’m happy that the dream of my little 13-year-old self was realized on Instagram.
ALLURE: What’s your favorite look you’ve created?
SNITCHERY: I would say probably my Hex Girl look — that has a pretty special place in my heart. I had wanted to do that one for a really long time. In terms of hair and wigs, I recently did the Cardi B “WAP” look with the interlocking hair chain. That was so fun and actually really difficult. It was pretty rewarding to get it done. I made it with my mom, and that’s probably the most maybe impressive hair thing I’ve done in cosplay.
ALLURE: Does your mom typically help you with your wiggatry?
SNITCHERY: She does sometimes. She doesn’t know much about them. She knows less than I do, but she’s my little crafting buddy for cosplay and she is actually pretty good with hair, so she’s been a huge help.
ALLURE: When you’re doing these characters, do you find that you often have to modify the wigs to get the look that you want? Or is it not terribly difficult to find something to match a character?
SNITCHERY: I’d say it’s a mixed bag. There are definitely characters who obviously have simpler hairstyles where I can just buy a wig and pretty much slap it on. But for the most part, I use synthetic wigs for cosplay, which typically don’t come ready to wear. I always have to at least spray them down with dry shampoo. Usually, I have to use a little bit of hair spray and backcombing to get some volume because they’re typically pretty thin. Sometimes I add in braiding hair to get that volume, too.
ALLURE: I know you give away some of your wigs away when you’re done using them.
SNITCHERY: Yeah, I’ve given some away to my friends — especially right now. For the most part with my wigs, I wear them into the ground. Like, I will wear them to death. By and large, by the time I’m done with a wig, I don’t think anybody would want them. I’m lucky in that I’ve been able to collect about as many colors as humanly possible.
For cosplay, I’m able to reuse them and cut them into different styles. And usually, I can get three or four characters out of a wig. And by the time it’s seen those three characters, it’s kind of dead. Typically, by the time I’m through with the wig, with all my crafting, I can just [put that one on pause], but I have given them to friends before.
ALLURE: The wigs that you do keep, do you ever name them?
SNITCHERY: I actually don’t name my wigs. I think it’s honestly because I have too many. I have friends who also wear wigs and a lot of them doname them. It’s almost like clothes — you can have 200 fast fashion things or you can have a capsule closet of a couple of really nice pieces. They have like a couple of really nice wigs that they bond with. And I have like literally 200 rat’s nests that I’m digging through. So no, I don’t name them just because I think I might have too many to do so.
ALLURE: Fair enough! But even with the large amounts of various wigs — do you have a favorite unit?
SNITCHERY: My favorite unit of all time was a long, pastel pink, full-lace human hair wig from, I think, Mood Hair, Inc. That was the only one that I wore for five months straight. [I ran it] into the ground. I think I got it in 2018.
ALLURE: Where do you typically find your inspiration when you’re deciding on a look?
SNITCHERY: I do watch a lot of anime. It’s usually just from whatever show I’m currently watching — I’ll end up finding somebody who not even necessarily is my favorite character, but just has an interesting character design. Twitter is also a great resource, especially for a lot of the looks I do, which are very nostalgia-based.
A lot of times, I’ll see characters from old shows retweeted onto my timeline, or my followers will give me great ideas of what to do. I’m about to do a character from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, which is a show I have not thought about since I was maybe seven. My followers have been great in giving me inspiration for stuff like that. I think especially this year, people are so hungry for nostalgia. It’s been really fun to dip back into a lot of those Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon shows.
ALLURE: What would you say was your priciest unit?
SNITCHERY: I honestly don’t typically spend too much on wigs. I know there are units that can run you thousands of dollars. But I don’t take good enough care of them to warrant spending that much money. So I think the most I’ve probably spent on a wig was maybe $400, which certainly is a lot of money. And I typically will spend around $40 for a cosplay wig, but really nice everyday wigs, usually they’re around $300, $400.
Black consumers are calling for a movement, not a moment. Welcome to Artist Spotlight #26 series on my blog.
The year was 2018. Beyonce delivered one of her most historic performances as the first Black woman to headline a set at Coachella. Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians premiered to fanfare proving that, contrary to popular belief, films with a leading cast of color have global appeal. Yet even though 2018 was a landmark year for representation in various industries, the beauty industry missed the memo.
At the top of the year, Tarte unveiled its new 15-shade Shape Tape Foundation range, where only two shades were designed for darker complexions, a negligent move given that Fenty Beauty debuted just months before with a revolutionary 40-shade collection that was ultimately dubbed #TheFentyEffect. It Cosmetics, BeautyBlender, and several other brands missed the mark, too. How, in 2018, were Black women still fighting to reform the beauty standards that continually fail to recognize consumers beyond “medium tan,” “warm honey,” and “almond?”
In August 2018, seven Black influencers—Monica Veloz, Ofunne Amaka, Jessie Woo, Tiara Willis, Armanda Tounghui, Shanygne Maurice, and Cydnee Black—answered the same question POC have been pondering for years: “Why is it still a struggle to find foundation for dark skin?”
“When you walk into these beauty corporations, you’ll most likely see a white-dominated office space so, because there aren’t a lot of black voices at the table, there isn’t anyone to say, ‘Hey, this launch is not okay,’ or ‘You need to do something different because these shades are not diversified,'” Willis, founder of the popular Twitter and Instagram account @MakeupForWOC, said at the time. Transparency in companies’ hiring process and leadership board is just as important as delivering a diverse shade range.
Now, two years later, the beauty industry is in the midst of a reckoning. Following an outcry from consumers and influencers, a slew of brands began broadening their offerings and campaigns to be more inclusive. But sometimes their efforts verge on the performative: In June 2020, as the nation broke out in protests in response to the senseless killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and other acts of violence by police and white supremacists, brands flocked to social media in droves to lend support to the Black community, issuing statements of solidarity and pledges to be more inclusive in the name of being “woke.” There were also many brands who remained mum in the face of social injustice, revealing that if they didn’t care about Black consumers before—both on the shelves and in boardrooms—why would they start now?
UOMA Beauty founder Sharon Chuter launched Pull Up for Change in response to the brands’ silence, an initiative demanding that companies come forward with a demographic breakdown of their employees to demonstrate they’re more than just talk. Once a buzzword brands used to hide behind their shortcomings, will inclusivity move beyond trend to become an ongoing movement?
Would you say the beauty industry is still failing people with darker skin tones?
I would say no, it’s not failing us but I feel brands are getting a little bit too comfortable. With everything going on with Black Lives Matter movement, we’re seeing an uprising happening, and within that uprising demanding for basic human rights, we’re also seeing a lot of calls to action for black creators, creators of color. And in that, you’re seeing so many disparities that still happen behind the scenes that haven’t been addressed.
On the surface, yes, we’re getting more foundation shades and better campaigns, so brands have made a lot of progress. But that’s not to say Black people can relax now. No, we have to keep demanding that if you’re going to launch something that has 60 shades, make sure all the shades are available in-store and that people know how to find their shade—that’s one of the areas of the makeup industry that almost never gets talked about, the in-store experience. Retailers will say, “Oh, we can’t have this many shades because of the space,” or “These units don’t sell.” That relationship between the brand and the retailer, and that relationship between the retailer and the consumer needs to be worked on more.
When you put out products for people, you have to realize that there’s actually people on the other end of the buying process that will be introduced to your product for the first time. Having only select shades in stores or not enough deep shades to begin is frustrating. Is that the first impression you want to give?
This call for diversity in beauty extends beyond shade ranges to opportunities for Black creators, too. As an influencer, what has been your experience trying to obtain opportunities and ensure you’re being paid fairly?
I do all my deals on my own and it’s hard to not get taken advantage of because there isn’t a lot of transparency in terms of what’s the going rate for X, Y, Z type of project. Sometimes, people just don’t want to pay my rates. I have decide to not pursue opportunities from brands that don’t value what I’m doing, or don’t want to pay what I’m worth.
I had a post on Instagram that basically was just alluding to the fact that “diversity” has to go farther than just posting someone on your Instagram page. Are you paying them? Are you making them feel heard behind the scenes? Do they have a voice? That just goes for employees, too. Because there are sometimes the lone black employee on a team, and they might have an opinion, and it might not be heard, or they might not feel comfortable voicing it. So, we’re in a great place with that right now. A lot of people are being offered things that look like opportunities, but they’re often exploitation.
Thankfully, there’s an Instagram page called it’s Influencer Pay Gap, and people send anonymous DMs to the Instagram listing their age, race, sexual orientation, and follower count is, and how much they’ve been offered to do a project. Accounts like these are providing some transparency in terms of what people are getting offered and what people are getting paid.
What changes have you seen in the makeup industry since 2018?
Two years ago, it seemed as if every brand was in a race of who could put out the most foundation shades. And people got lost in the idea that just having a lot of foundation shades means they’ve cracked the code on diversity when, really, if the rest of your brand isn’t consistent then you didn’t do anything meaningful. There are brands that have gotten better since then. But there are some brands who either put out their inclusive shade ranges in the last two years, and didn’tkeep the same energy with concealer, bronzer, contour, etc.
Especially right now in 2020, it seems it’s the year of bronzers and every brand is putting out their own bronzer. I did a video swatching the latest bronzers and a lot of them—between their advertising and what the product actually looks like—there was a disconnect there because the shades didn’t match IRL. It goes to show how genuine some of these brands are, because if you have to Photoshop a color to make it look dark online but ashy or lighter in person, that says a lot about how a brand views us. We’re clearly not important enough for them to put any effort into making products for us.
Is there truly hope for brands to “keep the same energy” or do you feel like the same outdated outlook persists behind these launches?
Well, minimal effort was being put in before this whole “inclusive” wave. Before the Black Lives Matter movement that’s going on right now, it’s always been a thing. But before it became as widely talked about as it is right now, before George Floyd’s death, you could see that the inclusive marketing that some brands were using was already starting to die down. And I’m happy it’s been brought back up again because of the current place that we’re in right now.
You can look on a brand’s Instagram page and scroll back to 2019 and see what maybe one dark-skinned person on there, maybe throw in a couple other people of color. But a brand drops 60 foundation shades and deserves a pat on the back? That energy wasn’t being kept until right now. And right now everyone with Pull Up or Shut Up, putting out their business, brands are reaching out to black creators. Even now some people have already said that that energy has started to die down. It’s a matter of if a brand genuinely wants to do better, they’re going to. It will become clearer to see which brands hop on for the moment and then go back because championing diversity is too much work for them.
What’s your advice to the Black consumers who are finding it hard to trust any brands these days?
Write down the names and take screenshots of how brands are responding to the current climate and Pull Up or Shut Up. In a few months, revisit those brands to see if they stayed true to their words, especially since right now, we need 18 new releases. So it really puts these brands in a competitive place where they’re going to have to put your money where your mouth is, because if brand A and brand B release something, but brand B does better, then brand B is probably going to get that person’s purchase. Spend your money on brands that support you year-round, not just for the moment.
What do you want to see more of from brands moving forward?
Transparency and dialogue. In the past few weeks, there were brands that have called me and said, “Listen, we just want to hear from you and how you’re feeling.” I’m Black and it’s been awful but I’m glad brands are trying to do the work to make Black influencers feel seen and heart. I’m talking huge brands that were like “Listen, whatever it is, whatever concerns you have, whatever you need from us. We’re trying to show our support. How can we show our support?” So I want to see more brands trying to be completely transparent because I only align myself with brands that align with me as a person.
Also, diversity isn’t only a 40-plus shade range. What about the LGBTQ representation? Don’t support the LGBTQ community for just one month and then move on. I’m definitely am seeing a lot more diverse campaigns but it has to be the standard. The current uprising in beauty and the Black Lives Matter movement forced brands to really step up and realize that they need to make a change. I’m sure it scared the hell out of a lot of brands. Good for them.
As a frequent makeup shopper, where else do you see brands missing the mark?
Undertones. I think a brand came out with 100 shades but where are my undertones? To find your perfect foundation shade, you have to understand undertones. Understanding undertones makes it easier to shop online, especially now that we can’t go in stores and play in makeup or swatch. A foundation range is only as good as the undertones it offers. I’ve played with several different foundations and I still reach for my Fenty Beauty foundation because she understands my undertones. It’s lazy to throw out a foundation with limited undertones because not everyone is warm or golden honey or orange. Brands need to get specific with these shade ranges because black women, black people are not just one shade. We’re not as red. We’re made up of a range of beautiful colors and tones that should be reflected in the products we spend our money on.
What has the Pull Up or Shut Up campaign revealed to you about some of the beauty brands you’ve supported?
Basically what we already knew: There’s a real lack of diversity in the boardrooms of our favorite brands. If there’s lack of diversity, there’s going to be a lack of faith, you’re going to see a lack of ideas and a lack of understanding. If there was a black woman at that board meeting, or a black cosmetic chemist who was in there making those formulas, they would obviously be like, “Oh, I have black family members. I’m black. These shades don’t actually work on us.” And they would actually be that voice to say something.
Diversity in boardrooms is one thing, but where else are brands lacking?
It’s easy for brands to create an extensive range, but they’re not doing the necessary work to actually try it on black skin. Chemists are putting strong green undertones or pink undertones that would normally work for others, but that’s not realistic for darker skin tones. When it comes to bronzers and blushes, and the other steps of makeup, there is a lack there with finding colors that suit dark enough. Think of influencers like Nyma Tang. She had a whole video where she spent hundreds of dollars buying all the bronzes before trying them all and none of them worked for her. It’s 2020. It doesn’t make any sense.
What has the Pull Up or Shut Up campaign revealed to you most about some of the beauty brands you’ve supported?
It’s not enough for the black community that these beauty brands want to expand the shades. We want to see us represented in the offices too. We want to see black people represented on the executive board. Who are decision-makers? We want to know that you are being inclusive all the way around, not just with your shades. We want to know that black people actually have opportunities within your company. I think that this is what this movement is all about. Black women spend the most money in the beauty world, so if we’re spending the most money we need to be represented. We need to have a say so in what’s going on in these companies.
How has finding your foundation shade become easier?
Finding my shade has become easier because I’m purchasing from black beauty brands more than before. UOMA Beauty, Juvia’s Place, Fenty Beauty, there are a lot of different black owned beauty brands that are coming out and cater to us. Who can speak to our shades better than us? Shopping for my complexion is easier because I’m supporting products made for us, and by us. Just keeping it real. Pro tip: find brands that represents me and you won’t get disappointed.
What’s your general advice to brands that want to do better?
Look around your office then you’ll know where to start. See who’s not there, you know where to start. It’s that simple, really. When brands or companies try to make it seem like it’s so hard, no it’s not. Just look around. Are there black women here? No. Hire them. Where they at? Be intentional about being “inclusive”. You can’t be inclusive without being intentional. Initiatives like Sharon Chuter’s Pull Up For Change are needed. It’s going to change the hiring process. It’s going to change how these companies look at us. They’re going to have to finally look at us and say, “Okay dang, we really got to listen to these black women. We really have to listen to them because not only do they have these platforms. But then they have these platforms that can influence the buying power.”
Canadian-born London-based makeup artist Michael Brooks, also known as The Brooks Brother, made his YouTube debut in 2017 and has since then been inspiring his followers with his mesmerizing, artistic beauty looks. Having landed his role as Smashbox Cosmetics UK’s pro MUA earlier this year, Brooks has been paving the way for queer creatives by advocating for better representation and diversity within the beauty industry.
At a young age, Brooks already had an eye for glamor and beauty. The moment he saw his favorite alternative, pop punk boy bands wear makeup was when he decided to experiment with his own looks and explore his talent. With additional interests in music, art, digital content creation and fashion, the multi-disciplinary creative is changing the game and is definitely a talent to watch.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #25 series on my blog.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how your passion for makeup started?
I grew up in Canada, in a suburb just east of Toronto. I’ve always had an interest in the arts and I studied various areas of visual and performing arts throughout my entire childhood, but I’ve always been fixated on glamor and beauty. At around 12 or 13 years old, I began to take notice of men I saw wearing makeup in my favorite alternative/pop punk boy bands and I wanted to try it myself. Around that same time, I was involved in some performing arts extra-curricular activities, so the idea of wearing makeup on stage didn’t seem odd to me. I’m very fortunate to have grown up in a home that prioritized my happiness, self-expression and safety above all. As I got older, I moved farther away from my music, dance and theater studies and grew an attachment to wearing makeup and providing it as a service to others. After high school, I decided to take a certificate course in makeup artistry. I’ve been doing it professionally since.
How did the opportunity to work with Smashbox Cosmetics UK come to be?
I’ve been working on and off in retail makeup for the better part of my career, and a lot of that has been within the Estée Lauder group of beauty brands. Most recently, I started with Smashbox in their studio space in March of 2020. I had worked on a few freelance campaigns in their studio for another cosmetics brand in 2019 and happened to meet the manager of the space. When they had a position become available, I was put forward and was looking for a change, so I went for it. As you can imagine, with all the changes our world has seen this year, it hasn’t been at all what I expected. Starting a new position with a new brand in the midst of a global pandemic certainly has impacted the process.
“The online social community is a real place for inspiration and discovery, which keeps me going through this challenging time.”
You started making YouTube videos before moving to London. What would you say are the biggest differences between Canada and the UK’s creative industry?
The sheer size of the creative industry in the UK is the biggest difference I’ve noticed. In London, there’s always room for someone to break in, as long as you’re willing to work for free, network until you’re blue in the face and never give up. I feel like my attempts to break into the creative industry in Toronto barely scratched the surface because it’s much smaller. Bigger cities tend to have more opportunities, as long as you’re willing to take them on.
What are some challenges you’ve faced working as an MUA amid COVID-19? How have you been able to overcome those obstacles?
Well, I basically surrendered my entire freelance makeup artist career to the virus and I still have not picked it up. Unfortunately, I simply don’t feel safe working that close to anyone’s face. Over the last two and a half years, I hustled to make a name for myself in a new city and country, only to have it completely squashed by COVID-19. That one still hurts.
But in staying home and making more use of my own face, I turned my hobby of posting online into a job. Now, I’m spending my time creating looks, video and photo content and getting paid for it. There are so many people out there using platforms like Instagram for creating content and to express themselves. The online social community is a real place for inspiration and discovery, which keeps me going through this challenging time. The loss, which is hopefully temporary, came with a gain.
In what ways do you think the dynamic of the beauty industry has changed this past year?
Generally, I think the beauty industry is changing entirely. The beauty industry for online creatives and beauty content creators is in the midst of a continuous shift, and over the last year, I have seen more accountability from beauty brands, transparency on the inner workings of the “influencer” sphere, and a lot more people and former working makeup artists using themselves as their own canvas. The beauty industry desperately needs to prioritize more queer voices and faces, especially those of BIPOC folks. I’ve seen it more this year than ever but there is work to be done. The retail makeup space is undergoing a change in terms of the consumer experience, and a lot of brands are primarily e-commerce now. As for the creative world and working on set (not that I can speak from experience anymore), safety precautions are continuously evolving, but the show must go on. I feel like we’re all becoming more independent, and I think brands are starting to see their consumer as the authority, rather than the other way around.
“The beauty industry desperately needs to prioritize more queer voices and faces, especially those of BIPOC folks. I’ve seen it more this year than ever but there is work to be done.”
What does beauty mean to you?
Standing in your truth. Accepting what you love about yourself and also accepting what you might not love about yourself. To me, beauty is not only about how crisp your eyeliner is or how glowy your skin looks. It’s accepting all of yourself in all forms. Most importantly, it’s about doing what feels best, regardless of how the world sees you. If it feels right, do it.
What is your creative process like when coming up with your beauty looks?
It’s usually based on an image, shape or a specific group of colors. Sometimes I sketch it out when I’m really organized, and other times I wing it from an idea floating around in my head. When I can’t get it right, I’ll take a selfie and doodle on my own face until it makes sense to me. Executing it is a whole other venture. I’m a Pisces so my head is always in the clouds thinking of ideas.
What are your do’s and don’ts when it comes to makeup?
I don’t like telling people what they should and shouldn’t do with their makeup. My least favorite part of working as a makeup artist is the expectation that my opinion and experience is superior to someone else’s. It’s important to be able to offer my input when it’s needed, otherwise, I mind my business. What I will say is, don’t be afraid of makeup. Wear as much, as little as you want or nothing at all – however you want. It’s your face and it washes off.
Can you share with us any exciting projects you’re working on for the rest of 2020 and in the new year?
I was recently named one of three winners in a contest with a well-known makeup brand, so over the next few months and into the new year, I’ll be working collaboratively on a collection with one of my favorite musicians that is set to launch next summer. Easily the most exciting project I’ve ever been a part of!
I’m also taking part in Instagram‘s #ReelSelf Sessions this October, which is a virtual three-day event packed with exclusive content and inspirational talks to support creators to learn, grow and express creativity. The sessions themselves will cover everything from creativity online, how to get noticed and insider knowledge to keeping well online and offline, as well as forecasting new trends. The online world has been a great place of support for me, and I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences.
Otherwise, I’m always brainstorming ideas around how I’d like to leave my mark on the beauty industry. Hopefully, 2021 will bring me a return to my freelance makeup career, a new set of goals and more exciting opportunities.
YouTube sweetheart turned CEO! Welcome to Artist Spotlight #18 series on my blog.
A note from the co-founder, Christen Dominique:
I have always loved helping people look and feel beautiful.
The first time I experienced the transformative power of makeup was after applying my mom’s yellow corrector to cover up my dark circles, my biggest insecurity, at age 14. When I saw them disappear, it felt like I was seeing the real me for the first time, and I could finally be comfortable in my own skin.
With my insecurity behind me, I wasn’t afraid of speaking up, putting myself out there, and making new friends. Soon, the instant confidence boost didn’t just change how I saw myself. Other people noticed too.
As I experimented and played around with makeup, girls at school started asking me for help with theirs. I became known as the locker room makeup artist and would often have a long line of classmates waiting to get made over. Seeing how happy and beautiful they felt—that feeling that I still can’t even put into words—after I did their makeup was the best feeling ever. And so my love of artistry was born.
The artistry continued after high school, doing freelance makeup for weddings, photo shoots, quinceañeras, and many other local events. I learned from YouTube and made a few of my own videos here and there too. But as the years passed, real life kicked in. I was in school full time, working at an insurance company, a young mom to my amazing son, married, had a house to take care of, basically a lot going on. As many working moms have experienced, I felt like I was pulled in a million different directions, never able to give one area the time, attention, or love that they deserved. So I told my clients that I had made a heartbreaking decision: I had to let makeup go.
They were sad for me, knowing how much I loved artistry, and suggested that I create some new YouTube videos. That way I could stay connected to them, teach them makeup techniques, and still have makeup be a part of my life.
So I did. And I started to love creating content, this whole new outlet for expressing my creativity. After about a year of consistently filming tutorials, people started to pay attention. Then, I got an opportunity to move to LA and create YouTube videos full time. Thanks to the support of my husband, I took a risk and moved my family from Texas to Los Angeles. That’s when my life really changed.
Once I got to LA, where I had access to studios, lighting, and owned being myself on camera, my videos really took off. I felt lucky to be able to impact others lives, helping them tap into their inner beauty, while sharing techniques that made them feel beautiful on the outside too.
After years of filming beauty content, I felt empowered to take my journey one step further. I wanted to create a brand that put the transformative power of makeup in your hands. I thought back to my freelance days, remembering the need for products that could be multi-purposed. I factored in the most helpful pan sizes, the shades and formulas that were missing from the current market, and even the packaging was designed to bring an experience to life, and make you feel something. I wanted you to have access to the most prestige, innovative products without breaking the bank. With lots of time, research, and even more love, Dominique Cosmetics was born.
If you’d have told me in high school that I’d one day be the CEO and Creative Director of my own makeup brand, Dominique Cosmetics, I’d probably have thought you were crazy. This is truly mine and my family’s dream come true—our co-founder and president is actually my husband. (Love you, Cesar!) We hope that these products can do for you what that yellow concealer did for me years ago: Allow the real you to step into the spotlight, empowering you to feel beautiful inside and out.
XOXO Christen Dominique
The brand is carried by mostly eyeshadow palettes:
And lately, branching out into face, eyes, and lip products:
It’s safe to say that this is one of the few “influencer makeup brands” that has consistently great products, stays on top of trends, out of drama, and is highly respected.