The 11 Best Blushes, Bronzers, and Highlighters of 2022

Swiping on some bronzer can give you a natural glow that will lift your spirits any time of year. A hint of blush can do just enough to fool people into thinking you spent your afternoon on the beach. And don’t get me started on the wonders of highlighter: How could we create that dewy look without it?! Of course, it takes the right products to achieve these things—and browsing the list of 2022 Healthy Beauty Award winners is the best place to get inspiration for your next purchase.

Best Body Shimmer: Bali Body Body Highlighter

Meet the body highlighter for people who think they don’t like body highlighters. The lotion blends easily, and better yet, naturally into your skin.

Bonus points, per the experts: This highlighter contains dimethicone, which helps keep skin soft and supple.

One tester said: “The shimmer looks a little intense and intimidating when you first see it, but it blends out quickly and easily to a nice sheen. My favorite place to wear it is on my décolletage when I layer necklaces. It really makes the whole look pop!

Best Liquid Highlighter: Valentino V-Lighter Illuminating Face Primer and Highlighter with Hyaluronic Acid

If you’re a multitasker, then you’ll love this all-in-one primer, highlighter, and hydrator! Editors found a renewed love for doing their makeup thanks to this pick.

Bonus points, per the experts: This product contains hyaluronic acid, which is loved by dermatologists because it’s a great moisturizer for all skin types—even those that are acne-prone!

One tester said: “This product is magic, and I want to do my makeup just so that I have an excuse to wear this more often. I largely used it as a highlighter on top of makeup, but you can also use it as a glowy primer too. It goes on so beautifully and basically always makes you look like you are standing in front of a ring light.

Best Stick Highlighter: Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Highlighter

G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S (yes, Fergie style) is how you will feel after trying this stick highlighter, according to editors. It contains a bit of glitter, so they say it’s best used in the evening. But hey, if you love it so much that you want to wear it any time of the day, I fully support you.

Bonus points, per the experts: Made with dimethicone, this highlighter moisturizes too.

One tester said: “I’ve never used a stick highlighter, and the product from Anastasia Beverly Hills was a good place to start! Although it is a cream stick, it feels very smooth and dry—it doesn’t go on wet or messy at all. I really love the soft applicator/brush on the other side of the stick because it applies the highlighter so well!

Best Powder Highlighter: LYS Beauty Aim High Pressed Highlighter Powder

Editors loved this powder highlighter because it’s easy to use and looks really natural, never caking on skin. Just be sure to apply it lightly at first, as the formula is very pigmented.

Bonus points, per the experts: This highlighter is excellent for anyone with dull skin, thanks to ingredients like niacinamide, which brightens, and hyaluronic acid, which hydrates.

One tester said: “The colors are really nice, and I think this is a good product for people who like powder highlighters.”

Best Liquid Blush: Flower Beauty Blush Bomb Color Drops for Cheeks

Reviewers couldn’t stop talking about this blush’s wide range of colors that fit a variety of skin tones. Even better, Flower Beauty makes high-quality products that are super affordable—and one tube will last you a while.

Bonus points, per the experts: This blush contains dimethicone, which helps keep your skin from getting dry.

One tester said: “The eight colors in the range are all gorgeous. The gel-cream formula blends effortlessly and gives your skin a flush of color and a hint of glow that looks natural and radiant. I especially love the Bitten shade, which is a stunning berry hue that brightens up your cheeks without being overpowering.”

Best Powder Blush: RMS Beauty “Re” Dimension Hydra Powder Blush

This blush provides a nice glow without shimmer, creating a bright and rosy complexion. In fact, editors and reviewers said it’s the perfect blush for the “no-makeup” look.

Bonus points, per the experts: This plus contains squalene, a great moisturizing ingredient for all skin types.

One tester said: “I really loved this blush! It’s a powder-cream hybrid, which was perfect for someone like me who historically enjoys creams, but gets frustrated at their lack of longevity. I can tell it blends really well, because even when I applied too much, the formula still settled into my skin naturally.”

Best Cream Blush: Keys Soulcare Sheer Flush Cheek Tint

This tint gives you a natural, flushed look. Plus, it’s so creamy, the formula feels almost like a light moisturizer, according to editors.

Bonus points, per the experts: The jojoba seed oil in this product absorbs quickly and is suitable for people with acne-prone skin.

One tester said: “I can apply this with my finger, so it gets points for ease of use. The color I’m trying is very natural, so it looks like I’m blushing—which is exactly what you want from cheek tint!

Best Balm Cream Bronzer: Saie Sun Melt Natural Cream Bronzer

Editors couldn’t stop raving about how natural this bronzer looks. The best part? It blends beautifully, so you don’t have to worry about streaks. It comes in four shades, the second-darkest shown above, so it’s suitable for a variety of skin types and colors. 

Bonus points, per the experts: This cream bronzer is loaded with beauty-boosting ingredients like oatmeal, which soothes irritated skin, and grapeseed oil, a natural astringent.

One tester said: “Once I figured out that I really had to warm this bronzer up with my brush before applying, the formula moved onto my skin really nicely—and also lasted for so long! It’s perfect for people who want a drier formula that doesn’t feel liquidy at all—but it’s not powdery or cakey either. It’s truly a second skin.

Best Powder Bronzer: EM Cosmetics

This sculpting bronzer lives up to its name. You’ll only need a few swipes to contour your cheekbones to new heights. And the streamlined compact is easy to carry in your purse or makeup bag, which is always a plus.

Bonus points, per the experts: This cream bronzer contains shea butter, which helps moisturize skin.

One tester said: “This was very creamy and blends super easily—a little goes a long way! Although I have very fair skin, I was able to use it while still matching my natural skin tone.”

Best Multi Palette: Ace Beauté Glow Essentials Highlighter Palette

This palette includes six unique shades—perfect for a blushed or more contoured look—so I’m confident it will quickly become a staple in your makeup bag. Reviewers liked that the highlighter goes on smoothly and mixes well with moisturizer. It’s also super versatile, allowing you to play around to accent your nose, cheeks, undereye area, and more, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

Bonus points, per the experts: This palette contains dimethicone, which helps keep skin moisturized.

One tester said: “I was excited to try this palette because of the different shades. I really love using a highlighter whenever I leave the house because it gives a natural glow without putting a ton of makeup on my skin. This product is especially great for summer when I don’t want to wear foundation, but still want to look a little more polished.”

Best Lip-and-Cheek Stick: Jones Road Lip and Cheek Stain

Cheeks on point? Check. Lip game poppin’? Check. This lip and cheek stain helps save space in your makeup bag when traveling and is ideal for people who hate using a lot of products.

One tester said: “My lips feel great after application as this product is very moisturizing! I tried using both my finger and a makeup sponge to blend in the stain on my cheeks and both worked great. Simplicity is the name of the game here and anything to make life easier is great in my book!”

SELF

Pastel Summers

Model: Keanna
Products:

  • Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter
  • Catrice Goodbye Pores primer
  • Make Up For Ever ULTRA HD foundation & concealer
  • Laura Mercier translucent loose setting powder
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills contour kit
  • MAC Cosmetics blush in Melba, highlight in Soft & Gentle, BlackTrack liquid eyeliner, lip pencil in Brick, lipstick in Chili, & Give Me Sun bronzer
  • Benefit Precisely My Brow pencil and Gimme Brow setting gel
  • ColourPop Freckle pen & Pretty Fresh Setting Mist
  • Natasha Denona Pastel Eyeshadow Palette
  • Sigma Beauty brushes.

(Disclaimer: I do have Keanna’s consent to post the images on designated websites including Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, and use in my digital portfolio.)

Vanessa Hudgens’ Makeup Artist Used This Blurring Foundation to Get Her Glass Skin Look at the MTV Movie Awards

Vanessa Hudgens turned heads more than once at the 2022 MTV Movie Awards after making seven (yes, seven!) outfit and hair changes. As the host of the event, the actress donned a new look every time she announced a category and winner — but it was her makeup that really stole the show.

Like me, you’re probably wondering how Hudgens achieved her stunning red carpet look. Fortunately, the actress’s makeup artist Tonya Brewer shared the exact lineup of products she used to give Hudgens her glow — and they all happen to be from celeb-favorite Pat McGrath Labs. Jennifer Lopez, Doja Cat, and Julia Fox have all recently used Pat McGrath products, and for good reason.

The secret to Hudgen’s red carpet glow is the Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation, a natural, blurring foundation that features amino acids and diamond core powder to enhance her radiance and decrease fine lines and pores. Available in 36 shades, the silky formula glides on like butter for a smooth and dewy finish that’s designed to make your skin sparkle, according to reviewers. Suitable for most skin types, shoppers are calling it “the best” foundation for a “sheer, natural finish.”

Shop now: $68; sephora.com

Brewer paired the Sublime Perfection Foundation with other Pat McGrath face favorites, like the Sublime Perfection Concealer, which also comes in a range of shades, and Sublime Perfection Setting Powder. The lightweight setting powder has moisture-absorbing amino acids that soak up sweat and condensation, making it perfect for hot summer months, and is also free of parabens.

To get Hudgens’ dewy cheeks, Brewer tapped Pat McGrath’s Skin Fetish: Divine Blush Duo in paradise glow (which is currently out of stock in all colors), as well as the Skin Fetish Highlighter + Balm Duo in nude, which shoppers are calling their “secret weapon” for achieving an all-over glow. Brewer then used Pat McGrath Labs Fetish MascaraPermagel Ultra Glide Pencil, and Mothership I Subliminal Eye Shadow Palette to give Hudgens a daring eye featuring a dramatic, smokey wing with a glittery blue finish. And last but certainly not least, she finished off Hudgens’ plump pout with three lip products: the Lust Luxe Lip Balm in nude temptationPermagel Ultra Lip Pencil in structure, and Blitztrance Lipstick in skinsane.

So, if you ever find yourself wanting to recreate Hudgens’ gorgeous red carpet look at the 2022 MTV Movie Awards, you totally can with makeup from celeb-favorite Pat McGrath Labs. Or, just use these products to feel red carpet-ready, no matter what your summer plans are.

INSTYLE

The 14 Best Tried-And-True Drugstore Mascaras

Whether you’re going full glam or in the mood for a more natural look, mascara can really bring any makeup look to life. Finding the perfect mascara for you can be a little tricky since there are so many out there. While higher-end mascaras may seem more promising, you’d be surprised by the impressive formulas and lasting effects of mascaras found in the beauty aisle of your local drugstore. What’s more, they provide the same results as any Chanel, Dior, and Charlotte Tilbury mascaras out there– just at a more affordable price.

BEST FOR EXTRA VOLUME : Mega Volume Mascara by Wet n Wild

  • Doesn’t clump
  • Cruelty-free
  • Affordable price
  • You may need to use multiple coats

You’re bound to receive lash envy with this mega-volumizing mascara complete with a full spiral fiber brush. Your lashes will not only look thicker and fuller but they will also be moisturized and nourished with vitamin E.

Voluminous Original Mascara by L’Oreal

  • Builds lashes evenly
  • Comes in a variety of shades
  • Not waterproof- the colored shades may run down your face from tears or sweat

Ready for full, dramatic lashes? The L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Original Mascara helps to build your lashes five times their natural thickness. You won’t have to worry about clumping or buildup with its wand, which separates and hugs every lash for a bold look.

BEST FOR CLEAN BEAUTY : Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara by Covergirl

  • No smudging
  • No clumping
  • Thick bristles
  • Hard to hold handle

Argan and marula oil condition your lash while the vegan formula works to create the high-volume lash look of your dreams.

CULT-FAVORITE : Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara by Maybelline

  • Volumizing
  • Waterproof
  • Hard to remove
  • Clumpy

This viral TikTok mascara features a lightweight formula that won’t cause any flaking or smudging. The mascara is designed with an exclusive flex tower brush that will reach every single lash no matter the length.

BEST FOR A SPIDER EFFECT : Big Mood Mega Volume & Lifting Mascara by e.l.f. Cosmetics

  • Affordable
  • Lasts all day
  • Hard to apply with brush handle

Get big, bold lashes in one stroke. Infused with jojoba wax, this e.l.f. Cosmetics mascara has a smooth, creamy formula that helps hold your lashes’ curl. It will plump and lift your lashes and last all day. It’s also smudge and flake-resistant.

BEST FOR SHORT LASHES : Telescopic Original Lengthening Mascara by L’Oreal

  • Lengthens
  • Applies evenly
  • Difficult to remove
  • Dries out quickly

Short stubby lashes are a thing of the past, thanks to the L’Oréal Telescopic Mascara. This drugstore gem lengthens even the shortest lashes and has a smooth formula that applies easily and smoothly, providing you with a desired clump-free result.

BEST FOR LAYERING : Lash Princess False Lash Effect by Essence

  • Lengthens
  • Adds volume
  • Sticky texture

The Essence Lash Princess mascara features a fiber brush wand that will give your lashes a dramatic volume while achieving a sculpted length. It’s a no-hassle application as it won’t clump up or leave product build-up.

BEST FOR FULLNESS : Lash Stiletto Ultimate Length Mascara by Maybelline

  • Applies evenly
  • Good applicator
  • Dries out quickly
  • Flakes

After one application of the Lash Stiletto mascots, your eyes will look brighter and wider. The mascara’s formula includes pro-vitamin B-5, which conditions and smooths your lashes to help them shine.

BEST FOR LENGTHENING : Mega Length Mascara by Wet n Wild

  • Cruelty-free
  • Increases definition
  • Multiple applications to see results

If you’re looking to increase definition and give yourself longer lashes instantly, Wet N Wild has you covered for just $3. This wand allows for precise application and hugs every lash from root to tip, encouraging optimal length.

BEST AFFORDABLE OPTION : Volumizing Mascara by e.l.f. Cosmetics

  • Doesn’t clump
  • Stays on throughout the day
  • Heavy formula
  • Hard to remove

The e.l.f. Cosmetics Volumizing Mascara adds volume to create fuller, thicker-looking lashes that will widen your eyes. Apply the product to your eyelashes from root to tip and work in a zig-zag motion to fully coat your lashes for the best result.

BEST FOR SUBTLE VOLUME : Great Lash Washable Mascara by Maybelline

  • Gives you volume and definition
  • May transfer to skin after drying

Considered America’s favorite mascara, the formula of the Great Lash Washable Mascara glides on seamlessly to build healthy lashes. This mascara will give you a natural volume and will easily become a staple waterproof mascara in your makeup routine.

BEST FOR EASY REMOVAL : Full ‘N Soft Washable Mascara by Maybelline

  • Applies evenly
  • Doesn’t clump
  • Smudges
  • Flakes

Maybelline’s thickening formula nourishes each lash with Vitamin E. The best part of this mascara is its quick dissolve system that allows for easy removal with no residue.

BEST FOR A LASH-LIFT LOOK : Clump Crusher Water Resistant LashBlast Mascara by Covergirl

  • Applies evenly
  • Doesn’t clump
  • Difficult to remove
  • Sticky texture

The innovative curved brush of this Covergirl mascara will separate your lashes, courtesy of its double-sided design that evenly coats each hair clump-free.

BEST FOR LONGWEAR : Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara by Maybelline

  • Great brush
  • Applies evenly
  • Difficult to remove

The fanning brush of the Lash Sensational mascara has ten layers of bristles, which grabs onto your lashes for a perfectly fanned look. With a waterproof, buildable formula, it’s a great product to trust as your all-day, every day mascara.

FAQs

What should you look for in a drugstore mascara? 

When shopping for mascara, makeup artist Desiree Delia says to think about what your ultimate goal is for your eyelashes. Are you looking for length? A little volume? Or maybe both? 

Volumizing and lengthening mascaras are key to creating that fake lash look without having to use any lash glue. In just two to three coats, you’ll see that your lashes appear thicker and fuller. While there are options of falsies and lash extensions, there’s nothing better than being able to get your desired lash length every day without the pricey upkeep. Plus, using a lengthening mascara is the easiest and most effective way to add some length to your lashes. Waterproof formulas become locked into the lashes, which prevents smudging. 

It is also important to keep an eye out for three key things: the formula, the wand, and the removal process. 

Formula

Look for a mascara that won’t clump, dries quickly, and washes off considerably easily. If you are looking for a clean product, you’ll want to consider a cruelty-free formula. If having a longer-lasting product is important to you, you should look for a waterproof formula. 

Wand

To help you achieve your lash goal, it’s important to look at the mascara wand and its bristles. Delia says a fluffy brush helps to thicken the lash, whereas an hourglass-shaped brush helps to volumize the lash. “If you’re unsure, a more rectangle-shaped brush is a general brush that helps target all your needs,” she adds.

Removal

Mascara is great for making your eyes pop throughout the day, but sometimes, it can be a challenge to remove. Ensuring you’re using a product that can be easily removed with your face cleanser or wipes is important. If it’s a hassle to take off your mascara, it may not be the product for you. With waterproof mascaras, Delia explains that you must use an oil-based cleanser or baby oil to remove the mascara, and often the removal process may require some extra care. But, you’ll find that non-waterproof mascara will come off a little easier.

ELLE

Focus

A little behind-the-scenes look at our project with Katie, photo taken by Andrei Roman.

Enhancing faces since 2017, I truly never get tired of working on new people, projects, visit new places, and create new looks. It is truly my passion and I am grateful for every face I get to work on!

Happy summer, everybody!

Makeup Entrepreneur Bobbi Brown Has Launched a New Beauty Brand

Bobbi Brown, the makeup mogul who pioneered the “no makeup makeup” look in the early 90s, is back at it with a new venture. 

Based on the belief that the world “doesn’t need more beauty products, it just needs better beauty products,” her new brand, Jones Road, which she launchred during the pandemic, offers a relatively small range of “clean” products, formulated to eliminate potentially harmful ingredients such as parabens, phthalates and sulfates. And, in keeping with her less-is-more approach, many items in her new range are multifunctional — such as a balm that can be applied to cheeks, lips and eyelids. 

Jones Road comes decades after Brown sold her namesake label and years after she exited the company.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #85 series on my blog.

Building a brand

Brown first entered the beauty world in the 1980s as a makeup artist when the overly made-up look was in vogue. “It was Studio 54, Liza Minnelli, Jerry Hall,” recalled Brown during an interview with CNN. “I tried to do that and it didn’t work. So I thought, ‘let me make people look more natural,'” she said. 

Bucking the trend, she bid on consumers wanting a more natural look and launched Bobbi Brown in 1991, building a business that was so successful that Estée Lauder came knocking on her door just a few years later. According to Brown, the then CEO Leonard Lauder called to tell her she was beating the cosmetics giant in all the major department stores. He invited Brown and her husband over for dinner and asked if he could buy the brand. “We aren’t for sale,” she told him at the time, but eventually Lauder made an offer she couldn’t refuse. 

When Leonard said to me, ‘what if I can promise you that we can grow your business and you could do what you love’ — and this got to me — ‘you keep doing all of the creative, we do everything else and you can be a really good mom and have your family and not spend your life traveling,’ I said OK. He was the right partner at the right time,” Brown said.

She stayed on at the brand for more than two decades after the reported $74.5 million sale but eventually came to regret a non-compete agreement she had signed, which would bar her from launching any new beauty brands for 25 years. “I’ve always only put my name on things I believe in. It is one of the reasons I left the last brand,” she said. “At the end of my tenure I was forced into approving things that I never had a chance to approve. I refused. I never put my name on something that I don’t believe in.” 

But there were still four years left on the non-compete agreement and she finally had the luxury of time to figure out what she wanted to do next.

‘Empowering people’

In her second act, Brown went back to school to get certified as a health coach. “I didn’t go back to school with a purpose. I went because it was the first time in my life I had time to think of what I wanted to do,” she said. “I’ve always been a health nut and a foodie so going back to school I figured out healthier ways to eat food that I love.” During that time she said she started wearing even less make up. 

Honestly, I sort of stopped wearing it after I left the brand. I was getting healthier, I was less stressed, and I looked better,” she said. 

Brown said she could see what was happening on social media with the many direct-to-consumer beauty brands emerging but saw a gap in the market for the company she was quietly starting to envision which was “somewhere between old Celine, when Phoebe Philo was there, and Supreme.”

She launched the brand on October 26, 2020, the day her non-compete was up.

Brown joined Tiktok in January this year, posting videos with straight-talking advice, including tips for people who are over 50. In one video she makes a case against contouring — a makeup technique used to define and shape certain facial features — asking, “why would you want to contour your nose?” while explaining how she learned to embrace her natural features.

Brown has also used the platform to address critics. One of the brand’s foundations had received some negative feedback from users online — some didn’t like that the oil-based foundation separated in its container, others felt the coverage wasn’t enough. She responded with a series of videos defending the product and explaining how to mix it properly and how to apply it. 

A lot has changed since Brown launched her first brand, but she appears to be embracing the opportunity to talk directly to consumers and share positive beauty messages. 

I believe in life, you have to use what you have and stop fighting who you are,” she said, “I really believe in empowering people to be the best versions of themselves.”

Bobbi’s Top 5 Beauty Tips:

1. Smile a lot, you just look so much better when you do!

2. Hydrate yourself, I don’t care if it’s water or herbal tea — it makes such a difference in how you feel.

3. How you feel is tied to how you look, so instead of running to get work done, ask yourself “why don’t I feel good?” and make some changes to your lifestyle.

4. Wear sunscreen and wear a seatbelt.

5. Streamline your regime: Find a few beauty products that take you just a few minutes to apply that make you feel good no matter what, where and when.

CNN

How Isamaya Ffrench Created The Glossy Skin For Vogue’s August Pride Cover

When the August issue of British Vogue is a big celebration of Pride, representation, individuality and activism, how does one approach the make-up? For Isamaya Ffrench – a make-up artist who is always pushing the boundaries of what it means to transform via colour, texture and prosthetics – it was about honouring the unique character and beauty of each LGBTQ+ cover star. “We wanted everyone to look and feel amazing, to celebrate individuality and beauty, so that each person’s make-up complemented their personality,” she tells Vogue.

From Cara Delevingne and Ariana DeBose to Cynthia Erivo, Munroe Bergdorf and Jordan Barrett – just five of the 12 change-makers depicted in the story – there were an array of luminous faces for Ffrench to paint. “We had conversations with each cover star about how they liked to make themselves up and the message they wanted to convey and took it from there,” she says.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #84 series on my blog.

They landed on fresh-faced make-up looks, which enhanced each individual’s unique features, whether DeBose’s arresting brown eyes (subtly defined with liner) or Aweng Chuol’s vinyl lips, which were captured smiling widely.

Glossy skin, with varying degrees of shine, was a common thread throughout the shoot: “We celebrated glowing skin and took time to perfect everyone’s skin using a mix of skincare and make-up products,” explains Ffrench, who used products from Jones Road, Johnson & Johnson, and the SkinLacq Glow Serum from her newly launched beauty line, Isamaya. Glass skin in a bottle, the serum is infused with hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump, while emollients create a healthy sheen across skin – it will be available to buy soon.

What was it like working on a shoot celebrating these LGBTQ+ stars? “It was such great energy!” she asserts. “There’s nothing better than celebrating each other.”

VOGUE

Bronze This Way

Model: Charlotte
Products:

  • Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter
  • Catrice Goodbye Pores primer
  • Make Up For Ever ULTRA HD foundation & concealer
  • Laura Mercier translucent loose setting powder
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills contour kit
  • MAC Cosmetics blush in Peaches, highlight in Doublegleam, BlackTrack liquid eyeliner, lip pencil in Boldly Bare, lipstick in Velvet Teddy, & Give Me Sun bronzer
  • Benefit Cosmetics Precisely My Brow pencil and Gimme Brow setting gel
  • Natasha Deanna Bronze midi eyeshadow palette
  • Sigma Beauty brushes.

Model: Charlotte
Photographer: Ken Soon (Chasing Beauty)

(Disclaimer: I do have Charlotte’s consent to post the images on designated websites including Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, and use in my digital portfolio.)

Pat McGrath On Why Diversity And Inclusivity Have Been Crucial To Her Brand From Its Launch

“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.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #83 series on my blog.

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.  

FASHIONISTA

An Exclusive Look at Isamaya Ffrench’s Debut Make-Up Collection

Isamaya Ffrench is sitting at an outside table at London’s The Maine, a stone throw’s from Vogue’s HQ. It’s a particularly sunny Spring day and everyone is full of cheer, which makes what she’s about to unveil that much more subversive. Taking its cues from the visual lexicon of BDSM culture – the lids of two serums and a mascara come skewered with wearable hard metal piercings, while a bound rubbery figure emerges from a 14 pan eyeshadow palette – Isamaya’s first make-up collection (the Industrial collection), for her brand new beauty brand, Isamaya, and its accompanying Steven Klein-lensed campaign, is as much a statement about the beauty industry as it is about beauty. Because Isamaya isn’t your typical beauty brand: it’s not selling you some repackaged notion of beauty in the traditional sense, nor is it relying on tired millennial tropes to appeal to a younger audience. It’s simply about providing the tools for people to express themselves in a way that’s incredibly freeing. “Everyone’s always banging on about make-up to transform yourself,” says Ffrench. “I’ve done the transformation thing, and I get it. But actually, I think make-up is a tool to return to who you are. And I think this collection could speak to people that can be more of their authentic self with this style of make-up, as opposed to like, a pretty girly blusher or something else.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #82 series on my blog.

But to focus on the visuals and underlying message alone would be to undermine what she’s managed to do in terms of the products. Because this is where the true ingenuity lies. A five-piece drop comprising a mascara, eyeshadow palette, glow serum, lip lacquer and brow laminator, Isamaya has worked tirelessly with her lab to create innovative textures and boundary-pushing formulas; a mascara that doesn’t just give you the effect of fuller lashes, but actually nourishes them to promote growth; an eyeshadow putty that melts with your body temperature to make it more blendable; a glow serum that doesn’t just contain pearlescent particles for a superficial dewiness, but also active ingredients that stimulate collagen production, creating a much deeper, more intense radiance. After years of lending her prowess to brands including Tom Ford, Christian Louboutin, Burberry – where she remains global beauty director – and Byredo, Isamaya is executing her unique vision of beauty on her own terms, and without any commercial shackles. The result is a lesson in unrestrained creativity that feels truly Isamaya. “I look at these products and I think, ‘That’s just so much more me than any other products I’ve ever seen in my life,’” she muses. “Maybe other people will be able to connect to it as well.”

Below, Vogue takes a closer look at the collection.

Industrial Skinlacq Triple Hyaluronic Glow Serum

A pearlescent lacquer for the face, but without any added sparkle, the Industrial Skinlacq Triple Hyaluronic Glow Serum is ideal for creating that glass skin look. Using a triple hyaluronic acid complex, along with cell-energising peptides, it also works to nourish and reinvigorate the skin, which was key for Isamaya. “I didn’t just want a glowy serum that doesn’t do anything else,” she says. “If I’m going to use this on my face every day, as the perfect base for my make-up, I wanted that first point of contact to be moisturising and moisture-locking.” Bottled up beautifully in a glass orb, replete with a pipette and hard metal piercing, it will bring an edge to any bathroom cabinet.

Industrial Rubberlash Latex Lift Mascara

A true example of make-up artistry and invention, the Industrial Rubberlash Latex Lift Mascara doesn’t just make your lashes look fuller and longer, it actually curls them too. “The lab created this mesh-like texture to encapsulate the lash,” Ffrench says. “It has this kind of elastic property that pulls the lashes back so you don’t need to curl your lashes.” Using three separate pigments, two black and one blue, to create an ultra black lash, it gives that coveted false lash impression, while conditioning oils nourish to encourage growth.

Industrial Liplacq Maximising Lip Serum

Described as a veil for the lips, the Industrial Liplacq Maximising Lip Serum uses a blend of coffee and ginger root oil to create a plumping effect, while its deep berry hue and almost inky texture add a sense of depth. This isn’t your average lip offering. “I wanted to create something that makes your lips a couple of shades darker because I think it’s quite sexy, quite goth,” she says. “I don’t want it to look like you’re wearing any product, though, it just deepens your natural tone with a kind of greyish, veiny tint.

Industrial Browlacq Brow Laminator

A multi-use brow lacquer, apply one lick of this hard-wearing, hard-working gel to your brows and it will hold them in place from day to night and right through to the morning after. Perfect for styling or giving that laminating effect, it contains glycerin and humectants to nourish the hairs as well. “For all the drag queens out there, you can use this to stick your brows down and then cover with foundation, and then you have no brows,” she adds. It’s also good for kiss curls.

Industrial Colour Pigments Eyeshadow Palette

Taking inspiration from industrial hues – oil slick greys and chrome silvers – but with the odd flash of acidic colour, the 14 pan palette is a mix of special effect pearls, mattes, and press putties – demi-wet textures that activate at body temperature so they blend more easily. They look just as exquisite together as they do individually. There’s a particularly arresting violet that looks almost holographic on the skin. Isamaya recommends it for cooling down your highlights, while a silver pressed metallic gives a foil-like effect. “It’s all about the textures,” she says. “They look really interesting in different lights, and photograph really beautifully.

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