6 of the Coolest Black Artists in the Industry Share Their Best Beauty Tips

Plus, their top advice for making it in the beauty industry.

6 of the Coolest Black Artists in the Industry Share Their Best Beauty Tips

When it comes to next-level artistry, creativity, and innovation within the beauty industry, Black artists are (and always have been) at the very forefront. (Name any major trend, and more times than not, the Black community started it.) Failing to acknowledge and honor that kind of influence is negligent, pure and simple, and it's been happening for far too long. Of course, Black History Month is an especially important time to celebrate the industry's sparkling Black talent, but the applause, recognition, and features can't, and shouldn't, be capped at just 28 days every winter. It's a 365-days-a-year responsibility, and it's something we're devoted to here at Who What Wear. 

Visit us any day of the week and you'll meet the Black nail, hair, makeup, and skincare experts who are raising the bar and setting a precedent where authenticity and untethered artistry are concerned. Below, however, we're shining the spotlight on six Black names you definitely need front and center on your radar right now—from Lizzo's hairstylist, Shelby Swain, who specializes in sculptural hair art, to makeup artist Tyron Machhausen, who's worked with celebs like Zazie Beetz and Rihanna. Not only did we ask each artist to share their favorite beauty tips and must-have products (that's a given!), but we also asked them to provide advice for up-and-coming artists and to reflect on some of their most exciting moments and memories since making it in the industry. Keep scrolling—this is a must-read. 

Follow: @theshelbyswain

Celebrity clients: Lizzo, Zendaya, Bebe Rexha, Amber Rose, Madelaine Petsch

Top hair tip of all time: 

My number one tip is to maintain proper moisture/nourishment. This will you give the optimal foundation for hairstyling so that your strands can be manipulated into numerous hairstyles with minimal damage.

One standout moment or memory you've had since making it in the beauty industry:

Definitely when I gave Zendaya faux locs for the 2015 Oscars. She received so much backlash for wearing a natural hair look on the red carpet. People didn't think it was "elegant" enough for the red carpet. It was wild. And then with Lizzo… We've had some great moments, but I would have to say the BET Awards when I made a hat completely out of hair for her. 

What's one piece of advice you'd give artists who are just starting out?

Personally, I think it's all about being yourself and staying true to who you are and the things that you are great at. I feel like a lot of people tend to lose themselves a little bit because they're trying to follow a trend and trying to follow something that's not always authentic to them as artists. And I mean, that's how I kind of stood out with Lizzo—I like doing creative hair and hair art, and she's always liked that about me. I'm versed in all things hair, but at the same time, I love to create sculptural pieces, hair sculptures, anything that's cool and creative.

What beauty products can you not live without when working on your clients?

I absolutely love Instant Control for edges, laying the hair down, you know, being able to create mood with the hair. It's kind of all about gel for me because I can really use it to mold and create these amazing textures in the hair. Plus, it's important for really maintaining a great style for the entire day. But you know, a really good moisturizer is so important. I absolutely love the conditioning hair masks from The Mane Choice because, in order to have a great hairstyle, you have to have a great foundation. 

Follow: @naivashaintl

Celebrity clients: Alicia Keys, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lupita Nyong'o, Yara Shahidi, Elaine Welteroth, and Aurora James

Top hair tip of all time: 

My favorite hair tip of all time is moisturemoisturemoisture. The key component to healthy hair is moisturizer. Moisture is the nourishment that your beautiful tresses need to thrive.

One standout moment or memory you've had since making it in the beauty industry: 

The most memorable moment of my career was seeing my face on a billboard in Lagos, Nigeria. It was the first time I'd ever seen myself in that light, and the most amazing part is that my mother was with me. It was her first time traveling internationally. 

What's one piece of advice you'd give artists who are just starting out?

If I had to share advice with a new artist, I'd say, "Be patient with yourself, and embrace every lesson in every experience."

What beauty products can you not live without when working on your clients? I love the Kérastase Discipline Oleo Relax Anti-Frizz Oil Serum because it is formulated to control all textures, especially thick or unruly hair. My pro-level tip is to use it as a heat protectant! The second would be Oribe's Cote d' Azure Luminous Hair and Body Oil… This is my favorite product ever. It leaves the most subtle glisten without being heavy. My pro-level tip is to lightly mist it on your brush before brushing the hair to create a refined finish. For styling, I love T3's Curl ID 1.25" Curling Iron because it has nine heat settings—one that is right for everyone’s hair type. Using too much heat on naturally curly hair can disrupt and damage the curl pattern. This iron allows me to heat-style without jeopardizing the health of the hair.

Follow: @iamdavontae

Celebrity clients: Tia Mowry, Victoria Monét, Kali Uchis, Saweetie 

Top hair tip of all time: 

Invest in quality! Your hair is a strong statement. Never sell yourself short. Investing in quality products ensures that you not only look your best but also feel your best. With an array of different hairstyles, the hair industry has tons of products available no matter the texture, length, or color. You control the alluring effect on your spectators, give them a show they'll never forget, and leave them wanting more. 

One standout moment or memory you've had since making it in the beauty industry:

Working in the beauty industry has many moments of awe. I've been very fortunate to take part in a number of great projects. Black Is King by Beyoncé comes to mind. Being a part of a project with such an important message was truly humbling. To be able to showcase my passion and talent on a project that focuses on inner beauty and empowerment was a highlight in my young career. This has proved to me that there is more to explore, learn, and challenge myself to continue to grow in my destiny. 

What's one piece of advice you'd give artists who are just starting out?

Passion drives and motivates us to challenge ourselves to always be evolving in a fast-paced, ever-changing world. A word of advice to anyone looking to pursue a career in the beauty industry: Stay hungry! Your inspiration to grow is set only by your imagination. You have the power to create memorable moments with your craft. Always think, How will my work amaze and captivate my audience? Give them something to gag about for time to come, then challenge yourself to raise the bar yet again. 

What beauty products can you not live without when working on your clients?

Choosing the best products to use on my clients is super essential. This sets the stage for the quality of work you can provide, and I look for products that leave my clients feeling and looking their best. A: Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross Edge Control. Everyone loves them some baby hairs! With this product, a little goes a long way. It’s light, doesn’t flake, smells phenomenal, and is super effective. B: I'm obsessed with Amika's Fluxus Touchable Hairspray. It doesn’t leave any residue that makes your hair feel sticky or tangled after application. It keeps your hair in place while still giving you a soft-to-touch feel. C: Ouai's Hair Oil is one of the best oils in the industry! It instantly absorbs into the hair, it’s very lightweight, it keeps the hair very soft, and the floral fragrance keeps the hair smelling amazing. 

Follow: @manthony783

Celebrity clients: Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Ava Max, Paris Hilton, Tinashe

Top makeup tip of all time:

Bring your jawline contour back behind your ears and down the neck slightly to lengthen the profile and give definition to your face from any angle!!

One standout moment or memory you've had since making it in the beauty industry:

Shooting the "Rain On Me" music video with Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga was unreal! Seeing how these two powerful women light up and deliver over and over again was truly an experience I will never forget.

What's one piece of advice you'd give artists who are just starting out?

Try to test shoot with photographers as often as possible. It's the best way to critique your work without the stakes being too high. You can really solve a lot of your own mistakes by analyzing your work objectively every time.

What beauty products can you not live without when working on your clients?

Laura Mercier's Translucent Loose Setting Powder is fail-proof and lightweight. I like to apply it under the eye with a Beautyblender or a soft, large tapered eye brush to set under-eye concealer. Haus Labs' Eye-Lie-Ner in Punk—this liquid liner is my favorite liquid liner. I apply some to the back of my hand or a palette and then use a thin liner brush to fill in any gaps between the base of the lashes and the false lashes… or I just use the felt tip for a sick cat eye!! Last would be Jurlique's Herbal Recovery Signature Mist, which I use to prep the skin before moisturizer and to activate powder highlighter on the skin when the makeup is done. I love the way it smells and so do all of my clients. It does have a strong spray nozzle, so be sure to distance a bit before misting.

Follow: @tashareikobrown

Celebrity clients: Tracee Ellis Ross, Alicia Keys, Gabrielle Union, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya 

Top makeup tip of all time:

I love to custom-make my own rollerball for de-puffing and hydrating my skin in the morning. It’s an inexpensive, luxurious self-care morning ritual. I use a whiskey ice ball mold (very inexpensive), and after filling it with water, I add jojoba oil, essential oils, and strained chamomile tea. The results are tightened, glossy skin that often allows me to skip foundation afterward. That said, if I do wear or apply a medium-coverage foundation, I always have to powder to set the foundation. My trick for making it look very light and clean is to go back in and whisk a bit of foundation on your cheeks, forehead, and chin back over the powder with a loosely bristled brush. One would think adding more coverage would make it seem overall very heavy, but whisking a little foundation back over the powder breathes a little bit of glow and texture back into the skin.

One standout moment or memory you've had since making it in the beauty industry:

Two memories stand out in a career where I constantly live beyond my wildest dreams every single day. It’s very rare to have a client perform at the Oscars. I’ve now been back several times, but the first time so clearly stands out in memory. I was working with Florence Welch. She was also performing with Elton John at his annual Oscar party, so we had a lot of logistics to sort out during the day, including having a police escort to make it to both red carpets with a change in between. We were moving very fast. A door closed and locked behind me, and I somehow ended up walking the entire red carpet, casually drinking champagne. Later, I was standing right behind the main curtain backstage doing touch-ups, and I looked out into the front row and at the theatre. It was the first time I paused all day and took it all in. That’s when the moment fully sunk in. Later that night, I had the same feeling standing just offstage watching her and Elton sing "Tiny Dancer."

Touring with Jill Scott was also a dream. I’ve seen her perform “He Loves Me” countless times in countless countries across the globe. She moves me every single time. No matter how hectic things are backstage, when the chords to the song start, I run back just off to the side behind the curtain. Touring is hard on the body and hard on the mind. You’re living on the road with no schedule. You’re moving from country to country and city to city at odd times, in the middle of the night, by plane, bus, and car. Hearing her sing “He Loves Me” when the key changes to opera restores me every single time. Occasionally, I’ll zone out and watch someone in the audience watch her, and the look on their face reminds me… that while Jilly’s a dear friend and client, I’m working with living legend Jill Scott. 

What's one piece of advice you'd give artists who are just starting out?

Have your own point of view—your own aesthetic and style. Be authentically and unapologetically you in your art. The right clients will find and appreciate you.  It’s a terrible place to be as an artist when your art doesn’t fully reflect your instincts and you’re aware of it. You can’t fully create and thrive in that space. Be you. The world needs more you.

What beauty products can you not live without when working on your clients?

I use Chanel's Baume Essential Multi-Use Glow Stick on every face every time. It’s like painting with light. It brings a sheen back to skin that powder or foundation can dull down, so it’s also the perfect trick to hide a fuller coverage into looking like bare skin. I like to apply it where the sun would naturally hit—the tops of cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, and the chin. I’ll even apply a dab in the center of the eyelids to "wake up" powder eye shadow. A little on the décolletage extends the glow and makes the sheen on the face look so natural. I don’t like the face to look too made up, per se, and eyeliner can sometimes be a bit too much when you’re trying to strike a delicate balance with a bolder lip. I do, however, also love definition around the eyes. Enter Le Volume Stretch de Chanel Mascara. The 3D-printed brush lets me get right up to the lash line, so I get my definition without the added product buildup. The eyes pop, and it really wakes up the whole face.  

Follow: @tyronmachhausen

Celebrity clients: Jessica Chastain, Zazie Beetz, Rihanna, Amanda Seyfried, Dakota Fanning

Top makeup tip of all time: 

My best tip would be applying black liner in the upper waterline for an instant, hyper-natural, and bright-eyed look. It really makes the eye pop without it looking "makeup-y."

One standout moment or memory you've had since making it in the beauty industry:

There are definitely a couple. It's always when a "first" happens—your first Vogue cover, your first major campaign, or the first time you get to work with your favorite celebrity. But one moment stands out for me: I shot a W cover with Margot Robbie and the artist Bill Viola. I love Margot, and I am a huge fan of Bill's work. The first time I saw his work at the Tate Modern in London, there was one piece of his, in particular, that touched me deeply, and at the W shoot, I had the most beautiful conversation with him about this specific piece, which has haunted me ever since. Never would I have dreamed to be able to collaborate with Bill Viola. It's something I will never forget. 

What's one piece of advice you'd give artists who are just starting out?

Be focused, work your butt off, and always be curious.

What beauty products can you not live without when working on your clients?

I use Chanel's Hydra Beauty Essence Mist all the time—before makeup, as a setting spray, and during the day to refresh a look. It creates the most gorgeous dewy, natural finish when it’s being used to set the makeup. The second would be a lash curler. It makes all the difference for an awake, bright-eyed finish. Last, I love skin, and with Chanel's Baume Essentiel Multi-Use Glow Stick, I am able to set subtle highlights for an ultra-polished, dewy look. I apply it on the highest points of the face for a sculpted look, and I also love using it for lips and eyelids.

Up next, Just Do It: How to Support Black-Owned Beauty Brands, According to 13 Founders

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