How do you turn Eminem’s laundry into a career as a celebrity makeup artist and beauty entrepreneur? It’s complicated. First, you’ll need to score the laundry-room night shift in the costume department for 8 Mile. At least this is how it went down for AJ Crimson. Then work hard enough that the boss, Oscar-winning costume designer Mark Bridges, offers you his Los Angeles guest room so you can pursue your Hollywood-makeup-artist dreams. Then you buy a $250 Greyhound ticket out of Detroit and hit Sunset Plaza every day to network your way into a makeup gig with will.i.am. Parlay that into a regular post with will.i.am’s friend Fergie. Start touring as a makeup artist for Christina Milian, and Hilary Duff, and Estelle. That’s when you’ll want to meet Forest Whitaker’s wife, Keisha, and create a line of lip glosses with her that look so stunning on women of colour, they catch Oprah’s attention.
A few years later, think bigger: What about foundation? “The girl a few shades warmer than Tyra Banks — she was always left out,” Crimson says. So you create AJ Crimson Beauty, 18 cream foundations, from super light to super dark, with deep, true pigments that don’t turn green or ashy. Viola Davis, Issa Rae, and Mary J. Blige will wear your foundations on the red carpet. But don’t stop there. Because you’d also love to create a place where women of colour can try on absolutely any lipstick, or blush, or eyeshadow, and trust that it will work on dark skin. So you open AJ Crimson Beauté Atelier, with one store in L.A. and another opening in New York City this month. It will be stocked only with lines, like yours, that cater to dark skin. And it will be a dream come true.
We caught up Crimson to learn about the vision behind his beauty line, the importance of creating spaces for women of colour, plus the one thing you should skip to achieve a flawless look.
"Women are using too many steps to get a completed look. They’re putting coverage where they don’t need it, overloading and clogging their skin with things that aren’t good for them — and that’s been one of the biggest takeaways that I’ve seen. People are doing too much [because the product is] cakey or ashy and they’re making excuses for it. You don’t need to make excuses for your beauty. You shouldn’t be forcing products to work. With the AJ Crimson line we’re giving you three brushes to get your entire face done in under four steps. You’re getting the feel of luxury down to the way [the makeup] feels on your skin — and that’s priceless."
Is colour correcting necessary on darker skin tones?
"The only reason you have to colour correct is if you have an extreme issue that can’t be taken care of by the foundation product that you’re using. I have a peach and deep-peach corrector that works really well on all skin tones, but we have to understand why and when we use it. The average woman of colour, she’s normally lighter in the centre of her face, warmer around the perimeter of her face, and she may have a skin issue (hyperpigmentation and unevenness). Do you need it all the time? Absolutely not. Sometimes it’s great to use it as a blush, sometimes it’s great to add another dimension of warmth to the skin. My technique is really unique because it tackles all of those things in three steps."
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With the release of Fenty Beauty and Pat McGrath Labs, we’ve seen a lot more space for black businesses in the past year. Why do think it’s happening now?
"It's great seeing beauty brands that are being spearheaded by black people! Pat McGrath is global, there’s a fashion focus for her, and Fenty Beauty is beauty for all people of colour. It's a win for all people in this space, but the conversation on black beauty didn’t just start a month or two ago when Fenty Beauty dropped. Fashion Fair has been speaking to black women and women of colour for almost 40 years. I think you have a few things happening...You have a lot more black women speaking their mind about wanting to be included in the conversation because they spend so much [on beauty] every year, and the brands that they wanted to try were either ignoring them or leaving them behind because they were not historically speaking to them. So when an AJ Crimson comes along and we have this #8 shade, which is a deep colour we’ve never seen before, it's huge."
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This is an excerpt from Allure US. Read the original here.
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