As far as we know, there’s almost no such thing as effortless beauty. From facial treatments that leave your complexion dewy and luminous to the perfect winged eyeliner, experts reveal their most-trusted, insider hacks for CR‘s series, Beauty Secrets.
“It wasn’t until I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin that I looked at makeup differently,” Jessica Smalls tells CR. Before college, Smalls rarely wore makeup, but a personal skin cancer diagnosis opened her eyes to its transformative power. She began experimenting with makeup to camouflage her hyperpigmentation and found that she had a hand for it. She quickly fell in love with beauty and got a lucky break assisting makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff. “She threw me into the world of celebrity makeup,” Smalls says, and soon she was building her own impressive client list. Now, Smalls works with Hollywood stars like Cynthia Erivo and Janelle Monáe, and models such as Cindy Bruna.
As work has been on hold during quarantine, Smalls wanted to take the time to transform her Instagram feed into a resource for those looking to heal amidst the Black Lives Matter movement. “I wanted to create a platform where people can come and listen to mental health professionals and maybe take something away that they can use in their daily life, to help them process what they’re feeling, what’s going on, and how to help,” Smalls says. Here, the makeup artist shares how her activism relates to her work, in addition to her beauty inspirations and favorite products.
Last month, you launched the Feel, Don’t Conceal IGTV series in which you speak with doctors and therapists to bring awareness to mental health amidst the fight against racism and police brutality. How do those conversations connect to your work in beauty?
“I started that after all of the tragedies that happened with George Floyd and Ahmaud [Arbery]. As a Black mother raising a black child, it made me really sad. And I felt like if I was feeling this, that other people were feeling it, too. In the Black community, there is this stigma with going to get mental health help. But, no, we need that care and support that everybody needs. I’ve been to therapy myself and it helped me realize that I need to be my best version of myself, so that I can be a great mom, so that I can get to my clients and have really good energy, so I can be the best version to take on the world.”
Who has been a beauty inspiration to you?
“My first experience with makeup and seeing makeup was with my mom, my aunt, and my godmother. I remember them getting dressed up to go to Chippendales and at the time they had Jheri curls and they’d be spraying their activator and polishing up their Wave Nouveau. My godmother was like the eyeliner queen, and she has this old school Maybelline eyeliner that she would have to light and then rim her eyes. They would get the Lee press on nails and it was just a whole big thing. I was like, wow, I couldn’t wait to grow up to be like them.”
What’s your approach to makeup?
“I want to make you look like the most beautiful version of yourself. I don’t want to transform people into someone else. I don’t have a very heavy application. I literally want people to glow. I want people to say you look amazing, not your makeup looks amazing. I want you to make the makeup look beautiful. Not the other way around.”
You’ve worked closely with Janelle Monáe–do you have a favorite look you’ve done on her?
“I love the last Met Gala—everything just came perfectly together. I got excited because I was able to put the glitter on her, we had a pretty liner, she had on pink eyeshadow. It was just really fun. To stand back and look at the look as a whole is a really proud moment because we worked so hard together to make it happen. And then of course she had the mechanical blinking eye, and that was like no matter what was on her face, that was gonna steal the show. But she looked flawless. We were having the best skin moment, her lashes were beautiful, and everything just worked out.”
What’s your current beauty routine?
“In doing makeup and understanding my approach, I’ve become more focused on skin and skin prep. I’m also currently in school to get my aesthetician license because I’ve become more obsessed with skin. So I start my skincare routine with a double cleanse–oil followed by a gentle foaming cleanser–which I’m obsessed with. After that, I use a water-based moisturizer. As I’m getting older, I’m more aware of creating wrinkles and keeping everything up instead of pulling down, so I pat to dry rather than rub. Then I’ll use my SPF. That’s one thing I’m really big on, especially with African American women and multicultural women with darker skin. I am a walking testament that we do get skin cancer, so please put your SPF on. At night, the same double cleanse process, I use a toner with the glycolic acid, and then I put a vitamin C treatment on my skin. Then I apply nighttime cream so that my skin is really getting all the nutrients while it regenerates overnight.”
What are your favorite products?
“When I work with women of color, I use Cargo’s HD power in 40 to highlight. It gives the most natural highlight for brown skin. [It’s] the perfect peachy-yellow tone that really brightens up— banana powder can be too bright, but this looks like your natural skin highlights. I also reach for my chestnut lip liner. I feel like I can conquer the world with chestnut liner and make my clients feel that way, too. That liner allows me to wear any color. One of my favorite foundations is the Bounce foundation by Beautyblender, and the shade range is amazing. They really worked on their undertones and made sure that they had it for every shade. It gives the most beautiful glow to your skin and it’s a medium coverage. If you let it dry a little bit and let it get a little tacky, you can build up to a full coverage. I also use Hourglass cream foundation sticks. They have a semi-matte finish, so it still gives off a natural skin shine.”
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createdAt:Thu, 30 Jul 2020 17:26:52 +0000