(Behind The Glam)

Why Every Hollywood It-Girl Is Vying For A Spot On Sheika Daley’s Client List

The iconic MUA is sharing her beauty secrets.

Sheika Daley makeup artist
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Iconic beauty moments aren’t born without the visionary artists that create them. In Behind The Glam, TZR gives you an inside look into the careers and inspirations of the industry’s top artists.

It’s almost easier to name A-listers who haven’t worked with makeup artist Sheika Daley — her brushes have touched truly all the most major stars of the past several years. She’s known for her highly versatile approach to cosmetics, nailing red carpet, editorial, fashion campaigns, and on-camera work with equal ease. Daley is the sort of artist who aspiring it-girls clamor to work with the same way they vie for spots on fashion show guest lists and million-dollar brand contracts. If you’re lucky enough to have a seat in Daley’s makeup chair, you’ve officially made it.

Daley routinely collaborates with legends including Serena Williams, Zendaya, Iman, and Kelly Rowland, models of the moment like Anok Yai, and industry breakouts like Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Saweetie. But as is the case with so many top-level creatives, that urge to make new things extends beyond the artistry that makes up her day job. Not only does Daley act as one of Lancôme’s Global International Artists, but this year, she added founder and CEO to her lengthy résumé. Elora Lane, a line of high-performance lashes, was born from Daley’s desire to take all her hard-won knowledge and channel it into a legitimately innovative undertaking that’s at once acclaimed and accessible.

What each of her ventures have in common, though, is her distinct vision, free-flowing creativity, and an unmatched ability to translate what she sees in her head onto the human canvases she paints. All in all, it doesn’t just make Daley one of her best artists of her generation — it makes her one of the greatest of all time.

Ahead, go behind the glam and get acquainted with the creative powerhouse that is makeup artist Sheika Daley.

How She Got Started

Growing up in Florida, Daley says her love for makeup and beauty in general is essentially synonymous with her relationship with her mother, a woman she describes as a true creative at heart — “everything she touches turns to gold,” Daley explains. As a painter, Daley’s mom is gifted in visual artistry and color theory, passing all of that knowledge down to her daughter. Daley remembers one particular moment backstage at her dance recital at which her mom was doing her and her sister’s makeup for the big show. With one single palette, “she did our lipstick and she did our eyes, and all the other girls were like, ‘Can your mom do my makeup too?’” That, Daley tells TZR, was the day she fell in love with the craft.

Though Daley herself was always dabbling in creative areas essentially her whole life, including hair and nails, it wasn’t until she went away to college with the intent of studying a more math- or business-focused field that she realized what she actually needed from life. She loved magazines, of course, but the makeup credits were harder to glean in the pre-Google era. As it turns out, she had something of a personal a-ha moment while sitting with her mother, watching an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show featuring special guest Kevyn Aucoin, the iconic makeup artist. She laughs, recalling, “‘Well, mama, if Oprah says this is a career, then this is what I’m going to do.’ It was at that moment that I realized that this is what I want to do because it can be done.”

Kevyn Aucoin, one of Daley’s early inspirations, working with Naomi Campbell.WWD/Penske Media/Getty Images

She immersed herself in every bit of professional beauty possible, working editorial, runways, music videos, weddings, as an artist and beauty expert for brands like Victoria’s Secret and MAC. Daley’s goal was to soak up as much knowledge and information as she could, building a client roster and familiarizing herself with the ins and outs of the industry. “There was no actual pathway that I set out on because I didn’t know what I was doing, really,” she explains. Eventually, after expanding her portfolio, her representation told her it was time to make the transition to New York. While Daley didn’t feel quite ready for such a major geographic leap, she decided to move to Chicago instead. As fate would have it, she found herself in exactly the right place at the perfect time.

The Rise To The Top

Up in the Windy City, Daley went right to work as an artist on shoots for major corporations like Bonton, Kohl’s, Target, and more. At one point, she actually found herself in something of a full circle moment, working on Oprah’s show. The legendary host gave her an invaluable bit of advice that wound up being extremely true. “She said, ‘Just do your best and the right people will notice,’” Daley shares now. “That’s all [I] need, that one person to say yes or no and it could change [my] whole life.” That’s exactly what happened, actually.

There at the show, she met makeup artist Mally Roncal, who took Daley under her wing and helped her make the leap into the New York market — but not before a brief trip home to Florida, where she ran into legendary singer Kelly Rowland. “After meeting her is when things really took off,” Daley tells TZR. “When she loves you and she advocates for you, she tells everyone.” It wasn’t long before Daley fell in with other major names because her work simply spoke for itself. “At the time, I don’t want to say I was the only girl doing Black girls like that, but I was the only girl doing Black girls like that,” she laughs. Everyone wanted to know who the artist behind Rowland’s incredible looks were, which is how Daley got acquainted with stars Lala Anthony, Serena Williams, Brandy, Monica, Zendaya, Nicki Minaj, and more.

It wasn’t long before Daley cultivated the sort of career she used to dream about years earlier, racking up enough memorable moments to fill a book — working with Dame Pat McGrath as both her personal makeup artist and a co-artist on major magazine covers, crafting some of the most talked-about Met Gala looks of all time, and even starring in her very own Lancôme commercial as one of the brand’s global ambassadors. Daley’s done it all, but some looks still stand out to her.

Aliah Anderson/Getty Images
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

She lists Anok Yai’s reflective 2024 Met Gala look, an instantly-iconic Jodie Turner-Smith Venice Film Festival moment, and Zendaya’s twinkly bronze 2016 Met makeup as some of her all-time favorites. Each star is treated to Daley’s impeccable technique, but what makes them so noteworthy is just how varied the makeup is. “I’ve never taken a look from one client to another,” she explains. “For me, it's just bringing out all their best features, and each person has a different best feature.” It’s that philosophy that actually lead her to her latest venture: founding her very own beauty brand.

Balancing Business & Beauty

Daley first launched Elora Lane, her lash line, back in 2017. It was a genuinely innovative enterprise from the outset, built upon one of Daley’s signature techniques and some tips she picked up from her mother. It was her mom that taught her how to buy lashes wholesale, which Daley would then cut up and remix to create her own distinct styles. Back in the day, she tells TZR, lashes were often flat, a far cry from the eye-popping 3D styles seen now. Daley actually spearheaded that look herself, trimming, arranging, and stacking different lash sets for custom, head-turning looks. She always knew she wanted to found her own business, and turning her at-home lash creations into marketable pieces made a lot of sense.

Running a successful business requires a lot more than just artistic flair, though, a fact the always-busy Daley knows all too well. She’s constantly toggling back and forth between getting her mind in CEO mode, then switching back into a creative space. “I’m not a victim of perfection,” she explains, “but I do want to do it to the best of my ability.” Often, that means sacrificing alone time, hanging out with friends, and building out her personal life in general. Daley is in higher demand than ever, but that doesn’t necessarily come without cost. Still, she’s doing preternaturally well at juggling all her jobs — a vacation now and then certainly helps the mental reset.

Thinking back to the young version of Daley behind the curtain at the dance recital, breathlessly watching her mother using one makeup palette into make a dozen little girls feel confidence enough for the stage, surely helps center the artist in present-day. Asked what she’d say to that version of herself, Daley pauses for a moment, then shares: “You got this. Don't give up, just keep on going. Don't doubt yourself. Don't listen to anything that anyone has to say.”