Some of the most iconic makeup artists get their start backstage, working alongside some of the most notable names in the business. Celebrity makeup artist and groomer Tasha Reiko Brown had a larger canvas — one that just so happened to be made of brick and concrete. "When I was 20, I spent my days drawing on public property as a graffiti artist!" the mom of one laughs. "Back then, you could just show up in the city and fall in with a random group of artists. You could form your own identity without any noise or interruption. You could be your true self, living out loud and creating out loud."
Even though Brown's tools of choice look a little different these days — she's long since left her aerosol paint cans behind — she still embraces that same philosophy of artistry without abandon as CHANEL Beauty's newest Makeup Artist and Male Groomer. "It feels good to work with a brand that has always supported me," Brown, who's based in Los Angeles, tells me the day of her December 11 announcement. "CHANEL supported me when I had one client, like from the very beginning. When you're starting out, it can be hard when you're not in the celebrity space. But CHANEL went for the work and creativity. They didn't care who my work was on."
It marks a full-circle moment for Brown — and an exciting way for her to cap off this unprecedented year. So, in celebration of both, the pro created six exciting holiday beauty looks just for us. Ahead, read more of Brown's story and get the look yourself.
How Brown Got Her Start
"Like most women, my first idea of beauty was watching my grandmother, who wore the same lipstick every single day for 20 years. I was that little girl sitting and watching her at the vanity. These were my first initial feelings about makeup without knowing what it was in particular. I loved the ritual of it all.
"My first official move into makeup was cleaning brushes backstage in New York. It's a great way to learn because you have your own idea of the way things should go, but the fashion is different. Fashion is a very set look. And you see so many different faces and work on so many skin types. Let's be clear: You get to watch the best of the best work when you're cleaning brushes. I used to assist Tom Pecheux, Pat McGrath, and Mark Carrasquillo. Backstage, you get to watch the best artists create, and it gives you so much inspiration and permission to do the same.
"Then I moved back to Los Angeles and in Los Angeles, we're not a fashion place yet — but we have the world of celebrity. I know the reason why I'm so successful in the world of celebrity is because I had that trial by fire backstage in New York. I actually started in rock music and worked with legends like Stone Temple Pilots and Slash. Then I moved on to singers. I was with Florence Welch for two years, and Jill Scott for four years. By far, I am the makeup artist that I am because of Jill Scott. She gave me the permission I didn't give myself to be creative. Musicians, especially, are prone to do more bold and daring looks. It really, really pushes you."
How The Industry Is Changing From Her Perspective
"We have a ways to go, but I'm hopeful. Social media has helped change the scope of the industry. Women are able to connect with brands in a way they never have before, and they're able to seek out the things that they need. It's exciting that people feel like they have the space to speak up [about injustices].
"At the beginning of my career, I had to piece together my kits because the makeup lines would have two or three dark shades at the end. Now, there's a smorgasbord. The shades range now have dramatically changed. There are more platforms and more projects being made for more talent. I know how many spaces I've been in where I'm the only person who looks like me. Talent has more of a voice now, and they're able to advocate for artists that understand their hair textures and skin tones."
On Staying Creative During COVID-19
"This year has been so tough for all of us. But in dealing with the psychology of makeup, I find that it's the one thing that kind of makes everything feel normal again. That little bit of self care presents a piece that people have been lacking. It brightens their spirits. Mine too. I usually express myself with the brightest lipstick I can possibly find. But with the mask on, that's taken away from me. This time is all about forcing yourself to move outside your comfort zone a little bit and create and express differently.
"With this shoot, I felt so happy because I hadn't worn makeup in a long time. So getting a little bit of my normal back just gave me the serotonin boost that I needed to make it through."
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Dewy & Diffused Highlight
"I use Golden Light on so many people — I mean, all the time. And it's so easy. It's truly like painting with light. I prep my skin with Hydra Beauty cream, then press the highlighter in on my cheeks. I like it on my eyelids, too. It reminds me of youth. I always put a little on my eyelids, on the high points of my face, and down the bridge of my nose and chin. It's a great way to give your face dimension without color."
"When most of our faces are covered, lashes are a quick way to look done and awake with minimal effort. To do a loaded lash, try La Base Lash Primer. Most people hesitate to use a primer because they think it'll clump. The key is to wait for it to dry, then go right over it with the mascara. Deposit most of the product at the base. You want the mascara to really open your eyes."
"Like most people, I have naturally dark lids. I take foundation and put it over my lids and then I put powder on top. Then when I draw the metallic liner on, which is a fairly easy motion, it really jumps because it's on such a nice, clean backdrop."
Mask-Proof Matte Lip
"To prevent transfer, I lay down a lot of lip liner. It's wax, so it grips. The reason why my lips are always so bright is because I use a color one shade brighter on top of my lipstick, not underneath."
Multidimensional Shimmer Shadow
"After the rest of my face was prepped and primed, I used the Boy de Chanel chubby liner on the bottom and top of my eyes to create a base for the shimmer to stand out against. Then I just did a full-on smokey eye. It's really important to put the shimmer over a base if you want it to jump. Press the shimmer on with a small brush, and wet it first to activate all the metallic properties."
Heavy Metal Liner
"I like interesting shapes, so I did a half-moon shape. I dipped my brush into the silvery shade of this quad and just drew it on. But to give it a 3D effect, I pressed the Baume Essentiel right into the shadow to highlight the work that I've done. Anytime you hit a metallic shade with a bit of wetness, it amplifies the color at least three times over."