Q+A with Celebrity Makeup Artist Mylah Morales
Mylah Morales on being dubbed "The Glaminator", the products she can't travel without, and more.
Mylah Morales is a world-renowned makeup artist who has made a name for herself in the industry on the sets of music videos, concert tours, movie sets, red carpets, and more. Dubbed "The Glaminator", Mylah has an unmistakable touch to her work that has made her a beauty go-to by the likes of Rihanna, Willow Smith, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Jennifer Hudson, and countless others. We sat down with Mylah to learn more about the importance of technique in beauty education, how everyone on set inspires each other in their work, and so much more. Read on for the whole conversation!
Q: We'd love to learn a bit about your journey in the makeup industry. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are today?
I come from a generation where — and this is what the new generation doesn't understand as much — we had to hire photographers, stylists, makeup, hair, and models to get together to do a photoshoot. And in those photoshoots, we had to create content, just like people are doing now on Instagram, but for physical portfolios.
I moved to New York because there's a better industry of photographers and stylists closer to my stylized brand — I feel like I’ve built a brand based on my expertise. So I worked on my portfolio, moved to New York, and my first client was Sean Combs. From there I met so many different excellent photographers, stylists, and directors. As far as being a makeup artist goes, I came from the music and fashion industries. I came from that generation of all those hip hop videos that you love, and all the pop stars that you love — that aesthetic is the world I come from.
I took a little break because I needed some time to raise my son and work on wellness and my mental health because I was so, so busy that I didn't have time for myself. I wanted to just slow down and have my own Mylah Morales. It’s wellness, it’s health, it’s taking care of myself. But I’m not done! I’ve just taken time off from music because all of that goes hand in hand, music and fashion. So I’m here working on my personal brand as my expertise. You need that, you know? Especially raising a child as a single mom and having an amazing career...I had to take time to regroup and figure things out and figure out where I personally want to be, because the industry is very different from where I started.
Q: How would you describe your own style as a makeup artist?
If I put my hands on a client, usually people know, “Ok, that’s Mylah Morales.” It's all about beautiful skin and being clean and edgy. It goes back to music and fashion too. It’s about aesthetic. It’s all one big full picture, a whole package.
Q: To that point, as you very much have a “Mylah Morales” look, you have the nickname “The Glaminator”. How did that nickname come to be?
It came from Elle Magazine and it just kind of stuck. I was like, “Okay, that's a good brand to have!” And this is the time where I brand myself, aside from my clients. That’s where I’m at at this point in my career.
Q: What do you love most about your work? How and when did you know you were doing what you were meant to be doing?
When I walk into photoshoots and music videos, and I'm doing something great that I can share with the world. It’s not just one “a-ha” moment. It's every single time I walk into a job, I'm like, “Oh my God, this is what I really love. This is why I’m here.” Because I grew up with music videos. I love the videos. It was what babysat me. I started reading Vogue when I was like, 10 years old. So it all came full circle!
I love this on all levels. That's why I've been starting to just start shooting again because I love what I do. It was never about the money. I just wanted to reach a level of success where I could be proud of my work over the years. That's all I want to do, is dope s***, for the rest of my life. It’s fun, especially when you get on the set and you're like, “Oh my God, this is what I love to do.”
Q: From where, and from whom, do you find inspiration?
Where our inspiration comes from is the team. Let’s say we’re shooting a Gucci campaign. There’s a mood board from the photographer, from the stylist...there’s always inspiration. Whether we’re shooting a Gucci campaign or a movie like Valerian — I know those are two totally different realms — but having that moment when I’m in the zone, that’s when I have that “a-ha” moment of, “Oh s***, I’m sitting here with a director we all know, love, and admire.” Or when you have that Vogue Italia cover and you’re like “Oh wow, I’m doing it.”
Q: Do you have a favorite look you’ve created? If so, what was it?
Oh God, there are so many. If I want to say one of my favorite looks, I’d say the CFDA Awards when Rihanna had that sheer crystal dress with the smokey eyes. I had to create that beauty moment because she basically had nothing on. I told her, “Just be quiet, don’t say anything, and let me just do this. Let’s go with this.” That whole look is going down in history.
Also, when I came into the world of Nicki Minaj. Diane Martel was instrumental in that situation because I came in and Diane was like [to Nicki], “Let Mylah redo your face” and I just did my thing and there you have it. That stamped our brand.
Q: What are some of the essential products that you always keep in your client kit?
Definitely a Beautyblender sponge. But skincare is also super important for me because without skincare, then you can't really create a foundation for makeup. Sometimes your clients have been working the past 100 hours and we need to make sure that their skin looks perfect! We don't mask the face, we enhance the beauty. So I’ll use the Caudalie Beauty Elixir to spray the face, as well as serums, eye patches, and things like that prior to makeup — if we have the time. Highlighters are a must too, so the face doesn’t look flat. Contour, bronzers, and blush are everything. And lashes, always lashes.
Q: What makeup trends do you foresee being big this year? And are there any you’re excited to try?
Because we're wearing masks, it's definitely all about the eyes. But I feel like makeup trends have kind of plateaued. I want to see what we can create through 2022. That’s why I’m back to doing photoshoots, because now I’m marinating on and seeing what the trends will be now through the next couple of years.
This is a bit different, but I also just started posting all my work on my Instagram. Young kids don’t know who I am, and they don’t know or remember where they got their iconic beauty inspirations from. I’m passionate about educating the younger generation about the work they’re constantly inspired by from before the age of Instagram and YouTube. So I’m like, “Let me bring this all back full circle, once again, in 2021.” I’ve achieved the level of success that I have because I’ve had the chance to work with the best of the best for years. So it’s good, in that way, to slowly educate without overwhelming. I know how the light should bounce off of your face with highlighter, how to do an editorial as opposed to a movie, how long it takes to do a commercial, or get the perfect lash. Like if I don’t do that right, I’ll be fired! So my techniques might be different from something you’d find on the Internet because of the work I’ve done.
Rapid Fire Round
Q: Hairstylist partner in crime:
Larry Sims. He’s one of my best friends!
Q: Product you can’t leave home without:
I have everything in my bag. I have hand sanitizer and lipstick. And oh, body oil — I’m obsessed with always moisturizing. Because I travel so much, I usually bring a lot of creams. I slather it everywhere! I’ve traveled my entire career, so I’m always on a plane, on the go, and not eating well, so sometimes it’s difficult to keep your skin hydrated.
Q: Favorite drugstore or budget find:
Aquaphor. You can put it on your lips, your hands — it’s for everything.
Q: Worth the splurge:
Erno Laszlo Phormula 3-9 Repair Balm. I was on Rihanna’s entire 777 Tour and it literally saved my skin. Marilyn Monroe used it for everything, it goes that far back.
Q: Recent discovery:
Milk Makeup! I really love their products because they’re vegan.
Q: Brand you wish more people knew about:
Armani, for their Luminous Silk Foundation. Everyone should know about it because there are so many new brands coming out right now, but Armani will be a forever thing. That’s been in my kit for the last 17 years.
Q: Your last beauty empty:
Caudalie Beauty Elixir, that’s my go-to.
For more of Mylah's favorite products, check out her shop below: