Grace Gaustad Believes Makeup Isn’t Always Supposed to Be Glamorous

The musician talks about makeup as self-expression, the power of a dramatic haircut, and being the muse of Bakeup Beauty.

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Grace Gaustad may only be 21 years old, but they’ve already had distinct eras as an artist. With each album, they aim to curate a very specific vibe that goes beyond the music. “My first album, BLKBX, was very realistic, very high school, very attainable,” they explain. “For PILLBX, I went the complete opposite [direction] and went into total fantasy land with the most elaborate hair, makeup, and costumes.” The aesthetic involves 40-inch-long bright orange wigs and wild neon eye makeup looks that round out the world Gaustad envisioned with the album. Entering into their next era and third album, Gaustad changes it up again with what they explain as the “feel of being raw and natural, but also very rebellious.”

Helping to create and execute every artistic vision is makeup artist Jo Baker. When the two originally met, Gaustad says, “It was kind of like love at first sight.” They share a love of explosive color and storytelling with their respective art forms. Together, they have also collaborated on Bakeup Beauty — a collection of makeup, face gems, and skin care that make it as simple as possible to create fun, over-the-top makeup looks, like the ones seen in Gaustad’s videos — as well as the products to take it all off at the end of the day.

Below, Grace talks with NYLON about leaning into makeup as self-expression, the power of a dramatic haircut, and their relationship with makeup artist Jo Baker and Bakeup Beauty.

What’s you first beauty memory?

“My mom worked in the beauty industry and had a very successful beauty company, so I used to go to work with her quite a bit. One of my earliest memories is how she used to let me go with her into the lab and mix some of the shower gels and smell the fragrances as they were coming out. It was so much fun.”

So, you were an early beauty lover.

“I was always interested in the aspect of beauty that was creative and fun, but for a long time makeup felt very intimidating. I always liked skin care and I loved all the shower gels that my mom used to make with all the fun smells and things like that. I was interested in what was fun and what I could experiment with. I didn't realize that makeup could be like that until I met Jo Baker. She showed me it was an art form as opposed to something intimidating that always had to be glamorous.”

Why do you think makeup felt intimating to you then?

“I used to watch a lot of YouTubers who were beauty influencers—who I definitely don't watch anymore—but at the time, it was like James Charles and Jeffree Star and they had these two or three-hour beauty routines. That's just a daunting task to take on.”

When did your relationship with beauty start to change?

“When I started performing, and especially doing videos, the makeup got very elaborate. That's where Jo really comes into play. We found a way to make the makeup a part of the story I was trying to tell with my music. That's when the looks became more editorial—using all of these colors and gemstones.

When Jo came to my house for the first time to do my makeup, she opened her kit and it looked like a painter's kit. It was like—boom—every color of the rainbow of all different products and I thought we could have so much fun here. It was like love at first sight and she’s the only person I've worked with since.”

What’s your favorite look that you have done together?

“I think it’s Code Black. It was so different from anything else I'd ever seen. I have maybe 20 baby tattoos all around my eyes that are done in very fine black eyeliner and each little tattoo has its own story. It was one of the first looks where Jo and I realized we might have something here that's even bigger than just makeup for music videos when we saw how people reacted to it on social.”

What’s your daily beauty routine like?

“Every day I definitely wash my face. Then, I like to use a strong moisturizer. I have very pale skin, so I always wear one with SPF in it, because I will just burn. A great lip balm or lip mask, is very important and I almost always use one before bed, like the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. I have those in my bedside table. If I need something a bit heavier, Jo introduced me to the Chanel Hydra Beauty lip balm. She would put it on me after we’d shoot for like 12 or 14 hours.”

I use the Bleu de Chanel line quite a bit, I use that moisturizer sometimes. I even use the Bleu de Chanel fragrance day to day. I've been a huge fan of CeraVe for a long time. It's not necessarily a luxury, but I swear by it. I think it works so well. Once a week I exfoliate with the philosophy microdelivery peel kit. It's a two step scrub-peel thing.”

Do you wear makeup day to day?

“I save makeup more for magazines, videos, performances—things like that. I work out a lot, I do a lot of dance, so makeup is not necessarily in my routine.”

Tell me more about your hair routine.

“I had very long hair my entire life and then I shot the video for ‘Nothing to Me’. In the video I sort of play my alter ego who has got totally short hair and my hair stylist, Clayton Hawkins, made this amazing wig for me. After I saw myself in that wig, I thought, I'm going to do it, I’m going to cut my hair. I've had my hair short pretty much ever since and that's been really fun for me. But, I also have a cabinet at my house with like 25 wigs, so if I ever want go back to the 40-inch orange hair, you know, it's sitting right there.

Short hair has a totally different feel and I definitely wanted the switch up. That being said, I've got a pretty intense hair routine. When I cut my hair, I decided I had to take better care of it because I had put it through the wringer with years of dying and pulling and straightening. I use a lot of hair oils, hydrating creams, and salt sprays, depending on like the look that I'm going for. I'm a big fan of Olaplex. The hair oil I use is called Forte and it is so, so good. Everyone I know uses it now. My partner Katie steals it from my side of like the sink. My mom has ordered it, my dad has ordered it. I've gotten everyone into it.”

How would you describe your aesthetic right now?

“I definitely go through eras and phases. I think at any true artist core, doesn't like staying the same. My first album, BLKBX, was very realistic, very high school, very attainable. For PILLBX, I went the complete opposite and went into total fantasy land with the most elaborate hair, makeup, and costumes. Now, I'm entering my next era with my third album, which will sort of go back to the BLKBX feel of being raw and natural, but also very rebellious.

I'm in a very experimental time with my look and my music. The haircut was like a big deal and I think that gave me a lot of like confidence. Changing it up, seeing what you like, seeing what you don't like—that's the beauty of self-expression.”

What’s your favorite Bakeup product?

“The Daily Meltdown Cleansing Balm is really great, especially because a lot of the time if I'm doing a video or performing, the makeup is pretty heavy. When you have a lot of lights and cameras on you the makeup has to be pretty sturdy to hold up. The cleansing balm feels so good when I’m taking makeup off. I used wipes for a long time and they just tear your skin up. The balm is a really gentle, it's not irritating at all. You're gonna get 97% of your makeup off with one pass.”

Do you have a beauty philosophy?

“It's so cheesy, but I’m a big believer in having fun, experimenting, and using beauty and makeup as a way to further express yourself. It can go with whatever else you're doing, like your hair or your clothes. I think it's a great tool to help people feel better about themselves and more like themselves.”

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