Like most of us this past year, Ariel Tejada (aka @MakeupByAriel) has spent a lot of time self-reflecting and working on getting his best skin yet. Now, masked up and back on set, the makeup artist has been working nonstop on his craft and further expanding his personal brand: He recently launched his first-ever beauty collaboration with none other than Morphe Brushes.
One might imagine that a highly recognized and sought-after makeup artist who's painted the faces of the Kardashian-Jenners, Shay Mitchell, and Paloma Mami, just to name a few, would have already capitalized on numerous beauty partnerships, but that wasn’t the path for Tejada. The makeup guru waited for the chance to create something he felt particularly passionate about. “I’ve been presented with so many opportunities to collaborate with makeup brands,” Tejada shares with NYLON over the phone. “I declined so many of them because I really wanted to do brushes.”
Now, upon the launch of his first collaboration, Morphe X Ariel, Tejada couldn’t be more thrilled. “This is the first thing that's my own, that I get to be so proud of,” he says. Not one to take all the credit for his own success, he also shouts out the role his family played in helping him get to where he is today. “My family is my everything, they are definitely a recurring theme in this collection,” explains Tejada, who numbered a handful of his favorite brushes in honor of his parents.
Ahead, Tejada opens up about gravitating to makeup in his childhood, the skincare brand that keeps his face clear, and offers a few makeup tips in honor of his new collaboration.
What was your relationship like with beauty growing up?
I had an interesting relationship with it. Growing up, I was bullied at school and beauty became my outlet to be creatively free and distract myself from everything.
My mom was really low maintenance when it came to doing her makeup, and my sister didn’t really do too much, either. I watched whatever little they did, I watched YouTube videos, and I used whatever I had around to play with to do my own thing. That was my way of getting out of a funk after coming home and dealing with a long day at school. I never felt like I was a part of anything, but beauty made me feel like I was a part of something.
How does that affect the way you approach makeup now?
Now, I’m blessed to be in this beauty world where I’m so accepted. When I do makeup on my clients I want it to feel like a collaboration between the two of us, as opposed to something I do just so [my skills] shine. Most of my clients love to be heavily involved with the process, whether it’s applying their own mascara or applying their own lip. It’s amazing to me because we make it a team effort. At the end of the day, we’re both happy.
What is it like to work with a company like Morphe? How does it feel to have your own brush line?
I could not be happier. I’m really overjoyed with this collection. Morphe is a company that allows artists creative freedom to express themselves in their own way. They gave me the opportunity to create something that I’m beyond proud of. I’ve been presented with so many opportunities to collaborate with makeup brands, and I declined so many of them because I really wanted to do brushes. When I think of brushes, Morphe comes to my head first. Who is better than Morphe?
What made you want to start with makeup brushes?
Brushes are fundamental to makeup. Without the right tools, it’s lot harder to make a beautiful finished product. There are so many brushes that are incredible but they're too pricey. I wanted to create a brush collection that was top tier without breaking the bank.
Morphe has been known to make great brushes that are still affordable. A lot of my followers are teenage girls who can’t go and spend $100 on one brush. I wanted to create a collection that felt luxurious. They are efficient, do the job, and each brush can be used many different ways. It’s like having 40 brushes in a condensed kit of eight or 12 brushes.
What are a couple of your go-to brushes?
One of my go-tos is the A24 Foundation Brush. That brush is my all-time favorite. I cannot live without it — it never leaves my kit. I designed it to give your foundation that diffused, airbrushed look. It’s numbered after my mom's birthday because she truly is the foundation of my life.
Another one is the A58 Cream Contour Brush. It’s numbered after my dad's birth year. My dad shaped me into who I am today. My family is my everything. This brush is a favorite because I don’t like harsh lines, and this brush allows me to create a very soft but precise contour application.
Can you describe the MakeupByAriel look?
My makeup style has a lot to do with anything ’90s. It’s those “Naomi Campbell on the Versace runway” vibes. When clients book me, they know that’s what they’re going to get: A defined brownie lip liner, a beautiful, crisp wing, and a soft cut crease.
When I’m working with these it girls, I’m not trying to disguise them or give them a whole new look. I believe in pretty makeup that just enhances your features and makes you look like the best version of yourself.
Can you share some tips for your blush application technique?
My blush application starts at the apple of your cheeks. When you smile the ball of your cheek is your apple, and I try to make sure that the product is concentrated there. Wherever you apply the center of the brush is going to remain the most concentrated with color, that’s why the first placement is so important. Apply blush specifically at the apple then when you press with the brush angling it upwards and dispersing the pigment and stopping underneath your eye area on the side of your face.
What does your beauty routine look like these days?
My beauty routine is extremely important to me. I was on Accutane (a prescription oral medication to treat acne) for about two years and that played a huge role in getting my skin where it is today. Now, I stay with products on the gentler side. I use Biologique Recherche’s Vivant Masque every other day and that helps keep my skin clear by pulling out any impurities. I also use Biologique Recherche’s P50 Toner every morning and night.
When it comes to makeup, I always start with the brows and eyes. Then moisturizer, foundation, contour, powder, blush, a lip, and lastly, lashes. My one piece of advice for makeup application would be that less is more. And always apply it in layers. I do that for all of my clients and when I do my own makeup.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.