Christiana Cassell’s professional title may be makeup artist and hairstylist, but her work goes much deeper than just making her clients look their best. “I love how I make people feel,” Cassell said. “I’m such a people person so, the most important part [of my job] is building relationships and making people feel good.”
Some of those relationships include working with A-List celebrities such as Zerina Akers, Emma Grede, Malika Haqq, and music sensations ChloexHalle. For the Maryland-raised, Los Angeles based artist, combining her skills and professionalism with her warmth and kindness has opened several doors for her. One of the biggest included doing Chloe and Halle’s makeup for the 2021 Met Gala and painting faces for supermodels on the set for Beyoncé’s Black Is King project.
Growing up, it was clear Cassell was destined to work in the beauty industry. “I used to love watching my mom get ready. Through her, I learned it’s all about embracing your beauty rather than covering it up,” Cassell, who’s of Liberian descent, explains. “My mom had a home remedy for everything. She always made it a point to show me that beauty was about nourishing and taking care of yourself from the inside-out.”
Cassell still applies this mantra to her clients as well as herself. “I want people to stop me and say, ‘You look nice. Your skin looks refreshing!’ My approach is on the softer, natural, and more radiant side.” That said, Cassell loves using a soft blush to add color to the face, such as LYS Beauty’s Higher Standard Satin Matte Cream Blush in the color Passion. “I hate being overdressed or underdressed, so I try to aim for looks that land me in the middle of the road.”
In general, Cassell’s not big on heavy foundations and concealers. She’ll opt for a product with a second skin-like-finish, such as Fashion Fair’s Creme to Powder Skin Foundation, or even a little concealer under the eyes from the new Sephora Collection. As a professional makeup artist, Cassell knows a few tips and tricks to achieve her desired look. For finding your perfect foundation shade, she recommends swatching the product a bit closer to your neckline.
“Sometimes your neck might be lighter or darker than your face and you definitely want to match your neck.” For concealers, Cassell suggests finding one that is one or two shades lighter than your foundation, “Depending on how much you’re trying to highlight and brighten the face,” she says. If you’re aiming to cover any circles around the eyes, Cassell suggests using a concealer with a hint of pink in it. “It saves you from having to color correct and cancels out any hyperpigmentation.”
It would be a while before Cassell could use a transition color on a client or herself, as her mom didn’t allow her to wear makeup growing up. So, she settled for giving her dolls makeovers, which included haircuts and coloring their faces with markers to achieve the “ultimate beat.” “I was doing a lot of things I wasn’t supposed to do,” she adds with a laugh.
Cassell also became experimental: “At 10 years old, I would mix Vaseline with a piece of my mom’s lipstick to make a lip tint,” she says. “I was always passionate about beauty, but I also come from humble beginnings with my mom being a single mother, so I learned the art of improvisation.”
In high school, Cassell earned her cosmetology license and later worked in a hair salon during her freshman year at The Laboratory Institute of Merchandising. After some notable internships in the fashion industry– Louis Vuitton and Robert Beardy to name a few– she realized she wasn’t feeling fulfilled, so she pivoted and began working for a well-known makeup brand.
“From there, everything changed for me,” she says. “I finally focused on my true passions and not just the money.” This ultimately led Cassell to being a full-time freelance makeup artist and hairstylist. Her first paid gig? Doing Malika Haqq’s makeup on set for Keeping Up with the Kardashians. “I credit this moment to leading with kindness in all of the relationships that I’ve created over the years.”
With such a busy schedule, Cassell has a simple yet radiant go-to makeup routine of her own, one that puts the health of her skin front and center. “Hydrating, taking vitamins, eating right. Those are the things I notice first in my skin,” she says.
When she’s doing makeup for a client, she never leaves the house without her favorites. Cassell loves Danessa Myricks’ products including her eyeshadows and lip colors. “The colors always pop so nicely, and they’re great for summertime looks because they’re waterproof.” To set everything in place, she makes sure to bring a Pat McGrath setting powder. “They’re buttery and don’t dry out your skin,” she says.
But the most important makeup tip Cassell wants all aspiring artists to understand is what her mother always told her: “Do what you love, and the money will follow,” she says. “You must truly love what you’re doing. That way, you won’t be as stressed. And that’s what’s going to keep you healthy and happy in life.”