embrace your make up story | H&M beauty unveils latest collection

Everyone uses make up differently — the products we use and the techniques we implement ensure every look is as unique as the next. It’s apt then that H&M Beauty‘s latest collection is titled “Makeup Stories” to celebrate everyone’s beauty journey. In collaboration with Global Makeup Artist for H&M Beauty, Raoúl Alejandre, the collection places a strong emphasis on lips and draws inspiration from the diverse beauty looks of the 80s.

Schön! chats with Raoúl Alejandre about the second drop of H&M Beauty, using make up as a tool for change, and more. 

Can you talk us through the latest H&M Beauty collection? 

This drop in particular is focused on the lips. I love every aspect of make up, but lips are really important to me because it’s what brings everything together. I love the formulas that we created because they’re not too dry and they’re hyperpigmented. They go against any luxury lipstick on the market right now and the price point is really sweet. Between both of the formulas, the one that stands out to me the most is the satin. I’m usually drawn to matte lipstick because it’s much easier to control. With my artistic background, I love incorporating a bunch of shades. With this formula, because of the high pigment in the satin lipstick, it’s really easy to control and non-drying on the lips. 

You were inspired by the 80s for this drop, correct?

Yes, I was inspired by the 80s. I love the 80s and I love a lot of artists from the 80s. I draw a lot of inspiration from photographers of that time. In particular, I really love Serge Lutens and everything he did during that era in the 70s and 80s. I love that he was a photographer as well as a make up artist and hairstylist and creative director. I really hope that I can get to do all of that at some point. 

There is a narrative behind your work and artistry. How does that aspect align with H&M? 

First and foremost, I am a creative and an artist. It’s the focus of my life. For me, it’s all about energy and vibes. It’s such an Angeleno answer, but it really is all about energy and the vibes. What was nice about [working with H&M] and meeting this team is that I felt like connecting with friends rather than colleagues in a large corporate entity like H&M. It’s important for me to work with people I genuinely connect with because it reflects in my artistry. If I don’t feel that connection, I won’t create something meaningful or beautiful. At the end of the day, it’s all about the vibe, and my clients also embody that. I’ve always believed in the concept of receiving what you put out, and I feel fortunate that my clients resonate with the energy I emit into the universe.

How did it feel when they contacted you to be their first global make up artist?

I felt incredibly privileged because H&M was one of the first stores where I used my debit card. It felt like a full-circle moment for me, as I vividly remember what I bought – a rather questionable mint green sweater and khaki shorts. It’s cute looking back on it now. So, having this collaboration felt really lucky and special.

This range is very focused on the skincare formula within the beauty products as well. How important was that for you when working on this range?

It might be hard to tell under this light, but taking care of my skin is a top priority for me. I emphasise skincare with all my clients, giving it as much attention as I do to make up artistry.  I try to have as much intention in the skincare aspect as I do in make up. Skincare plays a significant role in achieving truly beautiful make up

The products are vegan, too. Why is that important for you?

I was vegan for seven years, although I recently took a little break from it. However, I was a dedicated vegan, and I’ll probably return to it. I believe being vegan should be the standard for everyone. Additionally, make up formulations should always be of high quality, with rich pigmentation. There’s no excuse for subpar make up nowadays. If H&M can create such a fantastic formula, then others should strive for nothing less than perfection.

Beauty is always evolving — it was one of the global discourses last year around the representation of minorities. How do you feel about that?

Absolutely, absolutely. I feel proud, very proud, to represent my culture and my people and to have a leadership role as a person of colour. I consider it a privilege. However, I also don’t want that aspect to overshadow my talent. I believe my skills and abilities should be the primary focus, not just my background.

Do you think of make up as a tool for change?

It definitely serves as a tool for self-empowerment. Make up has always been there to help people feel beautiful. Now, more than ever, it’s a tool for self-expression and creativity. I don’t think we should limit ourselves to trying to replicate someone else’s look. Make up is unique for everyone; it’s an ever-evolving language, and everyone speaks it differently. There are no rules, which is liberating. It’s something that resonates with everyone. 

What can we do next to further that change and growth?

That’s a tricky question. I think as I’m getting older, I ask myself this all of the time, and I think it is just deep diving into myself and going into make up with much more intention. In my younger years, I created make up looks for the thrill of seeking validation and likes. Now, I’m more inclined to infuse intention into my artistry. I took a hiatus to explore myself on a deeper level. Working with [make up] with my clients involves sharing a piece of myself, too. It’s a dialogue where I learn from them, and vice versa, fostering a constant exchange of knowledge. Lately, I’ve encountered individuals who challenge me in various ways, inspiring and challenging me to work with make up with deeper meaning and intention.

Fashion week is happening now, are you excited to see anything?

I’m really excited to see all of the make up looks. Recently I’ve noticed a trend of people toning down their make up, which I find quite refreshing. Couture is a moment which allows for more playfulness, but even then, I haven’t observed anything too extravagant. The focus seems to be on strong hair and overall subtle make up. While fashion shows may showcase bold make up, attendees appear to opt for more understated looks. Obviously, at fashion shows, there is always going to be some strong make up whether it’s a strong lip or an eye. I feel like that’s just the standard.

Learn more about H&M Beauty at H&M.com.

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