Michela is Zooting

A beauty & lifestyle blog by creative Michela Wariebi

Category: Uncategorized

Black Makeup Legends – Reggie Wells

There’s currently a renaissance of sorts happening that encourages people to follow their dreams and passions.  There is undoubtedly an uptick in people choosing to abandon the status quo and to pursue the things that truly bring them joy. But imagine doing something so daring and vulnerable at a time when society readily embraced conformity, ESPECIALLY in black men.  Enter Reggie Wells, a makeup artist’s dream personified; an artist willing to take the chance of pursing his dreams at a time when every odd was up against him.


Wells has always had an interest in art, earning a Masters in Art Education and subsequently teaching art in the Baltimore Public Schools from 1968 to 1976.  In 1976 Wells chose to leave his teaching career behind and moved to NYC to take his chances at becoming a makeup artist. Upon arrival in NYC he found employment at several makeup counters and that laid the foundation for the true start of Wells’ career. At the counters he was able to hone his skills as a makeup artist by working on the everyday woman on a daily basis.  The counters were also where he came into the radar of a fashion editor who gave him is first opportunity at print work!


Wells’ work can be seen in Glamour, O magazine, Life and Harper’s Bazaar, but his true legacy in print began with the work that he did with Ebony and then fledgling magazine, Essence. In the 1970s and 1980s, he became a go-to artist for publications whose readership was primarily black women. His work was present throughout the pages of Essence magazine regularly and he amassed an impressive 100 covers with the publication.  The first of these covers was in 1986 and it featured Oprah Winfrey.  This was also her first cover for the magazine. Talk about, historic.

The outstanding work produced during his 30 year career gave Wells the opportunity to work with the likes of Lauryn Hill, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Beyonce, Anita Baker, Michelle Obama, Robin Givens, and Lauryn Hill.  He is credited with being a key makeup artist for Hill’s iconic “Doo Wop” music video. He was also the makeup artist for Givens’ marriage to boxer Mike Tyson. Wells’ impressive list of celebrity clientele includes the names of some of the most iconic black women during the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s.  The most remarkable of these client relationships is the approximately 21 years of service that Wells provided to media mogul, Oprah Winfrey.



After doing her first Essence cover in 1986, Wells began working regularly with Winfrey in 1989 and relocated to Chicago in 1990 to be her full-time makeup artist. During his time with Winfrey he amassed a remarkable 142 covers of O Magazine and was regularly called upon to share his makeup expertise on the Oprah Winfrey Show.  Wells also won an Emmy for Outstanding makeup for his work on the show and was subsequently nominated 3 additional times 2003, 2004, 2005.



Wells was able to craft a remarkable career during a time where things were anything bust easy for a black creative.   Can you imagine the struggle of finding a suitable range of products for women of color during his time at Essence?  Well, he made do to makeup.  He is known for saying that in the past he had to concoct his own foundation formulas and shades because the range for his clientele just wasn’t available.

Reggie Wells was indeed one of the first makeup artists in celebrity and print to specialize in women of color and for that alone he must be remembered.  He chose to specialize in making US look beautiful when most didn’t know how to approach painting our skin. He is a part of our history having touched the faces of so many of those we admire and even the faces of models who would in turn become makeup legends themselves. His influence is undeniable. His daring to pursue a dream and achieving just that paved the way for all of us currently working in these spaces.  And for that, we are thankful.



Black Make Up Legends – Bernadine Anderson

When we speak of the history of professional makeup artistry, we must speak of Bernadine Anderson. A legend by all definitions, she specialized in makeup for film and some of her work was essential to several of our favorite cult classic films.  She is undoubtedly a part of our history for anyone in the industry. The fight that she fought to make a space for herself, made a space for all women and specifically black women in film.


Anderson’s career barely spanned 20 years, but she accomplished much during her time as a professional artist. She was the first woman and the first black woman to gain membership in the IATSE Local 706 Make-Up Artist & Hairstylist Guild.  With a strong desire to work in the film industry she made multiple attempts to find opportunities in that space but was repeatedly denied because of her race.  Frustrated, but determined, she filed a class action lawsuit against the union and won.  Her tenacity and insistence on being recognized set a precedent that not only had a moral obligation, but also a legal one.


Another prestigious milestone of Anderson’s career was a 3-year makeup apprenticeship with iconic tv/film studios, Warner Bros. Interestingly enough, that was the last makeup internship ever offered by the studio. That time at WB fortified her with the skills that would lead to her being a highly sought after personal artist for celebrities working in film including icon, Cicely Tyson. Not only did she do makeup on the main talent, but she also used her skill set, which included prosthetic work, to make stunt doubles and triples look like the primary actor/actress.

That work brought Anderson’s artistry to the attention of then “it girl,” Jane Fonda. Fonda personally requested Anderson to be her artist and that connection and relationship subsequently lasted for 8 years with Anderson working as Fonda’s personal artist on 10 films throughout the early to mid 70’s.  During this time, she also slightly dabbled in makeup for blaxploitation films, “Trouble Man,” independent films centered on telling black stories, “Black Girl” and print publications.


After Jane Fonda, Anderson began to work with Eddie Murphy as his personal makeup artist. This relationship with Eddie Murphy led to her working as a makeup artist on some of our favorite films featuring Murphy.  She was the Head Make Up Artist for “Coming to America,” the Make Up Department Supervisor for “Vampire on Brooklyn” and the Personal Artist for Eddie Murphy in Boomerang.

Even with such an important place in the history of makeup there is limited information about Anderson online. Though her career happened before the age of information, there should be more evidence of her existence in the industry. Click below to see a clip of Anderson herself chatting about her career.

Let’s hope to be inspired by the boldness that Bernadine Anderson showed in insisting that she had a right to be in spaces, where woman and black artists were told they did not belong.  We should be thankful for her commitment to the craft and we are certainly grateful for the recognition that she has gained due to her historic work.  Anderson’s original makeup kit can now be viewed at the National African American History Museum.

Black Make Up Legends – Vanessa Evelyn

Have you ever heard the name Vanessa Evelyn? How about Petra Alexandra?  Somewhat of a living legend with those who are aware of her existence and a bit of a mythical creature to those who don’t know much, she is part performance artist, part makeup artist, part educator, part brow expert, part creative director, part genius, and 100% unique.  

Ms. Evelyn as she demands to be called, began her career in the early 90’s and continued well into the 00’s, with her specializing in fashion/editorial and celebrity makeup.  She is an undeniable talent and though not a household name, she is definitely worth the acknowledgement by the industry at large.


The trajectory of Ms. Evelyn’s career was rather remarkable.  She entered the industry as a model and had some success in that arena, but her true talent came to light when she began pursuing makeup artistry.  Within 6 months of working on building a portfolio, she was given the opportunity to do makeup on rock icon Iggy Pop shot by David Simms for Sunday Times.  Sims was then integral in using his influence to help Evelyn sign with top artist agency, Streeters NY.


Over the next decade, Evelyn became an integral part of music, sports, film, and pop-culture, with her providing makeup for some of the most iconic celebrities of the time. Her list of celebrity clients is nothing short of impressive and includes, but certainly isn’t limited to Tupac Shakur, Rosa Parks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting, Prince, Seal, Viola Davis, Misty Copeland, Serena Williams, Etta James, Benn Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Kate Beckinsale, Lena Waithe, Moragan Freeman, Tyra Banks, John Galliano and more. Her editorial credits are equally as impressive with her work appearing in publications such as Italian vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, O Mag, Essence, I-D, Marie Claire, Instyle, Esquire and British Elle.

10 years after being signed with Streeters, Evelyn stepped into a new chapter as an educator, launching educational offerings to makeup artists through Petra Alexandra, Inc. Over time she built a reputation in the industry as a precision brow expert and a master of skin and color which attracted artists like Valente Frazier and Sophie Ono to seek her tutelage.

One of the things that really distinguishes Ms. Evelyn from the crowd are her unconventional methods used in her artistry.  She is known for her unusual tools including rolling pins, neck braces and gardening tools of all varieties.  Her unconventional methods are also worth noting especially her controversial, “blow job” powder application technique.  And this in part is why she can be considered a performance artist of sorts because there is an element of “show” to how she executes her work. Click the photos below to see video of some of Ms. Evelyn, techniques.


You cannot witness Vanessa Evelyn do makeup and not be impressed to believe that she is an expert of all things makeup artistry. She undoubtedly has an artistic mind and sees the world through a lens that most do not.  Here’s to hoping that the world is lucky enough to receive more of her gifts.

Black Make Up Legends – Roxanna Floyd

When we speak of makeup legends we must speak of the life and legacy of Roxanna Floyd. During her time, this powerhouse made her mark touching a multitude of famous faces on the red carpet, in music videos, on film and had her work grace hundreds of magazine covers.  So perhaps by some name, she was a celebrity makeup artist, but undoubtedly, she was a favorite of the industry, with both clients and peers alike.



Harriet Cole, former Editor in Chief of Ebony Magazine is quoted as saying,

 “She was a genius with a set of makeup brushes. And she appreciated brown skin so much that she learned how to blend colors perfectly to ensure that a woman of any and every skin tone would be flawless before the camera. Roxanna was a perfectionist.”

Endearingly known as the “chocolate diva” herself, she specialized in flawless and impeccable makeup artistry on women of color.  Floyd began her career in the 80’s and her impeccable artistry led to her being the go-to girl for Essence magazine for some time – executing the makeup for over 60 covers of the publication.  With her first cover featuring Halle Berry.

Beyond Essence, she amassed over 200 magazine covers overall including Cosmo, Glamour, Vanity Fair and InStyle.  Her mastery of brown skin also led to her being a favorite among top celebrities.  Floyd’s clients included Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Janet Jackson Lauryn Hill, Halle Berry, Pam Grier, Angela Basset and Whitney Houston.

Clients Queen Latifah and Angela Basset where so fond of Floyd’s work that they brought her on as their personal artist for films like Beauty Shop, Waiting to Exhale and more, giving her 11 film credits in addition to her music video and print work.  That work on Angela Basset in Waiting to Exhale impressed Whitney Houston to the extent of bringing Floyd on as her personal artist for years, where she created some of Houston’s most iconic looks at the later part of her career.

Floyd’s expertise went beyond the face and allowed her to consult with brands on developing products to meet the needs of women of color.  She consulted with Avon, Mary Kay, and Proctor & Gamble.  She also worked as Creative Director for Fashion Fair Cosmetics and played an integral role in the development of the Queen Latifah Covergirl Queen Collection.

Over a 20+ year career Roxanna Floyd accomplished so much and I wonder why there is such a lack of documentation online to say as much. I know her time was before the information age, but perhaps it’s time to think of the deeper importance of being sure to credit all parties who are a part of our documentation of time through storytelling in film, fashion and beauty.

Sadly, Floyd died in her sleep at the age of 49.  She is survived by her family, and those who will always remember her significant contributions to this industry.

Black Make Up Legends – A Series

Working as a makeup artist has progressively become a mainstream idea, but this career path has a lifespan that barely reaches 100 years of existence in the Western world. Icons like Max Factor and Way Bandy made innovations with makeup artistry that correlated with advancements in the areas of TV/film and fashion and this is how our industry as we know it truly began. Progressively more people joined the fold, adopting the title of makeup artist, the film industry expanded, fashion boomed and the world evolved.

Fast forward to present day and everybody and their mothers are all makeup artists, literally.  Social media has made makeup more tangible to the masses and although an excellent medium for highlighting talent, it has skewed the masses on who is “iconic” and who is “legendary.” The eyes of the public can change as quickly as the seasons, but the truth is that those who are iconic and those who are legendary will always be despite what the masses might say at the moment.  The forerunners of this industry who were hired and respected for their talents and techniques may be eclipsed by follower counts in some spaces, but they will always have a place in the hearts of minds of those who truly “know.”

This is a strange and hard truth about our industry. Many who have paved the way can quickly be forgotten; easily eclipsed by the newest on the block.  And I consider the role of some of the first black makeup artists to be one that is especially peculiar.  In 2019 black artists are still greatly underrepresented in many areas of the makeup industry and black skin is still grossly unrepresented in cosmetic product offerings, so imagine the solitude in the lack of diversity or the frustration in the lack of product options in the 70’s and 80’s.  To be an artist working in the highly coveted and notoriously exclusive spaces only achieved by a few or to work on people of color at those times and doing GOOD work speaks volumes of their skill and ability to “make do” to make up.

And so, in an effort to show due respect to the legendary black makeup artists who were the firsts in an industry that still regularly forgets or chooses to ignore black skin, I give you The Black Makeup Legend Series. Over the following weeks I will highlight over 10 black makeup artist who were among the first to establish successful careers as makeup artist.

Click HERE to read about our first legend, Joey Mills!


Black Makeup Legends – Joey Mills

Joey Mills by all accounts is the first black makeup artist with a career path focused in fashion and editorial. It’s important to make the distinction as to in which area a particular artist may have garnered their success, because it’s due time that we clarify to the masses that all makeup artists are not the same and in no way do we all do the same thing. I digress.


Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Mills made the move to NYC in 1975 to pursue a career in makeup.  In an effort to get noticed, he donated his time and skills to friends, agencies, models and any willing face doing as much makeup as he could.  And he did indeed get noticed.  Mills joined the team at NY’s popular Ciandre salon and his freelance career took off; going from sheer obscurity to top artist in the industry within a 1.5 year period!

With there being literally only a handful of artists working in fashion and editorial makeup during his time, Mills’ talent soon made him a highly requested artist.  Throughout his career he is rumored to have amassed a whopping 2,000 magazine covers including Vogue, British Vogue, Elle, Essence, Harper’s Bazaar, Harper’s Bazaar Italia, Glamour, Cosmo, Mademoiselle, Self and Seventeen. Absolutely unprecedented and without a doubt a record that has never been matched.


Mills is also known for helping to create the “Calvin Klien look” that became a major inspiration to the public aesthetic for over 2 decades. He is the artist behind the iconic Calvin Klein ads featuring a young Brooke Shields with full brows, beautiful skin and natural lip.  He went on to be a go-to artist for Shields for over a decade of her career.

Other celebrities touched by his brushes included stars like Paulina Porizkova, Liza Minelli, Melba Moore, Diana Ross, Raquel Welch and many more.

All his technical expertise and knowledge was compiled into his collectible instructional makeup book, “New Classic Beauty: A Step-by-step  Guide to Naturally Glamourous Makeup. I recently added this to my library and after a quick read, I absolutely recommend you grab yourself a copy HERE.


To consider the career and achievements of Joey Mills is to be inspired.  He was able to create a remarkable legacy during a time where black talent was barely allowed in the room.

Roque Cozzette – It’s So Much More Than Makeup


I’ve battled with how to approach this post; this letter of appreciation.  I was not sure how to give these flowers.  Somewhere over these years that I have become a part of the pro beauty community in NY and specifically a part of The Makeup Show family, I became acquainted with the amazingly talented Roque Cozzette.  And initially, that’s was the extent of what I knew about him.  I knew his work, which was nothing short of phenomenal, and I knew he owned a brand Cozzette (get the brushes and get them now), but a hi and goodbye was the extent of it all.

Something in this world saw fit that I should be able to become more personally acquainted with Roque. And that I should have the opportunity to share conversations and interactions with him that have proven to always be thought-provoking, uplifting and absolutely sincere. It is an undeniable pleasure to respect an artist for their artistic vision and creations only to come to know more of them and to be equally if not more grateful for who they are.

So fast forward to my having a desire to want to learn how to airbrush, correctly.  I reached out to Roque, encouraged by a previous conversation with him sharing this very desire. (The laws of attraction are real).  He agreed to give me a lesson and we scheduled to meet at Alcone Co. in NYC for a little pro beauty education.  To say that I was excited may be the euphemism of the century.  I was elated at the thought, but Roque had so much more in store than I expected.

Roque is a spiritualist and is known to incorporate some of his practices into his makeup education, however I had no expectation beyond receiving basic technical instruction.  Prior to our meeting date Roque reached out informing me of the spiritual/personal development aspect that would be a portion of my class as well as asking me to develop a makeup affirmation statement regarding what would happen as a result of me learning to airbrush.

Y’all!  I was not even ready!  I’ve come to understand the importance of conscious thought, affirmation, and documentation in creating your life. For an educator to recognize the importance of including that element along with technical development was beyond inspiring.  The levels of elation continued to increase.

The class itself was absolutely wonderful.  We began with Roque giving a demo on a full beauty airbrush including perfecting skin, contouring and even eyes.  Using a synergy of traditional application techniques with his Infinity cream foundation then topped with airbrush makeup using Kett Cosmetics, he completed a stunning face while we did a live Periscope session!  The demo was extremely informative, but not so much so that it was overwhelming.

The ease with which Roque speaks about airbrushing, both the application technique and the mechanics of the equipment are a true testament to his vast knowledge on the subject.  He also gave me a manual he created that is so chuck full of invaluable information that it could easily be a published book (cough, cough). This man know his stuff if a way that will have you wanting to step you entire skill set up.

Next, myself, Roque and the staff of Alcone did a Wheel of Life exercise to help us gain a clearer understanding on areas where we should focus our energies in improving the quality of our respective lives.  Who has that in a makeup class?  Roque does and that is why what he has to offer is so one of a kind.

Every wonderful artist is not an educator.  And every educator will not give you more than technical knowledge.  Roque has the gift of being an artist, educator and spiritualist who greatly understands the importance of total growth as a person in order to truly grow as an artist.  He understands that we must strive to be our highest selves in order to execute our greatest potential.

I’ve said so much and I really could say so much more.  I don’t know if my experience with Roque is the same that others may have, but I do know that who he is and what he has to offer as an educator of artists and simply to any person, is invaluable.  He just has a way of helping others to see the world, life and themselves in a new and infinite way that is subtle, non-intrusive and so sincere.  He has a gift that is never-ending and he is so open to pour some of it into others.  If you are looking to ascend wholly as an artist, I strongly suggest you seek to learn from Roque Cozzette.

Roque, I thank you for you.

Now, go check out his site and support this amazing artist and educator! Shop Cozzette


33 Beauty Pros to Follow on Periscope #probeautyscope

There is no denying the power of social media.  Whereas a few years ago we could just brush things off as “just the internet,” we can now clearly see the influence and reach that can be garnered from a major social media following.  This very fact has caused quite a bit of conversation and debate within the professional beauty community.  Many hobbyists with a large following are now pegged as pros and experts and are disseminating egregiously incorrect and sometimes dangerous misinformation to the masses.  When you are an actual professional artist who has and continue to put int he work to make room for yourself in this industry, this new phenomenon can easily make you propel yourself into a new dimension due to massively strong eye rolling.

My perspective is that we can not change what is happening with social media, but we can definitely work the system to our advantage! We are the real experts, so why are we allowing hobbyists to compromise our craft?  One of the potential ways I see to remedy this is to have strong pro beauty presences on all social media platforms.  My current favorite is the new and very popular Periscope.


Periscope is alive streaming app linked to Twitter that allows you to interact real time with you viewers.  When you broadcast, your viewers can chat real time with you and you can respond real time as well.  What I love about Periscope is that it is raw; there is no editing and what you see is what you get.  Slowly but surely, the pro beauty community is growing on “The Scope,” but it can be a bit difficult to find our beauty folks because the searching capabilities are still limited.

In an effort to bypass this shortcoming I came up with the hashtag #probeautyscope.  You can’t search hashtags on Periscope, but you can search them on Twitter.  If you use #probeautyscope in the first 140 characters of your scope title, it will show up as a hashtag on Twitter making it easy for anyone looking for a #probeautyscope to find you! Simple enough, right?

In the meantime, in between time, I came up with a list of 31 beauty pros, or pro beauty resources to follow on Periscope.  Some have yet to broadcast and some broadcast regularly.  If the person, place or a thing is included on this list, they have something of value to offer to the pro beauty community. Read on and follow!

  1. Lottie Makeup Artist
  2. Margina Dennis
  3. Jaleesa Jaikaran
  4. Heather Chapman Hair
  5. Michael Key
  6. Makeup Artist Meet
  7. Roque Cozzette
  8. The Body of Art (Dani Fonseca)
  9. YvonneThe Artist
  10. Deshawn Hatcher
  11. HuffPostBeauty
  12. KatAragon Makeup + Hair
  13. Lacy Redway Hair
  14. Pat McGrath
  15. JVincent Beauty (James Vincent)
  16. Danessa Myricks
  17. Orlando Santiago
  18. Diva Does Makeup
  19. Eugenia Weston
  20. Teague Vivolo
  21. Kilprity
  22. ThisThatBeauty
  23. Bethany Townes
  24. AJ Crimson
  25. Magnolia Makeup
  26. Nigel’s Beauty Emporium
  27. Danielle Gray
  28. Monae Everett
  29. Marietta Carter – Narcisse
  30. Michela Wariebi
  31. Erica Carr
  32. Joy Fennel Makeup
  33. Val Garland

Show support and follow these pros for real expert advice on all things beauty and for great behind the scenes looks into the life of a working beauty pro! And don’t forget to hashtag #probeautyscope!

DIY Makeup Expo – Guess Who’s a VIP Influencer

Super excited to announce that I have been selected as a VIP Influencer for the DIY Makeup Expo being held by DIY Makeup Mag. The team at DIY mag selected a group of pro makeup artists and bloggers in the NYC area with unique social media presences to be part of the influencer circle connecting us with brands and tapping into our expertise.

This expo will be the first cosmetics expo powered by social media and I am so excited to see what the DIY Mag team has in store! Find deets about the event below.

Name: DIY Makeup Expo

Location: The Attic NYC

251 West 48th Street

Date: September 26, 2015

Time: 5PM – 10PM

Tickets for this event are FREE.  With FREE admission you get access to free makeovers, product samples and products available for purchase.  You also have the option of purchasing a VIP ticket at $99 which gains you access to the VIP mix and mingle portion of the expo. But…you know I love a good discount.  Use my name “MICHELA” on the eventbrite page, here, to get a 25% discount of VIP tickets.

I hope I get to see your beautiful faces there.  If you are coming, make sure you let me know!!

Blackness in the beauty and fashion industry: the makeup artist perspective

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen the increasing racial tension growing in the U.S. due to multiple instances of violence against black bodies by police and citizens. Not that any of this is new, but thanks to mobile technology and social media, we have been able to see it in a manner that we never had before.

This has resulted in many choosing to no longer remain silent or to scream a bit louder about the daily struggles associated with blackness in the U.S.  This conversation is especially gaining momentum in the beauty and fashion industries.

Yesterday, model and activist Nykhor Paul read the fashion industry their rights in a manner that resonated with manyand had many of us screaming YESSSS at our screens!  She articulated the truth of the matter perfectly.  Her words were praised, eye were opened, edges were snatched.

See her full rant on IG here.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 2.31.00 PMNeedless to say, her post went viral.  It was shared in a Pro Makeup Artistry group I run on FB and it began a dialogue on another perspective, the role of the black makeup artist in a very white and exclusive industry.  We all shared very similar experiences and I thought it was important to share with my readers.  (Yall out there right?)

Here is some of what we shared:

–  Black models are often surprised and extremely grateful that we have product to match their complexion.

– We regularly encounter other “professional artists” who are not prepared with skills or product to do makeup on any skin with a color deeper than a paper bag.

– When working in a group setting of makeup artists it is automatically assumed that because you are a artist of color, you will complete makeup for all black models.

– Non-black artists are especially celebrated and valued for being able to do beautiful makeup on black models.

– If a black makeup artist were to show up on set with no makeup for white skin, all hell might actually break lose on set or backstage.

Granted, certain artists specialize in certain things and that’s to be expected.  However, in a fashion setting there is another expectation. It is not okay to only have product to suit white skin because there is a lack of diversity in fashion.  That lack of diversity in runways and in magazines is problematic, so to act in a manner that supports that discrimination, is also discriminatory.

As a professional artist, one should be well-versed and skilled on doing a proper, professional caliber makeup application on the full global skin range…as in, on all humans.

Being able to do a beautiful application on black skin is not a special skill because you are not black.  It is the standard and not a specialty. There is no denying that we are drawn to that which looks most like us, but I encourage and challenge every artist that may read this to truly be a professional and be prepared to meet the needs of the diverse world we live in. Which artist will you be?