“We wanted him to radiate.” That’s how Grace Pae, Lil Nas X‘s makeup artist, describes the rapper’s 2021 Met Gala beauty look. The chart-topper and brand-new owner of three MTA Video Music Awards hit the red carpet dripping in gold three times over: first in a Versace cape, which courtiers helped him remove, then in the gold-plated suit of armor underneath, and finally in a crystal-beaded golden bodysuit.
With an outfit this icy, Pae had a challenge: Design a makeup look worthy of fashion’s biggest night of the year, while keeping the focus on the clothes. “I did want to do a little something extra, because, I mean, it’s the Met,” she says. She settled on a custom eye applique, which she cut out herself to create a cat-eye shape.
Long before stickers met skin (start-to-finish, the look took about two hours), Pae began by prepping Lil Nas X’s skin. “We came from the VMAs yesterday, which was a really long night. Everyone was very tired,” she says.
To stave off any of the puffiness or dehydration that can show up after a busy night, and to ensure the skin was “squeaky clean,” she started with Versed Baby Cheeks Hydrating Milk Toner. She followed it up with about 10 minutes soaking up the brand’s Emergency Eye Mask, and a light layer of Versed Dew Point Moisturizing Gel Cream. For the rapper’s final skin-care step, she used the SolaWave red light and microcurrent wand to both massage the face and help the products soak in.
Since the evening’s focus was Lil Nas X’s three-fer outfit, Pae kept makeup simple with her go-to favorites from Danessa Myricks. She used Vision Cream Cover foundation, which is “just like butter, it melts right into the skin.” Beauty Balm Counter adds dimension to the face, and Evolution Setting Powder locked the look in place — which is extra important when you’re wearing a suit of armor on an 85-degree evening. Last, but very much not least, comes the eye applique.
“When you do an event like this, everyone’s just holding their breath until those pictures come out,” Pae says. It’s her first Met Gala, as well as Lil Nas X’s, and they both deserve a sigh of relief after the week of looks they’ve turned out. The pictures, like the man in them, radiate joy, energy, and a certain, unstoppable force that most definitely deserves to be draped in gold.
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