This Fierce 17-Year-Old Boy Made History as the New Face of CoverGirl

It's time to add "CoverBoy" to your beauty wiktionary. In the same year that Hillary Clinton broke the glass ceiling for being the first woman to run for president on behalf of a major party, we're also seeing gender lines crossed in the beauty world. 2016 is proving to be a progressive year already! On Oct. 11, budding makeup artist and YouTube sensation James Charles just became the first-ever male face of CoverGirl.

You may remember James as the 17-year-old boy whose class photo went viral (Zendaya tweeted at him!) when he used a ring light to make his strobed cheeks pop more. Less than a month later, he has been crowned with a CoverGirl ambassador title and shot a campaign with Katy Perry. (Basically, he is our new hero.)

"All of our CoverGirls are role models and boundary-breakers, fearlessly expressing themselves, standing up for what they believe, and redefining what it means to be beautiful," stated a CoverGirl press release. "James Charles is no exception. One year ago, he boldly chose to launch his Instagram to the world, using transformative, dynamic makeup looks to showcase the many facets of his personality, serving as an inspiration to anyone who might have been afraid to do the same."

James has gorgeous lush lashes (and bold brows!) so he was tapped for TV, print, digital, and social media ads around CoverGirl's new So Lashy! by blastPRO Mascara ($10). If you're a fan of James (we are!), expect to see more from him throughout the year, sharing tips and tutorials via the CoverGirl partnership.

We chatted exclusively with James via email to learn he just started doing makeup a year ago (what???), he taught Katy Perry how to make faux freckles, and the secret to his brilliant strobe. Read on for more details, and then see 50 times his makeup was absolute perfection.

POPSUGAR: When did you realize you wanted to be a makeup artist and what inspired your love of makeup? What steps have you taken as a 17-year-old to make this dream come true?
James Charles: I tried makeup for the first time a year ago, but I loved the feeling of being able to finish a glam look on a friend and having them feel beautiful. I knew then it was what I wanted to do. On social media, I try hard to be myself and inspire others by stepping outside the box and never being afraid to speak my mind or conforming to the norm.

PS: What went through your mind and how did you feel when Zendaya retweeted your famous school portrait?
JC: I WAS SHOOK! I love her and now we follow each other on Instagram, so we're basically like BFFs. OK, maybe not, but I wish. One day.

PS: Who makes your favorite ring light? And why do you think it makes photos better? Walk us through that school picture day . . .
JC: My ring light is just a random one from Amazon! They're great for beauty photographing because it distributes even lighting all around the face, so there are no harsh shadows. Picture day was crazy. I woke up early to get glammed, but my original pics did not do it justice. I usually would never be this picky, but it's my senior pics and I did want to post them on Instagram, so I reached out to the company and asked to retake them and the rest is history!

PS: How do you apply your highlighter to make it so luminous?
JC: I place my highlighter on the high points of my face, so cheek bones, brow bone, nose bridge, and Cupid's bow! I prefer powder highlighters and to make it extra poppin', I spritz my brush with setting spray. Try it, you'll be seen from outer space!

PS: Who are your biggest makeup inspirations and why?
JC: I love Jaclyn Hill and Nikkie Tutorials. They are both amazing influencers and have inspired me and others to work hard, stay positive, and create amazing content.

PS: What was it like meeting Katy Perry?
JC: Meeting Katy was one of the craziest moments of my entire life. I was shaking the whole time, but she was so kind and we connected really well, both on camera and off.

PS: Did you pick up any makeup tips from her? If so, what?
JC: Katy actually asked me a bunch of questions about my glam, once I told her I did it myself! I taught her how to use a brow pencil to create faux freckles, and she was living for it!

PS: You have amazing eyelashes. Walk us through your mascara application process and technique.
JC: I always start with curling my lashes. They're long but they are very straight, so I like to curl them so you can actually see them. I then just wiggle the wand from root of the lash to tip to make sure all the lashes are evenly coated, but also separated so they look voluminous.

PS: We also need to discuss your bold brows. What is your number one brow tip?
JC: I love my brows! I get a lot of comments telling me they're too thick, but my natural brows are in fact just as bushy! I always start by defining the bottom of the brow, then filling in the tail. When I get to the front end toward my nose, I just feather in the product to create an ombré effect. I always finish off with brow gel.

PS: What are your top makeup tips for the ultimate selfie?
JC: Find your angles! I always take photos from my left side because my jaw line is stronger. Make sure you're in front of natural light too, so your highlight is popping.

PS: Now that you're working with CoverGirl, will you be able to hang with Zendaya or do her makeup?
JC: I HOPE! Nothing is planned yet, but I would love to!

PS: Despite the rise of Instaglammers like Patrick Starrr and Manny Mua, boys wearing makeup is still stigmatized. Why do you think this is? How do you think the face of beauty is changing in 2016?
JC: Makeup is for anyone, but I think many people still think otherwise just for the reason that there have been stereotypes for so long about who should and shouldn't wear it. I see so many more boys in makeup every single day which makes me so happy! You should be able to get glammed up and feel confident no matter who you are.

PS: Do you have any tips for guys who want to start experimenting with makeup but don't know where to start?
JC: Watch tutorials! The best way to learn is to watch people you love do something so you can pick it up, too. I would definitely suggest learning from influencers who are similar to you, that way you can take some of their tips and apply them easily to your own face as well!

PS: What three makeup skills should every teen master by high school graduation?
JC: I would say brows on fleek, eyeliner, and highlighter are three necessary (and easy) skills!