Lizzo's Makeup Artist Walks Us Through Her Beauty Evolution, From "Tempo" to the Grammys
Love looks better in color, and Lizzo is all about wearing her heart on her sleeve — or her face, to be more precise. Since she first topped the charts in 2019, the "Cuz I Love You" singer has been serving up A+ looks that have had many of us texting the group chat to ask, "Can I pull this off?" In an interview with POPSUGAR, Lizzo's makeup artist Alexx Mayo broke down the singer's mood-inspired beauty evolution over the years and shared a few secrets about what went into creating each colorful look.
"I remember the first time I worked with her, the direction for makeup was to be ultranatural, almost like no-makeup makeup," he told POPSUGAR. Pretty soon, the pair got more experimental: "There's so many more crayons in the crayon box to color with, and we definitely like to color with everything in the box."
"She almost becomes the character; whatever hair and makeup we get her, she just becomes that."
The key to achieving gorgeous beauty looks time after time, even after years in the beauty industry, is not being afraid to try new things. "The really, really great thing about working with Lizzo is that she really has a lot of trust in us, and she really loves to see our vision come to life, and she's really up for anything," he said. "She almost becomes the character; whatever hair and makeup we get her, she just becomes that. And I think that that's really the fun not only that we have, but the fun in makeup and playing with different colors and hair."
Keep reading to see all the behind-the-scenes secrets Mayo had to spill about Lizzo's "good as hell" beauty looks.
Lizzo's Makeup at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards
"When I heard that Lizzo was wearing Versace to the Grammys and seeing the sketches of it, we immediately were like, 'Oh, this is ultraglamorous wearing all white.' There's something about all white and diamonds that's very Marilyn Monroe, Old Hollywood," Mayo said. "This was really a chance for the world to see Lizzo in her more natural state of beauty . . . Old Hollywood glamor timelessness is really what we were going for. So there's still an element of classic, but with the lip, we wanted to still have statements within it . . . we still wanted it to pop out. And a lot of people re-created this look, which is really fun."
Lizzo's Makeup at the 2019 Met Gala
"This was really a dream come true for all of us," Mayo said, pointing out that Lizzo's entire look was inspired by Shirley MacLaine's character in 1964's What a Way to Go.
"Again, we thought about that Old Hollywood . . . [Lizzo] told me she had never worn pink eyeshadow until me. So I really opened up her mind to the idea of what a pink eyeshadow could be and also how it could be really flattering and fun. We did a scene where we converted a photograph into black and white, and the interesting thing is that in black and white, you can't tell obviously what the colors are, and it still gives you that remanence of what a black-and-white photo from that time would be like in the '30s."
Lizzo's Makeup at the 2019 Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala
"This was such an important day for her," Mayo said, going into detail about Lizzo's two-inch lashes inspired by Missy Elliott's exaggerated late-'90s/early-2000s looks. "Missy Elliott is one of her biggest inspirations, and she's such an icon that I grew up also watching the Missy Elliott videos, and that was really where I got inspired. She had the most beautiful glamorous makeup in her music videos that really took us to places we've never seen before with makeup and music and visuals."
Lizzo's Makeup at the 2019 BET Awards
"Wow. So this was a really fun carpet. So the whole idea was Lizzo grew up in Houston, TX . . . So we were talking about about the inside of these custom detailed cars that people invest so much in, and they talk about if you have wood grain in your car, that's next level," Mayo said, explaining that everything from her dress to the hat on her head — which was made out of hair — were inspired by that woodgrain texture.
"I wanted to incorporate those woody brown tones, but I also want to add an element of warmth to it," Mayo added. "So you'll see that there's a lot more orange and kind of pinks in there just to really make the eye pop. And really strong severe cat eye with this. I think that this really gave her this strength and power along with the look, and it still just looks really glamorous, and she loves bronze and sparkle and things like that. So this was a really fun look to create."
Lizzo's Makeup in the "Tempo" Music Video
"This was really, really fun. I love this picture," Mayo said, pointing out that the neon light behind Lizzo was a huge inspiration for this look. "I actually took this picture on a break that we were waiting for lights and camera to set up . . . At this time, we really were into monochromatic matching elements . . . The idea for the eye or the lip and eye combo came from a contrast of I was thinking about old Vegas and neon lights . . . This was just all about being electric, being that pop in this city vibe party atmosphere. And this actually, it's so funny because every time we do a blue eye look, she always just really, really loves it. It's something that she said she never really gravitated towards or knew how to use blue eyeshadow, but it's just a really fun like almost a comic-book vibe that we went for."
Lizzo's Makeup in the "Good as Hell" Official Music Video
"So I think for this one, we wanted to go a little bit more glamorous, a little softer just based on the video itself," Mayo said. "It was almost like her re-creating her high-school days of being in band and that sort of thing. So I was like, 'Of course, we're going make you a little more glamorous than you were probably in high school.' But just keeping with the neutrals, playing with color . . . using a bronze or a gold and purple hues. Of course, we know color-theory-wise purple and yellow are complementary, but you don't literally have to do yellow and purple; it could be a variation of within that."
Lizzo's Makeup on Saturday Night Live
"I believe this was actually the Christmas episode for SNL," Mayo said of Lizzo's custom Dapper Dan Gucci ensemble. "So during the whole month of December, we were just really caught up in the holiday spirit and we were trying to be festive . . . I searched for every green I thought I could find, every red, just playing along with that. But this look actually came about when I figured out she was wearing Gucci, and actually that really inspired the eye makeup itself . . . the lip being that leather kind of tone." Mayo added that he achieved the leather lip look with a warm chocolate Urban Decay lipstick and brown eyeliner.
Lizzo's Euphoria Challenge Makeup
"We just love doing makeup and taking photos for just fun . . . We were seeing the Euphoria challenge," Mayo said, adding that he and Lizzo were in a crystal phase at the time. "So when this challenge came up, she was like, 'Oh, this is our challenge. We really need to do this.' . . . Starting off with the basis of the eye using blues and purples and different layers and different sizes of glitter really gives you like a multi effect of sparkle, and then adding the crystals on top of that, you're just getting different elements of a sparkle . . . I feel like the photos don't really do it justice . . . she was sparkling from every angle."
Lizzo's 2020 Presidential Election Makeup
"[Voting] was a cause that was very important to both of us, and so she wanted to really bring attention to that," Mayo explained. "We've played with so many different eye shapes and drama and all that stuff for stage and performing that we have been taking it back and stripped it down a little bit. So playing more with natural beauty, natural lashes, that sort of thing. But again, still having that glamour, that impact . . . I could have easily went a bright red with [the makeup]. But I think that's something that was more complementary to her skin tone and also her hair [about] this brickier red brown . . . There are people who are afraid of wearing red lips, but I think this is a really good medium for the two because it still has that little bit of neutral in it."
Lizzo's Makeup For Her Joshua Tree Photo Shoot
"Lizzo is such a natural beauty that really, truly, she wakes up and looks beautiful," Mayo said of the stunning look photographed by Bonnie Nichoalds. "So I think that we hadn't had a lot of times to really highlight that, to see her natural beauty in a little bit more of a stripped-down version. She actually had planned a trip to the desert, Joshua Tree, and I thought to myself, 'Wow, what a beautiful location. It'd be great to take some photos.' It had been a long time since we actually had seen each other, and of course had done any sort of glam or photos or anything like that. So she was like, 'Oh my god, that'd be so fun. Come over, let's do it.' So it just went from a hangout into a glam session."
"We thought about the earth elements around us, all these beautiful rocks and the sand and the sky," he added. "And so that really tied everything together, and her ability to just radiate this beautiful energy . . . You're not necessarily looking at like, 'Oh, look at her makeup,' necessarily. You're just looking like, 'Wow, she looks beautiful.' And I think that's really what we were going for . . . We have fun with it and we love to be able to inspire other people to play with makeup and to try different things. And ultimately that's the bigger picture: it's just to create that inspiration."