This is when we'll actually have diversity in beauty, according to Issa Rae's makeup artist

Celebrity makeup artist and male groomer Joanna Simkin (Art by Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)

Yahoo Lifestyle’s Diversity in Beauty Awards (the DIBs) highlight and celebrate personalities, brands, and products that embody inclusiveness and innovation. See the 2018 winners list here. We enlisted six experts who have championed diversity in their careers and cover all bases of the beauty industry to vote on the best in makeup, skin care, hair care, and more. Here, we put a spotlight on DIBs judge and celebrity makeup artist Joanna Simkin.

Issa Rae has lit up red carpet after red carpet, and people can’t get enough of her mesmerizing makeup looks. Remember the beautiful blue eyeshadow she wore to the 2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards? Or the stunning smoky eye and glowing skin combo she donned at this year’s Golden Globes? Her go-to makeup maestro, Joanna Simkin, has one heck of an eye, and that’s a big part of the reason Yahoo Lifestyle couldn’t resist tapping her for this year’s Diversity in Beauty Awards to find out what it’s like to be in her shoes and how she believes the beauty industry can improve.


In addition to Rae, Simkin has worked with a diverse group of high-profile celebrities, including Lena Waithe, Gigi Hadid, Zayn Malik, and Selita Ebanks. “Working with Issa is great because she’s a true creative before [being an] on-camera talent,” Simkin tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I find that so inspiring as a creative myself. She represents so much to so many, and I love being a part of that and highlighting her beauty.”

Rae has become a beauty chameleon in her own right (in 2017, she became one of the new faces of CoverGirl), and Simkin says the Insecure star has inspired so many trends specifically because of the versatility of her natural hair texture and the bold colors she isn’t afraid to wear.


While Simkin is excited to see more women of color stray from neutral looks and be featured in big beauty campaigns, she does agree that there still needs to be more representation — and not just in front of the camera. “There also needs to be more on the back end, especially,” she says. “Women of color need to be in the rooms where decisions are being made to really push change. Putting a face on the cover of a magazine doesn’t mean much if you’re just doing it to sell magazines. The editorial rooms should reflect the pages.”

Though diversifying the pool of talent behind big brands is still a work in progress, Simkin does believe cosmetic companies such as NARS, L’Oréal, Lancôme, and CoverGirl have pushed the envelope when it comes to inclusivity. She also gives high praise to Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line for recognizing what consumers desire and responding in the best way possible with a wide range of products for all women.


“There really was something magical about the launch of Fenty — how even in a photo with multiple black women, there was a range of complexions, hair textures, and body types being celebrated,” says Simkin. “No group is monolithic, certainly not women of color.”

For Simkin, diversity in beauty is when we stop seeing headlines announcing “the first black,” “the first Latina,” or “the first Asian.” “Diversity is when nobody even thinks anything of it, and the language is more, ‘Of course, this CEO is black, this model is Asian, this makeup artist is Latina, this hairstylist is 70.'”

Simkin has the right idea, and we hope to slowly but surely see the changes she’s proposed within the beauty industry.

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