Photography courtesy of Emily Cheng
This Canadian-born artist counts red-carpet faves like Yara Shahidi, Billie Eilish, and Hoyeon Jung as clients.
Date October 27, 2022
Celebrity makeup artist Emily Cheng first considered a career in makeup when, as a teenager, she realized that most of the makeup artists she visited with her friends couldn’t make the looks she wanted work with her features. “I have a monolid, and I learned really early on that you have to be able to look at someone’s face and know how to enhance it without necessarily copying and pasting every technique,” says Cheng. After working with clients of all ages and ethnicities at a Laura Mercier counter in her hometown of Vancouver, she spent years assisting other artists and climbing the ranks until she eventually found herself working alongside none other than industry veteran Pat McGrath.
Photography by Getty Images. Graphic by Leo Tapel
“There are so many different styles out there, but it’s important to find what you genuinely love and what you’re good at and continue to hone your skills,” says Cheng. After travelling back and forth for work in Los Angeles (and dealing with the usual visa red tape), she finally made the permanent move last year. Now, she counts some serious red-carpet faves as regular clients, including Yara Shahidi, Billie Eilish, Awkwafina and Hoyeon Jung, to name just a few. “Billie’s Met Gala look was one of my favourites this year,” she says. “Last year, I loved Awkwafina’s Gucci moment at the LACMA Art+Film Gala; she was so happy, and I know she felt really great.”
One of Cheng’s signature looks is what she defines as “a naturally enhanced, soft glam” — an aesthetic that her clients appreciate because, she says, they often prefer to skip heavy makeup in favour of looking like the best possible versions of themselves. When it comes to this season’s most-requested styles, Cheng says she’s all about warm, rusty colours and rosy cheeks: “I love a wash of burgundy or mahogany on the eyes, cheeks and lips. It’s so beautiful.”
Here’s what’s in Emily Cheng’s makeup kit:
“All my clients ask for this balm because it’s lightweight and it actually tastes nice, which is important when you’re reapplying it all day.”
Beauty Elixir Face Mist
($59, Caudalie )
“I always start off with a hot-towel cleanse using this spray. It’s so refreshing, and the scent really gets people excited.”
“I love using Beautyblenders.
You don’t need a lot of foundation because you can just build it up in the areas where you do need it. The sponge leaves behind zero texture.”
Tower 28 Beauty
BeachPlease Lip + Cheek Cream Blush in “After Hours”
($26, Tower 28 Beauty )
“I don’t love the look of lipstick. My favourite way to do a lip is to keep pressing the colour in with my finger so it’s not fully matte but almost fuzzy, like velvet.”
“I spend a third of my time prepping clients’ skin. It’s important because you never know the condition of someone’s skin. This is my go-to cream because it doesn’t pill and it hydrates so well without leaving a greasy film.”
This article first appeared in FASHION’s November issue. Find out more here.