Kylie Jenner with makeup by Ariel Tejada. (Photo: Instagram)
With 35 million followers and pictures that go viral within minutes, Kylie Jenner knows her way around Instagram. She even found her newest makeup artist there — and he’s only 20 years old. “When Kylie DMed me and asked to work with me the next time I was in Los Angeles, I said I’d happen to be there next week,” New York native Ariel Tejada told Yahoo Beauty. “Mind you, I didn’t even have a flight booked or anything.” He booked his flight the day before he was scheduled to meet with Jenner and since then, he’s done Khloe Kardashian and Kendall Jenner’s makeup for filming Keeping Up with the Kardashians. He also just signed the lease on his first apartment. “I didn’t expect to stay in Los Angeles, but I’ve been working so much with Kylie, I thought, why leave?” he said.
Ariel Tejada and Lilly Ghalichi. (Photo: Instagram)
Last September, Tejada messaged Lilly Ghalichi, a reality star from Bravo’s Shahs of Sunset. “I said, ‘I am going to kill your makeup. When you come to New York, let me know, it will be the best makeup you’ve ever had.’” Ghalichi didn’t reply the first — or second time — that she was messaged by Tejada, but when she visited New York for Fashion Week, she got in touch and helped open other doors for Tejada.
Much of Tejada’s young career has been hustling in front of social media — and yes, talking himself up until people started taking him seriously. “If there is one thing that has helped me the most, it’s Instagram,” Tejada said. “Posting your work and being consistent with your work is so important!” Tejada studied vocal performance at a performing arts high school, but as senior year approached, he decided to give makeup a real shot. He messaged photographers to set up test shoots to build up his portfolio. “I would hype myself up to get these test shoots,” Tejada admitted. “I was like, I’m the most incredible makeup artist! Even though I knew nothing. But I think I was pretty good for a mediocre artist.” Tejada does not lack confidence or tenacity — and in a world full of social media personalities, it’s his willingness to Direct Message celebrities that has helped him stand out.
Naya Rivera with makeup by Ariel Tejada. (Photo: Instagram)
True to his statement of intent, Tejada’s entire Instagram features photos of every single look he has done for the Instafamous, from Kylie Jenner at the MTV Video Music Awards to Glee star Naya Rivera on ABC’s The View. His signature Airbrushed-by-God technique is uncannily similar to those of perfectionist Italian Renaissance masters, who made their brushstrokes invisible in order to hide the sign of a human hand at work. Tejada’s painted faces are indeed perfect: they are poreless, they glow, their eyelashes look like they grow on their own, and they never smile with teeth — that would ruin their perfect pout. But it’s not all paint: “If you don’t have great skin, your makeup won’t look great. These girls all have great skin,” Tejada says. He uses AmorePacific Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Serum ($100), AmorePacific Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Crème ($150), and Khiel’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado ($47) to prep the makeup.
Tejada also splurges on his foundations — like any Renaissance master knows, you start with a flat wash before you start adding shadows, lines, and shapes. He prefers cream foundations in order to easily get that airbrushed, pore-free, #nofilter look, but also loves Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($62). “It’s good for any kind of makeup look you want,” he says. For drop-dead eyelashes, he recommends Hollywood starlet favorite Kevyn Aucoin Eyelash Curler ($21) and L'Oréal Voluminous Carbon Black Volume Building Mascara ($8). While there is a slew of products available on the market that are geared towards Instagram-worthy selfies, like Too Faced Selfie Powder, which comes in three colors to emulate the effects of filters, Tejada prefers to go old school with Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($37) and Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Pressed Powder in Pale Yellow ($38). For lip color, he prefers using a range of peach and earth tones. “A subtle lip is sexier to me,” he says.
Kendall Jenner with makeup by Ariel Tejada. (Photo: Instagram)
And while his Instagram is filled with images of contoured faces, Tejada doesn’t think that the technique is for everyone. “I don’t feel the need to do it on everyone,” Tejada says, mentioning that he doesn’t use contouring on Kendall Jenner. “It’s not a cookie cutter technique.” For this young makeup artist, using and promoting contouring, a trend driven heavily by social media and celebrities, is an ingenious career move — one that requires a naïve and hopeful courage that only comes with youth. “I want to be the biggest celebrity artist and I don’t doubt that. If I’m crazy enough to believe in my dreams, I will do it,” he says.
Disclaimer: Bobbi Brown is the editor in chief of Yahoo Beauty.