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.
“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:
This article first appeared in FASHION’s November issue. Find out more here.
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