Let’s talk foundation—and I’m not talking about the beauty kind. I’m talking pillars that empires sit upon. AJ Crimson didn’t just sell foundation; he created one—building upon the Fashion Fair and Iman Cosmetics of the world. Crimson was a self-taught makeup artist whose talent and dedication led him to great success. He worked with many celebrities, including Fergie, Brandy, Regina King, Missy Elliot, and Raven-Symoné—this is not even 10% of his client list. While he worked on stars, he was one in his own right, pioneering for future beauty founders of color, supporting others in the industry, and advocating for women through the power of makeup.
Born Anthony M. Jackson but known to the world as AJ Crimson, he always had a penchant for the business of beauty. Before AJ Crimson Beauty, he launched a lip-gloss line called Kissable Couture in 2007, and it would lead the way for his self-named line in 2013. He was an astute businessman and shared his knowledge to uplift others. Shortly after his death was announced, celebrity makeup artist Sir John expressed, “AJ Crimson was my 1st agent. Before all this!” Crimson negotiated rates for Sir John in the early era of his career, advocating for equal pay and treatment compared to their white counterparts, making influential introductions, and supporting him when the industry was non-inclusive and not taking necessary steps for change.
Crimson believed in the natural beauty of Black women and used makeup as a way to enhance it. “You are the star. Makeup is the co-star,” Crimson wrote on his website. In a world that has consistently ignored the beauty needs of Black women and created societal beauty standards that exclude our idiosyncrasies and essence, Crimson showed up like a knight in shining armor. However, instead of donning a sword and shield, he came equipped with lipstick, foundation, and vegan makeup brushes. He spoke life into his fans, clients, and consumers, “It’s your confidence and high caliber presence that commands attention—and the makeup simply accentuates that.” In an interview with Hello Beautiful discussing her lipstick collaboration, Naturi Naughton commented, “He’s all about Brown girls, he’s all about women of color.” It was essential to Crimson to highlight the array of beauty within women.
Crimson was an educator and enjoyed equipping his customers with knowledge and tools to put on their makeup confidently. To give more people access to his knowledge, he began doing makeup tutorials called “The Crimson Code.” His makeup lessons and knowledge were unmatched, imparting skills to everyday women to provide them with extraordinary results. His makeup legacy will live on through all the clients he touched and countless editorials.
In 2016, we recorded a HelloLive with AJ Crimson, where he share seven tips we incorporate daily into our beauty routines.
Invest in your foundation.
“You can’t just get one foundation; you’ll look like a mask,” stated Crimson. Your face is multiple colors, often two, so you will need various colors. “Match your foundation from the center of the face and work your way out, using the lightest color first,” Crimson shared. To apply your makeup on the outer parts of your face, get as close as possible to your hairline and blend. Foundation is the base of your look, so make sure you own two to truly match your skin tones. As the seasons change, so should your foundation—unless you never go outside, your summer foundation will likely be slightly darker than your winter foundation.
There is an array of ways to do your makeup.
“Doing makeup doesn’t mean you have to be fully beat,” explained Crimson. ‘No makeup’ makeup allows you to showcase your skin (and reap the benefits of your pandemic skincare routine). You don’t need foundation everywhere. “Sometimes you just need a little jujz under the eyes.”
There is an array of ways to do your makeup.
“Doing makeup doesn’t mean you have to be fully beat,” said Crimson. ‘No makeup’ makeup You don’t need foundation everywhere. “Sometimes you just need a little jujz under the eyes.”
“If you have trouble finding where your contour points are, my suggestion is to blow, a dainty whistle blow, and you’ll literally see exactly where your contour is supposed to go, and you can really bring out that cheekbone,” educated Crimson. He suggests using a blush brush to apply (and save product). “A blush brush allows you to put down a stain of color. A lot of you don’t need a ton of coverage; you need color.”
Brown skin girl…
You must test foundation on your skin to see what color you truly are. “Just because you are dark skin doesn’t mean you are the darkest color,” Crimson explained. He believed this was because before the Fenty effect, most makeup lines didn’t offer enough shades and the darkest color was often still too light. However, AJ Crimson Beauty Dual Skin Foundation in #8 (which he launched in 2013) is perfect if you are the same shade as model Alek Wek. He also used #8 for the contour color on Estelle.
A makeup sponge is the best way to combat oily skin.
You don’t need a matte foundation to get matte skin. If you want to matte out your makeup or remove any sheen, take a translucent powder, apply it to a makeup sponge, and press it into those areas. This will give your makeup a hard set. “You can give yourself a hard set if you are really oily throughout the day and oil seems to break through everything. Take a sponge and press the powder into those oily areas, which are usually around the laugh lines and around your eyebrows,” instructs Crimson. (He loves Alcone’s makeup sponges). Afterward, “just buff in and dust any additional powder away,” states Crimson. If you use this method with AJ Crimson Dual Skin Foundation, you’ll be set for up to 18 hours.
Watch the HelloLive, here.