The Makeup Show: The Beauty of Diversity and the Diversity of Beauty

When I entered the The Makeup Show – the 19th and counting  – at the Metropolitan show space in Chelsea, I was overwhelmed by buzzy, busy stands, multiple stages for professional application tutorials, crews of perfectly coiffed professionals, and an endless supply of makeup and beauty tools that would make any beauty warrior’s heart skip a beat. Most notably, I was even more struck by the plurality and diversity of female entrepreneurs working to get their brands and voices out into the world. 

From all walks of life, ethnicities, professional backgrounds, and regions, each of these women navigate entrepreneurship with a dogged dedication to keeping themselves and us beautiful and confident. Given the stats on female entrepreneurship – 21% percent of employer businesses had majority female ownership –  it’s no wonder the Atrium was teaming with the next generation of beauty and business trailblazers. I was lucky to chat with some of these female founders and sample their best, most innovative contributions to next-level beauty.

While not exactly makeup, one of the first brands I encountered hones in on a conspicuous void in the haircare market – hair fragrance. Black-owned Ambroise, a blend of jojoba and argan oils that bathes the hair in a lightly floral scent with notes of amber and almonds, was initially developed as a finishing product for women with hair textured 3b above. Nourishing, and not drying like most alcohol-based hair perfumes, as well as light enough to not weigh hair down, Ambroise has found fans with all hair types – the 15 ml mini size sold out the first day at The Makeup Show. On wash day, after cleansing, conditioning, and wrangling with my hot tools, a few spritzes of this perfumed mist is the high point of my hair routine.

The line’s founder Amanda Ambroise, a NYC-based stylist who trained under several veteran New York stylists at top NYC salons Warren Tricomi, Ted Gibson, and Mark Gibson in custom extension installations, set out to the address the dryness and stale odor experienced by many of her clients who add tape-ins and wefts for additional volume and length. Amanda herself keeps a bottle in her purse at all times. A few spritzes of Ambroise’s nourishing scent refreshes the hair after workouts, counters the less than pleasant smells one encounters out and about in NYC, and gives that little extra bit of confidence-boosting luxury before a date.

When it’s time for a snatched, full-face beat, we can all agree it hinges on sculpted, natural looking brows. Atlanta-based makeup artist Alyson Hoag who teaches mature women how to play up their natural beauty with a simple, streamlined yet polished makeup routine in 10 minutes quickly figured out the bump, the time guzzler, in that process is brows – either too sparse brows that require a multi-step fill-in or the wiry brows that come with aging. With both needs in mind, Genuist Beauty focuses on growing full, healthy brows that barely require more than a dab of serum and a quick brushing to look put-together.

The basis of Genuist Beauty, one of the most-innovative and affordable smart beauty solutions I’ve seen this year, combines a product and a device in one – a brow growth serum and derma roller. The small needles of the Roller Brow: Dynamic Infusion Dermaroller With Brow Enhancing Serum lightly puncture the top layer of skin for maximum absorption of the clean, vegan peptide, and red clover-rich formulation in a simple, 3-step protocol. 

As seen on The Today Show, after cleansing, use the Dermaroller over the brows to stimulate the area, then apply the serum, and follow with the Rollerbow again to ensure penetration of the product into each brow follicle. For those with naturally sparse or damaged brows from excessive plucking, too aggressive threading and waxing, Genuist offers a complete 6-step Genuist Beauty: Total Brow Care System to grow and tame brows with results that rival microblading, like Alyson’s perfect-arched, makeup-free brows.

With the ABC’s of brows taken-care of, it’s time to experiment and explore the bold, trend-forward makeup looks on the horizon for summer. Offering a collection of clean, vegan, and cruelty-free shades for complexion, face and eyes, M2U specializes in top-quality, skin-care infused formulations at affordable price points. The AAPI company, founded by Amy Granger after a decade as an executive in the corporate offices of prestige heavy-hitters Giorgio Armani Beauty, Kiehl’s, Michael Kors (fragrance), and Bobbi Brown, focuses on satisfying smart beauty warriors who know quality makeup doesn’t have to come with a luxury price tag. 

Best-selling M2U faves include the Eye Crayon, a chubby pearly shimmer stick in a multitude of hydrating colors. Mix and match them to complement any of the six Eye Shadow Duos cheekily named after iconic New York neighborhoods. Park Slope combines Tan & Rose Shimmer for a summer eye, while the Gold/ Musty Green shades in Greenpoint beg for a little boho flair. To finish off any eye, the Vitamin E and Sodium Hyaluronate-infused Liquid Eyeliner dries quickly to an inky matte black that doesn’t move or smudge throughout the day for subtle or fox eye looks at drugstore prices.

Until the next annual NYC event, The Makeup Show will be in Chicago November 16-17th. 

Gesha-Marie Bland


Not bland at all. Gesha-Marie Bland is an essayist, Vanity Fair-published film and television writer, and unrepentant beauty junkie who jumpstarted her career at NYU’s Master’s Program in Cinema Studies. In homage to her beauty icons Jeanne Moreau, Dolly Parton, and Grace Jones, she is forever in search of the perfect cat-eye liner, a killer pair of heels, and unforgettable statement accessories. Currently NYC-based, this dual American-French citizen still wears all-black and has a soft spot for clean beauty, pharmaceutical-grade actives, and most ingredients sourced from vineyards in the south of France. She loves New Wave cinema, Mary Gaitskill’s fiction, Spain, and matcha double-shots. After selling "The Ripper," her Alexander McQueen-Issie Blow biopic to the Cannes-winning production company Maven Pictures, she remains convinced fashion and couture are the next frontiers for edgy cinematic stories.