Met Gala 2018: How Janelle Monáe Served Flawless Face for ‘Heavenly Bodies’

Janelle Monáe departs for the 2018 Met Gala from the Mark Hotel on May 7, 2018, in New York City.
Janelle Monáe departs for the 2018 Met Gala from the Mark Hotel on May 7, 2018, in New York City.
Photo: Andrew Toth (Getty Images for the Mark Hotel)

Chanteuse, actress and perpetual stunner Janelle Monáe is never short on surprising moments—especially with the release of her latest album, Dirty Computer. But no matter what boundary-pushing look she may be rocking, one thing we can always rely on is her makeup looking radiant, thanks in no small part to longtime makeup artist Jessica Smalls.


Smalls—who has also made up the famous faces of Nia Long, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Uzo Aduba, Cynthia Erivo, Corinne Bailey Rae and more—gave Monáe a classically beautiful look for the Met Gala on Monday night (with the theme “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”) to pair with her black-and-white Chanel ensemble, halolike hat and sparkling snood, which served as the perfect frame for the performer’s flawless face.

Sticking with Monáe’s signature strong brows, starry eyes and red lip, Smalls—an artist for Marc Jacobs Beauty and ambassador for drugstore secret weapon Vaseline—made the star’s radiant skin a focus. She shares her step-by-step technique with The Glow Up:

  1. “I started by prepping Janelle’s skin with DermaFlash ($189); this will allow her skin to be baby-soft and absolutely radiant, which in return allows for a smoother makeup application. Once Janelle’s face was complete, I put my love and focus on her body by massaging her skin with Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant Smoothing Body Butter ($5.79), made with healing Vaseline jelly for a hydrated glow. Since it’s not greasy, it’s perfect to make her glow without the worry of messing up her outfit.
  2. “I then applied Marc Jacobs Beauty Under(cover) Perfecting Coconut Eye Primer ($26) to ensure that she had a bulletproof lid that wouldn’t crease, and applied cooling gel eye pads under her eyes. Next, I used the MJB Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Palette ($49) in Scandalust, applied the color That’s Why in her crease, Little Miss over her lid and At the Office in the center of her lid for a gold glitter pop.
  3. “To finish it off, I applied MJB Enamored Hi-Shine Lip Lacquer Lipgloss ($28) in Work It to the entire lid for a sultry bronze glitter-glossy eye. I lined her water line with MJB Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner in Blacquer ($25) and used Little Miss again to diffuse the liner under her eyes for a little drama. I finished her eyes off with a pair of false lashes and coat of MJB Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara ($26) and two coats of MJB Feather Noir Ultra-Skinny Lash Discovering Mascara ($24) to her bottom lashes.
  4. “I removed the gel undereye pads and began to moisturize her skin. Since I needed her skin to look heavenly, I gave her a divine glow by massaging a nickel-size amount of MJB Dew Drops Coconut Gel Highlighter in Fantasy ($44) all over her skin. Next, using the MJB Liquid Foundation Brush No. 1 ($48), I blended the MJB Shameless Youthful-Look 24H Foundation ($46) in Deep Y500 from her nose and blended it outwards. I sparingly applied concealer under her eyes and on any imperfections, set her face with a medium-brown loose powder and then used the MJB O!Mega Bronzer ($49) to accentuate her gorgeous bone structure.
  5. “I had Janelle give a big smile and applied MJB Air Blush Soft Glow Duo ($42) in Night Fever & Hot Stuff to the apples of her cheek and dabbed a bit of the leftover Fantasy Dew Drops on top for that divine glow.
  6. “I gave Janelle’s lips some extra love by applying a homemade sugar scrub, wiped them, filled her lips in with MJB Poutliner Longwear Lip Liner Pencil ($24) in Oh, Cocoa, applied MJB Le Marc Lip Crème Lipstick ($30) in Amazing and finished it by dusting MJB’s Finish-Line Perfecting Coconut Setting Powder ($44) in Invisible powder on top to create a matte lip.”

The result? A perfectly radiant and polished Monáe—proving that even a seminatural look requires solid effort. But since Monáe’s was ultimately one of our favorite looks of the night, we’d have to agree that the effort was entirely worth it. It’s just the way she makes us feel, I guess.

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?



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