Lady Gaga spends a lot of time in the chair of her longtime makeup artist, Sarah Tanno — but that doesn’t mean she isn’t capable of holding the brush herself. “I am an excellent makeup artist actually. I could do my own face. I could do your face,” she told me when we met at her home this summer. “I wouldn’t say that I’m better than Sarah, though — she is a true genius makeup artist. That would be sort of like me saying that Sarah would be better than me at music. I wouldn’t lie.”
But Lady Gaga loves doing her own makeup, and when she doesn’t… something’s missing. “At one point in my career, for every event that I would go to, I would have my makeup done, and I was feeling sort of empty inside, like I was losing my identity and I didn’t know really what it was,” she says. “Then one day I just said, ‘Guys, do you mind if I do this myself?’ And I sat down, and I did my own makeup, and I did my hair. It was so liberating to return to that because that’s how I really invented Lady Gaga. That’s how I found who I was.”
“We want you to see you as you see yourself,” says Lady Gaga. “I want to remove the several hours of the day that people are on their phones trying to redo other people’s looks because they want to look exactly like that. Or look not like themselves. Or they’re insecure and feel makeup has to be done a certain way. I want them to receive our products and then just sit in the mirror and go, ‘OK, how do I see me? How do I see me today?'”
Because as much as Lady Gaga is known, and revered, for her inventive and chameleonic beauty persona, she feels most comfortable when she maintains some consistency. “My relationship with makeup is actually a signal to me. It’s like a transmission,” she says. “I know I’m settled into myself when I get into a groove with makeup. ‘Oh, you’re doing your makeup just like you did it yesterday, and the day before.’ If I’m constantly going, change, change, change, change, change, I know that there’s something within me that’s going, ‘You’ve got to get out of your body. Something’s wrong. You don’t want to be here.'”
And right now, Lady Gaga is settled. She’s in a “lip-liner-with-a-Glam-Attack-on-the-eye-and-cheek phase.” And she’s thrilled to finally be putting her beauty vision into our hands. Before we shot her for the Allure October cover, we also asked her to put her best, hardest-earned beauty tips and product recommendations into our heads. She kindly obliged.
The last beauty product you emptied: Anastasia brow gel. The one with the spooley brush.
The last beauty product you bought: Tom Ford concealer.
The first beauty product you bought: L’Oréal foundation and I think a bronzer. Benefit Hoola. I was a coat check girl at 14 and I went out and bought them with money that I’d made.
Favorite drugstore beauty find: LipSense. It’s a liquid, but it has a topper that you put on so that it doesn’t move. Sarah found it before the Super Bowl. We were like, “We want red lips, but we don’t want it to move or get on the mic,” and I was dancing and singing for my life in front of a hundred million people.