Meet Erin Parsons, the Maybelline Makeup Artist Behind the Best Gigi Hadid Looks

Makeup artist Erin Parsons takes creative freedom, experimentation and her affinity for slime very seriously—and she’s injecting that attitude into Maybelline.

“When you’re doing makeup, you can get artist’s block—like how writers get writer’s block,” says Erin Parsons as she walks into Maybelline’s Content Studio in New York. The space, open to influencers during fashion week, is filled with balloons and backdrops that are begging to be Instagrammed and, of course, plenty of makeup. “It’s rare, though, because I’m obsessed with references.” Parsons, who is global makeup artist for Maybelline New York and often works with model Gigi Hadid, has an impressive collection of books and magazines that she turns to for inspiration.

When she’s not busy dreaming up new looks, she’s overseeing the makeup for all Maybelline-sponsored fashion week shows as well as providing creative direction for all campaigns. Parsons, who is known for her surprising colour combinations and textures, has brought a fresh perspective to the iconic brand. “Maybelline is letting me take things in an artistic, elevated direction; they trust me, so we’re not doing basic beauty all the time,” she says, citing the multicoloured, graffiti-inspired smoky eye she did on Hadid (above) for a campaign in 2016 that kicked off Parsons’s vision.

As for what’s inspiring her at the moment, she says she’s “obsessed with slime” and recounts the time she drenched Hadid’s best friend Alana’s face with some of the sticky stuff. It looked like “a melting Jolly Rancher,” she notes with sheer delight. However, Parsons’s favourite beauty tip is surprisingly subtle. “I’d like to see more finesse with lashes,” she says. “People put all this time into contour and brows and not as much time into great mascara—they just throw on a strip of falsies. But you can get amazing lashes without them,” she says, explaining her own multi-step lash routine: curling followed by waterproof mascara and then a regular-formula mascara to keep the curl up.

Above all else, Parsons’s willingness to try new things is what has gotten her this far; it’s something she picked up from legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath, whom she assisted for almost six years. “She taught me to be fearless with makeup and not hesitate—to just put something on and wipe it off if it doesn’t work,” she says. “It was so organic.”

Photography courtesy of Maybelline New York. The Lemonade Craze Palette, $18 at Maybelline.ca