If you’re most people, the only place your senior yearbook photo is going is on your parents’ wall. If you’re James Charles, it gets retweeted by Zendaya and nabs you a historic contract with Covergirl. This would be impressive for any 17-year-old, but it’s especially so for Charles, who, you may have heard, is a guy. Men wearing makeup isn’t new (see David Bowie, Mick Jagger), but the rise in popularity of male beauty bloggers—that is, men who aren’t rock stars but who love a good highlighter—is. Meet the king of strobing.
On breaking boundaries: “Men and makeup isn’t accepted by everybody, and that’s OK. People have a right to their opinion. But when I get messages from people saying that my wearing makeup inspired them to do the same and feel more confident, it makes me so happy—I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.”
On foundation mishaps: “The first product I ever used was my mom’s foundation. When I was younger, I had pimples, so I just slapped it on and hoped it would fix the situation. It never did because it was about 18 shades too light for me.”
On gluing his eyes shut: “I’m self-taught, and fake eyelashes definitely took the longest to master. I glued my eyes shut at least 15 times. It’s embarrassing, and I laugh about it now, but in my first ten Instagram pictures, the lashes are Photoshopped on because my mascara didn’t look good enough and I was too lazy to figure out how to actually put on the strips.”
On being a freckle face: “I don’t usually leave the house with makeup on. I wear it only for special occasions; I’m too lazy to get up in the morning before school and get glam. But if I had to pick one product I couldn’t live without, it would be a brow pencil because you can use it for your brows or to draw on freckles.”
On his dad, the contractor: “My photos would not be as high quality without my dad. He’s a contractor, and together we converted an area in our basement into a makeup studio with a desk, a mirror lined with dimmable lights, and storage areas. And we recently turned his old office into a filming space with soft boxes and a ring light for my YouTube channel.”
On what should be seen from outer space: “Spraying your brush with setting spray before applying your highlighter makes the powder go on almost metallic-like. It’s my favorite trick if you want your highlights to be extremely poppin’—like, so bright they can be seen from outer space.”
On Internet trolls: “I get really negative comments all the time, but the comments that really bother me are the ones that question my character. I try so hard to stay a positive role model. It’s sad to say, but you get used to it after a while, and I have a very thick skin, so I can take it. I’m having fun; I’m being myself; I’m doing what I love. That’s all that matters.”