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Meet Instagram's Most Controversial New Makeup Artist

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    This story was originally published on Mar. 10, 2016.

    In real life, we apply our lipstick within the lines. Maybe we'll attempt an "artfully smudged" look, if we're feeling informal and kinda pouty. But a new lip trend is making us rethink those limits — by totally obscuring them with color and shine. The dripping, drenched effect isn't the work of Kylie Jenner, like you might expect. It's 31-year-old Los Angeles makeup artist Vlada Haggerty whom we have to thank for the pillowy, provocative style. But she's so much more than a dripping lip...

    Haggerty grew up playing with her mom's makeup in Kiev, Ukraine. In fact, breaking into her mother's cosmetic bag and surprising her (not in a good way) with a face covered in red blush is her earliest memory. After spending years doing her friends' faces and wading through unfulfilling office jobs, Haggerty decided to follow her instincts and enroll in cosmetology school. Then, she headed west.

    Arriving in the Bay Area of Northern California, Haggerty landed wedding gigs and a stint at Sephora, but it wasn't until she migrated to L.A. with her husband that it all came together. That's when she devoted herself to macro beauty photography — tight crops of detailed work, screaming with color and texture on screen.

    Using a Canon 7D, a soft box, and a beauty dish, Haggerty started experimenting in her apartment. "I never thought it would go somewhere; I was just having fun," she says. The breakthrough: Haggerty began posting her work to Instagram, at least once a day for five months, and it took off like wildfire. "It’s such an amazing platform that's given me so many opportunities," she says. "Of course, it also has its problems. But that comes with the territory."

    Haggerty isn't kidding. Nor is she afraid to speak her mind about her work, and the work of other makeup artists that's circulated without permission or credit. The question of creative ownership — and the rampant failure to respect it — has manifested as a watermark on Haggerty's images, something she sees as an eyesore. "I hate watermarks, and honestly, I shouldn't have to use them," she says.

    Her push to validate her photography has brought out some haters, more than a few trolls, and lots of hurtful comments. It seems that the cerebral question, "What is art?" can inspire some pretty lowbrow remarks. But Haggerty's handiwork tapped right into our beauty-loving brains (and all the rosy thoughts in them), so we visited her studio.

    There's no shortage of jaw-dropping macro looks on Haggerty's Instagram, so when we teamed up on an L.A. beauty shoot, we took a slightly different approach. Fret not, her infamous rose-gold drip lip is represented, but expect to see it, and four more looks, in a different light. Ahead, you'll view Haggerty's work through a different lens, slightly pulled back — but just as experimental.


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    Photographed by ; Styled by ; Hair and Makeup by ; Manicure by ; Modeled by

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    The Fade
    There's a trick to Haggerty's take on the ombré trend — by far the most wearable look from our shoot. "I prepped the lip with concealer," she says. "Just dab it all over the lip, but don't powder it." This creates a canvas that helps your lip color adhere better.

    Next came a deep-burgundy shade that Haggerty applied with a fluffy eyeshadow brush to the center of the lips. "Blend it out to the edges, over the concealer," she says. While they're beautiful when matte — and far more practical for real life — topping the lips with gloss is an @VladaMUA signature. "Gloss makes every beauty editorial better," Haggerty jokes.

    Melt Cosmetics Lipstick In Dark Room, $19, available at Melt Cosmetics; My Kit Co. My Defining Crease Brush 1.3, $25.01, available at My Kit Co; Theory Brixmill Admiral Crepe Blazer, $445, available at Bloomingdale's.

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    No surprise here: Haggerty is a liquid-lipstick devotee, but her favorite brand may not be one you've tried. "Jeffree Star's lipsticks are crazy-pigmented, and you can get a super-sharp line if you use a thin, angled brush," she says. Which also saves her time. "I like to make my work as perfect as possible, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time retouching," she says.

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    Haggerty's kit is stocked with every gloss you could ever need, from thin and liquid-y (perfect for drips, which you'll see ahead) to thick with a high-shine finish, like she used here.

    For the final step, Haggerty topped model Ella's lips with a single coat of Mehron Glosstone in Clear, a theatrical-makeup brand you'll see used more than once in this story. "It stays put and creates a great vinyl finish," she says.

    Mehron Glosstone Pro in Clear, $11.95, available at Mehron.

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    Blue Steel
    For this look, Haggerty channeled a macro trend that's splashed all over social media: a colorful splatter that's part Jackson Pollock, part graffiti art. And while it may appear to have been thrown together, it's actually quite precise.

    While the coat of blue Jeffree Star Cosmetics Lipstick in Jawbreaker is stunning on its own, the tiny dabs and smears of various colors really ramp up the effect.

    Just before shooting the look, Haggerty layered a deep blue called Blue Velvet on the corners of Ella's mouth for depth, while the swipe of blue on her lids was a creative impulse halfway through the shoot. "Gives it a little something," Haggerty says. It does, indeed.

    Jeffree Star Cosmetics Velour Liquid Lipstick in Blue Velvet, Jawbreaker, and Breakfast at Tiffany's, $18, available at Jeffree Star Cosmetics; Nyx Liquid Suede Lipstick in Tea and Cookies, $7, available at Nyx Cosmetics; Nyx White Liquid Liner, $7, available at Nyx Cosmetics; COS Draped Layer Dress, $125, available at COS; Lizzie Mandler Petit Square Huggies, $625, available at Lizzie Mandler.


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    The Signature Drip
    Haggerty knew she was on to something as soon as she snapped one of her most popular looks. "I thought it would get me a lot of likes, but I didn't think there would be drama," she tells us.

    Don't get her wrong: Haggerty loves to see her work shared in any capacity — but with the proper credit. Not much to ask when you consider the time and effort it takes to style just one of these shoots.

    This look starts simply — just Mehron metallic pigment and inexpensive lip gloss, since it tends to be thinner and better at dripping, Haggerty says. The technique, however, is all about timing.

    "When I put it on it looks uneven and goopy, but if you leave it alone it will settle," she says. On set, Haggerty applied a thick layer in the makeup chair, then really gobbed it on once Ella got in front of the camera. "I use excessive amounts just to make that super-liquid metal look," she says. Then, it's a game of luck — and catching the product before it hits your shirt.

    Sally Girl Mini Squeeze Tube Lip Gloss Minty Fresh, $.99, available at Sally Beauty; Mehron Metallic Powder in Copper, $9.95, available at Mehron; Camilla and Marc Inhale Top, $299, available at Camilla and Marc; Tiffany Kunz Ball Stud, $110, available at Tiffany Kunz; Tiffany Kunz Medium Balance Ring, $720, available at Tiffany Kunz; Tiffany Kunz Balance Bangle, $1,440, available at Tiffany Kunz; Tiffany Kunz Bracelet 5, $87, available at Tiffany Kunz; Tiffany Kunz Balance 3, $87, available at Tiffany Kunz.