Janelle Monáe Spills On Why Her Makeup Is Always So Fierce

Photo: Billy Farrell/BFA/REX/Shutterstock.
We've made it pretty clear just how we feel about Janelle Monáe's beauty game around these parts. I mean, how could you not be in awe? Sure, she's beautiful, but it's the risk-taking, badass, and socially-conscience looks she wears that have won us over time and time again.
Monáe was particularly visible throughout this past awards season — not only because she was nominated for her roles in Hidden Figures and Moonlight, but because she teamed up with hairstylist Nikki Nelms to create gorgeous hairstyles that wove in hidden messages. Though all the glitz and glam is pretty to look at, the "Electric Lady" singer tells R29 that there's a deeper meaning.
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"It connects me to my roots," she says. "I come from a very strong tribe of women. My family has roots going back to Africa. I have roots in Kansas. My grandmother lived in Mississippi. Whenever I'm putting my makeup on, it's very therapeutic. It reminds me of my ancestors getting ready, putting on their warpaint."

Whenever I'm putting my makeup on, it's very therapeutic. It reminds me of my ancestors getting ready, putting on their warpaint.

But there are some instances when Monáe does things just because they look dope, like her hair. She still won't tell us the meaning behind her hair accessories, like the safety pins or the googly eyes. "I like to keep people guessing!" she says slyly. "If I'm reading something, I might try to do some sort of symbolism to highlight what I want to bring attention to. I could be protesting something going on in the White House, but sometimes it's just merely because I thought it was cool." And guess what, fans? Some of those theories that you've posted in Monáe's Instagram comments have been spot-on, she reveals.
Of course, being a CoverGirl spokeswoman means she has unlimited access to the products she needs to try new looks. Her latest go tos include Colorlicious Lipstick in Hot 305, what she wears "pretty much anywhere," along with the Colorlicious Oh Sugar! lip balm. The brand's latest launch, Vitalist Healthy Elixir foundation, isn't just a favorite because it's infused with SPF 20, vitamins, and hydrating elements — she also loves the fact that there are more matches for darker skin tones.
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I could be protesting something going on in the White House, but sometimes it's just merely because I thought it was cool.

Janelle Monáe
"Representation is important," she says. "[We] aren't all the same shade, so as many times as CoverGirl can highlight different shades and different kinds of women by making them feel like a part of of the brand, [the more everyone] can embrace their uniqueness. It'll help [young girls] really get more comfortable in their own skin, and help them walk taller than usual."
Photo: Via @janellemonae.

A post shared by COVERGIRL (@covergirl) on

Photo: Via @covergirl.
You may be wondering: Is there anything she can't do?! Monáe manages to nail every appearance she makes, yes, but she had eyebrow struggles in her earlier years, too. "I didn't really know how to arch them," she admits. "I look at some photos, and I'm like 'oh God, what was going on?'" Still, she has no regrets. And while CoverGirl is on her résumé, and likely all over her vanity in her Georgia home, she knows that makeup doesn't make her.
"I feel empowered even when I'm not wearing makeup," she says. "I think my thing is being able to create, and being creative with makeup, whether it's putting colored eyeliner on, or doing very bold lashes with mascara, or a red lip. Making it look punk, making it look edgy — you name it. I'm already in character before I step on stage. The makeup is just another form of creativity, and my creativity is my freedom."
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