To describe AJ Crimson as a Jack of all trades would be an understatement. With makeup artist, stylist, and talent manager on his resume, I was surprised he wasn’t a chef at some point in his life as well. Clearly, Crimson has worn several hats over the years, but his talents as a makeup artist flies slightly under the mainstream radar. He isn’t a household name like François Nars, but Crimson’s work has graced the pages of Glamour, Interview, and Marie Claire UK with celebrities like Fergie, Missy Elliott, and Hilary Duff requesting his services as well.
I attended the launch of his BB+D creams at the Shoreham Hotel in NYC because I’ve been waiting for another brand to create BBs for women on the darker side of the color spectrum. They have a lot of hype, but dark women of color are on the outside looking in with few options to choose from. So, I chatted with Crimson to get the skinny on his latest venture — products he (and Pat McGrath) swears by.
Photo: Courtesy of Kyla Sutherland.
"After working in radio, artist development, and styling, makeup was just the next natural choice. I started practicing on small test shoots, got a job at a makeup counter alongside my styling career, and the next thing I knew, I was doing laundry on set of 8 Mile for $100 a day.
"Working my way up in the costumes department under renowned costume designer Mark Bridges, I began wardrobe assisting. When the movie wrapped up, Mark asked of my plans after the movie. I figured I'd go to NYC or possibly L.A. Mark then offered me a place to stay in his home in L.A. With my last $500, a bus ticket, and two bags, I was on my way! I figured between styling and makeup, one would pop off for me! Makeup became my driver, and I never looked back."
Tell us more about your new line of BB creams.
"BB+D to be exact! I kept seeing BBs everywhere, but I noticed that they were all very sheer and only available in limited shades. Most of my clients would never have the opportunity to wear them.
"I talked with my lab, OFRA Cosmetics, telling them I have to make BB creams better. They need to make sense for my girls and girls who live in this global community. I wanted to keep all the great skin care benefits of BB, but to add more coverage, while still feeling and looking like a second layer of skin. And finally, I wanted to make them in my signature shades.
"I knew I had to help begin the conversation to include more than the women who fit three shades — and OFRA got it right. I was so happy. Women of all complexions are trying them and those with warmer skin tones are so elated to finally have a product they can actually wear with confidence."
Why do you think it takes some beauty brands so long to create foundation/ BB/ concealer shades for all women?
"I think that many brands are in a 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' mindset. Some simply don't understand how to speak to every woman. The conversation on complexion is very different when you dig deep into the issues that women in the global community have when searching for their perfect match."
AJ Crimson BB+D Cream, $34, available at AJ Crimson.
"Pat is a huge inspiration to me. I'll never forget my first time to Paris to work on Dior with Pat. I walked in the tent to hear her ask, "Are you with me?” in her English accent. As I went to shake her hand, to see her smile, I recognized that I just changed the course of my life with one decision to board a plane. Pat is great. I love that she is a part of my history."
What products should every woman have in her makeup bag?
"For an effortless polished look to her skin, she needs AJCRIMSON BB+D in her life. She should also have some translucent powder, like Graftobian's, and Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara — it's the best. And for a summer refresher, there's nothing better than Caudalíe Organic Grape Water."
Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara, $19.50, available at Smashbox.
"I love Apothia by Ron Robinson in L.A. Space.NK apothecary and Woodley & Bunny in NYC. And, I get the best wedge sponges on the planet from Alcone NYC."
What are your favorite grooming products?
"I live for my Malin+Goetz Detox Face Mask; I exfoliate with Embryolisse Crème Exfoliante; and my best-kept secret is Natura Bissē Diamond Cream. It’s worth every penny."
What's next for AJ Crimson?
"Growing BLACKBOARDGROUP MANAGEMENT, my creative service agency that represents the newest stars in makeup, hair, and styling. We have been going strong for four years now. Working with clients such as Karlie Kloss, Joan Smalls, and Bruno Mars to name a few! And of course getting AJCRIMSON BB+D to women all over the world!"
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Malin+Goetz Detox Face Mask, $40, available at C.O.Bigelow; Natura Bissē Diamond Cream, $285, available at Barneys.