If you're a beauty nerd with an Instagram account, you've probably noticed that the makeup aesthetic on the app can veer a little...homogenous. Don't get us wrong: We love a good sculpted #Instagram brow or strobed cheek, but the app has even more to offer when it comes to daily beauty inspiration.
Case in point: Lauren Leonard, a 25-year-old, Chicago-based makeup artist who is using her skilled artistry to raise awareness for the skin condition vitiligo. Leonard has two symmetrical patches of lighter skin around her eyes — a result of the condition, which causes skin to lose pigment in patches. Rather than covering them up, however, she decided to embrace it. Now, the patches around her eyes have become somewhat of a signature.
Leonard first started developing vitiligo on her knees as a child, but it wasn't until she was 20-years-old that it started on her face. "At first it was really hard for me to get used to it because I wasn't in a confident place," she told R29. "I thought the spots on my face would take away from my looks, but now I think it adds to it — and makes it even cooler!"
After showing the world via the social platform, Leonard was overwhelmed with positive feedback. "I love hearing from people who have vitiligo or other skin conditions," she says. "I didn't have anybody to look up to when I was a kid and I love being a source of inspiration for people."
They may come for the inspiration, but they stay for the artistry. A quick peruse through @Laur_Elyse — which nearly 300k people follow — reveals Leonard's creative tilt. High-shine lids, dot-inspired makeup, and graphic eyes take centre stage, many of which were inspired by music, paintings, fellow artists, and editorial shoots.
Ahead, we asked Leonard to give us the scoop on seven of her favourite looks — not just to inspire makeup obsessives, but to celebrate what makes us different. To quote Leonard herself: "I've never been a traditional person, so why start now?"