Meet Instagram’s Most Controversial New Makeup Artist

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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