Shay Mitchell Is Finally Defining Beauty On Her Terms

It's hard to imagine Shay Mitchell's Pretty Little Liars character Emily Fields spearheading a successful YouTube channel where she enthusiastically reviews fuchsia lipstick or recreates the latest unicorn highlighter trend. But offscreen, Mitchell couldn't be more different from the low key, no-nonsense high schooler she became famous for portraying. And now, the untapped beauty guru is finally getting the makeup contract she deserves.
As the new Global Creative Brand Ambassador for Buxom, Mitchell will help develop the brand's creative content and social media campaigns. For Mitchell, a makeup lover with nearly 20 million followers, the partnership was a no-brainer. "I've been such a huge fan of [Buxom's] products for the longest time and now [I] get to play around with them and talk about why," she says.
We sat down with the star to discuss her new role, the best lessons she's picked up from her makeup artist Patrick Ta, and how she's using her platform to encourage others to embrace their identity.
How does makeup make you feel powerful?
"As an actor, I love getting to put myself in other people's shoes and play a character. I feel the same way when I get to play around with beauty and fashion; it really can transform your look."
You have a close relationship with makeup artist Patrick Ta. What has he taught you?
"I got a lot more daring with color because of Patrick. He's taught me to not be afraid and have fun with it. One time he was like, 'Okay, we're going to do a blue eyeliner with a red lip' and then it works. He has a way of making colors work beautifully together. We've really grown together to where now I don't even say anything — he just does his magic."

For me, makeup isn't about hiding anything — it's about accentuating your natural beauty.

Shay Mitchell
You're very open about editing your photos — why is that important to you?
"Even before social media, I was always upfront with everybody about the professional lighting, the two hours of hair and makeup, and every tamed flyaway. There's no way I would want people to think that one photo doesn't get edited. There is a fine line with that because you need to celebrate what makes you unique, too. We're all such different-looking human beings and that's what's beautiful. I don't want to completely filter myself to unrecognizable limits."
You once said you used to hide your Filipino heritage. How has makeup helped you embrace your identity?
"It was one of [my] growing pains. When I looked at magazines, I thought, I don't look like any of these girls. In high school you're comparing yourself to other people, you're growing up at a rapid pace, and everything is kind of new. My advice now is to celebrate your unique look, whatever that is. Celebrate that, make it yours. For me, makeup isn't about hiding anything — it's about accentuating your natural beauty."
What's your biggest beauty mistake?
"Trying to conform myself to being something I wasn't. All my friends in high school had blonde hair and blue eyes, and I wanted so badly to fit in. So I dyed my hair blonde; I wore [colored] contacts; I straightened my hair because it's naturally wavy; I stayed out of the sun as much as possible to not get tanned. I was trying so hard to be everything that I wasn't. I wish I could've just told my younger self to enhance what you have."

More from Celebs & Influencers

R29 Original Series