How Justine Skye Went From Tumblr Trendsetter To IRL Icon
The singer brings her unique beauty sensibility and Jamaican roots to a new collection with The Lip Bar.
Growing up in New York City in the early 2010s, I was one of many moody teenagers obsessed with Tumblr. I spent hours reblogging weird makeup looks and outfits far too flashy and expensive for my 14-year-old pockets (and lifestyle), and following up-and-coming stars who'd carved out niches for themselves on the photo-centric platform.
Among them was Justine Skye, then a teenage singer and influencer — years before influencing was even a thing. Beyond her vocals, Skye's adventurous style earned her thousands of likes and reblogs. White lipstick, tiny tattoos, and bright purple hair became Skye's beauty M.O. long before the trends took hold on Pinterest, and set her up to be the style inspiration that she is now.
Today, that same experimental, no-limits swag is what garners attention from brands like Keyshia Ka'oir, MAC Cosmetics, and H&M. It's also the flair that convinced The Lip Bar to tap Skye as the brand's first-ever celebrity collaborator for its first big launch of 2020. "I've admired Justine for a long time," Melissa Butler, founder and CEO of The Lip Bar, tells Refinery29. "I've always loved that she was cool with being different and owning her individuality, because that's what The Lip Bar is all about."
Butler and her team approached Skye to create a multi-product collection, aptly named Island Gyal, a nod to the singer's Jamaican heritage. "My culture is a huge part of who I am and how I grew up, and I wanted that to come through in this collection," Skye says. "Jamaica is hot and vibrant, so I gravitated towards purple and orange tones when picking colors." For her eyeliner, she chose a bold Caribbean Sea cerulean, cleverly dubbed Eyeland Ting. Also in the lineup is brown lipstick and lip gloss, both essential in Skye's makeup routine. "Brown gloss is my thing, but I love that all of the colors are super wearable and fun, especially on darker skin," she says. "The blue liner is dope."
It feels natural that Skye's first complete makeup collection would include pops of color, true to her creative roots, and versatile neutrals, true to her evolution. The 24-year-old has virtually grown up on social media, where her loyal fanbase — to whom she's known as "The Purple Unicorn" — has witnessed her entrepreneurial glow-up firsthand. But it hasn't always been rainbows and unicorns, Skye says; she acknowledges that, as a teen first navigating the industry, she felt the need to suppress the cultural influence that's now her biggest inspiration.
"When I was younger, I was very aware of people and their opinions. I let myself drown in that," she says. "I diluted who I was to fit into something that I didn't need to fit into, ironically, because I got here by not fitting in." Skye's bright purple hair was part of how she stood out, for a while — but the star has since left it behind, and not by coincidence. "My hair has been purple since I was about 16, up until about a year ago," she says. "At that moment in my life, I needed a change, and I felt like it was the start of a new Justine era." And besides, she says, purple wasn't even her first choice to begin with: "It was the only color my mom let me dye my hair, so I went with it and became a comfort thing for me."
But Skye is learning that being outside of her comfort zone isn't necessarily a bad thing. As of last year, she formally stepped away from Roc Nation records and began her journey as an independent artist. "Even though things have changed in regards to my label situation, the path is still the same. The music doesn't stop. It's just even more authentic and true to my experiences now," she says. "It wasn't until recently that I realized how to be myself again, and I feel excited about the new year and decade ahead."
If Skye's colorful, eye-catching Lip Bar collection is indicative of anything, it's that 2020 is looking mighty bright for this island gyal.
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