Halsey on the beauty and power of reinvention

Welcome to On Beauty, a series in which we take an in-depth look at a person’s relationship with beauty, how that relationship has morphed over the years, and how they experience being seen. This week, we’re talking to Halsey, Grammy-nominated artist and founder and creative director of About-Face Beauty. Below, in her own words, Halsey talks about finding freedom within reinvention, the creative influences of her Love and Power tour, and more.

I grew up with two brothers, and my mom was always a bit of a tomboy. Experimentation, glam-wise, was taboo in my house and not outwardly expressed, so my way of rebelling as a child was to dye my hair, play with makeup, and cut my clothes to create different outfits. As a child I was very attracted to that style of expression because I lived in a very sporty and masculine house. That was my way of separating myself from that aesthetic.

I moved around a lot growing up. I went to eight different schools. One of the things I discovered along the way was that every time I entered a new school, I had the opportunity to reinvent myself because no one knew anything about me. This was obviously long before social media, where people can discover you and see if who you are fits with how you present yourself. But I had the freedom to become someone new, and sometimes that meant changing my name. I remember when I was in third grade, I went to a school for just one year and told everyone my name was Sky. I don’t know why I did that. I just decided that that was going to be my name.

Then I remember a couple of years ago I ran into someone in a bar in New York and they came up to me and said, “Sky,” and I was like, “What?” They said, “Sky, it’s me, it’s Matt,” and I was like, “I literally have no idea who you are, and I don’t know who Sky is.” He replied, “We went to school together. We were in Miss Smith’s class.” That’s where he gave me my memory back, and I was like, oh shit. I forgot I did it for a year. a less extreme [example] was when I went through a goth phase in [age] 10 or 11, which is pretty young for a goth. The rest of the reinventions followed his example until I found a way to make it my career.

I think [experimenting with looks] it gave me the opportunity to fail in the space that was safe. I could try something on and if it doesn’t work, [I could] just drop it and move on to the next. I think that’s still true to who I am today; failure, reinvention, bad experiments, they just never stop. I look at photos of myself from just six months ago and say, what was I thinking? But whatever I was thinking was true for me right then and there.

Sometimes [the reinventions] they work and become small attachments that cling to the most fundamental part of my personality and identity. I think the best thing that has happened to me with the renaissance of makeup as an industry in the last two years is that it has gone gender neutral. I’ve always liked to experiment with makeup, but I really struggled with it as I got older and came into my sexuality and gender identity. Then, as the makeup became more gender-neutral, I felt like there was more room to explore and experiment. Once I opened that door, there was no going back.

I don’t always have control over how I or my art is received, which I think is true for any artist. I can have a very specific intention about the way I want [my songs] make someone feel [but] when you go out into the world, the world applies its own stigmas, preconnotations, experiences or biases. Each person has a different compound. [of me]. A person might know me because he watched my SNL [performance], then they listened to my first album, then they read an interview I did two years ago. His composition of who Halsey is is based on that. But someone who is following my Instagram, seeing my [Instagram] He lives every day, and coming to concerts has a more complex composition of who I am. All those different people are going to receive things very differently based on the makeup of me that they have.

I really, really, from the bottom of my heart wish I could go up to tens of millions of people and sit down and have a drink or a cup of tea with them and say, “Let me get this straight. I love you.” know who I am so there are no misunderstandings.” But unfortunately, I can’t do that. I can only control what I share.

The tour has been a lot of fun. It’s been really interesting because it’s a creative departure from how the record started. I wrote the album based on my experience of being pregnant and we shot a movie in the Czech Republic to go with it. It was a medieval, pre-Edwardian body horror film about pregnancy.

As time passed, I gave birth as one does when pregnant. My relationship with those same concepts evolved, so now my relationship with that body of horror and dysphoria had nothing to do with being pregnant and everything to do with postpartum. I modernized the content a bit. [for the tour] and drew on many of my favorite references. There is a scene that is a recreation of a scene from a French body horror movie that came out last year called Titane. It was an amazing movie. The filmmaker, her first film, Raw, is another body horror film that I’ve also touched on on the show.

The content is very graphic and arguably should make the audience uncomfortable, which is not what you want; As an artist, you don’t want your audience to feel uncomfortable. But there’s something about the way we sing and the way this story unfolds that almost gives people permission to express those things about themselves. For my more dedicated fans, I find the experience to be very cathartic, and for my more casual fans, it’s at least interesting. Everyone who goes has a good time and I think it depends on each fan how much they take away from it.

[The tour has] It’s also been great for me in terms of makeup and clothing because I’m taking a very different approach to this tour. I wear a costume every night. There are no costume changes, no elaborate, custom designer pieces. I exclusively wear clothes that I saved or found on Depop. It’s really fun. [The outfits] evokes a bit of the 90s [vibe] influenced by early No Doubt, Hope Sandoval, Mazzy Star and Fiona Apple. He usually wears jeans and a tank top or vintage necklace and cargo pants; it is very cropped. I’m sure there is a political statement in that. Male performers have the luxury of getting on stage and doing that, but female performers are expected to do all 10 costume changes. [I’m also doing it] because I’m doing a summer tour and I want to be comfortable. I’m on stage in 100 degree weather and I thought, fuck it. I want to go out in a tank top and jeans. So I feel great.

I find that sometimes I have a problem with award shows because you’re restricted on stage and there’s an expectation of making a bigger appearance. For me, I always perform best when I’m wearing combat boots or a tank top or something that’s not really restrictive. Just the other night I went on stage in a corset that I really liked, but I laced it up a little too tight, and what could have been a really amazing show for me, I was thinking about the corset the whole time I was on stage. I find myself having to make really difficult decisions because sometimes what is most glamorous is not always the most conducive to a good performance.

One thing that is so amazing about the makeup we develop [for About-Face] is that I was meticulous with a long-lasting formula. Because there’s nothing worse than being on stage and thinking, oh my God, did my lipstick run? Does my eyeliner run? You want to have the freedom to bounce. I don’t want people to watch me sing and be distracted because my makeup is half eaten out of my mouth or smeared all over the place or whatever. I want them to have the ability to focus just like me. like the product [line] Right now, we’re really focused on the eyes and lips. There are no skincare products yet because I don’t wear foundation on stage. I just can not. I sweat too much; it would spread all over my face. There’s something truly amazing about going bare-faced: skin as it is.

I have definitely [grown] more concerned about skin care [as I’ve gotten older]. I’m turning 28 this summer, but my body and face don’t agree because I’ve spent a decade on tour. On airplanes, with jet lag, and on stage with the elements, whether it’s fog, smoke, fire, those are all pollutants that I’m exposed to for hours every night. And also the process of makeup, makeup, makeup, makeup. I care a lot about my skin right now. I just pay a lot more attention to the ingredients in the products, so when I founded About-Face, it was very important to me to have all the clean ingredients. Then shortly after launching this company, I was diagnosed with some autoimmune diseases that come with very particular allergies. I had to renew my whole life. I had to throw out the products I loved. I had to stop using things and giving things away to my friends. I remember thinking how lucky I was that we designed my own makeup to be like this because I could still use my own products.

Source: coveteur.com