The Latinx makeup guru has even been dubbed The Glow Authority by his 1.4 million Instagram followers due to his ability to bring out inner radiance in himself and others — a passion he has had since the age of 10.
“Growing up I was raised by a single parent, my mom, and she would always take really good care of herself, so from a young age I was always around beauty,” Merino, 29, tells Stylish exclusively.
“I found myself drawn to the products that made my mom, my aunt and my cousin feel better about themselves and I loved that makeup could bring such a confidence boost to a person.”
From there, Merino began wearing makeup himself and although it helped with his own self-esteem, he did get bullied by some classmates in turn.
“I wasn’t out [of the closet] in high school. … I would wear bronzer and do my brows and people would ask me, ‘Are you wearing makeup?’ I would try to deflect from the question because it just wasn’t something that I was open about,” he shares.
“I did get bullied a lot. I did get made fun of and called names, but makeup was something that made me feel good and gave me confidence, so I was okay with dealing with the backlash and that negativity. I tried to let it roll off my back.”
And it’s a good thing he didn’t let haters deter him. Merino went from being a beauty enthusiast, to working at Nordstrom’s MAC counter, to becoming a makeup artist for celebrities including Christina Milian, Ariana Grande, Eva Longoria and Chanel Iman and ultimately, an influencer and entrepreneur himself.
“After years of working in the industry, freelancing as a makeup artist and working on set, I found that I was always having to mix multiple products to get the impact that I wanted, specifically with highlighting,” the beauty expert explains.
“A lot of the processes I’d go through to get the desired results were way too time consuming, not to mention, I’d have to spend all this extra money on multiple products instead of just one. That’s when the idea for Artist Couture was born and I was inspired to start my own brand. … All of our products are designed to be multi-use, in different functions and for different parts of the face or body.”
While a high quality glam routine can certainly amp a look up, Merino also notes the significant role skincare can play, something he and Kylie Jenner have in common.
“Taking care of your skin is something I practice on a daily basis. … Kylie and I talked briefly at her Kylie Skin launch about what she does to make her skin look flawless and she shares my same sentiments about having a really good skincare routine and the importance of using a makeup primer.”
Beyond using his favorite serums, moisturizers and eye creams and top beauty products including Artist Couture’s Diamond Glow Powders, Diamond Lights Finisher and Supreme Nudes Palette to feel his best, Merino ultimately believes being unapologetically himself is what’s most crucial.
“I was one of the first beauty boys on Instagram wearing a full-face of makeup from day one in a space that had previously been dominated by women. Society had normalized this idea that makeup was only for women and looked negatively upon men wearing makeup. I wanted to change that and I hope that I have and that I continue to do so,” he says.
“I want people to look at me and see me living my life authentically as a gay Hispanic male; creating my own success and launching my dream brand. … I can’t lie and say that negative comments don’t get to me, but when they do, I remind myself of the positives and find comfort in the support of my fans, my family and my friends,” the CEO adds.
“I’ve had a few moments of weakness where I’ve clapped back because I’m only human and I’m pushed to a breaking point, but now when I feel like I’m nearing a breaking point, I take a step back, turn my phone off, log off social media and take a minute to breathe.”
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