How Christen Dominique Went From Being a Freelance Makeup Artist to Running a Beauty Empire

December 02, 2020
Sarah Ferguson
By: Sarah Ferguson | by L'Oréal

After honing her skills doing makeup in the girls’ locker room at her high school, Christen Dominique rose to Internet fame after her YouTube channel, featuring conversational tutorials, took off. She now has over four million subscribers (plus 1.4 million Instagram followers) and has built her very own brand, Dominique Cosmetics, which offers all of the products she wished she had as a young makeup artist. We had the opportunity to chat with Dominique about her humble beginnings in the industry, her favorite products from her line and her glow-inducing makeup routine (because we know you’re dying to know!). 

When did you get into makeup? 

I was heavily teased about my dark under-eyes for years, but I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup, so when I was 13 or 14, I took my mom’s yellow color corrector and wore it to school. That is when I found the transformative power of makeup. 

From then on, I was the “locker room makeup artist” from middle through high school. 

After high school, I started a freelance career. I loved seeing people’s moods change and giving them a confidence boost. It makes me really happy to help others see the beauty within themselves.

What made you want to start a YouTube channel?

About eight years ago, I was freelancing, in school and working full-time. On top of being a mom and wife, it was getting hectic to balance everything. I had to let go of freelancing. My clients suggested that I take YouTube seriously so I didn’t have to let go of my passion. I took their advice and it started to take off when I put all my passion and hard work into my videos. 

I think in 2013, my videos stood out because of my editing and environment. I wanted to go beyond face-to-camera makeup. I would tell stories and do mini movie trailers. That's what caught people's eye. From there, I had the opportunity to move to LA and do it full-time.

How do you think the YouTube community has changed and grown since you first joined? 

It's changed so much. I think a lot of people's interest has shifted more toward self-care and lifestyle content, especially this year. Most beauty influencers are wearing less makeup and focusing more on skin care or good-for-you ingredients in their makeup. Personally, I have taken this direction as well. I wouldn't say I am wearing less, but I definitely have more of a natural look and am looking for better ingredients in my products. 

What inspired you to start your own beauty brand and what was the development process like?

When I started as a freelance artist, I found myself constantly customizing everything, like my eyeshadow palettes. I knew I wanted to launch a brand by creating something that was multi-use for face and eye at an affordable price point with a luxe feel. I know how it is starting out as a young artist and not wanting to let go of the quality but also not being able to afford the quantity. 

It's been fun along the way. I have made some great relationships with my labs and vendors, and I have learned a lot from developing and creating the brand. I think the most important part is having a strong team with you who is as passionate as you are. I am lucky enough to have that. 

What have been some of the biggest challenges of creating your own brand? 

The biggest challenge is staying ahead in innovation. I never want to make something that is already out there, even though there is only so much you can make. It really challenges you to make unique products that you have never seen before. I strive to keep thinking ahead to create something new and innovative. 

What's your favorite launch from the brand so far?

Can I pick two? My favorites are the eyeshadow palettes Latte and Latte 2 because they are what started it all. I really feel like those palettes are the heart and soul of my brand. They offer the multi-purpose story with the look, feel and price point that I have always wanted. 

What's your go-to makeup look of the moment and what products do you use to create it?

I love glowing skin. I use my Copper Light Skin Gloss as a base so I can get the glow-from-within look. Then I use Make Up Forever Reboot Foundation on top, which gives a dewy finish. I have really dry skin, so this combo helps my skin look healthy. Full, fluffy brows are something that I do not have naturally, so I use Glossier Brow Flick to create a microbladed look with my brows. I contour my eyes and nose with Fenty Beauty Cream Bronzers in shades Teddy and Macchiato. I get a nude glossy lip with my Creamy Fill & Define Lip Liner in Crush and the In a Daze gloss from Dominique Cosmetics’ Holiday Lip Glitz. My last step is Lilly Lashes in Goddess

Photo: Courtesy of Christen Dominique; Design: Hannah Packer

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