‘Martha Stewart of Makeup’, Charis Michelsen, Revamps The Face Of The Beauty Industry | Interview
From her standout looks on-camera as a model to her memorable performances as an actress in award-winning movies, such as Wonder Boys, High Art, and Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead, to her journey as a celebrity makeup artist, beauty educator, and international spokesperson, Charis Michelsen has taken the beauty and entertainment industry by storm. She’s also amassed a cult following while authoring her books: Hollywood Beauty: The Art of Star Makeup and Grooming for Men: From Dirty to Polished that oﬀer juicy secrets to look like a celebrity, and was recently oﬀered a role in an important new movie with a top name in the entertainment industry.
But the journey wasn’t easy. She shifted gears from acting full-time to working hard at the helm of the beauty industry to create the world’s most comprehensive beauty resources and invent the first Universal Beauty Standard System™, which spawned an Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that provides ideal, individualized fashion and beauty product, service, and styling suggestions for all sexes.
Charis has been a regular contributor for H3R magazine, a luxury magazine for entrepreneurial women, which has elevated her purpose in the industry by constantly supporting women in business. And Disruptors Magazine named her one of the “Top 30 Most Inspiring Women To Look Out For In 2022”. She’s also patented a signature pattern for her line of fashion products, and is the host of a new beauty and fashion-themed TV show, entitled Fashion Style Beauty, that she created. With so many contributions, we’d say she’s destined to be the new face of the beauty industry.
We caught up with this fondly known “Martha Stewart of Makeup” to uncover more about her unwavering passion for the world of fashion and beauty.
1. How did you navigate your interest in makeup into a career?
After moving to New York City from a small town in Oregon to study fine art and fashion design at the world’s top design school, Parson’s School of Design, I was discovered by a photographer for Harper’s BAZAAR magazine to model. I worked for such companies as Levis, Conair, Tommy Hilfiger, and Pepsi, was in magazines and on covers for such publications as Glamour, Mademoiselle, Paper, People, Seventeen, Surface, Redbook, and Psychology Today, and starred in music videos with actress Liv Tyler and for renowned bands such as Type O Negative.
I began acting professionally when I was cast in my first movie and then oﬀered the lead in a second film by the same producers. Legendary model Bebe Buell and manager for her daughter, actress Liv Tyler, and Debbie Harry of the renowned music group Blondie, began managing me and connected me with talent agency Innovative Artists and top modeling agency IMG. I booked roles in award-winning films with talented stars such as Robert Downey Jr., Nicolas Cage, Michael Douglas, Katie Holmes, and Tobey Maguire. It was through these wonderful experiences that I was privy to working with the industry’s top makeup
artists and stylists, and noticed a pattern that aligned with my art background. I was inspired to go to school for makeup artistry and earned my professional makeup artist certification. Soon after, I received an oﬀer to do spokesperson work for one of the world’s top luxury cosmetics companies and accepted it, because it’s a passion of mine to help everyone look and feel their best. It’s been scientifically proven that there is a correlation between the application of cosmetics and a boosted immune system — you’re healthier when you like what you see in the mirror.
The top question I get from celebrity and non-celebrity clients is “How do I look my best?” — everyone wants to know how to look amazing, even stars, so I set out to create a foolproof scientific system that could give each person this experience and get answers to tough beauty-related questions that didn’t have answers — and thank God I succeeded. From my discoveries, I created the Universal Beauty Standard System™ as well as some original techniques, and began writing books, that I self-illustrated, entitled Hollywood Beauty: The Art of Star Makeup and Grooming for Men: From Dirty to Polished.
The books totally fill the industry’s in-depth education gap to empower beauty novices through professionals with an unparalleled physical enhancement skill set, which includes original user-friendly beauty techniques, an A through Z all life stage education, and comprehensive individualized prescriptive solutions, so one can eﬀectively choose and use products to maximize their individual physical appeal. You can look inside my books, which are styled like displayable coﬀee table books, on my website, charismichelsen.com.
The books aren’t available for sale yet but will be soon. You can sign up on my website to be notified when they’re available for sale. The creation of my books led to the creation of a glossy half-hour documentary-style TV show entitled, Fashion Style Beauty. Fashion Style Beauty is an up-close and personal exploration into the exciting and entertaining world of fashion, style, and beauty, oﬀering the best fashion and cosmetic happenings, history, information, education, and advice to date-think an elegantly sexy Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown with a focus on fashion, style, and beauty, instead of food and travel, with added education.
It’s being produced by former VP of Beatle George Harrison’s production company Handmade Films, Thomas D. Adelman, who’s been involved in making movies such as The Usual Suspects, Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll, with Keith Richards, and the Eloise movies, and executive produced by former President of International Sales and Distribution at Voltage Pictures and head of Lakeshore International Elisabeth Costa de Beauregard of Storyboard Media, with Mackenzie Smith.
2. You have worked as a makeup artist for celebrities, music videos, and films. What were some of your favourite moments that helped you get better professionally?
My favourite moments have been when I’ve found a solution to a beauty problem that had the power to change a person’s life for the better, and when I can show someone how beautiful they are using my unique techniques and skill set. I see clients look in the mirror after I’ve worked with them, and watch their body language change because they see a best version of themselves staring back, which gives them more confidence. This uplift of others inspires me and fuels my passion for what I do professionally. Working with people of diversity, of all ages, sexes, and skin tones, and
those who have beauty challenges is something I love. Each client helps me grow professionally, as I’m able to exercise my techniques when working with them to confirm they’re eﬀective. All want to look their best, especially celebrities! Many celebrities have a beauty team that includes a top makeup artist, hairstylist, and wardrobe stylist; however, as we’ve seen too many times, this doesn’t guarantee they look their best. I used my Universal Beauty Standard System™ to create my books Hollywood Beauty: The Art of Star Makeup, for all sexes, and Grooming for Men: From Dirty to Polished, for men, to provide each individual with the information and skills needed to maximize their physical appeal, so they can have better cosmetic application than a celebrity and shine like a celebrity, whether they’re a celebrity or not.
3. What inspired you to invent your Universal Beauty Standard System™?
The idea of what creates beauty had been subjective as there was no science-based standard from which to operate, leaving people to rely on unreliable opinions and copying what works for others, such as with copying celebrities, for how to look their best. I studied what always worked and why and came to conclusions that led to the creation of my Universal Beauty Standard System™. My Universal Beauty Standard System™ guarantees to maximize each person’s individual physical appeal both with makeup application and fashion choices. My invention inspired the creation of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Stylist that oﬀers better personal styling than what celebrity stylists oﬀer without making them obsolete.
The Stylist connects an individual with their ideal clothing, shoes, accessories, and cosmetics, and styles them. It will be housed on the Fashion Style Beauty Network, a multi-faceted online platform — which is coming soon. My goal with the Stylist is to answer the question, “What should I wear?” for everyone, without dictating personal style to anyone. The Stylist will also be helpful to vendors as product returns will be reduced, as products sold through the Stylist will be ideal for a customer. In honoring my fashion design roots, I also created and patented a diamond-dot pattern, intended for use with my line of conscience fashion products, which I plan to sell on my online platform. The pattern is expressed in twenty colors and contains a unique color technology that makes each act as a neutral, allowing each color to be more compatible with various outfits.
4. What is the biggest thing you would like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
I’ve seen the beauty industry take a cookie-cutter approach with prescribing beauty techniques to customers, such as with highlighting and contouring techniques or eyebrow makeup application, which may not be helpful for everyone, as everyone is diﬀerent and has unique needs. My approach honors the individual as being as important as a celebrity and prescribes the best techniques for each individual, so each person can shine like the star they are.
Through my books Hollywood Beauty: The Art of Star Makeup and Grooming for Men: From Dirty to Polished, I give each person the skills and education to know how to apply makeup as good or better than a celebrity makeup artist. We’ve seen images of celebrities looking plain before they were famous, and then they’re transformed by their beauty teams to look amazing. I
oﬀer this same process to all through my books and AI Stylist which guarantee to help all maximize their physical appeal. Why would anyone imitate the appearance of a favourite celebrity when they can look like a celebrity themselves? And regarding the entertainment industry, many changes are taking place lately that are for the better, such as protecting people from sexual predators and creating opportunities for inclusiveness. I would love to see things continue on this path, as it’s the right direction, and for top-notch craftsmanship to always be employed when creating content, such as with excellent screenwriting.
I had the great fortune to have my writing mentored by one of the industry’s best, former Universal Pictures president and producer of such films as Natural Born Killers, Bull Durham, and Tequila Sunrise, Mr. Thom Mount. It was from working with Mr. Mount that I sharpened my screenwriting skill set and created screenplays that are now being produced. Thomas D. Adelman is currently producing one entitled The Reason Sh*t Happens. It’s a dramedy meant to inspire hope and courage to hang on when going through a personal hell, to find out that everything happens for a good reason.
5. What is the best part of your work?
I thoroughly love physically manifesting the beauty clients have on the inside. A favorite experience that highlights this is when a teenage girl was brought to me by her aunt. The girl had come from a troubled home, become addicted to meth, which had damaged her skin, and to save herself, spent her last money on a bus ticket to get to the safety of her aunt’s residence. Her aunt helped get her oﬀ drugs, but the girl’s appearance had been damaged, and she no longer had eyebrows, as she had shaved them oﬀ.
I fixed the texture of her skin, created the appearance of eyebrows that were perfect for her coloring and bone structure, and used makeup and styling techniques to show her how gorgeous she truly was. When this girl saw herself in the mirror, it brought tears to everyone’s eyes. We got to see her digest that she had finally arrived at a better, brighter, happier, and more beautiful place. The makeup and styling did more than transform her physically. It transformed her perspective of who she was for the better. It’s moments like these that reward me more than words can describe.
6. What do you consider as your first big break in the industry?
After getting my professional makeup artist certification, the school’s owner recommended me for a job where I was scouted by one of the world’s top five luxury cosmetic companies to do national and international spokesperson work. Working with this twenty-billion-dollar-a-year company allowed me to speak on stage at huge venues and meet thousands of people who I discovered all wanted to look and feel their best. So many people had beauty questions that they couldn’t find answers to and I felt compelled to find them so I could help them.
The answers that I came to are what are in my books, and what helped create my Universal Beauty Standard System™ and AI Stylist. I have since been oﬀered to be the CEO of a skincare line, cosmetics line, and consultant in the creation of cosmetic products for top companies. And Parson’s School of Design named me a notable alumnus amongst other such notables as Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Alexander Wang (a fashion designer for Michelle Obama), Anna Sui, Derek Lam, Isaac Mizrahi, and Zac Posen. What an honor!
7. What encouraged you to author Hollywood Beauty: The Art of Star Makeup and Grooming for Men: From Dirty to Polished?
A dear friend of mine pointed out that the answers I discovered for tough beauty questions should be put into books so that I could reach more people with the information than the ones I worked with personally. I agreed that all deserved to benefit from my beauty secrets and went to work to create the world’s most comprehensive beauty resources filled with timeless information that will benefit not only readers but the beauty industry, as my books aid cosmetic companies in finally having a science-based guide to help their customers know how to properly use their wonderful products for best personal results.
Thom Mount has written that I’ve “been able to transliterate the subject of makeup, so that it’s simple and understandable”, and that my books are “exhaustively researched, but thoroughly and crisply compressed, so that every aspect of makeup, its application, and its impact is covered, and explained.”. Mr. Mount has also kindly stated that my books will “have meaning and value in society, and will stand alongside the work of other authors who understand their subjects at an extraordinary cellular level; think Julia Child’s “[Mastering] The Art of French Cooking”. What a compliment!