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It’s hard to imagine, but Ariana Grande still gets nervous. The pop star has performed on the world’s biggest stages, but her latest venture, a new makeup line called REM Beauty, finds her in uncharted territory. “I was so nervous to even discuss stepping into the beauty space because there are so many amazing fellow people,” Grande tells me over Zoom, wearing her signature sleek ponytail and a full face of REM. “I don’t ever want to just jump into something that is popular. It has to feel super intentional and fueled by passion and authentic to me.”
Grande found her confidence working alongside cosmetics company Forma to develop REM Beauty’s first launch, Chapter 1: Ultraviolet. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute, these formulas are really spectacular.’ I went home that night and had this vision for my line and it ended up being exactly how I dreamt it would be in my head,” she says. “I’ve spent a lot of time in makeup in my life. To redefine my relationship [with beauty] and have my own version of it, and hopefully be able to inspire people to express themselves in a new way and share it with the world, and have these beautiful products come to life, has just been such a wild thing.”
Available November 12 at 9 a.m. E.T., REM Beauty is heavily inspired by Grande’s love for sci-fi, space, vintage, and horror. “I wanted to create our own world with this packaging,” she says. “Sort of futuristic, but nostalgic throwback. Anything that looks like it could have been on Star Trek or Barbarella or Star Wars or Black Mirror.”
Along with impressive packaging, Grande prioritized making the line completely vegan and cruelty-free. “[These formulas] took a lot of back and forth, a lot of rounds of going to the lab and me overexpressing myself, as always,” she says. “Working with these incredible artists, scientists, geniuses at the labs to get it where it needs to be. Vegan, smells delicious, lasts over a long time.”
It turns out the hardest part about creating a beauty line isn’t testing products or conceptualizing packaging or countless meetings in the lab over the past two years—it’s keeping said beauty line a secret. “I was on tour [when we started this] and it was very secretive,” Grande says. “It has been the longest time. I’m not very good at secrets because when I’m excited and passionate about something, I have to say something at some point.”
The second hardest part? Swatching—using your finger to test a product’s color, pigmentation, and formula. Grande, who is “not the best” at swatches, turns on her immaculate Jennifer Coolidge impression as she demonstrates the shimmery pearl and lavender finishes of the Interstellar Highlighter Topper and neutral tones of the Babydoll Eyeshadow Palette. “If I have to swatch today, I’m going to do it all as Jennifer Coolidge to make myself more comfortable,” she says.
For REM Beauty’s first launch, you’ll find a wide range of eye products, including kohl and liquid eyeliners, eye shadow palettes, lashes, and two types of mascara. “REM being the name of the brand, we wanted to focus on eyes. Eyes are our main storytellers and communicators,” Grande says. “We wanted to mostly focus on that and do a little bit of lip to drop, but there’s so much more to look forward to.”
Ahead of the launch, we caught up with Grande to talk all things REM Beauty. Here’s everything you need to know.
What’s the meaning behind the name REM Beauty?
For the brand name, Grande chose her fan-favorite song “REM” from her 2018 album Sweetener. “I decided to name [my brand] REM because I feel like that song really encompasses a lot of my favorite parts of my sound, sonically,” Grande says. “And also REM, rapid eye movement, focusing on dreams and on the eyes and eyes being our most effective communicators. You can say more with the way that you look at someone than you can articulate with words sometimes. They’re what we use to dream and rest and so much beauty happens there. I loved that.”
What products are included in Chapter 1?
Instead of releasing a complete line of products, Grande opted for “chapters” that include curated selections of makeup. In chapter 1, you will find the At the Borderline Eyeliner Marker, At the Borderline Kohl Eyeliner Pencil, Flourishing Volumizing Mascara, Flourishing Lengthening Mascara, Midnight Shadows Eyeshadow Palette, Dream Lashes, Midnight Shadows Liquid Eyeshadow, On Your Collar Plumping Lip Gloss, Utmost Importance Plumping Lip Gloss, On Your Collar Matte Lipstick, Practically Permanent Lip Stain Marker, and Interstellar Highlighter Topper.
“There is so much more coming, but we wanted to do drops instead of giving you everything at once, because we wanted to be super selective and intentional with the storytelling and what we give you first,” says Grande.
When is REM Beauty launching?
You can shop Chapter 1 on Friday, November 12, at 9 a.m. E.T.
Where can you buy REM Beauty?
REM Beauty is available exclusively at rembeauty.com. Sign up for the mailing list for updates.
What was the inspiration behind the product names?
One of Grande’s favorite parts of creating the line was naming products, drawing inspiration from her personal life. “[For] the Babydoll Palette, that was what my grandpa used to call me, and my Nonna calls me that,” she says. “The [shade] names are all super personal to me like Gildone, that’s where a lot of my family is from on my Nonna’s side in Italy. And we got Cannoli on the Principessa Palette. Boca Mocha is a shade, which is named after my hometown, Boca Raton. [Another palette is] Midnight Snack, and one of the shades is called Plumbledore. Another [shade name] is Cheeky Hijiki, which is one of my favorite things to snack on.”
Are there more products on the way?
Short answer: yes. But as much as Grande wants to share what’s in store for Chapter 2 and beyond, she’s keeping that mum for now. “I’m going to tell you all the secrets because I’m too excited,” Grande says. “But even stuff that’s coming in later chapters like our foundation, which is my favorite, we spent so long getting the formula right. We wanted to save it for later because we spent so long perfecting the formula. I use it all the time when I’m working, when I’m on TV, it’s the best. I’ve been wearing my foundation and concealer pretty consistently, but that’s not here yet.”
What’s Grande’s favorite product?
Grande insists she can’t choose a favorite product, but swears by the Practically Permanent Lip Stain Marker and Utmost Importance Plumping Lip Gloss. “I’m most excited for people to try my favorite combination, which is the Practically Permanent marker paired with the gloss,” she says. “I was always trying to find a really great lip stain. And then when we developed this, I was really proud and thankful. You can put on a little thin layer and it can feel way more natural. Like, ‘Oh, is she wearing anything?’ And then you can do more and all of a sudden it’s like Morticia Addams.”
How did Grande’s music influence her beauty line?
Grande was surprised to find a lot of similarities between her music and beauty products. “Music and makeup are so polarized, they’re so opposite, but the way that they help bring each other to life is unspoken at the same time,” she says. “A lot of my music comes to life more when we shoot the video, which is accompanied by makeup. And these makeup and hair artists design looks that people do for Halloween or at drag shows. They have this weird partnership that I didn’t realize until I dipped a toe into [beauty]. When you’re writing a song, spending time with the pre-chorus to make sure that the notes set up the hook in the proper way, or that the harmonies aren’t fighting, the bells in the background or the strings—everything is complimentary of one another—is the same thing as putting together these formulas.”
Grande has been secretly wearing REM Beauty on tour and TV.
What better way to test product than while onstage or camera? “We were doing shows and finishing the tour and able to test the highlight onstage and then make notes on the formula,” she says. “And say, ‘Okay, cool, this needs to change’ or whatever. And go back and forth about the gloss. I have been wearing a lot of the Chapter 1 products on The Voice and testing them and seeing how they look on camera. It’s been really cool to secretly test and see them on TV. Also some of the products from later chapters as well. The Babydoll Palette’s been used a lot.”
Grande got her love for eyeliner from her mom.
You would be hard-pressed to find Grande without her signature black winged eyeliner. “I was really young and using my mom’s black eyeliner,” she says. “My mom loves black eyeliner. She only wears black. Her whole closet is, no joke, fields of black fabric and shoulder pads. And you’re like, ‘Where am I? What is happening? Are you Cersei Lannister?’ I was using [her eyeliner] and I wanted to look like a Spice Girl. My mom is super into Halloween and goth. In the middle of July, she would paint me as a skeleton. That’s an early [beauty memory] too.”
Grande’s best advice for creating the perfect wing? “Prayer and patience.”
Ariana Yaptangco is the senior beauty editor at Glamour. You can follow her on Instagram @arianyap.