Getting Ready

Michelle Phan’s New Beauty Brand Is Finally Here

She told us about why she needed a break from social media and the five YouTubers who are helping her shape the direction of her company.

By: Laurel Pantin
Photography: Adam Torgerson

If you’ve ever Googled “how to do a cat-eye” or searched YouTube for “cashmere kitty” (Ed note: is this a thing?), you’ve likely come across a video by Michelle Phan. Even if you haven’t searched those things (hi, me), you’ve still probably heard of the beauty-slash-digital-slash-social genius.

A few years ago, Phan launched her product, a palette, with Lancôme, eventually releasing a second collection with L’Oréal. She had millions and millions of followers and was living the dream—right? Well, apparently not exactly. She experienced total burnout and decided to unplug for a while and travel for inspiration. She was so absent from social media that a few fans apparently worried she had died. Woah.

When she got back, Phan bought her brand back from L’Oréal, and today she relaunched EM Cosmetics with the help of five friends, or “muses,” whom you might have also heard of: Jade Simmone, JKissa, Mariah Leonard, Roxette Arisa, and Promise Phan. Each something of a beauty wizard in her own right, Phan relies on them to be a sounding board for the new products.

And last week, they celebrated the relaunch and invited us to be a fly on the wall as all six of them prepped for the night at the W Hotel Hollywood (you might have caught it on our Facebook Live feed…).

Here’s what they had to say about the new products, why it’s so great working with Michelle, and what she’s most excited about for the future.


“Before a night out, I always use a really wet, hydrating sheet mask for ten minutes. After I take it off, I like to use an essence right away, because it helps to absorb moisture really well. From there I add concealer and a lot of blush to build in color. I make sure to leave some skin bare so it doesn’t get too oily and because I think it’s nice to show your natural skin texture. Sometimes I’ll drink a glass of wine while I get ready for a natural glow.” —MP

“Every woman who is a part of our EM program has chosen their destiny. They’re paving their own way and following their own rules, and I find that to be so inspiring.” —MP

“I have been using everything [from the line]. I like to use both the Brush Tip and Felt Tip for different reasons. If I want a nice natural winged line, I’ll use the Brush Tip, but if I want a beautiful, more precise line, I’ll use the Felt Tip. The foundation of the Lip Clouds is based off of primer, so you don’t have to think twice after application because they’re so comfortable to wear. Each shade also leaves a natural, beautiful stain.” —MP

“I like to make sure that I don’t have to do a lot of touch-ups [when I go out], so I don’t wear foundation, I just bring concealer. Concealer is better to use because at night, you tend to take a lot of flash photos, and a heavily made face can sometimes create an oily look. I like to wear heavier eyebrows, smokey eyes, and lots of mascara on the upper lashes—everything heavy on the top. As for lip, it’s easier to get away with wearing something fun and bold that I wouldn’t normally wear during the daytime, like Spanish Earth, or Ultra Marine Violet.” —MP

“I usually bring concealer, translucent powder, a beauty blender, slim mirror, eye drops, and eyelash glue [in my going-out bag]. The glue is not for me, but for anyone else who needs a touch-up on the corners of their lashes! Travel-sized products are the best because they’re so easy to pack in your clutch.” —MP

“I bought a For Love & Lemons dress on eBay (it was sold out on their website) for the party. I love it because it’s sexy but covered up in the right areas. I’m a woman now, and I want to embrace that.” —MP

“This rebirth [of my line] is completely different from the first iteration; you can already see the difference reflected through the packaging, colors, and logo. It was really important for me to develop a brand that could encourage others to be inspired, create and rethink beauty. All of the mistakes I made throughout my entrepreneurial journey, and also the inspiration I came across during my trips to Egypt, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Japan, and Shanghai are shown through the overall aesthetic of the brand.” —MP

“I really wanted to make this brand for my viewers. When we decided to relaunch the brand, I asked them specifically what they would want us to create. They’ve been supporting me for over 10 years, so it was special to be able to give them what they asked for. We made sure that everything is just easy, effortless, affordable, and intuitive. I’m so grateful to have another chance to share how I’ve evolved through personal experiences and reiterate to my viewers that it’s okay to change and grow.” —MP

“My favorite product is the Brush Tip Eyeliner, because I like how precise you can get while using it. I also love the Rose Nude Lip Cloud because I have really pale skin, and it’s the perfect nude on me—it totally revives my complexion.” —Mariah Leonard

“My favorite product from the full collection is the Lip Cloud, because you can mix all the shades and customize your own color. Every shade also has a light, velvety texture so your lips aren’t dry or begging for moisture.” —Jade Simone

“I’m excited to share what I’ve been developing for so long. I needed to take a break from social media so I could fully focus on the quality and craftsmanship of the products—from the logo and branding to the formulas. It takes a lot of time to research and develop the products in order to deliver the result you envision.” —MP

“I would have to say the Ultra Marine Violet Lip Cloud [is my favorite]. It’s a really unique deep indigo, and I think it suits my personality really well.” —JKissa

“Our Illustrative Eyeliners are inspired by brush pens, so they’re great for Halloween makeup because you can achieve the precision you need for many different looks. The Lip Clouds are inspired by oil paints, so they can be layered or mixed to create new colors or even used as a cheek stain.” —MP

“The Infinite Lip Cloud in Spanish Earth is my favorite. It’s SO bomb, because it has a really nice vampy feel to it, but it’s still wearable and so beautiful.” —Roxette Arisa

Her favorite spring makeup trend:

“Even though peach is having a moment, I notice that clementine, orange, and sunset-inspired colors are becoming more popular and are being incorporated into the eyes. I think colors like viridian and emerald are going to have a moment—green is such a beautiful and underappreciated color.” —MP

“I love how easygoing and relatable Michelle is. She is a total girl’s girl, is super down-to-earth, and is so fun to hang out with. She’s also goal-oriented, which is really inspiring.” —ML

“[I love] everything [about collaborating with Michelle]! But if I have to narrow it down, I like that we have the freedom to add our input and test the products to make sure we love them. We’re encouraged to give our feedback, so if there’s something we don’t like, we can be honest about it.” —JS

“Michelle is such a great friend and mentor to me, and I love to see her grow and blossom. I’m happy to be a part of this relaunch and a part of her journey.” —JKissa

“Michelle is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. Her aura, everything about her inspires me, so getting to work with someone like her is so humbling and so motivational.” —RA

“My favorite product is the Lip Cloud in Rose Nude because I’m a huge lip person, and it’s the perfect nude for me. I love how comfortable it is to wear, and I like to mix it with my other lip products to create a custom color.” —Promise Phan

“It’s exciting because Michelle is my sister-in-law, so we already have a family bond!” —PP

“It was actually really easy to choose each Muse. I had already known JKissa and my sister, Promise, for years. I met Jade at Generation Beauty San Francisco. She told me that she had quit her job and wanted to be an ipsy Creator, and I was so impressed by her straightforwardness. What struck me about Mariah was her effortless beauty, and I really vibed with her style. With Roxette, we needed her energy, and we loved her Instagram feed.” —Michelle Phan