the version of Lady Gaga filling the screen on a recent morning is more of a lady than a gaga. Her sea foam green headband goes perfectly with a ruffled jacket; behind her, a purple orchid suggests the kind of office on the corner where daily flower deliveries are made. For a woman known to appear in character – “liquid lame” tux at the 2022 Oscars; dusty white tank and pilots in her “Hold My Hand” video for Top Gun: Maverick; Gucci logo cape and platform boots for the House of Gucci press tour – Lady Gaga convincingly plays the role of a polished beauty mogul. Only here, beamed in from her Malibu compound, where the saltwater infinity pool and stables beckon, does she balance Estée-esque while remaining the pop visionary of our time. Before she even opens her mouth, her cheekbones, chiseled and shiny, act as her pitchwoman.
Gaga, mother of reinvention, talks about the debut of her revamped makeup line, Haus Labs by Lady Gaga. Landed today at Sephora with the retailer’s Clean stamp, it’s a full range of categories: lip oil and matte lip crayon; bronzer, highlighter and eyebrow pencil; eyeliner and multipurpose pigment in art school shades. (A dollar from every purchase goes to her Born This Way Foundation, which supports mental health.) “From the beginning, I’ve always wanted this company to empower people, unlock the artists in them,” says she, looking back at her brand’s 1.0 launch, in the fall of 2019. At the time, she drew inspiration from drugstore beauty products (a democratizing influence reflected in accessible Amazon pricing) and from her own stage-tested kit. A cherry red lip from Le Monster accompanied her to President Bideninauguration in 2021, while last fall’s Casa Gaga capsule collection got a trial run in the House of Gucci makeup trailer. Such a top-notch placement is expected in this peak wave of celebrity beauty brands. Less expected is a reboot of buyers, driven by an established philosophy to nurture skin health.
“I decided I wanted to create supercharged, clean artistic makeup,” says Gaga of the new Haus Labs’ focus on beneficial ingredients and color payoff. She points to the Hy-Power Pigment Paints, which come in shades like Yves Klein blue, taxi yellow and fluoro orange. “I absolutely wish I could teleport this one back to my past,” she says when I bring up brushstroke makeup in the 2013 “Applause” video. “I’ve always loved working with paint, but a lot of paint is bad. dirty and not good for your skin.” By contrast, she points out, the Haus version is fortified with plant-based squalane and hyaluronic acid. (The latter has a low molecular weight “so it penetrates even deeper into the skin,” adds Gaga, sounding like someone with a first name among the brand’s cosmetic chemists.)
The artist is equally enthusiastic about the proprietary ingredient in the line’s pressed formulas: the Bio-Radiant Gel Powder Highlighter (talcum-free, 10 shades) and the Power Sculpt Velvet Bronzer (12 shades). “I’ve been very open about a struggle I’ve had with fibromyalgia and chronic pain for a decade now,” she says, crediting a topical arnica cream for go-to relief. She found herself thinking, “Well, if arnica clears inflammation in the body, I wonder if it would soothe the skin.” The lab got to work, and the result is a fermented version of arnica — a patent-pending ingredient that has become significantly more potent. “People told me I couldn’t do it,” says Gaga with a glimpse of mischief, “and I love it when people tell me I can’t do things because I just want to prove them wrong.”