Most people know makeup artist Sir John for his work with great brands such as L’Oréal Paris and Luminess. Most often he’s associated with being the man who beats the faces of Beyoncé and Chrissy Teigen, amongst other celebrities. But if you’ve ever had the pleasure of chatting with him, then you know that he’s just a down-to-earth guy from Harlem with a big heart and philanthropic spirit.
And right now, he’s opening up that heart to those in need as we all try to navigate life with a pandemic. He’s leveraging his reach and influence in the beauty industry to kick off two new initiatives that help those affected by COVID-19, especially creatives whose businesses have been considerably hurt. We expect nothing less from someone with a royal name and who works with a queen.
“People are hurting and it’s especially hitting creatives in a way that it’s not hitting a lot of people who have a nine to five,” he told ESSENCE. “We live off of touch and feel and giving all that what we have artistically to our clients and our people. So it can be a really trying time for us. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot to just make sure that other people are doing okay.”
After seeing a story about doctors and nurses on the front lines getting deep marks and scars from wearing protective gear for so many hours a day, Sir John was moved to act. The makeup artist in him was struck by imagery of the faces that he was seeing, and the humanitarian in him knew exactly how his creative side could help.
“I thought, Wow, this is crazy that they have to wear these battle scars because they’re on the front lines for us, he said. “So I called all of these companies. I called L’Oréal Paris, Tata Harper, First Aid Beauty and Dr. Barbara Sturm and they all sent boxes. My hallway right now is filled with boxes.”
Boxes taller than Sir John himself, they house a host of skincare products from these cult-favorite brands. He’s donating them to front line workers in Los Angeles along with masks made by designer friend Michael Costello (who has turned his shop into a mask producing factory), who is taking his cues from L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti on how to make them optimal for hospital use.
And while most of us are using social media fashion and beauty challenges to entertain ourselves, connect with friends and family, and keep our minds off the pandemic death toll for a few moments in the day, he’s taking them to the next level.
Sir John has teamed up with Motorola razr to host its #flipyourlook fashion challenge, asking followers to recreate a spring makeup look via an IGTV tutorial. For each person who posts their look with #flipyourlook and @motorolaUS, razr will donate $50 to Support Creatives, a non-profit that provides freelance beauty artists with a support system during COVID-19. He even waived renumeration for the partnership so that the brand could donate that money (to the tune of tens of thousands) to the organization too.
“One of the things that we have to also realize is that when the mind is stressed or when we are pushed to our limits, anxiety goes up, depression goes up, child abuse goes up. Domestic violence is on the rise, and even suicide,” Sir John said.
“The one thing we can do, even if we only have a dollar to give, even if we don’t have a platform to use, is to just check in on other people. I think the best way to get through is of service. One way to cope is to take your mind off of yourself by putting it on others. So if the best thing you can do is check in, check in with other people. Communication is currency right now.”
So if you planned on sending him the #pushup or #fliptheswitch challenge, you might want to rethink that. Unless you plan on transforming it into an effort to help others, the 37-year-old creative is not interested. From former Instagram posts we know that he slays those pushups (yes beach photos), and we’re well aware that the man can get fly. But today, giving back is the ministry he’s responding to.
“I know that we need a sense of normalcy so I’m kind of conflicted,” he finished. “It’s entertaining, but don’t send me a challenge if it’s not doing something to lift or help somebody or shed some light on something. Right now, there’s a call for something greater. After all of this COVID is over, we’re going to have the best summer ever. We are going to a party like it’s 1999, but before all of that partying, though, do something.”