A Beauty Lover's Must-Read: 'Love, Lashes and Lipstick'
Celebrity makeup artist Mally Roncal dishes on life, love and the beauty tips she's picked up along the way.
Whether you're a hardcore beauty lover or just happen to have stumbled across QVC one night, you might recognize Mally Roncal and her contagious smile. The bubbly makeup artist boasts not only a prolific career as a makeup artist to stars such as Beyoncé and J.Lo but an exceptionally successful line of cosmetics dubbed Mally Beauty. As if running her own business, doing makeup during NYFW, and being a wife and mother of three wasn't enough, Roncal is adding author to her growing resume. With the release of her first book, Love, Lashes, and Lipstick: My Secrets for a Gorgeous, Happy Life ($25), out today, Roncal serves up beauty tips alongside anecdotes. We chatted with the artist-turned-author to learn all about her first experiences with makeup and what it truly takes to be the most beautiful woman in the room.
So I read the book last night in one sitting. I loved it. I was laughing and crying and smiling all at the same time. What made you want to write this book at this time?
"It's so funny. The thing I love most, aside from playing with makeup, creating makeup and, you know, making women feel pretty and fabulous, is I love teaching and sharing stories, and really trying to inspire and help women and men and anyone to lead a really grateful and happy, beautiful life. You know, everybody always asks me, 'Why are you so happy all the time? How come you're so happy? That can't be real!' And the truth of the matter is, I am. Even when things kind of suck, you have to find a way to be grateful and happy for every experience because it makes you who you are, so I wanted to kind of do a little bit of that married with my makeup tips and all that kind of stuff, so I can kind of make the world a happier, better, more beautiful place."
You weaved personal stories with makeup tips and illustrations beautifully. What made you want to make your book part memoir, part beauty book?
"I've had a lot of amazing and wonderful and painful experiences, just like everybody else. Life is like a series of ups and downs and really great lessons, I think. The thing that I'm proud of is when something happens, I always try to find the lesson behind it. What is the positive thing, the positive energy that you can find from these things instead of letting them make you sad or bitter or angry? What are the things that you can learn from them? And the other thing that I learned was anytime I was going through something, whether it be great or not so great, makeup was a big part of it, either by helping you get out of bed sometimes when things are not so wonderful or celebrating how fierce and fabulous you are. Beauty and makeup was really tied to where my life was at that moment, and how it really affected me, and I think that's true with most women and how you can really kind of define where you are in your life by the tips and tricks that you use at that time."
You talk about your first experience with makeup, being at the Elizabeth Arden counter at Saks when you were 12. What was it about that experience that made you fall in love with makeup?
"Oh my gosh it was everything. The energy, the scents, the smell, the makeup artists. Being surrounded by all of that delicious beauty, it was the most—it was instantly addicting. I just loved everything. I loved the fantasy of it. I loved how everybody on that floor was dedicated to each other and feeling beautiful. And also it was real hardcore girl time, even though the guy who did my makeup wasn't actually a girl. It was just very girly, and I am a girly girl. I have three daughters, as you know, and it's just sort of what I love. I love everything about it and that moment probably shaped who I am and why I'm a makeup artist today."
One of my favorite scenes in the book is when you tell the story of how you were on a photo shoot and one of the other pros pulled you aside and told you that no one took you seriously based on how you styled your hair and wore your makeup. Why was that an important story for you to share?
"Because you have to believe in yourself, you know. There's so many haters and there's so many people unfortunately in this world who are ready to cut you up and ready to make you feel not so great about yourself. In retrospect, and even at the time, I knew he was trying to help me. He was trying to help, but he crushed my feelings, you know what I mean? And I felt like there are so many people out there like that, who doubt themselves. People who don't think they're 'doing it right.' And I just wanted them to know, you're doing it right. If you're living true to yourself and you love who you are, you know, f**k what everybody else says."
So you never regret any of your past beauty looks, no matter how crazy?
"[Laughs] You know what, no. Looking back, the application could have been a little better, but truthfully at the end of the day, no because those are my experiences. Those past looks, they make you who you are."
You are such a motivational person for so many. Is there a celebrity you've worked with that's been a motivation to you?
"Absolutely. I mean I have to say, most of my clients because they're such strong women. Really strong. Celine Dion, for her kindness and her generous spirit. Beyoncé for obvious reasons—because she's Beyoncé. Jennifer Lopez for truly staying true to who she is and being successful at it. Everyone, I have a reason for being inspired by them and I'm so grateful I've been able to spend time with them in my life. I believe that God puts people in front of you for a reason, and you should honor that by really finding out who that person is and what they can do to inspire you."
You talk about the decision to start your own makeup line. What has been the most challenging or unexpected obstacle you've run across since making that leap?
"I would say that it's truly a business. It's easy to be like, 'Oh let's make makeup, that's fun!,' that it's all about lipstick, but it really is a business, you know? Managing people and managing situations. I have to say I am very proud of the business woman that I've become. And I'll be honest, when we first launched Mally Beauty, I was involved in all the product development obviously and creating the brand, but when it came to money and finances and actual business, that wasn't my actual job at that point. And over the years, these nine amazing years—10 actually—I've become the CEO. I'm the CEO of Mally Beauty and I do it all. And I'm very, very proud of that because again, being a woman and being in business is tough. It's absolutely true. And yes, you have to prove yourself. That's been challenging and incredibly rewarding at the same time."
Is there a product you're the most proud of?
"I mean, I love all of my products. They're all my babies, absolutely, so I love them all but I think maybe the two I would say are my Volumizing Mascara ($20) because it has won awards all over the world. We've beat out Dior Show and Lancome and all the big boys with Volumizing. And because mascara is such an important part of the makeup routine I'd say Volumizing, and then I'd also say my Face Defender ($40), which is like clear powder. And it's truly invisible. So I would say those two."
Being the pro that you are, you must have the most enviable makeup station at home. Can you describe your vanity? I'm picturing tubes upon tubes of mascara...
"Well I am about to burst your bubble. It's very, very sad because I have a dressing room, I'll be honest with you, and it is currently in the works. I have the same beautiful fantasy that you have of this amazing boudoir with this incredible vanity that's all mirrors and glass and gold. And I do have the sketches for it, but it actually hasn't happened as of right now. We're still working on it. But the truth of the matter is, believe it or not, my makeup is in the kitchen. In the kitchen drawer, where I do my makeup while getting the Beans [the nickname Roncal and her husband, Phil, gave to their twin daughters] ready in the morning, in between making coffee and making oatmeal and cutting up strawberries. That's when I do my makeup."
Sounds like they keep you busy for sure! So you talk about "healthy being the new young." What made you realize this?
"Amen. Well number one, turning 42 and realizing that if I didn't do something about my butt, it was going to fall and hit the ground. And realizing that I am a working mom with three children under seven years old and I want to be there to see them grow up. I want to be there to see them experience life in a beautiful way. I want to keep going. And again, really it's just about being healthy in the sense that you're never going to be 18 again. You're never going to look that way again. It's just not physically possible. But that doesn't mean that it's all over. It can be that you look better now than you ever did in your life, with exercise and eating properly and drinking enough water and getting enough rest. And it all sounds great, I know. And I don't do any of those but I am working at it, and it's a goal. And I think that we have to realize it doesn't just have to be that you're beautiful when you're young and then it just goes downhill from there, you can just get better, and better, and better. And the way to do that is to be healthy."
And lastly, if there's one piece of wisdom you picked up throughout the years that you'd share with the world—or at least the StyleBistro readers!—what would that be?
"It's just very simple: Treat everybody the way you want to be treated. It sounds so elementary, and it sounds so womp womp like, 'Yeah we've heard that,' but the truth of the matter is if people really, really do that, when you say that you treat every single person that you meet in your day with respect, with kindness, with grace, with love and if you can, good for you, but most of us have to work at it. And it really is the most beautiful thing. It's another beauty secret too because you don't have to be Christy Turlington to be the most beautiful woman in the room. If you smile and give love and give kindness and look in people's eyes and hold their hands when you talk to them, guess what? You're going to be the most beautiful woman in the room."
And then your makeup is only going to enhance that, right?
"Hey girl! Can I get an amen on that one! You got it. And a little lipgloss doesn't hurt."