Manny Gutierrez on the State of Diversity in Beauty and How Drag Culture Shaped His Line
Manny Gutierrez (better known as Manny MUA) is one of the original makeup artists to blow up on YouTube—forever changing the way beauty would be defined, perceived, and consumed. Almost a decade ago, Gutierrez was working at Sephora, helping shoppers comb through seemingly endless shelves of product. And by 2017—after accumulating millions of subscribers on his YouTube channel—he became the first male ambassador for Maybelline New York. Today, Gutierrez is the creator of his very own makeup line, Lunar Beauty, but the founder says his mission is still the same—to help people find the very best products at the very best price points. Ahead, Gutierrez shares his full-circle journey, how drag influenced Lunar Beauty, and the game-changing makeup tips he’s learned along the way.
How was Lunar Beauty conceptualized?
“I was thinking about Lunar Beauty for years before it officially started. I wanted to create out-of-this-world beauty. That’s what my brand slogan is. I wanted to create pieces that were absolutely stunning, things I hadn’t seen before. I wanted people to think, ‘Wow the person who created this really took their time and made some really amazing makeup.’ And at a really fair price point. For me, I wanted to have my own brand and make products people would actually love. So, it was more about the connection to my audience and making makeup that was high-performing and beautiful, but at a really fair price point.”
A lot of well-known makeup artists and celebrities launch beauty lines under their own names—but your line isn’t called Manny MUA Beauty. Where did the name Lunar Beauty come from?
“I’ve always been a night owl. I’ve always been the type to stay up super late and wake up a bit late as well. I’ve always been fascinated with the night sky and stars and the moon. A huge inspiration of mine is Sailor Moon from back in the day. I thought Lunar Beauty fit so perfectly. I wanted to give my brand its own life and have it be its own thing. I didn’t want people automatically associating my brand with me. The cool thing is Lunar Beauty has its own world and its own life and its own essence.”
What’s the hero product of the line?
“The products people speak about the most right now are the blush palette and the glosses. Those are the ones people rave about, and they sell out the fastest. But I think my hero product was actually Life’s a Drag, which was my first product. And it was a half-neutral and half-bright palette. It was inspired by my makeup journey—I did drag a few times before. And I wanted to create a product that felt like an ode to my experience as a creator and an artist trying to come into the space. For me, Life’s a Drag will always have a special place in my heart.”
Your an O.G. when it comes to YouTube makeup artists. In your eyes, how has the space evolved in regards to diversity? Are we headed in the right direction?
“It’s been such a wild journey. Six, seven years ago—there weren’t male beauty gurus out there doing things on a large scale. When I started, I wanted to create and do what the girls could did—but in my own way. Since then, diversity has come into the beauty space. It’s astonishing and beautiful. Today, we have amazing Black creators like Jackie Aina and Makeup by Shayla, and you see so many amazing Black and trans creators, like Nikita Dragun. And then of course more boys in beauty. Patrick Starr and I, back in the day, we were doing it. So it’s cool to see the pioneers that existed back in the day still doing it, and now there are so many who look up to them. It is a much more diverse space.”
Do you think there’s still a stigma around men and makeup? What does society still need to learn?
“Of course there’s still stigma. When I worked at Sephora, I would walk through the mall during my lunch break in full makeup—people would look at me very strangely. Even now when I wear full glam in the street, people will look. It’s the same thing, still the same looks, still the same whispering. I’m just more confident now than I was then, so I don’t care. It’s more so about self confidence and self-reflection. You need to make sure you’re confident with yourself, because it’s really easy to feel inferior when people are staring at you and whispering.
It’s the same thing, still the same looks, still the same whispering. I’m just more confident now than I was then, so I don’t care.
“But I do think it’s so much better than what it was six years ago to now. You know? The more you see something the more you get used to it. There’s so many more boys in beauty and so much more diversity in the beauty space, you just get more and more used to it. It becomes the new normal.”
What a full-circle moment for you to go from being a Sephora employee to actually founding and formulating your own line. What does that feel like?
“It’s crazy. Working at Sephora I would have never thought in my wildest dreams I’d be where I am now. At Sephora, I literally helped people find products to work for them. And that’s kind of what I still do now, right? But on a much larger scale. So it really is such a cool full-circle moment. It’s really cool to see how that journey has unfolded. It’s been a long journey, but it feels so fast. It’s been what, seven years now? But it felt like it went by in an instant.”
At Sephora, I literally helped people find products to work for them. And that’s kind of what I still do now, right? But on a much larger scale.
You have a maximalist approach to makeup. Do you feel most comfortable with a full beat or are you excited to take your makeup off at the end of the day?
“The products I create—like the Moon Prism Blush and the glosses, for example—those are things you can wear full glam or little glam, and they’re just going to spruce you up a little bit. You can add a little bit of lift to any look. There are definitely days when I don’t want to wear glam. I’m like an all-or-nothing type of person—I’m either not wearing any makeup or I’m wearing full glam. Occasionally, if I’m going on a date, I’ll go in-between and wear just a little bit of concealer and bronzer. Makeup is what you make of it, that’s the fun part. You can do whatever you want with it. You can get a bright-bold palette and incorporate it in subtle ways or in big ways. You can do whatever you want!”
I’m sure you’ve tried every last makeup remover on the market. In your opinion, what’s the best way to remove a full face without stripping your skin?
“I like to double-cleanse. If I’m full beat, I’ll use an oil remover—usually I use the Tula one, I’m obsessed with it and I’ve already gone through three of them. Then I use the Face Halo to take off my first layer. Once the majority of the makeup is taken off, then I’ll use a normal cleanser. I usually use the Korres’ Greek Yogurt Foaming Cream Cleanser. I like foam because it really takes everything off. That’s the process—I break down the makeup first with an oil or balm, and then cleanse afterwards. I double-cleanse every time. “
Do you adapt your makeup routine based off of how much makeup you were wearing that day, or are you pretty consistent with your products?
“I keep the same routine day to day. The only thing I switch out is the serum, depending on what kind of active ingredient I want for that day. I might want a retinol one night or a vitamin C the next. I always cleanse, always put a toner on, apply serum, an eye cream, moisturizer, and follow that up with a mist.
“On days when I’m wearing full glam for a long time, I use a heavier moisturizer because my skin feels dry after wearing makeup all day. My face is like, ‘I need air! I need to breathe!’”
Now that so many people are working from home, many have either given up makeup altogether or really depend on it for some sense of normalcy. What’s your everyday makeup routine right now?
“I use my Moon Prism Blush Palette every single time I do makeup. I’m actually working on another one—another blush palette, so there’s a little exclusive for you. I always use my gloss too, the Selene Gloss is staple for me. I’ve been really loving e.l.f.;s Hydro Camo Concealer. It’s fucking amazing. I’ve been using it every time I do my makeup. And it’s $6! I was like, “How did you do this?'”
What’s a game-changing makeup tip you’ve learned over the years that applies to people at home right now?
“I never was into the idea of using powder puffs. But don’t sleep on powder puffs! I use them all the time. A powder puff is so great for a quick touch-up without having to add makeup. So let’s say you have a powder puff—there’s already powder in it, right? And so rather than having to get a brush or wipe off your foundation, you can just use a puff and press it down. It doesn’t disrupt your foundation.”