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Beauty Test: Salem Mitchell Shows Us How to Wear Maximalist Makeup 4 Ways

by Faith Xue

Welcome to our series Beauty Test, where we invite the freshest new faces to the Byrdie studio to test-drive the most buzzed-about beauty trends—or, to be honest, just some rad makeup looks we’ve been dying to see in real life. This month, get to know model of the moment Salem Mitchell.

It’s safe to say the beauty landscape looks different than it did 10 (or even five) years ago. Upstart beauty brands like Milk Makeup and Glossier are breaking ground for diversity in their ad campaigns (and not just by race—by gender and body type as well), and more models who fall outside of the typical “norm”—aka tall, thin, and usually white—are making a name for themselves in the industry. One such model is 19-year-old Salem Mitchell.

Like many of her millennial peers, Salem was discovered by her agency Ford Models via her Instagram account, where she had amassed a sizable following by posting photos of herself—you need only one glance of her signature freckles and sunny smile to understand why. Unlike most of her peers, however, Mitchell comes across much wiser than her 19 years. There's a self-assuredness and quiet confidence to her you’d expect from someone several years older. But maybe it’s no surprise. Navigating a large social media audience isn’t always just racking up thousands of followers and likes. Since age 15, when she first created her Instagram, Mitchell has suffered her fair share of name-calling and hostility from those who hide behind the mask of internet anonymity (such as the commenters who call her a “banana” because of her freckles).

Mitchell isn’t jaded, however, but discerning; not overtly naïve, but cautiously optimistic. Rather than allow naysayers bring her down or affect her self-image, she flips the script and laughs with them (and ultimately takes the power away from their words). She’s outspoken about topics like diversity and women’s empowerment and represents a new generation of unapologetic, blatantly self-possessed models who look different, act differently, and think differently than their more uniform predecessors—and frankly, it’s about time.

With that in mind, we invited Mitchell to our studio in L.A. to have a makeup playdate and just hang out. There was glitter, and there was (a lot of) gloss—and yes, there was even some spontaneous dancing. We left with plenty of makeup inspiration, an even greater admiration for Mitchell and her seriously strong sense of self-worth, and the knowledge that this is only the start of what we’ll be seeing of her in years to come.

Keep scrolling to get to know Mitchell and see her test-drive some of our favorite of-the-moment makeup trends.

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