The version of Lady Gaga filling the screen on a recent morning is more lady than gaga. Her seafoam green headband primly matches a ruffled suit jacket; behind her, a purple orchid suggests the kind of corner office where flower deliveries cycle in on the daily. For a woman known to show up in character—“liquid lamé” tux at the 2022 Oscars; dusty white tank and aviators 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 is convincingly playing the role of a polished beauty mogul. Only here, beamed in from her Malibu compound, where the saltwater infinity pool and stables beckon, she is giving Estée-esque poise while firmly remaining the pop visionaire of our time. Before she even opens her mouth, her cheekbones, chiseled and gleaming, act as her pitchwoman.
Gaga, mother of reinvention, is talking through the debut of her retooled makeup line, Haus Labs by Lady Gaga. Landing today at Sephora with the retailer’s Clean stamp, it’s a full sweep of categories: lip oil and matte lip crayon; bronzer, highlighter, and brow pencil; eyeliner and multi-use pigment in art school hues. (A dollar from every purchase benefits her Born This Way Foundation, supporting mental health.) “From the very beginning, I’ve always wanted this company to empower people, to unlock the artists within them,” she says, looking back on her brand’s 1.0 launch, in the fall of 2019. At the time, she drew inspiration from drugstore beauty staples (a democratizing influence reflected in approachable Amazon pricing) and from her own stage-tested kit. A cherry-red Le Monster lip accompanied her to President Biden’s 2021 inauguration, while last fall’s Casa Gaga capsule collection got a trial run in the House of Gucci makeup trailer. Such prime placement is expected in this peak wave of celebrity beauty brands. Less expected is a brass-tacks reboot, driven by a homed-in philosophy to nurture skin health.
“I decided that I wanted to make supercharged, clean artistry makeup,” Gaga says of the new Haus Labs’s focus on beneficial ingredients and color payoff. She points to the Hy-Power Pigment Paints, which come in shades like Yves Klein blue, taxicab yellow, and fluoro-orange. “I absolutely wish I could teleport these back into my past,” she says when I bring up the brushstroke makeup in 2013’s “Applause” video. “I’ve always loved working with paints, but a lot of paints are very dirty and not good for your skin.” By contrast, she points out, the Haus version is boosted with plant-derived squalane and hyaluronic acid. (The latter has a low molecular weight “so it gets even deeper into the skin,” Gaga adds, sounding like someone on a first-name basis with the brand’s cosmetic chemists.)
The artist is just as excited about the proprietary ingredient in the line’s pressed formulas: the Bio-Radiant Gel Powder Highlighter (talc-free, 10 shades) and the Power Sculpt Velvet Bronzer (12 shades). “I’ve been very open about a struggle I’ve had for a decade now with fibromyalgia and chronic pain,” she says, crediting a topical arnica cream for go-to relief. She found herself thinking, “Well, if arnica takes away 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 rendered significantly more potent. “People told me I couldn’t do it,” Gaga says with a glint of mischief, “and I love when people tell me that I can’t do things because it just makes me want to prove them wrong.”