The exceptionally talented, fearless, and ever-so relatable musician, Halsey, is launching her second beauty brand, af94. As a follow-up to her initial line, about-face, which is more so for the gurus of cosmetics… This new line, af94, is curated with beginners in mind. Specifically, the Gen Z consumer. “af94 is inspired by the kids who show up to my tour dates in my makeup but have to wipe it off before their parents pick them up,” Halsey tells Teen Vogue. Halsey remembers being that kid once upon a time. Essentially, af94 is a manifestation of the singer’s nostalgia. From Drew Barrymore’s signature dark lipstick and Tyra Banks’ best eyeshadows, down to the glitter nail polish in that one scene in The Parent Trap – af94 is heavily inspired by various iconic moments from the 90s.
The brand name, a9f4, combines Halsey’s full name, Ashley Frangipane, and her birth year 1994. Complete with vibrant hues, moody neutrals, eyeshadow crayons, and matte lipsticks, this launch’s foundation is built on Halsey’s love for genuine authenticity. “Just be yourself.” It sounds simple, but we know it’s not. Figuring out who you are takes guts. af94 allows consumers to let go of convention and become who they want to be. Even if you’re not sure who that is just yet, Halsey has created a safe space to explore any and every possibility. The eccentric artist’s road to fame was not linear but a marathon of different versions of themselves. Claiming to be “a different person every week,” Halsey has a closet full of personalities.
“As a theatre kid, I was no stranger to self-expression. So af94 is definitely personal,” says Halsey. As an advocate for creative expression, they were sure to highlight inclusivity as a significant part of the brand identity. Her early obsession with the pop rock band Panic! At The Disco helped her to realize that makeup has no gender. “I’ll never forget the Nothing Rhymes with Circus Tour, seeing guitarist Ryan Ross’ had the most intricate face of makeup I’ve ever seen – but on a man…,” Halsey recalls. “I was literally mind blown by these neon blue spikes he drew out of his eyes.” And as a result, they was desperate to buy their very own electric blue eyeliner. After saving up thirty bucks from babysitting gigs, the multifaceted singer was finally able to make her first makeup purchase. “I’ll never forget being 15 years old and saving up to buy my first eyeliner. It was electric blue. Took all of my money, but the thrill of wearing such a bold color was worth every penny!” said Halsey. As they reminisced on her self-taught makeup journey, it became apparent that during the 90s, there was a sort-of unspoken right of passage to the world of cosmetics. Thanks to new age technology, one could conclude that Gen Z has it made. Halsey described makeup in the 90s as “very touch and go,” they said, “I think most of us millennials are looking at Gen Z amazed (and slightly jealous) at their skills and access to professional tutorials – like, when is your awkward struggle stage?!”
At the beginning of their career, Halsey was doing her own makeup out of necessity. There wasn’t a budget for a makeup artist just yet. They were doing red carpets, music videos, and magazine covers with a full face of drugstore makeup. “From 18 to now, 27 years old, every part of my journey is photographed online forever,” they say. “[And] although most of that time was embarrassing. It was necessary to who I am today.” Halsey’s finally comfortable with what they actually look like without a filter or super transformative looks. So for the sake of their own mental health and their fans’ mental health, they stepped out with her “janky eyebrows and pimples.” With the hopes of bringing real people back in style and encouraging experimentation, Halsey wants Gen Z kids and any makeup enthusiast, for that matter – to have a safe and affordable alternative as an introduction to makeup.