If you don’t know makeup artist Joyce Bonelli by name, you undoubtedly know her work. The face painter has transformed everyone from Playboy centerfolds to Nicki Minaj to the reigning queens of reality television (yes, I’m talking about the Kardashian klan). Bonelli’s signatures — lush Bambi lashes and flawless skin — have become bonafide obsessions the world over. Now, the pro is primed to disrupt the beauty industry yet again — this time with a “full-on” line of eponymous makeup, false lashes, and tools, which she gave a sneak peek of during Paris Fashion Week. And since she’s a go-big-or-go-home kinda girl, Joyce Bonelli Cosmétiques is scheduled to launch in 2018 with 58 SKUs that encompass everything from makeup to tools to skincare. (Hair products are the next frontier.) Just don’t expect to find products that contribute to that over-the-top Instagram aesthetic, a beast Bonelli undoubtedly helped to spawn. “[Tutorials] are fun to watch, I will admit that,” she says, citing Jeffree Star as a personal favorite. “I just don’t know if I would actually wear a lot of what I see.” Instead, her range focuses more on “natural” beauty. Take, for example, the product she debuted backstage at Ben Taverniti Unravel Project: Glass Gloss, a clear, multi-use formula you can use on lids, eyes, cheeks, and even in your hair. “We’re doing an android look, the makeup is super minimal with high shine,” she explains. “Glass Gloss looks fabulous over a matte-finish foundation.” (Glass Gloss, along with her Glitter Scrub Enzyme Mask, will drop in seven weeks ahead of the full collection.)
Now, before you roll your eyes and cite the fact that the face painter is famous for giving Khloe Kardashian a “nose job” with her strategic contouring skills, know that Bonelli is redefining the way the term “natural” is used. “I think that people hear natural beauty and they think no makeup, so I definitely want to clear this up,” she explains. “I put a lot of makeup on [my clients], but it looks flawless. The contour is there, but it’s not in your face like the phenomenon on Instagram. Which is fine, but the way I do makeup is a little less direct.” The goal of her impending range is to “accentuate everyone’s natural beauty” via the same techniques she’s used time and again on Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Kendall, Kylie, and Kris. “That doesn’t mean no makeup, it’s just how you do it,” Bonelli says. “There’s going to be a lot of information on how to make it happen and how to make your skin look flawless. And yes, there’s lot of layering and lots of contour.” Anyone who previously thought “natural” meant a dab of concealer and a quick coat of mascara can breathe a huge sigh of relief — those chiseled cheekbones and fluttery falsies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon if Bonelli gets her way. And based on the maquillage maestro’s past successes, we have a feeling things are going to pan out in her favor. “If I want something, I always get it,” she says. “I’m willing to do the work that it takes to make it happen.”
While that statement comes off as confident, cocky even, Bonelli’s star-studded career didn’t just land in her lap. In fact, celebrities and Hollywood glamour weren’t even on her radar thanks to a “sheltered” childhood in a “right-wing, Republican, Christian family.” She wasn’t even allowed to watch TV, save for Mister Ed and Disney classics like Old Yeller. Raised on twelve acres of oak trees in Santa Clarita, California, she was only exposed to what her parents deemed appropriate, which meant spending a lot of time in church. “I think he wanted to take his kids away from the crazy,” says Bonelli of her dad, a “wild artist” who essentially went off the grid and raised his brood in a dome (yes, really) of his own design. So how did this church-going girl go from “sneak watching” The Munsters and not celebrating Halloween to being a makeup artist for television’s most famous family? Well, as Bonelli says, some things — like that eccentric artist gene — are just in your blood. And that, coupled with determination, can foil any well-laid family plan. “In eighth grade, I told my parents I was going to be a makeup artist — I was thinking special effects and that whole thing,” says Bonelli. “I was their worst nightmare!” By tenth grade, she was taking an aesthetician course at night on top of her regular school work, track, and cheerleading. “That year really kicked my ass,” she laughs. After that, her parents allowed her to finish high school via a home study program, after which she attended the Make-up Designory school to study animatronics, special effects, and character makeup.
It was a chance meeting on a photoshoot, however, that would change the course of Bonelli’s life. “Kim and Kris were talking to me about how they were shooting a pilot for a show. And I was like, ‘Oh, okay, everyone is doing a show.’” At the time, she was committed to The Girls Next Door, where she painted the faces of bodacious Playboy bunnies and Hef’s ever-expanding circle of blonde bombshell girlfriends, but Bonelli kept in touch with the Kardashians. She would become an unofficial sister when she started working on the second season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. “They’re really like my family,” she says. “Sometimes, I feel like these girls were raised the same way I was, and that’s how I relate to them and admire them.” Here, Bonelli shares the lessons she learned from the Kardashian family, the secret to seamless, selfie-ready skin, and how beauty helped her power through one of the toughest moments of her life.