We love products—that’s a given. But the people behind the scenes (or in front of the camera) play a significant role in our understanding of each puzzle piece in the industry at large. Here, we’ve highlighted the pros who have helped transform the beauty space this year with their influence, innovation, artistry, education, and/or medical expertise. Now, more than ever, we look to them to make the industry a more joyful, informative, and inclusive place. For our second-annual Beauty Awards, we’re honoring the experts and professionals who made the biggest impact on us this year, from dermatologists and formulators to influencers and makeup artists.
The Founder: Priyanka Ganjoo
“The founder of Kulfi Beauty, Priyanka has done an incredible job of celebrating and showcasing South Asian beauty. She is also an advocate for women and minorities in entrepreneurship. I love her connection to the community and commitment to inclusivity, which is obvious across the brand’s messaging and following.” – Joyce de Lemos, cosmetic chemist and co-founder and chief product officer of Dieux Skin
The Influencer: Emira D’Spain
“Emira D’Spain might be newly famous on TikTok, but when it comes to the beauty industry, she’s been here for years. Bringing together makeup know-how (she’s the former beauty director at Paper), complete transparency (which includes openly documenting everything from facials to her BBL journey), and a vernacular and sense of humor all her own, it’s no surprise she’s blown up. The only question is why it didn’t happen sooner. With a contract signed with Victoria’s Secret, the first Black trans model to do so, over 1M followers, and the most in-demand product recommendation list around, there are plenty of receipts to back up her win as Byrdie’s Beauty Influencer of the Year.
And from what it looks like, this is only the beginning.” – Madeline Hirsch, news director
The New Guard: Hannah Harris
“You’ve likely seen Hannah Harris’ hands on your Instagram feed. The Los Angeles–based creator is the visionary behind the popular account Brown Girl Hands. She launched the hand-modeling page to amplify the importance of inclusivity in beauty campaigns and has garnered a significant amount of press and supporters in the process. Since launching the page, the recent Savannah College of Art and Design graduate has continued to use her platform to make a positive impact on beauty and fashion. This year, she joined the equity committee for the Fashion Scholarship Fund, which oversees Virgil Abloh’s “Post-Modern” Scholarship. And most recently, she’s taken on a role with Summer Fridays as a brand marketing coordinator.” – Olivia Hancock, beauty editor
The Hairstylist: Jawara Wauchope
“Jawara is more than just a hairstylist—he’s a hair artist. He prides himself on creating stunning, sculptural styles that celebrate the diversity of hair (just take a look at the mesmerizing ‘dos on his Instagram feed). Jawara often works backstage during fashion week, creating hair looks for designers like Pyer Moss and Brandon Maxwell. He’s also one of the go-to stylists for Beyoncé and Solange, collaborating with the two for covers and red carpets. In addition to his star-studded client roster, Jawara continues to stack his résumé with impressive achievements, like becoming i-D’s senior beauty editor at large. Bottom line: Jawara’s artistry continues to reach new heights, and it’s exciting to watch him work his hair magic.” – Olivia Hancock, beauty editor
The Makeup Artist: Nina Park
“You’ve probably already heard of Nina Park. She’s a highly sought-after celebrity makeup artist with clients like Hailey Bieber, Zoë Kravitz, Tessa Thompson, and HoYeon Jung—to name a few. Yet, truth be told, the reason I’m consistently awestruck by her work is her restraint. She champions skin, keeping it glossy, natural-looking, and, for lack of a better word, skin-like. She draws razor-sharp yet shockingly subtle cat eyes. She’ll sculpt and lift the look of your face without a trace. Everything is blended. Everything looks real. Her makeup style is to find all the special, beautiful things about a person and put them on full display, with brushes, sponges, and palettes as her tools. She’s an artist and, in my humble opinion, one of the most important in the industry right now.” – Hallie Gould, senior editorial director
The Nail Artist: Zola Ganzorigt
“At Byrdie, manicures are a big deal. We love to follow all nail trends and pride ourselves on posting consistent nail inspo via Instagram every #ManiMonday. It’s no secret that glazed doughnut nails were this year’s most popular nail trend, but what people may not know is the artist who created this shimmery look. Celebrity nail artist Zola Ganzorigt is the mastermind behind this viral manicure. She created this nail look for Hailey Bieber, which is where it really took off, but has been creating swoon-worthy manicures for celebrities and via her Instagram account since 2012. I’ve been following her for a while because she has so many unique takes on those negative space and minimal manicure designs we all love. She’s one to watch and worth a follow to find your next manicure and even the next big nail trend.” – Star Donaldson, senior social media editor
The Dermatologist: Michelle Henry, MD, FAAD
“At Byrdie, we take immense care and pride in delivering evidence-backed skincare advice. If you’re going to spend your hard-earned dollars on skincare or an in-office treatment, it should actually work. That’s why we are thrilled to endorse Dr. Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon based in New York City. You won’t necessarily find the latest trending TikTok treatment available at Dr. Henry’s practice, Skin & Aesthetic Surgery of Manhattan. Instead, you’ll find safe, efficacious, well-researched treatments and a holistic approach to skincare tailored to your skin type and tone.” – Holly Rhue, associate editorial director
The Esthetician: Kristyn Smith
“Meeting Kristyn Smith, you would never know that she’s kind of a big deal. She’s soft spoken and kind, and her studio, Practise, is cozy and welcoming. In addition to a roster of NYC women, Smith takes care of some of the most prominent faces in fashion, including both Hadid sisters—Bella even credited Smith for clearing up her acne. She’s been in the industry for over 15 years, including working as a makeup artist and alongside plastic surgeons as a medical esthetician, all while honing her holistic and gentle yet powerful approach that treats each client’s skin as an individual. As results-driven as she is—you’ll find her studio stocked with the latest and greatest tech and her Instagram is full of educational posts—she understands that true beauty is about how you feel, long after you’ve left her studio.” – Bella Cacciatore, news editor
The Formulator: Ron Robinson
“For over 20 years, Ron Robinson was behind the scenes working as a chemist at Clinique, Revlon, Avon, and more major brands. In 2008, he finally created his own brand, BeautyStat Cosmetics, which was, at first, just a website to connect consumers with beauty experts. The launch of his first product in 2019, the Universal C Skin Refiner, the world’s first serum containing 20% stable and pure vitamin C, really put BeautyStat Cosmetics on the map and quickly became a cult favorite. Since then, Ron has created a number of other award-winning skincare products sold at Ulta Beauty stores around the world.
And if that wasn’t enough, Ron is also the cosmetic chemist in residence of Hailey Bieber’s brand Rhode Skin. As a fellow Black New York City native who has a love for skincare, I will try anything Ron formulates.” – Jasmine Phillips, social media editor
The Educator: Ranella Hirsch MD, FAAD
“Ranella Hirsch MD, FAAD is my go to skincare myth debunker—I love the way she delivers easy-to-digest, sound skincare advice to the world via her informative Instagram page.”