Widely considered the first reigning queen of beauty YouTube and one of the original makeup influencers, Michelle Phan has inspired countless` tutorials in her wake, eventually expanding her empire to include her own brand, Em Cosmetics. After relaunching her line in 2017, Phan built the catalog—which features wearable hues and dynamic finishes that complement every skin tone—using both her own approach to beauty and feedback from the Em Cosmetics community.
“Em Cosmetics is the representation of my approach to beauty, because I like to be comfortable with my makeup and skincare I wear day in and day out—like sweatpants for your face,” Phan says. “We’re creating comfortable makeup that has purpose, and our products are designed to simplify your routine while nourishing your skin.” The latter point is far from an afterthought for Em Cosmetics, with certain formulas infused with serums and skincare-adjacent ingredients. Case in point: The now-infamous Color Drops Serum Blush, which was born after Phan started gravitating towards more hydrating, dewy products in her 30s.
FOUNDED: In 2015 by Michelle Phan, who then relaunched her brand in 2017.
BASED IN: Los Angeles, California
PRICING: $12 to $48
BEST KNOWN FOR: Comfortable, user-friendly formulas in inclusive shades that align with founder Michelle Phan’s own approach to beauty.
MOST POPULAR PRODUCT: It’s a toss-up between the Pick Me Up Volume + Length Mascara and the Heaven’s Glow Radiant Veil Blush.
FUN FACT: While Phan originally launched the brand in 2015 with L’Oreal, she bought back the rights to Em Cosmetics so she could relaunch on her own terms.
OTHER BRANDS YOU’LL LOVE: Tower 28, Merit Beauty, Live Tinted, Glossier
A far cry from full-coverage products that act as an IRL filter on skin, Em Cosmetics’s formulas play up what you’ve already got going on, rather than attempting to change it entirely. “Skin texture is natural and it’s okay to embrace it, rather than cover it up,” Phan says. Within the expansive product catalog, you’ll find sheer finishes that blend easily and enhance your complexion, and at least a handful of shades that complement your specific skin tone. Even products with a more dynamic payoff—like the recently Cosmic Pearl Eyeshadow launch—put comfort and ease at the top of mind, pairing scintillating metallic hues with a jelly texture that you can apply with your fingers.
With so much emphasis on enhancing the complexion and formulas using skin-loving ingredients, one would think an Em Cosmetics skincare line would be the next obvious move, but Phan wants to be thoughtful before she makes any decisions either way. The founder role is not one she takes lightly, with her love, expertise, and passion showing through in every product she creates. As a beauty industry vet who has seen dramatic change since her beginnings, Phan hopes that other founders will find support in creating brands with a positive impact—particularly in terms of inclusivity and more BIPOC-led brands. The mission of Em Cosmetics empowering all of us to feel more comfortable in our own skin seems like a great starting point.
Want to know more about the best products from the Em Cosmetics lineup? Keep reading for more info on a few of our favorites.
So Soft Blush
Whoever said love at first swipe wasn’t real clearly isn’t acquainted with this ultra-blendable blush stick, which is a go-to product for Phan herself. “The blush is beyond soft, hence the name, so it blends effortlessly,” she says. The satiny formula practically melts into your skin with a few quick circular motions, imparting a flush so seamless, you won’t be able to tell where the product ends and your natural complexion begins
So Soft Multi Faceplay
Found: A creme bronzer/contour stick that delivers the most stunning, sun-kissed finish—yes, really. Each of the four shades are created with your skin’s undertones in mind, and hold a lightweight, mousse-like texture that glides over your skin. Use it to create a vacation-worthy faux glow, or to impart a subtle cream contour.
Cosmic Pearl Eyeshadow
The latest drop from Em Cosmetics just might be its greatest—so far, anyway. This innovative eyeshadow fuses molten metallic hues with a runway-ready glossy finish, minus the sticky texture. “It has this ASMR effect when you’re touching it, and there is nothing like the payoff,” Phan says. “It has the strongest payoff I’ve seen in any topper on the market without feeling heavy.”
Moonbeam Cushion Highlighter
Thanks to its range of rich, warm metallic tones, this Em Cosmetics cushion highlighter makes every hour golden hour. As a bonus, it’s packed with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and squalane to keep your complexion hydrated.
Color Drops Serum Blush
Consider it a nourishing serum with a day job. This glow-boosting liquid blush is packed with sacha inchi oil, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid to give your skin serious hydration with a side of sheer, believable color. The nourishing ingredients ensure your skin stays plump, dewy, and nourished, without any settling or creasing. Simply apply two to three drops, and you’re good to glow.
Lip Cushion Tinted Lip Luminizer
One swipe of this lipstick-balm hybrid dresses your pout in a sheer, luminous hue that you can layer to deliver extra drama. The glossy finish gets a boost from undercover agents like hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, which condition and nourish lips.
Heaven’s Glow Radiant Veil Blush
This baked powder blush uses a mixture of pearlized powders and pigmented creams to impart a soft, radiant finish that doesn’t veer too far into the heavy, sparkly category. The pearlized pigments create a natural-looking finish that easily blends over skin, and can double as an eyeshadow when you’re feeling especially creative.
Pick Me Up Volume + Length Mascara
Come humidity or high water, this Em Cosmetics inky noir mascara won’t run. The tubing formula completely encapsulates each lash for maximum definition, locking in ultra-fine fibers that stretch even the shortest lashes to skyscraper lengths. When you’re ready to take off the day, warm water gently lifts the mascara from each lash—no scrubbing or tugging required.