I’m sitting on a leather couch in an old Masonic building-turned-recording-studio somewhere in West L.A., where Kesha (born Kesha Rose Sebert) has recorded some of her past hits. In about five minutes, the 32-year-old musician will return to tell me how her new eponymous cosmetic line, Kesha Rose, came to be.
It’s a five-piece collection. The packaging is the exact colour of a brand new penny, and just as shiny. There is a velvet-matte lipstick in a blue-red that still manages to read as brightly hot and is named for one of her most recent singles, Raising Hell. There’s an ultra-shiny gloss for lips, lids, and cheeks that goes on clear but then turns a pink hue, depending on the pH of your skin. There are two double-sided liners, one jet black and a shimmering midnight blue, the other sparkling gold and copper. They’re called Whatever, Wherever Wands because that’s exactly how Kesha intends for you to use them. Then, the crown jewel: Her FTW Eyeshadow Palette, which I incorrectly assumed means “For the Win” but actually stands for “Fuck the World.”
Kesha walks in, dressed head-to-toe in hot pink, accompanied by loads of rhinestone necklaces, earrings, and a pink-and-white striped fur that she jokingly worries looks too much like a candy cane. Her matching shadow, rosy blush, brushed-up brows (freshly done by her makeup artist, Vittorio Masecchia), and a fist-sized pair of rhinestone heart earrings complete the effect, which is decidedly more Moschino than Merry Christmas — but I digress. We are here to talk about Kesha’s makeup line. We steal away to a couch where we can talk privately. Kesha takes off her earrings and folds her legs up under herself, endearingly settling in to tell her story.
Naturally, a lot of glitter was involved: “I went through 25 to 30 different kinds of glitter because I wanted it to go on smoothly. I wanted it to really feel like silk so the shimmery eye shadows could be used as highlighter, too.”
And the colours of the shadows in her palette — a mix of matte and shimmer shades — are anything but another slate of neutrals. “I’ve been meticulous about the colours. They had to be colours that either I am obsessed with and would wear all the time or that I had a hard time finding in the past.”
Kesha says of the palette’s lilac, emerald, aubergine, orange, cerulean, fuschia, red, silver, bronze, black, and chartreuse powders. “The colour chartreuse, for example, has been my favourite colour since I was six years old. [Hipdot] has been amazing with my desire to make these strange colours in the perfect texture and with glitter that’s not so chunky that it hurts to take it off.”
But for Kesha, colour has a deeper meaning. “With my [last] album, Rainbow, the lyrics are ‘I used to live in the darkness, and I found a rainbow,'” she says. “I wanted to represent that physically with the makeup I made, too. Colour symbolises hope, living in happiness and joy and self-acceptance and all the good things. And it also happens to be a symbol for the LGBTQ community.”
At its core, her line, even the eyeliners (“That shit stays — you can sleep in it,” she laughs) is meant to be playful. “I hope that my makeup line is something people can really have fun with. I love when I see people not conforming to some ideal that society has set up.”
Fittingly, Kesha is no stranger to experimentation. “I’ve bedazzled my face, I’ve drawn rainbows on my face, I have stuck on adhesives that were meant for horror movies just so it would stay on for the whole show,” Kesha says. She recalls a time when showing up to school with purple hair landed her in the principal’s office. “Luckily, my mom was very supportive of me. I came home and she was like, ‘That’s bullshit — your hair looks great purple.'”
Interestingly, her tamest colour change to date, the deep coffee she has now, took the biggest guts, she says. “Historically, I was very attached to my blonde hair. It was a part of my identity,” she says. “So colouring it and chopping it off has helped me redefine what makes me feel beautiful and sexy and powerful and all the things that I feel, and it’s not contingent on any physical attribute.”
Our time has run out. Kesha leaves me with a cake pop and a candle (my birthday was a few days prior, and she wanted to celebrate, though we’d never met), and this thought: “I think it’s really important for people to know that you can be sexy at any size, with any colour hair, any colour skin, any sexuality, any gender preference, and I want to challenge that in myself. I want to practice what I preach.”
Kesha Rose Beauty is available today, for $26 to $36 (and $90 to $120 for collectors’ sets), at hipdot.com.