Rihanna’s make-up line, Fenty Beauty, has garnered rave reviews since its launch in September, both for its quality-to-affordability ratio and its emphasis on inclusivity. (It launched with 40 shades of foundation and an ad campaign featuring a diverse array of models.) Now that Fenty Beauty has been named one of TIME‘s 25 Best Inventions of 2017, we caught up with its superstar creator to talk about how and why she’s building a beauty empire, and what’s in store for the future.
TIME: What’s your earliest memory of beauty?
Rihanna: My lifelong obsession with makeup started with watching my mom put her makeup on. I always loved to watch her, and all the funny faces she was making in the mirror. I never understood it until I got older and fell in love with makeup myself and really started becoming obsessed. The first time I remember having my makeup done was for this beauty pageant that I did in school. I was 15, about to be 16, just before I got signed. I had my full face done for this pageant — my mom actually did my makeup. And ever since then, ever since I saw foundation on my skin, I could never look at my skin without foundation again. Makeup, it spoiled me.
Why do you wear makeup now? What role does it play in your daily routine?
Makeup is like a secret weapon. Depending on my mood, my look, or the occasion, makeup can go from very subtle to a complete transformation, and that’s the fun in makeup: being able to play and create in endless ways.
You’ve said that you created this line so that all users could have a product that looked good on them, no matter the shade. Did you have difficulty in the past finding products that worked for you? And if so, how did you use that experience while creating your own line?
I’ve had my makeup done thousands of time, and when it comes to foundation, you just never know how it’s going to turn out. I think foundation should look like great skin, so it was important to me that the Pro Filt’r foundation had a soft matte finish because you want a dewy look, but never shiny! It was also important that every woman felt included in this brand. We are all so different, with our own unique skin tones, so we started with the 40 foundation shades out the gate.
What were the most important factors that you considered while creating Fenty Beauty?
Texture is the most important part of the Fenty Beauty brand. The highest priority is in the texture, from the foundation to Match Stix, to Killawatt, to Invisimatte Blotting Powder – it’s all about texture. It was really important to me that each product is made to easily build and layer with lightweight textures that are flexible even when you want to re-apply.
How involved were you in the process of creating the products?
I have 100 percent involvement in this process, which is what makes this so special and very fun. I have so much creative freedom from products to packaging, and that’s really the only way this brand will stay true to my vision for it.
What has surprised you the most about the response to Fenty Beauty?
I never could have anticipated the emotional connection that women are having with the products and the brand as a whole. Some are finding their shade of foundation for the first time, getting emotional at the counter. That’s something I will never get over.
Do you have a favorite product from Fenty Beauty?
I’m obsessed with Gloss Bomb. It never gets old. Everything about it from the XXL wand, the texture, scent and feel. But funny enough, some of my favorite products aren’t even out yet.
What’s next for you and the world of beauty?
The options are pretty much unlimited in the world of beauty, and I love challenges, so I’m going to continue to have fun and push the boundaries in this industry.
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Write to Cady Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org