From spritzing passersby as a perfume model to putting in long hours on the sets of successful sitcoms, Rea Ann Silva spent a solid decade paying her dues as a makeup artist before launching her mega-must-have makeup applicator sponge in 2002- the one and only Beautyblender. Yet, despite the massive global success of her game-changing product, Silva’s artistry continues to remain fiercely focused on authenticity, simplicity, and inclusivity, especially the inclusion of women of color within the beauty industry.
Rea Ann Silva believes that providing a wide range of shades and coverage options is absolutely imperative to the inclusion of women of all skin tones (like her latest labor of love, BOUNCE™ liquid foundation, which offers women 40 unique shades to choose from). Furthermore, Silva advocates that an inclusive beauty industry ideally offers women more than the quantity of products they require, but also, the quality products they undoubtedly deserve.
Where were you born and where do you reside?
I was born in LA! I now split my time between Bethlehem PA and LA!
Were you surrounded by a lot of make-up growing up?
Not in my immediate household, I had a couple of aunts that were way into makeup but my mother was a naturalist. She would wear lipstick and some eyeliner, mascara, but never wore foundation. I think that’s what piqued my curiosity in makeup since I didn’t see it at home but only occasionally.
How did you get your start in the beauty industry?
I got started in retail by working as a perfume model in department stores and then I began at the makeup counter!
Before creating a Beautyblender, how many years were you a makeup artist? You were a makeup artist working on many individuals and many of those being celebrities. When was that light bulb moment that a product like Beautyblender needed to exist?
I was a makeup artist for 10 years before creating the Beautyblender, I was working on the makeup set for the show Girlfriends and it was shot in HD, so I needed something that made the actors and actresses look flawless on camera. I needed an airbrushed look but I couldn’t use an airbrush machine, so I started to play around with some special effects tools and experimenting with wetting sponges/cutting them into different shapes. When people started stealing them on set, I knew I was on to something.
What year did you launch Beautyblender?
How did the name evolve to be Beautyblender?
I find that my most creative times are at night when I’m winding down before I go to sleep. There was one particular night I’ve done everything, I knew the shape, color, usages and how I want to position the product. I didn’t know what to call it, but I knew it was a blender because it blended the makeup and beauty because it made you look beautiful. So, I decided to keep it simple and just put the two together.
What was one mistake you made that you felt was an important mistake while getting Beautyblender off the ground?
It’s impossible to always make the right choices but after making some wrong ones, it’s made me truly vet my decisions, especially with people, even more.
Where do you think the beauty industry is going from here?
I think there is going to be a return to more natural makeup, I think that the opportunity for smaller brands to become more meaningful in the marketplace is going to have a big impact on what’s available to the consumer. I feel like with larger companies getting into the beauty game, more makeup will be bought digitally but it will be a challenge because it will lack the sensorial aspect of getting to pick up a product and try it.
How did you know where to go to get a prototype made of the Beautyblender sponge?
I didn’t! Every time I traveled to a different city with my makeup clients I always went to the drugstores and looked at beauty sponge manufacturers and I would just give them a call until I found someone who would listen to me.
What is the inspiration behind the color pink, why did you choose that as the brand’s signature?
It was not my plan to choose pink when the factory would send me foam samples they would be in different colors so it was easier to test the foam and communicate which one I liked best. The factory even told me to NOT pay attention to colors when I was looking at prototypes but when I opened the package and saw that bright pink sponge it just made me so happy and the foam was perfect, I knew that was the one.
Since your start in the beauty industry, how do you feel it has evolved?
I feel the beauty industry is evolving to focus more on health-consciousness, eco-consciousness, and inclusivity and I am so grateful that more people and brands are realizing how important these things are. What do you think the beauty industry can do to infuse more inclusion and diversity and be authentic with doing so?
Being authentic is the most important thing. It’s not just about having a ton of shades, it’s about making products that are truly beneficial to real people with all skin tones.
In your opinion, why did makeup in the past not exist for all shades of color?
It’s unfortunate but inclusivity just wasn’t always a priority for certain brands and retailers.
What would you like to see more of or less of in your industry?
Less mean-ness in our social media sphere, and for take-down culture to be gone. I would love to see more manufacturers and formulators turning to environmentally friendly processes and creations.
What is one thing people do incorrectly when using the Beautyblender?
They forget to wet it! You have to wet and squeeze your Beautyblender fully until it doubles in size and then it becomes super soft and it won’t absorb your makeup.
Do you travel often for work? What are your travel nécessités from Beauty Blender that you never leave home without?
I do, I love to visit Sephora’s across the country as well as our Beautyblender offices on the east and west coast. Love the BlenderDefender for travel – it is in the perfect carrying case that is breathable, flexible, and holds up to 3 beautyblenders. I also love our Insta clean! It’s the perfect quick change cleanser for your blender and you don’t need water to get it activated its kind of like a dry shampoo but for your blenders.
What is one nécessité every make-up artist should have in their make up kit?
What are some of your personal beauty Nécessités?
The La Prairie Lip/Eye Duo, concealer, and Fiji body butter.
For those of us that are not makeup artists, what is that one absolute must-have product from Beauty Blender to always have on hand that is a nécessité?
The Original Beautyblender of course! I love using it to re-blend and freshen up my makeup throughout the day. It truly makes my makeup blend right into my skin.
How important is it removing makeup from the face before going to bed?
It’s a must. Caring for your skin is always number 1 when it comes to beauty.
There are so many makeup tutorials nowadays, do you ever watch any? What is your one golden rule when applying makeup?
Yes! I watch a lot and am always amazed at the creativity and ingenuity that these YouTubers come up with. My golden rule that I try to teach is that you want to start out with less because it’s always easier to build than to remove. Less is more, you can always add. I see people online applying SO much skincare to prep their skin and then SO much makeup on top and I’m wondering how much they have to blend away and reapply.
What advice can you give someone looking to launch a product?
Every day, make sure you’re doing something that pushes your business forward despite all the distractions. Women especially, with families and relationships, have so many ways to be distracted and to minimize what we’re working on, but you have to work towards your goal every day whether it’s a baby step or a big step. Some days might feel like you’re moving backward but others might feel like you take a mile ahead.
What is a nécessité in self-care for you?
Sleep hands down.