Multitalented. Inspiring. Shining star. Genuine. These are all just a few of the words used to describe the late makeup artist AJ Crimson. News of his untimely death started circulating on March 30 as friends and others went to Instagram to pour out their love for him.
In a statement his family shared with People, they praised the young artist’s impact on the beauty industry and in their own lives. “AJ Crimson was a makeup industry leader that set a standard of beauty that was elevated, beautiful, and accessible to people of all color,” they wrote. “We as a family are heartbroken and devastated by his passing, but thankful for the lessons that he laid on each of us with his truth, directness, and leadership.”
The Detroit-raised makeup artist’s career began in the early 2000s. Crimson got his start working in the costume department for the film 8 Mile, and while on set, his boss, Oscar-winning costume designer Mark Bridges, noticed his talent and opened up his guest room in Los Angeles to help him embark on his career. From there, Crimson got the chance to work with Will.I.Am and then Fergie, eventually developing a lengthy list of clients that include Christina Milan, Hilary Duff, Angela Bassett, Raven Symone, and Estelle.
Working with Estelle inspired him to launch his namesake beauty brand, he previously told Allure in a 2017 interview. At the time, it was virtually impossible to find a contour dark enough for the British singer, and he wanted to change that. The result led to the launch of the Dual Skin Creme Foundation with the darkest shade, called #8, a hickory hue. “AJ Crimson Beauty is about the end of girls having to fit themselves into other people’s boxes,” he shared. “I wanted to build a box around that girl.”
He worked hard to ensure that women of color, particularly Black women, of all shades could feel represented in a beauty industry that often didn’t cater to them. But his impact goes even further than his makeup artistry and beauty brand as many recounted in their tributes on social media. It’s hard to distill someone’s memory into a single Instagram post, but many who knew AJ Crimson have done a beautiful job at showing their love and admiration for him.