There’s a feeling of authenticity in everything Molly R. Stern touches. Not in the sense that her artistry is any realer or more original than that of her contemporaries. But in the sense that her inspiration is derived from the bold courageous women she works alongside every day.
With a career as a makeup artist spanning 30 years, you’d think that well of inspiration would occasionally drop below sea level. But in Molly’s world of positivity, inspiration can be found just about everywhere, even in the uninspired. Her secret? Thinking less in terms of redefining a particular style, and more in terms of redefining what inspires you. Ding, ding, ding! It’s these little nuggets of sage-ness that made our recent visit to Molly’s home studio all the more life affirming. There’s a sense of fearlessness in Molly’s style, from an unexpected strong lip paired with a hoodie and a loose updo on a busy workday to layering treasured vintage jewelry pieces that set a decidedly mid century vibe. Though refreshed almost daily, her personal style tends to mirror her trademark begin-from-within makeup approach.
I encourage my clients to enhance what they like about themselves as opposed to trying to change or cover up what they don’t like.
As Molly explains, she fell in love with painting women at a very young age. Walking by the now-closed Shu Uemura boutique in the Century City Shopping Mall as an impressionable 16-year old, she was instantly awestruck. “It was there that I fell in love with the intoxicating feeling that comes with knowing you’ve made someone feel good about herself.” Through years of literally showing up, assisting in every capacity and learning from everyone around her, Molly’s acquired a work ethic that’s unmistakable. Represented by Starworks Artists in LA, she’s truly in the best company. To the industry, she is a loyal and respected influencer and collaborator. In her inner sanctum, there’s something more magical going on. “I encourage my clients to enhance what they like about themselves as opposed to trying to change or cover up what they don’t like.”
These healthy ideals are still very much part of her protocol. It’s evident in her impressive body of work—on the red carpet and off in the pages of Elle, W Magazine, Bazaar and Marie Claire. As one of the foremost voices in the beauty industry, Molly is in constant demand. Procter & Gamble selected her to represent CoverGirl Cosmetics as the brand’s Celebrity Makeup Artist from 2006 to 2010, and she was recently nominated by the Television Academy for an Emmy recognizing her outstanding work in makeup on a limited series for HBO’s Big Little Lies. She continues to work as an ambassador on selective projects for Laura Mercier, Chanel, Glossier, Elizabeth Arden and L’Oréal. We can hardly keep up. Indisputably, she works with some of the most captivating women in film and fashion—Lily Collins, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Cara Delevingne—but it’s what she does before and after the cameras are flashing that leaves an even more indelible impression.
As an outspoken ambassador of self-love, Molly’s all too aware of the damaging inner dialog women can keep alive within themselves. Through her engaged social media presence, she inspires over 30K followers with positive messaging and her signature hashtag #LOVEyourself. “How we treat ourselves dictates how we allow the outside world to treat us. Our own Inner Criticism is the biggest threat to our daily progress of self-love.”
She goes on to explain “When we speak to ourselves with kindness and support we grow the seed of a positive self-image that leads to a more successful mindset throughout the day. When we feel good about ourselves we are kinder overall and to anyone whose path we cross.” So…by loving ourselves we can make the world a better place to exist in? Ding, ding, ding. Yet another revelatory nugget we are gifted with. “There is nothing like being around and watching a woman who is feeling herself. And we can apply this to our own lives. We feel the most sexy and free when we are tapped into what makes us uniquely ourselves. On that note, speaking about taking beauty risks, Molly goes onto say, "There are many ways to push beauty boundaries without wearing glittery blue eyeshadow (although I am definitely a fan of that choice too). Just trying a new lip color or a stroke of colored mascara can really mix things up in a subtle way. You can always go back to your sheer berry toned lip, but why not try a red for your next casual Friday at the office. You might be shocked at what kind of electric energy you get back just by massaging the comfort zone a little.”
Molly considers meeting women of all walks of life and seeing how they relate on such a primal level a highlight of her 30-year career. “As a mother, mentor and collaborator, I see what being on someone’s team looks like, and the importance of being a positive force.” Good Golly Miss Molly, our cup is full.
Molly R. Stern was shot in her Los Angeles home by Amber Chavez and article was written by Libby Ferguson.