This month, celebrity makeup artist Joey Maalouf (a name you may recognize from The Rachel Zoe Project) debuted his makeup project, ISH (#IMSMOKINGHOT). The first product to hit the market? A contouring kit, available in two shade families. This is surely just a taste of what we’ll see from Maalouf, who collaborated with FabFitFun for the premiere product. We joined the beauty expert, who counts big names in Hollywood and L.A. as clients, for coffee at The Pierre in NYC for a contouring crash course and to get the dish on ISH.
What inspired you to launch your own beauty line?
I wanted to create a product that makes women feel more confident. This kit is about hitting the key points without having to over-apply. I felt, why not put it all on one palette? And it’s easy to apply—it has brushes that are labeled so you know what you’re doing.
Why did you choose contouring for your first product collection?
I felt like contouring is having a big moment, but the everyday girl who’s rushing to her job or wants to look cute for her date didn’t really know how to apply it. If you look up “contour” on YouTube, you’ll find all these girls are erasing their faces and putting this mask on—which is great and can be fun, but it’s not practical for every day. They use too many different products, creams, and powders. When I think of contouring like that, I think of drag queens. They do that because they need to cover their facial hair and eyebrows. But women can still look like themselves and have a fresh, contoured look. I wanted to re-teach it in my way because I didn’t feel like you needed to erase your face—you can still be gorgeous and contoured and do it in five minutes on your way to work.
How did you come up with the name?
I went into a meeting to name the product, and I had all my ideas ready. I walk in and everybody started throwing out these names. Like Beachwood Canyon. Beachwood Canyon is so not who I am—I don’t even know if I ever went to Beachwood Canyon. I think they were going for a California vibe. So afterward, I did a little research and looked up “drag queen slang.” Drag queens, when they are really feminine looking, when they put their hair and makeup on, are called “fishy.” So I threw out the word “fish.” I wanted something that stands out and that people would remember. I know it caught everybody off guard. But no one hated it. Then in that same breath, I said, let’s take off the “F” and call it “Ish” and it can stand for “I’m Smoking Hot.” And the hashtag can be this girl power campaign on Instagram. I went through this love-hate thing but woke up the next day and really loved it.
How did FabFitFun come on board?
I’ve been friends with everybody at FabFitFun for about eight years. I came on as their winter beauty advisor last year and they were interested in creating a product. It was a natural progression—we were all on the same page.
Who is someone who is doing their makeup really well these days?
I am always such a fan of Kate Bosworth’s makeup. I think her lip color is always beautiful and she always gets the skin right. You don’t notice the makeup, you notice her. And I love JLo. I’m always going to be excited about what she’s wearing and what she looks like. She gives so much hair and makeup inspiration. Sometimes it’s natural, sometimes it’s contoured to death, sometimes it’s too glowy, and sometimes it’s so lashy. But she takes chances, and is definitely somebody who inspires the beauty industry and has inspired people to become makeup artists. She was a trendsetter when I was growing up and she still is.
And someone who needs to call you for tips?
There are a lot of them…I think when you play with your natural beauty you stand out more; people can identify with who they are because you’re identifying with who you are.