The Beauty Brief: Content Creator Ani James Dissects Tonal Glam

The celebrity makeup artist dives into the importance of natural beauty

Throughout the years, beauty standards have changed from techniques to trends that can alter the Afrocentric features from nose contour to bright under eyes. When diving into the social construct of beauty that society started, the focus is on Eurocentric standards such as fair skin, light eyes and smaller facial features.

With tutorial styles and content evolving to incorporate fresh trends, the latest course to look into is Tonal Glam. This new technique challenges older methods we’ve studied and shows the conformity many of us have practiced in order to achieve a certain makeup aesthetic. You can look into what you like about your natural features and enhance them rather than overshadowing them. In the beauty space and pop culture we’re seeing many of our favorite artists and influencers tone down their previous over-the-top and gaudy looks with a more natural and supple finish.

Makeup artist Ani James experienced the changing landscape of beauty through her seven years of artistry on stars like Ari Lennox, Kari Faux, Kehlani, and Baby Tate. She’s taken her talents to social media by creating beauty content and educating thousands worldwide over the years through tips and skills. “My relationship with beauty has shifted into more of an authentic space of personal expression,” James tells GU. “For so long, I and many other people I’m sure can relate fall into the trap of emulating others’ beauty or pieces of their beauty that we can find flattering or appealing to ourselves, and trying to emulate that in ourselves.”


UH-OH!! As predicted, blush has taken a backseat in glam! If the attendees were *even* wearing blush, this is the approach that the Pro Makeup Artists working with them would have used! Products Mentioned: Bare Minerals “Blurred Buff” (disc.) Juvias Place Saharan Vol. II “Yara” Morphe “Tantabulous” (disc?) Beauty Bakerie “Deja Brew” ABH “Terra” and “Chocolate” (disc.) As promised, here is Part 2 of the Tonal Blush Theory, more for pros— featuring “nude blush”! Now you REALLY have to have an eye for color theory and if you do, you will completely understand the approach of “something but nothing”. Do yall want to know how to find out your tones or tonal glam appropriate picks? Comment below and I’ll make a video! #tonalglam #tonalblush #lowcontrastmakeup #nudeblush #blushfordarkskin

♬ original sound – Ani ❀

When diving into the trend of tonal glam the ultimate focus is not the products behind the look, but the amount of product you use. Technique should be the priority for a seamless and effortless look rather than a specific brand. “After my second growth spurt in adulthood, I realized that many of the makeup techniques I even crafted no longer suited my face,” James says. “A part of that realization came with age itself, but not my reflection, but rather state of identity.”

With so many different trends happening online from latte makeup to soft glam, these techniques are still completely different. Soft glam and latte makeup are the looks that you use for weddings and a quick beat but are still product-heavy. Extremely bright under eyes and harsh nose contour your natural features are transformed and ultimately hidden. Tonal glam grants you the opportunity to customize your makeup look for your face and your face only. “With some pretty surface-level analysis, you will notice that most trends of the modern age, as they apply to makeup, involve modifying a person’s features,” James says.


I felt after showing you all the concept of tonal blushes that i should show you how to actually achieve tonal glam for an everday approach! The key to this is strategic placement and taking concept of color theory to high degrees, as i literally use my *one* foundation shade to both “highlight” and “bronze” my face! This does utilize underpainting to a degree, which I have loved for years for achieving a uniform tone on the complexion. Products Used: Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear Concealer & Foundation (500C) About Face Sponge Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Loose Powder (Cashew, Honey, and Hazelnut) Traditional Powder Puff (no, you cant use triangle puff‼️) In part 2 we’ll cover the brows and eyes, two other key components for achieving clean, tonal glam! #tonalglam #tonalblush #lowcontrastmakeup #everydaymakeup #forblackgirls

♬ Jazz Bossa Nova – TOKYO Lonesome Blue

As we dig deep into what’s taking over for 2024, the state of beauty is returning to embracing the uniqueness of people’s features rather than looking like everyone else. “When utilizing your natural features, you never need to worry too much about blending away harsh stripes or constantly mirror-checking to see if the illusion is still present,” she says. “You no longer become reliant on the aforementioned shortcomings of tending looks, so you can feel comfortable in any scenario, on any occasion.”

Regarding beauty content, there’s been a shift from the average content consumption now that we have more options for reviews and tutorials. The need to convince viewers to purchase products has become outdated. The rise of conversations surrounding sustainability has become a prominent topic for many Zillennails. Through understanding the harmfulness of overspending and buying a bulk of one product now grants beauty content creators the opportunity to shift to a different angle when sharing new tips for makeup.

Though the industry could always improve on inclusion, trends like Tonal Glam point us in the right direction when focusing on your natural beauty rather than conforming to the trending beauty guru.

“If you need help finding the direction of what tones in general suit you best, start by learning color theory basics, then proceed into color analysis,” she says. “These subjects bleed into all facets of beauty, so tonal glam can really teach you about your beauty in all avenues if you dig deep enough.”

About Kenyatta: Clark Atlanta University and Medill School alumna Kenyatta Victoria is the Girls United writer covering everything from news, pop culture, lifestyle, and investigative stories. When not reporting, she’s diving deep into her curated playlists or binging her favorite comfort shows.

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