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AJ Crimson, Celebrity Makeup Artist and Brand Founder, Dies

Crimson, celebrity makeup artist and founder and chief executive officer of AJ Crimson Beauty, died on March 30, WWD has confirmed.

AJ Crimson, the celebrity makeup artist and founder of AJ Crimson Beauty, has died.

Crimson’s family confirmed his death on March 30 to WWD. A spokesperson for AJ Crimson Beauty confirmed he drowned while on vacation in Bonaire while snorkeling. He was 27.

“AJ Crimson was a makeup industry leader that set a standard of beauty that was elevated, beautiful and accessible to people of all colors. 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,” his family said in a statement.

Crimson’s makeup line, AJ Crimson Beauty, is sold in Nordstrom and Amazon. According to the brand’s website, his clients included Fergie, Hillary Duff, Missy Elliott, Angela Bassett and Raven-Symoné, among others.

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Melissa Butler, founder and chief executive officer of The Lip Bar, first met Crimson in her brand’s early days, when they met at a trade show.

“A lot of beauty brands, before social media took off and before we knew what social media could be, would do trade shows,” Butler said. “The beauty industry was largely only run by conglomerates and makeup artists. You had the AJ Crimsons and Danessa Myricks of the world. AJ and I used to do makeup shows together.”

“We found out we were both from Detroit, and the bond just started forming from there,” she said. “We became really good friends over the years.”

Butler said she was struck by Crimson’s level of support and encouragement, given they both were competing for similar customers. “A lot of people would try to pit us against each other, and we just weren’t, he absolutely didn’t take that approach,” she said. “He would always tell me when I was doing a good job.”

AJ Crimson Beauty was also among the first luxury brands with a Black founder, Butler said. “Oftentimes, when people see a founder of color, or even a male makeup artist, they’re not willing to give them that luxury credit. He brought luxury, and his entire personality was about doing things at the highest level,” she said. “When I started in the beauty industry, when people were talking about diversity, it was really just mass brands. You had Iman, for example. Meanwhile, he was always about luxury.”

Sam Fine, the celebrity makeup artist, also knew Crimson from trade shows. “The makeup artist community has truly lost one of our hardest working artists,” he added. “Our last conversation was a recent Clubhouse where he helped me learn the ropes of the app and chatted about his upcoming launch at Nordstrom. A teacher, a friend, a brand. Gone too soon.”

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