Angel Merino is a force to be reckoned with in the beauty industry.
From launching his beauty brand Artist Couture before influencers and celebrities entered the space to encouraging individuality since the very beginning, it's no wonder Angel is a social media sensation.
As for what sets the YouTuber apart even more? Angel understands and knows the importance of inclusivity.
Ahead of Hispanic Heritage Month (or Latinx Heritage Month as it has been referred to in recent years), the beauty mogul released a vibrant line of makeup products inspired by his Latinx heritage.
"For the longest time I wanted to do something where it felt super Spanish and Latinx," Angel tells E! News. "It's the first time I've done anything that highlights my heritage and my culture."
The Caliente Collection features a wildly colorful eight-shade eyeshadow palette, a fiery red lipstick and two dazzling lip glosses. "These colors represent passion, inspiration, strength and love," Angel announced while describing the new goodies.
Now that his collection has hit the shelves and launched at a time when social justice issues are at the forefront, Angel is opening up about the need for representation in the beauty industry. He also shares how his mother's influence inspired his makeup career, his honest thoughts on stars and influencers entering the market and so much more.
E! News: Why was it important for you to pay tribute to your heritage with the Caliente Collection?
Angel Merino: "We've been working on this collection for quite some time now, but I felt it was so needed during this time. We really need to amplify voices and really spotlight communities that haven't been in the past. When I had my meeting with Sephora, when we pitched them my idea of this collection, they were super, super excited because they were like, 'We have nothing in our environment that looks like this.' I felt it was such a void that needed to be filled."
E! News: Speaking of that, how does it feel to have a brand that adds representation and inclusivity to the beauty industry?
AM: "It's amazing, and honestly, the most rewarding thing for me. The thing that I love the most is getting messages from people, saying 'We're so proud to see a Latin-owned brand.' I feel it's my responsibility, as the founder of this brand, to really spotlight those voices. Even Pride is always a huge time for my brand because I'm a gay Hispanic male, so it's something that we always focus on as well. Any opportunity that we get to highlight and amplify communities, I definitely take that because I feel that social responsibility."
E! News: You were one of the first beauty influencers to come out with your own brand. How do you feel about celebrities and social media personalities entering the beauty space more than ever?
AM: "I'm super excited, especially seeing my peers and people that I've grown up with in this space. I think that for the longest time beauty has been dominated by these huge conglomerate brands that do things very generically. For me, I know that the consumer is definitely shopping brands that they identify with, that align with their moral values and their beliefs. A lot of these influencer-owned brands really make it a point to scream from the top of their lungs what they stand for, who they are and the things that they believe in. I'm excited for brands that have more of a purpose, that really stand for something, rather than brands that are just pumping out products."
E! News: You've mentioned before that you're really close to your mom. Has she influenced or inspired any of your collections?
AM: "She's really what got me into beauty and the reason I wanted to make this my career. Over 10 years ago, when I was starting my career, she had a stroke. She was in a down and depressed stage in her life, and I remember to give her a pick-me-up and confidence boost, I'd do her hair and makeup. It would just make her feel so good, and even for me, it's always helped the way that I feel about myself. So those moments with her have definitely inspired my journey, my career and my want to create products."
"I also have really vivid memories of being younger and going to department stores with my mom. She would always go to Macy's, go to the Lancôme counter and replenish all her items. I have this memory of her always wearing a red lip—it was a staple in her makeup routine. So even with the lip that I created for this collection, it was a modern red of what I feel she would gravitate towards if it was back then when she was in her prime of really wearing makeup."
E! News: What beauty tips or tricks have you learned from your family that you swear by today?
AM: "Going back to my mom's red lipstick, when she would wear it, she would take a little tissue and lightly press over it to mattify it. That's something I enjoy doing. Especially now that people are wearing masks, we don't want the lipstick to be getting all over. My mom was also all about her skincare—her serums, her moisturizers, her eye creams. So I've always had that engraved in my brain. I always say, 'In order for your makeup to look the best, you really want your skin to be the best to create the perfect canvas.'"
E! News: How has your beauty routine changed or evolved since being in quarantine?
AM: "It's a lot more skincare. With my makeup, I don't wear as much. But I still play up the eyes because even if I'm wearing a mask that's all you see. A good shadow, a good lash and a good brow is a top priority."
E! News: When it comes to self-care, are there any special rituals you do to help you unwind and unplug?
AM: "I love to sit in front of my mirror and play with different looks. Since I do tutorials, like that's part of my job, I like to sit and play and see what I want to show. I love to turn on some music, so I get a little vibe, turn on a candle, having a glass of wine and be in the moment with myself. And let my imagination run wild with creating new looks, but at the same time, having a moment with decompression. That's my new way of getting ready."
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.