Creating Makeup

Makeup & Hair: Jacklyn O.L. Hernandez
Styling: Jacklyn O.L. Hernandez, Havarti De La Soy, Jaime Hernandez, Mary Moore
Photographer: Jonathon Duarte
Creative Director:  Leíto
Models:Havarti De La Soy, Jamie Hernandez & Mary Moore

As a little boy, born in Ciudad Juarez, Leíto Villalobos Gamboa always loved playing with his mother’s makeup. It was his love of color that saw Leíto testing his mother’s cache of products, and as he grew older, learning ways he could create his own line of cosmetics. The University of Texas at El Paso student (he’s studying Organizational Communications with a minor in Anthropology) has created his own line of eco-friendly, natural cosmetics, called Leíto, with a local edge.

_DSC8893editTAA: Most boys were playing with trucks and getting dirty outside, yet you played with makeup?

LG: There is an emotional side of it. At first I would wake up and watch my mom put on makeup on everyday. There is something about the performance of her putting on her face. It wasn’t like she was painting by numbers, but she was exploring the possibilities of what she could look like that day.

TAA: Your mom knew your were interested in makeup?

LG: All the time, I would just look at her and then I would ask her to try on the blues. I wouldn’t put it on but I would ask my mom to put it on to where I could see her.

TAA: You were just experimenting with the color palettes, yet you mention you were not wearing the cosmetics?

LG: To be honest I don’t know why I didn’t wear it, but I did want to know how it was made and by 18 I was collecting makeup…a lot of it. There was always something so inherently gender about it…and makeup alone doesn’t have a gender but the people that use it do.

_DSC8826TAA: You mentioned that you are vegetarian; does that ethos spill over into the ingredients that you use?

LG: Yes it’s all from scratch. It is organic artisan makeup. It’s a play on a formula that was as natural as possible, as local as possible, sustainable as possible and required no preservatives. They are cream colors that are made and pigment is added that is FDA approved for eyes, lip and cheeks to produce various shades. So it’s an all-purpose cream. It has a glossy kind of texture. It’s so juicy on the lips and dewy on the eyes. It’s a formula that is just quick—you can grab it and go. There has been this thing about makeup that it has to make a statement. I love color and I wanted to make color.

TAA: You’ve made a consciences statement about the ingredients in your makeup.  In this latest photo shoot you are making a strong statement with your makeup by having it applied to different gender identities.

LG: This photo shoot was called About Gender and Cultural Androgyny. You can’t quite get what gender they are. It’s a mystery. It’s about making the invisible visible. They are individuals who are so comfortable with their bodies. I think what is important about makeup is that it is about fluidity and transformation. Two of our models are about gender performance and gender fluidity and I wanted to honor that in the photo shoot. People in my community—like myself and art people—they take a stance and then they define their reality and promote better ways of relating to people, and that is artistic to me.

_DSC8963editMy goal was to create a strong visual of the concepts that surround my makeup and who we are as artists. It’s not just my vision but it’s the photographer’s vision, the models’ visions as well.

TAA: You ‘ve been creating new colors and experimenting with different ingredients over the last year. Do you feel you are more invested in the production of makeup over the application process?

LG: I feel like it’s both, but I consider myself an artist or along the lines of an artisan. I work with my hands and produce this formula. I get to hand blend the colors and control every aspect of it. So I get to collaborate with other artists, it’s not so much that I am a makeup artist, but it’s that I belong to a community and I know what my role is.

TAA: What are the ingredients you use?

LG: I am very transparent about the ingredients. I like jojoba oil because it is closer related to the sebum of the skin and provides a good relationship. From then on what oils or butters resist rancidity and provide the most nutrients to the skin. Everything is measured out and there is a one-to-one formula and pigment I follow.

A great natural moisturizer is shea butter with vitamin A and E and antioxidants that fight free radicals. It’s an all-purpose moisturizer and it’s thick. Cocoa butter, it tastes and smells amazing. It’s sensual and sexy and it smells like dark chocolate. I get prickly pear seed oil—it’s from North Africa and the farmers told me the process takes tons and tons of these minute seeds to produce four ounces of prickly pear oil. (There is not an area in the states that produces this oil.) I am closer to who I am as a person when I am playing in the ingredients.

You can find Leíto’s line of artisanal makeup at:

TI:ME at the Montecillo Night Market

The Pop-Up Mercado downtown

For more information, visit his Facebook page at