Top Industry Beauty Professionals: An In-Depth Profile of the Best Beauty Architects

By Robert Harrel

Have you ever wondered how your favorite Hollywood stars always look so amazing, put together, and on point? Well, the phrase “it takes a village” definitely applies in Tinseltown. 

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In honor of our beauty issue, BELLA sat down with three of Hollywood’s top tastemakers to get the inside scoop on beauty and fashion, and how they keep the stars looking their best. 


Michael Costello, Celebrity Design Consultant to the Stars

Michael Costello’s humble roots were formed in Palm Springs, CA, working for Claire’s Collection. A self-taught prodigy, Costello has built a fashion empire around making women feel beautiful. His work caters to the personal touch of women around the world.


Costello attributes a lot of his success and fame to his parents, who invested a great deal in his career. His father began taking him to celebrity book signings at a young age, where Costello would show up not just for an autograph, but also in hopes of launching his career. His most memorable book signing was when he met Paris Hilton – he brought her a dress he had designed for her, and she loved it!

His fan base quickly grew after his TV presence on Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” and it wasn’t long after that “Michael Costello” became a household name. With mentors that include Bob Mackie, Tim Gunn, and the late Joan Rivers, Costello’s gowns and works of art have graced the red carpets of the People’s Choice Awards, Golden Globes, Oscars, Grammys, and major platform arenas for sold-out Beyoncé concerts.

In addition, Costello’s work has been seen in Women’s Wear Daily, Elle, Marie Claire, and on the cover of The New York Times. In addition to Beyoncé, his clients also include Kim Kardashian, Laverne Cox, Zendaya Coleman, Queen Latifah, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, Meghan Trainor, and Lady Gaga. His favorite look is the one he created for pop artist Kesha.

Most recently, Costello designed performance pieces for Jennifer Lopez’s residency in Las Vegas, and was reunited with Heidi Klum when he was called to work on “Germany’s Next Top Model” in Australia.

Not only that, but Costello has officially launched his collection in his first department store, Harvey Nichols, and is currently negotiating with other department stores. Costello now offers Groomsmen Specials with his new line of Michael Costello Bow Ties, most recently worn by model Tyson Beckford and actor Terrence J. He also wants fans to know that he doesn’t just dress women who are size 2 – he designs with all women in mind. 

 Success is waking up and saying I can’t wait to go to work. It’s looking in a magazine and seeing your name. –Michael Costello


Larry Jarah Sims, Celebrity Stylist

Professional dancer turned celebrity stylist Larry Jarah Sims is a native of Chicago, IL. In school he was a theater and dance major, where he became a well-respected dancer and choreographer. He got his first big break in the entertainment industry dancing for house music sensations Cajmere and Dajae. He then began dancing for major artists like Missy Elliott and Sean “Diddy” Combs. While on tour, Sims quickly befriended celebs’ glam squads, including his mentor Chris Maldonado, makeup artist to the late R&B singer Aaliyah Houghton. 

Sims’ career landed him in Los Angeles in 1999, but in 2001, he lost his mentor Maldonado in a fatal plane crash. He took his friend’s death as a sign for change in his own life. After much success as a professional dancer, Sims knew he wanted to return to his first love – hair. Beautiful hair had always caught his eye.

After returning to Chicago to attend cosmetology school, Sims tragically lost his brother in 2002. It was his perseverance despite life’s challenges that landed him work as a hair assistant shampooing clients for Johnny Wright, who later went on to become the hairdresser to First Lady Michelle Obama. Because of that, Sims often reminds fans to work with people whose careers mirror what they hope to accomplish. 

Sims’ big break in the hair industry came when he was called to style Hollywood royalty Victoria Beckham. His golden touch for hair has since landed him work styling stars such as Queen Latifah, Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross, Mary J. Blige, Lupita Nyong’o, and Zendaya Coleman.

In 2013, Sims signed a licensing deal with “Go Pro Curls,” and is currently the spokesperson for Smooth ‘N Shine and Got2b products. In addition to styling celebrities, he is developing a Simstyled line, writing a biography, and negotiating TV and film deals.

Success is waking up and passionately doing what you love for a living – pursuing what makes you feel happy, what makes you feel alive. Failure is not living your truth out loud, and not pursuing what you want out of life.

Larry Jarah Sims

Style Advice: Use Smooth ‘N Shine’s Foam Wrap to double-strand-twist wet hair. Sit under the dryer or air dry. Pull dry twists out with Smooth N’ Shine Hair Polisher, and rock your twist-out texture for days without using heat. 


Carl Ray, Makeup Artist

A self-taught makeup professional, Carl Ray lives by the motto of “creating a life you love.” He grew up as an only child of a military family stationed in Italy, Morocco, and Puerto Rico. His parents retired in Virginia Beach, and then divorced when he was 14 years old.

Ray’s love for makeup began by simply wanting to help his mother. He often watched her do her makeup and thought he could do a better job. Plus, he wanted his mother back on the dating scene!

His passion for beauty eventually landed him work with many high-profile clients, including Natalie Portman, Stella McCartney, Judith Light, Kerry Washington, Debra Messing, and Melinda Gates. Ray’s specialty for bridal makeup landed him a job as the resident makeup professional for the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC, where he remained on staff for 16 years.

Many had grown fond of his work at the Four Seasons, which landed him an audition for the White House. Ray was called back and given his first assignment as the newly appointed makeup artist to First Lady Michelle Obama.

Ray’s work has since graced the covers of Vogue, Allure, Elle, Town & Country, The Wall Street Journal, and Better Homes and Gardens. What he desires most is for his fans and clients to radiate their inner beauty and feel confident. 

Today, when Ray is not working with America’s First Lady, you can find him at the posh One80 salon in downtown Washington, DC.

Style Advice: In a pinch or for a long weekend, try applying a flesh-tone cream blush or lipstick on cheeks, lips, and lids for a soft, fresh, monochromatic look.

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