Former painter develops make-up for Texas heat


Thomas Allison

Cosmetologist Lauren Lumsden provides a customer with a makeover Tuesday afternoon at Rae Cosmetics near 38th St. and N. Lamar.

Anjli Mehta

Rochelle Rae is an artist of many mediums. With a degree in fine arts and experience as a painter and graphic designer, she ventured into a new world of art when she launched her Austin business Rae Cosmetics in August of 2006.

After meeting a friend who worked as a makeup artist, Rae’s interest in cosmetics ultimately led her to the prestigious Make-up Designory in Hollywood. There, Rae swapped her paintbrushes for makeup brushes and embraced a new canvas: a human one.

When she moved from Hollywood to Austin, Rae began thinning down the makeup she applied to her clients to deal with Austin’s hot and humid climate. Rae took heavy, full-coverage foundations and mixed in moisturizers and water to keep the makeup from melting off her clients when they stepped out under the relentless Texas sun.

“Austin is an active city but it’s also social, and I wanted makeup that could last through the day and stay on in 105 degree weather,” Rae said.

With the idea of launching a makeup line that could stand up to Austin’s heat, Rae used the Internet to research how to launch a cosmetics line by studying the histories of how other makeup lines launched.

After researching, Rae decided to create heat-resistant and mineral-based makeup to allow the skin to breathe while providing airbrushed coverage to hide skin’s imperfections.

“In lots of makeup there’s some pretty bad stuff like the oils and talc that clog pores, and when you sweat, the sweat stays trapped under the makeup,” Rae said. “But when you make the products mineral and water-based, the skin can breathe.”

The sun protection ingredients in Rae Cosmetics include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. According to, both ingredients are FDA-approved to work as sunscreen agents by reflecting and diffusing the UV rays that can cause sun damage and skin cancer.

“I have some sun damage and other stuff I’d like to cover up; that’s why I use makeup. So, I wanted to create a product that would hide all that,” Rae said.

Rae also uses antioxidants and vitamins A, C, E and D in her products. Rae wanted to put her clients and future customers in makeup that she hoped would be beneficial to skin in preventing acne, dryness and sun damage.

For Rae Cosmetics, it all started with one product — a three-in-one moisturizer, sunscreen and foundation called the Climate Control Mineral Tint. Rae wanted to cut down the time it usually takes to apply three separate products she considered essential and instead replace it with one product that takes less than a minute to apply.

Rae launched the line with the Climate Control Mineral Tint makeup because she wanted to create a go-to product for her customers that would be quick to apply. She also wanted to give her customers the quality finish of leading high-end makeup brands such as Laura Mercier and Bobbi Brown, but with ingredients that she could feel good about putting on their skin. Local fashion blogger Joanna Wilkinson of uses Rae Cosmetics. Wilkinson uses the three-in-one Climate Control Mineral Tint to protect her fair skin from sun damage.

“As a blogger, I admire Rae for making the jump from being a makeup artist to creating a makeup line. It takes guts, but more importantly, business savvy,” Wilkinson said.

On the Rae Cosmetics’ website, champion triathlete Desiree Ficker and the World Bodybuilding & Fitness Federation’s 2010 Figure Pro champion, Monica Brant, are featured under the “testimonials” section.

“We have a lot of athletes as faces of the line because the makeup was made for women who pride themselves in their active lives,” Rae said. “But here in Austin, you don’t have to live an active life to sweat and need a little extra wear out of your makeup.”

In the years since Rae launched her debut product, she’s expanded the line to over 30 products in more than 100 shades. From carefully designed eye shadow palettes to cleverly named lip glosses like the mulberry-toned gloss, “Rowdy.” Rae Cosmetics carries makeup for the eyes, lips and face inspired by colors Rae sees in nature.

Rae Cosmetics can be found at the main store on 1206 W. 38th St. and at salons and spas in Austin, including Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, PALOMA Botanical Beauty Parlor and The Piazza Center for Plastic Surgery and Advanced Skin Care. Rae’s line can also be found in other salons in Texas, California, Oregon and internationally in the United Kingdom, Canada and Spain.

The owner and master esthetician of the PALOMA Botanical Beauty Parlor, Evette Richards, carries Rae Cosmetics in her store. “I’m pleased to support a local, woman-owned business,” Richards said.

Director of marketing for Westlake Dermatology, Karen Friedman, acknowledges that while there are several options for mineral-based makeup in the industry, her company prefers to go local by supporting a line that was made with Austin’s environment in mind.

Proud to be a local businesswoman, Rae is inspired by her surroundings in Austin. She is scheduled to speak at the Texas Style Council Conference in Austin this March where fashion and beauty bloggers will come together to network and learn how to build their resumes.

Rae’s passion for makeup comes from watching her clients’ confidence boost as they get their makeup applied.

“I have a cool job. I mean, people dread going to the dentist or the doctor, but no one is ever just like, ‘Aw, bummer, I have to get my makeup done,’” Rae said. “People come in a good mood, look at themselves and then leave in an even better one.”