Indya Moore has a way with words. Even over zoom, she’s positively captivating while waxing poetic about her relationship with beauty, giving it some deep thought far beyond their favorite makeup and hair products. Moore has been thinking about beauty a lot lately, as she joins the ranks of Zoë Kravitz and BLACKPINK’s Rose as YSL Beauty’s newest muse. She looks every bit the part, but admits to a fraught relationship with makeup when she was growing up. “When I was younger, I did try it, but I always felt makeup masculinized to me,” they say. “I think that for a lot of trans people, that is the case.” Now, with the benefit of time and through her role as YSL Beauty’s U.S. ambassador, Moore feels a change in that relationship. They explain, “this opportunity brought me into a space where I am now seeing makeup less a job — ironically — and more like a tool, or a toy, or an art. It’s something to have fun with.”
Overall, Moore appears to be at peace. Through the powers of somatic therapy, they have spent a lot of time reflecting on the person they want to be — and it’s working. “I have more clarity and a sense of balance in my body and in myself than I ever had in my entire life,” she says. “Recently, I have realized I need to surround myself with those who align with me, and lift me up. This isn’t just with friends and relationships, but also brand partnerships,” she refers to their ongoing collaboration with YSL Beauty. “The way that people are treating each other and are treated, it’s really beautiful and it’s really inspiring.”
Below, Moore talks to NYLON about her growing relationship to makeup, the importance of breath work, and enjoying their new role as YSL Beauty’s muse.
Congratulations on your new role with YSL Beauty! How does it feel?
It’s really a dream. Not only because of the legendary status of Saint Laurent and how they’ve contributed to fashion in such iconic ways, but also because of the way that they’ve treated me. The culture on every production has always been one that is harmonious, and one that is collaborative, and one that is caring. The way that people are treating each other and are treated, it’s really beautiful and it’s really inspiring.
They make great clothes; Anthony [Vaccarello] is an incredible designer in how he continues to innovate. I was a guest of theirs to the Met Gala. YSL has made so much space for me to be myself, so I’m very, very happy to be collaborating with them. Honestly, I’m excited to see where it goes in the future, now that I’m working particularly with the beauty aspect of YSL.
Did you use a lot of their makeup before?
I’ve never actually been a makeup enthusiast. When I was younger, I did try it, but I always felt makeup masculinized to me. I think that for a lot of trans people it is the case, particularly in their younger lives. When I was younger, makeup had always been something that made me feel insecure about myself. As I grew up, I started to wear makeup more and just figure out what feels good for me, but I never really had a foundational experience with it. I didn’t really, up until I signed with Saint Laurent.
This opportunity brought me into a space where I am now seeing makeup less as — ironically — a job, and more like a tool, or a toy, or an art. It’s something to have fun with, not something to change myself with or hide myself with. I can use it to accentuate who I already am. And this was something that I had just learned while working with YSL Beauty and I appreciate it.
Do you think you’ll be more interested in playing with makeup and using it as form of self-expression?
One-hundred percent. That being said, I think it’s important to feel comfortable in your own skin. But to me, makeup now is a tool for creativity rather than a hiding mechanism. I love any look that leans more avant-garde — I really like to stimulate my creative side. Now, working with the brand, I’m excited to try out every product! But of course, their iconic red lipstick was first on my list to give off powerful energy. Sometimes a swipe of bright red Slim Velvet Radical lipstick helps me feel ready to tackle my day, even if I’m just on a Zoom from my living room.
Being an actress, I’ve always worn make up for work, and I’ve picked up some skills along the way. Mascara was always one of the least intimidating beauty products to me, but I never found myself feeling transformed from it, until YSL Beauty’s Lash Clash. The volume it creates makes my eyes pop, without the clumping or smudging — it’s my new go-to.
What does the rest of your beauty routine look like?
I never really valued or cared about how people felt about how I look. But I realized that beauty isn’t necessarily about caring about what people think about you, it’s really about how you feel about yourself. I think from that angle, what makes me feel good about myself and what makes me feel beautiful is when I’m actually taking care of my body. I know what healthy looks like for me and I know what not healthy looks like for me. I drink a lot of water. I stay away from coffee; I drink tea and juices. I have mostly home-cooked foods and I don’t eat processed foods. I think that’s what my beauty routine actually is, it’s just really the observation of my own health. It’s also my intention and my commitment to it, because that’s what it takes. For me, beauty is the commitments that I have to myself and with myself. My mom taught me a lot about taking care of myself first throughout my childhood, and self-care is, honestly, a never ending journey.
How do you take care of your mental health?
I have grown out of a lot of circumstantially volatile, environmentally chaotic circumstances that were beyond my control. Then, coming out of those spaces and looking for safety often was met with more strife. I made mistakes as a youth with my own health, with decisions I made, and people that I spent time with. I had never actually had time to navigate any of those things before I entered the world of fame. I’ve finally have had time to really sit down and ask myself those questions. Not a lot of people have the privilege to sit down and really think about how they want to grow as a human being. Most people are just working, right? That’s what my life was. It was violence to work, work, work, work, work to I have rest now.
I’ve been very intentional about creating space for myself, outside of who I need to be for other people and the world. I have been doing somatic therapy and it’s been extremely helpful to me. I’m so grateful for my therapist. I’ve learned breath work techniques. When people first talked about breath work, I was like, “You mean to tell me that breathing is going to help me out of a situation I can’t think myself out of?” But it worked, and it’s been revolutionary for me. I have more clarity and a sense of balance in my body and in myself than I ever had in my entire life. I observed the directions I needed to heal with time. It’s shadow work. It’s like you see, “What is that? Oh, shit. That’s something I still need to do there.”
What’s shadow work?
Shadow work describes a process that you enter with yourself to peer into your own subconscious. You peer into how you think about other people, the things that you think but you don’t say it, holistic honesty with self and other, and the things that block that from happening—like jealousy. All those shadow behaviors. I feel that it’s a very deeply spiritual process that has helped me to stay humble and to also reflect on my impact on other people in an honest way when it’s not always positive. We all have shadows, and we’re fully responsible for reflecting on them and healing. That’s what I’ve been doing and honestly, it’s been so freeing.