Born and raised in New Zealand and of Chinese heritage, Tania Kwok (@tk.eyes) juggles her enthusiasm for makeup with working towards her degree in biological sciences and physiology. Tania breaks down why the word “diversity” needs to be further unpacked in the beauty industry and why Pat McGrath is “the mother of makeup”.

SHEER: Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you're from.

TANIA KWOK: My name is Tania, I’m 19 and I’m Chinese but I was born and raised in New Zealand. I’m in the process of studying for a Bachelors of Science, double majoring in biological sciences and physiology. I’m fascinated by most things biology and makeup has been a hobby of mine since I was 14.

SHEER: How do you navigate the beauty world as a woman of color? 

TK: As a light woman of colour I definitely think I have not faced difficulty navigating the world of beauty, light skin East Asian women are often featured in campaigns and I fit in the majority of shade ranges. The only mild trouble I have – which is a common issue – is that foundation undertones are almost always off, mostly too pink and there is a lack of olive undertones in lighter complexion products.


SHEER: What are your top 3 favorite makeup products right now?

TK: I have been on a blush kick recently, I have been loving the Canmake Lip & Cheek Gel #6. I’ve also been enjoying The Face Shop’s Concealer Liquid Veil and Pat Mcgrath’s Mothership V: Bronze Seduction palette.

SHEER: Are there any makeup artists or beauty bloggers who inspire your work?

TK: I love, geminiblush, haodoyoungo, raincornelius and brittnymakeup! All their work inspires me to be more creative and to break conventional makeup habits.

SHEER: What is one makeup product you cannot live without?  

TK: Cream blush!!

SHEER: Do you feel pressure to keep up with the latest beauty trends? Why/ why not? 

TK: Conventional/mainstream beauty trends? Not at all, I have been drifting off from ‘instagram makeup’ for years although there are still some makeup ‘rules’ I catch myself following. In the editorial/avant garde makeup community there are also trends but I don’t feel pressure to follow those either, I think because they’re mostly about creative expression and originality, if a particular trend inspires me then I might try it.

SHEER: Are there any beauty trends you regret ever following?

TK: Bold brows! I look back to a few years ago where I heavily filled in the half end of my brows with pomade and I always cringe, it just looked so jarring on me!

SHEER: In what ways do you believe the beauty industry can work effectively towards being more diverse and inclusive?  

TK: Just to understand that diversity isn’t just skin tone, it’s not just darker skinned people with Eurocentric features. It’s facial structure, nose shape/size, eye shape/size, undertones, everything telling of a person of colour beyond just their foundation shade. 

Diversity is not just European, African American and Chinese, it’s also Middle Eastern, it’s South East Asian, it’s Indian, it’s Islander. I would love to see more dark skin Chinese/Indian/Thai/Vietnamese representation as I personally understand the society within our cultures that idolises pale skin. I want to see more people of colour matching their foundation to their skintone than matching their foundation to what their culture deems more ‘beautiful’.

Seeing more types of skin texture would also be amazing. Most people (especially youth) deal with skin issues and it’s completely normal so why is it not normalised in media and marketing? Plus, anything looks good on smooth, poreless, even toned skin – but how good does a product look on texture? Fine lines? Dry skin? Oily skin? Hyperpigmentation? Blemishes?

Diversity and inclusivity largely involves identity; shape, weight, sexuality, gender, style etc. Sure makeup is largely aesthetic but inclusivity is about people and people are so much more than their outward appearance. 

Makeup is not exclusive to a certain set of people, people of all genders, races, sexualities wear makeup so let’s represent all people who wear it.

SHEER: If you could collaborate with one beauty brand, what would it be and why? 

TK: Pat McGrath Labs absolutely, I love editorial makeup and I love how innovative the formulas are from lipsticks to eyeshadows. Whenever I think high fashion - I think Pat Mcgrath, her work is iconic and recognised by a plethora of people around the world, her work is universal. She is an inspiration to most of us makeup lovers, her instagram is full of concepts and ideas taken from past and present eras of beauty. The inspiration she shows us never fails to leave me star struck, it’s incomprehensible how creative she is. I think it’s a huge privilege she has given us to be able to get a peek at what inspires her, she is captivating not only as a makeup artist but a creator.

Pat McGrath is the mother of makeup, her products are diverse and special. My friends chipped in to buy me the Bronze Seduction Palette and a Mattetrance lipstick and I have been a diehard fan since. I recently visited Melbourne and most of my money spent on makeup was spent on Pat Mcgrath glosses! I am absolutely in love with everything I own from her line. Her formulations are so unique that I find myself comparing every other product to them!