For many, a beauty routine serves as a form of self-care, but for 19-year-old musician Grace Gaustad, it’s much more than that. Expressing herself through makeup has become a form of therapy — so much so that she frequently works with celebrity makeup artist Jo Baker (who has worked with stars such as Kathryn Hahn, Joey King, and Karen Gillan) to create expressive, artistic looks based on her emotions. Take a scroll through her Instagram and you’ll see colorful creations representing the sadness, confusion, and myriad other emotions that come along with mental illness. However, Gaustad also realizes that traditional therapy is an important and often necessary part of one’s mental health journey.

That’s why the singer has partnered with her therapist, Jaz Robbins, and various nonprofit organizations to create the BLKBX Project, which is a platform that offers educational and therapeutic resources for those facing difficult issues like anxiety and depression. Her debut album, BLKBX: what r u hiding?, was released on September 10th and was inspired by the mental health issues she has struggled with, including anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, and a learning disability. She also was bullied while in school, which exacerbated her mental health struggles. Through all of that, Gaustad has embarked on a journey with her sexuality, in which she discovered that she is sexually fluid.

Here, we chatted with Grace Gaustad all about her experiences with mental health, how and why she created the BLKBX project, and using makeup as therapy with makeup artist Jo Baker.

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Q&A with Grace Gaustad

How did you and celebrity makeup artist Jo Baker come up with your makeup looks?
I knew I wanted makeup that helped tell my story. So Jo and I went over the emotions I was expressing in every song and really collaborated together on the looks to ensure it was representative of those feelings.

How does your mood influence your makeup/style on a regular basis?
I love being able to use colors and shapes with makeup to express my emotions. Makeup hasn’t traditionally been something I wear on a daily basis, but working with the talented Jo Baker has allowed me to utilize makeup in an unconventional way that works for me through my music. For example, in my videos, if I’m feeling a little depressed, we won’t just apply a dark shadow but will include shapes and designs that really bring the emotions I’m feeling to life.

What inspired you to create the BLKBX Project and what does the organization do?
Therapy has helped me in ways I can’t even describe. My therapist has been crucial in my healing, and too many teens that are struggling with depression and mental health issues don’t have the resources they need to heal. I know that everyone doesn’t have the access to therapy so the BLKBX project is aimed to help those who need it get access to it. 

You’ve said that you often turn to both makeup and music as a form of therapy. Can you expand upon that? What is it about these mediums that helps you connect with your emotions/heal?
Music and songwriting have been instrumental in my healing. Putting the words to paper and creating melodies and songs in my room was my own form of therapy. Prior to working with Jo, I never really felt attracted to conventional makeup looks, but now I love makeup and expressing myself through this medium. 

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