WHEN REGINA MERSON—a Mexico native raised in Dallas—left her lucrative career as a lawyer to launch a makeup line with the unique needs of Latinas in mind, it was as daunting as it was life affirming. “A lot of us are first generation,” she says of American Latinas, “and the first in our families to go to college, get office jobs, and have friends outside our cultural circles. But at some point, we also come home to our families, churches, and traditions.” Each occasion dictates a totally different look, requiring a range from neutral palettes to flashy hues. “I had to cobble together a collection of makeup from so many different places in order to speak to these dualities,” she says. So in 2017, she launched Reina Rebelde, a makeup line offering a delicate rose lip gloss (Virgen, $13, reinarebelde.com) alongside a fire-red counterpart (Brava, $14)—both bestsellers—and electric blue liquid eyeliner (Bonita Bandera, $14) next to an eye color palette of rich brown, pink, gray, and purple (Azteca, $18).
The line was also a response to the way the beauty industry speaks to Latina consumers. “I personally found it very demeaning, like everybody was just trying to make a buck off of us while representing us in this cheap, cheesy way,” she says. The line’s name means “Rebel Queen” in English—“Reina draws on the beauty of being Latina and embracing vanity, and Rebelde reminds us that those things never diminish our ability to be savvy, hardworking, and fierce.” For many Latinas, makeup can be a form of empowerment, she says, and has deep roots in Mexico, from the Adelitas—ammo-draped women who fought during the Mexican revolution, their eyes framed in dark, smoky colors—to present-day revolutionaries, who inspired Reina Rebelde’s Zapatista black liquid eyeliner ($14). “They remind us that fighting for your cause doesn’t have to mean leaving beauty at the door,” Merson says.
But maybe the line’s most obvious melding of inward and outward beauty is in its spirit of sisterhood. “We want our customers to feel proud of their complicated identity,” Merson says. “To remember that other women also share those visions and values, and to know we’re all supporting each other.”
By Remy Ramirez
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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