Machine Gun Kelly’s makeup artist walks us through how to get his MTV VMA’s pearl look

If you’ve scrolled your way into the social media abyss recently, there’s a good chance the unforgettable image of Machine Gun Kelly last night wearing pearls on his face is burned into your brain (in the best way possible).

Very Good Light spoke with his makeup artist Kirin Bhatty to get the 411 on his famed 2021 MTV VMA’s red carpet look.

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Celebrity makeup artist Kirin Bhatty thought she was going to have a chill, relaxing weekend off. And then she got a call from Machine Gun Kelly’s team.

Machine Gun Kelly’s 2021 MTV VMA’s inspo


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A post shared by Kirin Bhatty (@kirinstagram)

Machine Gun Kelly wanted ethereal glam, and his team had seen the previous gem and pearl work Kirin had done with Tessa Thompson and Awkwafina at the Met Gala.

Kirin says, “I love pearls, not just aesthetically but I love what they represent and how they come from a sense of struggle. They’re born in an oyster in kind of this crazy condition and they come and are a beautiful thing that immerses from nothing, really. Just a tiny grain of sand that emerges into this beautiful lustrous gem.”

“And what I love about them so much is pearls are very sensitive; they can lose their luster from perfume and they are one of the most sensitive gems to wear, so that dichotomy between this beautiful, sensitives, delicate medium with someone who is maybe perhaps the opposite of those things is such a wonderful thing, because it shows us that human beings have both sides.”

The making of the look

Before the show, Kirin sat down with Machine Gun Kelly in New York to connect and ideate with each other.

“I studied his face, but also kind of studied our connection together. Because when you do work like this, it’s like painting, and almost like sculpting also. And so he did it with me. In a way, he would guide me as we were constructing pearl tears through one of his eyes. We really wanted to make it feel real, like how a tear would take a real journey. And so there was a lot of thought put into the placement of all these pearls.”

Because glue can be irritating to the skin, and because MGK as Kirin calls him would have an outfit change and the aforementioned “sweating, dancing, walking, or performing,” the look had to be thoroughly tested out first before the big day. In preparation for the look, Kirin wore pearls on her face for a day and put them on her boyfriend as well (Thanks, Kirin’s boyfriend). “I screamed and jumped around to make sure that nothing moves.”

Noticed how his beau Megan Fox wore diamonds and jewels by his side? “Everything is taken into consideration when doing things like that.”


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A post shared by the Blonde Don (@machinegunkelly)

How to get the look from home

If you don’t have experience using professional prosthetic glue and the proper remover, don’t fret. According to Kirin, you can get the look at home with “a really strong heavy-duty lash glue.”

“You might lose a couple, but I think that adds to the organic shape of it all these things when it comes to using things like this to create art. You have to also allow for the organic moment of maybe one or two going and creating even a new shape.”

Photo: Kyle Houck