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Chola Makeup Is a Look That Carries Generational Weight And Exudes Insane Glamour


Often worn in conjunction with ornate acrylic nails, baby hairs slicked down and shaped baroquely along the hairline, hoop earrings, and gold nameplates, chola makeup boasts generational ties and cultural roots. More than just a fashion statement, it carries a broader significance that exudes glamour while paying homage to a unique geographic subculture. It's a feminine, yet tough aesthetic, worn proudly by every woman who swipes on a black cat eye and chocolate lip liner first thing every morning. And what's more, she'll proudly explain how she came to it through her mama's, tia's, and abuela's collective experiences.

About the Expert:

Regina Merson is a Mexican-American entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of the Latinx-centric beauty brand REINA REBELDE. She immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was 10 years old and launched her brand in 2016.

The Foundation of Chola Makeup

I know this look well. My mom grew up in East Los Angeles—an influential neighborhood with a predominantly Mexican and Mexican-American population—and relocated in the seventies when she was nine. She was still too young to wear makeup or fully embrace the chola culture, but it was a look my older cousins perfected. I watched as they groomed their baby hairs, glossed their bare (albeit lined) lips, and treasured their gold nameplates. To my pre-teen self, that was makeup; that was the only way to apply it. This is how it usually went:

1. The Wing

The cornerstone of the chola makeup look, a strong cat eye is a must. “It's the most recognizable part of the chola makeup look," says Regina Merson, founder of REINA REBELDE. Rebelde recommends using a jet-black, opaque formula, like her REINA REBELDE Rebel Eye Definer Liquid in Zapatista, to get the look for yourself.

"Start with the wing, taking the product from the outer corner of your eye and working back to the middle of the lashline,” she says. “Fill it in, and then work the line from the inner corner of the eye to meet the wing you've already created. And don't be afraid to use tape or concealer to clean up the edges of the wing."

2. The Brows

"The chola brow is critical to the look," says Merson. She explains it can be a fuller brow or a pencil-thin shape, but either way, she says, "it needs to be very dark." Merson recommends a dark brown paint and a small brush to fill in the entire brow, creating a uniform darkness throughout.

3. The Cut Crease

“‘The cut crease in a bold blue color is one of my favorite (and more involved) chola makeup looks, and it is as beautiful as it is fun to execute," says Merson. She likes to use a champagne highlighter to highlight the brow bone, then blend a blue shade in the crease between the eyelid and brow bone to create the cut-crease effect. “Take a concealer and a small brush to cover the eyelid, then pat more highlighter on the lid to finish the cut-crease look."

4. Ombré Lips

Ombré lips with a chocolate-brown liner is the classic cholalook. To achieve the look, "line your lips with a darker shade, and blend it toward the middle of your lips," says Merson. "With a brush, apply a nude lipstick in the middle and gently press your lips together." She recommends REINA REBELDE Bold Lip Color Stick in La Jefa for this look. Finally, apply a shiny gloss over for a touch of shine.

Latinx-Founded Brands We Love

The look that has shaped Latina ideas of beauty holds a lot of weight in the beauty industry as well. Its representation continues to pave the way for crops of products and Latinx-centric beauty brands gearing up to take on today's beauty giants.


Growing up in Mexico, founder Regina Merson developed a makeup obsession from watching telenovelas and watching her mother's beauty rituals. In 2016, she launched the brand that pays homage to her Latin upbringing.


MELT was co-founded in 2012 by Lora Arellano, makeup artist and first-generation Mexican-American, and Dana Bomar. The brand has gained a cult following for its quality products (like eyeliners, eyeshadows, and lip products) in bold, super pigmented shades, most of which boast names inspired by Mexican culture.


A love note to the culture of Los Angeles Latinx and Chicana—Mexican-American—neighborhoods, Sweet Street Cosmetics oozes chola culture from their campaign imagery to their product lineup and overall branding. Founded by Lala Romero and Natalia Durazo, the brand specializes in eco-friendly eyeliners, eyeshadows, lipsticks, and other accessories.

Ready to switch with your look? Sign up for an IPSY Glam Bag for all the essentials. If you're already an Ipster, refer your friends to earn points you can use toward your next product haul. Show us your best chola makeup look on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
Stephanie Montes
Stephanie Montes
Stephanie is a freelance contributor covering all things beauty. She writes about her adventures testing the latest trends in skincare, hair, and makeup. Stephanie's bylines have also appeared on Who What Wear, Elle, Byrdie, Bustle, and more.
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Article Last Updated August 30, 2021 12:00 AM