Reggie Wells, Oprah’s Makeup Artist of 30 Years, Has Died

Reggie Wells, Baltimore native & renowned makeup artist to the stars has passed away at the age of 76.

Wells acquired over 400 celebrity clients over his nearly 40 year career. He has “beat” the faces of Beyonce, Aretha Franklin, former first lady Michelle Obama, Chaka Khan and Halle Berry. He was also Oprah’s longtime personal makeup artist for 30 years.

As the Baltimore Banner reports, “Wells’ makeup work took him to South Africa, Australia and the Middle East, but the Baltimore native was equally comfortable transforming the faces of senior members of a retirement community in Park Heights.”

After graduating from Baltimore City College and the Maryland Institute College of Art, Wells became an art teacher in the mid-1970s. He eventually moved to New York to pursue his dream of becoming a makeup artist.

It was in New York that he honed his craft working at a number of makeup counters before catching the eye of a fashion editor.

He often created his own makeup to accommodate the darker skin tones of his clients. In 1990, Wells became Oprah Winfrey’s full-time personal makeup artist after working together during an Essence photo shoot.

Wells said he was once told by the late Joan Rivers that his makeup was so good his clients looked like they had had plastic surgery, per the Baltimore Banner.

“It makes me proud to have a family member who has achieved that much and has given that much to women of color. He’s someone I look up to and admire,” his niece said. “I’m devastated as well as happy that he was my uncle. I’m at a loss of words. He was a friend. He was a mentor. He was everybody to everyone. It’s sad, but I’m glad he’s in a better place.”

Wells’ work has graced several magazines including the cover of Essence, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Harper’s Bazaar, Life, Time and Brides.