Cardi B speaks onstage during the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City.
Photo: Michael Loccisano (Getty Images for MTV)

If there’s one event I look forward to every year, it’s the MTV Video Music Awards—I’ma let you finish, but hear me out on this: While the Grammys may be the highest echelon of music ceremony, rivaled only by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions, no event has annually given us as many memorable performances and moments (controversial as they may be) as the VMAs.


Plus, I grew up on MTV—back when they actually played videos all day. What can I say? Nostalgia’s a helluva drug.

While Monday night’s 2018 ceremony was markedly tamer than years past, it still gave us plenty of memorable lewks (and no, we’re not talking about Madonna’s scary shamanic ensemble). It notably also marked the return of our regular, shmegular, degular 10-time nominee and new mommy, Cardi B, who gave us several stellar style moments in her first post-Kulture appearance.

Stunning on MTV’s hot-pink carpet in a “royal-inspired” magenta velvet, off-the-shoulder, wrap-style dress from Nicolas Jebran, paired with emeralds from Lorraine Schwartz and a fresh pixie cut by hairstylist Tokyo (using Exotic Hair), Cardi served new mommy elegance with a healthy side of snatch-back.


Within moments of leaving the step-and-repeat, she’d changed into another custom gown to open the evening’s festivities (with a baby bait-and-switch), wearing a custom strapless red gown from Azzi & Osta with a dramatic train—which would prove a bit hazardous when Cardi ascended the stage to accept her Best New Artist Award. Thankfully, she’d change into what may have been a custom black Christian Siriano minidress to accept her Best Collaboration Award with Jennifer Lopez and DJ Khaled.


But throughout it all, Cardi was consistently serving face, glammed up for the evening by go-to makeup artist Erika La’ Pearl using cosmetics exclusively by black beauty mogul Pat McGrath.

Cardi B attends the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City.
Photo: Jamie McCarthy (Getty Images)

For Cardi’s look, La’ Pearl used the upcoming Mothership V Bronze Seduction eye palette (available September 7) atop her lids, while underneath, La’ Pearl complemented the tones in Cardi’s pink carpet dress with the Mthrshp Subversive La Vie En Rose eye palette ($55). La’ Pearl defined Cardi’s almond eyes with the PermaPrecision Liquid Eye Liner ($28), and added flare with a pair of Lash Couture Triple Push-Up lashes in Teddy by Kiss ($6.99).

To finish the look, La’ Pearl highlighted the skin with McGrath’s Skin Fetish Highlighter & Balm Duo in Bronze ($48), and gave Cardi a sensual nude lip using McGrath’s LuxeTrance lipstick in “She’s Heaven” ($38).


And while they may have on-and-off rap beef, Cardi and Nicki Minaj had one major thing in common last night, as both wore full faces of makeup from McGrath’s incredible line (now valued at one billion dollars).

Nicki Minaj poses in the press room at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City.
Photo: Paul Zimmerman (Getty Images)

In fact, Minaj’s makeup artist Sheiks used the exact same palettes as La’ Pearl to create the rap diva’s Queen-inspired look last night. And should you attempt the look at home, McGrath herself generously gave details on exactly what shades and techniques should be used to recreate Nicki’s flawless face (which stylist Brett Alan Nelson strikingly framed by a choker-necked bodysuit and sheer dress by Off-White):


  • Apply Skin Fetish Highlighter and Balm Duo in “Golden” to the high points of the face with a finger
  • Apply Skin Fetish Sublime Skin Highlighting Trio in “Fine Gold 003" on top

For Eyes

  • Define the crease and socket using “Disobedient” pigment
  • Apply “Rose Risque” pigment onto the center of the lid
  • Define outer corner with “Blitz Flame” pigment
  • Pat “Skinshow Divine Glow” pigment onto the inner half of the lid with a damp brush
  • Define the lash line with Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner and extend into a sharp wing
  • Highlight the brow bone with “Skinshow Divine Glow” pigment and “Astral Ghost Orchid” pigment
  • Finish with lashes by Eloralane


But while Nicki and Cardi may have been the biggest face-off of the night, they were far from the only ones rocking major looks on Monday. Musicians, models, athletes, reality stars and Insta-famous folk all converged on the VMAs carpet serving everything from high-end couture to kitten-with-a-whip realness (no, really; Amber Rose came dressed as a kitten with a whip).


Some major themes at the 2018 VMAs? There was an abundance of silver, sheer gowns, and lots and lots of Versace—which climaxed in Jennifer Lopez’s epic all-Versace-everything performance in celebration of her acceptance of the Video Vanguard award.

But because we can show you better than tell you, we’ll just let you see for yourself:


Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.

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