1962 - 2002

“No amount of makeup can mask an ugly heart.”

 – Kevyn Aucoin

Kevyn Aucoin was born on February 14, 1962 in Shreveport, Louisiana and was adopted as an infant. Aucoin knew he was gay at the age of six and never attempted to hide his orientation. Eventually his parents accepted that he was gay and even started a PFLAG chapter in Lafayette. He was frequently bullied at school and was quoted as saying, "Kids threw rocks at me, told me I was ugly and left death threats in my locker." His interest in makeup began when he was 11 years old and started experimenting with cosmetics on his sister. At the age of 15, he dropped out of high school. After being harassed in Baton Rouge, Aucoin moved with a boyfriend to New York City and enrolled in beauty school. Within a year, his work was noticed by photographer Steven Meisel and he began working with Vogue. Aucoin did 19 Vogue covers in three years. In addition to magazine work, he did make-up for cosmetics and fashion advertising, music videos, album covers, and designer fashion shows. He even wrote a column in Allure magazine. Aucoin worked with hundreds of celebrities and had the bestselling books The Art of Makeup (1994), Making Faces (1997), and Face Forward (2001). His TV appearances included The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and even an episode of Sex and the City. Throughout his career Aucoin believed that makeup was an empowering tool, helping a woman discover herself by revealing her natural beauty. In 1995, he became the only makeup artist to win the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award. Aucoin was a staunch advocate of LGBTQ rights and worked with the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a New York center dedicated to helping LGBTQ youth. He was also outspoken on the lack of racial and physical diversity in fashion and advertising. Aucoin began dating his partner, Jeremy Antunes, in 1999, and they married in an unofficial ceremony in 2000. Aucoin died in Valhalla, New York at age 40 on May 7, 2002 due to an overdose of prescription drugs he took to ease the pain caused by his pituitary brain tumor. Following his death two documentaries were release about his life, Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story and Kevyn Aucoin: Beauty & The Beast In Me.


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch Information Age (1970-present) Post-Stonewall Era (1974-1980)

Field(s) of Contribution


Makeup Artist


US History

Commemorations & Honors

First and Only Council of Fashion Designers of America Awardee For Makeup (1995)

Honarary Diploma From Harvey Milk High School in Manhattan (1999)


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Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Carrie Maxwell
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell