Style

My Beauty Uniform: Liz Montague

My Beauty Uniform: Liz Montague

Liz Montague, a freelance artist in Washington, D.C., is the first black female cartoonist to be published in the New Yorker. Her drawings deal with important topics, “like race and gender and what it’s like to be in America in this body at this time,” she says. Here, Liz shares her favorite cartoons, a game-changing hair tool and the cool thing she does when she’s home alone…

My Beauty Uniform: Liz Montague

I’m sure everyone asks this, but how do you come up with cartoon ideas? Are you always thinking of them?
Definitely from my own life. If you’re able to laugh about something, that’s half the battle, even if it’s a deep subject.

When did you start drawing cartoons?
My sophomore year in college. I literally was sitting in my dorm room one day and I needed a way to check in with myself that wasn’t super overwhelming, something I could do in 10 minutes. I started drawing small pictures with whatever words, captions or phrases I had on my mind that day. As I kept doing it, it became easier to expand on topics outside of myself — not just how my day went or that so-and-so didn’t text me back, but bigger issues, like race and gender and what it’s like to be in America in this body at this time. It’s a very weird time.

My Beauty Uniform: Liz Montague

What are your favorite cartoons you’ve done?
I liked my last one for the New Yorker — about how to teach your parents’ sustainability. Climate change is something I care about. Given the platform of the New Yorker, I knew I had to do a cartoon that was also a piece of activist art. That’s a thin line — how do I make a subversive message that’s still a cartoon that still fits the audience and that this publication will run? That’s a lot of boxes to check.

My Beauty Uniform: Liz Montague

Let’s talk about beauty. Do you wear makeup when you’re working?
With freelancing, there isn’t that obligation to leave your home. Sometimes I’m the only person that I see all day. But I like the idea that I’m someone I can look good for — thinking, no one’s going to see me, but I’M worth brushing my hair for. I also spray rosewater face oil on my face whenever I need a pick-me-up. It has a light but very pretty smell and feels refreshing.

What products do you swear by?
The Hourglass Veil setting powder — I like it way better than Laura Mercier, which makes my face look too matte. And I go very extreme to find concealers that match my skin tone. I have a summer shade, a winter shade, a winter-but-I’ve-been-in-the-sun-a-lot shade, a summer-but-I-haven’t-been-in-the-sun-a-lot shade. Right now, I’m using NARS radiant creamy concealer — in chocolat for my face and amande under my eyes. And I live for Glossier cloud paint, especially for those times when you’re going out the door and want to look decent. Fenty is also incredible — I use their liquid eyeliner in black and their bronzer in mocha mami.

My Beauty Uniform: Liz Montague

What about your hair?
I’m historically very bad at taking care of my hair. But I’ve gotten good about using sulfite-free shampoo and masking on a regular basis and making sure I don’t use a ton of heat. I got the Dyson hair dryer on a resale site — it’s a GAME CHANGER, especially for natural hair. It’s the first hair dryer I’ve used where I’ve been able to dry my hair on the cold setting, so there isn’t that heat damage.

Are there hair products you’d recommend?
Yes, I use the Macadamia hair mask, which is really, really good. The shampoo and conditioner I usually use is from Trader Joe’s, but when I’m trying to be fancy, I’ll use the Macadamia shampoo when it’s at T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom Rack.

My Beauty Uniform: Liz Montague

How do you mix things up for special occasions?
I always think I’m making dramatic changes to my makeup, and my friends are like, you look exactly the same. But I really like glitter eye shadow. I’m an eye shadow novice, so my approach is to put on as much glitter as possible and think, yup, this is drama, I have achieved it.

My Beauty Uniform: Liz Montague

What’s your bedtime routine?
My nighttime routine is that I’m checking my email and it’s suddenly 2 a.m. and I think I better go to sleep. But I do always wash my face! And I have a tub of vaseline for my lips and hands on my bedside table. It makes my hands greasy but really, really soft.

Do you moisturize your face?
Yes, I like Josie Maran whipped argan oil face butter because it makes my skin look healthy. Not necessarily bright — which is sometimes meant as, it makes skin look lighter — but my skin looks bouncy like I’ve been in the sun and like I actually leave my apartment!

My Beauty Uniform: Liz Montague

When in your life have you felt beautiful?
When I moved into my first apartment, I felt, like, gorgeous. I had just graduated from college, I had my own apartment in a new city where I knew no one, with a new job, and I was like, I just did this! I felt like I was glowing from the inside out. I love living by myself. Sometimes it’s like, oh crap, all of this depends on me, but then it’s like, all of this depends on me and I do it!

Do you have any secret single behaviors?
When I’m alone, I listen to audiobooks on my speakers. When I work, I have on a Harry Potter one because I know what’s going to happen so I can tune in and out. I also started Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, which I’d already read, but I want to have her audiobook on so I can be her by osmosis.

What else in your life brings you joy?
My cat, Cleo, is a big part of my life. I was lightly considering getting a cat and I went to the shelter — and once you’re in the shelter, game over. As soon as they get you in there, you’re leaving with something. I saw Cleo and was like, okay, I can do this. I got her back in August and she’s the greatest thing ever, the light of my life. She’s quite sassy. She’s five years old but only five pounds, so she looks like a kitten. She runs this place.

Last but not least, what’s your overall beauty philosophy?
Taking care of my skin, hair and body is my time for myself. Even I’m busy on deadline, I deserve my own time; it doesn’t have to go to everyone else.

My Beauty Uniform: Liz Montague

Thank you so much, Liz! Please stay tuned to see some of her fantastic cartoons on Cup of Jo.

P.S. More beauty uniforms, including cookbook writer Alison Roman and comedian Michelle Buteau.

  1. Andrea says...

    I don’t know how I missed this post when it was originally posted but glad you linked back to it today! This beauty uniform interview is a day brightener.
    When I did pretty laborious gardening work this past summer, I’d come home exhausted and so dirty and have a shower with a cold beer and then spray my face with rose water and it was the BEST little ritual. I haven’t done it since early fall, until just now after reading this article. Thank you Liz, for reminding me of the magical powers of rose water.
    And I love what she said about feeling so gorgeous in her first apartment. There’s nothing like it. I brought my little sister to a Lush store today and bought some Sultana bar soap, the same kind I used in my first apartment that upon smelling it again instantly transported me back to that time.
    Excited to see more of her cartoons here! xo

  2. KG says...

    I just received my University of Richmond alumni magazine and Liz is featured on the first page! I knew she seemed so familiar and looked back here at Cup of Joe. I was so impressed with your accomplishments before I knew we shared an alma mater, and now I’m thrilled to share this small connection. I graduated 11 years before you from UR. Go Spiders and GO LIZ! I look forward to watching your trajectory. ❤️

  3. Maggie says...

    “…my approach is to put on as much glitter as possible and think, yup, this is drama, I have achieved it.”

    I have never felt so seen. Loved this profile. Liz rocks!

  4. Kelly P says...

    This interview made me laugh several times – I love her wit!

  5. Sarah I. says...

    Wow, she is so gorgeous! And talented! Love her take on beauty and having a beauty routine just for yourself.

  6. CS says...

    Liz is gorgeous and her cartoons are so cool! Love her style!

  7. I love her cartoons, they are so honest and real and relatable… but it blows my mind that she is the first black woman to have a cartoon published in The New Yorker.

    In 2019.

    • Gráinne says...

      When I see a mention of “The first black woman/POC/Woman/Trans person etc” I always like to check out the list of who has gone before us as in how many people have been in that job before. Here is an incomplete list of New Yorker Cartoonists. It is LONG. We as a society need to do better. We need to engage with publications and tell them that we are opting out until they deign to opt us. https://michaelmaslin.com/new-yorker-cartoonists-z/

  8. Kristyn says...

    She is gorgeous!

  9. JessicaD says...

    Oooof – amazing: smart, funny, inspiring, gorgeous! I want to be her very best friend! GLITTER!!! Off to find her on Instagram.

    • Em says...

      As I was reading this I was literally thinking ‘I want to be her friend’ haha. Loved this beauty uniform!

  10. Laura says...

    Delightful and STUNNING :)

  11. Katey says...

    I loved that NYer cartoon she shared. As I caught a tiny glimpse of her apartment in one of the photos I thought, “I hope they pay cartoonists a LOT at the New Yorker.” Line for line, they are the best part of the magazine each week.

  12. Beautiful inside & out! All of it. Especially liked the tip on having a concealer for all seasons – game changer!

  13. Alex says...

    As a fellow work from home person, it was awesome to hear her perspective on that! Thanks, Liz!!

  14. Allyson says...

    The coolest! She’s awesome. And I love the description of skin looking bouncy and like you’ve been out in the sun.

  15. liz says...

    love! she seems amazing! super beautiful!

  16. Loved reading this beauty uniform! I want a week of outfits from Liz because her outfits look so fun and like things I want to emulate.

  17. Owl says...

    What a beautiful woman!

  18. Christy says...

    I like her perfect eyeliner and her sassy cat. I love the idea of processing things that happened in the day by drawing them. Another great Beauty Uniform for the books!

  19. Mariana says...

    She’s gorgeous and the cartoons are brilliant!

  20. Elle says...

    Love this! And thanks for tip on the Dyson dryer:)

  21. Sarah says...

    She is beautiful. Love her style.

  22. Kat Rosa says...

    Love it! How cool to be a New Yorker cartoonist?? And I love Josie Maran whipped argan oil — the fragrance is just, ahh!

  23. Ellen says...

    What a stunning, brilliant and funny woman.

  24. Liz C. says...

    Liz is STUNNING!!! Clearly beautiful both inside and out, she radiates. Thank you for sharing her with this community! xo

  25. Claire says...

    I also listen to Harry Potter on repeat as I work. I have listened to each book, no joke, probably 100+ times. I definitely get side-eye if I ever mention my love of HP and Jim Dale – apparently I shouldn’t love them as a 30-something – so I’m glad to know there are kindred spirits out there!

  26. Rae says...

    Oh, I loved every single word of this. Too many to quote here — just pretend I quoted the whole thing. The whole interview read like one of her cartoons: funny, brainy, and a bit subversive. And she’s gorgeous.

    • Jane says...

      Ditto

  27. Hilary says...

    Liz is fantastic! Thank you once again for profiling a smart and inspiring woman.

  28. Meghan Edwards says...

    Wow! She’s so cool!

  29. I listened to Becoming on audiobook and I can say, listening to Michelle Obama’s narration was a totally different/awesome experience!

  30. Andrea says...

    “You are one big thing.” Yes, you are. What a cool woman. Thanks for featuring her here!

  31. Ellen says...

    I got so excited when I saw the Adams Morgan poster in the first photo!! Liz, love your style and energy. Maybe we’ll bump into each other!

  32. Sarah says...

    Liz, your hair is lovely and looks like my beautiful daughter’s on a good day (white mom here-still learning). Question! Do you finger comb, use a comb (if so, what size?), wet brush…? Always looking for techniques to show off my daughter’s shine! Thanks in advance!!

  33. Mimi D. says...

    Now, even though I’ve read it, I’m going to listen to Becoming on audiobook so I be both you and Michelle by osmosis. Super cool and inspiring.

  34. Kim says...

    I loved seeing her cartoons here and can’t wait to see more of her?

  35. B says...

    Beautiful skin, beautiful hair and love to see a Washingtonian featured! :)

  36. Elise says...

    Love this. So fun and inspiring, not to mention gorgeous. Liz, you have so many looks here — all are stunning. Love your work, too!

  37. christina says...

    I just loved this! now I need to figure out how a dyson will transform my curly hair life, because….that would be a game changer!

  38. Kim says...

    “-and once you’re in the shelter, game over. As soon as they get you in there, you’re leaving with something.” Haha so true!!

  39. Nigerian Girl says...

    The New Yorker sure took their time though, didn’t they? More power to you, Kim. You are one gorgeous woman.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Oh oh. So sorry. More power to you, Liz. You are one gorgeous woman.

  40. P.G. says...

    “I deserve my own time. It doesn’t have to go to everyone else.” I really, really needed to hear that today. Thanks!

    • Andrea says...

      Yes! Put into a sentence what I am hoping to pursue in 2020!

      Also, great looking sassy cat!

  41. MH says...

    Liz – another DCer here who listens to Jim Dale’s soothing voice on repeat. Hope to see you around town!

  42. meg says...

    Liz! Hi from 20910!
    Love your all the ways you style your hair. I am in a hair rut.

    Can’t wait to check out more of your cartoons.

  43. agnes says...

    I always skip the beauty tips in those posts, I’m not interested but for once I read it all! Liz, you really made me laugh with that: “I always think I’m making dramatic changes to my makeup, and my friends are like, you look exactly the same. ” and your cat’s face, I can just imagine what she’s thinking “why is she smiling?”, your cat looks amazing and grumpy as she should! Also, love that feeling independent makes you glow. I feel the same.

  44. Anne in MS says...

    She’s beautiful, inside and out!

  45. Jennifer Taber VanDerwerken says...

    As a fellow freelancer, Liz’s words “I’m some one I can look good for” will echo in my head in perpetuity. Amen! Liz, you’re lovely, inside and out!

    • Erin says...

      Yes, this is the best line! I’m not a freelancer, but I work from home two days per week and on those days, I WEAR MASCARA. Because I just like it! Mascara makes me feel happy when I look in the mirror!

      Thanks for being part of this story, Liz. I really enjoyed reading about you and I’ll be on the lookout for your work.

  46. anni says...

    yay love this!

  47. Mouse says...

    I too am owned by a cat. However, I sadly do not have Liz’s fabulous hair…..that photo of her in the pink turtleneck is how I always wanted my hair to be…..gorgeous.

  48. Laura says...

    Love Liz’s work!

  49. Emma says...

    Really loved this. Makes me want to try a dyson too. I’ve curly/ wavy/ frizzy hair that dries best naturally but that’s tricky when you need to leave the house. Really lovely, uplifting interview

  50. Brooke says...

    What a radiant, lovely, fascinating woman! Love hearing how she glows from celebrating living alone (feel the same way here!!), rocks glitter drama ;p, and is so thoughtful about about her art and is so funny engaging and real. I feel like the sign of a really grounded woman is how relaxed I feel after reading her words and thoughts. And I agree- Michelle Obama into my very cells. ;p

    Yay, I’m glad you are going to feature her art here and i hope we hear all kinds of things from LIz here in the future.

    • Brooke says...

      oh also, this made me laugh out loud: “My nighttime routine is that I’m checking my email and it’s suddenly 2 a.m. and I think I better go to sleep.” TRUTH!

  51. Lauren says...

    “I’m checking my email and it’s suddenly 2 a.m. and I think I better go to sleep”– whaddya know, that’s my nighttime routine too! ?

  52. Michaela says...

    I laughed multiple times at this, she’s so funny and relatable. My bedtime is also that it’s suddenly 2AM after checking email and I realize I should sleep. Thanks for sharing!!

  53. Heather Ailes says...

    Totally dig this beauty uniform and happy to have found a new cartoonist to follow. Also, I love Liz’s bangs in that third pic. Bangs forever!

  54. Courtney Tait says...

    She is stunning.

  55. Jenny says...

    She is glowing! So excited for her independence, motivation, and creativity and the success it’s brought her. Hope to see more of her work in more publications!

  56. Melo says...

    I loved everything about Liz’s beauty uniform but must shoutout – AMEN to cats and furbabies being the joy of life! :)))

  57. AMK says...

    Curly haired girls unite!! She is STUNNING and so talented! I love all her recommendations!!

  58. Elena says...

    I want to run to TJ and figure out what shampoo she uses. Very dry tricky haired women unite! Love her cartoon… can’t wait to see more.

  59. A says...

    Liz is stunning! That middle picture of her in profile against the green grass looks like a work of art. And the last cartoon made me tear up. Thank you for this feature.

  60. Clare says...

    Love this! I also listen to Harry Potter on repeat. (Jim Dale — reminds me of my childhood!)

    • Phoebe says...

      Me too! So soothing and I love falling to sleep listening. I’ve been cycling through the series for over 10 years.

    • Colleen says...

      Same! So happy others do this. I always keep one on my phone for times when I need to calmly zone out. They’ve also been a lifesaver for long international flights where I am not-quite-sleeping in the dark for hours.

      I’m a Jim Dale loyalist, but am thinking of checking out the Stephen Fry versions just to see what they’re like!

  61. AB says...

    I became a big Liz fan last year and was so happy to see her here. Did not disappoint! She’s stunning, wise, and hilarious. Her instagram is also a delight, FYI for anyone trying to grab whatever bright spots of the internet they can find.

  62. Sarah says...

    I just saw her cartoon in the New Yorker before reading this and thought how great it was! And she’s so lovely!

  63. Heather says...

    Oh wow she’s awesome! Even just for those days when I don’t leave the house – the idea of getting put together just for myself really resonated – I definitely always feel better after I do.

    And same with the idea of feeling beautiful when I’ve *done* something – I feel like as I’m older, I’ve noticed my confidence and general feelings about myself are much more linked to my own accomplishments/challenges I’ve overcome rather than anything related to external beauty.

    And lastly, I looked up her cartoons and they’re so delightful and smart! Thanks for a great feature!

  64. KC says...

    Multiple shades of makeup are a must (for those who wear makeup and want it to blend in rather than being obviously-makeup-y, that is). When I lived in a northeast state, I had a (Caucasian) friend who was from the south, trained to full-face makeup every day all day, but who was not accustomed to how pale her skin got in the winter a few states north. She did an unusually good job at making the full-face makeup look “natural” when she had gotten the right amount of sun to match the shades she was using, but the line below her chin, marking where her facial makeup stopped, was rather dramatic by the time she got to a northeastern January!

    • Elena says...

      I live in Miami and even I have a winter shade and a “the other nine months out of the year” shade. Makes a big difference!

    • Sara says...

      I have a bunch of different foundations/bb creams/tinted sunscreens that I blend every day to match my pale ass skin which becomes slightly less pale in the summer :) I can’t imagine having just one or two that match all the time!

  65. AM says...

    As a fellow freelancer in DC, I loved reading about Liz. She’s so independent and talented!

    Would she mind sharing the name of the shelter where she got her adorable cat?

  66. ACS says...

    She’s so beautiful! And this made me LOL: “yup, this is drama, I have achieved it.”

  67. Sylvie says...

    Love all the looks and her art!

  68. AJ says...

    Yes! ! I heard Liz on my favourite podcast last year, so good to see her in a CoJ beauty uniform! Your work and outlook are so inspiring Liz, cartoon illustration is such an amazing talent and gift to the world. And Cleo… gorgeous. My cat is the light of my life too :)

    • Lena says...

      Which podcast was it? I would love to listen but google isn’t turning anything up!

    • AJ says...

      Lena, I can’t find it myself now either! I was pretty certain it was Liz but there is a high chance I’m muddled (it often happens!! ?) and I’ve listened to countless podcasts!!

  69. Amanda says...

    This feature just made my whole day! Can’t wait to see more on CoJ from this gorgeous lady, inside and out.

  70. Megan says...

    Lover her cartoons! And the Adams Morgan poster in the first photo : )

    • Morgan says...

      Cat lovers unite!!! ❤️

    • Fiona says...

      So cool this is a friend of yours! We have your friend’s neighborhood art for every home we’ve lived in in DC, and are about to buy a new one for our new place (although technically it still shows up on the map of our current place, but four is such a nice round number)

    • Emily says...

      I love Cherry Blossom designs!

      I used to live in DC, and when I left, bought one of her Glover Park maps to memorialize our old ‘hood! It’s in our living room now :)

    • Ari says...

      Came here to s/o Torie and Cherry Blossom Creative. Torie’s gift to my husband and I for our wedding reception were custom-made cornhole boards with our faces painted on them, which people loved playing. They now hang in our bedroom as “portraits” :) She’s super talented and does prints of cities over the country.

  71. MJ says...

    What a beautiful, cool woman.

  72. Charlotte K says...

    I love that last cartoon. Funny but also to the point

  73. Jenny says...

    Omg yes – No one really talks about how we brown and black girls need AT LEAST 2 different shades of makeup! I wish you could buy a dual of concealer/foundation/powder instead of having to hoard 2-4 different shades!

    • Veronica says...

      Yes! This was so affirming to hear. I’m not the only one.

  74. Ann says...

    I love Josie Maran products too. Love that you featured a freelancer!

  75. AN says...

    She is incredible in every way! I really wish there were a way for Cup of Jo readers to know and be around each other on the regular…I feel like we could change the world!

  76. Lia says...

    I loved this: “As I kept doing it, it became easier to expand on topics outside of myself — not just how my day went or that so-and-so didn’t text me back, but bigger issues, like race and gender and what it’s like to be in America in this body at this time. It’s a very weird time.” I love that this is her way of digesting the craziness of the world…and sharing her experience with others. Thanks :)

    What a gorgeous, smart and talented woman. Very inspiring!

  77. stuart pennebaker says...

    beautiful beautiful beautiful! i want to be best friends with her!

    but also…can we get more deets on this dyson hairdryer resale site?!

    • Melinda says...

      I would welcome an “I tried the world’s most crazy expensive hair tools and here’s what happened” post!

      PS what an awesome gorgeous cool lady. ?

  78. Julie says...

    Love Liz’s concealer theory. I have something similar for separating washing. Whites, mostly white, light coloureds, mediums and darks!

    And what resale site did you go to for the Dyson?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’ll ask her!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Here’s what she said: “I got my Dyson on Mercari (I use the app but I believe it’s a regular website too) :)”

  79. Cynthia says...

    loved this beauty uniform! liz is beautiful with a matching beautiful personality.

    and this: “But I like the idea that I’m someone I can look good for — thinking, no one’s going to see me, but I’M worth brushing my hair for. “

  80. Elise says...

    I love this! Especially the bit about living alone – I’m separating my husband and about to move into a small flat with my 2 year old but this has put a new spin on it… a place of my own <3

  81. Ashley says...

    Hell yes to HP books on tape as the perfect working soundtrack. But Liz, v important question: Stephen Fry or Jim Dale??

    • Ava says...

      Haha, Ashley, that’s a great and also very important question! For me Stephen Fry :)

    • jade lees says...

      Stephen Fry! No question!

    • Lilly says...

      AHA she actually mentioned this in the Cartoon takeover issue of the New Yorker that came out a few weeks ago – Jim Dale! She posted about it: https://www.instagram.com/p/B6eGU_-gS4_/ (I remembered because that bio was brilliant, I love her work, but also… Sorry Liz. Stephen Fry forever.)

    • EW says...

      Jim Dale!!
      But I did very much enjoy Stephen Fry’s reading of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  82. Ashley says...

    I LOVE what Liz had to say about feeling gorgeous when she first moved out on her own. I totally relate to that “Omg, **I** did this” glow. Crazy how independence can give you the same feeling as catching your best angle in the mirror. Great post!

  83. Sarah T says...

    Love this! I try to absorb Michelle Obama by osmosis too! I often joke that all I want in life is a recording of the Obamas saying soothing but motivating things to me and Michelle’s audiobook is as close as I think I can get ha ha
    LOVE the last cartoon, Liz! That is going on my fridge. The dog even looks a bit like mine : )

  84. Janet says...

    I loved this! She’s just gorgeous, and her cartoons are terrific.

    This especially resonated:

    “With freelancing, there isn’t that obligation to leave your home. Sometimes I’m the only person that I see all day. But I like the idea that I’m someone I can look good for — thinking, no one’s going to see me, but I’M worth brushing my hair for.”

    As a fellow WFH freelancer who still puts on Boy Brow most days, yes!!

    My 7-lb, 2-year-old sassy tabby and I want to be BFF with Liz and Cleo. :)

    • Mandy says...

      What a lovely beauty uniform, Liz is beautiful and comes across as fun and intelligent , I will go and look out her other cartoons XX

  85. NM says...

    Nice smile!