Beauty guru LAUREN WATERS has always been obsessed with makeup, as evidenced by her mom’s favorite photo of her, powder puff in hand. Aged 3.

A native of Augusta, Georgia, Lauren graduated with a degree in Business Administration from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!), before deciding that what she really wanted to be was…a makeup artist. Much to her parents’ chagrin, off she went to Hollywood to study the art of makeup, and became an artist for Smashbox cosmetics. Lauren then launched a successful freelance career, becoming an in-demand makeup artist for runway, photo shoots, commercials and weddings. Her passion for beauty and voracious appetite for research–and shopping–has made Lauren a go-to resource for the latest products and techniques in skincare, makeup and beauty.

Lauren’s belief in the reaffirming power of makeup and beauty is informed by her own experience:

I was diagnosed with colon cancer on May 5, 2014–which totally ruined my Cinco de Mayo margarita, but not my commitment to beauty. Over the past year, I have undergone two major surgeries and six months of chemotherapy, all while rocking some fierce makeup! Makeup is a powerful, healing thing. You know the old saying, “When you look good, you feel good…” I tend to agree. On a lighter note, my current scans are all clear. I continue to be a cancer warrior and will win this fight!

My makeup philosophy is about enhancing the beauty that a person already has. Work with what they have, and bring out their inner beauty…because as the late, great Kevyn Aucoin says, “No amount of makeup can mask an ugly heart.”

Lauren lives in Santa Monica, California, with her husband and rescue pup Roscoe (adopt, don’t shop!).