According to the pro race-car driver, makeup and skincare are power tools that help support her badass attitude on the track.
“One of my many creative outlets is drawing on my face,” reads an Instagram caption on Samantha Tan’s feed. The description, which is followed by a list of 12 makeup products, accompanies a selfie of the professional race-car driver rocking an exaggerated inky-black cat-eye accentuated with red-meets-pink eyeshadow, glitter, faux lashes and flawless filled-in brows. It’s a total lewk, sandwiched between shots of her suited up to drive and her BMW race car.
The more than 100,000 fans who follow Tan on Instagram are sure to notice that black winged eyeliner is a signature of the car enthusiast’s, even under her helmet. For Tan, makeup is an extension of the power she feels at the wheel. “I definitely put on a full face of makeup before I go for a race,” she expresses. “It really sets the tone and makes me feel confident and badass.” And her passion for beauty doesn’t stop at makeup. “I have struggled with eczema my entire life, so I’m used to having a very specific skincare routine. At night my routine is typically four to five steps, and in the morning it’s three.”
Hearing that Tan has an extensive beauty arsenal that she always keeps close is rather refreshing, especially since she’s in a sport dominated by men and where women are often treated as marketing gimmicks rather than major competitors. “I feel like if you show any kind of femininity, people don’t take you seriously,” she says. “I want to show that you can embrace your feminine side — be whoever you are — and still be successful.”
Originally from Stouffville, Ont., Tan, who is based in Southern California, started her professional career as a solo racer when she was 16 but today routinely participates in team-endurance sprints (some lasting a full 24 hours). And at just 25 years old, she has quickly climbed the ranks in motorsport: In 2021, she not only walked away with six championship titles but also made history by becoming the first Asian woman to win a major international endurance-racing championship — the renowned 24H Dubai. “It feels so good to be the first, but I also don’t want to be the last,” she says of the milestone. “I hope to continue paving the way for other girls who want to partake in this sport.”
Her deep love of beauty products also started when she was in her teens; in the early aughts, she used to watch Michelle Phan, an OG Asian American beauty vlogger. “Growing up in a small town, I was the only Asian person in my class in high school, so I ran to YouTube to find people I could relate to,” she recounts. “Michelle Phan quickly became one of my role models, and I fell in love with makeup. She’s also a big skincare junkie.”
Hoping to continue to break barriers in her field, Tan now has her sights set on the 24 Hours Le Mans in France — the pinnacle of competitive endurance racing. “My ultimate goal is to go to Le Mans and be the first Asian woman to win that,” she says. “And if — when — I hit that milestone, it would be so monumental for not only me but young girls. My whole thing is to become the role model I never had in the industry.”
Below are the beauty essentials Samantha Tan swears by, whether she’s at home or on the race track.
This article first appeared in FASHION’s March 2023 issue. Find out more here.