Tate McRae Is Maybelline New York's Latest Brand Ambassador: 'I Didn't Even Think They Knew Who I Was'

The "She's All I Wanna Be" singer is opening up about the importance of self care

Tate McRae
Photo: Maybelline

Tate McRae just landed a major beauty role, and she's using her new platform to amplify a conversation that's long been close to her heart — mental health awareness.

The 18-year-old Canadian musician and dancer is the newest Brand Ambassador of Maybelline New York, the brand announced on Feb. 23. McRae is the face of their new Vinyl Ink liquid lipcolor and will be giving her fans a sneak peek at the new launch on her social media — as well as offering a chance to attend her March 31st show in New York City.

McRae's own makeup routine is fairly minimalist, she tells PEOPLE. "I moisturize my face, and then I just put on concealer, mascara and brows. Then I go on with my day," she says.

When it comes to lip color, she's a tried-and-true neutral girl. "I like a little bit of pink. I like neutral," she says, adding that she likes to "put a gloss over it. That always looks the best." McRae's go-to shade of Vinyl Ink is Peachy.

2021 American Music Awards
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

When Maybelline New York first reached out about the partnership, McRae couldn't believe it.

"I've obviously dreamed of being a face of a company like Maybelline my entire life," she tells PEOPLE. "As a little girl, it's such a big goal. I didn't even think they knew who I was, until they just reached out one day and were like, 'We would love to work with you.' I was so honored," she says. "Everything about the company, and all they stand for, is everything that I want to be a part of."

McRae, who was named one of PEOPLE's Ones to Watch in 2021, is also part of the brand's Brave Together campaign, a mental health initiative which felt like a natural fit for the musician.

"I think it's really cool that a company like Maybelline, which is obviously about makeup and looks, [is] able to talk about real s—," she says of the initiative, which aims to destigmatize anxiety and depression and help connect those experiencing symptoms to mental health experts, as well as to provide resources for how to practice self care.

For McRae, mental health awareness has always been at the forefront of the music she's put into the world.

"Even my main song that's a part of the campaign ("She's All I Wanna Be") talks about the toxicity of social media in comparison with other people and jealousy, which are really uncomfortable feelings to discuss. But they're real. I think it's really cool that we're incorporating it into the campaign," she says.

Tate McRae
Tate McRae performs at MTV & EXTRA GUM Present: PUSH to the VMAs at Terminal 5 on Sept. 9, in New York City. Arturo Holmes/Getty

"Since I was 13 years old, I've been writing songs about how I feel and mental health. So many [of my songs] are genuinely just my diary entries," she shares.

Tate continues, "writing is a huge part for me. I think that's just the way that I express myself. When I have a whole bunch of pent-up feelings, or ugly feelings, the No. 1 thing I need to do is write them down," she explains.

Having first made headlines as the second runner-up of So You Think You Can Dance at age 13 and going on to become a backup dancer for Justin Bieber, McRae is no stranger to being in the spotlight. But growing up in the age of social media, it's been crucial to develop strategies to step back from her phone and recharge with loved ones.

"It's very hard because we don't even realize how much it affects us mentally, because it's all subconscious," she says of time spent on social media. "We're literally subconsciously scrolling on our phones for hours. Every single post breaks you down a little bit more, which is horrible because that's not how you're supposed to be living your life. You're supposed to be living your life being content with yourself and then being around people that you like," she says.

Which is exactly what she does in order to center herself again. "Sometimes I just have to post, shut my phone off, and walk away and do my day. Otherwise, you can get caught up in constantly refreshing the page for stupid reasons."

The star also takes refuge in country songs that remind her of her family and help her feel like "life is normal."

"For some reason, the only music that can genuinely make serotonin in my body is country music," she says with a laugh.

"I don't know why," adds the iHeartRadio best new pop artist nominee. "Everyone judges me for this. My brother was the first person to introduce me to country music. He and my family are very much my safe place," she shares. "Whenever I am feeling anxious about my career, and L.A., and all the crazy s— in life, I go back to my family. Country music just reminds me of my brother. That honestly just makes me feel like life is normal," she says.

McRae is heading out on her North American headlining tour next month, before joining Shawn Mendes for part of his Wonder: The World Tour this fall.

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