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“Coveting the secret for the past two years and having testers and samplers in my purse, and people asking me, ‘Oh, I love your highlight, what are you wearing?’ And me being like, ‘I don’t know’, sweating,'” Grande recalls. Her singing voice tends to blur the edges of her speech into one gorgeous mass, but her speaking voice, it should be noted, employs supernaturally precise diction down to the letter. “It was so hard to keep a secret for this long.”

The project had been conceived two years prior. Grande met with Forma Brands, a beauty incubator born from the extremely successful cosmetics brand, Morphe. Forma has also collaborated on lines with Emma Chamberlain (Bad Habit skin care) and the TikTok sisters D’Amelio (Morphe 2). Alex Alston, Forma’s vice president of brand, remembers being impressed with the amount of references Grande brought to the initial meetings: educational magazine ads for Revlon cosmetics from the ‘50s and ‘60s, space warriors of legend, mist-covered landscapes, blush-tinted stills from her music videos, a single, silver throw pillow. 

The brand’s official name, r.e.m. beauty, conjures the dream state — the rapid eye movement stage of slumber — but also smuggles in Grande’s nickname, Ari. The name is also a track on her album Sweetener. Pharrell Williams originally wrote the demo for Beyoncé, but Grande reworked the verses to be about a relationship she manifested. “Last night, boy, I met you when I was sleeping,” she sings on the opening, “You’re such a dream to me.”

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