While you might not know her name, if you follow fashion, you will certainly be familiar with the work of makeup artist Raisa Flowers. She’s the mastermind behind poet and activist Amanda Gorman’s dewy, fresh-faced look on the cover of American Vogue’s May 2021 issue and is quite possibly the reason why you’ve considered adding colourful contact lenses to your go-to beauty look. You might even recognize her from a slew of recent runway appearances, from Gypsy Sport to Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty, or even on the side of a bus modelling for Calvin Klein.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #53 series on my blog.
Born and bred in Mount Vernon, New York, Flowers has built a name for herself thanks to her unapologetic use of colour and alien-esque aesthetic, regularly using her own face as a canvas on which to experiment. That said, she wants to reassure the industry that, yes, she can in fact do the natural look, too. “I’ve assisted Pat McGrath during fashion week, I know how to do this,” she quips over Zoom. While we’re on the subject, she has another message for the industry: “I want people to know that I’m here and I’m a badass.”
When did you first become interested in make-up?
“My mum loves make-up, so I got into it because of her. She wears it every day, even on the days where she’s going to the laundromat. I started doing make-up pretty young, around 13 years old. I would experiment on my aunties, my granny and my friends – I was doing weddings and school proms at 16. So, I was doing it for a long time. I didn’t want to be a make-up artist, I loved it for fun, but when I started doing it more and more, it got me super inspired. I was into fashion – that’s where my love of make-up came from; seeing the show make-up and all these different types of looks got me into it.”
You’re known as much for your own looks as you are your editorials. Do they require the same sort of approach or do they occupy different levels of creativity?
“When I’m doing editorial, it’s based on the vibe of the shoot and the creative. People have a specific vision of how they want it to look and it can become super linear unless they actually want to spend time on it and collaborate. Normally, they want the clothes to shine instead of letting the make-up be a whole vibe.
“My own make-up is based on a vibe. I will be chilling and then I just let my hands play. Either I will dream it on myself or I will see myself in a certain way. And if it doesn’t come out how I envisioned it, I’ll try something else. I’m down to be open and play with it. Sometimes I have no direction of where I’m going with it and I just like to let it flow and create something beautiful. Some of my best looks have been the fastest looks. I’ve done the ones that I hated the most in the moment of doing them, and then they just came out great.”
How would you describe your relationship with make-up?
“I love make-up, it makes me happy. I love being able to pick a colour palette and play with different textures and make someone feel super beautiful, especially on a day where they weren’t feeling beautiful. Having a model sit in my chair and being inspired by their face is something that’s important to me; it gives me an adrenaline rush. When I do something really good, it makes me feel how food makes me feel: satisfied.”
What’s been your biggest highlight so far?
“Working with Rihanna, doing her make-up and being in the Savage x Fenty show was big. We share the same Caribbean heritage. We’re both Bajan and Guyanese, which is a big thing, so just being able to share the moments I have with her, and connect with her on these types of levels, is very important to me and my career because it shows me that I’m going in the right direction.”
What was it like to have your first AmericanVoguecover with Amanda Gorman?
“I was so excited to be part of that important cultural moment. A Vogue cover was definitely on my bucket list for sure. Check.”
Which direction would you like your career to go in?
“My goals in the industry are just being myself and doing the level of work that I’m doing. I want to bring back makeup again. I feel like shoots are boring because people care so much about the clothing. When you see work from the ’80s, they have such big concepts and it revolves around the make-up, the hair, the styling, everything. Now, it’s so minimal – it’s just like, ‘Let’s do some skin,’ and throw it out and that’s it. I would love to bring back the type of feeling of creating a mood.”
You’re constantly challenging traditional notions of beauty in your work. Why is this so important to you? What are you hoping to communicate?
“For a long time, people wouldn’t hire me because my looks were too dramatic. Then all of a sudden, there are these shoots with contacts. I would love for the industry to be more open to trying new things. I’m one of the only few Black women in the industry doing make-up on my level, other than Pat McGrath, but she’s gigantic. I want to make my mark and put these high-level, tasteful looks into the world.
“A lot of Black people have been shunned by the industry or put to one side just because people think they can’t do the same work that their counterparts can do. I have piercings. I have tattoos. I look different, my art is different. When I’m on set, I’m the only Black person 90 to 95 per cent of the time. A lot of girls say to me that they feel comforted when they see me, especially Black talent or any person of colour. I have a different complexion and they feel comfortable knowing that I’m there because I might make their skin better or make them look better. This is an experience I want to give people.”
What would be your advice to aspiring make-up artists looking to get into the industry?
“Stay true to yourself and the things you are most passionate about. That is what resonates the most. If you don’t think there is space for you, create your own.”
What does make-up mean to you?
“It gives you the freedom to express yourself in any way that you want. It’s so freeing to throw some colours on my eyes, pop a contact in, throw a lash on – it allows you to be your true self. I feel like a lot of people would love to wear make-up but they judge it because they think it’s too much. People should experiment with it more. I love beauty, it’s a performance and it helps you to be your true self. So, I hope we’ll get more into it.”
What would you advise younger generations who don’t feel beautiful or free enough to express themselves?
“What is beauty anyway? Real beauty is internal. Love yourself first and real beauty will radiate out.”
Purchasing an eyeliner can feel like a gamble. You walk into your nearest Sephora, money in hand, on a mission to find a formula that doesn’t pull, tug, skip or drag. After perusing the shelves, you’ll settle on one in hopes that it won’t smudge before lunch.
The truth is, you never really know if you’ll get a return on your investment until you take it home and try it for yourself. By then, it could be too late. To make the entire experience feel less risky, experts who know a thing or two about eyeliners weigh in. Ahead, shop the 10 best eyeliners, from pencils to liquids, according to professional makeup artists. They’ll make you feel like you won the jackpot every time.
BEST GEL LINER – AMC Eyeliner Gel
“When I’m creating a bold eye, Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel is my go-to eyeliner, as it’s available in a variety of rich high-pigmented shades,” says makeup artist Millie Morales (also a Garnier celebrity hairstylist). “The creamy formula glides on with ease, but most importantly, it boasts long-lasting wear.”
BEST SMUDGE-PROOF LIQUID – Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
“When it comes to precision, I like to use a marker-like tip, as it gives me the freedom and flexibility to create an elegant wing or a thick dramatic look,” says Morales. “Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner dries fast, won’t smudge and only comes off when you take it off!”
If you’re looking to try a colored eyeliner, look no further than Urban Decay’s 24/7 Eye Pencils. Makeup artist Steve Kassajikian says, “these shades are bright, pigmented, creamy, easy to blend, and glide on like a gel.” As if that’s not enough to get you on board, Kassajikian adds, “they set in 60 seconds and don’t budge throughout the day. Plus, they’re specifically made for wet surfaces like the waterline.”
Celebrity makeup artist Claudia Betancur, a L’Oréal Paris brand ambassador, is a fan of the brand’s new Flash Cat Eye Liquid Eyeliner because it “has the perfect tip to create a precise wing, and glides on super smooth. The cap has a wing stencil attached to help create the perfect cat eye,” she says.
“This micro-fine gel pencil has next level staying power,” says makeup artist and artistic director of Glamsquad, Kelli J. Bartlett. “I originally tested the Hourglass 1.5 MM Mechanical Gel Eyeliner on my hand, and it lasted through a workout and a shower, so you know it means business. I love to use it on the inner rim of the upper lash line to create a lush look as it holds up to watery eyes.”
BEST LONG-LASTING PENCIL – BADgal BANG! 24 Hour Eyeliner Pencil
Celebrity makeup artist Lisa Potter-Dixon says this liner “is a hard worker. It works wonders on the waterline and stays put due to its waterproof formula.” She adds, “it also works beautifully as a lash liner, plus the blending tool on the end means you can even use it to create a simple smokey eye.”
Makeup artist and co-founder of Shespoke Makeup, Rebecca Perkins, says it doesn’t get better than Pat McGrath Labs’ liquid liner. She says, “the pen tip is so fine, you can do super subtle details. Mother does not mess around, and her products always do what they say.”
BEST TRUE BLACK – Infallible 16HR Never-Fail Eyeliner
Finding a true black formula can be difficult. Luckily, Perkins assures that her pick is “tried and true.” She says, “L’Oréal’s carbon black shade comes in a gel pot (perfect for when I am doing someone else’s makeup) or the mechanical pencil (for when I’m doing my own makeup).” Finally, she adds, “it’s not fancy, but it works every time.”
Dell Ashley, YSL Beauté Director of Makeup Artistry, knows a thing or two about luxury beauty, but there’s one drugstore favorite he keeps in his kit. He says the NYX Matte Liquid Liner is “a great budget-friendly eyeliner because it offers rich color and has a nice, long wear.” And at $8 a pop, you can keep your makeup bag stocked with it too.
BEST VERSATILE FORMULA – TattooStudio Sharpenable Gel Pencil in Brown
Vincent Oquendo, the artist behind Hollywood’s most beautiful faces (Lily Collins, Gabrielle Union, Nina Dobrev), recommends you pick up this other drugstore option. “I use it to create my shape before I perfect it with a black liner and for subtle definition in the waterline when I’m creating a sultry look,” he says. “The combination of black and brown liners create a more natural makeup look when smudged at the lash line.”
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #47 series on my blog.
This past week on Instagram, a few muses welcomed spring with colorful eyeshadows. Model Pooja Mor glistened under the sunlight, wearing turquoise eye shadow and a big smile, while model Chloe Yu had her lids saturated in blue and pink, thanks to makeup artist Michael Anthony (and the Pat McGrath Labs Subversive palette!). Then, embracing aquatic shades, “Versace Hottie” Precious Lee reported “for duty” in a cobalt blue shadow and Barbie Ferreira sported a blue smoky eye courtesy of Sam Visser.
More standout eye makeup came by way of Aweng Ade-Chuol, who graced feeds with artfully drawn black winged liner, full lashes, and bronzed cheeks, as well as Tracee Ellis Ross, who had thick, sooty swipes of eyeliner frame her upper and lower lash lines, with soft curls grazing her forehead.
Meeting the arrival of warm weather, Erykah Badu leaned into her light with a swipe of terra-cotta lipstick and the VanJess sisters were feeling peachy keen with blushy cheeks and pink manicures. Activist, writer, and cultural organizer Raquel Willis donned a red lip and sleek waves, and gave us all a much-needed reminder to let “the sunshine in.” As for Carly Cushnie? She ushered in International Women’s Day by celebrating the strong women around her. “I couldn’t be prouder to be a mother to my girls and [am] so grateful for everything they have taught and continue to teach me,” she wrote in a caption. “Thank you to all you incredible women out there. What an honor to be a woman.”
You don’t need to have expert false lash application skills to achieve a thick, long, dramatic lash look. The right volumizing mascara will do just that — no glue required. It will ensure your lashes are anything but subtle.
Plus, I have a quick application tip for you to help your lashes look as voluminous as possible. Before swiping the wand all the way through your lashes, start by wiggling the bristles into the base of your lashes and lightly stamping the mascara against your waterline. This simple step will help even the sparsest fringe look instantly fuller by filling in the gaps between your lashes. Afterward, you can proceed with your usual mascara application technique. Keep scrolling to discover 14 of the best volumizing mascaras to practice that tip with.
Maybelline New York The Falsies Lash Lift Mascara
This affordable thickening mascara left its mark on New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2020 at Christian Siriano, Jason Wu, and Naeem Khan, to name a few. Makeup artist Gato says he loves this washable formula for runway shows because it makes an impact but is easy to remove.
Los Angeles-based makeup artist Fiona Stiles has been a fan of Charlotte Tilbury Full Fat Lashes 5 Star Mascara since it launched. The reason? “It’s a great mascara that gives lashes a full, fluffy effect,” she says. “I can always count on it not to clog up fake lashes when I apply it over them, which happens a lot with other mascaras.”
Allure’s digital beauty reporter Devon Abelman has lost track of how many tubes of Tarte Maneater Voluptuous Mascara she’s gone through. Because its formula veers on the drier side, quickly layer on the product for a luscious look that could easily be mistaken for lash extensions.
CoverGirl makes some of the internet’s highest-rated drugstore mascaras, so it’s no shocker that the masses love the recently released Exhibitionist Mascara too. That hourglass-shaped brush is loaded with long, dense bristles, so one coat can go a long, long way.
The Wander Beauty Unlashed Volume & Curl Mascara doesn’t just add drama to lashes, it also lengthens and helps them hold a curl. The versatile pick has won a Best of Beauty Award because you can add multiple layers without worrying about your lashes looking spidery.
Lattes, facials, and gummies aren’t the only things spiked with CBD oil lately. The Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara is too, and Los Angeles-based makeup artist Molly R. Stern is feeling it. “The brush is great and deposits a full lash every time,” she says.
Los Angeles-based makeup artist Mai Quynh swears by the Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara for serious lash volume. “I love the formula because it gives lashes a fullness without making them clumpy,” she says. “Also, it’s not flaky and I really love the smell!” Yes, you read that right. This is one of the few mascaras that doesn’t smell like paint.
Professional makeup artists and Allure editors alike often find themselves reaching for the beloved Dior Diorshow Mascara. Stoj, an MUA based in New York City, prefers it for an extreme-volume effect. “This mascara is enriched with microfibers to give you the most voluminous lashes,” he says.
As soon as you grace your lashes with the Chanel Le Volume de Chanel Mascara, you’ll probably have the same reaction as New York City-based makeup artist Joseph Carrillo has every time he uses it: “It’s like wow, thicker, fuller, drama, sexy, sultry,” he says.
Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara
Allure’s digital assistant beauty editor Angela Trakoshis only had to try Fenty’s Full Frontal Mascara one time to know she was in it for the long haul. Thanks to the drastically different bristles on either side of its brush, you can swipe on one thin layer of mascara for length, or coat it on until you’ve reached full-volume capacity. “It normally takes me four coats of mascara to get my desired lash, but thanks to Rihanna, it now only takes two,” Trakoshis says.
This drugstore selection has won both a Best of Beauty Award and a Readers’ Choice Award for its glossy black formula and wand, which is decked out with supershort bristles that help fan out lashes. Be sure to twirl the wand as you sweep it through your lashes to take full advantage of its maximizing powers.
The first time New York City-based makeup artist Chiao-Li used Givenchy Noir Couture Volume Mascara, she was shocked: “It really makes your lashes look super voluminous and doesn’t clump at all,” she says. “It’s my absolute favorite whenever I want to create great volume without using false lashes.” She recommends layering it over a coat of Chanel Inimitable Waterproof Mascara for a longer-lasting curl and over-the-top vibe.
Just as its name suggests, Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara comes with a pretty beefy wand. Don’t be intimidated by its size. Allure’s digital deputy beauty director Sophia Panych believes it’s the key to nearly doubling the thickness of your lashes.
If you’ve ever lusted after Emily Ratajkowski or Shay Mitchell’s lashes, chances are Los Angeles-based makeup artist Patrick Ta raked Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara through their fringes. “This is one of the blackest mascaras I’ve ever used,” he says. “If you are looking for intense definition, you have to give this a try!”
Although we’re in the midst of a pandemic, that doesn’t mean we can’t do a full face beat every now and then. Whether it’s for a virtual happy hour with friends or an important meeting over Zoom, it’s important to make sure that beat doesn’t budge — especially after sitting under the glow of the computer screen for hours on end. Luckily, the easiest way to ensure your flawlessly applied foundation, blinding highlighter, and sharp-winged liner doesn’t melt off mid-Zoom, is by incorporating a setting spray — aka hairspray for your face — into your routine.
According to Los Angeles-based cosmetic chemist Victoria Vohland, setting spray is made up of three components: water, alcohol, and a film former that create a barrier to prevent makeup from slipping. It’s the same chemical formula used in hair gel, just made safer and gentle enough to use on the face.
To use, simply give your whole face a mist, or in cues. New York City-based makeup artist Tommy applies setting spray in a zig-zag motion on his clients, starting on the forehead and moving down to the chin. “I spritz it on the skin in distance to help rehydrate the face after applying makeup,” he says.
Another tip, courtesy of makeup artist Kate Lee, who works with celebrities such as Charlize Theron, Anne Hathaway, and Emma Roberts, dampens a Beautyblender with the magic liquid before pressing it on the skin to smooth out dry patches or creased makeup.
With these tips in mind, here are the best setting sprays on the market right now to ensure your makeup lasts all day (with a mask or just on its own), according to Allure editors and makeup artists.
Urban Decay All Nighter Long Lasting Makeup Setting Spray
Another 2020 Best of Beauty winner, the Urban Decay All Nighter Long Lasting Makeup Setting Spray is a longtime favorite of Allure editors and makeup artists alike. The microfine mist lets you dance the night away (on Zoom, of course) without worrying about your foundation melting off or your shadow creasing. You’ll seriously be set for 16 hours straight.
When assistant beauty editor Angela Trakoshis first tried Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray, she didn’t have high hopes because setting sprays never really work for her. Luckily, it proved to be the exception. “My makeup lasted all day — even under a mask — and that, my friends, is impressive,” she says.
The way Hourglass Veil Soft Focus Setting Spray is part makeup lock, part skin moisturizer, all with lots of staying power. The Allure Best of Beauty 2020 Award winner creates an invisible shield over skin to give it a forgiving finish if you have any blemishes while keeping your makeup in place for the day.
It was the very specific scent of INN Beauty’s Power Up Dual-Phase Face Mist that made staff writer Nicola Dall’Asen fall in love with the setting spray. According to her, it smells just like a Muji store, which is extremely soothing to her organizational Virgo side. Scent aside, it’s also a damn good finisher, she says. “I’ve gone through the whole bottle so quickly because as it turns out, it’s really good at melting all my makeup together and keeping in place for the day,” says Dall’Asen.
Milani Make It Last Setting Spray Prime + Correct + Set
The Milani Make It Last Setting Spray Prime + Correct + Set doubles as both as a primer and a finisher, which makes it that more of a favorite to assistant beauty editor Kat Suico. “I love that I’ve found a drugstore option that works well for me,” she says. “This spray comes out in a fine mist that covers my face in about two to three pumps. I’m convinced it grips and helps makeup last all day.”
L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Shake and Glow Dew Mist
I love a good multi-tasking product, which is why the L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Shake and Glow Dew Mist earned a 2020 Best of Beauty Award. Use it as a skin freshener when you need a pick-me-up. The coconut water and vitamin C will prime and give dull skin a boost. And then spritz again after applying makeup to set it.
If you’d spend $5 to have your makeup last all day — look no further. E.L.F.’s Makeup Mist & Set Spray was one of the staples in editorial assistant Gabi Thorne’s makeup bag when the drugstore aisle was the primary source of her collection. “It keeps my foundation lasting all day long for a very low price and leaves a nice mist of product on the face without feeling like you’ve been attacked by the spritzer,” says Thorne.
Tower 28 Beauty SOS Save.Our.Skin Daily Rescue Facial Spray
The Tower 28 Beauty SOS Save.Our.Skin Daily Rescue Facial Spray is a very gentle formula made with saltwater and hypochlorous acid, which calms irritated skin and soothes inflammation. Los Angeles-based makeup artist Robin Black like to spritz it on a clean face before applying skin care and makeup. “It’s also great midday as a quick makeup refresh and at night before bed,” she says.
Marc Jacobs (Re)Cover Perfecting Coconut Setting Mist
The Marc Jacobs (Re)Cover Perfecting Coconut Setting Mist is described as a ‘micro-mist,’ this milky spray is so fine you’ll need to bring the bottle just four inches from your face to feel the full effect. Once you do let the mist hit, it’s ah-mazing. Post-spritz, your skin will look slightly dewier and happier.
Makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes loves the Pixi by Petra Makeup Fixing Mist because it does exactly what it says it does: fixes makeup. Use this mist throughout the day when you feel like your base may be moving, it’ll freshen it up with just one or two spritzes.
“I’ve never really been a fan of setting sprays, but I recently discovered the Supergoop Defense Refresh Setting Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 50,” says makeup artist Molly R. Stern. This setting spray is great for someone who wants a matte finish or works outside. You can ‘reapply’ your sunscreen midday, which is a necessity, without messing up your makeup.
“This lightweight mist is always in my kit,” says makeup artist Elisa Flowers. According to Flowers, the MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ helps prep the skin for makeup, refreshes it during the day when products tend to separate on the skin, and makes for a great mixer if you add it to powder products.
If glass skin is what you’re after, then Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Dewy Set Setting Spray was made for you. The 2019 Best of Beauty winner gives skin a gorgeous radiance with zero shimmer or sparkle to be found — and it locks makeup in place for hours. Just call it liquid gold.