Looking forward to welcoming more and more of you to my wonderful community across all social media platforms!
Milani Hypnotic Lights Eye Toppers
The five shades of these liquid eye toppers offer a glimmering texture of color and duo-chrome finish and dry down to a stay-put formula. You can tap them on top of another eye shadow for an even more multidimensional effect or wear alone for enough sparkle to spot from a mile away — they’re some of the shiniest eye shadows you can find at the drugstore.
$12 (Shop Now)
Dose of Colors Block Party Eyeshadow
These glimmering powder eye shadows are legends of makeup swatching. Just one swipe across the pan with your finger picks up the dazzling opaquely-pigmented powder, delivering a foil-finish, jewel-toned shade in one fell swoop. Available in 20 shades, these are so popular, Dose of Colors’ website has put a two-per-customer limit on purchasing. (If you’re in a golden mood, this one is called Heart of Gold.)
$20 (Shop Now)
ISH Shimmy Shadows
These pots contain what appears to be tiny metallic foil flakes that when pressed with your finger onto your skin leave a mirror-like finish. Not kidding — it’s like someone shattered a disco ball and somehow made it safe to smear on your eyelids. Not gonna ask questions, just going to keep shining.
$22 (Shop Now)
Bobbi Brown Longwear Sparkle Stick
Bobbi Brown’s eye shadow sticks are already some of the most long-lasting in the game, and now with these limited-edition sparkly versions, your lids can glimmer all day into all night (and dawn, depending on how the night goes).
$30 (Shop Now)
Huda Beauty Rose Gold Remastered Eyeshadow Palette
Huda Beauty gave its already popular rose gold eye shadow palette an upgrade with the Remastered version, which keeps its most glittery shadows in a row at the top. They’re the most unbelievably buttery foil-like metallics that feel like silk but look like molten metal when you sweep them across your lids. Honestly, it’s just a really stunning formula.
$65 (Shop Now)
Wet n Wild Color Icon Metallic Liquid Eyeshadow
Dab one of these four chrome liquid shadows on your lids for long-lasting shine. At first, they’re wet, but once they dry down, they won’t budge no matter how much you sweat (or cry). Extremely smudge-proof.
$5 (Shop Now)
L’Oréal Paris Infallible Paints Metallics Eye Shadow
When this formula won a Best of Beauty award, Allure’s editorial assistant, Jesa Marie Calaor, called it her “desert island beauty product.” Its pigmented enough to live up to its metallic name upon first swipe, but it can easily be sheered out for a subtle glow. I love the rose gold shade called Rose Chrome.
$9 (Shop Now)
Urban Decay Distortion Eyeshadow Palette
Mix and match these 15 technicolor shadows to create a multi-dimensional, prismatic look that mermaids and unicorns would be jealous.
$48 (Shop Now)
Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow
Previewed on the runway at the BCBG Max Azria spring/summer 2018 show, Stila’s latest liquid eyeshadow is a glitter-free version of the popular (and often sold-out) Glitter & Glow formula. Blend it on the center of your lids to create a halo effect.
$24 (Shop Now)
Too Faced Chocolate Gold palette
Too Faced added another edition of its popular collection of chocolate-scented palettes. This time around, the palette is all about razzle-dazzle with shades like Drippin’ Diamonds (the silver) and Money Bags (the emerald).
$49 (Shop Now)
Tarte Chrome Paint Shadow Pot
Inside this rose gold pot you’ll find a creamy powder that is so reflective, your eyelids will look like little mirrors.
$22 (Shop Now)
Kevyn Aucoin Electropop Pro Eyeshadow Palette
Why limit yourself to one metallic hue when you can shop a palette that covers basically every shade of the rainbow and then some? All 12 of the powder shadows in the Kevyn Aucoin Electropop Pro Eyeshadow Palette are packed with shimmer, and a couple even have color-shifting pigments.
$57 (Shop Now)
Make Up For Ever Artist Color Shadow
Make Up For Ever just launched a whopping 121-shade range of shadows, but this pretty-in-pink one has to be one of my favourites. In the pan, ME-840 appears to be a plum. However, when brushed on, it transforms into a bright watermelon pink with a warm purple base.
$17 (Shop Now)
Natasha Denona Lila Eyeshadow Palette
Meet the cashmere of eye shadows. These pans are filled with the softest powders you’ll ever dip your fingers into. They aren’t so soft that they disappear once they are on your face, though. Instead, the pigment looks exactly as it does in the palette as it does on lids.
$128 (Shop Now)
Tom Ford Private Shadow in Warm Leatherette
Sub this bronzey hue in for your usual smoky eye shadow color to add some warmth and twinkle to your look.
$36 (Shop Now)
Pat McGrath Labs Mothership II Eyeshadow Palette – Sublime
Pat McGrath’s limited edition metallic makeup blew off digital shelves so often that she decided to put together three permanent palettes. You can guarantee they will forever be in stock, and they’ll give your eyes that mesmerizingly shiny finish that everyone double taps on the makeup artist’s Instagram (to see -> Instagram).
$125 (Shop Now)
Chanel Illusion d’Ombre Eyeshadow
Just like the vampires in Twilight: New Moon, Chanel’s New Moon shadow will make your lids sparkle in the sunlight. Nostalgic reference aside, this cream shadow blends seamlessly onto lids with just with a couple windshield wiper motions across them.
$36 (Shop Now)
At a time when mask-wearing is de rigueur, it’s no surprise that, where makeup is concerned, our attention has turned to enhancing the eyes. The distracting, spirit-lifting power of exploring new looks should not be underestimated, and from lashes to lids, and even temples, options abound.
Val Garland, makeup artist and Vogue contributing beauty editor, agrees. “Now the eye area has become our focus, it’s all about liner, lashes and brows,” she says, before singling out the graphic look of the 1960s. “Get your flick on, but switch the black and brown for navy or rich forest-green. Perfect your brows and flutter your lashes with mega volume – the strong nature of this makeup is what makes it so appealing.”
The Vogue archive holds a wealth of inspiration for looks to emulate, so here, for your delectation, is an illustrated retrospective highlighting creative expression through makeup. Look to those graphic ’60s looks, the abandon of the 1970s, the freewheeling freedom of the 1980s or the makeup magic of the modern day. This is your ultimate moodboard – and it’s a place where imagination knows no limits.
One of the earlier illustrative examples of eye makeup in Vogue, this now iconic image serves as a reminder to never forget the drama of a single sweep of colour.
Legendary makeup artist Barbara Daly created this heavenly look, applying frosted blue “halos” around the eyes to ethereal effect.
Get the look: try Mac Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Tilt, £16 – and remember, the more exaggerated the application, the better.
Model Celia Hammond looks out of this world thanks to makeup artist Pablo Manzoni. When an image is simultaneously nostalgic and futuristic, the results are timeless.
Get the look: use YSL Beauty Sequin Crush Eyeshadow in Empowered Silver, £27, to create silver moons on the eyelids, then frame with full-on lashes for a 1960s throwback.
Photographer and makeup design director Tyen is a master of colour. This 31-year-old kaleidoscopic approach still fires up the imagination.
Get the look: use Nars Cool Crush Eyeshadow Palette, £56, as the starting point for this incredible multifaceted look.
Marsha Hunt looks on the bright side, courtesy of makeup artist Sammy Lopez.
Get the look: try multicoloured arcs of eyeliner using different shades from Dior Diorshow On Stage Liner collection, £27.50 each, for a modern-day interpretation.
Life Imitating Art
Follow Barbara Daly’s illustrative approach with swooshes and sweeps of differing tones around the eyes.
Get the look: go for the most vivid colour combinations that you dare. Consider the painterly shades in Lancôme’s La Rose Eyeshadow Palette, £45, for inspiration.
This iconic cover image of Donyale Luna – the first Black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue – called for the powerful statement of dramatic eyeliner.
Get the look: trace Estée Lauder Little Black Liner, £24, along the lash line, and be sure to elongate the shape for that super-sleek effect.
The Pat Effect
Influenced by the makeup of the 1970s, Pat McGrath, Vogue’s beauty editor-at-large, created this shimmering aquatic moment on model Adwoa Aboah for Edward Enninful’s inaugural edition as editor-in-chief.
Get the look: sweep and blend the cooler tones from Pat McGrath Labs Mothership I: Subliminal Palette, £120, to surround the eyes.
Grace Coddington, now a British Vogue contributing fashion editor, stars as the muse for this portrait, which sees maxi lashes and exaggerated winged liner take centre stage (with hair by Christopher at Vidal Sassoon).
Get the look: layer up an excess of Gucci Mascara L’Obscur, £40, on both top and bottom lashes, tracing in extra lashes on the lower line for added drama.
Why not look to sequins and pearls to accessorise the lower lash line, like model Marika Green? Appliqué accents instantly prettify any makeup.
Just as Harris Reed’s clothing offers an important voice in the conversation around the way we define masculinity and gender identity in fashion, a limited-edition collaboration with MAC Cosmetics created by the 24-year-old British-American designer is set to redefine the way we approach makeup.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #37 series on my blog.
“Beauty is fluid, beauty is for everyone and I can’t wait to see how people are going to use this collection to show their version of self-expression and fluidity,” Harris told Vogue, practically shrieking down the phone with excitement. “That’s what I’m super excited about.”
“My first experiences with makeup were with my friends at a MAC store getting ready for prom and it was the brand that I first saw putting make-up on ‘boys’’, they explain, citing MAC as the perfect partner. “For it to even trust me, and take on my strong-ass message of fighting for fluidity, I have to say, has just felt like the most beautiful partnership.”
One of Harris’s personal highlights to come from the collaboration is that it will enable their hundreds of thousands of followers the opportunity to own their own part of the Harris Reed brand and feel included in its wider message. “It’s such an emotional thing for me. I’ve been so incredibly lucky that millions of people have seen the things I’ve worked on and have been a part of, but have maybe until now they’ve not been able to buy into it. This is now something that anyone can get their hands on and be a part of. It doesn’t feel real, it feels crazy.”
The millennial-pink packaged collection is made up of four products, each of which offers a plethora of possibilities to play around with. A smudge of one shade into your hairline could work mixed with another swept over your eyelids for a trip to the shop – just as Harris did when creating the palettes. Though MAC has a history of being used by professionals, this collection has a level of tactility to it that the least acquainted with makeup can become quickly familiar with. The fact that there are no application brushes is deliberate – Harris prefers the human touch.
“It is very much about a playfulness and the joy of makeup,” Harris continues. “As someone who makes clothes that take a couple of weeks to produce, if I want to make a statement with makeup, it literally takes me seconds with a good lipstick or eyeshadow. As I have pushed this idea of a more fluid space in a more fluid world, I’ve really loved that makeup can always be that gorgeous icing on top. It doesn’t only complete the look but, it also completes the message, acting as that extra ounce of light to help radiate what I stand for.”
Much like their clothing, the inspiration behind the colours and products is a major meeting of eras and aesthetics, resulting in an overall “glam-luxe romanticism gone non-binary,” they say. “It is a mix between Studio 54 and rococo, but also think a full renaissance party. You can start with this very beautiful, very whimsical approach and then by the end you can end up with this Studio-54-inspired gold eyeshadow all over your face, even pushing up to the hairline.” Their hero product? A trio of lipsticks called ‘From Harris, With Love’ that reminds them of their first forays into makeup and looking at lipsticks with their mum as a child. “I know those are the ones that I will keep on me at a party, applying, applying and applying.”
Harris’s own approach to beauty and using makeup for themselves has shifted as their sense of self has grown — most notably after they started at Central Saint Martins, emerged in London’s creative scene. Yet they weren’t always so comfortable and forthcoming with using products for themselves. “Being around fabulously flamboyant people really pushed me in the way that I wanted to express myself in terms of my gender identity and being creative across so many areas,” they said.
“[Wearing makeup] has made me have a much more honest approach to my identity. Like anything, it can be scary if you’re not familiar with it. The minute I thought of makeup as a tool to use to send a message and spark a story, was when I started having a way more playful approach. It gave me a space to feel that everything was okay. It definitely was a journey and now I realise that you write your own rulebook.”
The four-piece collection is a small but mighty push for us all to rethink how we use and approach makeup. Harris doesn’t see using cosmetics any differently to employing a fabulous fashion accessory when putting an outfit together. “I think if I, and this collection, can be of any influence to make people look at makeup as a tool to be who you want to be, then that’s job done,” they said.
“Try and not think of makeup as something that makes you look ‘pretty’ and try and not look at it as something that you use to make yourself better, but to explore and enhance something within you. Use makeup as a tool to be your most authentic self.”
Model: Kaleigh Elizabeth Park
Photographer: Carmelo @reelmelo
- Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation, Concealer & Powder
- Smashbox Photofinish Primerizer
- Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Face Primer
- Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit
- MAC Doublegleam highlighter
- Patrick Ta She’s Sincere blush
- Benefit Precisely My Brow in Neutral Medium Brown & 24H Clear Brow Setting Gel
- NYX Epic Wear Liquid Eyeliner in White
- MAC Lip Pencil in Boldly Bare & Lipglass in Love Nectar
(Disclaimer: I do have Kaleigh’s consent to post her images on designated websites including Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, and use in my digital portfolio.)
- Make Up For Ever ULTRA HD Foundation & Concealer
- Smashbox Photofinish Primerizer
- MAC Studio Fix Powder
- Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit
- Laura Mercier Blush in Peach
- Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone
- Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Medium Brown & Clear Brow Gel
- KVD Tattoo Ink Trooper Liner
- Dominique Cosmetics Rustic Glam Eyeshadow Palette
- MAC Cosmetics Love Me Lipstick in Tres Blase
(Disclaimer: I do have Keanna’s consent to post her images on designated websites including Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, and use in my digital portfolio.)
From Dior and Chromat to Chloé and Valentino, winged eyeliner dominated the SS21 shows, in bright colours, graphic lines, and geometric shapes. Today, the feline-inspired beauty go-to is highly individualistic and takes many forms — but where did it all start?
The cat-eye flick is undoubtedly one of the most powerful makeup statements of all time. The sultry, feline-inspired beauty go-to has been made a style signature by many, from the queens of ancient Egypt to its modern-day incarnations at the SS21 shows of Dior, Valentino, and Chloé.
From cultural traditions to famous interpretations worn by screen legends Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor, Vogue charts the fascinating history of the iconic winged-eyeliner look.
The origins of the cat-eye flick
The cat-eye is one of the oldest makeup tricks in the world, dating back to ancient Egypt (from 3100 BC to 332 BC). The look was said to have been made popular by the likes of Nefertiti and later, Cleopatra, who used minerals such as copper ore and malachite to create either thick lines etched from the eye upwards to the hairline, or little flicks that stretched out parallel to the brow. The style was also popular among men, as exemplified by Pharaoh Seti I.
According to beauty historian and Makeup Museum co-founder Doreen Bloch, kohl and minerals were worn around the eyes for health reasons. “Kohl had immunological and antibacterial properties that supported eye health and minimised glare from the sun,” she tells Vogue. “So, ancient Egyptians, especially the ruling class, would use this cosmetic for health benefits, and lined their eyes accordingly.” Samples of makeup from ancient Egypt on display at the Louvre were found to contain nitric oxide, which is said to help revitalise the immune system.
As well as for health reasons, women wore a cat-eye as a way of warding off evil spirits. “Women used kohl liner for centuries as protection against the evil eye,” says Makeup Museum co-founder and celebrity makeup artist Rachel Goodwin. “But, like most things, the practice evolved into a way of signifying social status, eventually becoming the ultimate sign of beauty for both women and men of all ranks.”
Though the idea of the cat eye is believed to have its roots in ancient Egypt, there were also both subtle and extreme forms seen in men and women in ancient Asia and the Middle East, dating back to 3000 BC. In the latter, for example, crushed-up kohl (made from lead sulfide and other minerals mixed with water) was used around the eyes as a means of protection from the harsh desert climate.
A re-emergence in the ’20s
In the west, the story of the cat-eye as we know it began in the ’20s, with inimitable French entertainer Josephine Baker wearing the style during her intoxicating dance performances. Elsewhere, actresses Louise Brooks and Greta Nissen wore it for their red-carpet appearances, teamed with high-volume lashes and skinny brows.
“The discoveries of items from ancient Egypt [in the ’10s and ’20s], such as the bust of Queen Nefertiti, put styles and looks from a bygone era into the public consciousness,” explains Bloch. “Movies such as 1917’s Cleopatra,starring Theda Bara, showed the cat-eye worn by a modern-day superstar. As cosmetics became more acceptable for use by mainstream women, eyeliner became more prevalent.”
The look brought about a sense of theatre, mystery, and exoticism, which tied in with the rebellious flapper fashion of the time, as women were shedding their restrictive garments and cutting their hair short. During this period, soot and Vaseline were mixed together to create the eyeliner.
Recreated by mid-century icons
The cat-eye was the style du jour during the ’50s and ’60s, with women making it part of their everyday style. Less dramatic than that of the ’20s, pin-up icons such as Hedy Lamarr would wear subtle, skinny flicks of winged liner both on-screen and off.
The ’50s saw the mass production and commercialisation of makeup, and the invention of liquid eyeliner. “That innovation, plus movie makeup artists Max Factor, Ben Nye and the Westmores using the style on Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, and Audrey Hepburn, helped define a whole new era in beauty,” says Goodwin.
In Italy, some of the biggest movie stars of the ’60s, such as Sophia Loren, captivated audiences with their own version: swiped-on inky black, with heavy lashes and dark brown or blue shadow worn to the crease. “There’s a vintage ’50s advertisement from beauty brand Borghese, which speaks to Italian women about ‘a new eye look called ‘cat’s eye’,” explains Bloch.
Meanwhile, British model Twiggy gave the look a space-age twist with her graphic lines and feathered lower lashes. There was also Elizabeth Taylor, whose turn as Cleopatra in Hollywood’s 1963 epic only reinforced its overwhelming popularity. And, finally, model Pattie Boyd, who in 1965 wrote a beauty column for US magazine 16, on how to perfect the subtle cat-eye flick.
Sweeping through music and youth culture
The cat-eye took a turn in the ’70s and ’80s as youth culture exploded, with punks, goths, grunge lovers, and metal fans taking the look and making it their own. Blondie’s lead singer Debbie Harry wore a smudgy, messy cat-eye in the ’80s, and her fans followed suit, as did fellow rockstar Pat Benatar.
Style pioneers Grace Jones and David Bowie played with feline shapes and mixed new colours with bolder lashings of blush to amp it up even more. Bowie was known to use Indian kohl around his eyes, often lining the lashes and sweeping up slightly. “I always had a repulsive sort of need to be something more than human,” he once told Rolling Stone of his makeup application.
Elsewhere, Siouxsie Sioux experimented with sharp lines and graphic shapes, as did Robert Smith of The Cure. Egyptian actress Soad Hosny was also fond of a feline flick, as was China-born Singaporean star Gong Li, especially in the early days of her career in the ’80s and ’90s.
By the time the 2000s rolled around, the cat-eye was divided into two camps. Amy Winehouse took the classic look and blew up its proportions with a heavy-handed wing that extended past the eyebrow. Other celebs, such as Lauren Conrad on US reality TV show Laguna Beach, went for a much more subtle version.
“The early 2000s became a time in the world where there was suddenly a lot of nostalgia for the Golden Age of Hollywood,” says Goodwin. “Women such as Gwen Stefani and Dita Von Teese began paying homage to their beauty icons. The cat-eye was moved forward and reframed through a reverent and rebellious lens.”
Iterations on the runway and social media
Today, makeup artists such as Pat McGrath, Fatima Thomas, and Isamaya Ffrench are refining the shape for a modern generation. At Chloé spring/summer 2021, McGrath lined the models’ eyes in a smoky, sultry, elongated cat eye, which extended from the bottom waterline. Meanwhile, at Chromat, Thomas did duochrome neon in cobalt blue and highlighter green.
For Dior, Peter Philips executed a thick yet minimal look that wrapped around the entire eye. At Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood, Ffrench used exaggerated white-and-black pigment and drew ’80s-inspired winged lines towards the temples. Makeup artists are taking the humble cat-eye to new heights, making it both customisable and adaptable to the prevailing mood of whoever is wearing it.
On social media, beauty Instagrammers such as Juliana Horner create works of art based on the simple cat-eye, as does directional makeup artist Rowi Singh. A search for ‘cat-eye’ on Instagram gets 2.6m results, proof of its popularity, and you’ll see the classic shape covered in rhinestones, red and orange flames, cloud motifs, chunks of glitter, and even flower petals.
“The biggest evolution of the cat eye is that unlike past eras where it symbolised social status or conformity, it now symbolises the total opposite,” says Goodwin. “The cat-eye of today is much more versatile, and it moves with ease between classic beauty applications and subculture with absolutely no irony.”
Canadian-born London-based makeup artist Michael Brooks, also known as The Brooks Brother, made his YouTube debut in 2017 and has since then been inspiring his followers with his mesmerizing, artistic beauty looks. Having landed his role as Smashbox Cosmetics UK’s pro MUA earlier this year, Brooks has been paving the way for queer creatives by advocating for better representation and diversity within the beauty industry.
At a young age, Brooks already had an eye for glamor and beauty. The moment he saw his favorite alternative, pop punk boy bands wear makeup was when he decided to experiment with his own looks and explore his talent. With additional interests in music, art, digital content creation and fashion, the multi-disciplinary creative is changing the game and is definitely a talent to watch.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #25 series on my blog.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how your passion for makeup started?
I grew up in Canada, in a suburb just east of Toronto. I’ve always had an interest in the arts and I studied various areas of visual and performing arts throughout my entire childhood, but I’ve always been fixated on glamor and beauty. At around 12 or 13 years old, I began to take notice of men I saw wearing makeup in my favorite alternative/pop punk boy bands and I wanted to try it myself. Around that same time, I was involved in some performing arts extra-curricular activities, so the idea of wearing makeup on stage didn’t seem odd to me. I’m very fortunate to have grown up in a home that prioritized my happiness, self-expression and safety above all. As I got older, I moved farther away from my music, dance and theater studies and grew an attachment to wearing makeup and providing it as a service to others. After high school, I decided to take a certificate course in makeup artistry. I’ve been doing it professionally since.
How did the opportunity to work with Smashbox Cosmetics UK come to be?
I’ve been working on and off in retail makeup for the better part of my career, and a lot of that has been within the Estée Lauder group of beauty brands. Most recently, I started with Smashbox in their studio space in March of 2020. I had worked on a few freelance campaigns in their studio for another cosmetics brand in 2019 and happened to meet the manager of the space. When they had a position become available, I was put forward and was looking for a change, so I went for it. As you can imagine, with all the changes our world has seen this year, it hasn’t been at all what I expected. Starting a new position with a new brand in the midst of a global pandemic certainly has impacted the process.
“The online social community is a real place for inspiration and discovery, which keeps me going through this challenging time.”
You started making YouTube videos before moving to London. What would you say are the biggest differences between Canada and the UK’s creative industry?
The sheer size of the creative industry in the UK is the biggest difference I’ve noticed. In London, there’s always room for someone to break in, as long as you’re willing to work for free, network until you’re blue in the face and never give up. I feel like my attempts to break into the creative industry in Toronto barely scratched the surface because it’s much smaller. Bigger cities tend to have more opportunities, as long as you’re willing to take them on.
Who are some of your queer beauty icons?
Being totally honest here – there aren’t enough queer beauty icons, especially men. I’ve always admired RuPaul Charles and what he’s done with his career, as well as NikkieTutorials, Kevyn Aucoin, Indya Moore, Kabuki and Munroe Bergdorf.
What are some challenges you’ve faced working as an MUA amid COVID-19? How have you been able to overcome those obstacles?
Well, I basically surrendered my entire freelance makeup artist career to the virus and I still have not picked it up. Unfortunately, I simply don’t feel safe working that close to anyone’s face. Over the last two and a half years, I hustled to make a name for myself in a new city and country, only to have it completely squashed by COVID-19. That one still hurts.
But in staying home and making more use of my own face, I turned my hobby of posting online into a job. Now, I’m spending my time creating looks, video and photo content and getting paid for it. There are so many people out there using platforms like Instagram for creating content and to express themselves. The online social community is a real place for inspiration and discovery, which keeps me going through this challenging time. The loss, which is hopefully temporary, came with a gain.
In what ways do you think the dynamic of the beauty industry has changed this past year?
Generally, I think the beauty industry is changing entirely. The beauty industry for online creatives and beauty content creators is in the midst of a continuous shift, and over the last year, I have seen more accountability from beauty brands, transparency on the inner workings of the “influencer” sphere, and a lot more people and former working makeup artists using themselves as their own canvas. The beauty industry desperately needs to prioritize more queer voices and faces, especially those of BIPOC folks. I’ve seen it more this year than ever but there is work to be done. The retail makeup space is undergoing a change in terms of the consumer experience, and a lot of brands are primarily e-commerce now. As for the creative world and working on set (not that I can speak from experience anymore), safety precautions are continuously evolving, but the show must go on. I feel like we’re all becoming more independent, and I think brands are starting to see their consumer as the authority, rather than the other way around.
“The beauty industry desperately needs to prioritize more queer voices and faces, especially those of BIPOC folks. I’ve seen it more this year than ever but there is work to be done.”
What does beauty mean to you?
Standing in your truth. Accepting what you love about yourself and also accepting what you might not love about yourself. To me, beauty is not only about how crisp your eyeliner is or how glowy your skin looks. It’s accepting all of yourself in all forms. Most importantly, it’s about doing what feels best, regardless of how the world sees you. If it feels right, do it.
What is your creative process like when coming up with your beauty looks?
It’s usually based on an image, shape or a specific group of colors. Sometimes I sketch it out when I’m really organized, and other times I wing it from an idea floating around in my head. When I can’t get it right, I’ll take a selfie and doodle on my own face until it makes sense to me. Executing it is a whole other venture. I’m a Pisces so my head is always in the clouds thinking of ideas.
What are your do’s and don’ts when it comes to makeup?
I don’t like telling people what they should and shouldn’t do with their makeup. My least favorite part of working as a makeup artist is the expectation that my opinion and experience is superior to someone else’s. It’s important to be able to offer my input when it’s needed, otherwise, I mind my business. What I will say is, don’t be afraid of makeup. Wear as much, as little as you want or nothing at all – however you want. It’s your face and it washes off.
Can you share with us any exciting projects you’re working on for the rest of 2020 and in the new year?
I was recently named one of three winners in a contest with a well-known makeup brand, so over the next few months and into the new year, I’ll be working collaboratively on a collection with one of my favorite musicians that is set to launch next summer. Easily the most exciting project I’ve ever been a part of!
I’m also taking part in Instagram‘s #ReelSelf Sessions this October, which is a virtual three-day event packed with exclusive content and inspirational talks to support creators to learn, grow and express creativity. The sessions themselves will cover everything from creativity online, how to get noticed and insider knowledge to keeping well online and offline, as well as forecasting new trends. The online world has been a great place of support for me, and I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences.
Otherwise, I’m always brainstorming ideas around how I’d like to leave my mark on the beauty industry. Hopefully, 2021 will bring me a return to my freelance makeup career, a new set of goals and more exciting opportunities.
“Everything I do, I’m predicting what the future will look like,” says Raisa Flowers. Throughout her career, the New York City makeup artist, club fixture, and model—she’s walked for shows like Gyspy Sport and Savage x Fenty—has been defying traditional beauty codes, challenging the industry’s status quo, and pushing for more Black representation in the editorial world. Amid the renewed urgency around the Black Lives Matter movement, she’s continuing to buck whitewashed beauty ideals and stretch the ordinary imagination with her ethereal cyborg aesthetic.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #22 series on my blog.
Flowers’s latest muse, Chinese and Jamaican model Symone Lu, embodies the kind of off-kilter beauty that drives and inspires her aesthetic. “A lot of people wouldn’t understand [her look] because she has a missing tooth, but it is a part of her character,” explains Flowers. “I feel like it brings out her confidence in this way. It’s going against the traditional aspects of what it means to be beautiful, and I love that.” From slicking Lu’s lids and lips in vinyl jet-black paint to drawing on a set of high-arched, pencil-thin brows to play up an icy gaze, Flowers helps her transform into two different real-life characters to chameleonic effect.
Of course, Flowers, with her bleached brows, supernatural skin, and constellation of piercings, continues to be her own canvas, too. On any given day, her presentation can run the gamut from natural to hypernatural to out of this world. “Some days I want to be freaky and wear contacts and do a whole look,” she says of her mesmerizing mismatched gaze paired with a glossy, mocha brown-lined mouth.
“These looks are reflective of myself, and the people who I create with,” says Flowers, who works regularly with singer Kelela and Brooklyn rapper Junglepussy. Looking light years ahead, Flowers has dreamed up three high-impact makeup looks that capture the symbiotic relationship between unapologetic self-expression and out-there oddities. “It’s super alienesque,” says Flowers. “I feel like in the future, that’s how we’re going to look anyways.”
“Glossy…shiny…cool,” is how Flowers describes the graphic black and crimson color story that Lu wears. Beneath a curtain of razor-sharp micro-fringe, Lu’s lids are painted with thick, out-to-there wings and punctuated by scarlet slashes along the brow bones. An onyx lip, blurred away at the sides, finishes the job.
The ultimate mutant hero muse? That would be Storm from X-Men. “She’s a character I relate to with her strength and how powerful she is,” explains Flowers, who helps Lu channel the Marvel character with ultra-thin brows ( “I love the skinny brow look because it reminds me of my mom,” she says), an icy blue cut-crease, white-out contacts, and overlined lips. “I wanted to play off the bouffant with the crazy makeup because I feel in the future, this is how housewives will look,” says Flowers.
“I wanted it to look super mismatchy,” says Flowers of her exaggerated, intentionally clashing cat eyes; one wing saturated in chalky white with a silver-blue contact, and the other a petrol blue with a dark, pupil-enlarging lens. “With most of my work, I’ll do something really intense [on the eyes], and then something more minimal on the lip,” says Flowers, adding harmony with a neutral yet striking nude lacquered lip traced with brown lip liner.