Makeup or Make-Believe?

By Mingye Zhu

Makeup is something that is so incremental in our day-to-day lives. We use it to enhance our beauty, and sometimes, as a hybrid with special effects to create characters or works of art. The path to a more experimental approach to makeup has been paved by YouTubers, Film and TV, and Fashion makeup artists, amongst others. The makeup and beauty industry has accelerated alongside the acceleration of the digital revolution, in a way that allows us to explore fantasy.

Special effects (SFX) makeup artist Anna Cichon is fully versed in bringing fantasy to life. Having been working in the industry for 16 years, Cichon creates a hybrid of makeup artistry to create these ethereal characters.

Credit: Anna Cichon

Cichon’s creation below was inspired by Virginie Ropars’ figure of a doll ‘Waterfall’. Virginie Ropars’ figures are in between sculpture, fashion design and illustration which has a big influence on Cichon. Anna Cichon recreated this beautiful figure by using her professional makeup technique such as mold and sculpting in plastelin to give the audience the special visual effects, to create a hybrid image of an elf and human.

Anna Cichon’s makeup work inspired by Virginie Ropars

Fashion magazines, often use makeup looks that have striking colours, to catch the readers’ attention and make an impactful first impression. Professional makeup artist (MUA) and initial creative director of Illamasqua; Alex Box, is known for her dramatic, colourful, and surreal makeup looks. As well as working and collaborating with some of the biggest names in fashion publication and design, she has a signature style that she has dubbed ‘Emotional Makeup’, which brings together and conveys emotion and movement using colour.

The video below shows Alex Box’s process as almost performance art, it was the first time Alex showed her process online with the public, and it is amazing to see how she brings together this hybrid of layers, colour, shadow and light, to create such a textured work of art.

When we think of make-believe and makeup, sometimes we think of Halloween, dressing-up, Japanese Manga, or Cosplay. In 2019, Youtuber Sarah New Sfx did a Halloween makeup tutorial that reached 9.4K view. In her video, she used a basic smoky eye makeup proceedure with the colour gold and black. Some black and golden rhinestones give the whole make up the sense of coruscating eye-catching effect.

Peter Philips, the creative and image director of Christian Dior Makeup and previous creative director in Chanel Makeup, is an important promoter in the industry. Having studied fashion at Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, he started his makeup career backstage at Paris Fashion Week in his final year as a student. After this unique experience, he built an outstanding profile as a makeup artist, who has worked with famous designers such as Raf Simons and Karl Lagerfeld. His philosophy of makeup is more between ’artist’ and ‘makeup artist’, for example, utilizing abnormal materials for makeup. 

Lotstar (Lottie) is another great example among creative makeup artists under the theme hybrid. She followed in the footsteps of Peter Philips, in that she studied graphic design at school and did an internship in a magazine company but as an accountant. As a self-taught makeup artist, she was recognized by many big-name makeup artists such as Pat McGrath who is nominated by Vogue, as the most influential makeup artist in the world, and mentored her to establish the reputation of Lotstar. Following the path of many successful makeup artists, Lotstar launched her own makeup line named Lottie London®. Her products emphasise using a lot of vibrant colours such as the collaboration with Laila Loves Neon Eye Palette.

Whilst the creative makeup is on the main stage of the fashion magazine and other public platforms, some YouTubers are putting their attention on ‘painting’ on their face. Their approach to creative beauty shows that the human faces can be another canvas, in which to experiment. For example, Youtuber Katt Legaspi created many tutorials to build creative visual effects on her face.

Makeup is also a way to remodelling us from the outside to resonate the inner soul. YouTuber @anzujaamu won NYX Face Awards Türkiye 2019 PROUD SOUL with her work inspired by narcissus’ story and icarus’ aesthetic. Watching this makeup work, you may involuntarily be pulled into a faerie where everyone was not human-like but is truly themselves somehow.

When art is no longer confined to its form, makeup artists combined their delicate makeup work with an unconventional idea, created makeup with a hybrid soul. And thanks to all the makeup artist-owned superior vision of aesthetic sense, some fanciful images in our mind are becoming vivid and live.

Special thanks to Anna Cichon.

Click here to read another post about hybrid.