Ever wondered how multi-award-winning pop icon Rihanna always looks so flawless? Well, it’s all down to Priscilla Ono. The 35-year-old from California has been the global make-up artist for Fenty Beauty by Rihanna since its creation in 2017. Here, Priscilla tells us how she got involved with superstar ‘RiRi’ and how you, too, can get the best out of the amazing products – now available in Boots.
The first time I met her was on the set of her ‘S&M’ music video, where I was doing the backing dancers’ make-up. Rihanna loved what I had done and asked me if I wanted to be in the background of the video, which I said yes to, of course! But the first time I actually made up Rihanna was during auditions to become Fenty Beauty’s global make-up artist.
It was such a crazy experience. There were thousands of people competing and the pool was eventually narrowed down to just three. The final test was to do Rihanna herself. We weren’t given any instructions or a brief, and then, just before I walked through the door, someone told me the look she wanted and I had to just do it.
I was! Not only was I doing Rihanna’s make-up, but I had to use Fenty Beauty products I’d never previously seen, as this was long before the launch. So I was doing this mega celebrity’s make-up with products I didn’t know. I had to shade-match her on the spot, which was so nerve-wracking. But Rihanna looked at herself in the mirror and said: ‘Wow! You did such a good job!’ and I thought: ‘OK, I’m in.’ It was great preparation because, even now, there’s always an element of pressure and the unexpected.
"My job is not just to make people look pretty, but to make them feel pretty, too"
When you see yourself represented in a brand, it hits home. I think that all people, everywhere, can find something to identify with; they feel seen. I can think back to the initial launch and remember customers crying because they hadn’t been able to find a foundation shade before, and finally discovering something that worked for them in the Pro Filt’r Foundation range [it comes in 50 shades]. On top of that, Fenty Beauty’s formulas are incredible, and the quality is there, so customers keep coming back.
First, identify your shade range – with Fenty Beauty, you’ll either be a light, medium, tan or deep. Then determine your skin’s undertone. To do this, think about how it reacts to the sun. If you burn easily, you’re most likely a cool undertone. If you tan easily, you’re probably a warm undertone. If you tend to burn first and then tan, you’re probably a neutral undertone. With your undertone and shade range, you’ve narrowed down your options to two or three that you should test by swatching on your face or neck. Then you’ll have found your perfect shade!
It can affect you in such a big way. I see it every day, doing what I’m doing, and it’s a big reason why I chose this profession. When I was 18, I was working in Home Depot [the US version of B&Q], and a friend of a friend asked me to do her make-up for her wedding. She was a shy person; very beautiful, but didn’t know she was beautiful. She seemed to have low self-confidence. I remember that when she looked in the mirror after I was done, it was like everything changed. She was more talkative and confident. Ever since then, I love to see the butterfly blossom from the caterpillar. I have customers who are tired from the night before, stressed out, fatigued and they don’t want to be there. But when I’m done with their make-up, you can sense a change in their whole demeanour. My job is not just to make people look pretty, but to make them feel pretty, too.
Your prep is really important and this means using great skincare. Then I start with Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer, £24/2,400 points (32ml), and Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, £27/2,700 points (32ml). The formulas were created to work together, and so they act as a flawless, soft, matte base. I like to let the primer sit for a few minutes to sink in after it’s applied, giving a smooth finish and helping the longevity of the foundation. Tools are also a big factor – I love Fenty Beauty Full-Bodied Foundation Brush 110, £26/2,600 points, because of its density. It applies foundation evenly without leaving streaks or marks. Then I set the look using Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Setting Powder, £24/2,400 points, or Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Powder, £24/2,400 points. This holds the make-up in place, removes shine and helps the skin look flawless. After I create that soft, matte base, I layer Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighters in Trophy Wife, (also available in other colours), £28/2,800 points each, all over the skin to give it a nice, natural glow.
A smoky eye is all about your eyelid, so all you need is a dark shade that you apply to the lid and blend out, into the crease. I love Fenty Beauty Match Stix Skinstick in Espresso, £21/2,100 points. It’s so easy!
We can all look good in a red, but it’s about choosing the best shade for your skin tone. A good rule of thumb is to use a colour that contrasts with your skin – blue-reds for warm tones, and warm reds contrast well with a cool skin undertone. I personally love to mix Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick in Ma’Damn, £16/1,600 points, with the Saw-C shade, (£16/1,600 points) to create a warm red colour. Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored, £19/1,900 points, is also a cool red shade. And the secret for pulling off a red lip is to own it – be confident, that’s my advice!
First, I prep by using under-eye patches that I’ve put in the freezer, to firm and take away puffiness around the eyes. Then I conceal with two shades of Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer, £19/1,900 points each (8ml) – one in a skin-tone match to correct, and a lighter tone to brighten. Finally, I set it with the Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Setting Powder in a brightening shade and finish with Invisimatte. It completely blurs the under-eye area and doesn’t cake, which is a big thing for Rihanna. The combination of products gives amazing coverage.
It’d have to be the Fenty Beauty Match Stix Skinstick – I can do a full face using just this product. I use it to contour, as a foundation, blusher or highlighter, as well as an eyeshadow and on brows and lips. The formula is so good. I love the Yacht Lyfe shade on lips, and Rum and Sinamon on the eyes, while Espresso is amazing for a dark, vampy lip. Finally, Amber is a fantastic contour shade that tends to work on everyone!
We’re so excited that Fenty Beauty by Rihanna is now available in selected Boots stores and online at boots.com/fenty-beauty. If you can’t find it in your local store, use the next-day in-store Order & Collect service; just order by 8pm today and collect from 12pm tomorrow*!
We have a Fenty Beauty by Rihanna make-up set to give away to one lucky winner, who’ll receive the following (in the shades of their choice):
1 x Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer (32ml)
1 x Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation (32ml)
1 x Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer
1 x Match Stix Skinstick
1 x Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer (8ml)
The closing date is midnight on 27 August 2019.