Rihanna's make-up artist Priscilla Ono talks Ri-Ri and Fenty Beauty

We talk to Priscilla Ono, Fenty Beauty Global Make-up Artist, about Rihanna's range and what it’s like to be her make-up artist
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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.

How did you and Rihanna meet?

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.

Auditioning to be Rihanna’s make-up artist? Tell us more!

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.

You must have been so nervous?

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"


Let’s talk about Fenty Beauty. Why do you think it has done so well?

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.

Selecting the correct foundation shade can be hard work. What’s your advice on how to find the perfect match?

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!

Photography Getty Images

What impact do you think make-up can have in boosting confidence?

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 make-up USP is creating the ultimate radiant complexion. What are your tips for getting a serious glow on?

Your prep is really important and this means using great skincare. Then I start with Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer (32ml) and Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation (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 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 or Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Powder. 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) all over the skin to give it a nice, natural glow.

Please tell us… what is the quickest and easiest way to nail a smoky eye?

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. It’s so easy!

Priscilla applying make-up

Photography Getty Images

Red lipstick – is it really for everyone?

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, with the Saw-C shade to create a warm red colour. Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored 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!

Rihanna must work to a full-on schedule. What’s your top hack for helping her look like she’s had eight hours’ sleep in under five minutes?

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 (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.

If you could have only one Fenty Beauty product, what would it be?

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!

If you can’t find Fenty in your local store, use the next-day in-store Order & Collect service; just order by 8pm today and collect from 12pm tomorrow*!

Fenty Beauty in Boots

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*Orders on under £10 will incur a £1.50 charge for delivery into store. For full terms and conditions about Order & Collect, please see Next day service is available Monday to Saturday only; exclusions and geographical exclusions apply.