What Rihanna's Former Make-up Artist Wants You To Know About Make-up
Photo: Jason Merritt / Getty

If you’ve ever been inspired by the beautiful make-up looks of celebrities including Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Jourdan Dunn, it’s likely you’ll have witnessed the work of Mylah Morales at some point. The celebrity make-up artist, who created some of Rihanna’s most iconic beauty looks, is known for encouraging a whole generation of young women to experiment with their make-up. She spoke to BAZAAR about having fun with cosmetics and how to avoid the most common mistakes that women of colour tend to make with their make-up.

How she became a make-up artist…

“Growing up Filipino, I was always taught that you could either be a doctor or a lawyer, but I come from the MTV generation, where we watched a lot of music videos, so, my passion was fashion and music. One day I decided to start working at a make-up counter for fun and it made me realise that I could do that for a living. I moved to New York to build my portfolio and my first client was Puff Daddy. From there, I became the go-to for basically all the new pop talent and one of the new girls in around 2004 happened to be Rihanna. The rest is kind of history.”

How to choose the right foundation

“You need to consider your skin so much when buying a foundation. For example, if you have oily skin [which is true of many women of colour], foundation tends to oxidise, which means it will turn a little darker. While, if you are drier [which tends to gradually happen as we age], you want to use something more creamy in texture, so it doesn’t appear cakey.

“Don’t forget to match your foundation to your neck; it’s the best way to ensure it looks natural. I like to blend it into my skin using a kabuki brush to buff everything out so that it looks smooth and seamless.”

“My favourite products include Giorgio Armani‘s Luminous Silk Foundation and, right now, my kit has a lot of Charlotte Tilbury products in it, including the foundations, Airbrush Powder and highlighters.”

Related article: The Best New BB Cushions You Need To Buy in 2020

How to achieve flawless smoky eye make-up

“One of my favourite make-up looks that I created with Rihanna was for the 2014 CFDA Fashion Awards. I knew the focus would be on her face as she was wearing this silvery bandana, so I went with a smoky eye and a nude lip so that her eyes would stand out.

“Achieving the perfect smoky eye is all about blending. You need to work the shadow into your skin using an eyeshadow blending brush so that it doesn’t look heavy. That’s a tip for all your make-up actually, including blush and foundation. You don’t want to see any hard lines on the face.

Urban Decay‘s Naked palettes were my go-to at the time because they have such a range of light to dark shades, as well as the Tom Ford eyeshadows and every variety of the Dior mascaras. I love Dior mascaras because the wands are so thick and the waterproof version is so long-wearing for performances. I also use a lot of fake lashes – I have so many different ones, but I do use a lot of the Ardell lashes.”

How to create a ‘lit-from-within’ glow

What Rihanna's Former Make-up Artist Wants You To Know About Make-up
Photo: Kevin Mazur / Getty

“I like to be guided by the client, but I’m really known for a beautiful skin finish. I love to keep my client’s skin looking really expensive and glowy – beauty doesn’t need to be heavy. You want someone to look at them and say, ‘wow, she looks beautiful’. One example is the look I did with Nicki Minaj for ‘Pills N Potions’. That’s where you can see my style of make-up. You can still wear a lot of it but it’s all about this raw, softer beauty.

“My trick is to use highlighter on the bridge of the nose and the cheek area (above the bronzer), but if I use a powder, it has to be applied with a big fan brush.” BAZAAR recommends Kevyn Aucoin‘s Large Fan Brush. “That means you don’t end up applying too much, which can make you look like the Tin Man. Instead, I would recommend applying highlighter really, really lightly and building it up.”

Related article: The Best Cream Blushers For A Natural Healthy Glow

How to set your make-up

“With darker skin, you want to use a powder that has a warmer tone (just as you would with blush), otherwise you can look ashy.” BAZAAR recommends Fenty‘s Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Setting Powder or Bobbi Brown‘s Sheer Finish Pressed Powder.

“My final step, is to always to use a setting spray. It keeps make-up in place, makes everything look a lot more dewy and can help highlighter appear more natural on the skin. I honestly have about ten different setting sprays, but I love the Caudalie Beauty Elixir and the Urban Decay All Nighter.”

The secret to a perfect bold lip

“I must have done a bold lip a thousand times on Rihanna. She’s worn the signature red, reddish orange shades, a metallic green and even black – we must have done every kind of colour.

“I always use a lip liner first to outline the lips and if I am doing a really dark lip, I might even use an eye liner, for example in black, to completely drown out the natural lip colour. Then, I go around the lip with a little foundation, using a really small brush, to remove any excess so that it looks perfect.”

This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.

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