I'm an art-pleb at best and a beauty buff at most, so when the two combine, I'm generally skating between a A- and an A. I like what I like, but I don't try harder than I feel like I have to. I don't subscribe to a beauty trend unless it actually excites me, and for that matter, a lot of what's the thing out there... doesn't. Some people call this snobbery, but I prefer to liken it to the same teenage disenchanted ennui plaguing those with everything they need and nothing they want. Did I just out myself as a snob? Prob. Prob a snob. Whatever. Let's talk about exciting things, shall we?
Particularly, in beauty, I can loudly and fervently express my adoration of Isamaya Ffrench, a visionary makeup artist who honestly should have a more special title because what she does with beauty is so much more artful than just makeup (think prosthetics and packing tape in place of contouring). Her work, which is largely found in the editorial realm (but brands are catching on to how everything she touches turns to gold) is so striking, and for so many different reasons. I feel like I'm looking at a mood swing — the images are charged, sometimes disturbing or menacing, aggressive, otherworldly, and so, so strong. It's like a version of hyper-beauty that Jackson-Pollocks heaps of emotion into a makeup look that otherwise might just be overlooked as "arty" or "cool."
I pretty much mainline her Instagram feed — it's a constant resource for when I want beauty inspiration. Is her work what one would call "wearable?" Eh. But seriously? Fuck it — if a 12-step Instagram sculpted strobing look is wearable, so are false lashes in my eyebrows.
I created some Isamaya-inspired looks that, while a bit watered-down from the real deal, are slightly more wearable IRL (if you can't commit to face-lifting yourself with Scotch Tape for a lewk all day). Perhaps you too would like to play this game!
One of the cool things that Ffrench does on the subtle side is play with texture in a super-contrasted way. I've seen her models with spackled on bits as "foundation" or dewy-to-the-point-of-being-glassy sheen and otherwise shimmery/matte sculpted looks. This is as good a "beginner" concept to mess with as any, I suppose.
I used mostly two products: Bite Beauty Multistick in Cerise on eyes, cheeks and lips, and MAC Studio Eye Gloss in Lightly Tauped. There's mascara and brow-grooming, too, but that's besides the point.
Dudes, can I just tell you how much I love these Bite Multisticks? I was skeptical at first, as I am with with all multi-purpose makeup sticks, but they're actually GREAT on eyes — which is usually the failing point of these kinds of things. The stick is crazy-pigmented and really grafts to your skin so it barely budges. It leaves a mostly matte finish, and a little goes a long way so it's great to give you that sunken-in look. You can use your fingers to blend it on eyelids, cheeks and lips.
I used the MAC Studio Eye Gloss as a dew-maker. All over cheekbones, brow bone, cupid's bow and nose bridge. This gloss is serious stuff. It's tacky AF and has teeny bits of glitter in it for mega-shine — the best "nude" gloss IMO.
Honestly, I'd totally wear this look out — it's definitely on the bold side of subtle, but it's a mood, for sure. And if we're being honest here, whatever — I'm moody as hell.
Teen Wolf: The Editorial Spread
One of the first images I saw of Isamaya's work was this one and the use of false lashes as brow-extensions was so simple but at the same time so "why didn't I think of that?" it was legit modern art moment for me.
It's not that difficult to do, as long as you have those little false lash buds and some lash glue. I had some cheap-y ones from the drugstore on hand and painstakingly placed them along the top of my lashes, reaching outwards. Fun.
To go the extra fuzzy mile, I used the messiest mascara I own (Maybelline Spider Effect Mascara, duh) and Eyeko Lash Boost Brush-on Lash Extensions to give them a fuzzy texture. Fur lashes, basically.
With a matte plummy stain-scrubbed lip (courtesy of a forthcoming Wet N Wild matte liquid lipstick), I'd say this is a disturbing yet fetching look.
Art Student Who Really Wants You to Know She's an Art Student: The Look
Sometimes messy makeup is fun. Messy makeup can be pretty. Just swipe it on and go — which, when taken literally, yields results not unlike this. Also, mixing metallic with matte is cool. I don't know why — it just is.
I know it's fall and all, but this is brightly spring in an alien way that makes it OK for me. I brushed matte yellow eyeshadow all over the lid in a big oval shape (MAC Royal Woo) and then Maybelline Color Tattoo Liquid Eye Chrome in Silver Spark swiped haphazardly across my eyes and lips with Milk Oil Lip Stain in Vibes already on them.
It's a look, people. Kind of abstract. Kind of like you're in your painting studio carelessly wiping your painty fingers over your perspiring brow. But then instead of cleaning up at night, you just go straight to a party afterwards. Shrug.
Ffrench has a lot of looks like this that utilize color in abstract ways, which I love but it's possible that this could be more of a go big or go home concept.
After seeing Ffrench's work for the Junya Watanabe SS17 show, I immediately bookmarked/screenshot/noted it as "lewks to try forever." I love nothing more than a super-smudgy black cry-eye. It's a constant weekend look for me, and I'm pretty sure everyone just assumes I'm some moody bish, but I am into it.
But how to editorialize? Put it over radiant over-highlighted skin and add a dash of silver, obviously. Shimmery cheeks, nose, lips courtesy of RMS Living Luminizer. The greasy oil-slick of an eye comes from Milk Makeup Eye Vinyl in Tunnel. Just click up the felt-tipped pen to squirt out the stuff and dab all over your eye. You can blend with your finger to create whatever shape you please, and don't worry about the creasing — it's gonna happen, and it's gonna look tough AF. In fact, drop some metal on there. Remember that Maybelline Color Tattoo stuff from before? Do that again in the inner corners or wherever you want to — I'm not the boss of you.
Now go forth and look like you're ready to ruin someone's life as they enjoy every minute of it.
This exercise in enthusiastic fan-girling has mostly taught me that it doesn't necessarily require a ton of technical skill to do a really out-there beauty look. It mostly takes a brilliant mind or else the right inspiration, some painterly supplies, and a reckless abandon for product instructions. Oh yeah, and tons of attitude.
- Are you guys as jazzed about Isamaya Ffrench as I am?
- What are other weird things you can do with false lashes?
- ... I tried my best, OKAY?