Rihanna's Makeup Artist Reveals the Groundbreaking Highlighting Trick She's Learned From the Star (Exclusive)
There’s no one who can pull off bold beauty looks quite like Rihanna. Whether she’s rocking a metallic purple lip as she did for the Oceans 8 premiere or a sharp white cat-eye at the Louis Vuitton front row, the songstress and founder of Fenty Beauty consistently pushes the envelope via her red carpet makeup looks and with her own products, which has attracted a cult following for good reason.
Fenty’s inclusive range of 40 foundation shades, along with a slew of trendsetting items including the Killawatt highlighters, magnetic Matchstix and Body Lava, are coveted by every beauty junkie. So what’s next in the lineup? On Monday, RiRi revealed Fenty will drop a Moroccan Spice Palette, Flyliner Liquid Eyeliner and Pro Filter Eye Primer — all new goodies focusing on accentuating the eyes. In anticipation for its July 6 launch, ET got the scoop on the upcoming range straight from Fenty Beauty’s Global Makeup Artist Priscilla Ono at the brand’s New York City pop-up store. The two met seven years ago on set of the superstar’s music video for S&M and Ono has been her friend and makeup confidante since.
Ahead, the expert dishes on the launch, the biggest beauty trend we’ll see in the fall and the surprising highlighting technique she has picked up from Rihanna.
ET: Tell us about Fenty Beauty’s new collection!
Priscilla Ono: We’re launching our Moroccan Spice [Palette] inspired by a spice market in Morocco and all the colors are very sultry and sexy and beautiful and perfect for fall. We are [also] launching eye primer, which we haven’t had before, which is amazing — so focusing on really gripping the eyeshadow and making the eyeshadows pop. And we’re also launching eyeliner we call Flyliner and it really helps define the eye and it makes the eye look really sultry and smoky and it’s just a really great way to enhance any eye look.
What are some colors we can expect to see this fall?
You’re gonna see a lot of reds and browns and reddy browns, which are really great. And a lot of pop of color too, so our palette has a color called Evil Genie, which is kind of our hero color inspired by Rihanna’s “Wild Thoughts” makeup in her video. And it’s just a beautiful pop of color that everybody wants for fall.
This launch focuses on the eyes. If you had to whittle it down to one product for the eye that we must add to our makeup collection, what would you choose from this line?
I would say definitely the palette because you can do so much with it. You know, I think it’s very versatile. We call it a spice level. We have our mild, medium and spicy AF, so depending on how spicy you want to get on your eyes, you can really achieve that with this palette whether it be more neutral or more of a mild or if you want to get really bold, you can definitely achieve that with the Moroccan Spice Palette.
What is the one thing that surprised you the most about Rihanna while working with her?
I think her knowledge on makeup. I think she is like a makeup artist in her own right. She knows so much about products, so much about formulas, so much about application. It’s really amazing to work with her ’cause I feel like we’re always on the same frequency and we definitely understand that we always have to push the next look and we can’t be expected. Everything has to be unexpected and really different from anything that we’ve done in the past.
Just like the names of the products!
Yes. She names all the products herself. You know, the eyeshadow names, she comes up with all of that and I think it’s like her genius that comes within from her.
A lot of people don’t realize that because they have their own brand and simply put their celebrity name on it.
No, she’s super hands-on and she tests all the colors. She comes up with all the colors. She knows exactly the formulas that she’s looking for, like, she is really, really hands-on with these products.
You’re not the first person to say that she is actually a makeup artist in her own right!
Yeah, she really is. She’s really great at doing her makeup, which sometimes can be intimidating for myself ’cause I’m like, she’s so good, like, she’s having me do it, but I think that if anything, that’s kind of a compliment. I feel like we always inspire each other. I’ve learned some things from her. There’s been times where she’s said, “Oh, I want it like this” and she’ll go in and she’ll do it and then I’m like, “That’s so smart” and I think ’cause they’re her products as well, she knows best how to use them.
Can you think of something specific she always does on her own for makeup?
When we were doing our launch in New York for the brand and she wore the all-yellow, like, the trophy wife look and she wanted to do this very gold shimmery look similar to our campaign. She’s like, “I want this old gold effect,” I said, “Yeah, let’s do it.” So I started grabbing eyeshadow brushes and kind of working slowly as I do and she’s like, “No,” and she grabbed our shark tooth brush, which is our [Cheek-Hugging] Highlighter Brush, and she started using it on the eyes and kind of rubbing it all over. And at first I got a little scared like, “Oh my gosh, a big brush on the eye, like, no” but then it actually looked so beautiful and diffused and I was, like, you know what, you’re so right, we don’t have to use the tools that we are told to use just because that’s what you think you should be using. We should just be using anything that works and it worked and now we call it Rihanna’s highlighting technique, which is our highlighter on the outer part of the eye and blending it on the temple and then back down to the cheek and it creates this beautiful halo effect. And you know it’s something that we definitely embodied as a brand and I have myself as an artist and I think that it’s just, you know, amazing.
I would say the majority of the times that she does her own lips just because she knows them the best and she can quickly do them, she knows her face better than anybody and she makes it look effortlessly and gorgeous every single time.
How long does it take to get ready for the red carpet?
I mean, usually it takes about I would say, like, a couple hours, but it’s not like full, like, 100% go glam and that’s it. We have a good time, we talk, we get inspired. We go back and forth on looks. It’s a moment, you know. It’s actually really awesome.
What does Rihanna always keep in her purse for touch-ups?
So, definitely the lip color and 100% Invisimatte Blotting Powder, which is one color which looks great on all skin tones. It’s a great way to absorb shine and oil throughout the day without adding any extra coverage or makeup, so you don’t look cakey. This really takes away the shine.
What is the toughest challenge you face as a celebrity makeup artist?
I think number one is what the occasion is, so we have to make sure that we’re mindful of what they’re actually going to. Are they going to be under hot lighting? Is there going to be, you know, a lot of people around? Is it daylight? Is it night light? You know, doing makeup for certain type of lighting, we want to make sure they look their best no matter what and anything kind of can manipulate that, so we just have to make sure we know we’re using the correct products for the right type of lights, the right type of event, the right time of day, and then obviously making and creating a look that you haven’t seen before — something that hasn’t been done and something that actually goes with whatever they’re wearing and the theme. So all of those elements kind of count when it comes to creating a look, but it’s something that I find so much joy in, especially working with somebody like Rihanna because she always pushes you and wants to have the latest and greatest.
Watch RiRi steal the show at this year’s Met Gala in the video below.