Makeup artist Raisa Flowers and Rihanna are no strangers.
In fact, Flowers was chosen to grace the Savage X Fenty show late last year, the headliner during that iconic scene with “Poetic Justice” playing in the background. Remember? Known for setting trends, being a model extraordinaire and most recently, creating the makeup looks for Rihanna and artist Lorna Simpson‘s photographic collage portfolio in our January/February issue, Flowers continues to prove that there’s really nothing she can’t do. And while she’s usually calm and collected, she recently revealed to ESSENCE that Rihanna being in her makeup chair was a test in playing it cool.
“I had to make the makeup look as cool as possible, because I was super nervous at first,” she tells ESSENCE. “Like, I’m ding Rihanna’s makeup, what if she hates it? But I still had to get confident because she obviously trusts me if she chose me to be a part of this. So I wanted to try something different that I haven’t really seen Rihanna do before. I came up with some looks that I had done previously and we looked through them and she was like, ‘I want it to look painterly and undone.’ So I was completely down.”
Flowers, who was named 2020’s Makeup Artist of the Year for ESSENCE’s Best in Black Beauty Awards, went for something soft yet statement for the cover. “I do these kind of watercolor looks and I felt like that would be best-suited with the looks, so we did dramatic mascara,” she says. “I told her to coat her eyelashes with like two coats of mascara heavily, and then I put the slashes in the brow because we wanted to do something else unexpected. Initially, we were leaning towards another style, but then I had showed her a picture of the eyebrow cuts and she said she had tried it before, but never for a shoot, I knew it was time.”
Flowers says the looks came naturally. “It wasn’t a hard look to execute,” she says. “It was just hoping that the look would translate on camera because a lot of times what looks good in person can look totally different when photographed.” So for added dimension, the artist went in with two different blues. “There was a darker blue in there, and then I used a lighter, more chilled blue to create the shadow,” she says of the looks she created using Fenty Beauty. “I wanted a lot of contrast and it had to pop because it was such a powerful look overall.”
And while it wasn’t Flower’s and Rihanna’s first time working together, Flowers is grateful she’s finally been able to get her brushes on the star. “She’s seen me on the model side of things, but she didn’t know that I did make up until her stylist showed her my work,” Flowers says. “I really appreciated that because so many people see my makeup work and get scared automatically. They think that it’s so outlandish that it’s not possible to make it look polished. But it was a refreshing because she was so like just gentle and cool to work with. I didn’t feel like I was over thinking too much or that I was out of place. So it very comforting in a way.”
The two also share another connection. “We’re both Caribbean,” Flowers says. “My mom is Bajan and my dad is Guyanese, her mom is Guyanese and her dad is Bajan. And she’s Bajan because she was born there. So we really related on that level and we were able to have a really good time and like just have fun.”
To see the look up close, the January/February issue is on newsstands and digital platforms now.