While pretty doesn’t necessarily hurt, it certainly takes a lot of work ― and the excellence in hair and makeup talent in Beyoncé’s “Black Is King” is proof of that. Designing dozens of looks for hundreds of faces filmed on three different continents is no small logistical or creative feat, but Beyoncé assembled a dream team to get the job done.
Tapping into the deep well of global talent of Black, Indigenous and other people of color in the beauty industry, the makeup team on “Black Is King” includes some of the best artists working today. The masterminds behind the dozens of looks are longtime Beyoncé collaborators and veteran makeup artists Sir John, Rokael Lizama, Francesca Tolot and Wendi Miyake. And to be sure, when it comes to giving credit where credit is due for the iconic images in “Black Is King,” these artists are the ones we have to thank.
However, a lot of things have to happen to turn mood boards and mocked-up face charts into the memorable images you’ve no doubt seen floating around social media, especially when there are hundreds of faces and bodies to paint. So, to supply the crucial skills and elbow grease for the film’s breathtaking beauty specs, enter no fewer than 45 makeup artists, per the film’s end credits.
A racially diverse crew, these artists fit into every level of industry experience from veteran to prolific upstart. We spoke with a few of them to find out which makeup products they can’t be without in 2020.
Scott Osbourne Jr. (@thescottedit)
The 20-year-old artist began doing makeup five years ago in Baltimore, and in the past two years, he’s had nothing short of a meteoric rise in the beauty industry. He calls his style of makeup “editorial glam,” combining the boldness of stage makeup with the storytelling creativity of the makeup one most often finds in glossy editorials. But though his artistry is bold, Osbourne’s beauty picks are perfect for even the infrequent wearer of makeup.
“This is a product I used on set. [It] does a good job holding up through sweat.”
“It’s a perfect orange shade, and orange is one of my favorite blush colors. On brown skin, it creates the perfect smoked-out golden tone.”
“I can’t live without Glow Coco Hydrating Mist. Not only does it refresh the makeup, but it also creates a supple, dewy glow on top of the skin.”
“I love this one because when the skin gets wet or damp, the powder doesn’t show it. It simply makes the sweat bead up and roll without moving product.”
Christiana Cassell (@beautybychrisc)
Los Angeles-based Cassell has been doing makeup for six years and hair for 14 ― two skills she brought to the set of “Black Is King.” Cassell did hair for the kids in the “Mood 4 Eva” segment and the makeup for models Adut Akech and Aweng Chuol in “Brown Skin Girl.” As a makeup artist, her work often features a radiantly velvet complexion and flashes of vivid color, blown out to keep the focus on a client’s natural beauty.
“Makeup doesn’t always have to be so heavy or over the top,” Cassell told HuffPost. “Sometimes less is more.” Fittingly, her must-haves are all about versatility and ease.
“This is the No. 1 product I can’t live without. I also used the Highlighter + Balm Duo in the ‘Brown Skin Girl’ video on Aweng and Adut. It gave a luminous and glowy veil to the skin.”
This is a waterproof, sweatproof, 24-hour-wearing eye and lip paint from the namesake brand of contemporary makeup artist Danessa Myricks. Cassell used this product on set.
Bomb Lip Gloss in Fenty Glow and Body Lava Body Luminizer in Brown Sugar, Fenty Beauty ($19 and $59)
On set, Cassell used Rihanna’s universally flattering gloss and luminizing body oil. The gloss adds just enough peachy warmth to dress up a bare lip or temper a lipstick that’s a bit too bold, and the body oil banishes dullness without making you look like Anck-su-Namun.
Nicholas Lujan (@NickLujan_Artistry)
This New York-based makeup artist and director of artistry and education for Kevyn Aucoin Beauty has been doing makeup for 15 years. In that time, Lujan has worked in several of makeup’s many worlds, from avant-garde editorial makeup to special effects.
For “Black Is King,” he mostly leveraged his skills in special effects and collaborated with other artists to paint models’ entire bodies with a mixture of clay, pigment and body paint. But with such a wide repertoire of skills, he also executed some makeup looks for the film. His favorite products have proved to perform on set as well as in everyday life.
“We share so much of our personalities and emotions through our eyes, especially during the current times (wearing masks). It is so important to frame your eyes,” he said. “I most definitely used the curler and mascara backstage for the few beauty makeups I did for the movie.”
“It works for all skin types and can also be blended into a liquid or cream foundation to help adjust coverage.”
“Loose powder is an absolute essential item for everyday and set life. The best loose powders act as a filter, blurring texture at the same time as they are setting makeup and controlling shine.” As an added bonus, this one comes in a leak-proof container.