AnaïsolWho I am and who I’ll be
I DON’T LIKE TO SAY THAT MAKEUP MAKES PEOPLE MORE BEAUTIFUL, I DON’T BELIEVE THAT, IT JUST ENHANCES WHAT IS ALREADY THERE.
19/99 How did you get into makeup?
Anaïsol Opoku It was honestly through YouTube; I went to YouTube university. It was a form of therapy for me; I was in university at the time studying sciences, watching a makeup tutorial was a nice break during exam periods. It became something that I gravitated towards, the use of colour. I got to a point where I preferred applying makeup on other people as opposed to myself, and then I worked at MAC for a while. So that is how it came to a point where it was something that I could take and pursue seriously. I have discovered that editorial is where my heart lies.
19/99 Have you found that your work as a makeup artist has influenced your work as a photographer and retoucher?
AO Now I see what the photographer or retouchers sees and the retouching has leveled up my makeup. I understand how when the makeup artist doesn’t blend a tiny patch on the cheek, it doubles the work of a retoucher. All three work very much in tandem; if the makeup artist job isn’t at a certain level, and the photography isn’t quite there then the retouching can’t be done, and the images just won’t translate. So it has helped me level up in a way I didn’t expect. There are so many more experiences I would love to have, but in the meantime this has helped me understand those things more.
19/99 Are you looking to focus in on one of those three areas?
AO I love the storytelling aspect. With makeup there is such a story and mood that can be conveyed through colour. Even the placement of blush; I was watching a scene in Gossip Girl (pandemic – what else am I supposed to do?!) and Serena always has this cherub-y placement of blush on her cheeks. It helps lend to the idea that she is very youthful and carefree. There is also the transformation that happens – I don’t like to say that makeup makes people more beautiful, I don’t believe that, it just enhances what is already there. There is a certain level of confidence that I witness when I apply makeup on someone, there is this transformation that happens, it’s almost as if they see themselves in a way they haven’t previously. When that comes through in the images it is magical. So I think that has been calling me much more.
The idea of transformation is definitely something that I took away from working at the MAC counter. I think about the industry as a whole and how it flourishes so much on messaging that we aren’t good enough already, and it is just interesting. I am excited to see photos of makeup application that tells a story of the person. As a beauty photographer I definitely want to capture the makeup but I think the essence of the person translates much better, and you can still show the makeup in that sense. Even things like product photography; shooting a lipstick very up close, it might seem minor, but there’s a beauty to the idea that such a small thing can be so powerful for people and there is a certain level of mindfulness and presence that gets applied when we get to enjoy things and how they affect us and the impact they have. That is also why I really enjoy the photography aspect.
AS WOMEN WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TOLD WE HAVE TO FIT INTO BOXES AND I WOULD THINK AS WE GROW OLDER YOU GET MORE FREE AND YOU UNDERSTAND YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT, BUT THERE IS STILL THAT PRESSURE THAT CONTINUES
19/99 Can you take us through your daily beauty routine, morning and night?
AO Okay my daily is starting off with a cleansed face, I apply a toner, hyaluronic serum is a must, and I use a moisturizer with SPF. I love a dewy finish so I'll rub some oils into my skin and give myself a little massage. I am getting into more of the spot concealer approach, rather than all over face – especially in the heat. I cover up some hyperpigmentation; add a little bit of blush, a brow and a quick lip. At night I oil cleanse and then use a hydrating cleanser for 60 seconds each, following that with toner or a BHA chemical exfoliator. Then I go in with my hyaluronic serum, and I alternate using a little Vitamin C serum or Retinol every so often.
For foundation I’m loving Danessa Myricks Vision Cover because it is really pigmented so don’t have to use that much or mix a bunch of colours together. For lip I am usually such a bold lip person; I love a funky ombré, but I have been following the nude trend lately. I am definitely a gloss person, I don’t really like matte on me. For my brows I love the ink pens.
19/99 Do you feel pressure to look a certain way?
AO Yes, definitely. There is the more generic sense of pressure that I think most women may feel at least at one point in their life, and then the pressure that is specific to intersectional identities – in my case, as a Black woman. From hair to makeup, and everything in between. I think at this point in my life, I am getting better at creating and owning my own norms, but I look at younger women and the pressure that they have. I started wearing makeup very late in the game, when I was graduating university. In high school the most I would do is mascara and a gloss. But now there is this pressure to do a full face and understand what foundation is. My little sister is 16 and worried that she has enlarged pores, and that is a lot. It is amazing that we have a better understanding of our skin and skin care but I wonder what it is doing to us long term.
19/99 Do the term age appropriate mean anything to you?
AO It is such a disappointing term. I am so very much looking forward to being 60 and rocking purple lipstick. Men are able to age and they are shown a lot more grace and kindness. But when a woman ages, suddenly it’s she has lost her beauty, lost her youthfulness, lost her appeal. It is really sad and backwards how as a society we have uphold this idea that once a woman has wrinkles she can’t be attractive or she is less attractive, and she has to fit into this box. As women we have always been told we have to fit into boxes and I would think as we grow older you become freer and you begin to realize that you don’t have to feed into those ideas, but there is still that pressure that continues. I am very much a rebel at heart, so I really do not like the term ‘age appropriate’.
19/99 Do you ever hear about that in your work?
AO I do; working one on one with clients there are colours that they will stray away from. I think there are all of these rules already with makeup that they can’t wear certain things because of how they look. It almost becomes working with someone to build up the fact that you can do anything; it comes off. It doesn’t all have to worn in the same degree; I can put on a green lipstick and put it on super opaque or put it on super light. We can introduce different ways of applications so it's customized to you. But putting yourself in a box, it becomes a little predictable.
19/99 We are big believers in makeup being temporary.
19/99 What makes you feel beautiful?
AO Really great skin. That is always a sign of taking care of myself. I gravitate towards the sun, it’s how I recharge, and that is why I love dewy skin because it just gives you that glow, which I think we all already have, but it gets hidden in different ways.
19/99 Do you think there is a point where we stop growing and learning?
AO If we choose to. I think most things boil down to making a choice, and I think sometimes we can know a thing for so long and not have the power to reject or fight against it, and choose to be sort of powerless in terms of turning it around, which is how things get internalized. But if you are willing to open your mind to the fact that we can really reprogram our minds, and empower ourselves in an age where knowledge is so accessible, then the sky’s the limit.
Follow Anaïsol at @loveminebeauty