I'd Rather Shock People With My Makeup Than Play It Safe

For some, a lipstick is just a lipstick. But for others, it's a source of strength, creativity, and expression. In our series Power Faces, we'll explore the relationship between strong women and the makeup they choose to wear — or not. Our eighth subject is Raisa Thomas, a celebrity makeup artist and model based in New York.

Whenever I'm working with a client, I don't wear any makeup. I like to take the whole aspect of my character and who I am out of the fact and focus on creating a look just for that person. But people forget that we have our own personalities and lives outside of work. That's where I like to change my look and try different hair and makeup styles. I'll see a friend after a job, and they'll be like, Who is this? It makes people know you're not one note all the time. You can be funky, natural, poppy — all in one person.

Photographed by Sophie Hur

Funky Town

I'm very eccentric with my own makeup, especially as a Black woman. I don't want to brush anyone off, but there really aren't too many makeup artists who are comfortable doing what I do. I'm Black, alternative, plus-sized — and people are like, Woah. They're shocked. But it makes me feel good when people are shocked. They see that I'm a person who's not afraid to take risks.

I love my grills so much. I remember watching Nelly's "Grillz" when I was younger; the women in the video had grills and it put me in a position to think, I can put jewelry on my teeth and look cool, too. Mine are fantasy meets horror meets sci-fi futuristic. For me, it brings a whole new element of beauty to my look.

You know, I do get the reactions. I live in Westchester, NY and not everyone is as super open to weird, funky looks there as they are in New York City. They'll just stare at you. My parents are Carribean, and they'll look at me like, Are you crazy? People will comment on my Instagram and call me unnatural; I've even had some religious people say the styles I do on myself are "demonic." I try to ignore it, but I know that's not the impression I want to make on people. My style is my style because it's what I like. I don't pay them any mind, because I know my true intentions.

Photographed by Sophie Hur

The Real Deal
I've been really into my skin since shaving my hair off three months ago. I've moved away from wearing so much foundation and instead I embrace my natural features — but in a hyper-natural, futuristic way. It makes me feel good and like people can see me at my most "chill" look and still relate it back to me. For me, that includes a super bronzy highlight, some lashes, maybe some mascara, and gloss. I like wearing glosses that make my lips look really plump. I'll sometimes layer a clear gloss over a shimmery one to make it look even more intense without having to wear too much product on my lips, which just gets all over your face. A style like this makes me feel really cute, and it's especially nice that it's fast. It used to take me two hours to do my makeup; something like this only takes me 30 minutes.

For any look, I always have my piercings in; they're just as much a part of me as anything else. I've been getting pierced since I was 14. Most people don’t notice that my nose and lip piercings all line up to be triangles. I have an obsessions with triangles and pyramids and I like the symmetry of them on my face. I really love them and they're so delicate to me. If I was to do anything, I would never take my piercings out.

Lip Service

Sometimes I notice that I'll do my makeup, and then it will match or reflect something bigger that's going on in my life. It's almost like I do it without knowing. When I wear green lipstick, I feel like money. If I want to attract some money, I think, Let me wear this green lip.

Photographed by Sophie Hur

When I first got into makeup, I was doing it to conform to the Instagram style of beauty. But now I do things that I am personally creatively into. They say "natural makeup" makes the most money — and it does, kind of. But I want the unnatural to be normalized.

A lot of times people want to put basic beauty on Black women. You're already so dark. Do this, they say. But I say, Add some color, add some funkiness! Be crazy! Be yourself! Not everyone wants to, because they think someone will judge them if they put on a wild eye or a blue lip. I want people to understand that you can experiment with makeup and still be natural and still be gorgeous. If we all try more things and do different things, it would make everyone more accepting. I know it will create a different level of beauty for the world.

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