Issa Rae's Emmys Makeup Cost Less Than $50 — & We Have All The Details

Photo: Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock.
Why do we love awards season so much? Maybe it’s for the historic nominations, the backstage shenanigans that inevitably occur when actors find the open bar, or Chrissy Teigen’s meme-worthy reactions. Or maybe it’s a little bit of all of that mixed with a healthy cocktail of red-carpet beauty moments. And if you need proof of the latter, look no further than Issa Rae, the Best Actress nominee who arrived at tonight’s Emmy Awards looking like a modern Cinderella.
Trading out a ball gown for a custom pantsuit by Vera Wang, Rae's skin was beaming next to the icy shade of princess blue. Inspired by the gold and silver beading on her top, makeup artist Joanna Simkin wanted to use as many light-reflecting shades as possible on Rae. "We were at a fitting a month ago when I saw the sketches," Simkin tells Refinery29 exclusively. "So I asked the team for the swatch of the fabric." Simkin referenced that cool-toned swatch when selecting the pearly, metallic shades that gleamed from Rae's eyes and cheeks.
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To achieve her lit-from-within look, Simkin tapped on CoverGirl's TruBlend Matte Made Foundation in D80 while Rae's skin was still slightly damp from moisturizer. (Rae is a spokesperson for the brand.) From there, she set the base with highlighter instead of matte setting powder. Her go-to? CoverGirl's TruBlend Super Stunner Highlight Palette in Glowing Up.
Simkin accented her radiant skin with a silvery eye that really made Rae's face shine. To bring the colors of the gown together, Simkin covered Rae's eyelids in a bright, peacock blue from CoverGirl's Dazed TruNaked Eye Shadow Palette, before topping it off with a pearly shadow from the It's Lit Highlight Palette. As for her lip, "I was torn, but [Rae is] not a matte-lip girl. So, I chose a demi-matte lipstick called Streaker," says Simkin.
Photo: Broadimage/REX/Shutterstock.
While Simkin was getting Rae's skin in tip-top-shape (as if she needed a whole lot of help in that department), hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood was working on Rae's gorgeous twisted bun. "[Her team] said they wanted her hair to be sleek and clean," Leatherwood says. "So, I pulled it back into a bun and took it in a direction that was a little different, a little more dimensional." Leatherwood twisted six different pieces of hair into one long woven bun, but swears it's not as complicated as it looks.
After prepping Rae's hair with Living Proof No Frizz Leave-In Conditioner and blowing it out, Leatherwood smoothed a styling cream through Rae's natural hair and about 12 inches of ponytail extensions. From there, she divided the ponytail into six sections ("As if you were about to create a braid," Leatherwood explains), and wove each piece under and over each other from the base of the ponytail to the nape of her neck before pinning it all into place.
We know who Rae is rooting for tonight and we're rooting for her — and this iconic look certainly deserves a nod, too.
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