From Sea Creatures To Video Game Characters: This Beauty Influencer’s Extreme Makeup Transformations Take 6 Hours
During the pandemic, we’ve all been living through our screens, absorbing what society perceives to be beautiful, and in turn, sharing the version of ourselves that we think is beautiful. But our relationship with beauty and how we choose to express it is much more complex: It's a connection to your culture, a coping mechanism, a lifestyle, or a work of art. In our first season of Beauty Out There, in partnership with Ulta Beauty, we’re meeting four LA locals whose looks and rituals are as personal as they are powerful, proving that beauty can be a conduit to the most authentic and confident version of yourself.
When it comes to makeup, we are free to work without a formula: A single lipstick can create thousands of different looks, depending on who applies it. For Los Angeles-based influencer Christian Perez — better known as Indigo to his nearly 450,000 combined followers on Instagram and YouTube — the limitless nature of beauty is what draws him to makeup as a tool for transformation. "Makeup allows me to turn into whoever I want to be, whenever I want," he says. "No one creates the rules except for you."
The 19-year-old content creator grew up in Miami with his parents, who immigrated to the United States from Colombia. He exhibited artistic talent early on, working with all types of media, from painting to sculpture, as an AP art student. But after watching countless beauty tutorials and trying his hand at a special FX look one Halloween, it became clear to him — and everyone around him — that makeup was his calling.
Perez initially turned to makeup as a form of escape during a difficult time in his life. When he was 17, his father was deported, leaving him and his mother homeless for a period of time. After graduating from high school, Perez moved to L.A. to pursue a career in beauty. This is where Indigo, his larger-than-life beauty persona, was born. "I wanted to be somebody else at that time," he recalls. "I wanted to create an image of myself that could make me feel better, and that could make other people feel better."
The process of becoming Indigo and creating his signature, otherworldly looks is no small feat, taking Perez up to six hours per look. His routine is more instinctual than studied, following the whims of wherever his imagination takes him that day, from video game characters to ocean-inspired sea creatures. "Sometimes I’m experiencing a more feminine day or a more masculine day, and I will just follow that feeling," he says of his free-flowing process.
After creating a look, capturing content, and potentially wearing it out in the world, the final act of removing his makeup can be an emotional, but ultimately rewarding, part of the experience. "It's therapeutic," he says of taking off his elaborate looks. "It's the moment you really take a look at your skin — take a look at yourself — and feel that self-love."
Through sharing images of his work online and gaining a loyal following on social media, Perez has received industry-wide recognition and even starred in a reality beauty competition last year. And, during a year in which our relationship with makeup has shifted in reaction to the pandemic (some finding comfort in more simplified routines, others feeling liberated by extreme beauty looks), Indigo's talent is a gift to all.
"At first, Indigo was an escape," Perez says. "Now, he is a part of me, and I am a part of him." While Christian and Indigo are separate, they co-exist in perfect harmony: Indigo, initially born out of a difficult time, has since evolved into a profound expression of Perez's truest, most authentic self.
Learn more about Perez's personal story and witness his makeup artistry in the video above.