We spent an entire afternoon and evening with Rihanna in Dubai, as she held her first ever Fenty Beauty Artistry and Beauty Talk at the Armani Hotel on Saturday.
Fenty’s global make-up artists Hector Espinal and Priscilla Ono were by her side, creating two looks on four models on stage, while Rihanna took questions from the crowd and showed off her sense of humour. The Barbadian-born artist then headed to a dizzying after-party on the 112th floor of the Burj Khalifa, before wrapping up her schedule at Sephora inside The Dubai Mall. Here are 12 things we learned from the pop star turned make-up guru at the intimate event.
1. Her mother was her first beauty icon — and inspired Fenty’s foundations
Fenty Beauty’s foundations were praised for their inclusivity when they launched last year, with 40 shades that aimed to cater to all skin tones. Inclusivity has been “something very close to me forever,” Rihanna said, pointing to her mother. “The first woman I’ve seen put on make-up is my mom, and she’s darker than I am, so to think that I would make a line that wouldn’t include even her, I couldn’t do it. She was the first image of beauty that I’ve known. So, it was a no-brainer for me. It’s a shame it took this long for everyone, but I hope that everyone can expand and wake up.”
2. Her own foundation changes — depending on the sun
The Fenty Beauty foundations are numbered, ranging from 100 to 490, but Riri doesn’t stick to one. “I have a little secret — I have two numbers, depending on if I went on vacation and I got a tan, or if it’s winter and I’m, like, pale. 320 is my pale number, and then I go all the way up to 360 if I get really, really dark.” For inquiring minds, she was wearing 320 in Dubai, with her Match Stix in Mocha to contour.
3. Anyone can achieve her iconic Met Gala look
Riri stole the spotlight at the Met Gala in 2017, where she wore a show-stopping Comme des Garcons floral ensemble. She matched it with a bold pink-purple eye, generously applying her Killawatt Foil Highlighter, including Sangria Sunset and Ginger Binge, from her cheekbone up into her temples. She insisted anyone can pull off the look. “Actually, all I did was have fun. All I did was put a little, then a little more, then a little more. In no time, it’s going from here all the way up to my forehead and into my hairline.”
4. Her everyday make-up tip: Keep it simple
According to Rihanna, a daring lip colour goes best with a strong lash and a clean eye. “When I’m wearing a bold lip in the daytime, or anytime, really, I love to do something that’s really subtle on the eye,” she said. She said she applies ‘a little bit of grease’ or something that’s close to her skin tone on her lid. “But I don’t like to go too crazy unless that’s the glam look I’m going for. Because you can also do a smoky eye in a purple and a bold red lip. It’s very ‘70s, but it’s beautiful. It’s up to your mood.”
5. Her makeup philosophy: ‘Don’t be afraid to go there’
This comes as no surprise to fans who are familiar with Rihanna’s adventurous nature, but her make-up philosophy is to have a good time and be flexible. “I don’t think there should be any rules. Make-up is fun. It’s colours. It’s meant to be played with, and you should not be afraid of it, because it can come off in seconds. Don’t be afraid to go there and try something new,” she said.
6. Her secret to flawless skin
Riri has made no steps towards starting her own skincare line, though many have asked for it. She often gets quizzed about the secret to her clear complexion, but she kept mum on Saturday, joking: “Work hard, don’t sleep, and wear Fenty Beauty, girl.” For those who sweat through their make-up — she referred to her own T-zone as ‘maritime’ — she recommended blotting paper, ‘this good old thing called tissue’, and finishing off with a blotting powder.
7. She only recently stopped doing her own make-up
“I actually only started using make-up artists for tours and stuff, like, my last two tours,” Rihanna confessed. “I always used to do my own make-up. And doing my own make-up actually helped me to learn. I mean, I’ve made a lot of mistakes … But practice makes perfect. I love doing make-up. It is such therapy for me, to get lost in the paint and the shapes.”
8. Her Morocco-themed palette was inspired by the markets
Riri launched her Moroccan Spice palette in July, with eyeshadow names like Saffron, Cumin Get It and Souq it 2 Me. What exactly was her inspiration? “I’ve been to Morocco a few times, and the thing I enjoyed the most about it was the markets. Walking around and being immersed in all the different colours, and textures, and the drums. I wanted it to reflect the things I remember about that culture.”
9. She’s open to launching a Dubai-inspired eyeshadow
Members of the audience had a request for Rihanna: since she already has a Moroccan Spice palette, perhaps she could launch a shade named after Dubai. “Well, we are here,” she teased. “What would that look like? Just gold and regal, right?” When she asked for name suggestions, a few came back: Burj Khalifa, Eagle, or just Dubai.
10. She has a lot more in store for Fenty Beauty
Lashes? Mascara? Eyebrow products? Would she be introducing these three any time soon? Coy but grinning, Rihanna said: “There will be no stone left unturned, okay? I am serious about my makeup. I want you to come to Sephora, stop at your Fenty Beauty counter, and leave. That’s what I want. So, don’t you worry.”
11. She launched a brand-new lipstick in Dubai
Before wrapping up the Beauty Talk, Rihanna had a surprise for the audience: she announced a brand new Stunna Lip Paint in black, called Uninvited. She also held an audience-wide giveaway a la Oprah, complete with the declaration: “You get a Stunna, you get a Stunna, you get a Stunna!”
12. She adores her fans — and keeps them close
Finally, Rihanna headed to the after party where she was surrounded by throngs of attendees who tried to snap a selfie. The obliging star, though accompanied by her security, walked through the crowd with virtually no barriers and was happy to accommodate fan requests, taking as many pictures as she could.