Artist in Residency: Priscilla Ono’s Signature Blue Stare
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Artist in Residency: Priscilla Ono’s Signature Blue Stare

Welcome to Artist in Residency, our series that brings the industry's most innovative makeup artists to Rose Inc. for a month of creativity and inspiration. Each week, you'll discover an original look—and the story behind it—created by an artist we love.

It’s not every day when a makeup artist finds themselves on the other side of the camera, but Priscilla Ono’s Rose Inc. residency isn’t the first time she’s found herself modeling her own artistic work. A decade ago, the Los Angeles native was booked as an assistant to do makeup on Rihanna’s “S&M” music video when something unexpected happened. “Rihanna spotted me on set doing a backup dancer’s makeup and approached me because she liked my hair and makeup,” Ono says, noting that she was wearing artsy eyeliner and had a white pixie cut at the time. “She was like, ‘you’re so cool, do you want to be in my music video?’ I couldn’t believe it.” Ono said yes—keep your eyes peeled for her and Rihanna dancing together at the 20-second mark—and after bonding over their love of beauty, the two became fast friends before going their separate ways.

The next five years were good to Ono: She accrued hundreds of thousands of fans on Instagram and started working with a laundry list of celebrities—then RiRi came knocking again. This time Ono had the opportunity to compete with hundreds of other artists for a coveted role working with the star on a secret beauty line. "It was kind of like Project Runway with makeup," Ono recalls. The process included creating mood boards, on-camera tutorials, and a variety of looks suited for shoots and shows before three finalists were invited to return for the final challenge: Create three looks in two hours on Rihanna herself using Fenty Beauty lab samples. “Five years after we met I finally did her makeup for the first time,” Ono says. "It was a full circle moment." As you might assume, she got it.

Ono currently balances her roles as Rihanna's personal makeup artist and Fenty Beauty Global Makeup Artist—which requires testing new formulas, creating content for the brand, and training other artists to use the products—with her other celebrity clients like Megan Thee Stallion and Bella Hadid. And all of this is on top of running her own eponymous Hollywood makeup academy. Despite the ups and downs, Ono doesn’t take it for granted. “I was raised by very strict Mexican grandparents and never thought I could have an artistic career like this,” she says. “I’m so grateful for everything I am able to do.”

For these reasons and more, Rose Inc. is delighted to feature Ono as this month’s Artist in Residency and model.

Her Residency Inspiration:

Going into her residency, Ono knew exactly which boxes she wanted to check: an approachable wash of warm shadow, the smoky eye her clients constantly request, and an edgy take on holiday makeup. This diverse mix of tutorials was designed to provide something for everyone—but her final week was just for her. “I knew that if I was going to do my own makeup for this, I had to do a blue look because I’m known for my blue shadow,” she says. “It’s an unconventional color to wear in the fall, but sometimes you just want to hit ‘em with an unexpected punch!” Grounded with matte skin, brushed up brows, and a warm nude lip, it’s an unapologetically-bold look in a sea of autumnal tones.

Behind This Look:

Ono tempered the playfulness of the eyes by keeping her skin matte and sculpted by using Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick in Suede, and Invisimatte Blotting Powder. She then brushed up her brows with clear gel and prepped her lids with concealer in lieu of primer.

Ono prefers to have a plan when working with bright colors. “I like to use a pencil to map out the shape around my eyes,” she says. Using Fenty Beauty Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner in Sea About It and a heavy hand, she traced along her waterline, under her bottom lash line, and along her top lashes before lightly sketching an arched shape onto her lid. “I cheat my natural eye shape by pulling the liner upwards at the end,” she says. “Then I take a brush and smudge it out.” As with all her looks, she recommends taking a step back and looking in the mirror often, which will save you time in the long run. Add small amounts of color into your crease, she says, then return to your brush and keep buffing it out. “I almost use the liner as an eyeshadow,” she adds. “Which I prefer because the texture is closer to your skin—instead of being powdery.”

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...sometimes you just want to hit ‘em with an unexpected punch!

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The openness on her lid serves two purposes: It adds interest while preventing the look from feeling too heavy. “I wanted something lighter for the eyelid and brow bone, so I just used a little light face powder,” she says. “It’s a modern twist that makes your eyes look big and open.” Then, once she had the shape where she wanted it, she added a light dusting of shimmery blue shadow over the liner, although not necessary if you’re using an iridescent formula or prefer a matte finish. She finished her eyes by applying Ardell Lash Wispies and Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara. Like her first look, she curled the false lashes before applying them, then coated everything with a few coats of mascara for a cohesive finish.

“I wanted to do a modern nude lip with a darker line to give a pouty look,” Ono says, so she cheated her Cupid’s bow and the center of her bottom lip by first lining her lips with Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint in Unveil, then added the brand’s Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick in Up 2 No Good in the center. “This is the Priscilla Ono blue eye look,” she says. “And it’s perfect for any season.”

Priscilla Ono photographed in Los Angeles by Elias Tahan. Hair by Yuichi Ishida. Written by Lexy Lebsack.