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:
Holiday-themed makeup can be hit or miss—too literal and it might appear campy, but too subtle and it lacks impact—so Ono tried something new for her third week in residency. “I just kept thinking punk holiday,” she says. “I’ve been seeing so many nods to punk and rock in fashion so I chose a green pop of color for the eye with an unexpected red-plum ombré lip.” With traditional Christmas hues as her base, she added interest by smoking out her shimmery shadow, crowning her eye makeup with a wash of gold, and adding a glossy finish to the two-toned lips. “This was a total Priscilla Ono eyeshadow experiment,” she says. “I think I used four or five colors for this!” The result is a striking take on festive glam that’s perfect for a December celebration.
I just kept thinking punk holiday...
Behind This Look:
After following the same complexion protocol as her first look—foundation, concealer, and a little contour—Ono further sculpted her face by buffing Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush in Petal Poppin under her cheekbones. Next came her eyes, which she framed by first brushing her brows upwards with a clear gel before reaching for the brand’s Snap Shadows Mix & Match Eyeshadow Palette in Money.
Placement is key: “I did a lighter green on my inner lid then added the dark green on the outside,” Ono says. “Then I applied a darker green in the crease.” Going from light to dark also allowed her to use the same brush to diffuse the transitions between colors. Then, switching to a smaller brush, Ono wrapped the pigment around her eyes by lightly buffing small amounts of product into her bottom lash line. A clean brush is required for the final step: “I then added yellow-green above the shadow and did another pass of light green on my inner corners to make it look super open,” she says.
Unlike her first look, which she elevated by skipping heavy liner, this week she leaned into the darkness. “I did liner in a classic, winged-out shape,” Ono says, noting that she opted for Fenty Beauty Flyliner Longwear Liquid Liner in Cuz I'm Black. A little green shadow pressed into her waterline and a few coats of the brand’s Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara finished her eyes.
“I usually start with the darker color first,” Ono says about her go-to ombré lip technique, for which she used the brand’s Stunna Lip Paint in Underdawg and Uncensored. She first lined her lips with the deep berry shade—cheating at just her Cupid’s bow and the center of her bottom lip for a pouty finish—then filled them in using the red color. Blending is crucial, she explains. “I stipple my finger on the edges, between the darker and lighter colors, to merge the two pigments so they're fading into each other,” she says. For further interest, she added a coat of Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb in Hot Chocolit on top, which also helps to melt the two shades into each other. “It should be faded, not a solid line,” Ono says. “So just keep tapping until it’s blended, but still pronounced.”