Face painting is a form of artistry that follows us through the decades, from childhood experimentation to expertly-blended cream blush ahead of an important Zoom meeting. For global makeup artist Chiao Li Hsu, the term “face painting” takes on a dual meaning. “I think because of my Chinese heritage and my upbringing in the Netherlands, my style is quite different from a lot of other artists,” she explains. “Even though I like to be creative, there is still a minimalistic feel to my makeup.”
Hsu’s penchant for dreamlike illustrations, including intricate linework and unexpected subject matter, has made her a global phenomenon who travels effortlessly across fashion and beauty editorials, whether she’s working with brands like Calvin Klein, Versace, and La Mer or creating living art for publications like Vogue. “I absolutely love both!” Hsu says about toggling between experimental and practical techniques. “I can do creative makeup with a twist, but I can also do classic beauty… My goal is to always enhance the beauty of the person I’m working with.”
The London-based artist has always been interested in makeup—even scribbling over magazine models as a child to enhance their blush or eyeliner—but it wasn’t until she began an intensive makeup course and moved to New York City years ago that the “half trained, half self-taught” makeup artist began to hone in on her signature style. Today, Hsu’s Instagram is flooded with dreamy designs: Blended neons, striking shapes, and playful takes on face paint that blur the lines between provocative and practical. Working on in-demand model Ariish Wol, Hsu’s goal was to lend a little inspiration after a tumultuous year for the world. For these reasons and more, Rose Inc. is delighted to feature Hsu as this month’s Artist in Residency.
Her Residency Inspiration:
“So many things are inspiring: Nature, art, religion, people on the street and in the subway—everything around us can be a source of inspiration,” Hsu says. For her first week in residency, the MUA let her creativity guide her while strategically framing Wol’s features. “I wanted to create a look with softer lines that would complement the model's face shape,” Hsu says, noting that eyeshadow, not liner, is easier to control when attempting a similar look. This duality—the ability to enhance by selecting the colors, textures, and opacities best for them—is of utmost importance in a bold look, so Hsu kicked off her residency with a stunning shade of purple, which provided both the focal point of the look as well as a way to delicately highlight Wol’s lips.
Behind This Look:
To start, Hsu prepped Wol’s face with the artist’s go-to primer for smooth, glowing skin: Franz Skincare Rose Quartz Moisturizing Face Cream. “I really love this cream as a base for makeup, and it mixes really well with foundation,” she says. She then reached for Synchro Skin Radiant Lifting Foundation and Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Concealer by Shiseido before lifting Wol’s lashes with the brand’s Lash Curler.
Nature, art, religion, people on the street and in the subway—everything around us can be a source of inspiration.
Blurring the lines between creative and classic, Hsu chose to skip eyeliner and instead added a bit of water to her favorite eyeshadow for a soft, easy-to-apply texture. Hsu dipped a thin, angled blending brush into the Charybdis shade in Byredo’s Syren Eyeshadow 5 Colours Palette and gently sketched a line from Wol’s hairline down to the model’s chin, then again around her eye area. Don’t feel limited to this shape, Hsu says: The technique works anywhere, from the eyes to the lips, so get creative.
Balance is paramount, so Hsu finished the look by lightly lining the model’s lips with a gentle application of color, then buffed any edges for a subtle highlight that’s both flattering and pleasing to the eye.
I wanted to create a look with softer lines that would complement the model's face shape.