Here’s how to ‘freestyle’ your highlighter à la Rihanna

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Viola Levy
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As if she hadn’t shaken up the beauty world enough already, Rihanna is taking the humble highlighter to dizzy new heights

Up until now, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line is famous for its diverse range of foundation shades. But she’s now taking highlighter to a whole new level too, bringing the carnival spirit of her native Barbados into the mainstream make-up world. And the results are seriously breathtaking.

For a start, the shades of her new Killawatt Foil Freestyle Highlighter Duo (£28) are far from the conventional peach, pink and coral shimmers we’re used to. The bold magenta and tangerine hues of the ‘Mimosa Sunrise/Sangria Sunset’ duo are giving us seriously, summery vibes. But it’s the way Rihanna wears them that really raises the game.

On the heels of Killawatt hitting the shelves, two of Rihanna’s make-up artists, Priscilla Ono and Hector Espinal wowed the beauty crowd in LA when they demonstrated how to use it at a recent masterclass. While traditionally, highlighter is meant to subtly enhance the high points of the face, this time it was the star of the show: used as blusher, highlighter, draping and – wait for it – even eyeshadow. (Riri debuted the look at The Met Gala last year, using the same Killawatt shades.) It reminds us of the 1920s make-up look Pat McGrath created for John Galliano’s autumn/winter show back in 2007, where she seamlessly linked the eyeshadow to the blusher. But by simple sweeps of highlighter, as opposed to McGrath’s heavy, theatrical and more detailed approach, Rihanna and her team are putting a fresh spin on the look, as Priscilla explained to E!.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: <> at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

“Usually, as make-up artists, we use small buffing brushes to do our eye shadow or we are really precise with whatever we do, but with Rihanna, there’s no limit,” noted Priscilla. “She likes her eye shadow to be put on with our cheek-hugging brush sometimes. She wants it to look like a wash of colour.”

Using the same brush, she showed onlookers how to do highlighter à la Riri. “We’re going to apply Sangria Sunset right on the cheeks, take it up to the temples, take it over onto the eyes, back on the cheeks. [Rihanna] loves having it on the cheekbones and applying it on the temples. You really just blur the lines, so you really never know where your eye shadow ends or where your blush starts. It kind of almost gives it this really beautiful halo effect.” 

“We say reinvent the way you highlight, because usually with highlighter, we just use a bronze tone or a champagne tone or something that’s more glowy,” she added. “We never really take risks and use brighter colours, but with Rihanna, you know, we like to bend the rules.”

If you’re not quite ready for bold peacock hues, we suggest starting off with the more neutral ‘Sandcastle/Mint’d Mojito’ duo and working your way up. We personally couldn’t think of a bolder and more beautiful look to kick off the summer months. Did someone say Notting Hill Carnival?

Images: Getty

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Viola Levy