Look away now: how to challenge the concept of pretty

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Ava Welsing-Kitcher
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Beauty doesn’t always have to be pretty - as beauty director Anita Bhagwandas and make-up artist Maxine Leonard prove in this incredible shoot.

Challenge the concept of ‘pretty’ with unnerving spider lashes and blood-red lips. Beauty Papers editor-in-chief Maxine Leonard uses Dior Makeup to explore beauty’s rebellious side in this incredible shoot that first appeared in Stylist’s September 2018 fashion issue.

Beauty direction: Anita Bhagwandas

Spider legs

Boundary pushing makeup
Make up to challenge the concept of pretty

Elongated, feline and feathery: the criteria’s clear when it comes to lashes. So the unsettling satisfaction that accompanies slicking seven layers of coal-black mascara shouldn’t look or feel right, but seriously clumped lashes frame the eyes in a way that subtle strokes of a wand cannot. As for the risky blink? Leonard advises against correcting your mistakes: “If mascara transfers to where it shouldn’t be, it’s been applied honestly. So let it stay.”

Try the look:

DiorShow Pump ‘N’ Volume Mascara, £27

Dior Vernis Nail Polish in Bonheur 661, £21

Sleek Makeup Brow Kit in light, £8.49

High gloss 

Makeup to challenge
Challenge the concept of pretty with these looks

“Have I got lipstick on my teeth?” We all know the age-old finger trick to avoid lipstick smudges, but the fear of wearing a bold lip can sometimes overtake the fun of it. So make lipstick carefree again. “Overload lips with a cherry-red gloss – if it feels like too much, add some more – and smile broadly and unapologetically,” implores Leonard. “Brandish that faux pas with pride and own it.”

Try the look:

Dior Fix It 2-in-1 Prime & Conceal Face Eyes Lips in 001 Light, £25

Dior Rouge Dior Couture Colour in 999, £29

Glossier Clear Lip Gloss, £11

Arch envy

Makeup to challenge
These looks challenge the concept of beauty

In the age of uniform brow perfection, play with reversing the rules of that perfect symmetrical arch. Revel instead in the freedom of a single, hasty strikethrough. “Quite literally reform your approach to brows,” encourages Leonard. “This line is an act of protest.” So think Frida Kahlo and unashamedly reclaim the unibrow.

Try the look:

Diorskin Nude Air Serum in 010 Ivory, £35

DiorShow On Stage Liner in 091 Matte Black, £26

Dior Addict Ultra-Gloss in 004 Tiara, £26

Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Eye Pencil in Matte Black, £17

Lancôme Teint Idole Blush Stick in 201 Bright Red, £17

Cupid’s Snarl 

Makeup to challenge
These looks challenge the concept of beauty

The Ancient Greeks valued a perfectly symmetrical face – cupid’s bow included. Since then, symmetry’s been considered the epitome of beauty, but we’re a little exhausted by the quest for perfection. Dare you disturb the balance? “Try elevating one peak of your bow with a mismatching lip liner for some statement imperfection and to defile a classic red,” says Leonard.

Try the look:

Dior Capture Youth Age-Delay Advanced Crème, £75

Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation in 2 Neutral, £29

Backstage Glow Face Palette, £34

LA Girl Perfect Precision Lip Liner in Satin Plum, £4

Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color in Parisian Red, £27

Statement brow 

Makeup to challenge
These looks challenge the concept of beauty

This Solero-hued arch is really something else. Take a freer approach to brow colour by rubbing fingers onto an orange eyeshadow or lip pencil and using it roughly through the eyebrows with your fingers. “Skip the brow gel and let the hairs sit how they choose,” says Leonard. “Echo the orange on your waterline, too, even though we’d traditionally steer clear of it.” And don’t stress about accentuating bloodshot eyes – this is about nonconforming beauty, after all.

Try the look:

Dior Flash Luminizer Radiance Booster Pen in 800 Pearly Pink, £30

Dior Diorskin Nude Air Powder in 020 Light Beige, £38.50

Dior Contour Lip Liner in 080 Red Smile, £21

Dior Diorshow Lash Extension Mascara in 698 Pro Brown, £27

Nars Matte Eyeshadow in Persia, £19

Second Skin 

Makeup to challenge
These looks challenge the concept of pretty

Sometimes it feels like your foundation soulmate is more elusive than an actual soulmate. There are boxes to tick and undertones to match. “It’s quite exhausting to be endlessly educated on how to find that perfect shade, so let’s take a moment to protest against the perfect base,” suggests Leonard. Maybe save this one for Halloween.

Try the look:

Dior Backstage Airflash Radiance Mist, £31.50

Dior Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm, £20

Mac Chromacake in Primary Yellow, £22.50

Kryolan Aqua Liquid in 512, £24.40

NYX Multitasker Mixing Medium, £8

Photography: Karina Twiss