If you’ve ever coveted Rihanna‘s red carpet radiance or Megan Thee Stallion‘s scene-stealing make-up looks, you’re in luck because Priscilla Ono, is here with Vogue Singapore to share on how to achieve just that.
As Rihanna’s personal make-up guru and Fenty Beauty’s global make-up artist, Priscilla Ono remains on call to some of the hottest names in showbiz today including Kali Uchis, Normani and more. Ono’s elevated baddie make-up looks are a reflection of herself: directional, polished, and unapologetically feminine in the boldest of ways.
A born educator who got her start on the floors of Sephora, Ono opens up about her adventures in the beauty world, serving glam with gratitude and good vibes in equal measure: “One thing I’ve learned about Rihanna is that she doesn’t do things just to make a statement,” Ono says passionately. “When she does things, she does it from the heart because she loves it. What people love about her is her authenticity: that she’s not doing it to please anyone. She’s doing it because she knows in her heart, she feels that it’s right. And she feels like it’s cool.
“You don’t have to conform to society and do what people want you to do. You do what you feel is right. And you do what you know is right. And from there, it’s just going to grow. You’re always gonna be successful if we do that.”
Which is why it makes perfect sense that Fenty’s newly-launched skincare and make-up products, known as Pre-Show Glow and Liquid Killawatt respectively, are consistently used by Rihanna and the team themselves.
View this post on Instagram
Here are Ono’s best beauty secrets on achieving our very own pre show glow and more.
1 / 12
Great make-up begins with great skin
Picture it: a professional-calibre treatment in the comfort of your own glam room. The Pre-Show Glow Instant Retexturizing Treatment is a “chemical exfoliator with 10 per cent AHAs,” Priscilla Ono shares. “There’s lactic acid, glycolic acid, and citric acid. There’s also rooibos and one of my favourite ingredients, the Barbados cherry extract, which is in the majority of Rihanna’s skincare. It’s high in vitamin C which is great for brightening and smoothing the texture of your skin. So this little bottle is packed with a lot of amazing ingredients that are just great for your skin.”
“For the last maybe four years that I’ve been working with Rihanna, I have noticed that she loves to get a good facial and a good scrub before I do her glam,” says Ono. “She’s very into skincare and knows that good make-up starts with good skin. Unfortunately, because of her busy schedule, and also because she’s also got very sensitive skin, she gets a lot of redness very easily and isn’t able to get a full on facial before glam.
“So she wanted to create a product that you would use right before a big event. Or if you were going out to meet friends and you notice that your face has a lot of build-up, you just need something that’s going to be efficient; that’s going to gently get rid of the build-up without causing any inflammation or any kind of redness after so that you can do your make-up right away—essentially with no downtime. And now we have Pre-Show Glow.
“I noticed that Rihanna loves to take the applicator to really scrub around her nose, her chin area… the more problem areas; she really gets in there. When we were doing the photoshoot for the campaign for this product, she actually walked in and just grabbed it and went into the bathroom and just started using it. It’s a thing that she really does this before before any like red carpet or big event.”
Each kit comes with a little reusable mitt to help you gently physically buff away dead skin cells. “We love the reusable mitt because Fenty and Rihanna are very earth conscious. Both the bottle and the cap are recyclable. This is made from 80 per cent plant based fibre, so it’s made from recycled wool fibre.”
“Take the liquid and pour some right in the center of the damp mitt,” Ono shares demonstrating, continuously squeezing the applicator till foam appears before buffing it into your face—be sure to remove your make-up beforehand.
“This is very gentle even though it has a nice little texture to it which gets all the dead skin off your face.” But if you’re still finding this a little to harsh for your ultra-sensitive complexion, ditch the mitt and “just use your fingers”, working in the foam around your face.
“You can also throw it in a delicate cycle in your washing machine and then reuse it multiple times which is great. Use this twice a week, all over your face, neck, and decolletage, and it will smoothen out your skin and give you even better results over time,” Ono assures. “You’re going to have more of a flawless texture. It really does help if you do use it as a regimen twice a week. But of course, just using it before a big event is going to give you huge results which is great amazing.”
Pre-Show Glow Instant Retexturizing 10% AHA Treatment + Reusable Applicator, $61, available at Sephora
2 / 12
On creating your own glow-ment
“Rihanna is all about the glow,” Ono dishes, “especially a glow that comes from within… when it looks like a part of your skin rather than like a shimmer or a highlight that just sits on top of it.”
Fenty Beauty’s powder highlighters aka Killawatts flew off shelves when the brand launched in 2017, offering fans a slice of killer radiance on the highest points of their face. “Since then, Rihanna wanted to integrate a more glow-from-within type of look, she’s obsessed when highlighters look more of like a sheen over a shimmer. So she created Liquid Killawatt, which come in five different shades and pretty much every skin tone can wear any shade depending on where you place it.”
“For the campaign, I actually use all the tones on Rihanna. The best thing about these is that they are made with pearl so there’s no actual glitter that’s in the shimmer, so you’re going to get more of that like iridescent glow from within type of look.
“It has the most amazing dry down, so you get no transfer which is incredible. And it doesn’t move your make-up around which is great.”
Ono adds the liquid highlighters contain clary sage which is “really emollient and helps to cool and makes the skin feel soft and supple.”
3 / 12
On how to use liquid highlighters, even on textured skin
Just like contouring, no one prescribed placement for highlighter that works for every face or skin type.
“It’s different for everyone,” cautions Ono. “I know we see all these videos on Instagram and social media, and it’s always like the same contour, the same highlights on everyone, but that’s not really how it is—even for Rihanna. It depends on the occasion she has, because she does get breakouts, we all do. We’re all human. Depending on her skin that day, I will do her contour and her highlighting different. So it’s all about just customising it for you and for how it makes makes you feel comfortable.”
If you have textured skin, make highlighter work for you.
“My tips are to apply highlighter strategically. I personally have texture on my cheeks and I’ve always had these little bumps all along,” Ono offers. “So when I apply my highlight, I apply it above that area. While I noticed that my clients actually love the highlighter more so on the actual cheek, for me personally, because I do have that texture on my cheek, I avoid that so that I don’t bring that out.
“I just take a bit of Liquid Killawatt, and I apply it on the bridge of the nose, on the high points of the eyebrows on the chin, and it kind of gives an an appearance of a glow. Even though you’re not putting any on the cheekbones, you’re still applying it in other places, so that you still have that glow. It’s all about applying it in the right place for you.”
Fenty Liquid Killawatt Fluid Freestyle Highlighter, $39, available in five shades at Sephora
4 / 12
On achieving budge-proof make-up for Singapore's humid climate
“We’re all still wearing face masks, and it’s all about making sure that our make-up is going to last even when we’re covering it. The great thing about Rihanna’s complexion products is that she always make sure that they’re long lasting and tamper resistant, which is very important. They’re also humidity resistant. You know, Rihanna is from Barbados, it gets very humid there. So she wants to make sure that all of her products are living up to that humidity resistance. So you’re definitely going to get that with Fenty Beauty, which is incredible.
“Face Primer is very important, it helps your make-up last even longer. We have three within our line which are all amazing and are meant to cater to different skin types. If you are more on the oily side like Rihanna, and you are going to be in humid weather, I always made sure that I’m using the primer, our Retouch Primer in the matte version which is incredible for humid weather, because it’s going to keep you nice and matte without making you look dry. It’s going to help so that you don’t get oily as fast throughout the day. And then we follow up with a Soft Matte Foundation, which has the most incredible wear. Super durable for oily skin.”
Fenty Beaty Pro Filt’r Mattifying Primer, $50 for 32ml, available at Sephora
5 / 12
On getting glowier skin with lymphatic drainage massages
“We definitely always stay on top of our regimen,” says Ono who shares that it’s common for her to take extra time at the end of a long shoot just to remove Rihanna’s make-up in the evening. “We want to make sure that we’re always cleansing at the end of the night, even if I have to stay a little longer just to make sure that it her base or make-up comes off.
“The day before I do her make-up, I always give her a little mini facial. So like I’ll do Pre-Show Glow, she’ll go rinse it off, and then I’ll follow up with moisturiser and other skincare tools to bring her her skin back to life. I also do a little lymphatic drainage, which she loves. It takes away all the puffiness off of her face, but at the same time, brings blood flow on the areas that we want them. When you’ve been traveling a lot and your skin isn’t feeling so good, these areas around your laugh lines and under your eyes can look a little more sunken in or more bloated. So I just smooth out the areas that have all the additional extra water to re-drain it. But then we’ll bring blood flow back into those areas, so we love a good lymphatic drainage which replumps the skin.”
Fenty Skin Flash Nap Instant Revival Eye Gel-Cream + Eye Massage Tool Skincare Set, $62, available at Sephora
6 / 12
On fresh, vibrant skin, all day long
“Invismatte is Rihanna’s best friend, she even says it herself,” shares Ono. “She carries it in her clutch all the time. And I always have it in my bag for her. It’s pretty incredible.
“Our Invismatte Blotting Powder is incredible for retouching shine. When you’re in humid weather and you touch up throughout the day, you start to look cakey because you’re just applying more and more make-up and it doesn’t look flattering. But because of Invisimattte’s technology and the ingredients that are in the powder, you’re actually not applying more make-up. It basically just makes the shine and the oil go away, which is so important because we want our skin to look fresh throughout the entire day. And that is so important for Rihanna. She despises any type of little build-up that she gets freaked out.”
Fenty Invismatte Blotting Powder, $44, available at Sephora
7 / 12
On the next big trend she's got her eye on
“Rihanna is really in tune with with Gen Z and she has me making sure that I’m on the latest trends and doing the funnest and coolest make-up looks. Because we’ve been doing a lot of shoots lately, I really have been taking advantage of our coloured eye pencils. They’re incredible and come in so many different shades.
“Just two days ago, we did the cherry on her the red and it looks so cool. That’s very Gen Z. I just feel like these colourful pencils are such an easy way to add vibrance to your eyes without having to put too much effort in eyeshadow. Sometimes eyeshadow can be tricky for a lot of people and it’s a little harder to blend with your brushes. Not everyone is good at that.
“But with these pencils, I feel like you just take a you swipe it around your eye and boom, you have cool colour and you can do different shapes. I really foresee pencils being used more over eyeshadow just because of the versatility and how easy it is.”
Fenty Beuty Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner in Open Sea, $33, available at Sephora
8 / 12
On perfecting your Zoom make-up look in 5 minutes or less
With many of us still working and studying from home, perfecting the 5-minute Zoom-face has become an art.
“Oh, I do this all the time,” Ono confesses with a chuckle. “It’s definitely easy: Rock the Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint Foundation. It’s the fastest, easiest foundation: you can literally squeeze it in your hands, put it on with your fingers. And there’s also the cheeks out cream blush that we have. I take the cream blush, I put some on my cheeks and a little bit on my lips. And then I put on some mascara and that’s kind of like the five minutes and it’s perfect.”
Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush, $33, available at Sephora
9 / 12
Priscilla's advice to budding make-up artists—and you
“I always say, ‘Be yourself you know, don’t try to conform to trends or try to do make-up like everyone else,” Ono affirms, “Do you. Be original. Be unique.”
“I’ve always been very different growing up, and that’s how I met Rihanna actually. We met on the set of one of her music videos, S&M, over 10 years ago. She saw me on set because I was this larger than life character. I’m a plus size girl. I have white spiky hair, crazy make-up. And she kind of just saw me in this crowd and was like, “Oh my gosh, who are you? You’re so cool.” I was shocked.
“I’m really honest speaking. I was there doing make-up for the background actors. And she actually asked me to be her music video. And I was like, “Yeah, of course, I’ll be in your video” which is pretty amazing. But since that day, we built a friendship, we always kept in touch and now it’s a full circle moment. I work for her brand and I’m with her all the time. I think that because I was I was who I was I didn’t conform to ‘normal’ standards. I had an appeal to her because she I was someone that she’s never seen before with my white spiky hair, just being myself.
“I think that everyone should just be themselves. You shouldn’t try to like copy other people’s make-up. For Rihanna, especially she does not like wearing the same make-up twice. She doesn’t like make-up that you’ll see everywhere. She wants something original, something fun, something cool. So it’s always about coming up with new things.
“I just always recommend for everyone to just be themselves, be unique, be different. And when you’re when you do things that are remarkable, it stops people in their tracks, and it makes them pay attention to you. And that’s how you kind of evolve and you go from there.”
10 / 12
On finding inspiration
“When I’m traveling, I’m always constantly inspired. I actually take photos everywhere I go. I think I have maybe over 50,000 photos in my iPhone and my iPad and computer just because, you know, you can pretty much get inspired from anything.
“I did Rihanna’s make-up for the Met Gala back in 2018 when she did the Pope look. You know, we were in Madrid and we had went to some cathedrals and they had these beautiful stained glass murals. I took so many photos while I was there. So when I did Rihanna’s make-up, we talked about about getting inspired by those murals and doing a stained glass effect on the face. So if you zoom into some of those photos, she has like washes of pink, and different washes of colour on her nose and on her eyes, and almost gives like the stained glass effect. And I thought that was so cool, because we got inspired by essentially cathedrals in Madrid, rather than just getting inspired by another make-up look, which I think is so cool. So I think inspiration comes from everything, which is great.”
11 / 12
On making her mark in pop culture today
“All the girls they are so amazing to work with because they’re also different. They all have different make-up styles. I really love them all. I think some of my favourite looks, my goodness, there’s been so many. Megan Thee Stallion was nominated for her albums at the American Music Awards, which she won three awards for. I helped with that album cover and with three or four music videos off that album and just seeing that work recently… looking back at it because when you’re in it, you don’t really realise how major it is. But then when you you sit back and you see it a year later, it kind of makes you realise how iconic it is and how that’s going to live forever.”
“I’m really fortunate that I get to work on like music videos, album covers, even magazine covers. This year, I’ve done like seven, which is pretty amazing. A couple of Vogue covers with Rihanna. All of those things, once I get those magazines in the mail, I’m just like, ‘oh my gosh, like I was a part of this’. It’s pretty iconic. Those moments to me are so special. So I kind of you know, hold on to all of them.”
12 / 12
On one make-up trend she did back in the day that she's still doing today
“I grew up in L.A., my grandparents are Mexican and my aunts are second generation Mexican. So essentially, the Chola make-up trend was very popular with me growing up in the ’90s. It was all about this darker lip liner and then the lighter colour on the inside. And it’s so cool to see now that I’m an adult that that trend is still around.
“For me it was such a major thing in the ’90s growing up and seeing artists want to emulate Chola makeup. It was like a proud moment. You know, it’s part of my heritage as it’s part of my upbringing. And it really made me realise that there’s a place for me in this industry as well because you get inspiration from all walks of life. So definitely one thing that I’m still doing till this day is lining the lips with a darker lip liner and then having a lighter lip colour on the inside of the lips. That’s never going to go away.”