One of the recurring themes in Rihanna's makeup is that of a neutral but defined eye, and strong lips.
She always has groomed brows, defined neutral brown shadow in the crease, subtle contouring and not too much color on the cheeks, paired with a lip that she changes out which way depending on her mood and outfit.
This is a very clean, CLASSIC look that would take you from weekday to weekends, BBQ to club easily.
Here's a quick breakdown!
Rihanna's base is always pretty matte. She isn't a huge fan of shimmery highlighting or a "dewy" finish in most cases. Try an oil-absorbing or mineral powder foundation to minimize the shine, but don't over-apply powder, because you don't want a flat and heavy look.
Her skin is usually still quite luminous looking.
Rihanna seems to skip blush a lot of times, opting for subtle contouring along the cheekbones instead. Always look for a bronzer that is not too red/copper. It should have taupe/grey tones so it can mimic actual shadows on your skin.
Look for a pressed powder 2 shades deeper than your actual shade and use that as a contour instead!
Rihanna's brows are always groomed and filled in with a soft taupe brown. Instead of using an eyeliner pencil which can be too pigmented and strong-looking, I do suggest looking for a waxy, less pigmented brow pencil or even a matte taupe eye shadow instead, since these will give a much softer effect.
Occasionally she throws in a nice warm coral/pink tone just on the peaks of the cheeks, above the contouring. Most of the time, it doesn't look too shimmery. Try Fleur Power from MAC (Pinch o' Peach if you are pale).
Rihanna likes definition. And why not? She's got those gorgeous cat-eyes and definition with liner and contouring emphasizes their shape.
The key thing is her liner. She often rims the inner lid with black, and pulls the liner into a very short and subtle flick at the outer corners, more to emphasize the tilt of her eyes than to look very obvious on its own.
Step 1: Begin with a matte brown for contouring the crease. There is one thing to remember. Rihanna usually doesn't pull the contour all the way to the inner corners. Start at the center and blend outwards.
She also doesn't follow the contour of the socket and pull the shadow downwards. Her artist pulls the brown straight outwards. This is a tip to "lifting" your eye shape and creating a more cat-like look.
Step 2: Liner is key to Rihanna's look. The emphasis for Rihanna is usually the outer half.
There are 3 steps.
- Start from the outside in, and draw a straight line from outer corner to the center of the eye. It should be thickest on the outside and disappear to nothing at the center. As a finishing touch, use your nail to scrape the outer corners of the liner outward and up slightly, to make a very short (and very easy) wing.
- Line the inner rim of the upper lash line (under your lashes) all the way from inner corners to outer. This emphasizes and defines the eye shape but doesn't weigh down the lid with a lot of black.
- [Optiona] Rihanna likes to line the inner rim of her lower lash line as well, but she doesn't do this 100% of the time. You can skip this if you prefer (and especially if your eyes have a tendency to water). If you have narrower or smaller eyes but want that catty effect, do what I did below and draw the line only halfway. A full line can make small eyes look even narrower.
Step 3: In some shots and looks, Rihanna's lids look like they gleam a little. If you have oilier lids, just leave out this step as your natural oils will create that sheen.
If you need a little extra sparkle, dab a tiny bit of shimmery beige or champagne right in the center of the lids. This creates that nice gleam.
Step 4: Finish with mascara! You can emphasize that catty look by pulling your mascara wand diagonally up and out at the outer corners and simply concentrating on the outer lashes. If you prefer falsies, then use half-strips at the outer corners. You don't want to make things too dramatic, because you lose that fresh, sexy look Rihanna is channeling.
This is where you go to town. Rihanna has sported tons of colors so don't restrict yourself.
- For a good deep red, try MAC's Russian Red or Ruby Woo with Auburn lip pencil.
- For a deep dark shade, Film Noir or Wet n Wild Cherry Bomb are great. (You can also fill in your lip with a kajal or khol pencil and dab a little deep red or plum over for a super-dramatic effect - just make sure it does not contain any lead in the ingredients list!)
- That, or go au naturale with a tiny bit of clear gloss or lip balm!