Why does it always seem like “It Girls” come out of nowhere? In the case of Lupita Nyong'o—fashion’s latest darling and Hollywood’s reigning golden girl—it actually rings true. Born in Mexico, raised in Kenya, and educated at Yale, she’s a new Tinsletown arrival. Her breakout performance in 12 Years a Slave was also her American film debut—and only her third credit as a professional actress! Natural talent aside, she’s taken advantage of every second of the film’s press tour, gaining attention and respect by pairing her jaw-dropping statement frocks with even bolder makeup.
Of course, her red carpet identity has been a group effort. We’re talking about makeup artist Nick Barose, who’s been giving Nyong'o rule-breaking, unapologetically bold beauty looks every step of the way. In anticipation of the Oscars this Sunday (she’s nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role) we chatted with Barose for all the details of her best looks—expect the inspiration, products, and plenty of tip and tricks—above. Long live queen Lupita!
“Modern day Nefertiti,” is how Barose describes Nyong'o's show-stopping look at the Golden Globes. Her red Ralph Lauren gown called for “elongated black liquid liner, a sepia red mouth, and gilded gold eyes,” he told us. He used Chanel’s Liquid Liner ($34) and Rouge Allure Lipstick ($34) in Pirate, then dabbed the brand’s Illusion d'Ombre ($36) in Vision onto the actress’ eyes.
Barose knew exactly what he needed for the dark, inky lip he planned for the Independent Film Awards—and fought to get it. “M.A.C.’s HauteCore Lipstick ($16) was sold out everywhere, so I had to beg their PR to express ship it to me for the event,” he told us. “Black lipstick doesn't have to look harsh or gothic, this is more like a leading lady in a black and white movie.”
Nyong'o’s “golden metallic lip” came about by happenstance for the BAFTA Awards. “A Lauryn Hill song came on the radio that reminded me of the lipsticks she used to wear,” Barose says. “A golden lip on dark skin just looks so stunning.” He channeled the singer by applying Dior’s DiorAddict Gloss ($30) in Cygne Noir to the Nyong'o’s pout, then patted Sisley Paris’ Phyto Ombre Glow Eyeshadow ($52) in Amber on the center of the actress’ lips with his finger.
“Lupita can wear a lot of bold, strong colors because they pop against her gorgeous skin” Barose says. At the GQ Men of the Year party, he selected Armani Lip Maestro ($33) in No. 504 Ecstasy for Nyong'o’s pout. "It’s a mix of red and blue, so it turns a gorgeous fuchsia on her skin,” he says.
“Lupita’s gorgeous citron-yellow gown called for something warm and bold,” Barose told us, so he reached for Tom Ford’s Lip Color ($49) in Wild Ginger and Sisley Paris’ Phyto Ombré Glow ($52) in Amber. “Gold enhances darker skin tones and an orange lip color is dramatic, but so much more fun than red,” Barose says.
“I wanted to enhance Lupita’s fresh, ingenue quality with pink cheeks and lips—plus a simple flick of black liquid liner to get a modern day Audrey Hepburn feeling,” Barose says. He applied Votre Vu’s Vu-On Rouge Color Accent ($29) in Ma Cherry to the actress’ lips and cheeks, then reached for Dolce & Gabbana’s Glam Liner($45) in Intense Black.
For the Producers Guild Awards, Barose created a “luxe,‘70s glam” makeup look with a “burgundy plum lipstick and soft, smoky eyes.” He reached for Tom Ford’s Lipstick ($49) in Black Orchid for the former and Jouer’s Crème Eyeshadow Crayon ($24) in Baroque and Abstract. “I applied the shimmery champagne tone in the inner corners and the pewter black on the outer corners,” he says.
The inspiration behind Nyong'o’s SAG awards pre-party look? “A young ‘60s princess on her summer vacation,” Barose told us. So he created “fresh papaya stained lips” using Armani Lip Maestro ($33) No. 303; a “shimmering bronze eye” with Tarte’s Beauty & the Box Eyeshadow Quad ($22) in Brewed Awakening; and a “deep orange flush” with Dolce & Gabbana The Blush ($45) in Sole.