Lupita Nyong'o, the 30-year-old Mexican-born actress of Kenyan descent who stars in "12 Years a Slave," has been crowned this award season's "It girl." In addition to her many acting accolades — including an Oscar nomination for supporting actress — her striking good looks, impeccable style and flawless visage have also launched her, at lightning-quick speed, into the realm of beauty role model.
When celebrity makeup artist Nick Barose was first asked to do Nyong'o's makeup, "I just saw that face and I canceled my vacation to work with her," he says. He has since designed her beauty look for an array of events including the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Golden Globes.
"The great thing about Lupita is she's an artist and she's encouraged me to be an artist as well," Barose says. "I don't think we've done the same thing twice. We have fun."
Nyong'o's deep skin tone means she can wear an array of colors including brights, metallics, saturated colors like burgundy and even black lipstick, a la Lauryn Hill. "A really bright fuchsia blush, for example, used sparingly and spread to be sheer, on that skin you'd just get a hint, a pop of color that's just gorgeous," Barose said.
"For the red carpet, you have to put on a pretty generous amount of makeup for the lighting and photos but the one thing I don't do is change her features with contouring. Sometimes makeup can actually make you look worse when you change yourself too much," says Barose.
He's partnered with Chanel for award season but he's often mixed different shades of MAC Matchmaster Foundation ($34) applied with a Beauty Blender, "so her natural sheen and gorgeous skin comes through," he says.
Makeup, hair and nail artists often take their cues from the gown the celebrity is wearing, from the fashion stylist or even get direction from the dress designer. Barose, inspired in part by Nyong'o's regal Ralph Lauren gown, wanted a subtle "Cleopatra or Nefertiti feel" for the Golden Globes.
In addition to foundation and mascara, products he used were from Chanel and included the brand's Crayon Sourcils Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil in Noir Cendré ($29); a wash of Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadow in Complice ($29.50) on her lids topped with Illusion D'Ombre Long Wear Luminous Eyeshadow in Vision ($36); Ligne Graphique De Chanel Liquid Liner in Noir ($34) to create a short wing on the upper lash-line; shimmery Le Crayon Yeux Precision Eye Definer in Blue Jean ($29) on the lower lash-line; Blush Duo Tweed Effect Brun Rosé ($45) on top of her cheekbones; Le Crayon Lèvres Precision Lip Colour in Rouge Profond ($29) and Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour in Pirate ($35) with golden Illusion D'Ombre Long Wear Luminous Eyeshadow in Vision ($36) dabbed in the center of her lips.
Deborah Lippmann did Nyong'o's Golden Globes nails using Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Base & Top Coat ($45 a pair, deborahlippmann.com); one coat of sheer beige Naked ($18) and a second coat of iridescent Diamonds and Pearls ($18).
For the Screen Actors Guild Awards, where Nyong'o wore an enchanting, turquoise, flower-embellished Gucci gown, Barose was inspired by a butterfly.
After applying foundation, he dusted on Joues Contraste Powder Blush in Emotion ($45) and Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour in No. 70 ($57.50) onto her T-zone, under her eyes, and bridge of her nose.
He smudged the blue color from Chanel Quadra Eye Shadow in Fascination ($59) from the inner corner of her eyes to the center; applied Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadow in Amethyst (29.50) from the outer corner towards the center; then applied Limited Edition Le Crayon Khôl Intense Eye Pencil in Pêche Cuivré ($29.50); Stylo Yeux Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner in Noir ($32) on the upper lash-line and Stylo Yeux Long-Lasting Eyeliner in Violine ($32) on the lower lash-line. He used Chanel Crayon Sourcils Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil in Brun Cendré ($29) toning it down with a bronzy eye shadow; and filled in her lip with Le Crayon Lèvres Precision Lip Definer in Framboise ($29), blotted that off and then applied Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour in Passion ($35) and blotted again.
At the SAG Awards Nyong'o wore Lippmann's Gel Lab Base & Top Coat, a coat of chrome Swagga Like Us ($20) and a second coat of Chain Reaction (part of a $42 set).
If the dress is a strong color or "there's a lot of color on the face we tend to go more neutral on the nail," says Lippmann. "You never want to see the makeup or nails walking into the room before the woman."
A few words about hair
Nyongo's short hair is part of her charm and she's worn it in subtly different styles during the season.
"A lot of people assume short hair is masculine but Lupita has those soft, feminine features … she's a girly-girl," says hairstylist Larry Sims. "It takes a really confident woman to wear short hair and feel amazing about it."
For the Golden Globes, Sims was inspired by the lines in Nyongo's caped Ralph Lauren gown to be more dynamic with her hair's shape and added an asymmetrical part using Smooth 'N Shine Go Pro Curls Butter Bouncin' to hydrate and give a moldable texture.
Nyong'o is also open to innovation. Celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson gave her a widow's peak for the Critics' Choice Awards.
Lippmann is impressed that newcomer Nyong'o navigates the red carpet "with such elegance, grace and poise … I'm just in love with her."