The Products Behind Rihanna’s Concert Face

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Photo: Courtesy of M.A.C.

Rihanna's much-anticipated Diamonds world concert tour began over the weekend, and in addition to the Riccardo Tisci–designed costumes, she's teamed up with her newest collaborator, MAC Cosmetics, for a face with complete stage presence. Minus all the powder, it's actually a great look for any evening out because the hazy grey eyes balance the bold red lip. Here's the exclusive dispatch the Cut received from Christopher del Castillo, one of the company's senior artists and the creator of Riri's concert tour beauty look, which had to also be mindful of Tisci's custom couture goggles.

What was the collaborative process like for creating this look?
When I first met with her team, we discussed the different acts, and walked through the story boards for each — the boards are huge, at least eight feet tall. The story boards detail everything: swatches of fabrics and sketches of her costumes, images of shoes, notes on the stage setup, backup dancers and singers, lighting — everything! For the makeup, we focused our discussion on the costumes, lighting, and set, and from there found a makeup look that would best complement the overall feeling of the tour.

What are some makeup “musts” Rihanna has for the stage?
She's on stage moving around for hours at a time. Skin prep is key for stage makeup, so she's prepping with a product from our Prep+Prime line, Natural Radiance. It helps control oil production and smoothes texture, giving skin an amazing canvas for foundation application. I chose Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 because of its medium buildable coverage. The product really stays put and has a natural matte finish which is key under those intense lights. Aside from the foundation, the other key products are MAC's Blot Powder — it's always readily available for quick touch-ups between acts — and of course, her new signature lipstick, Riri Woo. No one rocks a red lip like Rihanna.

What does she do differently for stage makeup than her regular, everyday look?
For this look, it's really about bringing a long-wearing, glamorous, stage-perfect vision of what you would already notice about Rihanna's beauty look — if you were up-close. Rihanna still needs to look like herself and the fans in the way back of the venue need to see her stunning features. To do this, it's all about exaggerated highlighting and contouring her features. I really just think of this look as an amped-up version of her everyday look.

Why were these specific lashes chosen?
I chose two types of lashes to really make Rihanna's eyes pop on stage. The combo of these two, lash #1 and #36, add dimension and a dense dramatic look.

Why was this particular lip color chosen? And how is it applied so it lasts?
It's no secret Rihanna loves a red lip. She created RiRi Woo (I find it to be just a bit bluer than Ruby Woo) so it was only appropriate to incorporate it into the tour look. To switch things up a bit, Lipglass in Rebel is applied over the color for Acts 5 and 6. To make the lip last, it is applied it with Vino Lip Pencil.

I know that there’s some eyewear involved with her costumes — why does this eye-makeup look work best with accessories like that?
This eye makeup is beautiful but not high maintenance — we decided to use lashes as the focus rather than a heavy liner. We didn’t want anything that would get smudged during costume (or eyewear) changes.

How long does the whole process take to get her face ready?
The thing with any stage makeup look is you get better and quicker as the tour goes on. I'd be curious to know how much time will be shaved off by the end of the tour!