Meet the make-up artist hand-picked by Rihanna to work on Fenty Beauty for you
27th May 2019
Rihanna’s current quest for world domination means she needs a good team by her side. And believe it or not, there are a lucky, hard-working few out there, who have been plucked from obscurity and placed into the world of Fenty by the singer herself.
Hector Espinal, is one such human.
A former Sephora Pro make-up artist, Espinal worked his way up from the cashier to Global Artist for the beauty giant. Eight years later, Espinal found himself at Paris Fashion Week, where he met Rihanna and the rest, as they say, is beauty history.
“We met, and it was a crazy connection, and from there I was asked to do Fentybeauty.com on a super confidential contract, because nobody knew Fenty was coming out,” Espinal tells Vogue from inside Bondi’s Hotel Ravesis, where the brand launched its Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer into the Australian market.
Espinal’s relationships with Rihanna snowballed from there, auditioning for the role of Fenty Beauty’s Global Makeup Artist, being hand-picked by Rihanna herself in 2017 after a grueling selection process.
“Then I auditioned for her position, and that was truly the one moment where I felt like I was a make-up artist, because I’m like, ‘how did I: one, get here, and two, I can’t believe that I auditioning to be Rihanna’s make-up artist!’”
The last hurdle in the auditioning process was to paint Rihanna’s face and interpret her signature look, the ‘Fenty face’.
The ‘Fenty face’, for those keen to emulate Rihanna’s signature look, involves Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Instant Retough Primer, Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer, Match Stix Matte Skintick and the Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Setting Powder.
But on that fateful day, Rihanna also wanted the artists to include a classic red lip and then “on top of that, you had to do your signature look, like ‘who are you as an artist’,” Espinal recalls, adding, “Just the fact that she let us play with her face was rewarding at that, and that was it.”
Espinal’s red lip was a success with the singer choosing him, alongside fellow make-up artist Priscilla Ono, for the role of Global Makeup Artist. And now, Espinal has, quite literally, got skin in the Fenty Beauty game, having been deeply involved in product development.
“I think what makes it important is because as artists, we understand what the woman needs, or the client in general,” Espinal says of his role in product development.
“For me, it’s one of the best parts of my job, especially when I see it coming alive I’m like anxiously waiting for the reveal,” Espinal says of the process, noting he often hops online to read reviews straight after a product is launched.
And how involved is Rihanna in her game-changing beauty brand?
“She’s extremely one-hundred and a thousand-percent involved in this brand, so when we did the bronzers, one of the reasons why we kept on sending them back was because she didn’t feel like the formula was perfect, or she thought it was too red, or too neutral, or whatever the case was,” Espinal reveals, adding the whole process is all about teamwork.
“She would always give her honest feedback. She’s heavily involved in everything!”
It’s this attention to detail and yearning to give her Fenty acolytes only the most perfect product that meant the brand’s first bronzer took two years to get right.
“Two intense, long years in the making and I’ll tell you why: one, because we really wanted to master a formula that did not show up muddy, or blotchy. Two, the colour range,” Espinal divulges, adding it’s impossible to produce 50 bronzers to match the brand’s foundation offering.
“How can we target the four families: light, medium, tan, deep? So we created two bronzers per family, one on the neutral side, one a little bit warm. It took two years because we needed to stabilise a formula, make it easily buildable, and then transfer-resistant, and make the tones right so that anyone could find a bronzer,” Espinal reveals.
Thoughtfully, Rihanna has also produced two new brushes to sculpt and dust on the Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer – she’s really thought of everything.
“After I got the job, she’s always said like, ‘I love how precise you are’,” Espinal recalls of his boss, Rihanna.
And if Rihanna thinks Espinal’s hands are the best to be involved in creating Fenty, then we do too.