Interview: Miami makeup artist Cristina Rosario

Laren Tayyip June 8, 2020
Interview: Miami makeup artist Cristina Rosario

“If you cannot work on every skin tone, you cannot call yourself a professional makeup artist.” In conversation with makeup artist Cristina Rosario.


Racism has reached every aspect of life, and with the current events unfolding in America and across the world, it is important to speak out about the changes which need to be made.

I spoke to Cristina Rosario, a make-up artist based in Miami, about racism in the beauty industry.

We discuss her own experiences as a makeup artist, George Floyd and her recent instagram post which has been shared by makeup artists all over social media.

Tell us more about your background and experiences of living in America.

“My name is Cristina Rosario and my parents moved to America from the Dominican Republic in the early 80s. Luckily for me, they came to Miami, and honestly it’s a privilege.

“Miami is a melting pot of cultures; there are many different minorities all mixed together in one place, mostly hispanic. I emphasise this because I realise my privilege as a Latin woman.

“Here in Miami, hispanics do not experience as much racism as other minorities do, ’cause we are kind of the majority, we are kind of in a bubble to be completely honest. But if you travel anywhere outside of Miami, you feel it.

“I remember going to Georgia with my family. We stopped in a small city and I will never forget the looks we got and how uncomfortable we made other people.

“They were almost disgusted. It should be noted that my nuclear family is light Dominican. I say this because, if that’s how they treated us, then how it must it be for a black person?

“And that was just a look. Black people get called names, people cross the street and clench their purses in fear. They are murdered while they are out trying to buy cigarettes, running in their own neighbourhood, or sleeping in their apartment.

“Yes, latinos are discriminated against but even then it’s not the same. We have a slight privilege.”

What are your thoughts on the current protests in America?

“I have many thoughts as you can see on my instagram stories. I have been very vocal.

“What happened to George Floyd is simply unjust and inhumane, just like all of the innocent black people before him who have died at the hands of police brutality.

“Not only was he not resisting and helpless, he was murdered by the people who are there to ‘protect and serve’.

“It has taken riots in all 50 states and across the globe to have them arrested. And yet people still say racism doesn’t exist.”

What message would you give to George Floyd’s family?

“First and foremost I am truly sorry for your loss. I cannot begin to imagine the pain they must be feeling. But with the pain, I hope they see what an impact he has made.

“I watched a video where his daughter was chanting, ‘My daddy is changing the world.’ And he really is.

“For the first time in a long time, we have united and decided enough is enough. Black people deserve better and we will do better!”

If you could say one thing to Donald Trump what would it be?

“United we stand, divided we fall. It’s as simple as that.”

How can white people use their privilege going forward?

“Demand a change. Use your privilege to help the ones in need. Do not be afraid to educate the people around you.

“Take the time to learn the history, read, watch documentaries, listen to podcasts, use every resource you have.

“We may never be able to fully understand what it feels like but we can educate ourselves and make a difference.

“It’s also about making small changes in your daily life. Reflect and recognise where you are lacking and commit to changing it.

“Find innovative ways to motivate others. Lead by example. It’s simple things that can make such a big difference. Be a leader in your community and lead by example.”

As a makeup artist in Miami, have you witnessed racism?

“I have definitely witnessed racism within the beauty community. When I truly think about it, I wish I would have been as vocal as I am now.

“I cannot begin to tell you how much discrimination I’ve seen when working with artists on different projects.

“Many artists are unprepared and uneducated on working with darker tones. They do not carry ranges in their kit and only cater to a certain range.

“The excuse is always ‘my client really isn’t that dark so why carry it?’ Or, ‘Because I don’t work on that many people of colour, I just do the best that I can.’

“I have seen models wipe off their makeup because the artist made them ashy, too light or even too dark.

“I have been on sets where artists do not have the proper hair products and have damaged their hair in the process. I stood by and tried to be as politically correct as I could, apologised to the client or model and have even tried to excuse them just to try to rectify the situation in the moment.

“What I wish I would have done was to take more of an initiative, to call them out and educate them.

“It is not acceptable and should be an industry standard. If you cannot work on every skin tone, if you do not carry the products needed, you cannot call yourself a professional makeup artist.”

How have you been using your platform to make a change?

“In the past week, I have been using my platform to share awareness and be as supportive of the movement as much as I can.

“I have signed every petition and have even sent emails, but I felt it wasn’t enough. Which is why I decided to take more action within my own community.

“I created a post to educate artists and inspire them to do better. It aims to hold accountable those artists who have failed black people time and time again.

“I have decided I will no longer stand by and allow this to happen. In ‘4 small ways to change racism’, I lay out simple and basic things which honestly should have been the norm.

“I didn’t think that it was going to get as much attention as it has but I am truly thankful that artists around the world are not only sharing and learning from it but also committing to it.”

How can the makeup industry change to defeat racism?

“I would like to see that every artist carries all of the products from foundations to eye shadows that are inclusive and for people of colour.

“I would like to see us highlight more beautiful black clients/models on our social media. They are just as beautiful but yet for whatever reason we do not post them.”

“We can’t choose our clients, but you can make an effort to collaborate with black models or friends, do some fun looks and create content.

“Many artists have actually asked me how I get so many black clients. It’s simple, I represent them in my feed, they see it and know that I am more than capable of working on their skin tone.

“You need to represent everyone. It all starts at home.

“I would also like to see beauty and makeup brands held accountable. We have definitely made some strides in this department, as many brands have added to their lines.

“However, we still have a long way to go. Many brands come out with many shades of white/ lighter foundations and have 4-5 deep tones that don’t even have the proper undertone.

“Their response would be, ‘Well our research shows those tones don’t sell as much so we don’t prioritise them.’ That can no longer be an excuse.

“Every brand should have colours for everyone. I think we as customers must demand inclusivity. We must demand they are represented throughout their marketing ads.

“Little black girls should be able to look and see themselves beautifully represented.

“So many have spoken about these specific injustices in the past – including Winnie Harlow and Viola Davis – yet nothing has been done. That speaks volumes.”

Can you share an example of the lack of inclusivity you have seen in the beauty industry?

“My friend recently mentioned to me that she has yet to have ‘nude nails’ because salons have failed to get ranges of nude browns in stock.

“That shocked me and again reminded me of my privilege. I wear nude nails almost 90% of the year.

“Nude is not a light beige. Nude is a skin tone and should be represented from the lightest skin tones to the darkest.

“There are so many things we need to change in the industry. I’ll say it again. We must do better.”

What advice do you have for people starting out as makeup artists?

“My advice to people starting out is to learn colour theory. Like I said in my post, colour theory is your best friend.

“Learn to mix to get the right colours and undertones. White people are not easier to work on because you have to learn to colour match them as well.

“Therefore, you just also need to learn how to colour match black clients as well. Practise, practise, practise: call up friends or hire models, let them know that you are trying to learn and that you may not get it right the first time and that’s okay.

“Eventually with education, practise, trial and error, you will do it without second guessing it.

“Lastly, I would recommend following artists who work on black clients, get inspired and have fun with it!”

“Let’s make sure no more people have to feel discriminated, at least not in the makeup chair!”

What are your thoughts on #blackouttuesday?

“My thoughts on #blackouttuesday is simple. If you decided to participate, you now have the responsibility to do more.

“It’s not about doing what’s trending. I saw many companies who participated but know first-hand that they are not inclusive.

“I think that it’s a moment where you recognise what you have been doing wrong and apologise for it.

“You could say something like, ‘We commit to do better within our brand and fight against racism’ and then actually put in the work for change. Do something about it.

“Blackout Tuesday was meant to silence business as usual and to take the opportunity to educate yourself on the history so that we can learn to do better.”

What would you like to say to those who support you and the Black Lives Matter movement?

“I would like to say thank you. Thank you to every family member and friend who shared my post and is trying to make a difference in the beauty community.

“Thank you to everyone who is being vocal about the racism we have within this country and around the world.

“I am thankful that I can use my platform for good and help in the smallest way for such an important cause.

“We have so much more to do and so much more to fight, but I am hopeful because many of us are uniting alongside our black family who need us more than ever.

“We may not have understood the importance of using our voices because they have been fighting for a long time, but it seems to me that we have all had an awakening and are going to do something about it.

“So, let’s end this once and for all.”


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NCTJ Qualified Journalist with experience across both print and online. Enjoy writing long form pieces on topics such as lifestyle, health, fashion and features. (@larentayyip)