Makeup maven and Beauty Squad member Lauren Cosenza supports trying anything in the quest for self-expression. Each month she pushes cosmetic boundaries beyond the beauty comfort zone. In this edition she challenges a best friend to shake up her minimal makeup routine with a pop diva makeover.
Quadruple-platinum-selling singles. Killer collaborations. Showstopping red-carpet ensembles. Spokeswoman gigs for Pepsi and Adidas. A first-ever fragrance launch. And a seat on the elite American Idol judging panel.
It’s an ever-growing pop culture phenomenon and it is nothing short of Nicki Minaj mania.
But while her music has mass appeal, can her candy-colored beauty look cross over?
I put it to the test with a Minaj makeover on my dear friend Carly Cardellino, a small-town Pennsylvania girl turned New York City beauty and fashion editor for Cosmopolitan. Carly is right on the pulse of style and reports on celebrity makeup all the time for her job, but she never goes all out with color and false lashes. I thought she would be the perfect subject for testing out this bold style.
Here is Carly, the barefaced beauty:
For this transformation, I started with Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation to create a perfectly even canvas for color. Let’s not forget Minaj’s base makeup is always absolutely flawless. I next brushed on YSL Touche Éclat in Luminous Ivory, which both covers and brightens, under Carly's eyes, around her nostrils and at the corners of her lips. For some serious contour, I swept MAC Sculpting Powder Pro Palette in Sculptunder her cheekbones using the imaginary guide of a line that would run from the top of the ear to the corner of the lip. I dusted the same powder along her jawline and at her temples for added dimension. To further accentuate her facial features (this is a strong, angular look), I used my pinky finger to tap on Benefit Moon Beam to highlight the inner corners of her eyes, her brow bones, the tops of her cheekbones, the bridge of her nose and along the cupid's bow of her lip. To anchor the strong look, I defined Carly's brows with IT Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Brow Pencil.
To create dramatic eyes, I fully lined her upper and lower lash lines with L’Oréal Extra-Intense Liquid Pencil Eyeliner in Carbon Black and blended Sue Devitt Eye Intensifier Pencil in Laos (a soft metallic bronze) into the black liner and smudged it out. I then added several coats of Maybelline Volum’ Express the Mega Plush Mascara in Blackest Black to Carly's lashes.
Here is Carly halfway through her Minaj makeover:
For a very bold (and very pink) cheek and lip, I patted on YSL Crème de Blush in Fuschia Temptation and Maybelline Color Sensational Lipcolor in Fuchsia Fever.
As a finishing touch, I popped on Mattesee Elite #1357 Lashes. Because who doesn’t want to bat hot pink feather fringe on a Friday night out and about in Manhattan, which is where we put the results of the makeover to the test?
Here is Carly with the full Minaj treatment:
Of course I wanted to know what Carly thought of her transformation:
I’ve known you since 2006. If I had to describe your typical beauty look, I’d probably say something like "neutral palette, light hand." Which, of course, makes you the perfect candidate for this type of extreme makeover! How would you label your everyday look?
I usually go for a barely-there makeup look.
What are your go-to products?
Change by Celeste Randall Hydra Cell Bronze Spray gives my complexion a natural glow and contains hyaluronic acid to help hydrate my skin. Maybelline Fit Me! Concealer covers any dark circles or pesky blemishes. I love Chanel Joues Contraste Blush in Espiègle. I also don’t leave the house without applying waterproof eyeliner on my inner upper waterline—a bunch of different kinds—and Benefit They're Real Mascara.
You’ve worn and liked fake lashes before, right?
I've worn fake lashes to special occasions, like weddings, in the past. I also had lash extensions for a while, as well. But I've never worn feather lashes or candy-colored ones, unless Halloween counts!
How about bubblegum pink lips?
No, I haven’t tried bubblegum pink lips before.
You’re obviously stunning so this may not be new to you. But when we went to the lounge at the Thompson Hotel LES, you definitely got attention. Did you feel the makeup made you more daring and intriguing? Or more self-conscious?
I was more self-conscious than anything because people were looking at me and not necessarily in a good way. Not one girl commented on my look, but a few definitely gave the "oh-no-she-didn't" stare.
A few good friends came to meet us out. How did they feel about your transformation?
They actually thought it was cool—if I were wearing it for a photo shoot, but not for a night out.
At our midway point, you LOVED the makeup. You wanted me to stop there. The look consisted of a bronze shadow stick, black liner rimming the full eye, lacquered lashes and flawless skin that was highlighted and contoured.
What I liked best was how perfect my skin looked and the intensity of my rimmed eyes midway through the process.
Do you think the Nicki Minaj basic face is actually very wearable?
100 percent! I would totally wear that look the next time I go out. It was definitely very different than the normal way I wear my makeup, but I loved it—way more than I thought I would.
Photos: Getty Images (Minaj); all others courtesy of Lauren Cosenza