Don’t call Salwa Rahman a makeup artist—she’s so much more than that. The UK-based Muslim beauty blogger has a penchant for experimenting with different liners, blushes, and lipsticks, resulting in vibrant concoctions only a true creative could conjure up. Splatters of orange, geometric reds, and modern homages to her Bangladeshi background are just a few of the endless examples of her signature looks, making her an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with in the world of beauty.
If you want to stray away from all the glitter and contouring so many beauty influencers push, allow Rahman to be your newfound inspiration. Self-described as a “nonconformist,” her looks are far from the mundane. And that’s why they’re making a splash on Instagram.
Below, Rahman opens up about her crazy cosmetic creations, the importance of experimentation, and what she considers the true meaning of “beauty.”
Why did you decide to experiment with makeup?
Salwa Rahman: “I’m a beauty enthusiast. I don’t call myself a makeup artist because I feel like that’s not a label that truly resonates with me and what I do. Everything I do is a hobby; it’s more about fun and experimentation than anything else. I’ve always loved art, but I never really had an artistic approach to beauty because I thought it was just there to make you look nice. But as I grew up and found products that suited my style, I started to realize that I could transfer that sort of creativity to beauty.
“The reason I chose beauty is because I found it had more artistic leeway than other creative avenues. For example, I love fashion, but I don’t think it caters to modern Muslim women; I could never find clothes that kept me aligned with my religion. I’ve yet to find something for me, in terms of fashion. I still draw and dabble in other forms of art, but beauty is what I find fun.”
How would you describe your aesthetic?
SR: “I would describe it as colorful, nonconformist, unique. I also like to think of it as nonconformist. It’s slightly avant-garde and more editorial-focused.
I would definitely say avant-garde. You have a uniqueness that’s not found in the other cut crease-loving beauty influencers.
SR: “I can’t even do that makeup.”
Honestly, no one can. It’s half Photoshop or FaceTune.
SR: “I can do weird eyeliner with no problem at all, but a cut crease? Forget it. That shit will take me a good half hour!”
I’ve also noticed that you use a lot of bold, vibrant colors, especially red. What pulls you towards these styles?
SR: “Honestly, I know everyone wants to hear that there’s a certain factor that leads me to use those colors, but honestly, it’s just because I like wearing them. I like the fact that I can have something bold on my face, and I like that I have the liberty to do so.I don’t have a specific reason that ties me to doing what I do. I simply do it because I can.”
There’s an ingenuity about you, which is important to have in the beauty world. How do you maintain that integrity?
SR: “Social media is such a great platform to connect with people that I wouldn’t have ever spoken to in my personal journey of life. But, it’s just the constant reminder of the fact that what I do is not very hard. I get loads of people telling me ‘I could never do this or that, I don’t know how you do it.’ A lot of people get intimidated with certain shapes and styles, and that insecurity tends to stem from how other people will treat you. For me, the only way that I can break down that superficiality is just to remind you that no one cares. Seriously, no one cares. All I can do is communicate that and remind people that this world we’re living in is so brief, so you should be able to express yourself without fear of judgement.”
Who are your biggest influences?
SR: “Pat McGrath, because she is the woman that she is, and because of the empire she’s created. Jazelle, who’s known as @uglyworldwide on Instagram, is great. Her essence is very nonconformist; a very ‘I do what I want and fuck everyone else’ type of lifestyle. I relate to that attitude so heavily. There’s a British makeup artist called @beasweetbeauty who does really cool stuff with colors. There’s Danessa Myricks; her products are really sick for doing extraordinary shapes and colors. And then there are Instagram accounts like @v93oo, which is really good for getting inspiration from all over the place. But drag queens are my favorite. I think drag queens are my ultimate makeup goals.
Drag queen makeup is so underrated.
SR: “Oh, 100%. They’re genuine innovators in trends, makeup, and beauty. They’re the ones you have to look for to see what’s next and how you can break the beauty barriers. They’re truly at the forefront of beauty, and I appreciate them so much.”
Drag queens in general have set the scene for so many trends, and it in a sense becomes appropriated by mainstream culture.
SR: “It’s fucked, but it’s the society we unfortunately live in.”
What are your go-to products for when you’re creating an all-out look?
SR: “For me, it’s a two-part thing. Your skin prep has to be good, so my skin go-to’s are the Weleda Skin Food, Clinique All About Eyes, Elizabeth Arden’s 8-Hour Cream For Lips, and Dr. Pawpaw. For makeup, it honestly varies. I’m definitely getting into more theatrical products like Kryolan and MAKE UP FOR EVER—I love their Aqua Color Paints. I use NYX Vivid Brights liners because they’re highly pigmented for their price.
As for everyday quick makeup, I use Glossier Boy Brow—that’s my ultimate go-to. I used to never love my brows before using that, so it’s very big for me. I like Milk Makeup Blush Oil, it’s really good. There’s a UK brand called Trinny London, and I use a lot of their products daily. Their Just A Touch Concealer and their Lip To Cheeks are really nice.
What is the most essential tip you think everyone should know about beauty?
SR: “Beauty does not matter. Beauty is what you believe it to be, and what you want it to be in regards to yourself. Don’t be so caught up in what other people are doing, and don’t be so intimidated by beauty, because it’s really not that deep.”
Shop Rahman’s favorite picks, below.