Isamaya Ffrench, Makeup Artist


"If I'm honest, the best night out I've ever had was when I was 17. This was just when the French electric scene was hitting England, Justice and Daft Punk and all of this exciting new rave music. London was still putting on these secret raves, and Liverpool Street was a bit grotty, unlike the cool Shoreditch of today—you would have to go and basically listen out for music because they would give you the location the night before. And I remember one night, I was raving til 6 AM on a table, and some guy came up to me and was like, 'What are you on? Where can I get what you're taking?' and I was like, 'Baby, I'm not on anything!' Just high on being set free in London. [Laughs] Sadly, I've come a long way since then.

But when I was younger it was all about the hair and mine was incredibly long—it really defined me. I used to dye it a lot and it was long enough to sit on so I decided to chop it off last year. Last time we spoke it was waist-length, and now it's short and red. Maybe it's my emotional state. [Laughs] I go to Alex at Bleach for my color, but I was pushed into red by a stylist named Charlie Le Mindu. I had basically grown it back to normal—I finally felt balanced and the moon was in Aries. And he was like, 'Nope, doesn't suit you.' So I've had it kind of like this. I use Olaplex sometimes, and I use the Bleach Tangerine Dreams just to top off the color. I don't ever style it—I just use E45 cream on the ends.

I tend to slap on the moisturizer. The best thing for me is Weleda Skin Food, or the Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment—pretty much a barrier that stops your skin from losing moisture. I quite like Dr. Jart products. The Tiger one transforms into beige on the skin and it's amazing. You only need a small amount, so the pot will last forever. Then there's this Tom Ford Traceless Foundation that's really great. But, actually, Tom Ford For Men Bronzing Gel is really good all over. When you bronze, you don't really need as much foundation because it evens out the red. I was recently contracted to work on the Tom Ford cosmetics line last year, and since I've been focusing on [developing] products and color that women like to wear, it's really made me wear more on myself.

I like to contour with the Shade and Illuminate, but Benefit Hoola is also really good and a bit more gray, which mimics a real shadow. Then I use some Brylcreem in my eyebrows—there's nothing like a good hair wax. You know what, MAC actually has a mascara called Haute and Naughty that's really great for the brow because of the smaller wand. I don't usually wear mascara on my lashes—I'll curl them instead, and the best curler I've come across is the Kevyn Aucoin one. If I wear eyeliner, I like Maybelline's Eye Studio Liquid Pen. It's got a good long point.

MAC makes amazing pigments and I've started enjoying mixing them for color, because a lot of them make these really beautiful jewel tones. For a lip, it looks really nice. MAC also makes lipmixes you can use, but you can use regular lip gloss—tonight I'm using Glossier's Lip Gloss. If you're really hardcore, you can do it with alcohol. It doesn't move! But don't do that.

Fragrance is the last thing I put on. I really like patchouli and smokier smells. I have to be careful with sandalwood because of how I dress [Laughs]... If you go too far down that road, it's a little hippy. I was wearing the Tom Ford Patchouli Absolu but Etro makes one that's super nice on, too. Then there's this major one and it's by this hair stylist, Michael Boadi. They're called Bodhidharma, and they're all teas—green teas, oolongs, that kind of thing, but they incorporate all types of scents. There's this one called 100 Guineas and it has notes of horse shit in it and it stinks. I was told it's really desirable in the Middle Eastern market because it's a very powerfully evocative smell of an ancient culture involving horses—in Arabia, for example. Meanwhile, I'm this girl from Cambridge wearing it... [Laughs] After 10 minutes it wears away and you're left with this amazing fragrance. It's so powerful and so cool.

At the end of the night, I wash my face. Only recently did I start taking off my makeup. Did I ruin pillowcases? Probably. Did I look at them? No. [Laughs] It's dark in England anyway, so you couldn't tell. Now I just take my makeup off with the Tom Ford Purifying Crème Cleanser. Sometimes at night I'll use some of the Sunday Riley Luna Oil too, but I'm not sure if it's working.

The one thing I always do is brush my teeth. I'm quite ruthless about dental hygiene... It's a sure sign of madness when people don't look after their teeth. When I was in school I worked as a dental hygienist for a bit, and it was so amazing—when you're applying the suction and working in someone's mouth, it's obvious who is weird and who is normal just from the way they handle themselves and their hygiene practices. It's quite a psychologically interesting situation."

—as told to ITG

Isamaya Ffrench photographed by Tom Newton in New York on May 22, 2017.