Avatar, Mystique cosplay, Dazed Beauty contributor Zooey Gleaves, and Smurfs immediately come to mind when you take in the brilliant blue hue of Lhouraii Li’s skin.
The Bradford-based nail artist’s look is very alien, inspired by ‘Diva’ from Fifth Element, the Zoras from The Legend of Zelda video game, and Japanese subculture Gyaru. On top of her blue base, Li embellishes her face with glittery freehand patterns, graphic pink eyebrows, dramatic cat-eye flicks, then finishes with a colourful wig.
After covering her entire body in blue face paint for over two years (spending only £10 a month using the best cheap make-up), the nail artist, who also sells press-on nails and clothing online, wants to make the look permanent. She says it helps her cope with agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder that can cause panic attacks in social situations.
“I’ve always felt quite alone and like I don’t belong and it’s a really horrible feeling. So I tried to make myself a little world where I kind of feel like I do belong,” Li explains to Metro. She also painted her houseboat in intergalactic colours to match her blue skin.
“I’ve got pictures of space in the windows because I’m in here 99.9 per cent of the time, so if I’m feeling down I can pretend like I exist in a place that’s happy and just look like I’m in a spaceship or something. And I think that’s the same with being blue as well – it’s just a way for me to feel like myself.“
Li says that she tried different colours first, like purple and white face paint with blue eyeshadow, but blue has always felt like her natural skin colour. ‘‘If I see someone with blue skin I’ll think they look 10 times better just because I truly love blue skin… People being their true selves, living for themselves, and just dressing how they want to dress – I find that so beautiful.”
Tattooing her skin permanently blue isn’t currently an option because the nail artist fears she may be allergic to it. So while the blue skin is temporary for now, Li is open to elfin ears and other cosmetic enhancements in the future.