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Rico Nasty
Photography Marco Alexander

How Rico Nasty crafted her avant-emo look

Emo-adjacent and hardcore-inspired, the rapper’s glam punk beauty looks are nonconformist and wildly creative

Rico Nasty has always been a trailblazer when it comes to her beauty looks, both on stage and off. Like her sound, which combines elements of punk, hip hop, guitar rock, bad gyal pop and sugar trap, the Maryland rapper’s aesthetic draws on the various worlds she inhabits. Defiantly nonconformist, her look is emo-adjacent and glam-punk, with make-up that is wildly creative.

From elaborate, painterly eyeliner to bold eyeshadow, not to mention her signature lashes, Rico’s beauty looks are crafted with intent and ever-evolving. “My glam over the years has gotten more hardcore, more rocker chic,” she says. “Make-up has always been a big part of everything that I do.”

Currently working with make-up artist Dee, together the pair create unforgettable looks that originate from no place of reference – just pure imagination. “Dee does this thing where she draws all her make-up looks, she always shows me a bunch of different options of what I’d like. If one day I’m feeling the colours green and orange she would draw lips featuring a combo of those colours,” says Nasty.

With her style constantly evolving, one thing remains the same: Nasty’s ability to experiment freely and break out of preconceived notions of what she’s supposed to be. “I’m at the point in my career where I’m doing stuff for myself. For this project I made music I like, music I want to listen to and I think that’s a common message I preach in all of my projects,” she explains. “I’m more comfortable being me.”

Ahead of her new mixtape set to release this summer, we catch up with Rico to speak about all things make-up, confidence and beauty tips and tricks she’s learned along the way.

What’s your earliest beauty-related memory?

Rico Nasty: I was literally just telling my best friend that I think the reason why I changed my hair so much is because of her and her sister. They used to dye their hair different colours or have braids for one week. Then the next week they got weaves, then the next week they got a different haircut. I just couldn’t keep up with them. I always felt like I would always be surprised when I saw them.

When I started getting money, I was like, ‘oh, OK I can change my hair a lot.’ But I think that was one of my earliest. I don’t really have a lot of memories with make-up. My mom didn’t do her make-up. But I don’t think I learned a lot about make-up until I got pregnant. I would just be in the house watching YouTube tutorials.

Who were your favourites to watch? 

Rico Nasty: I love Bretman Rock, Arnell & Alissa and Jackie Aina. I usually don’t remember their names but those three stand out for me. Arnell and Alissa do a lot of cool tutorials and work with Fenty a lot.

How does your glam evolve with each album or each character you take on?

Rico Nasty: My glam over the years has gotten more hardcore, more rocker chic. I feel make-up has always been a big part of everything that I do. I don’t really match the make-up to characters anymore, I match it with the outfits or whatever I’m feeling that day. With this project, I took on the fact that I have the ability to do a bunch of different stuff while being myself. I’m doing me, more me, more comfortable being me. I’m not any of these crazy characters, I’m doing whatever I wanna do and that’s a crazy place to be and I’m very grateful to be here.

When you and Dee collaborate, do you let her take the lead or do you provide references?

Rico Nasty: It can be a bit of both. For the most part, I’ll give her a direction to go in, not a photo but more colours and things I’m into. Dee does a lot of the curating and she’ll let me pick. She has me really spoiled! Her approach is one of a kind.

What is your skincare routine?

Rico Nasty: Pretty simple, I don’t use harsh soaps or complicated cleansers. I just make sure to wash my face every day no matter how tired I am. I’ve been bare-faced more because it’s really hot where I live. I don’t have the energy to do a full face.

What are your favourite beauty tips and tricks?

Rico Nasty: I learned to always prime my face and moisturise my face before I do my make-up. It’s a very crucial step in making your make-up look like skin. Also taking your time with your make-up, giving yourself a lil facial massage.

Who are your beauty icons?

Rico Nasty: People I’ve always looked up to are Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Beyoncé. Let’s be honest, they are them, we are us. They set the tone. And have for years and are the standard.

What are some of your favourite scents?

Rico Nasty: Lavender, bubble gum, baby powder blunt spray, smell of gasoline, Lysol.

When do you feel most beautiful?

Rico Nasty: I don’t really know when I feel most beautiful but maybe most confident I’d say on stage.

Do you have any advice for people who want to experiment or go bolder with their beauty but are too insecure?

Rico Nasty: Trust the process. You got to trust the process. The best part of me trying so many looks is I can go back and look at images of myself. Even if at that moment I had thought my make-up didn’t look cool, in the end I look back and I’m happy I took those chances. It’s not about being comfortable, it’s about trusting. Trusting yourself.

When was the last time you felt insecure?

Rico Nasty: This morning and how I overcame it was by just getting dressed. Because who fucking cares. Who gives a fuck just put the clothes on. That’s the biggest thing about insecurities: nobody cares. They aren’t seeing what you see.