The make-up artist invites us in
The Dazed Beauty Community is our ever-expanding encyclopedia of creatives and emerging talent from across the world who are redefining the way we think about beauty. From supermodels to digital artists to make-up prodigies transforming themselves in their bedrooms, these are the beauty influencers of tomorrow who embody everything Dazed Beauty is about. Discover them here.
Entering Wendy’s World is pure joy. A kaleidoscopic cosmos where the make-up is dynamic, the shapes are abstract, and the colour is always turned up to 100, Wendy Asumadu’s universe is vibrant and experimental as she opens up the possibilities of what make-up and beauty can look like.
An artist who works predominantly with make-up, Wendy uses her face and other faces as a canvas to create expressive, artistic, and abstract paintings. These lively, bold looks stem, in part, from an absence Wendy was finding in the beauty landscape. “When I began working in the industry, I noticed there weren't many avant garde make-up looks on black deep skin like myself. I remember searching ‘avant garde make-up’ online and there was not a black person in sight,” she says. Motivated by this shortage, she set out to make a change and has been creating and coordinating content on black skin ever since.
“I want people like me to have the same opportunities I am being blessed with. I know this ‘mission’ I’m on is going to take some time but I’m ready for the challenge to change things, one step at a time.”
Having worked with the likes of Glossier and Lush, earlier this year Wendy modelled and designed the make-up concept for Converse’s ‘Twisted’ campaign which featured on billboards around the country. “Seeing my face plastered across London on buses and murals is something I’ll never forget,” she says of the moment. Here we talk to Wendy about being the only black girl in her fine art degree course, her love of Pat McGrath, and rainbow make-up.
Where do you live and where are you from?
Wendy Asumadu: I was born and raised in North London but my heritage lies heavily in Ghana which is where I’m originally from. I attended a predominately black all-girls secondary school where I would say I started my journey of navigating my personal identity. Then I entered university where I was the only black girl in my fine art degree course and understood that my dark skin tone would continue to shape my experiences but that I could influence what those experiences would look like.
Although I am at a place now where I am comfortable with my beauty, the memories I have surrounding my skin colour growing up aren’t pleasant and I’ll never forget. From being called names, to the lack of representation of dark skin women in the media, it’s a part of my life that has shaped me and made me the advocate I am today for dark/deep skin in the beauty industry.
How did you get into make-up?
Wendy Asumadu: Growing up I had no clue how to do my own make-up and relied on my younger sister then one day she had enough and told me I had to learn to do it myself. I started by watching a few YouTube videos which I eventually got bored of and that’s when I decided to buy some products to see what I could create. I started to play around with coloured eyeliner and glitter eyeshadow and fell in love instantly. I then started to get excited at the idea of painting my face with random colours. Now most days my face is completely painted and I can’t get enough of it!
Describe your beauty aesthetic in three words.
Wendy Asumadu: Artistic, expressive, and innovative
Which fictional character do you most relate to?
Wendy Asumadu: Right now I’m obsessed with Insecure and Issa is everything! I love how unapologetically Black she is and never trying to be someone she's not. Issa can be the life of the party and awkward at the same time but an all round go-getter with a clear vision. This season, she has been focused on organising a block party giving back to the community and I love it. I'm all about creating projects and opportunities for others.
Who is your beauty icon or favourite look of all time?
Wendy Asumadu: My number one who I’ve always adored has to be mother Pat MaGrath. Once I became obsessed with make-up I noticed the creations I loved so much growing up were designed by Mother Pat.
She is timeless, authentic, and innovative and every fashion week I look forward to what trend she influences. So you can imagine my reaction when she not only commented on one of my looks but recently gifted me some of her products. If Mother Pat is noticing my work I know I must be doing something right.
What does beauty mean to you?
Wendy Asumadu: Beauty to me is all about freedom. It's about true personal authenticity – allowing one to express themselves in any way, shape or form. Which is why I'm always trying to present new possibilities by playing with make-up and pushing boundaries, creating the unexpected. Beauty means there should be no rules, it's all subjective and with that in mind we can be ourselves without fear or judgement.
When do you feel most beautiful?
Wendy Asumadu: There's certainly two sides to me. I’m obsessed with the bold colours and patterns I create on my skin which includes my red hair, bright clothing, and neon long nails.
But I also love that I’m at a place where I feel comfortable with a fresh face and my hair styled. This is really important to me because I grew up being told my dark skin tone wasn't beautiful which is why I decided I’d always take ownership of my own beauty and feel powerful with or without make-up.
As a warning to the other members of the resistance your head is to be mounted above the gates of the city. How would you do your make-up that morning?
Wendy Asumadu: I would apply every single coloured liner I have in my collection on my face and be a fierce human rainbow.
It is the sixth day and you are creating humans. They can look however you want them to. What do they look like and why?
Wendy Asumadu: They would look like the models from Rihanna’s 2019 Savage x Fenty show at New York Fashion Week. To say she stole the show is an understatement, the models who walked were diverse and inclusive. Rihanna revolutionised the runway while having a party at the same time. I wouldn’t do it any other way.
Are you optimistic about the future?
Wendy Asumadu: Definitely! As a creative I feel like we have our ups and down because we're always so hard on ourselves – we really are our biggest critics. But I’m really excited to see how I continue to grow as an artist and the looks, campaigns and projects I'll be a part of. I’m always thinking of new ways to redefine myself and my plans to change the world. I look forward to being a strong presence in the beauty industry, it’s a long road but i’m here to stay.