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Eszter Magyar silver foil eye make-up look

‘Make-up activist’ Eszter Magyar creates conceptual looks without make-up

TextSara Radin

We talk to the creative behind Instagram account @makeupbrutalism about how she’s empowering her followers to approach beauty differently

“Beautiful make-up bores me, all the smokey eyes and classic eyeliners, so I wanted to do something different,” says Eszter Magyar, the creative behind Instagram account @makeupbrutalism. The page is full of over-the-top eye make-up looks in which the make-up artist regularly applies a random assortment of things to her eyes instead of beauty products. Think: plastic baby dolls, ants, metallic paper, stickered letters, chain, and even scrunched up, used contacts she once found on the floor of her friend’s apartment. “I’m a big fan of architecture, and definitely brutalism,” she adds to explain her account handle. “I found it really interesting how people just stigmatise it as ugly,” says Magyar. “I always adored buildings made in the brutalist era… I always thought of brutalism as new aesthetics, which is hard to swallow for everyone, and this is where I found parallels with my content.” 

Growing up, the make-up artist was bullied for having a gap between her front teeth and developed the feeling of needing to escape from a young age. When Magyar was living in Budapest (she now resides in Berlin but is considering a move to London for personal reasons), if someone was even the slightest bit different, people would spit on them on the street or laugh at them.  Magyar wanted to empower herself and others by using make-up to show that it’s okay to be different or to look or act differently. Accordingly, she sees her face as a field or a 3D structure that objects, like miniature figures or used contacts, can occupy to create new, conceptual worlds where anything goes.

Magyar’s first post in September 2018 included textured experiments for editorial works that she documented just for herself but posted online anyways. After sharing them, she realised people were really interested in what she was doing and the account took off from there. Now the self-titled “make-up activist” and “beauty terrorist” has over 37,000 followers. “Beauty terrorism”, in her mind, is an experiment in which she is attempting to find or create beauty with little or no make-up. The make-up artist is trying to push the boundaries of make-up by posting inventive looks online and posing questions like: What even is make-up and what isn’t? Why is something totally outside of the comfort zone for most people when it comes to make-up? And lastly, can make-up be productless? 

So what exactly does Magyar do with her platform? “I’m asking and answering questions with my followers,” she says. “It’s a big, never-ending conversation, or research.” In this way, she sees her account as a safe space where people can share their opinions on beauty, make-up, and everything else attached to it, including gender and society. The ultimate aim is to inspire both herself and others to ask more questions.“I feel that nowadays nobody is really attached to their own opinions because it’s not truly theirs anymore,” the make-up artist continues.

“When I started, I just wanted to know if there were any other options besides cutting creases and using false lashes, but I found much more. A cool community, open-minded people, inspiration, motivation, support and opportunities” – Eszter Magyar

She also experiments with eye circles (only showing a single eye in her photos rather than the full look) – “I find them sexy and fun fact, they make your eyes look bigger.” Creating these unexpected looks seems to serve a therapeutic purpose for Magyar. “I’m the one who thinks always way too much… my brain is never on pause,” she admits. Due to this, most of the time she has already new ideas and is constantly creating, so when it comes to putting together a new look, she just sits down, does her thing, and hits the share button. 

With @makeupbrutalism and @uglymakeuprevolution (her other account chock full of beauty inspiration), Magyar wants to show others that there are so many options when it comes to make-up. In her mind, this means challenging people to realise that make-up can not just be about looking beautiful, but it can also be creative, controversial, clever and more. “Beauty and perfection are overrated anyway,” she says. The influencer believes that society is obsessed with youth and perfection which makes us hate ourselves and that today’s trends are standardising the face with much of the same methods and products. “Everything around us teaches us self-hatred and lots of people wants only to hide behind layers of make-up. Everyone on Instagram looks like a Kardashian sister and in my eyes, this is pure character murder.”

When asked about what make-up activism means to her, Magyar explains, “I like to think that make-up is something playful and fearless, but what I experience as a make-up artist and a woman, is different. Beauty should bring a feeling of satisfaction – like listening to Lorn late at night on a dark street, alone, or when a poem or song hits you so hard it makes you cry. Or when a bite of anything is so good, you immediately think: if I could only eat three things in my whole life, this would be one of them.” These things are beautiful to the make-up artist but she doesn’t intend to force anyone to think the same way. “I don’t even want to tell people how they should think about make-up, what they should wear,” she says. 

Make-up is Magyar’s work (outside of the account, she’s a full-time make-up artist), her hobby, and her method of doing research. Make-up is a form of communication, and for Magyar, it’s a way to show people how interesting the face can be. Ultimately, the influencer hopes her account helps others in whatever ways they need. “When I started, I just wanted to know if there were any other options besides cutting creases and using false lashes, but I found much more. A cool community, open-minded people, inspiration, motivation, support and opportunities.”

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