From the moment she did my makeup and helped to coordinate my MAC lipglass photoshoot, Bisi Essien – AKA @BisiCrystalEyez of Crystal Eyez Makeup Artistry has become my go-to Chicago makeup artist. She’s incredibly talented, incredibly hard working, and incredibly professional. Bisi is the woman I turn to when I’m involved in an event in Chicago and I need to guarantee that I will look flawless and gorgeous.

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When the Sun-Times contacted me to be in the first ever issue of Splash alongside their picks of Chicago’s best bloggers, I had to holla at Bisi to hook up my makeup! The shoot was scheduled to be fall themed, so I asked her to create an incredible fall look for me. I wanted dark, vampy lips and fierce eyes. And she totally delivered!


LOVE it! Bisi is the AllState of makeup artists. I always know I’m in good hands with her! And in the time that we’ve known each other, I have watched her career skyrocket. When I first met Bisi she was holding down a demanding day job and doing makeup on the side. And now she’s a full time makeup artist with her own (adorable) studio space, she travels around the world with brides to do their makeup on their special day, and she’s doing makeup for many celebrities who come through the Chi. Look at how GORGEOUS my friend Kim Coles’ makeup is here!

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I reached out to Bisi to see what it takes to make makeup your career, and what her thoughts were on fall makeup trends. Without further ado, here’s our interview!

AfrobellaAs a makeup artist, what excites you the most about fall? What are your favorite fall beauty trends? Is there a definitive fall makeup look you recommend women of color try this season?

Bisi Essien — In the fall season, I’m most inspired by nature. The leaves changing color is inspiration to change makeup looks from the bright and fun summer colors to darker, elegant shades. In my experience over the years, I have noticed that many women of color are scared of wearing dark shades on their lips. I urge you all to get inspired and use this fall as an opportunity to break out of your comfort zone. Dark reds, plums, browns are in season, wear them on your lips.  Keep your eyeshadows toned down but keep the flirty lashes on. Also try wearing your eyebrows fuller this season.

AfrobellaYou are a makeup artist on the rise! Between flying everywhere in the world for weddings, teaching classes, having your own beauty lounge and doing makeup for the celebrities who live and stop through Chicago, you stay busy. What’s your advice for makeup artists who look at your career  and  want to do the kind of work you are doing?

Bisi — I will advice makeup artists to study and understand not only their craft, but the business. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and stay current with the trends. Also remember that patience is key. You may not become successful overnight, but if you are passionate about this, you are bound to succeed.

AfrobellaWhat’s the most common makeup mistake you’d see women of color make and what advice would you like to give women of color who are afraid of makeup?

Bisi — The most common makeup mistake that I see women of color make is avoiding makeup all together. There are a couple of reasons why some women don’t wear makeup. One is the misconception that they don’t need makeup – even though they probably do. We tend to have uneven skin tones, so the least we can do is even it out with some makeup, even if its just with some tinted moisturizer. Wearing makeup doesn’t necessarily mean a full-on glammed-up face. But it is important to know the bare minimum that you need to do; which of your features need to be defined, enhanced, and what flaws need to be hidden. Another reason some women don’t wear makeup is the fear of not knowing the right products to use, or the proper way to apply them. My advice to the women living in fear is to find a professional makeup artist like myself, who offers makeup lessons, and helps with shopping for the right makeup products for you. Also take advantage of the internet and the wealth of information available. Don’t be scared to try out new things and practice.


AfrobellaCan you give me a brief breakdown of the exquisite look you created for me for the SunTimes shoot? What is your best makeup advice for me?

Bisi – I try to create a different look each time I work on you, and this time we went with a champagne-gold smokey eyes and rich deep berry lips. To create this look, I blended a champagne and gold eye shadow on your eye lid and used a matte black shadow to create the smokey look. I filled your brows with MAC ‘Strut’ brow pencil and used MAC’s studio fix fluid foundation to give you that flawless even tone. I used a bit of bronzer and an orange colored blush on your cheeks. On your lips, I used a currant lip liner and ‘Hang Up’ lipstick by mac. And yes indeed, your final look was ‘exquisite’ as you described it.

You have such beautiful skin and beautiful features so my best makeup advice for you is to be adventurous and explore the endless possibilities of looks that you can create by using your makeup as a means to express yourself.

AfrobellaI loved the looks you did on Conya Doss and K Michelle! Can you talk about those? People love knowing how to create a look themselves!

Bisi — Thanks so much. K.Michelle, was in Chicago to host the Luster’s Pink Smooth Touch Celebrity Bowling Tournament. It was a casual event, so I simply kept her look ‘pretty’ with shades that complement her beautiful skin tone and fierce red hair. On her eyes, I blended beige, gold, lavender, burgundy and brown shadows to create that multi-dimensional shade. On her lips, I used MAC’s chromaline ‘process magenta’ to line her lips. I blended that with OCC’s ‘Pennyroyal’ lip tar and then finished her lips with my very own Crystal-Eyez’ ‘Pinky Swear’ lip gloss.




Conya Doss was here for a photo shoot for a magazine, and I knew that her wardrobe was going to be bright and colorful. To avoid conflict between her wardrobe and makeup, I kept her look simple with just one bold color, which I used on her lips. To create those vibrant purple lips which she rocked oh so well, I used OCC’s ‘Katricia’ lip tar and Crystal-Eyez’ ‘Cosmic’ lip gloss. I kept her eyes simple with earth tone colors in shades of brown and then used a touch of silver on the inner corners to brighten up her eyes.


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AfrobellaI know you do a lot of weddings and your calendar fills up very quickly. But in the low wedding season, what type of jobs do you do to stay busy?

Bisi — Yes at the Crystal-Eyez Makeup & Beauty Lounge, the wedding season keeps us extremely busy, and so does the prom season. However we also provide makeup for all other events, some of which remain pretty constant year round, such as birthdays and makeup parties. During the low wedding season, majority of our bookings are for private makeup lessons for the everyday woman who wants to learn how to create various looks to suit her lifestyle. We also offer workshops for makeup artists, and stay busy with photo shoots, video shoots, and any other jobs where our services are requested.

Thanks for everything, Bisi!


TheSavvySistah says:
November 19, 2012, 11:03 pm
Great interview! Bisi is such an amazing makeup artist and she is definitely in the rise!
Phyrra says:
November 19, 2012, 11:12 pm
Love the interview! She's done a wonderful job with your makeup. I can see why she's on the rise.
Doctor Cris says:
November 20, 2012, 9:10 am
Bisi Essien is so generous with her advice and knowledge of make-up. I can see why she is very successful. Bisi knows how to bring out her client's best features plus I picked up many tips from this interview. Thanks for sharing with us.
pets says:
November 20, 2012, 11:33 am
Very informative and good to see that you give kudos to local talent where ever you may go.
Angela Hall says:
November 22, 2012, 8:37 pm
I took Bisi's class last year and it was a BLAST. I think it's a great first course for anyone interested in learning more about the craft of makeup.
Trina J says:
November 30, 2012, 10:09 am
What a great interview! I love hearing from other makeup artists. It always inspires me to keep moving in the direction of my dreams. Plus, she is so good!
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