By Jessica Liu
“There’s people who draw out their look. I can’t really do that. I do things in the moment,” Marisol Suarez explained. Suarez’s creative process embodies her free-spirited, daring approach to makeup. Her Instagram page, @mua_mari, filled with eye-catching, striking colors, highlights the power of her talent and creativity.
Growing up with a mother interested in makeup, Suarez’s love of cosmetics blossomed at a young age. Starting around 2017, she began to channel her interest seriously into her Instagram account. While Suarez initially posted photos of eye makeup, often using simple color combinations, she soon began creating and re-envisioning increasingly vivid looks.
As Suarez enjoys experimenting with daring makeup—from imitating Trixie Mattel’s makeup to writing Nicki Minaj lyrics on her face—her creations require a formidable amount of work behind the scenes. While finding inspiration from Instagram posts or her friends normally takes a week, “the makeup look depends; it could be from a couple of minutes to ten hours,” partly because Suarez uses reference photos and makes numerous revisions. However, the process of shooting and editing photos on Suarez’s phone for her Instagram takes under an hour, sped along by her background in graphic design.
Primarily, Suarez’s friends and family motivate her as an artist: “They’re really supportive of my makeup, especially my mom,” she said. Other inspiration comes from unconventional places: “I have some palettes with eyeshadows I haven’t touched,” she said. “I see the color and think I’m wasting the palette. I need to use it.”
While Suarez hasn’t dramatically changed her general makeup methods over the years, she strives to refine her techniques. “Watching professional makeup artists helped me realize the difference between Instagram makeup and real-life makeup,” she said; as Instagram makeup artists often retouch their photos using editing apps, “social media makeup” differs from a casual makeup look. To that end, Suarez implemented small changes, such as beginning to use blush and applying her foundation with a stippling brush instead of a beauty blender, which improved her work.
Even though Suarez has signed with the talent agency Adolescent Content and garnered brand deals with beauty brands, she continues to view makeup as more of a passion project than a profession. “Maybe I’ll continue doing makeup as a creative outlet, but with so many people becoming makeup artists… I feel like it wouldn’t be a sustainable job,” she remarked.
Nevertheless, while Suarez may not see a future career in makeup, she still wants to push for diversity in the industry. As a child of Mexican and Cuban immigrants, she laments the lack of representation, especially with regards to her heritage: “Art on the body and the face, especially in Indigenous Mexican culture, is very important,” Suarez explained. During the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), many paint their faces in imitation of La Catrina, a symbol of Día de los Muertos. Yet despite its popularity in Mexican society, this aspect of Suarez’s culture garners little recognition in the mainstream makeup world. “Art from different cultures can so easily be portrayed through makeup. I want to see more,” she said. “I don’t always want to stick to a cut crease or eyeshadow look.”
Although Suarez feels her race hasn’t posed a significant barrier to her art as a white-passing American citizen, she believes diversity in makeup is important because of the representation it provides. “Once I realized that I’m not completely American, I wanted to take pride in my Mexican heritage,” she said. However, between the lack of Mexican makeup artists on her Instagram explore page and the shortage of Latinx characters in U.S. television shows, she failed to find many examples of her identity in the arts. “It bothered me that I’ve never been able to see my culture represented.”
Consequently, even if teens of color don’t see themselves reflected in the media, Suarez advises that they take a risk and throw themselves into what they love: “Start doing it and start posting.” Despite the challenges posed by the white-dominated beauty community, Suarez finds hope in the potential for makeup artists of color to uplift each other. “Supporting other creators of color is what’s going to help bring exposure [and] inspire other people to share their culture through any art medium.”