Rabat – Together with social media, Morocco’s natural beauty industry paved the way for great makeup lines and talented makeup artists that continue to grow the unique art in the country. Rokaya, Nadia, and Mariam are some of the creative and still-developing Moroccan makeup artists who showcase their art through their unique and exotic looks.
They are in a special position to take on the field up makeup artistry. Morocco’s diverse geography offers a variety of amazing natural beauty products such as Argan oil, olive oil, and rose oils, which famous makeup brands use in their cosmetics.
Other essential elements that have featured in the Moroccan woman’s beauty regimen for centuries are the traditional Aker Fassi lipstick, the Amazigh (Berber) tint, the natural homemade fragrance, and the magical powder of kohl (eyeliner). Morocco’s history has primed the industry the art form for practitioners today.
Moroccan makeup artists on ‘what is beauty?’
In Morocco, a person’s beauty manifests in their manners, hospitality, attire, and appearance. The definition of beauty can vary from one country to another or from one individual to another.
Quoting Plato, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.” Mariam, a recent graduate in architecture and longer-term makeup artist agrees that beauty is purely subjective.
“What one may find beautiful another might not. Personally, I find beauty in darkness and everything mystical,” the 25-year-old creative said in an interview with Morocco World News.
To Nadia, known as myfacemycanvas on Instagram, beauty lies in the process of making it.
“I might find beauty in making an unattractive sculpture of a monster as much as doing a princess makeover. In my eyes, they are both equally beautiful since enjoying the process is what pleases me the most,” said the 23-year-old makeup artist who discovered her interest in the field six years ago.
Meanwhile, Rokaya, or Akira/Aki, unfailingly passionate about the art of makeup, finds beauty in the details and imperfections.
“It [beauty] is the personal touch, the human peeking through the art. It’s what makes it unique and different. Conformity was never fun,” Rokaya said.
A Moroccan makeup artist’s journey
Rokaya is an art-driven person who loves everything about macabre and colorful art. She first got into makeup art because of her aunts who liked makeup and made it an option for her, giving her tools at a young age for her to explore. In high school, Rokaya dove into the world of cosplay and found her real passion for makeup.
“Because of them [my aunts], I always perceived makeup as a form of artistic expression and not necessarily and exclusively a tool for embellishment and I’m truly grateful for that,” said Rokaya.
Just like Rokaya, Mariam first found her love for makeup at a young age through the arts of cosplay and drawing.
“It all started with scribbles in my textbooks which slowly became drawings. During my teenage years, I was so interested in fashion design and nail art, and later, I discovered cosplaying which led me to be interested in artistic makeup,” Mariam reminisced.
Makeup is an art form that does not confine itself to one box. It can expand with the artist’s creativity and passion, which gives them the eternal opportunity to learn, grow, and sharpen their craft.
“The makeup world is very vast and there is so much room for creativity; it is not just about glamour, it has a variety of genres (e.g. body paint, prosthetics, cosplay, and so on) with many unexplored ideas and incredible creative potential of growth,” said Nadia.
A Moroccan makeup artist’s inspiration
Nadia particularly enjoys dark, elegant, and androgynous characters inspired by everything from individuals to paintings to myths, and most importantly music.
“I could invest in a whole look just to feature a specific track that made me feel a sort of way. I would like to believe that music is the art of storytelling, which perfectly aligns with the course of creating a character.”
With her unique graphic liners, vibrant colors, peculiar shapes, and heavy blush that she can’t escape, Rokaya draws her inspiration from all her surroundings. The young Moroccan makeup artist always has fun in the process of creating her outstanding looks.
“I’m very glad I still find it fun even after doing it for so long, mainly because there is always room for improvement and there is always inspiration somewhere,” said the artist.
Mariam agrees: “There’s always something new to learn and techniques to master, I’m also constantly experimenting with textures and styles. It never gets boring, there’s always something thrilling about it!”
Makeup as an art in Morocco
The country’s makeup industry and traditions have grown throughout history, but some in Morocco today still don’t consider it an art form. Along these lines, it is uncommon for Moroccans to receive encouragement to pursue a passion or career as a makeup artist, especially from traditional parents who prefer their children opt for a conventional occupation.
As much as Rokaya is grateful for her wholesome and supportive community, there come times when she is reminded that Morocco still does not fully support the art of makeup.
“It almost feels like makeup, as an art form, still has to bend backward and do the most to prove itself as something legitimate in this country,” said the 22-year-old creative.
Nadia shares a similar view. “Liberal artistic careers are quite challenging in our country, and the current pandemic issue pinpointed the struggle,” she said.
“Nowadays almost everyone has access to the internet, which relatively widens the tolerance threshold. Yet, some people still cling on believing that makeup is a female profession, but many fellow male artist friends and acquaintances are working hard to change that perspective,” she added.
Mariam grew up in a traditional family who did not perceive makeup positively. She did not have her family’s full support until they eventually saw her undeniable talent and makeup art skills.
“My friends on the other hand have always been so supportive and helped me out when I was in need,” she said, believing that Moroccans are becoming more accepting of makeup as an art.
A Moroccan makeup artist’s advice
Pursuing the art of makeup can be just as challenging as pursuing any other art form in Morocco, especially with the lack of support.
However, as times start to change, more people, especially the younger generation, are becoming more open and supportive towards the art and its practitioners. This type of de-stigmatization can be really motivating if you are looking to pursue an unconventional passion.
Rokaya’s advice is to believe in your potential and go for it, not minding the harsh critics or the negative comments, and always bettering your techniques.
“Most importantly, never settle for less, and if you think your art deserves a good paycheck, stand up for yourself,” the Marrakech native added.
The occasional recipient of negative comments on her art, Nadia stressed that such feedback should not bother you because no one is responsible for others’ likes and dislikes.
“In this day and age, social media is a great tool to promote your art; use it to your advantage to display your services with everyone,” she added.
“Dedicate yourself; liberal professions might be challenging but making a living out of your passion feels very gratifying,” said Nadia, who is simultaneously pursuing her passion for the art of makeup and a PhD.
Mariam also offered encouragement to emerging makeup artists: “My advice would be to never give up and don’t let the society or the industry bring you down, avoid comparing yourself to others, and always keep in mind that constant practice and perseverance is the key to success.”
Nadia, Rokaya, and Mariam share updates and new outstanding makeup looks on their platforms, which have thousands of followers who love and support their art. To reach them and for inspiration, you can find them on Instagram.