Makeup Artist Twyla Christina Proves that a Signature Look Offers Endless Inspiration


McDowell’s love of art often inspires her change-ups. “I attended an art course in my early teens and learned how to paint, so I really do love to use my creativity and test my skills,” she says.

Last summer, Twyla Christina McDowell went “almost bald.” By choice, that is. After rocking a slick undercut (paired with heavy braids a la Poetic Justice-era Janet Jackson) for quite some time, the New Jersey–based makeup artist felt the need to shed her image and start anew. So she chopped off all her hair into a very short, very stunning style.

McDowell’s short cropped hair allows her stunning features to take center stage.

That kind of transformation might sound drastic, but McDowell has always embraced change. Growing up as the child of a missionary meant her family made far-reaching moves around the world—from her native Trinidad to Brazil during her teen years, before eventually settling in the States.

It was during those formative adolescent years that McDowell, struggling to find herself, first turned to makeup as a creative outlet. “Living in Brazil, I found it difficult to fully express myself in the way I wanted to. I yearned for self-expression and found it through makeup,” she says, recalling that her first beauty purchase of lip gloss when she was nine years old changed everything (“to this day, I can’t live without it”). Soon after, her budding interest in makeup turned into a voracious appetite for knowledge of artistic skills and techniques.

“I remember sitting in front of my laptop for hours watching videos from two of my favorite makeup gurus, Beatfacehoney and Kandee Johnson,” she says. (Her other favorite vloggers include SamerkhouzamiDressyourface, Vanitymakeup, and Vegasnay.) Later, formal training in makeup school and certification led to a lucrative full-time career as a freelance artist and social media star. We especially love following her on Instagram, where she proves that a signature makeup look—for McDowell, cat-eye liner and strong brows—can function almost like a uniform. While she rarely strays from winged out eyes and defined arches as a base, she changes up everything else, trying on different bold lips, shadow combinations, hair styles, and manis. McDowell’s nearly 8,000 followers obviously find her brand of experimentation, and the results, as inspiring as we do.

So while she may be growing out her new hair now, rest assured it’s only a matter of time until McDowell changes it again. “I can’t guarantee you I will wear this look forever. It all depends on my mood and vision.” Above and below, check out some of our favorite variations on McDowell’s trademark look.

Although her signature look always includes cat-eyes and strong brows, McDowell plays with color quite a bit. We love the bright pink lip here, and the nails—another hobby of hers.

Prior to chopping off her locks earlier this year, the McDowell rocked long braids with an edgy undercut.

McDowell used her three favorite products to achieve the flawless complexion you see here: MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Foundation and Concealer, plus MAC Mineralize Blush in Love Joy.

With strong red lip as the focus, McDowell keeps the rest of her makeup neutral with a nude eye and simple highlighter instead of blush.

You can follow McDowell on Beautylish, Instagram, and Tumblr.

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