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Why Makeup Artist Mimi Choi Is the Ultimate Halloween Inspo

Even if you don’t happen to be one of Mimi Choi’s 1.4 million Instagram followers, you may still recognize the makeup artist’s dizzying, surrealist work from other places —such as Ezra Miller’s 2019 Met Gala look, maybe, or any number of beauty and fashion campaigns. Her trippy artistry uses illusions and “multi-feature” techniques to create the appearance of multiple eyes on the face or, for example, a smaller version of her exact face on her face. They’re so lifelike and realistic that they make the viewer question what, exactly, they’re looking at. (Halloween costume ideas, anyone?)

Not only that, but Choi’s precision and attention to detail — plus the level of creativity — have made her a star. Here, we talk to Choi about where she finds inspiration for each new look, her favorite makeup tools to work with, and how she keeps her skin clear and healthy in the meantime.

Glow Recipe: What inspired you to get into special effects makeup?

Mimi Choy: In the first month of makeup school, I decided to try out an illusion look for Halloween. I did a cracked face look using liners and I received a lot of positive feedback on social media. This really encouraged me to explore the genre even further and since then, my portfolio has evolved into what it is today.

GR: Where do you get inspiration for your special effects looks?

MC: I get inspired by everything and anything in my environment. Textures, patterns, colors, and sounds evoke emotions within me and I try to translate them into my work. I also travel a lot so I visit museums and view street art, which gives me a ton of ideas as well. The works of surrealist painters like Dali and Escher are incredible references for me — and I also enjoy viewing modern Photoshopped art, which inspires me even further. Finally, I’ve always suffered from sleep paralysis which is a condition in which my mind is conscious but my body is unresponsive during the time right before I wake up from sleep. During these moments, I experience often frightening visions and these have led to some of my more morbid looks.

GR: How long does it take to create a special effect look?

MC: The amount of time varies depending on how intricate the look is. It can be anywhere between two to 10 hours but, on average, I spend about five hours. However, after I finish the makeup application, I spend several more hours photographing, recording, editing, and captioning my posts so by the time I post, it’s usually the next morning!

GR: What are your favorite makeup staples for these looks?

MC: A lot of my looks require precision, so I use fine-detail art brushes. To create depth, I shade using smudge-proof eyeliners and matte shadows. I like to layer a lot of different products and textures to create a gradient shadow effect. Since I don’t have a formal arts background, a lot of what I do is learned through trial and error. My style of painting is unique to me and works with my style and personality.

GR: How do you prep skin for your looks?

MC: Keeping my skin well-moisturized is a must. I love prepping by using Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Sleeping Mask as an extra hydration boost, then washing it off and applying the Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream as my base. I then use a mattifying primer and start layering makeup and paints on top. I make sure to set any cream products I use with powder.

GR: What does your cleansing routine look like?

MC: I like to remove heavy face paints with oil-based removers like Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm. Hydration is key, so I make sure to sooth and pamper my skin with serums, moisturizers, and eye creams.

GR: What are your favorite looks you’ve ever created?

MC: All of my illusions are special to me in some way, so it is difficult to choose just one. I’m always working to improve from my previous looks, so my favorites are usually my latest works. However, I am known for my multiple eye illusions that I started many years ago, and these types of looks will always be extra special to me because they really launched my career and continue to be a favorite among my followers.

GR: What would you say is your beauty philosophy?

MC: My beauty philosophy is to forget about trends and stick to what works best for my own skin. Keeping my skin healthy and hydrated is very important, as it’s the base for all of my looks whether that be an illusion or beauty look.


Glow Recipe

Avocado Melt Retinol Sleeping Mask


Glow Recipe

Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream


Glow Recipe

Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm


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