Home beauty Shop Issa Rae’s Favorite Beauty Products

Shop Issa Rae’s Favorite Beauty Products

Shop Issa Rae’s Favorite Beauty Products

Can we have a moment of silence for Issa Rae’s skin on the cover of our latest digital issue, Class of ’21? While genetics and wellness habits—like minding your own business—definitely play a role in her glowing complexion, she has another tool in her arsenal: makeup artist Joanna Simkin. Ahead, Simkin breaks down the products and techniques she relies on to ensure a photo-ready finish every single time.

Brow Flick

“Before I prep the skin, I always do eyebrows first. I don’t want them to look heavy or overdrawn, and I find that if there’s any product on the skin or on the brows—including moisturizer—I have to apply a lot more pressure with the pen. Then, it can start looking really heavy whereas if I just go in on the brows when the skin is completely dry, the strokes stick to the skin better.

“I find that brow pens really mimic the hair strokes best. I just run through it—I’m not precious about it at all. And then, I go in under the brow with concealer on a very straight brush. It almost gives it the look of a waxed or threaded brow rather than a thick, solid line.”


Skinglass Bronze

“Then, I use this illuminator from Noorface. It comes in several shades and it’s an oil with a gold shimmer infused in the formula. I literally dab it onto the places on the highpoints of her face. It’s a nice undercoat that illuminates the skin before I apply foundation.”


The Lip Balm

“We always let the lip balm soak in while I’m doing the rest of her face. I love this one, it’s my favorite. Everyone always loves how it feels, they love how it tastes. And then once we’re done with makeup and ready to apply a lip, they’re perfectly soft and hydrated. It’s amazing.”

La Mer

Matte Fluid Eye Paint

“The About-Face eye paints come in so many pretty colors and they have incredible staying power.”


Long-wear Cream Eyeshadow Stick

“I also love Bobbi Brown’s eyeshadow sticks for a subtle shimmer. I’ve been pretty low-maintenance on eyeshadow lately, so it’s usually one color all over and then defining the lid with a transition shade. So, I’ll use a cream eyeshadow as the base and apply that all over the lid. Then, I’ll take a fluffy blending brush and buff out the edges. Next, I like to use her bronzer to define the crease; using bronzer on the lid is great because it creates a perfect hollow that’ll match the hollow of your cheekbones. You get an overall tonal look which is great.”

Bobbi Brown

Dew Wet Hydrating and Highlighting Balm

“Sometimes, when I want a pop of shimmer, I’ll tap the Danessa Myricks highlighting balm onto the lid. It adds just the right amount of reflection, so it still feels like skin. I also love to use it on the cheekbones and under the brow. I feel like we went through a phase where everyone went OD with highlighter—this is so much better. It makes your skin look a bit dewy and so fresh.”

Danessa Myricks Beauty

Kush High Volumizing Mascara

“This mascara is incredible. The pigment is perfect; a lot of other black mascaras work on lighter-haired people, but they’re not a true black and they can almost look more like a charcoal on deeper skin tones. This one is actually black and the finish is so shiny.”

Milk Makeup

Eye Balm

“Once I’m done with the eyes, I’ll take a wipe or dab some micellar water on a cotton pad and swipe away any fallout and then I’ll add an eye cream. I really like this one because makeup glides onto it so well, so there’s no chance of clumps on the skin.”

Dr. Hauschka

Forever Matte Foundation SPF 35

“I start with a foundation that matches the middle of her face—I love the Dior Forever Matte Foundation. It applies perfectly onto the skin.”


Synchro Skin Self-refreshing Foundation SPF 30

“Then, on the outside of her face, I’ll use the Shiseido Synchro Skin foundation for a seamless, skin-like finish that melts right into her skin. 530 Henna is her shade and it’s a perfect match.”


Bounce Airbrush Liquid Whip Concealer

“And then I’ll go in under the eye with Beautyblender’s Bounce concealer. It has a great shade range and it’ll give you really great coverage.”


Balm Contour

“I love the sheer balm feel of this product. I apply it atop the cheekbones and along the hairline, the bridge of the nose, and the jaw; just anywhere that we want to add back in any dimension that was lost when we applied the foundation.”

Danessa Myricks Beauty

Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Setting Powder

“This powder’s formula is so finely milled, it almost feels moist. So, I do what I call a ‘fake bake’ where I pack the powder onto a wet beauty blender, place it under the eyes, and then I immediately wipe it away. I just want it to absorb the extra reflection from the wet products we used earlier, but I don’t want it to sit there because then it starts to look flat and dry, and that’s when you start getting flashbacks.”

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna


“This brand makes three shades of bronzer and they’re all amazing. I use the medium shade called Bronzeville and it’s so perfect. I tap it onto the cheekbones, temples, and her hairline to bring some warmth back into the skin.”

Prime Beauty


“Sometimes, if I feel like the cheeks need a little more warmth, I’ll use this orange-hued blush and swirl it on. It gives her that look you get when the sun first hits your skin. It also photographs perfectly every time.”

Cargo Cosmetics

Lip Pencil

“We usually finish off with a deep brown lip pencil and then, for her, I love going over the pencil with a mauve-toned nude.”


Gloss Bomb Cream Color Drip Lip Cream

“The Fenty lip cream is amazing. I think because she has warm undertones, we tend to stay away from beige nudes and go for a more purple or mauve-toned nude.”

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna

Lust: Gloss

“I also love the Pat McGrath glosses—the shade Flesh 4 is gorgeous.”

Pat McGrath Labs