Tired of seeing the same old ‚gramable‘ makeup looks, a new generation of out-of-the-box thinking beauty influencers is now doing things their very own way – one of them being Eszter Magyar, the creative behind MAKEUPBRUTALISM and UGLYMAKEUPREVOLUTION. Clumped up lashes, crocked teeth covered in bright paint, smudged eyeliner, splodgy lipstick anywhere but were it usually belongs. Eszter Magyar sure knows how to make something ugly and grotesque strangely beautiful. The Budapest porn, London based and former Berliner Eszter Magyar mixes human aesthetics with social criticism to question ubiquitous beauty standards and everything surrounding the beauty industry.
We talked to her to get a closer look into her work and her view on conceptual beauty trends and asked for answers on how ugly make up is redefining beauty as we know it.
What kind of relationship did you have with make-up growing up? How did you discover make-up yourself?
None, my mother did not use any makeup when I was younger, so I don’t have those romantic memories of watching my mom doing her makeup. She barely had any products except a typic 80’s vanity case, which ended up in my Barbie house as furniture.
A few years later – I became a rebellious punk teen – makeup was part of my life but in a very messy, lazy, edgy way. I had no interest or knowledge of makeup, I just wanted to make myself more visible for people with the same mindset.
When did you come up with „makeupbrutalism“ and eventually „ugly make up revolution“?
I started the eye close-ups around 2016 with the intention was to get better in makeup. I was a makeup artist, but I had to do the same looks everyday at work that bored me eventually. So when I got back home, I started to experiment with shapes, textures and colors, taking pictures and uploading them to my original social handle @esztermagyarmua. I guess, I started to play more, because I needed the illusion of a healthy balance – to feel creative. Some people saw those picture online and invited me to host a creative makeup workshop. I made a huge presentation and named it “makeupbrutalism”. That was in 2018, after a few months I made the account as well with the same name, and that Is where it started. @Uglymakeuprevolution came a year after. We made some jokes with one of the followers in the comment section about “ugly makeup is the new kardashian” and how we have to turn this “ugly makeup aesthetic” into a revolution. That was the time when people started to call everything I do ugly. We even made a hashtag and started using it, next time I checked we weren’t the only ones. I felt the community was born even without me – what I did was creating an account and curating all the tagged pictures. When the pandemic came, it all blew up.
Define the term „Ugly“ please?
Ugly is a word, an empty bag – which you can fill with whatever meaning you want. Ugly can be an aesthetic, a feeling, a dilemma, a moral question, a compliment or the total opposite.
Where do you take inspiration from?
Makeupbrutalism is a way of communication for me – my brain transfers my thoughts into looks and pictures, so it is pretty easy for me to create, because I love to talk and have always something to say.
What is your favourite work you did so far?
The ones that are not ready or published yet.
What objects do you use for your looks?
I think I used almost everything. When I started my “productless” series it was an obsession to turn everything into a makeup look. First, I wanted to imitate “real” makeup, eyeliners etc. But after that I reached the point when I realized – why stop there? So it all became shapeless and nonsense.
Can make-up be productless?
It depends who’s definition of makeup you are following. I think makeup is shapes and colours as paint and/or applications on the skin. No-one cares (and realizes) if you are using actual makeup products when you imitate them with different objects or substances.
How do you use the platform?
I try to keep myself happy and occupied (which gets harder with these new algorithms and rules).
It started as a side project with texture experiments, but after three years it became my identity, my career, my job. I work for magazines and brands, such as Byredo or Gucci Beauty, as a creative. My main plan is to establish myself and to shift in a more artistic direction, having exhibitions, working on even more conceptual collaborations, leading it to the offline space, being more independent.
Would you consider yourself an influencer, artist or activist?
I wanna believe I will reach the point where I can call myself an artist.
A year ago I would call myself an activist, but I realized my intentions with @makeupbrutalism were always pretty selfish – as I said, it is like communication and I talk about myself through the pictures. And even though I made people think and they found themselves in what I do, that was not the goal. It is “accidentally activism” if something like this exists. About being an influencer, I would not call myself that.
What is the ultimate aim?
Having good opportunities: publishing my book about @makeupbrutalism, having my own studio, having exhibitions, hosting creative workshops, working on collaborations.
Let’s talk about beauty trends for a second: What do you think influences beauty trends and how quickly do they change?
Easy: Money! Brands need quickly changing trends, so they can come up with new collections people will buy. The beauty industry is a serious business.
How is the female gaze effecting contemporary beauty trends and how does it change the way we perceive beauty and make up?
If you think about it, the focal point of makeup and beauty industry is the fact that you have to change yourself, being it to enhance, conceal, alter, whatever. I would say the female gaze is more playful, less strict – there is more space to experiment with the unusual.
What is make-up and what isn’t?
Intention and concept. If you want it, anything can be makeup.
How can we approach beauty differently?
With a lot of experimenting, unlearning, asking and redefining.
Does make-up or being creative with make up have boundaries?
Its all about concept and who do you want to impress. Freedom means you are fearless and most importantly that you let yourself change. The sad part of this is the fact that you will lose lot of peoples interests, because for some change is equal to betrayal.
People love to experiment with their looks a lot actually. Living in Berlin one is able to see the most individual personalities on a daily basis. But it seems to be different in regards of beauty and make-up. Why do you think are people so stuck in their comfort zones when it comes to their make-up?
People want to be unique, but in a very symmetric way. Even if you are edgy, you want to fit in somewhere, every community or subculture has its own looks and boundaries and makeup is there to connect and to separate us. We are all social creatures, it is in our genes, so we follow the rules.
Lastly: Is perfection overrated?
It is. It is so predictable, it is a “kind of uniform” everyone wants to wear voluntarily. Character is so much more exciting, if you ask me.
All Images: Courtesy of Eszter Magyar
Interview by Annika Duda