The Fashion Archivist Who Doesn’t Waste Makeup On

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The #ITGTopShelfie interview series focuses on the beauty routines of Into The Gloss’ lovely, accomplished, and loyal community of readers. Submit your own on Instagram—post your Top Shelfie (tag us @intothegloss!) and include the hashtag #ITGTopShelfie for a chance to be featured on ITG.

“I’m Rashida Renée Ward (@evilrashida), and I run a fashion archive on Tumblr and Instagram called How To Be a Fucking Lady. I titled it that because the whole concept of being a lady is an oxymoron—there is no way to be a lady. I wanted to curate an homage to the impact of Black women in fashion, but it also served as an outlet for me to conceptualize myself, and who I wanted to be. I grew up in the Bay Area, essentially in a beauty salon. My mom owns a salon and so does my aunt, and she, my mom, and my cousin, and my sister-in-law all do hair. Even though my dad was around, my family was more matriarchal—it was a hyperfeminine environment. The women in my family are beautiful, big Black women, and when I was growing up people were openly antagonistic towards them for practicing radical self-acceptance. And I was one of those kids who had a typical trans narrative. I recognized my womanhood very early, but I also learned early on that the world is not nice to people who do not conform.

When you’re Black and trans, there’s a high chance that fashion is a part of your culture. Between my house, my grandparents’ house, and the salon, there were always a lot of Black magazines lying around. Nothing but Jet, EbonyEunice Johnson’s Ebony Fashion Fair was life-changing. Starting in the ‘50s, she would travel to buy couture from designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungao, Paco Rabanne and then put on a large-scale fashion event. On the cover you’d see Naomi Campbell or Beverly Peele, Stephanie Roberts, Katoucha, Sonia Cole. And then ‘96 and ‘97, you had Alek, Stacey McKenzie, Debra Shaw, and later Oluchi. And because so many of those women were dark-skinned, I thought it was normal for Black women to be all made-up and in fashion. I was also active in a lot of queer LGBT Black communities on MySpace, which is how I got into ballroom. My interest in fashion made sense with ballroom, because it was all about looking the best. Seeing the girls, the trans women, walk and present themselves–I didn’t understand what transitioning actually meant until then. You don’t really know if something can exist until you’ve seen it, right? Ballroom became like a possibility model.

I see beauty as a survival technique, almost like a camouflage so people treat me better. It helped when I was transitioning. In my downtime, I just wear sweats with no zhuzh—the glam is not sustainable! But if I’m getting dressed, I’m putting everything on. I’m wearing lashes, my eyebrows are done, I have a lip on, full contour, highlight everything, wig glued down, corset on, outfit on, high heels on. I want to be made to capacity. There’s a thing in ballroom called a ‘thin queen perfect 10’: thin queen perfect 10s are clean, done, and snatched with a flawless face, body, everything. I want 10s all around—a snatchation so severe that I kind of look like a Disney villain.

If I’m just doing my makeup to see a boy, I’m not priming—I’ll only be around him for like two hours. I’m not doing extra for men. They do not notice the difference at all! But if I’m going out, I use a combination of Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer and the Tatcha Silk Canvas so everything sticks to my skin. I like the Becca Ultimate Coverage foundation, and recently I’ve been eyeing a Pat McGrath one. Do you ever just buy into someone’s brand identity? I really want to be a part of Pat McGrath’s world. I’lI color correct with Cover FX Correct Click under my eyes, around my mouth, a little bit on my cheeks, and anywhere I don’t want to look like a beard. But my holy grail concealer is the Nars Radiant Creamy concealer in Café. That’s my favorite. I use another creamy concealer from Sephora for contour because it’s so hard to find something dark enough. The shade is Haute Cocoa. I might use that one on my eyes, too, when I’m trying to be extra-extra. Then I set it all with the Laura Mercier Setting Powder in Medium Deep, which I’ve been using forever.

I like my eyes to look very intense, but natural—like a 1992 Naomi baby cat eye. I have this Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow in Deep Brown that I use to do a super dramatic tapered eye. If I’m doing eyeliner I have a liquid Pat McGrath one that works, and—you know how people use white eyeliner on their lower waterline? That looks too harsh on me, but if I want to get that same look to open my eyes a bit, I’ll use a bit of this Blonde Ambition Sephora brand pencil on my lower lash line and in the inner corner. Then I’ll put a little of Astral White Pat McGrath pigment [Ed note: discontinued] right there just to make it sparkle. I’m not picky with mascara–the one I use the most is Maybelline Colossal Volume. But I love wearing huge eyelashes. For a day I’m running errands, I like the Ardell Wispies, which I’ll stack on with the clear Duo lash glue.

I wear my brows super thin. I wax them off—I got that from my mom—and I’ll use Anastasia Brow Wiz to draw them in. I love to use highlighter to make my brow bones and cheekbones pop—that’s a snatchuation moment. Pat McGrath’s Skin Fetish is great, and I also love the Fenty Match Stix in Unicorn. It’s a glittery lavender, which is my favorite color. I like lavender, lilac, purple… I love a dark plum lip pencil and some gloss. The lip pencil I’m using is Pat McGrath Deep Void and the lip gloss is the Opulust gloss in Lavendaring. That combination is my best friend.

My nails are natural right now, but I collect press ons just in case. I always have them long and painted black—having long nails wasn’t considered classy when I was younger, but I would get them to spite my mom anyway. I don’t get my nails done regularly, because really nice nails can be like $200. But press ons with Essie’s Gel Setter top coat look like a little gel set. I just bought a set of super long ones from this girl on Etsy that I can’t wait to wear.

I have two different types of hair products: natural hair products and wig styling products. I grew up braiding my own hair and I taught myself how to use professional relaxer. But I’ve been natural since I was 25, so for six years. With natural hair products, I care about the slip and the smell. I want my hair to smell good when somebody’s lying on me. It’s wild, because the Suave Essentials Daily Clarifying Shampoo is like five cents at Walmart and it’s the best detangling shampoo I’ve ever used. If I’m feeling snazzy I’ll do whatever hair mask I can get my hands on: right now that’s the Shea Moisture Manuka Intensive Hydration Mask. Next I’ll put in a leave-in conditioner, either the Curls Blueberry Bliss or my Curl and Style Milk from Shea Moisture. And then I use a little Jamaican Black Castor Oil or this Design Essentials Lavender and Marula Oil to seal in everything. When my hair is natural, I’m not gelling to make my baby hairs look cute––I’m gelling because I have a fucking lot of them and they need to get out of the way. You know how it is! My favorite edge control is the Style Factor Edge Booster. It’s really pretty and comes in different scents.

Now, if I want to wear my hair straight I’ll put a wig on. With a wig, I love setting my baby hairs with Tresemme mousse, Got2b gel, and spray to keep everything in place and make sure the lace is glued down. I always like to remind people that a lot Black hairstyles are based around functionality. If you’re not Black you might just think it’s a trendy look, but the baby hair you see on a Black woman’s wig is there because she’s hiding her lace. It’s an easy way to smooth your mistakes if you messed up or if your hairline is wonky.

My skin is only good when I don’t touch it. I use a gentle, hydrating cleanser like Krave’s Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser or Cerave and then I use a toner. I have this Laneige Fresh Calming toner, which I like because it’s very light and refreshing, and I also have this Paula’s Choice BHA. I used to use witch hazel as a toner, so those are a big step up for me. I used to do electrolysis which left me with a lot of hyperpigmentation, so that and texture are probably my biggest concerns. I want my makeup to look great without a lot of foundation. The azelaic acid from The Ordinary keeps everything smooth, and I also just bought a bunch of Black Girl Sunscreen to protect my skin during the day. But at night I’ll just use a moisturizer.

To relax, I either read or watch something that I can just lose myself in. I used to read a lot of fantasy, like fluffy vampire or romance novels, but recently I’ve been into watching Korean Noona dramas—Something in the Rain is just so fucking romantic. I’ll also listen to music for hours… Grace Jones, TLC, Mary J. Blige, Brandy, Aaliyah. I love YouTube. I watch a lot of wig videos (lace frontals, closures, micro links tutorials or natural hair tutorials, I love them all) or fashion shows. Because of the Fashion Channel on YouTube, I’ve watched almost every single major fashion show since ‘86. But my pastime when I’m bored bored is this: I’ll watch an old show and screenshot all the best quotes.”

—as told to ITG

Photos via the author





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