Sinitta Akello is a creative and beauty makeup artist based in Nairobi, Kenya.
She has managed to curve a niche for herself with her unique take into makeup as an art form. Her journey as a Makeup Artist started 5 years ago when she came back from England where she used to work and study. “I wanted to see what my options were in terms of what I could do back home…I’ve always wanted to start a magazine (Which I think I will still do in the future) but found out that blogging was more of a thing in Nairobi. I decided to start a blog instead in a bid to connect with a wider audience.”
That is how her blog ‘Cultured Ego’ came about. It is a platform that looks at alternative African fashion and music. “I actually stated off as a photographer doing photography, makeup, hair, and styling but out of everything, what I enjoyed the most was makeup, so I decided to carry on with makeup as a career path.”
I sat down with the bubbly Sinitta to learn more about her craft and her take on all things beauty.
What do you love most about makeup?
I think what I love most about makeup is the creative process; especially with my style of makeup but even with beauty makeup. Just coming up with the ideal look for a client does involve a level of creativity.
What inspired you to take on makeup as an art form?
I think it was Pat McGrath. Pat is one of the world’s most influential makeup artist. I was on the internet one day and saw an image of some work she had done backstage. She had used sequence to create an interesting eye look and that image just inspired me.
Art has been a background of mine from when I was very young. I did art until University and I was about to do visual art but ended up dong visual communication which involves art as well. Naturally, I’m just the kind of person that would go into a more artistically inclined direction.
How would you describe your signature look and what is it about your style that sets you apart from other makeup artists?
I would describe my signature look as mixed media. My aesthetic is more towards mixed media but I also like to incorporate a lot of African and worldly tribal heritage into the looks that I do. There is a look I did where I used tribal markings and then did silver brows.
What I am essentially trying to do with makeup is show off our culture as Africans because we’ve got such a rich culture.
As to what sets me apart? Maybe it’s a combination of my style, my thought process, and creative process. Perhaps also where I draw my inspiration from. I like my eyes to travel artistically.
Most memorable job you have ever done?
There’s been a few but I’ll have to say Coke Studio. I loved that set! I loved the energy, the people, it was a very fun set to work on. I’ve also worked on the set for the Marvel shoot that we did with Osborne Macharia that was very exciting and memorable.
Getting the news was just insane! I think I literally screamed and I was on the road when Osborne was telling me who it was for.
On the one product she can’t work without as a MUA.
Wow this is a difficult one; I’ll have to go with three products. I recently discovered this amazing brow wax by MAC. It’s just the best thing ever! I like a very natural looking brow so what I love about this is that it really helps your brows lay in place and this lets me define where I need to fill in. Then of course there is mascara and lastly either a cleanser of oil or a dewy setting spray. I love a dewy finish and that is what I use to start off my base before applying makeup. If you have oily skin, I would suggest baobab oil as a cleanser of oil because that’s ideal for all skin types. You can easily get that at Zanzi Naturals
What three makeup/beauty items should a woman never leave home without?
Depending on how you like the finish of your skin, I would say an oil-blotting powder if you like a matte finish. A setting spray if you prefer a dewy finish and lastly lip balm/lipstick if you are a lipstick person.
Do you have a beauty guilty pleasure?
I’ve never thought about that…but I love glow. Bronzers are just my thing! I actually like the glowy skin look that liquid bronzers give off especially on dark skin. I find that with liquid bronzers, the glow looks more natural, like it’s coming from within and not just placed on the skin.
On the people that have inspired her throughout her makeup career…
Oh there’s lots of people! There is Pat McGrath, Alex Box, Issamaya French (Issamaya is like my god l really look up to her. My line is WWIFD?- What Would Issamaya French Do?) I feel like we have a similar way of thinking because sometimes I come up with an idea of a makeup look I want to do and then I find out that she’s done the look before. She, like me, also did an art foundation course and she also does a lot of creative directing as well.
If you weren’t a Makeup Artist, what else would you be doing?
I think I would be a Lawyer. I know it’s such a stretch from what I’m currently doing but I really love watching law series. Things like Suits, Drop dead Diva, and Ally McBeal. I just really love the whole concept of law. Closer to home, I would probably be a Creative Director because I am very good at coming up with ideas.
On the biggest challenge of her career so far as a makeup artist?
Honestly, I would say staying motivated. It’s not difficult, but it’s definitely a challenge.
What is your perception about the Makeup and Beauty Industry in Kenya?
I think it’s growing very fast which is a good thing. We are having access to more products for our kit which is great. However, in the long run, what I would like to see as a pan African is more Africans/Kenyans creating their own products that cater to our skin needs. So that in say 10 years down the line, our beauty industry can be able to contribute to the growth of our economy.
Any advice to makeup artists and creatives in the beauty industry: both upcoming and established?
I would suggest just constantly putting content out there for people to see your work, knocking down doors and collaborating with your peers so that you can get as much content out and you are able to place yourself where you foresee.
Congratulations on making the choice to develop a website (www.sinittaakello.com). What can we expect and when is the launch date?
Thank you. That’s coming very soon! I feel like most of the work I’ve done so far has been quite great but for now, I’m just trying to hone in on what my aesthetic is in terms of when I place myself as a global Makeup Artist. I’m not just a Makeup Artist in one country. I am really trying to hone in to my aesthetic by looking into my heritage more, looking into African tribes, traveling around and getting inspiration of what African beauty/craft really is.
What does beauty mean to you?
Wow! That’s a good question. Beauty to me is not just skin deep to be honest. I do makeup for brides and clients that are going out somewhere and they look at their face after I’m done and say ‘Thanks for making me look beautiful’ and I’m like No! No! The beauty was already there, I’ve just used tools to bring it out. To put it simply, true beauty to me is something that’s already inside you.
Media courtesy of Sinitta Akello’s Instagram