At that point, Desir had already endured a ton of unprovoked vitriol under posts of her makeup. It’s a subject she speaks on with great candor, strength, and grace. But it remains an upsetting topic because she knows the criticism is bigger: It’s been largely racially charged.
“Especially as a dark-skinned person, they don’t like when we do color. ‘It doesn’t look good on us. It’s clownish’ [they say,] which is not true,” Desir says. “I’m going to show you that it looks great on us and we look great doing anything. We can do anything we wish. It doesn’t matter what skin color you are.”
The popularity of her looks has also encouraged her to be more vocal about the provenance of the styles, trends, and ideas we see, including her own. She knew that people had been emulating the look without citing her as inspiration and could no longer stay quiet.
Since the undereyes were created in response to people who said they hated her bright undereyes, Desir feels it’s important for people to know the underlying story: “I want everyone to know who’s behind what they’re doing,” she says. “There’s a reason why it was done in the first place. To combat something negative that was said to me. There’s meaning behind it.”
Reflecting on the difficult partnership some people seem to have noting and crediting their influences, she adds, “In the makeup community, [it seems like] people think if they credit [their inspiration], they won’t be seen as original, creative, or talented enough and that’s not true. At the end of the day, the way you executed what you’ve done shows your skill intel. Sometimes it’s not even the same way. You’ve made it your own. But by crediting, we know where the inspo’s from. It’s being respectful of another person’s work. Especially in the age of social media.”
While the trajectory of Desir’s relationship with makeup took off this spring and summer, it wasn’t too long ago that she got her start. The Morphe 35B palette first piqued her interest in giving colorful makeup a chance. When she was in high school, Desir used to put blue shimmer at her inner corners and she wore “block brows.”
“Terrible time for makeup!” she jokes. “[But] once I got to college, I really had time to express myself.” Desir was close to finishing her degree in menswear at the Fashion Institute of Technology when her makeup took off online and she also simply needed a break from her studies.
Her menswear background, as disparate from makeup as it may seem, has been instrumental in helping her create her most audaciously precise looks. She often sketches out her ideas before the brushes and pigments get to work.
Desir additionally notes that anything and everything can inspire her designs, “There’s a lot going on in my brain creative-wise. I’ve always been this way, but it’s been very hard to express it [and] to manifest it physically. That’s why I was so enamored with makeup when I first started. I can get a little bit of what’s in my head [as a] visual onto my face.”