Foyin Ogunrombi. Picture: Nadine Aucamp
Foyin Ogunrombi. Picture: Nadine Aucamp

How make-up has given us freedom for self-expression

By Jamal Grootboom Time of article published Apr 27, 2021

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The beauty community has become a huge force online with some of the biggest social media stars such as Bretman Rock, Patrick Starrr, Jackie Aina, Nikkie Tutorials to name a few and South Africa is no exception.

One of the biggest creators to come have out of the continent is Nigerian-born South African beauty guru Foyin Ogunrombi. Having gained prominence with her 7Days7Faces series, Foyin has become one of the most prominent faces in the local make-up community.

The series started in heart of the lockdown in 2020. Taking inspiration from another creator, Foyin kicked off the series and since a week is not a lot of commitment, she gave people a way to channel their frustrations with being locked up into make-up.

Speaking about why the challenge gained such a huge following Foyin mentioned that it was clear that people on all make-up levels could participate since “The air of pretentiousness like other make-up challenges isn’t there and the prizes, because who doesn’t like prizes and people are just having fun with make-up."

Foyin Ogunrombi. Picture: Nadine Aucamp

However, the make-up challenge showed that how people viewed make-up has changed. Make-up moved from only being about looking pretty and to rather a recognised form of self-expression with the rise of Instagram and the beauty influencer.

We saw people use make-up to not only show off their skills, but also express themselves in different ways. They became a blank canvas, and the make-up was used to convey a freedom that few dared to show.

Talking about this shift Foyin mentions how make-up used to be for the male gaze. “But what the lockdown did was allow people to put on make-up on for themselves, to enjoy their appearance and self-expression, especially since we couldn’t go outside for an extended period.”

The 25-year-old’s interest in make-up started at a young age but like most people with African parents, she wasn’t allowed to play with make-up and only starting her journey in university.

What sparked her make-up journey was when she travelled to Lagos, Nigeria for a family function and got her face properly ’beat’ for the first time. Make-up made her feel good and since she “wanted to feel like this again” she signed up for a make-up course just to get some foundational knowledge and the rest is history.

For many make-up lovers, the big boom in the industry happened in 2016/2017 with the rise of the beauty gurus, thanks to social media. Locally, make-up consumers were looking for similar content. While South Africa was previously very delayed with make-up trends, the gap has since been filled since we can see what our peers around the world are doing and finding ways of expressing themselves using make-up.

Make-up has truly become something that is for everyone no matter your gender identity. What was usually meant for women, has been de-sexualised and has become an outlet for many to find joy and creative freedom.

The 7days7faces challenge saw people across the gender spectrum take part, showing off their make-up skills and how much fun they had. It proved that many in society are no longer using make-up to fit the mould, but instead are using make-up as a form of rebellion and the freedom that we are itching to embrace.

Foyin recently moved to Johannesburg from Cape Town. “I was feeling creatively stifled in Cape Town and there are just more opportunities in Johannesburg. Many people I want to work with are up here and a lot of the make-up brand managers are here.”

Foyin is yet to announce the next edition of 7Days7Faces but it’s sure to be even bigger and better.

If you want to take part, this is what she suggests you should have in your make-up arsenal: a thin brow pencil, light foundation, multipurpose eyeshadow palette and a sickening lip combo (lip gloss and lip pencil).

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