Rilyn Johnson’s makeup mesmerizes thousands


Graphic illustration by Nicole Ge; photos used with permission of Rilyn Johnson.

Through makeup, Johnson has been able to transform her appearance and express herself, boosting her confidence.

Nicole Ge, Staffer

After hours of concentration, sophomore Rilyn Johnson finally finishes her makeup look of the day. Smokey black eyeshadow streaks across her eyelids, accented with bold mascara and matched with black lipstick. 

Johnson was exposed to makeup early on through watching YouTube videos, but she only started experimenting with different looks and expanding her knowledge of makeup in eighth grade. Through makeup, Johnson has been able to transform her appearance and express herself, boosting her confidence.

“I use makeup as a creative outlet,” Johnson said. “Completing makeup looks and seeing the end result is always extremely satisfying to me.”

Morphe brushes and drugstore cosmetics are among her favorite makeup tools because of their high quality and low price. In addition, their versatility and variety allow her to create mesmerizing looks. 

Johnson has developed an ability to effectively employ all kinds of makeup products, ranging from colorful eyeshadow to special effects makeup. Following YouTube tutorials to watch other people’s makeup processes for hours on end has further expanded her creativity and knowledge of makeup. Drawing inspiration from Pinterest, Johnson lists makeup projects with animal or holiday themes as her favorites. Her makeup ideas have been inspired by pumpkins for Halloween, hearts for Valentine’s Day and outlandish original ideas, like watermelon fish.

“I was scrolling through Pinterest when I came across a fascinating design, then altered it to make it my own,” Johnson said. “The experience inspired me to create even more original makeup looks.”

Unexpectedly, she does not have a makeup design process, as much of her makeup is done on the fly — particularly impressive considering that every makeup look requires two to three hours of intense concentration. However, her makeup process does follow a general routine. She first applies eyeshadow to darken her brows, then spends the majority of her time adding eyeshadow on her eyelids. She works on her eyeshadow while watching television to ease her boredom. Afterward, she moves onto her face. She applies a base, then outlines a design on her cheek and forehead before proceeding to draw out her design.

As applying makeup and maintaining focus can be mentally exhausting, Johnson relies on her pet snake to motivate her to finish her look.

“While I do makeup, oftentimes, I get tired and I take my snake out and hold him for a while while I am working,” Johnson said. “He usually slithers around my wrists or he will fall asleep on my neck.”

Johnson’s posts on her makeup looks have garnered a massive follower base of more than 700,000 on Tiktok and almost 5,000 on Instagram. Knowing that many have high expectations for her makeup looks, she is under more pressure than before, but she understands that it is necessary for her to achieve her goals.

“I plan on becoming a makeup artist in the future and hope to build my followers and become a creator,” Johnson said.