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Isio Knows Better: Make Up Mishaps

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When my friend Uddy told me the secret to her flawless facial skin was not wearing a lot of make-up, I looked at her like, huh?

She urged me to do the same, and I wasn’t quite sure how that would work out for me, based on my job, until I did. It wasn’t so difficult, really. The ritual of wearing make-up every day was as pleasant as wearing a tight costé in the humid Lagos air every single day. To be honest, I had begun to find sitting in front of my mirror mixing and matching make-up to cover my face, taxing and time consuming.
And so I learnt to just wash my face clean, darken my eye-brows a little bit and ready I was.


I did this for a few months, and limited my foundation/powder use for “special occasions” like red-carpet events. I watched my skin clear up. It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely better. And then I was booked for a job. It meant I had to be a model again. It meant that I was going to get a face-beat soon. I looked forward to the shoot. It was going to be a “fun” shoot.

Fast forward to that awkward moment on the day of the shoot that I looked at myself in the hand-held mirror. I tried not to wince “Oh God, not again…” My chestnut complexion had been darkened to an ashy-black walnut, and she had sprinkled this shimmery gold-dust all over my face.


I summed up the courage to look myself in the mirror again. I didn’t recognise myself. I hated… no HATED that shimmering pigmented gold-dust that covered my eye-lids all the way to my eye-brows. And what in God’s name was up with the eyebrows anyway? They were so high up, they might as well be shooting for the stars. Those semi-circular symbols she drew where nature put my eye-brows were blasphemous. And the lips… Chineke God Himself did not create people with bright yellow lips for a reason. The yellow lips I saw in the mirror when I looked at my face made my mouth tremble in horror.

I swallowed my saliva. Like my fore-fathers say, no be my mouth dem go talk say Teacher mouth dey smell. My only hope was that the designer – who hired the make-up artist would be equally aghast and save us all, because the make-up artist was mightily pleased with her work. She smiled at it lovingly and called it a “golden face-beat”.

I smiled charmingly, and brought out the chinchin in my bag and chewed it with pawa.

Walahi no be my mouth dem go talk say Teacher mouth dey smell.

Lucky for me the designer disliked the golden face-beat make-up too and ordered the make-up artist to change it. I don’t think she was very happy. In the process of cleaning the “goldenness” from my face I “ouched” and “yeeeee-d” a couple of times. Such strong hands she had. It wasn’t until she applied some kind of mattifier to my face that I really did yelp in pain. IT BURNT!

What the hell was that?! She showed me one big-brand “expensive” stuff like that. Whatever it was made of had caused an irritant contact dermatitis, which is an itching or burning reaction that occurs when the skin reacts to certain harsh chemicals found in make-up or beauty products.

Choi, choi, choi… But I have suffered in the hands of some make-up artists sha! Fourteen years since I became a model. Fourteen years of fashion shows, editorials, ad campaigns, photo-shoots. Fourteen years of being rubbed and scrubbed and mattified. From being cut by newly-opened sharp razors to having the life carved out of my brows, to being chooked in the eye in the name of applying that cream that is supposed to let the eyeshadow stay in one place. I’ve learnt to expect the best but prepare for the worst. I can honestly say that I have had the privilege of meeting some of the best make-up artists in the country, and the opportunity of meeting some… not-so-amazing ones.

So what are my top three make-up mishaps? Madam golden-face applier was definitely one of them. And then there are all those make up assistants at Fashion Week who wield that ONE brush they use to “touch-up” each and every model waiting in line back-stage. Pimple-faced/eczema-faced/zits-popping/cold-sores/sweaty necks/craw-craw-faced that one no consain our Fashion Week/show make-up artist o. Their own is sha to stop by each model and dust each model’s sweaty face and neck with that ONE brush. There is no discrimination, these make-up artists. They swat us all.

The third would be one make-up artist I had the pleasure *side-eyes* of working with a few years ago. It was a shoot for a magazine cover. Anyways, after applying gbogbo e, she wanted to “focus” on my eyes. Next thing I knew, I saw the glistering edges of the scissors’ blades…

You need to see the way I jumped off the chair with full speed!

Me: “Ahhhhhhhan! Aunty! Ki le le yii ti e fe she?!” { Ha! What is this that you intend to do?!}

Aunty: Don’t worry, I just want to trim your eye-lashes so that it will be sharp.

Me: Mba o. No sharp. Please leave it scatter-scatter for me like that. Thank you.

And then I sat back down- and the shoot continued.

So that was it. My top three make-up “mishaps”. What are yours?

Ps: oh, and I treated the burn with a Nivea, coconut oil and olive-oil mix. I applied it for two days and the burn didn’t leave a Batman patch, luckily.

A beautiful, lovely and terrific Tuesday to you all my lovelies!


Isio De-laVega Wanogho is a Nigerian supermodel, a multi-award winning media personality and an interior architect who is a creative-expressionist at her core. She uses words, wit and her paintings to tell stories that entertain, yet convey a deeper meaning. Follow her on Instagram @isiodelavega and visit her website: to see her professional body of work.