The Story Behind Ruth Negga's Pagan Goddess Beauty Look

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Ruth Negga

It started with the jewels for the Best Actress Oscar nominee, who had one of the most ravishing faces on the red carpet.

"I knew straight away I wanted to do a lip to match those rubies," says makeup artist Melanie Inglessis of best actress nominee Ruth Negga’s ravishing red Oscars ensemble, a custom lace Valentino gown paired with Irene Neuwirth ruby crown and earrings.

The only question was whether to go minimal or do full makeup on the talent she first met at Comic-Con in 2016. "I love a natural look, too, but I just wanted to go for it," says Inglessis. "We wanted to [make her] a Victorian gothic pagan goddess—I wanted her to walk this red carpet and be fierce and stunning."

Inglessis can consider that mission accomplished. "We wanted for everybody to go ‘Whoa, wow!’ and that’s exactly what happened." Negga’s big, beautiful eyes certainly weren’t lost in the look. The makeup artist built up the color starting with a wash of “earthy, creamy yumminess” on her lids, aka Chanel Illusion D’Ombre Long Wear Luminous Eyeshadow in New Moon ($36), but kept her brow bones and inner corners open and light. She also used just one coat of mascara — black on top and burgundy (Chanel Inimitable Intense Mascara in Rouge Noir, $32) on the bottom to further open.

But it was the actress’ full pout that was the undeniable focal point. "We wanted it to match the headband rubies and the red nail polish more than the dress," says Inglessis, adding that she didn’t want typical red lips, but was looking for a shade “a little more goth, a little more rock ’n’ roll.” It also needed to be matte — "no way I could do a gloss." The formula: Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Rouge Profound all over her lips, and then Chanel Rouge Allure Ink Matte Liquid Lip Color in Expérimenté ($37), which Inglessis applied with a lip brush and then pressed in with her ring finger, "so the color really sinks into the lips."