You can see it from her work, her portfolio, or her Instagram profile: Assia is a woman full of passion and who has made it her life.
Makeup as expression, color as essence, creativity as breathing.
We couldn’t wait to meet her, to know how she likes to play with colors and, above all, to know everything about her famous eyeliners. Makeup artist for some time now, she talked to us in an open and sincere way about body positivity, about what it means to her to be comfortable with her skin, and how the world of beauty should evolve in the future.
Between a tip (which we had never thought of before), lip tints on the eyes, and the must-haves in her kit, Assia (or Donna Assunta) couldn’t but be our September Beauty Cover Story.
What is your earliest beauty memory?
My earliest beauty memory goes back to my childhood and to my mother reflected in the mirror while doing her makeup before going out. I owe my love for makeup and personal care in general to her: she taught me how to take care of myself and my image. My mother has always been the image of the woman who takes care of herself: her eyes would always have a dark liner, and always lipsticks in various colors; and perfect nails with never chipped red nail polish.
What is the first product that touches your skin in the morning?
My cleanser. I’ve tried tons of them, I love feeling my skin fresh and hydrated after cleansing. My favorite one is the Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash by Kiehl’s; it removes makeup and cleanses the skin of impurities; the calming action of calendula soothes and hydrates the skin. I LOVE IT!
“I owe my love for makeup and personal care in general to my mother: she taught me how to take care of myself and my image.”
What keeps you in bed?
A sweet company.
What instead makes you get up in the morning?
Jobs’ call times, which are often at dawn but I love my job so much so that I don’t mind waking up at 5 am to get to set.
What was your first beauty obsession?
Eyeliners. I believe they have always been my obsession. I’ve tried every kind and every price range; I can’t stop myself from wanting to try new ones. I believe that besides being an obsession, it’s a research: I always try new eyeliner’s tips, brushes, and textures; plus, besides thinking that they look good on me, I always try to keep myself updated because I believe that for every eye and manual skill there is the perfect product.
“I believe that besides being an obsession, it’s a research: I always try new eyeliner’s tips, brushes, and textures.”
Your makeup looks are just incredible, and you define yourself as a “creative beauty mind.” How do you decide on the look? Do you follow a precise process? Or you let yourself be inspired by the moment or by a product?
Thank you for the compliment! I can give multiple answers to this question because depending on whom I’m working with/on, I have a very different and personal method of creating the look.
Whenever I do my own makeup, I never think about what I’m doing, I simply try to let myself go without having particular references unless I want to try and give my version of some iconic look, sported by famous people, or that have specific historical references. It is a moment of a total outpouring of my creativity.
If I have to create a look for a photo shoot instead, I love sharing ideas with the creative team. I particularly like to develop makeup/hair mood boards and present them to the team; the exchange of ideas among photographers, directors, stylists, hairstylists, and myself is the first step that leads me to look for the best references for looks’ suggestions.
What’s your relationship with color?
Colors keep me alive. I live out of colors, I’m not about “it’s either black or white,” life is full of shades, I could assign a color to everything, to feelings, to people, to places, and so on.
Color for me is always a new discovery; color for me is science and wonder.
Color for me is a never-ending feeling.
Your favorite texture when speaking of makeup?
I don’t think I have a favorite texture, I guess all makeup textures are my favorite; there are so many and with a multitude of effects that I wouldn’t know how to just pick one. I love super glowy foundations, but at the same time, I love matte foundations and porcelain-like skin. I love makeup all around.
You have many tattoos, including one saying “Passione” [Passion]. Is this what makeup is for you?
Passion is the first ingredient to achieve great things; makeup for me, yes, it is passion, a very strong and uncontrollable passion, it’s a gut feeling, it’s like love. I am a woman with an intense and passionate personality, I could not live any kind of relationship without passion, this is why I got it tattooed.
You’ve told us you like playing with products by using them in ways that are not necessarily what they’ve been created for: what’s the craziest “experiment” you have ever done?
I let myself go crazy quite a lot on set, and also on myself. Once, I did an editorial on the occasion of the moon landing anniversary in collaboration with Giorgio Armani’s historical archive and I had to create “space” effects on the models I had to do the makeup on.
I managed to prepare a body mixture that gave a “lunar” skin effect (like Edward Cullen from “Twilight” when exposed to the sun) with a careful mix of oils and chopped in various cuts pigments: I sprinkled the body of the models, and I was really satisfied with the result, the skin looked crystallized.
For the same set, I also had to create a shimmery glaze – I made it with honey – to pour over the heads of the models. It was really important to have the least liquid texture possible, the research of the material was fundamental in that occasion.
“Passion is the first ingredient to achieve great things.”
How do you take care of yourself? On your social media, you speak a lot of taking care of ourselves and body positivity.
I’ve been always taking care of myself by saving long moments for my esthetic routines in my wellness temple: “THE BATHROOM OF MY HOME.” It’s my favorite place where to take care of my body while listening to music with soft lights: I pamper myself with skin and hair treatments.
When I talk about body positivity, I don’t do it with the usual anti-conformist and feminist terms, I don’t like being political about it, I simply try to express through my images what a normal acceptance of one’s body and diversities should be. I am an aesthete, lover of beauty, but to me, beauty doesn’t limit itself to the concept of normality imposed by the aesthetic canons of our society, to me, many things are beautiful, even those that we call imperfections. An aquiline nose, slight strabismus, Junoesque hips, small breasts are often called aesthetic defects, for me, they are gender peculiarities, the human body is such an interesting work of art…
What does “feeling comfortable in your own skin” mean to you?
This is a delicate question, for me “feeling comfortable in your own skin” means learning not only to take care of it, because the skin is an organ and as such must be treated with respect, without exceeding with invasive treatments but also feeling comfortable in your own skin means acceptance: I realize, as “acne-prone skin,” that it is not very easy to accept what you don’t like; the mirror can be a great enemy of self-esteem, and if some extra makeup can make you feel comfortable, why not? Everyone must feel free to show themselves as they see fit.
I used to wish for perfect skin, then over time I learned to accept my face for what it is, but acceptance is a long and difficult personal journey, it takes willpower, a lot of it. Then I chose to consult expert dermatologists who are helping me to alleviate my skin imperfections. I strongly believe in skincare because it is my job and it is primarily a passion, but I also believe in more authoritative figures such as doctors, who can really cure our skin where skincare, unfortunately, cannot.
“I am an aesthete, lover of beauty, but to me, beauty doesn’t limit itself to the concept of normality imposed by the aesthetic canons of our society, to me, many things are beautiful, even those that we call imperfections.“
“The mirror can be a great enemy of self-esteem, and if some extra makeup can make you feel comfortable, why not? Everyone must feel free to show themselves as they see fit.”
What’s the product on your nightstand?
Lip balm alwayssss!
Your favorite body lotion?
Ritual of Karma by Rituals.
Hair masks. Are you an enthusiast of them? If yes, with what do you pamper your hair?
I’m a huge fan of hair treatment, my best friend is a hairstylist, and she advised me on using Aveda and Davines products.
My favorite mask is the Davines Minu Hair Mask for bleached hair; it has a non-invasive spicy scent and is real restructuring for the hair. I also use the shampoo from the same line. I also use a protective cream from Aveda, the Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair: it helps me a lot to protect my hair from the heat of the blow dryer, plus it is rich in vitamins, so it restructures my hair.
Your favorite combination of face masks?
I don’t quite like combining masks because I prefer using single products every other day: if I use purifying masks, then I use creams and serums to moisturize; if I use nourishing and plumping masks, I generally do it in the evening before going to bed. My favorite masks are Kiehl’s Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque, Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask, and Olehenriksen’s Phat Glow Facial.
Your sunscreen for this summer?
The La Roche Posay 50+ mist, forever and ever.
The makeup products in your bag, and your kit’s must-haves?
Mascara is never missing from my bag; the most recent one I’m really enjoying is the More by Wemakeup. Then there is the Nudissimo Glow by Diego dalla Palma summer light foundation and Cloud Paint by Glossier that I use on cheeks and lips.
The must-have products of my kit…there are many, and I can’t do without any of them (which is why my work kit weighs so much), to name a few: Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage, Face & Body Mac Cosmetics, Charlotte Tilbury’s Pressed Powder, Ysl’s Touche Éclat. I am obsessed with the imperceptibility of makeup in photography, so I often use products of the highest quality.
The last product you’ve said “no” to and the one you said “yes”?
I’ve said no to The Ordinary, specifically to the eye cream with caffeine – the Caffeine Solution Eye Treatment: I had very high expectations because I really like the brand but this product has totally disappointed me; it was almost like it was leaving a thin layer of product on the skin that would then break into small wandering balls around the eye area, especially while applying the concealer. An absolute flop.
A product I said yes to is the Soap Brow, which I have been using for years now, but I must say that before using this eyebrows-fixing product, I was pretty skeptical, now I can say that it is a must-have in my kit.
Which are your favorite brands of the moment? Or the ones you find yourself using a lot?
My favorite brands are many and they are the ones I use more on myself and in my job: Charlotte Tilbury, Laura Mercier, YSL Beauty, Marc Jacobs, Mac Cosmetics, Glossier and many more.
We have had a lot of time to think recently: if you could invent a product which is not on the market yet, what would it be?
To be honest, I wouldn’t add any more products/brands to the market because I believe we have too many makeup and skincare brands by now. I worked for many years in the world of Beauty Luxury Retail and I always felt strong customer disorientation in understanding which product to choose, precisely because there is too much to look at, and the purchase experience for someone with not much experience in the sector can turn into a very stressful moment.
The book on your nightstand?
I’m not a very dedicated reader, but I’m about to commence “Your Erroneous Zones” by Wayne W. Dyer.
The last thing that made you smile?
My one-year-old niece. She makes me smile every day, through her eyes, I’m discovering a whole new world. She truly is funny.
The product at the top of your beauty wish list?
I think the all product range of Danessa Myricks is on my wish list. I haven’t had the chance to try its products yet but in between its textures and pigments, I’m really excited about it.
What do you have too many of?
Eyeshadows. I think I have an unlimited number of eyeshadows in different textures.
A beauty epic fail.
The eyeliner wings done with a stencil. I don’t remember the name of the brand, but they had come up with this sort of stamp, which would draw the wing of the eyeliner with a series of interchangeable stamps to be placed directly on the corner of the eye. A heresy for an obsessed like me.
“I think I have an unlimited number of eyeshadows in different textures.”
What would you like to see, in general, more and more in the beauty industry?
Telling you that I would like to see inclusivity, it would be obvious and now banal, on the contrary, I will tell you, I would really like not to hear this term in the beauty world anymore; the terminology itself outlines inequalities and stereotypes of normality that should not exist. In the world of makeup, I would like to see a brand launching 80 foundation shades without anyone talking about inclusivity because a brand must satisfy the need for all skin tones, even if it is difficult and at times impossible because there is no pigment that it is really the same as human skin. Foundation is an artificial material, the human skin tone is part of nature and it is also impossible to number all the skin tones on the planet.
I would also like to see more meritocracy in my industry, it would be nice for brands to rely more often on real industry experts, people who have been living and working on this since forever. In the era of social media, followers, and numbers, by now I believe that the value of specialized figures has been lost, it would be nice to see brands enhancing professionally trained figures and not just influencers with millions of followers.
What’s the bravest thing you have done?
I’ve done many brave things in my life; every day I feel brave in affirming myself as a person and as a professional, without compromising, rejecting what I don’t like, and learning to say no.
Another of the bravest things I have ever done was traveling alone to Zanzibar and leaving a permanent job with a very famous beauty holding company to pursue the dream of being a freelance makeup artist.