Q & A with Optical Illusion Artist Mimi Choi

Vancouver-based makeup artist Mimi Choi is well-known for her hyperreal optical illusion art.  Her vivid, visually striking looks mind-bend and trick you into thinking you’re seeing things that aren’t actually there—with no ounce of photoshop used. Most of her looks are inspired by her hallucinations during her sleep paralysis.

Along with over one million followers on Instagram, Choi’s illusion makeup art has debuted on celebrities—namely Shay Mitchell and Ezra Miller’s makeup look at the 2019 Met Gala.

I got to speak with Choi about her beginnings, inspiration and behind the Met Gala look.

MM: What introduced you to the makeup industry?

MC: I was a preschool teacher for three years and I actually changed my career at age 28. I was feeling quite burnt out and I love children—I still do—but my creativity was suppressed in a way. One day my mom asked me if I was going to be happy being a preschool teacher for the rest of my life, and that question made me think and I decided to look at other options.

I wanted to take a year off to explore my other passions, so I quit my job and went to school [at Blanche Macdonald] in less than seven days. I changed my whole life in less than seven days. It was scary but as soon as I started picking up brushes and doing makeup I realized it opened up another side of my brain that I didn’t know existed before. I didn’t know I could ever be that creative, I had no art background at all. Doing makeup throughout the year and learning different fundamentals and techniques kind of got me interested in doing illusion makeup. That started in Halloween 2013 when I started exploring creative makeup.

I did a cracked face look using two different eye liners. I posted it on social media and it kind of went viral and people starting pinning it on Pinterest and recreating it. It motivated me to keep exploring the style and if I use more eyeshadow next time, maybe blend the edges a bit more, trying to improve from my last piece. Every time I do a look, all I want to do is progress and improve as an artist.

If I can do illusion makeup, then I can do any beauty or fashion or glam makeup easily because illusion makeup is difficult. It was a hobby and as I started posting these looks on social media, [my looks] went viral. I didn’t know people would embrace and love this style. As I kept exploring, I got invited to do magazine cover shoots or work on different models and clients. Later, I got invited to teach master classes overseas. I’m grateful that I got to turn a hobby of mine into a job.

MM: So you didn’t expect this level of success it would become?

MC: Yes. I feel thankful that it did. Everything I did was never for fame, money or success, it’s a bonus. Every piece that I do comes from the heart—I don’t think about if people like it. If I get satisfaction from it, I feel like the world will adapt to it just because people see that it comes from within.

I think that’s how people get inspired because they can see how I could change my path at age 28. I’m 34 now and in only five years it could progress into something like this, it’s possible for a lot of people. You only live once. It doesn’t hurt to try something new.  

MM: How long does each look take?

MC: Average is about five hours. The least an illusion would take would be two hours, the most would be around ten hours. It depends on what kind of look at how intricate things are.

MM: What else inspires your looks?

MC: It comes from everything—paintings, architecture, music, photoshopped art—and I think to myself can I replicate this in makeup?

I’ve had sleep paralysis since I was four and I hallucinate in my sleep paralysis. [It’s like] you’re trapped in your sleeping body. Your mind is awake and your body is asleep and you can’t move. I see a lot of scary visions- people with no faces, lots of eyes, trying to suffocate me, shadows standing by the door, hovering over me, and chopped faces.

It wasn’t until a few years ago I remember I saw spiders crawling all over my room during my hallucination. It was hundreds of spiders and I knew it was not real. When I see it, I see the details vividly and for some reason, I had this idea to paint the spider on my lips when I woke up.

I’m going to face my fear and paint it out because I see it so clearly. As I painted it out I realized I don’t dream about them anymore, that makeup kind of heals me. I use my fear now as a motivation. Every class that I teach, people always say how do you sound so confident? No, it’s still scary for me.

Doing this as a career now is very scary, but I search for fear in everything that I do because fear means I’m progressing as a human. Fear is definitely a factor that motivates me and my sleep paralysis adds to my art, and it happens for a reason. That’s what makes me the unique person that I am today.

MM: What was your inspiration for Ezra Miller’s makeup look at this year’s Met Gala?

MC: When Ezra called me, he talked about his concept and that he was going to have a prosthetic mask and wanted to show the different layers of his personality of himself for the Camp theme and he brought up the idea that he liked eyes, and brought up a look—the kaleidoscope face—which was exactly the same vision that I had for him prior to our conversation. It was cool that our visions aligned because we didn’t have time for a trial.

I changed up the patterns of the eyes and we decided to take out the lines. We actually changed the idea at two in the morning, the morning of the Met Gala.

MM: Which celebrity or artist would you love to collaborate with?

MC: I’d love to work with Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, Rihanna, or Beyonce. I like to work with people that are very open-minded and being able to work with Ezra was cool because he’s down-to-earth, creative, open-minded, and we just clicked right off the bat.

MM: What are you hoping the reactions are when people see your work for the first time?

MC: I don’t really think about reactions. I hope it inspires some to be more like themselves. People are very fearful of revealing their true selves and afraid of people judging them. I hope that by showcasing my artwork, my alter-egos, and different sides of myself, I allow people to keep exploring their passions and try something new. You only live once and I feel that a lot of people are blocked by their fear and their living their life according to other people’s expectations.

Photos contributed.



Beauty Trends of the Ages

Whether you like the minimal look, or are an artist whose canvas is your face, we have all tried tricks and fads to make our skin clear, our eyes bright, and our lips plump. We are delving into beauty tips from the past and here are some of our fave picks, plus some of the most outrageous, and what you can do instead(!)


Bette Davis – Petroleum Eyes 

If you’ve ever heard the Kim Carnes song (and if you haven’t go listen to it now) you may wonder what exactly “Bette Davis Eyes” are. The contentious actress, while not known for having the sharp cheekbones or petite nose of other famous starlets, was prized for her large and soulful doe eyes. Her trick? Cucumber slices and petroleum jelly under her eyes to combat dark circles and puffiness. Personally, I use petroleum jelly religiously under my eyes and on my eyelashes to keep them plump, but if you have sensitive skin or don’t want to go to sleep feeling greasy, sleep with an extra pillow to keep your head elevated and prevent blood from pooling around your eyes. This can affect a small change and make your morning eyes look brighter and less puffy.


Joan Crawford – Ice Bath

Crawford was one of those Hollywood stars who, when you watch their old movies, looks like their skin practically glows. While we may attribute this to the soft edges of old-school camera lenses, she had her own routine for youthful and glowing skin – the star splashed her face 25 times with ice water every morning. Don’t have time to incorporate this into your already long morning routine but still want that perfect skin? Opt for a cool facecloth instead, with the dual benefits of making your pores smaller, which will make it harder for makeup and dirt to get trapped in them, as well as tightening your skin over time and allowing toners and creams to hold better on your skin. There is probably no better way to feel awake in the morning than icy revenge on your hangover from last night.


Sophia Loren – Bathing in Oil

Smooth, glowing, baby-soft skin is something most ladies aspire to have. Forget beauty standards, but there are few things that feel better than just-out-of-the-shower-freshly-shaved-legs. That feeling can disappear as soon as it comes, but Sophia Loren knew how to keep her skin looking perfect: bathing with olive oil. Although it seems the kitchen is always making its way into our bathrooms with cucumber slices and coconut oil, it may be a step too far to coat our tubs in olive oil! Don’t risk a slippery accident and achieve the same effect by exfoliating your legs with a body scrub and moisturising while your skin is still damp (so it’s prepped to soak in the moisture). If you really want those film-ready legs, rubbing a small amount of real Argan oil on them before donning your favourite dress will keep them feeling soft and looking defined.

Through all these fads and tricks we try just so we can look picture perfect, the best beauty advice every woman should live by comes from my style icon, Audrey Hepburn: “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

Images via Wikipedia
1- Studio portrait of Bette Davis (1940)- Alexander Kahle for RKO Radio
2- Joan Crawford in 1928- George Grantham Bain collection at the Library of Congress
3- Publicity photo of Sophia Loren 1954

French Girl Beauty Secrets: Tips To Look Parisian Pretty

We talk with French Youtuber Estelle Fitz on all things makeup


MM : Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Estelle: Yes, of course! my name is Estelle Fitz, I am 22 years old and I have spent the last 4 years making videos on Youtube, specialising in make-up. As an actress, I also do auditions for movies and TV shows. I went to a movie school in Paris called 'Le laboratoire de l’Acteur d ‘Hélène Zidi' (The laboratory of the Actor Hélène Zidi) which was an amazing experience. I would also say that I am extroverted person; lively, and a real dreamer!

MM : How would you define French Beauty?

Estelle: The French style is essentially wearing almost no makeup at all. A little bit of black mascara, some blush on the cheeks, and then, of course, the masterpiece, red lipstick. The concept is quite the opposite of me (laughs).


MM : What do you think about the actual make-up industry in France?

Estelle: I love our makeup industry because it has become an art; we dare to do lots of things and we really have more fun than before.

MM : What are the big trends in make-up for 2018?

Estelle: For 2018, it's all about highlighter! I think we will be choosing the product which highlights the most, the one we can really see in photos. This trend will be the biggest one, which really we started to see in 2017. I am also very attracted to a new colour trend- I can see that colours like pink or blue have been used on eyebrows, and this is so interesting and fun. I'm pretty sure I will give it a try, why not?


MM : Could you define your favourite makeup style?

Estelle: I love doing make-up that we can really see. I always use a black eyeliner, I accentuate my eyes instead of my lips. I try to use all the colours I can; pink, black, green even violet. I have fun with all the tints I can play with.

MM : Could you give us some tips? For example, to make eyes look bigger?

Estelle: I use a white pencil in the inner lower eyelid, it is really pretty.

MM : To slim a face?

Estelle: Contouring is the foundation base! I use it on the hollow of my cheeks

MM : To match eyeshadows to your hair, eyes, or skin tone?

Estelle: To me, brown colour matches everyone’s eyes, skin colour and hair. It is a tint which matches everything.


MM : What are your favorite brands?

Estelle: I love the 'Better Than Sex' mascara from Too Faced. It gives me so much volume on my eyelashes. Lately, I have been using 'Power Fabric Foundation' from Giorgio Armani. It lasts all day long and has a beautiful matte finish. I am not a big fan of lipstick, I don’t wear it so much, but I can say that Kylie Jenner’s lipsticks are wonderful.

MM : What kind of makeup can match with a red lip makeup?

Estelle: I would say a very matte makeup in a beige tint, with some bronzer on the face.

MM : What kind of skincare do you recommend? What is your skincare routine?

Estelle: To be honest, I don’t have a set skincare routine. The most important is to always remove your make-up before going to sleep, whenever it is, and to drink a lot of water. I would recommend using moisturising cream made specially for your type of skin.

Thank you Estelle for your beauty insights. MM readers, which of these French Beauty tips are you going to take away?


Check out Estelle's Youtube channel So Urban Girl here...



This week Deciem opens its first Vancouver location

Deciem, a self proclaimed 'abnormal' beauty company is known for their word-of-mouth marketing. I’d heard about the company from one of the blogs I follow, and only noticed that they were opening a Vancouver store solely because I pass the storefront on my daily walk to work. With some investigation, the only marketing I found on the store opening was a single Instagram post casually announcing the opening date, and a small note on the Locations page of their website. With little to no marketing on the opening, I was surprised to find that when I arrived mere hours after they opened their doors Deciem was packed with a line that wrapped around the store.



Perusing their many products, I felt pretty overwhelmed. No idea what Superoxide Dismutase Saccharide Mist is, or how I was supposed to apply Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane. I had entered into a new world! It was clear the customers were hyped, the store was a buzz with conversations on skincare and people gushing about their favorite products. With all employees dutifully attending the many customers, I decided that I needed to run back to my laptop and do some more research on Deciem and what it had to offer.

In their own words, Deciem is an umbrella of brands focused on advanced functional beauty. From a new-comers perspective I see Deciem as a sort of modular beauty company. They are ten unique brands under the parent company, Deciem. From their line of beauty supplements called Fountain to a line of cleansing conditioners called Hif, to one of their most popular brands, The Ordinary. Each brand carries an array of unique products targeted to a certain beauty niche. Personally,  I've added one of The Ordinary’s cold pressed oils to my nightly facial regimen.


To my understanding, The Ordinary has essentially deconstructed serums to specific key ingredients that you may see in popular brands. Instead of giving them, catchy names, they simply tell you what's in it. Finding what you're looking for requires a little more digging than you might be used to. For those who are overwhelmed, they have this really helpful guide that can be found here. If you’re looking for a more personal touch, customer service reps will also talk with you and help you find the perfect products for your skin via email or in the store.

So, Who is Deciem for?

Deciem is for the person who wants to take their beauty products into their own hands. The way the company is structured, you need to put in at least some effort into finding out what product is right for you. It definitely takes a little more than just reading the bottle, or finding the 'Dry Skin' label. Overall you can't beat the prices of most of the products and the simplicity allows you to mix-and-match with whatever works for you. Personally, I’m excited to have this brand nearby to keep in my arsenal as I continue on my own personal skincare journey.

What are your thoughts on skincare and beauty? Are you interested in knowing the specifics of your beauty regime, or are you more of a 'if it works, it works' type of person?

Photo Credit @Deciem on Instagram and http://deciem.com


Embrace your inner artist


Taking inspiration from the Vancouver Fashion Week's Spring Summer 18 runway we spotted a new makeup trend – coloured brushstrokes. From the likes of Dania Shinkar, Krow, and Profanity by LillzKillz, these designers completed their looks with a rich make-up palette of vibrant tones and chalky pastels.


Applying vibrant hues to your visage creates a modern look, and used in subtle ways can really enhance your makeup. We suggest a sweep of a plain flat colour across the lid. Use lightly and wear with plain monochrome outfits; minimal white and black will really emphasise the pops of colour. You could even create a simple twist on your favourite look with a bright coloured liquid eyeliner— like blue or purple — instead of your staple black.

If you’re looking to switch up your style and renew your makeup, try something a little different and get inspired by colour. Add a touch of vibrancy to your palette!