Issa Rae's Diamond Grills Took Her Emmys Glam to the Next Level

As per usual, she's keeping things very Black.

Issa Rae
Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

Looking flawless on the red carpet is light work for someone like Issa Rae. But for the 2021 Emmy Awards, the actress and producer decided to kick things up a notch — and I mean, after nearly two years of quarantine and virtual award shows, why not?

Rae went with her go-to glam team for tonight's show: hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood, who gave the star a slicked-back braided updo, as well as makeup artist Joanna Simkin, whose known to create the prettiest soft makeup looks for the Insecure creator. And despite giving Rae a beautiful, bold purple eye, she still somehow managed to do just that.

"The best way to keep a bold eye soft is to blend out the edges using loose translucent powder, so the color washes out to the skin tone with no hard edges," Simkin shares exclusively with InStyle. "It's such a fun trick to allow your eye to still be the main focal point of the look, without it being overpowering or harsh."

And believe it or not, Simkin did it all using drugstore products.

Issa Rae

Simkin began by prepping Rae's skin with e.l.f.'s Holy Hydration! Eye Cream and Face Cream with SPF 30, followed by the brand's best-selling Poreless Putty Primer. Next, she applied e.l.f.'s Camo CC Cream and Flawless Brightening Concealer to even out the star's skin tone.

The makeup artist then added dimension to the cheeks using e.l.f.'s Putty Bronzer and Putty Blush.

Rae's show-stopping purple eyes were created by blending the makeup brand's Liquid Metallic Eyeshadow in SuperNova and the Bite Size Eyeshadow Palette in Acai You.

The look was finished off with two generous coats of e.l.f.'s Big Mood Mascara and the Lip Plumping Gloss in Mauve Lady, which actually isn't what Simkin originally had in mind, but still worked out perfectly.

"I did do a last minute change from a deeper berry lip to glossy mauve lip, but otherwise the look came out exactly as I envisioned when I started," she says.

VIDEO: How to Watch the 2021 Emmy Awards

As for what inspired Rae's stunning glam? Simkin wanted to play up the star's glittery Aliétte gown.

"I ran my idea by her when I saw the dress — it felt very Studio 54 to me, and a pop of bold color felt like the way to go," the makeup artist says. "She loved it. She's always open to me trying new glam ideas."

But the grills? That was all Rae. "She loves a grill, and this was such a perfect moment for some of that added bling," adds Simkin.

Emmy Best Beauty 2021
Getty Images

With outside being (sort of) open, it's only fair that we share a few hacks on how to create Rae's soft, yet bold glam right at home. The first step? Making sure your skin is thoroughly quenched.

"Starting with extremely hydrated skin is key for the overall glow," Simkin shares. "e.l.f. Holy Hydration Face Cream is an amazing start for skin prep. Using a fluffy blending brush is another key to the look — buff out the edges of your colorful shadow using loose translucent powder, while using a dense flat brush to pack the color on the lid, close to the lash line where it will look bold."

Then voilà.

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