The first time Mally Roncal did makeup for Beyoncé, it was unplanned. “It was literally just a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants kind of situation, which turned out to be very much a Beyoncé signature makeup look,” Roncal tells us. She’s, of course, talking about the iconic 2003 album cover for “Dangerously in Love,” in which Beyoncé is wearing a diamond top and little else. If you’ve ever wondered how her skin was as luminous as the dazzling top, we’ve got the inside scoop.
This look helped define makeup and ushered in a time of pulling back a bit “and just embracing the true beauty of someone’s skin face structure,” says Roncal. The photo is so iconic that it’s hanging in the Smithsonian Museum. A fun fact: Tina Knowles, Beyoncé’s mom, brought the diamond-encrusted top and a handful of options for bottoms. However, Beyoncé just wanted to wear jeans, so the photographer grabbed a pair of his, which is what she’s wearing in the photo.
Roncal has many backstage stories like this from that special day. Here, she tells us how she created this timeless look on Queen B herself and how her years working with the star helped inform Mally Beauty.
Beyoncé barely had foundation on
The first thing Roncal recalls noticing about Beyoncé is that her skin “was so incredibly flawless.” As a result, she barely used foundation on her for this look. “She was so beautiful. I didn’t want to cover any of that up,” says Roncal. “I always love really just bringing out how incredibly beautiful she is. That actually kind of helped me to rethink what makeup is.” Although Roncal notes that she’s an ‘80s girl at heart and loves doing full glam, she knows that not every occasion calls for it.
“A big philosophy I have is that we don’t have to wear foundation like it’s wall-to-wall carpeting,” she says. So, in this case, Roncal just used a hydrating foundation in a few spots as needed.” I think that’s a much more modern way to approach makeup instead of what we used to do, which is like, erase it and then put it back on.”
When it comes to this look, Roncal believes it was iconic because “it was her. It was her skin, her eyes, her lips.” Rather than piling a ton of makeup on from the jump, Roncal likes to apply thin layers of different textures “that work in concert with each other to really give you a very natural, healthy look.”
The look involved tons of skin care
“So with that look, it was, of course, all about the skin, so it was all about hydrating and moisturizing the skin,” says Roncal. In an ideal world, when timing aligns, she likes to do a 30-minute skin-care routine, which also involves a massage, with her clients that helps calm and prepare skin for prime makeup application.
There was a bit of powder
Roncal grew up using a ton of powder, but she’s since dialed it back, saying it even became “a big no-no” for her after realizing it’s not necessary to obtain the desired look. She used very little powder makeup on Beyoncé for this photoshoot. “It was only in areas that we needed it, so in between the eyebrows, very little underneath the eyes to avoid creepiness, always in these little pools of oil on either side of the nose, and a little bit on the chin, but leaving the rest of the skin to look healthy and glowy.”
She created the Poreless Face Defender ($45) for her celebrity clients as an easy way to mattify the skin without the side effects of translucent powder. “The things that I didn’t have as a celebrity makeup artist I needed to make,” says Roncal. For a while, she was making them in her kitchen and on set, but it eventually grew into Mally Beauty. She recalls making a liquid body bronzer for Beyoncé’s “Baby Boy” music video. “I literally made it in my home in my blender and carried it in a bottle to the set.”
Roncal feels highlighter use has gotten out of hand these days, likening some people’s looks to that of the Tin Man, but she was one of the original artists on the trend. “I didn’t have highlighter because there weren’t any on the market. So I made that highlighter by crushing up eyeshadows and pigments,” says Roncal. “I literally created that highlighter that’s on her face in the corners of her eyes, on the nose, all of that.” You get the glow by highlighting the right areas, not by doing a full face of highlighter, she notes.
Beyoncé’s eyebrows have a light, glowy sheen to them in the photo. At the time, brow gels were often thick and dried very matte, but Roncal was determined to give the star glossier brows. She used a MAC Lipglass ($21) on Beyoncé’s brows and combed it through with a brush to keep them pulling light and looking shiny.
“That’s the thing that I love about makeup, to be able to put things in places they’re not necessarily meant to be, and that’s how the happy accidents happen,” says Roncal. “I remember her going, ‘What are you doing?” And I was like, ‘Trust me. We’re just going to go for it.’”
“Eyeliner, to me, is obviously super important in this photo. We did a very thin liner—we did some tight lining. Keeping the eyeliner thin is really important, especially in a photograph. You want to look bright and fresh,” says Roncal. She knows plenty of people are drawn to thick liner, but it’s not always the best look since it doesn’t help make your eyes look any more open, she notes.
“I always call it two holes in a bedsheet when they take black eyeliner and go all around the eyes really thick,” she says. “The idea is a nice thin line close to the lash line, buried deep within the lashes. So your lashes look thicker, and it defines your lash line, but it doesn’t overtake your lash line.”
Beyoncé’s lips are a focal point of this makeup look. Roncal says she was going for glossy, healthy-looking lips. She says, “lip liner can be your best friend when it comes to defining your lips, making your lip shine, making your lips look healthy.” No surprise, Roncal made the lip gloss Beyoncé is wearing. “It was just a beautiful soft caramel, no shimmer in it, completely matte, beautiful high gloss that really gave the lips a beautiful shine.” Roncal also tapped a bit of the gloss on Beyoncé’s cheeks.