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Mukundwa uses make-up to tell real-life stories



MAKE-UP artists are some of the most underrated people in showbiz, yet they make their clients receive generous compliments for their looks.


Chipo Mukundwa, Zimbabwe’s leading make-up artist, says mattying primer and finish spray are two most important components of make-up. 

The 30-year-old, popularly known as Chichi Mua, came tops at the recently held Zaron Battle of the Make-Up Artists. Chichi is revered for using make-up to tell compelling real-life stories, be it sad or happy ones.

“When I do make-up looks, I get inspiration from different make-up artists from other countries and different people,” Chichi tells The NewsHawks

“Most of the time, the looks that I do end up telling stories that touch different issues and people and it actually amazes me that I will just have an idea of a look and when I am done it brings out a powerful storyline. 

“Two most important components for me is the face mattifying primer and finish spray; without these I feel like make is just make up.”

The holder of an ITEC diploma in Beauty Therapy, Chichi says she was shocked after winning the Zaron Battle Of The Make Up Artists.

The competition was done to bring together all the make-up artists throughout Zimbabwe to showcase and, above all, introduce the Zaron Cosmetic line in the country.

“Make-up can sure transform — we can’t say ugly — but it does a great job in enhancing the features a person has in a more than extraordinary way. It is so amazing what make-up can do,” she says. 

“The demand for make-up is going up because for every event our clients are having they come in for make-up, be it weddings, photoshoots, birthdays etc, clients both male and female come in for make-up. Also, people come in asking for special effect make-up for themed photoshoots.”

And her winning look depicted gender-based violence in more ways than one.

“We were given a mystery box which had an eyeshadow palette, concealer, setting spray, foundation, eyelash glue and eyelashes. That was all and we had to do a whole look with those few things and this look just came into my head and it came out with a GBV (gender-based violence) storyline. As a person who has been through GBV, it meant a lot to me,” she said.

Indeed, creating the GBV look meant she had to get personal and draw lessons from her upbringing.

“Growing up, I wanted to be a surgeon, that time I was with my father, now late, and my stepmother and, believe me, life was not rosy.

“So I grew up wanting to be the best in all that I wanted to do, but then I realised that I had a lot of passion in dance after watching the Black Swan ballet movie. For me that was a game changer. I got into the art industry and I am still in it.”

Soon after her Ordinary Levels, she went straight into professional dance, undergoing a Dance Foundation Course at the National Ballet of Zimbabwe in Avondale.

After graduating, she was then employed with Tumbuka Dance Company where she worked for three to four years.

“I had to stop after suffering a stroke, which really ended my dance career and this led me to working as a housemaid in South Africa for four months before pursuing a career as a make-up artist.

“In 2019, I had the privilege of being a special effect make-up artist in one of Tsitsi Dangarembga’s short films on gender-based violence.

“Last year, I had the privilege of working with Guspy Warrior on his two music videos and this year Killer T on his music video as well and I pray for more major projects to come my way,” she says.

While Chichi seems to have it going on for her, she has had to face challenges like every make-up artist, especially after the world went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Business literally came to a standstill and every appointment was cancelled although I had bills to pay.

“Besides the pandemic, I feel that clients really undermine or should I say most of them think that make-up is just something simple and should be very cheap.

“Make-up brings the whole look together and really brings out the beauty of our dear clients.
“I usually get appointments cancelled without any form of communication and I lose out because of change in schedules without prior notice. Products I use are very expensive and sometimes hard to find,” she said.

Asked why make-up is expensive, Chichi says it was akin to a makeover which involves creativity and lots of products.

“Make-up is expensive because of the kind of products we use for just one look. Nowadays as make-up artists we do not just do make-up.

“Personally, I start with a mini facial wash then a facial mask I use for different reasons depending with the client’s skin type and what it needs.

“After all this, I then do make-up, it is more than a makeover, it is an experience on its own and we do charge for all of that.

“I also use original products of which a lot of times I travel to South Africa to buy them when they’re on special so that i do make-up that is more than satisfying to my clients. Original products always bring out perfect make-up that lasts,” Chichi said.

She said for lady the must-haves include primer, setting spray, foundation, mattifying/compact powder, eye-shadow pallet, concealer, set of brushes, beauty blender,2/3 lip stains, gloss and a mirror as basics for make-up.

But does Chichi have what it takes to make in the cut-throat industry where only Zimbabwe’s Jackie Mgido made it to Hollywood?

“As a make-up artist I refuse to remain ordinary. I refuse to be a make-up artist for weddings and photoshoots only. I want to be in the Hollywood movie industry, I want to be in the high-end fashion shows in France, Italy and all over the world doing make-up,” she said.

“What really inspires me or should I say what pushes me is how I grew up it wasn’t easy at all. I always remember asking myself if I was ever going to be someone known for something in my life.

“So looking back at where I came from and where I am today keeps me pushing because I have not yet really felt that I have arrived so that hunger of wanting to reach my goal and the best for my son’s life makes me push more!”

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