Elsa Rhae

Professional Creative

NYX FACE Awards 2015

Elsa RhaeComment

This is my experience with the NYX FACE Awards 2015! I have been looking everywhere for some kind of documentation of events as this process unfolds. I've never entered in or followed the NYX FACE Awards so I've been completely in the dark about the entire process! As you read, keep in mind that I'm a visual artist, not a literary one, so my words and punctuation might be a little silly.  For those of you who are copletely new to the NYX FACE AWARDS 2015: 


The entry phase of the competition is pretty open ended; rules being that contestants are not permitted to show products and brand names of companies other than NXX Cosmetics (These rules were not strictly enforced this year, as two Top 30 contestants made the cut after displaying non-NYX brand names. Very talented girls none the less), but using NYX products also didn't make entrants more likely to be selected. I chose to create a tutorial using the medium I know, PAINT, and zero NYX products. I didn't have many NYX Products. I uploaded my tutorial (watch the video here!) on the last day of submission, Friday, May 8th. For this round, I thankfully didn't have to scrounge for votes, as NYX employees chose the contestants. No date or time was mentioned as to when they'd announce the Top 30, so my Saturday, Sunday and Monday were full of eager and impatient clicks to the NYX FACE Awards website. Around 2pm CST on Monday the 11th of May, I received a call from a California area code.

"Hi, Elsa! My name is, Sarah, calling from NYX Cosmetics! I wanted to personally call to let you know that you've been selected as one of the Top 30 contestants in the NYX FACE Awards!"

What an awesome feeling it was to receive that call, though I still had no idea what it meant! Later that night I received an e-mail from the NYX crew asking me to provide them with some basic information including my shirt and shoe size and that they would be sending me a "HUGE" box of goodies. Turned out that "HUGE" was quite the understatement. 


Only 2/3 of all the products could fit in this photo!

Only 2/3 of all the products could fit in this photo!

The first challenge box came on Wednesday, May 13th, just 2 short days after the Top 30 announcement. I had just walked in the door from a meeting when the UPS man came to my door with a box so big he had to set it inside my house for me! My goal was to make the first unboxing video of the 2015 competition (ask me why and I'll have no answer for you) and I had only 3 hours until a face paint gig. Not only did I make the first NYX FACE Awards unboxing video of 2015, but I also made the fastest unboxing video because those things can get boring QUICK! Watch the video here!

Products included many of NYX's new palettes, liners, etc., as well as products I didn't know NYX even sold. This entire competition is such a brilliant marketing technique. I didn't know NYX sold brushes or eyelashes, but now I do and so do the 30k+ people who follow my work! Products not shown are Redkin hair products, LuLu's jewelry, ghd hair tools, Clarisonic Mia 2, and a $50 gift card from Target! 

While I am blown away by the generosity of these sponsors, there is absolutely NO way for me to keep all of this for myself (BOOM another great marketing strategy by NYX). To my family and my best of friends I have given away a few products already, but for those of you who I have not personally met, I will be hosting some killer giveaways this Halloween season for ELSAWEEN! Stay tuned!


The first challenge, Timeless Beauty, was announced on Friday, May 15th. NYX uploaded a video of Charisma Star explaining the challenge and also sent out an e-mail with more details, including a mood board filled with images of Timeless Beauties. NYX's ideas of Timeless Beauty were lovely and classic, but MAN, I don't do lovely and classic. I immediately began thinking of ways to separate myself from the competition while keeping my look timeless, beautiful and still true to my personal style. From this point on, the competition was judged by popular vote and my social media popularity was(is) of the lowest in the entire competition! Ideas swarmed my mind for days and finally, I settled on Psychedelic 60s. 

I was searching for 60's makeup pictures on the internet and happened to come across some posters from Woodstock. After further research, the recurring colors, sunshine and melty patterns really interested me and I began practicing techniques to apply the poster themes to my own body. With no real painting experience besides the looks I've done on myself, it came as a great challenge. Drawing melting liquid on paper is one thing, trying to draw it backwards on my face and chest took it to a whole new level. I had so many patterns and layouts plaguing my brain and every time I would sit down to practice, a new design element would turn up. 

After many trials and many errors, my final look was created with nearly 36 hours of work over a 3 day period. I'm one of those people who excel in last minute, high pressure situations. Watch my Challenge 1 video here! 

Psychedelic 60's 

Psychedelic 60's 

Voting period lasted 2 weeks.  On Friday the 29th, the polls closed and another long, newsless weekend ensued. The following Monday around 2pm CST, I received an e-mail stating I had made it into the Top 20! All Top 20 finalists received the same e-mail and the 10 contestants not moving forward also received e-mails.


A Shiba Inu for size reference

A Shiba Inu for size reference

Not one, but 2 giant boxes were sent to the Top 20. Boxes came 2 short days after the announcement! Something that doesn't seem to have been done until this year was that even the 10 who didn't make the next round also received 1 big box. I like that--good on you NYX! Unboxing videos bore the crap out of me so for this second unboxing opportunity I wanted to think outside.. the box.. and chose to create a stop motion video using some of the different products inside. Products this round included some random, awesome gifts from Target like bed sets, a blanket, a towel, room decor and a $100 gift card! We received shoes, accessories, earbud headphones, a hair straightener and you guessed it--MORE MAKEUP.  Watch my Top 20 unboxing animation below!


It wasn't till Friday that we heard the challenge theme for the second round. Living in the US Central time zone eats me alive, as I wait and wait until what seems like the end of the day for any news! The challenge was announced sometime around noon PST and my heart exploded at the news. This challenge was so much more fitting for my line of work than a beauty challenge and I immediately began researching. First thing that came to my head was "aliens". I thought, crap! I can't do aliens--everyone will do aliens! I asked around trying to figure out what my friends and family thought when they heard the words, "paranormal activity", and to my surprise most of them said ghosts. Ah yes, the Paranormal Activity movies. Some of pop culture's most popular thrillers filled with endless amounts of cheese and slow moving suspense. Not a fan. I google searched the meaning and came to find that "paranormal" means something along the lines of "that which cannot be explained by science". I toyed around with the idea of creating an emaciated zombie monster with a broken jaw. My practice attempts were sweet, but it wasn't really reading the stereotypical paranormal vibe. The day before filming, I went to get in my car to buy some last minute props and found an unwelcome spider had built a terrifyingly beautiful web from my steering wheel to the driver seat (I park outside). My boyfriend helped relocate the spider to the grass and the web was broken. 

This spider stayed in my mind all day. Since I was young I've always had weird feelings about spiders. They're fast and creepy, but they're also so outrageously unusual, misunderstood and we've been socially conditioned to fear them. I once had a spider that lived on my bedroom ceiling. He would disappear in the day, but at night I would always see him sitting there on the ceiling. I named him and told him he could live there as long as I didn't catch him on the walls. 3 or 4 days later, he broke our agreement and was terminated. Spiders are so alien looking to me (..and so are elephants!) and what compels me appreciate them most is the fascinating geometrical shapes they create with their webs. Can you create a symmetrical, geometric compilation of string hundreds of times larger than your size? More than likely, no, yet we're so eager to fear these small beings that can! I continued visualizing my emaciated zombie monster until the next morning (filming day) when I thought again about the spider and the beautiful web in my car...*gasp*... ARACHNOPHOBIA.

If you can tell me that this kind of humanoid spider jaw can be explained by science, lets talk. Until then, I claim this as some freaky paranormal activity! Voting period came and went and on Monday, July 6th, I received the e-mail at 1:30 CST stating:

CONGRATS! You have made it to the next round of our 4th Annual NYX FACE Awards 2015!

Lots of butterflies and screaming happened in the first hour after hearing the news. I thought it'd be a miracle to make the Top 20. Top 12 was extra credit and I did it! The support from my friends and family was absolutely incredible and I felt like the worlds greatest champion, that is until several hours later when NYX posted the list of the Top 12 contestants. I'm well aware I'm one of the smallest artists in the competition, but that doesn't mean my heart doesn't ping with a little sadness at the sight of the rest of the competitors and their followers' groupie posts and hashtags. It's an odd phenomenon feeling the wonderful, physical support from my real life friends and family, while lacking the digital support of followers in a competition that solely relies on such. But hey, I FREAKING DID IT. Now it's time to relax and have a little fun.

...To be continued!