Chances are pretty high that you’ve seen self-taught makeup artist Annie Thomas while scrolling through your “For You” page on TikTok. Since the beginning of last year, Thomas has accumulated over a million followers for her ability to make beloved cartoon characters — from Shrek to Miss Piggy to Edna Mode — come to life through makeup.
Thomas’s rise to fame began with a cosplay look that went viral. “I originally started my Instagram to practice special effects makeup [after] being inspired by FaceOff on SYFY, but I randomly decided to do a cosplay of the character Cynthia from Rugrats,” Thomas tells Allure. “That post tripled my following at the time, so I switched my focus to mainly cartoons and cosplays.” It helped that mega-popular YouTube makeup artist Nikkie de Jager shared Thomas’s page on Snapchat. Since then, Thomas has posted hundreds of cartoon-inspired looks across social media, racking up over 15.8M likes.
While Thomas says she doesn’t map out a step by step process before jumping into a new creation, she does have a general process down pat. “I typically start out by gluing down my eyebrows and applying a bald cap, this helps me visualize myself as a flat surface without any details to distract me,” Thomas tells Allure. “Then I do the full sketch of the character using eyeshadow so that I can perfect the dimensions before I start painting, then I fill everything in. It just takes practice at manipulating lines to make them appear to be drawn on a flat surface, but that challenge is the fun part!”
After years of practice, each look takes Thomas anywhere between three and five hours with her longest look (Boo from Monsters Inc.) taking 12 hours. There’s no dress rehearsing for Thomas; the looks you see on her TikTok page are one and done. “Everything is a first attempt for me. I just keep going until I’m happy with it. Once I’ve put four hours into a look, I figure ‘might as well put an extra two hours in to get it right,'” Thomas tells Allure. “I guess I just never go in thinking that a second attempt is an option. I’m also a soul-crushing perfectionist so I feel that I would be more disappointed in myself for giving up.”
In order to make her creative vision a reality, Thomas’s go-to is Mehron paints. “I pretty much exclusively use Mehron paints which don’t affect my skin much at all,” says Thomas. “Usually paint can really clog your pores and cause you to break out.” To take off her makeup, Thomas uses Clean It Zero 3-in-1 Cleansing Balm by Banila Co to melt away the most stubborn face paint and makeup. After she takes the makeup off, Thomas says she always uses Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair serum followed by Confidence In A Cream by IT Cosmetics to keep her skin hydrated.
Removing her makeup has become part of her TikTok aesthetic too: Thomas posts videos taking off her makeup which she says provide a sense of closure for both her and the viewers. As she explains: “I’m so glad that I have more to show for my looks besides just a photo; it makes the taking off process less depressing after spending hours on them.”
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Originally Appeared on Allure