Rainey Qualley

Beauty Test: Indie Songstress Rainsford Models Spring's 3 Biggest Makeup Trends

Welcome to our series, Beauty Test, where we invite the freshest faces to the Byrdie studio to test-drive the most buzzed-about beauty trends—or to be honest, just some rad makeup looks we’ve been dying to see in real life. This month, get to know up-and-coming singer Rainsford.

Rainsford (aka indie pop sensation Rainey Qualley) has a twinkle in her eye.

We’ve arrived at the closing beauty look of our three-part shoot where the singer has already debuted a glossy, crimson-flushed first look, an austere draw of jet-black eyeliner for the second, and now for the final, spangled eyes—both of which have been embellished with an arc of nine tiny rhinestones. The effect isn’t anything short of ethereal, and in conjunction with her dark hair and piercing cerulean eyes, the aesthetic feels pure, fresh, and whimsical. Words that could also define the singer’s innate musicality while also providing some buoyancy to her unapologetically raw lyrics. Cutting to the chase: Rainsford’s slew of singles (a slow and steady evolution with the two latest being “Japanese Time” and “Intentions”) is every pop lover’s dream: relatable yet simultaneously reactive in that it feels impossible to press pause. Fair warning: Thanks to her haunting charm and impressive fluctuation in tone (her range easily transgresses from a sultry huskiness to saccharine high notes), this is the stuff of “replay.”

While she’s previously made waves as a model and as an actress, singing and songwriting are where Rainsford (Qualley’s official two-syllable music moniker) feels most at home. And unlike other aspiring voices in her age bracket, this isn’t a next-stop destination for the singer. It’s who she is now and it’s who she’s always been. And when you listen to her music (check out iTunes for a highly recommended listen), the combination of success and potential is obvious, and yet it’s hardly serendipitous.

Although she’s been producing singles here and there for years now (all of which are infused with a characteristic edge of slinky soulfulness), it was her latest collaborative track, “Intentions” with Twin Shadow, that produced the undulating waves of recognition many bourgeoning singers wait for. Released last fall, the song is steeped in honest questioning (the singer has been vocal about its origins—it was inspired by dually confusing experiences she had with a girl and later on, a guy) and was immediately intercepted by Hype Machine, a site that keeps tabs on the to-know artists and debuts garnering the highest proliferation of ears and traction. In fact, on November 19, 2017, the site tweeted that “Intentions” had landed in the number one spot on its main chart—a promising and shining beacon that feels like an illuminated projection on Rainsford’s professional future.

To discover and get to know her unique beat—unearthing everything from her perceptions of the word “pretty” to changing paradigms within the industry to a three-minute beauty look—we talked to Rainsford directly. And while her lyrics may question others’ intentions, her own couldn’t be more crystal and not entirely dissimilar to the 24 currently encrusting her eyes. To press play, keep reading.

On her evolution of self-perception and how she maintains balance:

Physically, I've always struggled with feeling inadequate—never feeling thin enough, pretty enough, and disliking this and that about my body. Because of that, it's been a constant effort to love the way I am and not compare myself to what I think I should be. Instead, I try to enjoy my talents and focus on what I can give to others.

I wouldn’t really say I live in the spotlight, but my schedule is pretty erratic and I travel a lot for work. If I'm home, I’m usually writing music or rehearsing for a show, hiking with my mom and my dog, or spending time with my sister or boyfriend. I do always work out every day—things like taking a dance class, hiking with my dog, or even yoga videos in my bedroom. I think it's really important to move with and be in your body. Diet-wise, I’ve also been vegetarian for 11 years now. I've always enjoyed healthy foods, especially vegetables, but I love candy too, so I try not to be too restrictive or deprive myself.

Lacoste jacket

Products: Kjaer Weis Cream Blush in Embrace ($56); Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick in Bitch Perfect ($34); Marc Jacobs Shameless Youthful-Look 24H Foundation ($46); Olga Lorencin Skincare Intense Moisturizer ($95)

On beauty standards, perceptions of pretty, and the shifting paradigm:

We’re seeing a large shift right now, which I think is really wonderful. There’s greater emphasis on self-love, accepting all body shapes, and celebrating what makes us unique. Progressively speaking, I’d like to see less focus on the way we look and more emphasis placed on the way we feel, ourselves, and the way we can make others feel. What’s great about music is that you hear it first, there isn't a face or a body attached to the sound. I love that, and it explains why I don't put an image of myself on my single covers. I want to remain anonymous to the song.

Instead of “you’re pretty,” I’d much rather hear “I like your music.” Because that actually means something to me. I put all of my heart and soul and energy and life into my music. So when someone connects to that, it feels really special.

On who inspires her—both in day-to-day and in the world of music:

In my life, I’m constantly inspired by my sister. She is so strong and determined—gentle, kind, funny, and brilliant. Musically, however, I love Kate Bush, Prince, Francis and the Lights, Toro y Moi, Abra, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Van Morrison, The Backstreet Boys… I could go on and on.

Sophie Monet earrings ; Bassike blouse ; Lacoste dress

Products: Kevyn Aucoin The Creamy Glow in Pravella ($26); Tatcha Kyoto Red Silk Lipstick ($55); Tom Ford Patent Lip Color in No Vacancy ($54); Benefit Cosmetics High Beam Liquid Face Highlighter ($26); Sephora PRO Editorial Palette in Tiila and Pink Quartz ($68) Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation ($78)

On the beauty and inspiration she finds within music:

Music has always been my main ambition and passion. I started singing and taking piano and violin when I was a kid, and later I learned guitar from my dad. It just took me some time to find my way. I also grew up dancing really seriously, which exposed me to all kinds of music, and ultimately, I think that was extremely influential. As a dancer, you can’t just passively listen—you’re in the music, feeling and physically experiencing it.

I love anything artsy, creative, and expressive, and making music—or acting or being immersed in fashion—all represent different variations of those three things. My main goal is just to create music I’m passionate about—even if, or especially if, it doesn’t sound like what is commercially successful at the moment. That’s what feels the best.

On her current beauty modus operandi:

In terms of makeup, I love anything that’s glittery and fun, which is probably why the look we did for the shoot with the rhinestones was my favorite. However, on a day-to-day basis, I really don’t put a lot of effort into my makeup. But before walking out of the house, I do always brush my eyebrows, wear a lip tint like Glossier's Generation G in Leo ($18), and prep my face with a nourishing, cruelty-free moisturizer—I love Honey Girl Organic's Face & Eye Cream ($32).

As far as skincare, I keep it fairly basic; I think face masks like GlamGlow's SuperMud Clearing Treatment ($59) are really fun, and I love using a face wash with those little scrubbies in it—Murad's Pore Reform Skin Smoothing Polish ($34) is really good. Then, I’ll use a rosewater spray and organic lotion to lock in moisture.

Carven dress

Products: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Black Ink ($27); YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils in Black ($32); Clinique Superpowder Double Face Makeup ($26); Rimmel Stay Matte Lip Liquid in Moca ($5); Tarte Clay Play Face Shaping Palette II ($46)

On maintaining a strong sense of self-identity and staying true to her visions and dreams:

I make sure to work alongside and surround myself with people who I not only love and trust but whose taste aligns with mine. I don’t really have one singular message I’m trying to project to the world. Instead, even when it’s scary, I try to be honest in my lyrics and music and words as an opportunity to share a little bit of myself. Ultimately, I want to create music that I would want to listen to. And hopefully, the end result will be something others can connect to and enjoy too. I think finding your identity is truly about spending time doing what you love. If you do that, the rest falls into place.

Production Credits: Photographer: Paley Fairman; Photo Assistant: Anthony Espino; Hair: Gregory Russell; Makeup Artist: Mai Quynh; Manicurist: Chelsea King; Stylist: Julia Ehrlich; Model: Rainsford

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