Tuesday December 1, 2020

By: Janet Susan R. Nepales
On and Off the Red Carpet


Riku Campo is the kind of person who is easy to warm up to. He is down-to-earth, charming, and funny.

The 50-year-old Finnish-born make-up artist is also a celebrity in his own right, as he does the make-up of some of Hollywood’s A-listers; from Anne Hathaway to Gwyneth Paltrow to Cindy Crawford.

Campo recently came out with a make-up book titled “I Am Beauty”, with photographs by Samantha Rapp and featuring women age 40 and over.

One of the women he featured was Filipina performance artist and ballerina Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, 61. Born in Manila, she was the youngest member of Ballet Philippines. She came to New York City in 1979 and received scholarships to The Joffrey Ballet School, The Graham School, and The Ailey School. Married to Robert Z. Dobrish, a prominent matrimonial attorney in Manhattan, Dobrish gamely posed for Campo’s book as he painted his make-up magic on her.

So how did he meet her and what made him decide to include her in his book?

“One of my clients, this make-up artist, is adept at sportswear, so they have ‘Athleta’,” he narrated. “They had this beautiful dancer who was modeling. I asked what she had studied in New York and she replied that her teacher was Elizabeth Roxas. I was already planning my book, so I started casting it. And I was like, ‘Oh, wonderful, because I am looking for a dancer or some kind of performance artist for my book.’ She showed me a picture of her and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I want her in my book.’ So she came on Instagram and we started talking. When we met, we just clicked. She is so wonderful and has such a great sense of humor. We have been texting every two or three weeks and she is just so wonderful. I love her. She is fabulous. So that’s how we met, and she was very excited to be in the book.”

Now based in Santa Monica, California, we asked Campo what his transition was like moving from Finland to the United States.

“I was 23 years old,” he recalled. “I went to New York for six months just to try my skills there. Then I really decided to move to Los Angeles in 2002. I came here for a photo shoot for some magazine from New York and I fell in love with Los Angeles. Of course, coming from Finland, it was wintertime in Finland and coming to Los Angeles was like paradise for me. I loved the palm trees and the ocean. So, I decided I wanted to move to L.A. It wasn’t that easy. I had to first get an agency here. I was very lucky; I had a portfolio for beauty and fashion. I was also working in Greece, and a little bit in Germany and Italy, and of course in Finland. So I had lots of tear sheets. At that time, you had to have a portfolio to show your work to an agency. Everything in Los Angeles is all about agencies – agencies for makeup, hair stylists, actors… So, I signed with an amazing agent, Marysa Maslansky. She’s retired now, but she had her own agency called Visages. As an example, she was representing the very famous photographer Herb Ritts. So she took me under her wing and I was very happy there. So, I moved here. I got my working visa, and now I’m a Green Card holder, and I’ll become an American. Hopefully in January or February.”

When asked who among the Hollywood actresses he admires the most in terms of their style and looks, Campo revealed, “Oh, there are so many. Meryl Streep. Her grace, her elegance. She’s just so beautiful inside and out. And the French actress Isabelle Huppert. I love her. She is wonderful and I’ve always admired her. Everybody loves Oprah. I love Oprah. She is also such a character and strong woman. She is not afraid to say what she thinks. I love 40, 50+ women because they have had the experience of life and have stories to tell. The depth is definitely there when you are a little bit older and I love that.”

“Helen Mirren and Jane Fonda are also women whom I admire,” he added. “Their grace and how they are not afraid to say things. They are not afraid to be who they are. They say what they want to say basically; what they need to say, and they are just beautiful inside and out. They are good examples of being a woman. I think Helen Mirren is 75 now and is looking so good. It’s amazing. And then their whole style, their outside beauty…it’s just beautiful to look at them and their confidence, I love it.”

Does he ever get nervous when he does the make-up of his celebrity clients?

“In the beginning, yes,” he admitted. “I was very nervous to do celebrity make-ups. I did so many. Oh my goodness, I was very nervous when I went to do Anne Hathaway. I flew to New York to do her make-up for a magazine cover. You don’t really know them beforehand and you don’t really know what they are like, or what kind of make-ups they like. For them as well, when they work for the first time with a make-up artist. I used to be nervous but not anymore.”

“I have to tell you a very funny story. I was doing Anna Kendrick’s make-up years back for her press junket for the Up in The Air movie. That was about 10 years ago. And I was in the studio, and George Clooney came out and he thought I was somebody else. And he was talking to me for ten minutes, blah, blah, blah, and I told him, I am not that person. And he did not believe me, he thought I was joking. I was like – oh my God, how do I get out of this situation? So, I went back to the makeup room to do Anna’s make-up. And he was following me and he was like, ‘Where did you come from?’ And I said, ‘I am the make-up artist.’ And then he realized – oh my God, this is the wrong person. That’s the funny thing, because I was nervous about meeting these big stars, but they have a great sense of humor. They are very funny and that always breaks the barrier; when you can laugh with someone. Most of the actors, they are very funny and I love it. I worked for 11 years with Shannen Doherty, she is fantastic. I love her, and I was very nervous the first time. Now we are friends, working friends. So, some of them became closer.”

Who were his influences and what made him decide to become a make-up artist?

“First of all, I was a child actor in Finland when I started acting,” he said. “I was like four or five years old and I remember being backstage of a theater. I did a lot of theater. I played somebody’s son or whatever, small roles. I remember being backstage in the theater and just looking at the actors putting their make-up and wigs and costumes on. I was really thrilled and excited about all of that. Then when I was around 16 and wanted to become an actor, something happened; I just loved fashion and beauty. So, I went to beauty school and then right after beauty school I started to work for a French make-up line called Stendhal Paris. I worked for two years with them and that was my real education; working at a department store doing make-up for real women. Their customers were 50+ women, so I got the real education at department stores as a demonstration makeup artist. And that’s how I really got started. 33 years later and I’m still doing it.”

He names his mother as the person who influenced him to become a make-up artist. “I’m very blessed. I have a wonderful mother and we are very close to each other. I call her every day in Finland via Facetime from here in Los Angeles. She inspired me. First of all, my beauty philosophy is ‘It’s not the surface, but it comes from inside out.’ It sounds very cliché but it really is true, and my mother represents that kind of woman. She is so beautiful inside and so kind. My motto is ‘Kindness reveals beauty.’ I just love my mother so much. She really inspired me, and I also was suffering from eczema. I have very, very dry skin, which is very typical for Scandinavian people and my mother was a pharmacist. So she took very good care of my skin all of my life. So that was the first thing that I was interested in, skincare more than make-up. My mother was not a big makeup junkie. She would put on a little bit of lipstick and mascara but it wasn’t all about the make-up. It was more about the inside beauty that inspired me. I think it’s sometimes more important than what kind of make-up you have. I think if you’re beautiful inside, that’s the real beauty.”

To be beautiful, is it the genes that are important or the attitude towards life, or the skin products?

“I think it’s all of that,” he answered. “It is all of that. First of all, it is like how you feel about yourself. Everybody is beautiful. I can never judge who is beautiful or not. Everybody’s beautiful so it’s all about how you feel inside. It is also about your lifestyle – lack of sleep, a little bit of sports, and healthy food. You can have wine here and there, or martinis. I think you should allow yourself to enjoy life, and enjoy yourself, and enjoy every day, and I know again it sounds very cliché – but that’s the truth. When you’re happy, that really shows in your face and in your attitude, and that depends on what makes you happy.”

“Happy for me, for example; happiness is like, every morning I like flowers. I like people around me, I love my friends, I love good food, I love to sleep. I like my morning coffee. This makes me very happy – you know, whatever it is. And of course the products. You should have a skin care routine that you follow every day, and the blessing is that the pleasure [of performing it] comes twice a day – morning and evening. And then the face serum, eye-area cream, and during summertime using only [products that have] SPF50 with UV UVB protections. And then when the fall comes – depending on where you are, where you live – if you live like in a very wintery area, you need a very good moisturizer under your sunblock. So those things, and then comes the make-up. Whatever your personality is dictates what kind of make-up you like.”

Since this is a time of a pandemic and there are no facials or anything, what are some suggestions to keep one’s skin well and healthy?

“Well the proper skin care routine, I would say, is to have a good exfoliator of course, to exfoliate the skin. I would say three times a week, or every third day, exfoliate your skin. And that is, by the way, the ‘extra’ skin care routine. So the basic skin care routine is of course to clean the face twice a day and to then put on face serum, eye cream, and a day cream, and [something with a high] SPF. The sunblock is already an anti-aging cream by the way. So the extra care in exfoliation and [using a] face mask, and that [daily routine] is the very basic thing. But then another very important thing is a face massage. You clean your face with your hair in a ponytail and put on any organic oil you can find in the kitchen. You can just use olive oil for your face and neck. And then you’ll feel a lifting; everything is uplifting. You massage your face for five, ten minutes, and it really, really gives amazing blood flow to your skin. It stimulates the muscle tone and brings the oxygen into your blood cells. So that is the great thing. It doesn’t cost anything and it really is like a face massage for your face muscles and your neck. The neck is always a very tricky area for women who are 50 plus. So all you do is face yoga; the crazy, crazy facial expressions. I am not going to show them now, but those two things are very great and they are free.”

We asked him about staying away from the sun. How damaging is going out in the sun and what precautions should we take?

“Of course we need to be in the sun, we need the Vitamin D,” he emphasized. “And if there weren’t the sun, there wouldn’t be any life,” he laughs. “So I always think about it that way. It’s not all about, ‘Oh, sun, oh my goodness! You must have a big hat and sunglasses, and 30 or 50+ sunblock. You have to apply it every three hours.’ However there is a sunblock that I can say is a more expensive brand from France. It has a sunblock that actually works for eight hours. But yeah, we need to be in the sun, it’s healthy for us. And I wouldn’t put any baby oil on your face and go outside on your balcony to just get sun. Getting tanned, that’s not healthy. And always in moderation. But if you are concerned about your skin and the sun, just use the sunblock and wear a hat, that’s fine. But we have to be outside. We can’t be in a dark room and just avoid the sun, because then we don’t get any vitamin D. Because with vitamin D, if you are not in the sun, the only way you can get vitamin D is by eating fish,” he chuckles.

And what does he think about expensive creams as opposed to maybe just using natural products?

“Yeah, especially in these hard times when money might be tight for everybody and for women – they don’t want to spend $600 for a night cream. So first of all, to answer your question; well, the packaging is always what drives costs. So it’s all about the packaging. Your nice glass jar that it is in, that may be what is already 50% of the whole cost. So there are really amazing creams in CVS. I use this cream and can’t believe it is $5, and it is the best. Take for example a big cosmetic company like L’Oréal – they have different categories of their creams. Some of them, the cheaper ones, are much better than the most expensive ones. It really is. You want to moisturize your skin. We have 6-7 levels of skin, and the moisturizer can’t really go that deep under the skin. So a moisturizer is [just as good as another] moisturizer. Of course, if you want the luxurious feeling and the smells and the beautiful glass jar in your bathroom, then of course you’ll feel that it brings you luxury. Then you justify using that $500 cream and put it on your face.”

Being such a joyful artist, where does his joy come from?

“My joy comes from my love for what I am doing,” he confessed. “I love life, I love my friends, and I just am thankful every day for waking-up and being healthy. And I love my work and I act like a six-year-old,” he giggles. “I am just like…hey, I just love to be happy. And if I am not happy, I’ll just go running on the beach and I will be happy again.”

Riku Campo has also worked with Anne Hathaway for her makeup

Cindy Crawford at the Golden Globes. Riku Campo also does her makeup.

Riku Campo Photo by: Samantha Rapp

Oprha Winfrey

Anna Kendrick

Gwyneth Paltrow at the Golden Globes. Riku Campo also does her makeup.

Cover of Riku Campo’s “I Am Beauty” book

Read Full Issue. Click Here!

Don't Miss

Subscribe Now! Click Here « «