Makeup tutorials are all the rage these days, especially on YouTube. And with the help of the Internet, people are able to share their techniques more widely, leading to an absolute renaissance in the makeup world. Now, the only thing preventing you from being able to turn yourself into an entirely different person is just your imagination.
That isn't Scarlett Johnnanson there on the right-- it's actually the same woman as on the left! And that young woman uses the power of makeup to become whoever she pleases whenever she wants.
Taking Makeup Above and Beyond
The majority of us use makeup to hide our little imperfections and to enhance the qualities we’re most proud of. However, makeup can be used to a much more powerful degree. It can completely transform a person’s face.
Meet 27-year-old He Yuhong from southwest China. Yuhong uses Yuya Mika YouTube channel to show off her fascinating works of art to over 20,000 followers. Her toolkit varies widely from creams to masks, to powders, pigments, wigs, and more to create some of the most fascinating looks imaginable. But don't be fooled-- her task isn't exactly easy.
The Long, Hard Process
It can take Yuhong over six hours to create one of her iconic looks! She told Reuters in a 2018 interview, "It's more difficult to do this kind of makeup because it's more like drawing. I need to draw other peoples' faces onto my own with a lot of details added-- and I need to change my facial features."
Yuhong uses her own beautiful face as a palette to study other faces. She looks at how a celebrity or image might be different than her own face and charts out what she needs to fix to take on the look herself. Should her nose be larger or smaller? Do her cheeks need more texture? Does she need facial hair? Can she use her own hair or will she need a wig?
Where Did She Learn Her Skills?
Yuhong began her makeup career as a regular makeup artist, helping people achieve their best looks for important events, like weddings, portraits, and social gatherings. Before she began making videos online, she even owned her own studio in southwestern China. One of her big, frequent clients was an agency that did television and print advertisements.
Once she began posting her work on Chinese social media sites like Miaopai and Dou Yin, however, her work really started to take off. In particular, viewers simply loved her transformation into famous celebrities. Once she got on to YouTube and Instagram, she started to emulate Western celebrities, and that rocketed her to fame all over the world.
That's Not Michael Jackson
Gender, race, hair, or face shape. Nothing is a challenge for Yuhong. It would be one thing if she was using makeup to make herself look like famous Chinese women but in the photo below, she uses her excess of talent to make herself look like an African-American man.
The differences are there, but they are extremely subtle. You can always tell that it's actually Yuhong because of the linked rings necklace she wears In the Michael Jackson photo above, she even shadowed her neck to make it look like she has an Adam's apple. That takes some serious talent!
It Takes Intense Talent and Patience
It's easy to see that Yuhong did not just come up with this idea one day. She is taking a lifetime of learning and applying it to make herself appear as a work of art. No matter who she is emulating, Yuhong works to not just achieve the physical looks but the emotional feeling of the subject as well.
That is what truly makes her work special. And millions of people around the globe agree. Her videos on YouTube and Tik Tok have well over a million views and her Instagram follower account grows by the day. People can't wait to see who she will emulate next-- and many of her followers beg her to do their favorites.
Yuhong embraced the faces of famous movie characters including Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow from the Avengers film series.
Beneath her video, Yuhong wrote how much she liked Black Widow as a character and even revealed the secrets to her art: a Sephora collection made in partnership with Marvel.
She then moved on to attempting to become Harley Quinn of Suicide Squad, played by Margot Robbie. The crazy, clown-like look from Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey, wasn’t easy to pull off.
However, Yuhong was able to do her justice and Yuhong described Quinn as “charming and mad” below her video post.
But this was just the tip of Yuhong’s talents. Among this artist’s talents is her ability to resemble men as well.
For example in one of her videos, she demonstrates her transformation into the famous black and white picture of Einstein sticking out his tongue at the camera. She had to disguise not only her gender but also her age. She is fearless when it comes to taking extreme measures.
She didn’t even hesitate when the project required her to shave off her eyebrows to embrace the famous scientist’s look.
But it was worth the sacrifice as she continued to game comments praising her dedication and talents. Comments included, Unbelievable! You are a genius!” and “Absolutely incredible. Stunning artist.”
Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy
Yuhong has a long list of other people she was transformed into including famous actresses Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.
She even spent a day as soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo and singer Taylor Swift. She even took on yet another famous painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer. The project lasted for an entire six hours.
Laying the Foundation
The process for doing this was similar when Yuhong chose to recreate the Lady with an Ermine (you'll see soon) as you can see in the video. She starts with tape and a layer of thick foundation.
She applies it on her cheekbones, forehead, and chin just before she blends it all in. At this point, she shares with her audience the product she uses – L.A. Girl High Definition Pro Concealer.
A Work of Art
Her next step is nearly identical to her Mona Lisa video (again, more on that in a bit). She begins applying a darker foundation on specific areas of her face and continues to blend.
Although the videos are sped up, you can definitely tell the process takes much longer. Next, Yuhong adds the light foundation around her eyebrows.
Transforming Her Face
The process Yuhong uses for these transformations is very similar to that of the male figures she embodies.
For example in the video of her transforming herself into Johnny Depp, she uses basic, simple, makeup products and techniques. Again she starts with plenty of foundation and blends it before adding contour cream.
All About the Brows
You’ll notice that Yuhong pays special attention to her eyebrows in the video. Because of previously shaving off her eyebrows, she now has to make new ones for herself with a makeup pencil.
Finally, she can begin her work on her eyes, creating those unique dark shadows that Depp has.
Facial Hair FTW
Now is when the facial hair comes in; Depp is known to often sport a least a little. So Yuhong affixes a fake mustache and beard to her face.
At this point, she already assembles the movie star. Now it’s time for her mouth. She must add makeup to make her top lip darker. Then more contouring and lines drawn across her forehead are added to resemble wrinkles.
Devil's in the Details
Yuhong must also transform her skin to resemble that of Depp’s. This is its own challenge entirely.
In the final moments of the video, Yuhong adds dots all over her face with a makeup pencil to create the freckled texture of Depp’s face. Finally, she is done.
She captures Depp's essence in such a precise way, it's almost eerie.
She manages to nail every tiny detail, working together to create the full appearance of the famous actor.
Becoming Her Work
Not only does Yuhong’s face resemble the character well, but she is able to disappear into them. It is something that makes her art so special.
For instance, when she took on the Harley Quinn transformation she put on the character’s trademark crazed smile. Also, she was able to nail Johansson’s famous pout when she cosplayed Black Widow.
A True Work of Art
Every woman is a work of art, but Yuhong took this to the extreme recently when she published the process of her transformation into the world's most famous portrait. Wanting to capture the simple but stunning grace of this mysterious Da Vinci figure, Yuhong took her time studying the portrait to capture the perfect mystique of the Mona Lisa.
She took great effort to tint her colors correctly, shape her hair perfectly, and finally, achieve the placid and yet somehow mischievous smirk that makes the Mona Lisa so famous. You will have to see the final product to believe it, but one of Yuhong's Instagram followers, zibavandewint, put it best when they said, "HOLYSHIT THIS IS NOT NORMAL!!"
An Interesting Feature
Yuhong's reasoning for picking Mona Lisa to be her next feature comes thanks to one of her fans. She explained that after she shaved her eyebrows off (to help her better form her looks), a fan replied that she looked like the Mona Lisa, who is famous for not having any. Didn't realize that? Take another close look at the painting.
She (Mona Lisa, not Yuhong) also doesn't have any eyelashes, either! Was it a fashion statement? Was it a secret clue to who the painting actually depicts? No-- specialists have determined that there are places on the painting for both of those hairy features, but they must have been painted so finely, they eroded away over time.
She Did The Research
The Mona Lisa is so beloved, Yuhong wanted to make sure she got every little detail correct (including the missing eyebrows and eyelashes.) She knew that not everyone understood her form of art. The Mona Lisa is absolutely sacred to many art lovers all over the world. Yuhong knew that she would have to do the beautiful Da Vinci painting justice.
But she was still nervous at first, even up until she posted the video of her transformation. “I wasn’t sure how internet users would feel about me trying to copy such a famous and beloved painting onto my face,” Yuhong said in 2018 according to the South China Morning Post. “I prepared myself for criticism.”
No Reason to Be Nervous
People were crazy about Yuhong's recreation. Crazy excited, that is. “I was so relieved. I nervously checked the hundreds of thousands of likes and comments and found them very supportive,” she told South China Morning Post. People on the site were praising her marvelous work.
Yuhong didn't even really believe the analytics of the post at first. She also told the South China Morning Post that she deleted her YouTube app and reinstalled it to be sure that it was working right. She had no idea that this transformation, in particular, would really take off the way that it did.
This Is Not a Painting
Yes-- that is really He Yuhong, not the actual painting. She replicated everything perfectly, from the blueish tones of Mona Lisa's skin to the missing eyelashes and eyebrows. She even recreated the line across Mona Lisa's forehead, which is actually a very small veil. These types of veils were popular in Italy during Da Vinci's years.
There are only two ways you can tell the difference between Yuhong and the painting-- and one is the iconic silver, linked ring necklace. The other is that she did not replicate the cracks in the paint for the original. Had she wanted to, we're willing to bet she would have done an amazing job.
The Art of the Process
So just how much work went into the Mona Lisa transformation? Since the video is only 30 seconds long, the actual time can be a little confusing. So, let's break it down for you. She begins by transforming her eyelids using eyelid tape and then covering them and the rest of her face with foundation.
Eyelid tape is a thin, clear strip that you can place on your eyelid to give it a temporary crease. These products are mostly marketed towards people in Asia, who might desire a double, or more Western-style eyelid when doing cosplay or other forms of make-up. Like Yuhong.
Then Comes the Tinting
When the foundation has finished drying, Yuhong begins to apply dark makeup (using different tints of foundation and bronzer) around her eyes, nose, and cheekbones. She does this to make her face look more gaunt, like the Mona Lisa's. But it also gives her face more structure and depth.
She then highlights her cheekbones, nose, and forehead to show off her face's high points. This is when she slowly starts looking more like the painting. Now only a wig and Mona Lisa’s iconic smirk are needed to complete the iconic look.
Blues and Browns
Using hues of blue and brown, Yuhong blends everything carefully to get that multi-centuries old, oil-painting look. She puts on the finishing details with an eyebrow pencil and a little more pigment from her eyeshadow palette. Now, all that's left is the smile.
It was the famous expression that proved to be the trickiest part for Yuhong. It was even more difficult than the countless layers of makeup she just applied. She went to tell China Daily, “The biggest challenge came from her mysterious smile. It’s very difficult to imitate.” The grin has been a topic of debate among art historians for centuries.
“I’m happy to see that people like my recreation work. I’m greatly encouraged by their positive feedback,” Yuhong told China Daily in 2018.
“Some of the fans never made up their faces before, while others are men, but they all show great interest in my videos. They keep me moving forward.”
Lover of Oils
Overwhelmed with delight, Yuhong decided to use her new popularity as a launching pad for new creations. “I love oil paintings myself,” she told the Daily Mail in 2018. “So, when I saw the great response on the Mona Lisa video, I went on to create Lady with an Ermine to continue the Da Vinci theme.”
Lady with an Ermine is another famous oil painting by Italian Renaissance artist, Leonardo da Vinci. Unlike the Mona Lisa, we know who the subject of this painting is: it's Cecilia Gallerani, who was the mistress of the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza. Da Vinci worked under the Duke of Milan's patronage, so it's no wonder why she is the subject.
Coincidentally, Lady with an Ermine follows one of Da Vinci's greatest talents: painting in motion. Cecelia seems to be turning to the left in the middle of the painting, but not quite reaching there yet. Da Vinci was obsessed with studying the dynamics of movement, particularly in his paintings, but also in his inventions.
This three-quarter face is now used constantly in many forms of art and portraiture, but Da Vinci actually invented it. The three-quarter face is used as one of the more challenging ways to draw a face and one of the first things all new artists must learn. Some say that it seems like Cecilia is listening to a speaker that we cannot see, perhaps a gossiper or even a tutor who is instructing her.
Yuhong concentrated on her eyes as she applied and blended creams. But to play the part of a 13th-century noblewoman she needed to put on more than makeup.
Soon the wig, headpiece, jewelry, and complete costume were in place. Then she added the blush on her cheeks and chin and drew a dark line across her eyebrows.
Another Success for Yuhong
It's nice to think that while Cecelia is forever trapped mid-turn thanks to Da Vinci's obsession with movement, Yuhong probably finished that turn at some point during her video. She gave the three-quarter version of Cecelia three dimensions instead.
Again, Yuhong’s creation was successful, and one fan even posted on the YouTube Video, “You are amazing? Please do more videos of this type.” Another wrote, “So talented? I hope you post more!!” Yuhong cleverly replaced the ermine (another word for weasel) with her own cat-- an easier find than an ermine in southwestern China, no doubt.
Teresa Teng Teng
For a new sort of challenge (and to cater to her East Asian fans), Yuhong decided to transform herself into the Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng. Teng was extremely popular in China but passed away in 1995. Yuhong’s own mother was a huge fan of the singer, so the pressure to get it just right was high.
Teng was extremely popular all over the East Asian world from the late '60s until her death in 1995. She spoke many languages, including Mandarin, Taiwanese Hokkien, Cantonese, Japanese, Indonesian, and even English and French. Yuhong knew that Teng had fans all over the world so she needed to get her right.
A Unique Challenge
There was one thing about Teresa Teng that made for a unique challenge for Yuhong: Teng herself never wore very much makeup. That meant that there were certain aspects of the makeup that Yuhong would simply have to do without. She told the South China Morning Post, “There is only a little room to work in when the subject puts on only light or even no makeup.”
Where Yuhong's experience doing celebrity makeup would help her know how to use a lot of specific products to make her look a certain way, this way she had to really, truly capture Teresa Teng's naturally beautiful face.
A True Success
Although Teng was more popular in the '70s and '80s, it's very clear that Yuhong knew what she was doing. “Before starting the job, I spent quite some time researching the way she looked," she told papers when they asked her about her experience.
Despite the challenges, the project was a success. Even her mother loved how her creation turned out. She is very supportive of her daughter's artwork-- and very grateful that her talented daughter chose to honor her by portraying her heroine.
It comes as a shock that as successful as Yuhong is with her transformations, fans are asking for her to grow even more in her popularity.
One person commented on her Depp video, “She absolutely turned herself into someone else! Why is this woman not famous? She needs to be on TV – on some reality show about stage makeup or something.”
Yuhong has even reached that level of popularity that she now has corporate sponsors. However, she ends up spending almost $1500. But she isn’t stopping there.
She has many new ideas for the future. Some of them include a series of videos in which she will transform herself into Disney princesses and other Disney characters.
Toiling Away With Toiletries
Still, work as a makeup vlogger can be difficult for Yuhong at times.
“I can finish normal makeup within 30 minutes, but this usually takes me six hours or even longer,” she told CGTN in 2018.
A Mixed Bag
While it can be extremely tedious, and taxing on the skin, she is grateful that she can make a living through her makeup skills.
“I’m so lucky that I can turn my hobby into a profession,” she said. “It feels like I’ve hit the jackpot.”