Makeup Artist Carol Rasheed Used Red Lips To Create A “Seamless Thread” In ‘The Color Purple’

Makeup Artist Carol Rasheed Used Red Lips To Create A “Seamless Thread” In ‘The Color Purple’

Source: Jerod Harris / Getty

Carol Rasheed helped illustrate the Black joy and pain experienced in The Color Purple through red lips and distressed skin.

She went into the project with a profound connection to the source material. As a Black woman, she saw moments from her lineage in Alice Walker’s tale of suffering, insecurity, and spirited self-actualization in the rural South. “It just reflected on something that I had experienced in my own life through my family,” she said. 

Rasheed worked with director Blitz Bazawule to develop a plan “over a six-month period.” She also worked with other creatives on the film, including the costume designers Rashad Corey and Francine Jamison-Tanchuck and hair department head Lawrence Davis. 

“It’s always a collaborative effort,” Rasheed said. 

The Ladies Wore Red

Source: Warner Brothers / Warner Brothers

The goal was to echo each character’s distinctive nature with each red swipe. “The important thing for me was not to have any of the women with the same red on,” she said. “I made sure that all the other ladies that were reflected in the movie all had on different rich shades of red.” 

The Color Purple marks Celie’s (Fantasia Barrino) origin point with a sparse makeup look. “She starts out, she’s kind of downtrodden and, of course, from a makeup perspective in my storytelling part of the movie, we started out with very little makeup on her,” Rasheed explained. 

“I even distress her skin a little bit,” she added. 

The goal was to “strike away some of the confidence” by darkening the area beneath the eyes and opting not to groom the brows. As Celie comes into herself with the help of the powerful Black women around her, she blossoms spiritually and physically. “When she met Shug and, she started to get a little bit more confidence, then I started to add a little bit more color to the skin,” said Rasheed. 

This latest adaptation of Alice Walker’s important novel takes the viewer to places previous versions never arrived. “There were fantasy Celies, where she got to be a little bit more glammed,” revealed Rasheed. 

Scarlet Testing

“We did many tests in the beginning of the movie,” she continued. “We tested just to see how things reflected.”

The makeup department head shared details of the extensive testing process with HelloBeautiful. “When I initially started doing testing with Fantasia, when I tell you, I think I had every single red lipstick color,” she said. She worked with the film’s director and other creatives to help tell its story with Safes of Rogue. 

Source: Warner Brothers / Warner Brothers

She tested heaps of other shades to help tell the story of Shug (Taraji P. Henson) Sophia (Danielle Brooks), Young Celie (Halle Bailey), and more. Different combinations of pigments and textures blended to tether each forlorn glance, loving look, and defiant glare with a “seamless thread.” The ladies sported the colors on set after transforming into their beloved characters. There were blue-reds, true reds, orange-reds, and more smeared in the name of storytelling. 

“I had the berry colors for Sophia. I pulled out all these colors, and we tested with them,” she said. 

Aging With Accuracy 

The Color Purple takes place over a significant period, so the characters mature in front of the audience’s eyes. “We had to do quite a bit of aging throughout the process of the movie,” said Rasheed.  

Rasheed and the director were determined to present the aging journey with accuracy. 

“Sometimes you see Black people in movies, and they have to age; they’re always overaged. That’s always been my experience,” she said. “One of the things that Blitz and I talk about is making sure that we age how Black skin ages.” 

The makeup helped at least one character tap into the character’s mindset. 

“I remember Fantasia saying to me that the aging really helped her get into feeling older,” said Rasheed. “That is how strong makeup can be.” 

A new generation of makeup artists will be able to provide quality makeup services that can help every shade of performer connect, thanks to Rasheed founding a TV and film makeup academy in 2016. 

“I’ve always kind of rolled in situations to where I was maybe the only Black person, but I have always worked to diversify to bring people in to train people,” she said. “People need training.” 

A New Evolution

Rasheed has been through her own transition over time. She has gone from a makeup artist to a department lead, to an educator, and now to a beauty entrepreneur. She was so moved by defining the women’s personalities through color theory that she launched a line of lipstick to coincide with the film’s release. 

Source: Warner Brothers / Warner Brothers

“I had been thinking about creating a lip line for a couple of years. However, this particular project, I was inspired to do it,” she said. “I started really developing the shades right after I finished the movie.” 

The positive themes in the film inspired the names of the lipsticks. “Hope,” “Inspiration,” and “Resilient” represent the energy displayed as each character fought for their happiness. “It was very, very moving,” said Rasheed. “It was very inspirational for me to be able to see these women overcome adversity.” 


She believes other Black women watching the film will be touched by this new interpretation that Henson dubbed more full of “joy” than previous versions during 2022’s CultureCon. 

“It speaks to what we as Black women are, you know? Most Black women are resilient. We have so many things that we experience in life,” Rasheed continued. 

“I think any Black woman can look at any part of any of these characters that’s in the movie and somewhat see themselves, right? I know that I could.” 

The Color Purple arrives in theaters on Christmas Day. See the trailer below. 


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