Rafiqah Akhdar On Going Viral, TikTok Inspiration, and Being a Black Muslim Woman In Beauty

Welcome to Favorite Follow, a new series highlighting NYLON’s favorite creators and the stories behind some of their most memorable content.

For those deep in the beauty world, there’s a good change your news feed, timelines, and Explore page are filled with skincare regimens, new product releases, and super intricate makeup looks ready to save and give a try. Whether you’ve realized it or not, there’s an equally good chance you’ve seen the talented 20-year old Rafiqah Akhdar and her incredible makeup looks — either through social platforms like Instagram and TikTok or in major beauty campaigns for Glossier.

Starting out in her early teens by diving into YouTube tutorials, makeup and beauty soon became her passion. As TikTok quickly became viral, the platform filled with endless creators inspired Akhdar and expanded her creativity to truly step out of the box and try a variety of different looks—from viral challenges to product reviews of her all time absolute go-to of The Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb lip gloss—she truly does it all, and with sheer appreciation for it all.

“[I love] being able to share my art and connect with so many other people who love makeup. When I post a look and other people comment on them sharing their appreciation it means the world. All of my followers are so kind and always say the nicest things to me and about my work it makes it feel like everything I do is worth it, not just to me but it’s appreciated by others,” She shared with NYLON over email. “I also love talking to people in my DMs, especially creators because we share tips and tricks and funny jokes about being creators. No matter if it’s fellow creators, makeup lovers, or people who are just getting their start it’s so amazing to connect with so many people who I can relate to over my passion.”

Like most artist putting their work out into the world, Akhdar has received her share of hate online, but that hasn’t stopped nor discouraged her from doing her thing. “The worst part is the random judgments from others, especially the ones who don’t even follow me. Some people are so hateful and vile for absolutely no reason and sometimes it does hurt but then I remember people like that just hate themselves so they take it out on the rest of the world,” Akhdar shared. “Some comments have been exceptionally brutal because of the social climate. Being an African American Muslim woman, it’s hard not to expect hate comments so I’ve learned to ignore them and find confidence within myself and my work.”

For Akhdar, it’s bigger than just getting a ton of likes and comments underneath her posts, it’s about connecting with others who share her passion, and making the makeup and beauty community more inclusive and welcoming than ever before. As we continue into the new year she plans to go bigger and harder with her content without all the pressure. “plan to integrate more fashion into my content since it’s a big passion of mine that I haven’t been able to share. I don’t have a lot of goals this year because 2020 was so unexpected and depressing and I don’t want to put any more pressure on myself like I did the past year. I’m praying this year is full of positivity and blessings for all of us.”

Up ahead, Akhdar shares some of her favorite and most memorable posts on Instagram, and how they came about, along with a few of her favorite products.

On One of Her Favorite Look Yet

This was one of my top favorite looks to do. I hadn’t thought of a fully original look in a while and when this look came to me I KNEW I had to do it. It came out even better than expected, the look didn’t capture as well on camera as it looked in person but I will always love this look.

On One of Her More Challenging Looks

This look made me fall in love with graphic liner. It was for my friends to draw me a look series when the trend was quite popular. The look was drawn by one of my closest former soccer teammates from when I played when I was younger. This look was one of the hardest looks I’ve done because I was very new to graphic liner.

“I honestly struggled for hours on this one but I knew if I pushed myself I could complete a great look. When I did this look I wanted the lines to be super crisp and eventually I got the hang of it. I learned so much doing this look (especially about my patience) and it was one of my most successful looks interaction wise and I was so proud of myself.

On How TikTok Sparked Her Creativity

Okay now, this post came out SO WELL and this was a perfect example of how Tiktok made me more creative and made me step outside of my box. I watched tons of close up tutorials on TikTok and fell in love so I started making them. I did this look for a story takeover on @adelesmakeup page and this look was definitely one of my top favorites.

I was doubting the video and waited to post it for two weeks but it ended up being my most successful post that year. That post was a true wake up call that made me realize that self-doubt can be helpful sometimes but can also be self-sabotage. Sometimes you just need to take that jump and for me, it’s to stop overthinking my posts and let myself create freely.

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