INSTAGLAM: bootleg and Bengali beauty from @maytahmina

The rising Manchester-based MUA talks us through her wildest looks, inclusivity in beauty and beating the algorithm.

Manchester might not be known for its beauty scene, but 23-year-old May Tahmina Akhtar is here to change that. With an ever-growing fanbase, her playful makeup looks rack up thousands of likes whenever she posts them on her feed. Whether it’s covering her face in the LV monogram logo or Nike swoosh, or creating a multicoloured “Bollywood alien” look, she uses her skills to generate discussions around commodity, culture and society’s codes of desirability.

She opens up to HUNGER about how Fenty changed the beauty game and makeup artists struggling to get seen under Instagram’s new algorithm.

Describe your beauty in three words…

Editorial, dewy, intricate.

Who or what has influenced you the most?

Rihanna, her releasing Fenty beauty made me fall in love with makeup. Until then I was just ignoring the makeup industry because they overlooked so many people and their skin tones for so long. If it wasn’t for her release and other companies taking note, I don’t think I would have started my page. Also, she’s just my muse in life.

What is the wildest look you’ve ever created?

I think the Bollywood alien-type look. The way you look when you first put on a base of white and add colours is wild. I just love the way it looks, completely free but put together at the same time. It also captures my identity and the way I feel about my Bengali culture.

What is one piece of make up you couldn’t live without?

Gloss, gloss, gloss!!! It’s necessary because even with no makeup on, that bit of gloss will make it look like you’ve tried.

How important is Instagram to your industry?

Incredibly! If it wasn’t for Instagram, the platform of content creators for beauty would not be as big or profitable as it is now. Even with the algorithm making it harder to be seen, Instagram still allows you to build relationships with brands and I’ve noticed they really value the quality of your content! If it wasn’t for Instagram I wouldn’t have made so many friends within the industry and it really can be down to who you know sometimes.

What does beauty mean to you?

A lot of things! It doesn’t have to be makeup-related, it just means finding beauty in yourself and others as they are! Makeup-wise, beauty is whatever you want it to be. There’s no right or wrong at all because makeup is art, and you can’t tell someone what their art means.

You can follow May Tahmina on Instagram and check out more of her best looks below.

Cover image@maytahmina via Instagram