Violinist Rimma Benyumova’s Beauty Routine
The Russian musician is in New Zealand competing in the Michael Hill International Violin Competition
Talented violinist Rimma Benyumova admits she’s lugging a kilo of cosmetics half-way round the world to New Zealand with her. The striking 25-year-old puts this down to growing up with a typical Russian woman’s love of makeup and the desire to always look her best. Even her violin case is put to good use. “Of course I carry every single possible accessory for the violin with me. Starting from the Rosin [resin for bow waxing], mutes, strings, cleaning tools etc … and, of course, there is always a place for the hairbrush and some nice lipstick.”
Rimma believes her appearance feeds into her performance, enabling her to better channel the music to her audience. The quarter finalist in the Michael Hill International Violin Competition even considers how the colour dress she wears matches what she plays. But it’s work, not wardrobe, that has got her this far.
Rimma first picked up a bow at age five — with her makeup experiments beginning soon after. She was born into a musical family in Siberia and even before she learned to play properly, her love affair with the violin had begun. “I was playing it like it’s a doll. The violin was always a Princess and the bow was Prince Charming, so I could spend all day long inventing some stories and making them best friends.”
Five years ago, Rimma moved to Berlin to further her musical studies. She visits her family in Krasnoyarsk once or twice a year, between musical commitments which can see her playing 3-4 recitals a week. Then there’s daily practice, learning new repertoires and preparing for competitions. When she first arrived in Berlin she also played on soundtracks for pop artists and even had a role as a violinist in a movie, but the focus on being a professional classical musician has put paid to this. “Playing the violin is my profession, passion and life. Without music I cannot imagine my existence in any way and I am very blessed that my parents gave me this gift.”
In her rare downtime, she loves travel and photography, so the trip to New Zealand is a boon. The 16 quarter finalists play in Queenstown from May 31 to June 3, with six finalists chosen to compete in Auckland over three nights on June 5, 6 and 8, with the winner to be named at Town Hall on the Saturday. Find out more at Michaelhillviolincompetition.co.nz.
With show time approaching, Rimma says: “I will try to achieve the best results I can and give the public of New Zealand the performance which I hope will touch their souls and hearts. And that would be already a huge winning for me.”
I was born in a small town in Siberia in Russia where, from a very young age, my friends and I were aware of a stereotype which exists all over the world — I think you might have heard this in New Zealand, too — that Russian girls are among the most beautiful girls in the world, so we have a kind of competition in our country. From a very young age, we were taught about fashion and makeup and, as I remember, I was always trying to look the best I could look. I wouldn’t say that has changed much over the years. When I moved to Germany, the lifestyle and the way people dressed or wore makeup is different than in Russia. It was a bit hard to adjust, but I’ve managed to find a pretty good balance for working and going out, to really feel comfortable with myself and treat myself the best I could as a woman.
Russian beauty style
I would not say that we are such skin-freaks like Korean or Japanese woman. Personally, I always try to find time to not just care about my skin, but also generally about my body. So, twice a month, I try to go get a massage or go to a spa. Normal things that a lot of women do, making sure that my body feels comfortable and taken care of.
This is a very important topic for me. Every single performance I do includes a lot of preparation, not only for playing masterpieces on the violin but also into how I should look, and what impression I will give from the stage. Every dress of mine, would have its own character. The choice depends on the colour and the form and on what piece I play. For example, for romantic pieces I would prefer a red dress — one that I will actually perform in New Zealand in the first round is a one-shoulder red dress. Or, for Mozart, I would play, for example, in a sky blue dress. It always depends on the character of the piece.
Hand care as a violinist
I don’t do extra things to my hands, just a normal manicure twice a month is enough.
Earliest memory of makeup
Makeup has been my passion for 20 years. I was always stealing my mother’s cosmetics and experimenting. I remember pretty well that at 7 or 8 I started to use mascara — that’s why I don’t have very good lashes (well, that’s a secret!).
Russian stereotype or not, I cannot imagine living my life without makeup; I just cannot. Even if I go to buy some groceries. Every day, light makeup is always on. I spend around 10-15 minutes max, now, as I have gotten faster with experience, and then I feel comfortable to go out on the street. At night before I sleep, I always take my makeup off and do regular routines like cream care and scrub and making sure my skin is clean and pores are breathing. I think it’s very important for young girls to get this education from their sisters or mothers. It’s really important to take your makeup off. Unfortunately, I learnt this [only] at the age of 20 or 21.
On the road
When I’m travelling, like to New Zealand, I take all my makeup with me, really, like a kilo. When it’s a normal [shorter] trip, I only take the things that I must, like mascara, some of my favourite lipsticks and some powder. Basic things, but the most important things. For longer travels, I will take all my eyeshadows and everything possible. In smaller, lighter versions where I can. This is important, to feel that my face is taken care of and looking beautiful and [so] I feel comfortable in public.
Hair and its care
My hair is one of the things I love. I have black, very thick hair, and it’s naturally curly. All my life, as a lot of women with curly hair do, I straighten it. Every time I wash my hair and when I dry it, I take my hair iron and straighten it for 15-20 minutes. Of course, I use masks after washing my hair. (I love to do an avocado mask for my eyes too, I love it).
Day-to-night transformation tip
For the day I prefer something light. I do really light eyeshadow and makeup, so my face looks fresh. For night I prefer something more extreme with the colours. I love to wear red lipstick a lot. I like to do a smoky dark eye, like a cat eye. I go a bit more provocative when I go out for a night out, or an after party or concert.
Five favourite beauty products.
1. Eyeliner: I cannot live without my eyeliners. I have been wearing eyeliner for 10 years, at least. The best eyeliner I’ve found so far is Yves Saint Laurent. Whenever it rains, or whatever happens, it stays on.
3. The powder I always use is M.A.C.
4. Fragrances: My favourites are Hermes and Dolce & Gabbana.
5. For skincare, I use the French brand Nuxes for day cream, night cream, all the creams for the skin, moisturiser, and everything I use.
Treatment to try
I would like to try a stone massage or stone therapy, but I haven’t yet.
Beauty to you is…
For me, beauty is the harmony within yourself. When there’s harmony inside of you, everyone will see you shining. I think this is true beauty; not how you look.