Rising Stars: Touch-ups with Akif Ilyas


Every time we talk about styling, grooming or fashion, Akif Ilyas is a name not to be missed. Undoubtedly, Akif is one of the best makeup artist and stylist of Pakistan. He has been serving the Pakistani media industry for more than a decade now. His work ethic, skills and sense of makeup, styling, and colors is considerable. Akif knows his work well. He is extremely organized and a perfect example for a professional stylist, makeup artist and photographer. Today, almost every person in the industry knows Akif well. He has worked with almost every celebrity and successfully embarked his place in the industry.

Akif has not seen any major ups and downs in his career, even now. He for sure has gone through many struggles and with hard work, he reached to where he is today, always working his way out in style and with a smile. Akif has innumerable projects under his belt. He has been focusing and working for more than 90% of T.V commercials as a makeup artist and stylist. He has done makeup and styling for various celebrities in different magazines and billboards. He has not only worked in the Pakistani media industry though. Akif uses his talents and has worked for Bollywood as well. He has done makeup and styling of several Bollywood celebrities and sees his future there because of the big market and many opportunities. Akif Ilyas is not only known for his makeup and styling skills, but is also a known fashion photographer. He can be titled as the “man behind beauty.” Extremely hardworking, dedicated and passionate is how I would describe Akif. Let’s see what other celebrities have to say for him:


Sana Sarfaraz(Model Actress)

“Akif is simply multi-talented. From photography to makeup, he has always been great at everything he does. Akif is fun loving and has a very positive approach towards life. He makes everything easy with his happy go lucky attitude. Whenever he is around time flies. I have had a couple of tiring shoots with him, but being honest, with him around they were like a blessing in disguise.” – Sana Sarfaraz

The brief testimonial helps us know Akif more closely. Our correspondent Mirza Omer interviewed Akif, let’s see what he has in store for us:

(Mirza) How long have you been a makeup artist? How did you get your start?
(Akif) I entered this industry 14 years back in 2000-2001 when I worked in a play directed by Yasir Nawaz. I received several opportunities after doing my first play. I can never forget mentioning Fashi Bari Khan for his support and motivation in my initial years. Makeup was a passion, I always wanted people to look beautiful and happy. I felt I had this God gifted sense of makeup which helped me stand apart from many others. I always had a very different perception of styling and makeup, and I believed more “in light” more natural looking makeup instead of the heavy makeup that was a norm back in the years.

(M) Where do you get your inspiration from?
(A) Khawar Riaz is the man, he is my inspiration. Not only am I inspired by him but he is also my teacher. Khawar and I both knew our work. We did a barter: he taught me Photography and I helped him understand makeup. Khawar is like family to me, you can say he is my best friend.

(M) If you weren’t a makeup artist, what else would you be doing?
(A) I would probably be doing a lead role in Karan Johars upcoming movie (Laughs).Till now, I have not faced any such situation, all what I have dreamt or asked God for I always got it. I am pretty much satisfied with my life. I’ll share a success tip for the young ones. I always respect my work, I think of my work as something very close and prestigious to me. Sp, respect your work and respect the work of others, and you will never have to think of any other alternate way.

(M) What are the biggest challenges a makeup artist faces?
(A) For me every day is a new challenge and every challenge is tough. I have always loved my work. I love working hard and being sincere to whatever I do. Challenges are there of course. I have worked with lots of celebrities, local and international. Every person and every model or actress has a different skin tone and different complexion. Grooming them, styling them, doing their makeup, making them look perfect is always a challenge that I accept with a smile.


(M) What is the best way to prevent dark circles and wrinkles?
(A) Consume water and take care of your sleep. Sleeping for a good amount of time is a must to prevent dark circles. One needs to understand what your face needs, you should stay tension and stress free. We have so many ways to know what is good for our health for our skin our body but instead of loving ourselves, which we should, we are busy in loving and giving all our attention to others. I mean love others but love yourself too.

(M) How do you prepare a dry and oily skin for foundation application?
(A) I use makeup primers and moisturizers. I first of all bring the skin in tone. If skin is extremely oily, I do face wash and cleansing which protects the skin deep for upto 10 hours. Apart from that if you want to have nice oil free skin, one should regularly use moisturizers and focus more on having fruit is and consuming more water. Natural ways to protect skin are always better.

(M) If a client asks for a specific style that you are sure would not suit them, how do you convince the client to try something else?
(A) It depends. I have earned a good reputation in the industry which makes my clients trust my judgement. Apart from that, I believe I have convincing power. One should always know how to convince someone to be successful. If something goes wrong I know how to explain it to the client and convince them for a change. I have done innumerable ad shoots. If I don’t like something or if something irritates me I openly say it out to the director for example if the dupatta is not taken in the right way, or if the hairdo is not looking good I do get it changed. I do my homework well before going out for any shoot or make up task and so hardly we face any such situation.


(M) What is the difference between applying makeup for a TV shoot and for a live appearance?
(A) Again I would say it depends on the environment the shoot is going to take place in. Light plays a vital role for us to decide the amount of makeup that needs to be done. Also TV sets have loads of heavy lights and so we try keeping the makeup as light as possible. Basically it’s the same application, just the quantity changes. I have done bill boards for Humaima Malik and many others, for billboards it’s different, for outdoor shoots its different for indoors it’s different. Everything has to be studied well before execution.

(M) Is fashion and styling only for women or even the guys do it now?
(A) Back in 2001, I remember people here in Pakistan had a perception that fashion, styling and grooming are all only for women. The tables have turned now. With time, things have taken a new shape, now I can say with experience that men are more beauty conscious compared to women, guys keep asking me about how they can maintain their skin tone, what products they should apply on their skin, what kind of a hairdo would suit them and more. Guys also now get there manicure and pedicure done on a regular basis. All these things are not something bad, globally men are conscious and working on one’s own self and one’s own looks is not wrong at all. It’s good to take care of yourself and keep your self-groomed and up to date from head to toe.

(M) How important do you think looks are to a celebrity?
(A) Looks obviously matter a lot. As I mentioned before, one should look good and stay up to date, even if you don’t have nice clothes your body should be groomed well, your hair, your shave, your skin, in fact your whole body, should be in tone. Proper grooming is always essential. Happiness is also a major key to look bright and fresh, I always suggest my friends and clients to be tension free and stress free because if mentally someone is not happy or is upset no matter what you do you can’t give them a fresh look. I also suggest people to consume more and more liquids and fresh eatables to stay healthy and have a nice fresh skin. Staying clean, staying fresh, having a pleasant odor around yourself is all essential not only for celebrities but even for a normal person.

(M) What is fashion to you?
(A) Fashion to me has 2 types. High fashion and normal fashion. High fashion is what you can say hitting the extremes. Applying a dark lipstick, having a messy hairdo, wearing some exotic dress and all. But high fashion is basically for models, for ramps, for still shoots, magazine covers etc. Normal Fashion is to move with the flow. Not necessarily follow trends but to understand fashion and keep playing with it. I feel happy now considering the fact that Pakistani people and youth are now having a good fashion sense. Fashion keeps on changing and one should have to know how of what’s in and what’s out. Some years back only we experienced a new evolution as colored jeans and chinos took over to casual denim that was preferred back in the years.

(M) What do you enjoy the most, makeup or photography?
(A) Both are love to me. I have brought them up like my babies.

(M) Do you think applying to many facial products can be harmful to human skin?
(A) Obviously too many facial or artificial products are harmful for human skin. I believe most of us are having easy access to the internet now and we should use it for the right things. We should use Google and keep ourselves well aware of how to prevent skin issues, hair fall issues and such. Self-medication tips can be taken from google, but of course you should always consult a dermatologist in Dubai.

(M) You have worked with many celebrities. Can you name one male and one female celebrity which you think requires the least makeup?
(A) It’s a tough question for me, but I’ll be honest. From males, Hamza Abbasi is one guy who requires least makeup, he naturally has a well-toned skin and complexion. From females, Mahira Khan (Humsafar Actress) is naturally beautiful, she has glowing and well-toned skin which again requires very less makeup. Same is the case with Mahnoor Baloch. All the mentioned celebrities just require simple touch ups, nothing more than that  Akif Ilyas.


Akif Ilyas with Hamza

(M) Your favorite Pakistani model or actress?
(A) I love Pakistan and every Pakistani. Every face is beautiful with specific significant features. Every Pakistani is beautiful and also talented. I won’t be biased in this (smiles). When I am at work, I give equal attention and apply equal effort on all my clients.


Akif Ilyas with Humaima Malik

(M) Was photography a passion or just a hobby?
(A) Basically, photography was a passion but also became a need as I opted for makeup as a career. I always believed and still do that Makeup and Photography are inter-related. One should have the sense of to question how a model would look on camera, or how much make up should be applied. As I mentioned earlier we have to keep in mind if the shoot is indoor or outdoor and how are things going to look on camera, or on TV etc.

(M) Your favorite Bollywood actor or actress?
(A) Kareena Kapoor is my all-time favorite, my crush. From males, I really appreciate Amir Khan and Sanjay Dutt’s work and movies. I have personally worked with all of them and it was an amazing experience. The appreciation and the motivation you get working with them makes you feel like working more and more with them  Akif Ilyas.


Akif Ilyas with Juhi Chawla

(M) For fashion, how important do you think having a sense of color combinations is important?
(A) Having color combination sense is vital and matters a lot to celebrities. I personally believe that times have changed now. We can wear black with brown, I mean I would love to. Its “High Fashion” time now. Bright colors make you stand out from others. Wearing all matching colors is too old school now. Yes you can complement colors and make a nice match. One should know how to carry themselves if when it’s about fashion. Today we also wear colored pants now, embroidered sherwanis etc. Make your fashion your signature and be confident when it’s about pulling up something new.


Akif Ilyas with Kareena Kapoor

(M) What are your future plans?
(A) In the future, I would surely want to contribute my skills in Bollywood, not because they are better or something like that but only because it’s a big market and our work is our bread and butter. But yes, there is one thing which stands out prominently in India and lacks in Pakistan, which is accepting and appreciating someone’s efforts and talent. Here, people have a small ear, and they don’t want to see you grow. We need to stop pulling each other’s legs and support each other to make a significant change in our industry in a positive way.

(M) Do you have any message for your followers and your country?
(A) I will just say be positive and passionate about whatever you want to do in life. Never feel demotivated because of someone else’s comments or judgement. If you have the passion, you can do anything, may it be makeup, acting, photography etc.


Akif Ilyas with Mehwish Hyatt