Celeb Makeup Artist Katey Denno Talks Natural Beauty
In the spirit of Earth Day, today we’re sharing a chat we had with makeup artist and founder of The Beauty of It Is, Katey Denno. In addition to being the lead makeup artist for Burt’s Bees and being an advocate for the use of natural and organic products, she’s the go-to makeup master for It Girls like Mindy Kaling, Olivia Wilde, and Lena Dunham. Katey joined us in our photo studio to show us some of her techniques for applying gorgeous, glowing makeup (all those secrets coming soon!) and while she was here she dished on how she got started, why she loves natural products, and what products she really uses on herself.
Gloss Daily (GD): You started out in social work and moved to makeup artistry from there. That’s a big jump!
Katey Denno (KD): Yea, it’s weird right?! I did social work for ten years. I worked in inner-city D.C. in battered women’s shelters and at universities’ sexual assault services. Then when I came to New York, I worked in a women’s health clinic in the Bronx. I saw a lot of young girls coming in and I also worked with a large transgender population and I learned how to do makeup from them. It was the best thing ever. I realized I wanted to pursue makeup as a career—I liked the idea of helping women feel their best, that’s what it’s about. It’s about confidence.
GD: Love that and we totally agree! So, you’re a makeup artist who uses primarily natural products, how did that come about?
KD: I was raised in that kind of a family. I was the kid with the brown bread and fruit instead of dessert. But when I first got into makeup natural products weren’t on my radar at all. Then one of my girlfriends was diagnosed with cancer at age 35 and that was what did it. She was not well and what could I do to fix her? The only thing I knew was how to do makeup and I thought, well this is what I need to do for her. So I just started researching and finding out what was natural that was really good.
Then at some point I remember she was lying on my couch and we were brainstorming because I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the beauty industry. Apparently I just kept answering her by saying “well the beauty of it is” because finally she said, you should start a website called The Beauty of It Is. She went home and bought that domain and called and said I have a present for you, I bought the name for you. So I launched a blog called The Beauty of It Is and I started writing about natural products.
GD: Let’s talk about some of the products you use. I know you have mentioned you’re really into the right brushes. If someone could only afford three brushes which ones should they be?
KD: Definitely an eyeshadow brush, like the MAC domed eyeshadow brush. Also a cheek brush—the Muji squirrel cheek brush or the Makeup Forever tapered cheek brush are great. If you wear foundation you really need a good brush. I like natural bristles just as much as synthetic but not all synthetic bristles are good quality and you need that quality for foundation. Try the foundation brushes from Lancome, Chanel or Kevyn Aucoin. And you have to have a Beauty Blender—that could take over for anything. Even if you just use your fingers for most things, you should try a Beauty Blender.
GD: What are your go-to products that you actually use on your own skin?
KD: It’s all about skin care for me. There’s a brand called Marie Veronique Organics that’s all organic and so awesome. I also like Amala, their skin care line is delicious. I use Kjaer Weis foundation if I need to be on camera. Vapour has great cheek color that I use, and their foundations are the first natural foundations I ever loved. And Burt’s Bees’ tinted lip balms were some of the first natural products I bought and gave to my friend who was sick. I keep about 10 in my pockets at any given time.
GD: It can be tough if you have no knowledge of the industry to find products that are truly natural and worth the money. Where do you look online to find those truly great products?
GD: We think a lot of women are hungry for more information on natural products. Are most of your clients receptive to natural products when you use them?
KD: Yes! Or they don’t care either way. Mostly my clients just let me do my thing. But sometimes I thoroughly enjoy wearing a lip color that isn’t natural and that’s fine. But if you think overall about all the stuff we subject our bodies to, if you can lower your toxic load a little why not do it? I think natural is the way things are going.