Makeup artist, Katey Denno, has bridged the gap between the world of clean cosmetics, the celebrity faces she works on, and the public, for nearly a decade. The list of devoted actresses who put their trust in Katey is long and varied. Her beauty tips + tricks, and makeup looks she creates are showcased in major fashion and beauty magazines every month, and she’s devoted her career to educating consumers about the non-toxic / clean / green beauty products she uses.
PWB: How did your clean beauty journey begin?
Katey: I was inspired simply by the list of ingredients in mainstream beauty products. I remember the first time I turned over a palette that most makeup artists carry – creamy primary colors + some metallics- and read: XXX color not for use around eyes, XXX color not to be used on lips, etc. I was so confused. This palette is specifically designed for makeup artists to use to paint on faces + bodies, and if there’s something in it that’s not good for lips or eyes, how can it be good for any part of us? This warning doesn’t exist on other cosmetic packaging- at least none that I’ve seen since – but the ingredients are all the same. Why aren’t the other companies watching out for us? And how did this one product become a huge seller when there’s ingredients in it that shouldn’t be used on this or that part of the body? That really started my deep dive and search for the best performing products from the world of non-toxic beauty.
I’d worked as a social worker for a decade before becoming a makeup artist, and for many years, worked in hospitals, closely, with doctors. One of the HIV doctors told me that a lot of what goes on our skin winds up in our blood streams, as evidenced by the effectiveness of birth control patches, and nicotine patches. I took that mindset into my career as a makeup artist and I feel very responsible for keeping my clients as free from potentially harmful chemicals as possible.
PWB: What are some of your favorite brands?
Katey: Vapour Organic Beauty, Ilia, Kosas, Aether, Jenette’s all natural, Weleda, Biossance, Laurel, Alaffia, and Zizzia
PWB: What does your daily beauty ritual look like?
Katey: Because my schedule varies so greatly from day to day, I try to keep my morning routine somewhat static. I start the morning with a huge glass of lukewarm water and some supplements. Lots of vitamin C because it truly keeps me from catching the colds my clients always seem to have, and because I’ve read it’s super good for skin. I take the women’s Nutrifol, a multi D, B, Krill oil, magnesium, Femenessence, some chinese hormonal balancing herbs from my acupuncturist, and about an hour later I eat a little oatmeal with marine collagen powder in it.
As for topical beauty: I start with a hydrating mist and then press in an oil. I love the mist called ‘be happy’ from Jenette’s all natural skincare (her line turned my skin from acne all the time to amazingly clear), choose from one of the many facial oils i have in the bathroom / travel bag (I love the primrose oil from Evan Healy), slather on some sunscreen either from Josh Rosebrook or Zatik (sometimes Elta MD, although it does contain benzones which I don’t want on/in me). If I feel the need for a little skin evening-out, I’ll take a loose powder from RMS or Alima Pure and swirl it onto my face while it’s still pretty fresh from the oil application and then, with a damp beauty blender, I press and blend it in. Otherwise I’ll use the cream foundation from Kjaer Weis, or the stick foundation from Vapour, or liquid foundation from Juice Beauty. I spend the most time curling my lashes and coating them with mascara, and then pick a lip color, press it into my lips and then onto my cheeks. I’ll usually run a little cream of some sort -often from Dr. Bronners – through my hair, and I’m done. I generally put a little of H. Gillerman’s essential oil on my wrists to enjoy smelling while I get ready, or turn on the diffuser and smell it that way.
PWB: If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could take only ONE beauty product what would they be?
Katey: Definitely my eyelash curler
PWB: What beauty lessons did you learn from your mother, grandmother or care giver?
Katey: My dad’s mom wore the most amazing full face of makeup. I learned from her that once you put on your bold red or fuschia lip (a combo of the two is what she wore), that to ensure it doesn’t wind up smearing on teeth, you have to do a little preventative work. Take a cotton swab, insert into mouth, between parted lips – parallel to the floor – close lips around it, and then move the swab side to side horizontally to remove excess lipstick. Repeat using the other end of the swab. In a pinch, mimic the cotton swab motion with your clean finger, instead.
PWB: What are some of your earliest beauty memories?
Katey: I was 8 years old and threw a ‘makeup party’ for my birthday. I had 10 girlfriends over and my mom and her friend who worked at a makeup counter painted our faces. It was the first time my mom let me wear mascara. It was amazing. I saw my eyes transform from a simple rounded shape into that gorgeous, well-defined almond/cat shape of all my friends had. I had blonde/red lashes that I’d never really seen before… and I started begging to wear it every day from that day on.
PWB: Any beauty mistakes you wish you never tried?
Katey: Nah – I embrace all of them! Eggplant, crayon red, and paper white hair dye, super heavy cat eye liner, dark purple lipstick – I loved and still love all of it!
PWB: Who are the people who inspire you the most that help keep you going each day?
Katey: My original mentor in the clean beauty industry – Spirit Demerson. I’d lose my mind if she weren’t my sounding block and forever friend. Also the people behind all the brands I know and love who have and continue to push the envelope to develop better and more amazing products for me to use in my work. It’s been such a treat to form really strong bonds with so many of them.
PWB: Who are some of your beauty idols/icons?
Katey: Cher, Penelope Cruz, Sade, Karen Elson, Liu Wen, Rhianna, Diana Ross, Isabelle Huppert, Kerry Washington, Lisa Bonet, Christy Turlington, Lauren Bacall, Iman, Grace Jones, Eva Mendez … this could be a much longer list.
PWB: How does clean beauty + wellness impact your daily life/mood/the way you feel?
Katey: I know that it doesn’t make me feel good to knowingly buy or use products that aren’t made with ingredients that are 100% non toxic, preferably from organic farming, and housed in eco-friendly containers. I also know that I like to do all I can to make myself feel good!
PWB: Name one beauty product that you currently have in your bag that you wish you could swap out for a clean beauty product? #cleanbeautyswap
Katey: A mascara that does everything I want it to be ‘The One’, that’s jet black, lengthening, curling, thickening, doesn’t flake, doesn’t transfer. It’s a lot to ask!
Preceding her career in beauty, Katey spent over a decade advocating for human rights working as a social worker focusing on helping women and children through a variety of difficult life situations. It was through her work in an HIV clinic in the Bronx that she learned from physicians that what we put on our skin is as important as what we put into our mouths, and it’s from that mindset that she launched her career in into makeup. Katey’s strong belief in the mind-body-environment connection are deeply rooted and she believes that knowledge is meant to be shared.
To learn more and follow Katey’s adventures you can find her on Instagram @Kateydenno