With a client roster that includes Mindy Kaling, Olivia Munn and Amber Heard, Katey Denno is one of the most well-recognized makeup artists in Hollywood. But she has an important mission that sets her apart from her peers: She works with clean, green products and is using her platform to urge others to do the same.
For anyone who still thinks you can’t get the same gorgeous looks with natural makeup as you can with the chemical-laden stuff: get into Denno’s work (@kateydenno). The lips are bold, the eyes smoky and the skin luminous.
Denno’s path to becoming an internationally recognized green beauty guru has been both unique and inspiring. She started out as a social worker working with male-to-female transgender clients who taught her “so much about the transformative power of makeup.” This, she says, is what inspired her to strike out on her own as a full-time makeup artist.
Though she’s now known for championing green beauty throughout the industry, that wasn’t always the case. “I started out buying the typical mainstream cosmetics that my peers carried in their kits,” she says, noting that she had an “Aha!” moment early on in her career. “I was looking on the back of a pro makeup artist palette of creamy pigments and read the warning label that cautioned users to keep certain colors away from eyes and mouths. I thought: If this stuff shouldn’t go near those parts, how safe is it really to put on our skin?”
She became concerned about the possible harm these sorts of ingredients could do to her body and to our planet and realized she needed to do something about it. “One day it clicked, and I thought: I can make a real change if I take a stand within the industry and start using product formulated without known toxins,” she says. “It was a pretty simple concept, although at the time, beauty products that worked for me as a makeup artist weren’t plentiful.”
That was 10 years ago. Now, in large part thanks to Denno, the industry has started to change, and good-for-you products are easier than ever to integrate into your routine. Plus, they’re just as good as (if not better than) the dirty stuff for creating a flawless face.
To find out the best practices for cleaning up your skincare routine for winter (and getting gorgeous makeup for those holiday parties!), we turned to the queen of green beauty to share her tips.
Winterize your skincare
“Depending on your climate, upping the ante with oils and butters that have greater density is usually the way to go,” says Denno. “I generally switch from using just oils to topping them with creams and lotions on more dry skin areas, and using a hyaluronic acid product is a great way to seal in the moisture.” Since you’re probably spending less time in the sun during the winter months, Denno suggests spending those cloudy days targeting any sun damage you may have acquired over the summer by using plant-based retinols and vitamin C serums.
“If your shoulders and/or neck/back/arms are showing, make sure that you’ve tended to all of your skin—not just your face!” says Denno. “Use a deeply hydrating oil or lotion, and perhaps mix it with some shimmer to get a glow all over.”
Up your holiday party makeup game
Take this winter’s best beauty looks from the Hollywood screening room to your very own living room with a few easy hacks. “Instead of wearing that bold lip color as it was worn on the red carpet—high density, full gloss or multiple layers—try tapping it on lips for a more stained appearance and follow with a coat of lip balm,” says Denno. “And a bold shade of eyeshadow that spans lash line to brow could be whittled down to a sheer wash of color along the lash line for a fun pop of color without the crazy intensity.”
Steal some inspo from the runways
Denno has plied her trade at high-profile events like New York Fashion Week, and the tips she picked up working backstage aren’t just reserved for the runway. They can translate easily into real life and don’t require any fancy tools or products. “Swipe on your favorite bold red or deep berry lip color, and then use a fingertip to press it into lips … Then, use a cotton bud placed between the lips, stick pointing straight out, to swipe left and right a few times to remove excess lipstick before it transfers to teeth,” she says. And a bonus? You can use the same tube of lipstick to pat the perfect sheer flush onto the apples of your cheeks.
Katey Denno’s favorite foods for beauty
“No one anything is right for everyone, so I hesitate to make any claims that anything ingestible will work for everyone,” says Denno. But here are three ingredients she swears by to help make your skin glow as brightly as your holiday lights.
Green juice or lightly steamed green veggies
“I have absolutely seen my clients’ eyes become more sparkly and bright when they introduce [these],” says Denno. Plus, research has found higher intakes of veggies protect against skin damage.
There’s a reason why “hydration, hydration, hydration” is such a well-known skincare mantra. “Keeping your diet very high in fresh organic produce and filtered water absolutely makes for beautiful skin,” says Denno.
“I personally see a difference in my skin when I take high quality vitamin E supplements,” says Denno. Ingesting antioxidant vitamin E can help inhibit a process called collagen cross-linking that’s related to signs of aging. (Touch base with your health care practitioner to make sure oral vitamin E is right for you before you stock up!)