African Botanics $160
All-natural beauty expert and makeup artist Katey Denno updates the cosmetic wardrobe of swimwear designer Marysia Reeves.
Known for her extensive knowledge of all-natural beauty, makeup artist Katey Denno is as beloved for her effervescent energy as she is for her ability to create a flawless complexion. Clients (who include Amber Heard, Chelsea Handler, Connie Britton, and Mindy Kaling, among others) rely on her holistic approach and ingredient insights. In her quarterly column for The Violet Files, Denno uses her expertise to analyze and fill any voids in her clients’ beauty regimens with the best in natural beauty.
On a recent Tuesday, makeup artist and Violet Files columnist Katey Denno alighted at the VIOLET GREY flagship to give swimwear and resortwear designer Marysia Reeves a green beauty consultation. When Marysia opened her capacious beauty bag to reveal products from RMS, May Lindstrom, and Kjaer Weis, Denno knew she had found a kindred spirit. As the designer was already well versed in the world of green beauty, Denno decided to offer her a fall beauty refresh based on the all-natural products both women love. “Quick and easy is what I prefer when it comes to my daily routine,” Marysia told Denno. “I like my natural appearance to really shine through.”
Like her beauty philosophy, Marysia’s swimwear collection (she’s best known for her scallop-edged bikinis) adheres to a minimalistic sensibility. Inspired by her background as a professional ballerina and her degree in exercise physiology, the designer has always been in tune with her own body emotionally and physically. “I started my line after I had my first child. I wanted to make myself look better in a swimsuit, so the fit was very important,” says the Venice Beach–based designer. “Nothing digs in, and the fabric is really comfortable and hugs your body in all the right places.”
Below, Denno creates a fresh fall look for Marysia, and suggests new green beauty essentials to suit her busy-but-balanced lifestyle.
Marysia wanted to give this a try because she had never heard of it. Vintner’s Daughter is great for prepping skin because it’s not too heavy, so it sinks in quickly and gives you that glowing backdrop we all love. Once her complexion was sufficiently hydrated and plumped, I used two shades of Kjaer Weis Foundation to even out her skin tone and erase any redness.
I wanted to add a little bit of definition and to bronze up Marysia—she likes a sun-kissed appearance. Using a flat foundation brush, I dragged RMS Buriti Bronzer along the bottom of her cheekbones, from ear to mid-cheek, then blended it out with a Beautyblender. Marysia usually wears a pink blush, so I thought I’d change it up a little and give her a more of a ’90s look with this taupe-y RMS Lip2Cheek color called Spell. I applied it at the center of the cheek and blended it out with a Beautyblender.
Marysia prefers a simple eye look, so I chose accordingly. Using a round-domed fluffy brush I dusted Kjaer Weis Eyeshadow in Wisdom into the middle of the crease and along the lashline, then blended it out. Then I dragged Dr. Hauschka Eyeliner in Espresso Bean, which is a really dense brown with a lot of gold-green, along her upper lashline to accentuate the blue of her eyes.
I wanted to open up Marysia’s eyes, so I curled her already long lashes with the Utowa Eyelash Curler. Her lashes are super light, so I applied four coats of Kjaer Weis Mascara to thoroughly coat them. Then I used a Q-Tip and removed any of the excess to make it look natural, just more defined.
The pièce de résistance was Kosas Lipstick in Darkroom. I thought this shade was perfect because once I took the red out of her skin, I thought she needed a little bit more color that balanced with the blue of her eyes. Plus it‘s the perfect hue for the fall season.
weightless lip color
Katey Denno didn’t know the occupation of makeup artist existed until she was in her mid-twenties and was seated next to one at a dinner party. Denno, a social worker at the time, learned from her dining partner that “as an assistant I could travel the world, make three hundred dollars a day, and get to see things I never thought I would—and that the food on photo shoots was fantastic,” Denno recalls of the sudden revelation. “The next day, I called in sick to work and assisted her on a Nautica campaign. It was nothing like what I thought ‘work’ had to be.”
Denno had been (unconsciously) preparing for this vocation long before she set her sights on the beauty industry. “I was schooled on how to do makeup while I was a social worker in clinics serving HIV-positive patients,” she says. “My male-to-female transitioning clients showed me how makeup transformed them into the person they felt most comfortable being, and I was able to use makeup-talk and application as a catalyst for emotional transformation.” The experience also sparked her passion for green beauty (Denno uses only natural products). “It was the culmination of years of social work with patients with compromised immune systems and learning how to examine ingredients,” she explains.
It didn’t take long after that fateful dinner for Denno to get her big break. After only eight months of assisting, an agent at The Wall Group called her in for a meeting and said she was ready to go out on her own. Clients like Christy Turlington and a smattering of celebrities (Amanda Seyfried, Felicity Jones, et al.) soon followed.
Denno has since made a name for herself as a guru of all things green beauty, and she caters to an impressive roster of celebrity clients, including Amber Heard, Connie Britton, Chelsea Handler, and Mindy Kaling. Two years ago, she relocated to Los Angeles because of a high concentration of West Coast clients (not to mention the draw of the great weather). One of the artist’s favorite Los Angeles pastimes? Strolling through different neighborhoods and stopping to smell the flowers. “I find my inspiration in the subtle differences in shape, petal texture, and even scents,” she says. “They remind me of facial features and how makeup feels and smells.”
KATEY DENNO’S KIT ESSENTIALS
Kjaer Weis $45
Kjaer Weis $45
RMS Beauty $28
RMS Beauty $38
May Lindstrom $70
Tata Harper $95
Kjaer Weis $49
Kjaer Weis $49
Peruse swimwear by designer and green beauty aficionado Marysia.
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Makeup artist Katey Denno recommends a selection of green beauty essentials for the Netflix talkshow host.