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Chanel makeup artist Kate Lee sees beauty as a de-stressing ritual ahead of a red carpet to mentally prepare for the main event. Lee has worked with Emilia Clarke, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Dakota Johnson, Tessa Thompson and Keira Knightley to perfect their awards-show looks, explaining that with regular clients, “you tend to get into a groove.”
“They have a different relationship to makeup because it’s a professional tool for them. So they just sit down and they trust you,” Lee told The Hollywood Reporter at Chanel’s stand-alone beauty and fragrance boutique in Palisades Village. The French house hosted an unveiling on Sept. 14-16 of a new beachy design of the 550-square-foot space, dubbed “Chanel A La Plage.”
“The process of makeup is quite relaxing for most people. It is definitely ritualistic in preparing mentally to go and stand on a red carpet in front of your peers, in front of your fans, in front of your critics,” Lee told THR. “Part of our job is to be good company. … So I try to provide what they need and I’ll help them if they need some confidence building. If they don’t, I just tend to shut up and get on with my job because there’s a lot going through their mind at that point.”
She explained that working on the face is intimate because it’s “a very personal space — no one comes into this space unless they’re your family, your lover.” Furthermore, stars can feel a lot of tension and pressure ahead of big events like Sunday’s Emmy Awards: “There can be a lot of emotions running before award shows … if they’re super nervous or maybe there’s someone there they don’t want to see. You don’t know what’s going on under the surface, so I try to be very mindful of that and I take my lead from my client.”
Though Lee is keeping quiet on who she will be styling for the Emmys (for which Clarke is nominated for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for Game of Thrones), here the makeup artist breaks down some of her top beauty tips using her favorite Chanel products.
1. Apply Chanel’s water-fresh tint with a brush to make the skin uniform.
Lee takes a brush to apply Chanel’s Les Beiges Eau de Teint ($65) to the face: “It’s like a serum with these little beadlets of pigment suspended in it.”
The brush makes a “massive difference,” because it breaks open the particles and blends the hydration with the color. “People like a tinted moisturizer, but if you use a little too much, then you do get a little residue. This really does go away to nothing,” said Lee. “The skincare product uniforms the skin and gives a finish that isn’t too matte or too oily.
2. Combine different foundation formulas for a natural “painterly” effect.
“What I’m always looking for is the most perfect version of natural skin. I want people to see skin, not foundation,” Lee said. To achieve that, she combines several formulations, using Les Beiges tint as a starting point on the face, neck and chest. “And then I’ll move in with Le Teint [$60] to add a little bit more coverage, conceal the pores, diffuse light. So I’m very painterly when I apply foundation. I certainly don’t use the same foundation all over the face.”
The artist carries about 12 shades at once, though her bag is always changing. “I’m very organized. I’m a Virgo. Everything is lined. I feel like I have to apologize whenever I open my bag, I’m like, ‘It’s okay. I’m okay. I’m really alright.’ Because they look at it, and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, this woman is a psycho,'” Lee joked.
3. Instead of bronzer, use foundation powder two shades darker than your tone.
Lee is partial to Les Beiges sheer powders ($58) because they can take away shine, diffuse light and add a glowing complexion but “the payoff is not too heavy.” Often, she will pick a shade two shades darker than the foundation to use as bronzer, in order to avoid an overly-sparkly bronzer.
“I turn to this when I’m looking for something to add dimension, add a little bit of warmth around the outside of the face,” she said. It can sculpt without an unwanted gray-brown ashy look. “I’d much rather use something that’s more complimentary to the skin and it doesn’t sit on the skin.”
4. Wipe off lipstick three or four times.
Lee frequently wipes the lipstick on and off three or four times to get the desired deep color and long-lasting effect. She layers different lipsticks, especially pigment-rich formulas.
“When it’s a bright color or a dark color, I approach lipstick like I do foundation because if you want it to stay put, the only way to do that is in good preparation and laying down the foundation,” Lee said.
5. If you are over-lining your lips, go matte.
Some people choose to over-line their lips to make them appear fuller, a la the Kardashians, but Lee warns that if you over-line, you should go with a matte shade. “The second you add a shine, it gives away the fact that you’ve overdrawn the lips. There are just certain rules that work better for a red carpet,” Lee said.
6. Matte is better for longer-lasting lips, too.
Lee’s general rule of thumb is if you want something to stay on, it’s better in a matte formulation with a more intense pigment. She goes with Chanel’s Rouge Allure Ink Matte Liquid Lip Color ($38). “They’re all so well pigmented,” she said.
7. It’s okay to remove lipstick after the photo op.
Some clients just want to be comfortable and, after getting a photo on the carpet, they’ll dab their lips with blotting papers to remove the lipstick before heading inside the party. “A lot of my girls don’t want to deal,” Lee added.
8. Know which tools and products to keep on hand at a red carpet.
“You have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, so you also have to make sure everybody has what they need before they leave and they know exactly what to do with it,” said Lee, who gives clients Q-tips, makeup remover, eyeliner or lip products before heading out to a carpet so they can do any touch-ups themselves.
“You assume that models and celebrities know how to do makeup, and they don’t always,” she explained. She teaches them to first use the blotting paper, then dust on the powder (explaining that yes, there is enough powder on one puff). If they put lipstick on, make sure to blot it off. Touch the edge of the lip line to remove access. Don’t let the gloss go beyond the lip line.
“I’m very fastidious, and so the first thing I do when I see someone on the carpet is I have to see every angle and make sure everything is looking okay,” Lee said. “I’ll be texting the publicist saying, ‘Take that lip gloss off.’ I’m literally working remotely through the publicist sometimes.”
9. Lee recommends facialist Melanie Grant for clients.
Lee, who trained as an esthetician, suggests that clients visit facialist Melanie Grant before an event (with studios in West Hollywood, Paris, Melbourne and Sydney).
However, Lee’s own skincare training also taught her how to give advice on those last-minute breakouts. “A client of mine called me the other night and said, ‘Help! I have a pimple on the middle of my nose. It’s cyclops and I don’t know what to do,’ and I’m very comfortable to advise people,” Lee said. “I sent them straight to the dermatologist … ‘Do not touch it. Don’t let it get infected. We’ll leave it alone.'”
10. Opt for the Huile de Jasmine facial oil that Keira Knightley raves about.
Hydra Beauty items are Lee’s go-tos for Chanel skincare. She loves the Camellia Water Cream ($55) and the Jasmine Oil ($120), for the hair, face, arms, hands and cuticles. “They smell very nice. I’ve worked with Keira Knightley for a million years and she practically purrs when I put this on her face, because she looks forward to it because it smells so good,” Lee said. “It’s just a winner for me every time.”
11. Midway through a busy day, just remove makeup under the eyes and reapply for an instant refresher.
On a hectic press junket day of interview after interview, Lee is at the ready to remove makeup underneath the eyes during a lunch break and then reapply it. In the afternoon, she might touch it up once more: “Not only does it look a lot better … but it also makes that person feel nurtured in a way and cared about.”
12. Do not wear super-glam nighttime makeup to a daytime event like the Emmys.
“I think two-thirds of someone looking amazing on the red carpet is being appropriate to the event, being appropriate to what they’re wearing, and just for them to look like them,” Lee said. “There’s nothing worse than looking at a mask of makeup, in my opinion. I [want people to] admire their beauty and how beautiful they look, rather than it to be about what we did makeup- and hair-wise.”
Chanel Fragrance and Beauté Boutique; 15263 Palisades Village Ln, Pacific Palisades; Chanel.com.
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