Teen Vogue: Q+A with Makeup Artist Kayleen McAdams!

Teen Vogue
Published: June 23, 2010

Let’s face it: Celebs don’t just roll out of bed looking red-carpet ready. Even the most glamorous of stars, like Rachel McAdams, need a little help primping for big events. Luckily for Rachel, she has talented makeup artist (and little sister!) Kayleen McAdams to help her achieve all of her gorgeous red-carpet looks. We talked to Kayleen to get the scoop on her beginnings as a makeup artist, some of her favorite products, and what it’s like to work with celebrities.

What influenced you to become a makeup artist?
I was always interested in makeup and loved practicing on myself and my friends. I’ve always been a big product junkie, but I never really knew it could be a job and something that you could make money doing. I was originally on a path to be a psychologist, but after spending time with other makeup artists, I learned it was something you could do beyond a counter–and I became interested in pursuing it as a career.

How did you begin working with Rachel?
We started doing some editorial stuff together, and it just kind of took off from there. I think one of the first things was [a shoot] with Vanity Fair.

What’s your favorite thing about working as a makeup artist?
I enjoy the flexibility and creativity it gives me. I enjoy working with people who want to try different things, and I follow trends in magazines. Between the actress, the hairstylist, and the makeup artist, everyone works together to be inspired, and it becomes a collaboration to decide on a particular look at that time.

How do you decide what looks to create for Rachel for her red-carpet appearances?
I usually look at magazines beforehand, or I’ll see things that I like on the Internet, and I keep a folder of it. I look through different tear sheets beforehand, and having an idea of the dress the actress will be wearing also helps. Lots of times, the actress will have a reference point too, just like when you go the hairdresser and you tell them what you like and what you don’t like. I also enjoy talking to the hairstylist because it works best to be cohesive as a team–I don’t want [the makeup] to compete with strong hairstyles.

What was your favorite look that you created for Rachel?
I really liked the 1940s-inspired look from the Sherlock Holmes premiere in Berlin. To create it, I talked to the hairstylists about what they wanted to do, picked a lipstick, and went from there.

What are your favorite beauty products?
Something that I love and I use these all the time are Pond’s Cream Wet Cleansing Towelettes, both for evening and for day. It sets the tone for how makeup is going to turn out, and I use them on all of my clients’ faces. After that, you can work in primer, foundation, and color products. I also love the Covergirl Lash Blast Mascara, because it builds up really well. Another one of my favorites is the Chanel Ombre Eyeshadow, which is a cream eyeshadow, like powdered water, and it stays really well. I use them both on myself and on my clients.

What’s the one beauty item you can’t leave home without?
I’m a mascara girl. If there’s only one thing I’m going to put on, it’s mascara.

What is your best beauty tip?
What I like to do is to go a Japanese market, where they have really good eyelash curlers. You press the curler, then tilt it up toward the top of your head, and it helps you get a really good, tight curl. They’re really cheap, you can buy them for about six bucks.

What is the best part about your job?
I love the travel. I’m one of those people who likes to be busy and always on the road. It’s nice to meet different people and be in different places all the time.

You’ve recently become a spokesperson for Pond’s. Is there anything special you have planned with them in the upcoming months?
Not anything specific, but I did just do a really great event about the company through the ages, at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s museum. The event celebrated that Pond’s has been around since 1846! They created a timeline of Pond’s, introduced different products, and I helped design different looks for different time periods.

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