There's something to be said for getting your makeup done by a pro. Between the flawless application and the accentuation of your best features, it's almost painful to wash it all away at the end of the night. While getting contoured and highlighted at the hand of an expert on a daily basis may not be in the cards, learning how to do your own makeup like a Hollywood starlet definitely is.
To prove it, we caught up with celebrity makeup artist Karen Lynn Accattato for some tips and tricks we could all use. The Chicago native has worked on the faces of everyone from Jay Cutler and Michael Jordan to President Barack Obama and Rham Emanuel, and movies like Jupiter Ascending and Barbershop 2. But the latest feather in her cap involves returning to the set of the hit show Empire for season two. That's right, Accattato is powdering the noses of everyone from Terrence Howard to Oprah. Ahead, the beauty chats with us about our biggest makeup blunders (and how to correct them!), translating on-screen makeup to a real life look, her favorite go-to products, and more.
How much time are you given to prep the cast of Empire? What's the energy like on set?
"During the average day, the women have 45-minutes for hair and 45-minutes for makeup. The men take 20-minutes in makeup and 45 in hair, if they’re really getting groomed. If there happens to be someone using prosthetics one day, they have will be in the chair for hours! These are for things like swollen eyes in the fight scenes, bullet wounds...we bring in an expert to handle these jobs because it’s a super labor-intensive task."
"As for the energy, it is also totally upbeat—the Empire cast is among the best I’ve worked with. Everyone is so caring and always ready to have a good time. It really is a party. We’re channeling every artist—fashion, hair, makeup, and actors—and we’re filming real-life dramas. If it looks like it’s fun on TV, that’s how it goes in real life—especially in the trailer. We call it the nest because that’s where everyone comes to get into character at the top of the shoot. Lee Daniels says it’s 'where the magic happens.'"
What are some "on-set" makeup tips that can translate into everyday wear for us regular gals?
"Use primer! The number one thing everyone needs is a primer–one for your face, one for your eyes, and one for your lashes. Especially if you’re more mature, primer is essential. It will hold your makeup for a long time and protect the skin and lashes. It’s especially important for your lashes, as it helps prevent you pulling them out when taking off the makeup, thus creating a fuller, longer lash. It will keep the oils from seeping through your makeup—which results in smudges. My work has to hold up for 18 hours, so primer is essential so I don’t have to touch everyone up all day long on set. It's also great for minimizing pores and because it blocks the oils, it gives your skin a smooth finish in order to apply the foundation."
"Also, for the man in your life, don’t forget to tell them the same thing I tell mine: Taking care of your face is so important, and it’s so easy to follow this simple three-step plan. Cleanse, shave, and finish. The ultimate thing is hydration, so make sure they’re using products each step of the way that help retain moisture–especially a cleanser like Dove Men+Care Deep Clean Face Scrub–which hydrates and exfoliates in one step. Only 48 percent of guys wash their face every day and only half of men moisturize their face, so set them up with an easy routine."
What's one of the most common mistakes you see women make with their makeup and how can it be corrected?
"There are a few. Women don’t use the right foundation! All too often they don’t use the right skin tone and they don’t blend. It’s also either too thick, cakey, or powdery. The other problem is that women also don’t wear age or situationally appropriate makeup. Leave the shine and the shimmer for the young and make sure you pay attention to your surroundings. Heavy makeup can be distracting out of context. I also don’t like tattooed makeup. It’s hard to get it right–it doesn’t give you the opportunity to change your look. That’s the beauty of makeup. You can always change it up to match your appearance."
What's trending in makeup now and what can we look forward to this fall?
"There are two big trends I’m excited about: natural looks and men’s makeup. I’m thrilled that these days everyone wants to look natural, because the thing I love about makeup is its ability to simply enhance and highlight someone’s own beauty. As an artist, I want to find what’s authentic about a person or a character. On TV we’re always trying to make people look natural, and it’s really speaking to the masses. As for the guys, it’s finally becoming OK to talk about wearing makeup. Here natural is extra important, and that all starts with a hydrating moisturizer with a matte finish. I use the Dove Men+Care Ultra Hydrating Cream on all of my clients because it's the perfect base."
Considering you have such an impressive clientele and roster of experience, were you ever starstruck? If so, who was it?
"I’ve been fortunate to work with notable men and women for about 25 years now, but the one person that will always impress me most is President Barack Obama. He is the most extraordinary man I’ve ever worked with, and he’s such a pleasure each and every time. I first met him when he was a junior senator in Illinois, and I still work with him when he makes appearances in Chicago. He is wonderful."
How would you say the Chicago clientele differs from other markets style/look-wise?
"Chicago is a conservative and classic city. New York is more edgy, LA is more trendy, and people in Dallas have a very 'socialite' look. Classic really says it all about Chicago."
Where are some of your favorite Chicago-area stores to purchase your makeup?
"Che Sguardo in River North—they have all kinds of makeup for everyday and movie, TV, and print professionals. They have the high-grade concealers, beautiful brushes, and skin care products we use on set. And the staff is so knowledgeable–they can always offer the best recommendations. Kryolan on Halsted is another one of my favorites because they have amazing eye shadows at a great price point in beautiful colors. This German company is one of the oldest in the world, and we now have a great professional store here. They also offer classes and their looks are great—it’s a must-visit for anyone getting interested in getting into the business. I also love the Mac Pro store in Lincoln Park."
What are a few go-to products that you always have in your box?
"I always have lip balm, anti-shine high definition powder, and two of the Kryolan palettes: a concealer color corrector palette that serves as a foundation, concealer, and contour and the color cream palette with every basic color that you can mix to make any color you want for a quick blush, lip, eyeshadow, or brow filler. I love the MAC primer and their Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation—you can wear it super-sheer like a wash or a tint, or as a full cover for the magazine-look—and the MAC Extended Play Gigablack Lash Mascara. For the men on set, I never forget extra bottles of the Dove Men+Care Ultra Hydrating Cream. Everyone’s always stealing jars of it from me!"
You're also a philanthropist! What made you choose the specific charitable organizations that you're involved with?
"I chose these charities [CURE Epilepsy Research, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights] because of personal relationships with people in my life. I always want to be a voice or a face for someone who is underserved. I meet so many people, and this is the one little way I can work to make a difference in their lives.
What's next for Karen Lynn?
"In addition to finishing season two of Empire and working on an upcoming GQ cover, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the Emmy’s with my Empire team!"