COMING CLEAN WITH KATEY DENNO
Coming Clean is a monthly series where we interview people about their relationship with clean beauty - the good, bad, and ugly. We hope these interviews will serve as a platform for raw and vulnerable discussion, but if you only take away one thing, it should be this: there is no right or wrong way - there is only your way.
Katey is a green celebrity makeup artist and non-toxic, eco-friendly product expert. Check out our interview with her as part of CLOVE + HALLOW's monthly Coming Clean series.
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO MAKE THE SWITCH TO USING CLEANER BEAUTY PRODUCTS?
I was raised by parents who regarded food as medicine in many ways, and my folks employed natural home remedies, often. Beauty products were a different story, and my awareness that what goes on our skin, in large part, winds up in our bloodstream, and of course, hurts our planet, didn’t come until many years later. I worked as a social worker prior to my makeup career. I learned about transdermal medication usage during my time working in women’s health (think birth control patches that deliver a steady dose of pregnancy prevention through the skin) and during my years working in HIV services, where patches frequently delivered medicine to patients who couldn’t take it orally or intravenously.
When I made the switch to makeup artistry it was something that occurred to me early on, when I started reading ingredient lists and asking fellow makeup artists what the ingredients were (many of which I couldn't even pronounce). There wasn’t much of an awareness across the mainstream industry, which made me want to dig deeper and help brands that were committed to creating clean products get into the spotlight.
"MY AWARENESS THAT WHAT GOES ON OUR SKIN WINDS UP IN OUR BLOODSTREAM DIDN’T COME UNTIL MANY YEARS LATER."
WHICH BEAUTY PRODUCT DID YOU SWAP FIRST?
I wandered into a store in NYC about a decade ago and found a beautifully curated apothecary that offered nothing but clean beauty. At the time it was 95 percent skincare, but there was one makeup brand offering about seven lipsticks. I bought them all and went home and wrote to the founder on Facebook to tell her how thrilled I was with what she’d made, and asked if we could be friends.
WAS BEAUTY THE FIRST THING YOU SWITCHED WHEN MOVING TO A CLEANER LIFESTYLE?
It was actually the last thing! I’ve always lived a very clean lifestyle—from food and supplements, to the mattresses and candles I choose for my home. My own personal makeup swapping happened gradually as the level of efficacy and aesthetics in the clean beauty realm evolved, though there are still days when I know that for the sake of longevity, or super intensity of color, I may need to pick a product from the realm of mainstream beauty. Those times are getting fewer and further apart, but there is still a lot of work to be done in the clean beauty lab!
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR CLEAN BEAUTY STAPLES?
I went from super-acne face to clear, amazing skin thanks to two brands: Jenette All Natural Skin Care and True Botanicals (their Clear line). Those two skincare lines will forever be at the forefront of my routine. I use Jenette’s chocolate and green tea soaps and vitamin C serum every day, and the True Botanicals facial mist, oil, and antioxidant powder. To treat breakouts directly, I reach for Marie Veronique Intensive Repair Serum. I’m really loving the sunscreens from Vive Sana and Ayuna right now.
I can’t imagine using something that’s not clean on my hair or body, and there are so many amazing products in those two categories that I can switch between scents and textures all the time. I am obsessed with the WORLD hair care line out of Toronto by clean industry pioneer, Brian Philips. For my body I go between products from Odacité, Dr. Bronner's, Living Libations… the list is very long.
"START WITH WHATEVER TOUCHES THE LARGEST SURFACE AREA OF YOUR BODY—WHATEVER IS CASCADING DOWN YOUR BODY DURING YOUR DAILY SHOWER."
WHAT DOES YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE LOOK LIKE?
All clean, of course! (See above.)
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO SEE IN THE FUTURE FROM CLEAN BEAUTY?
Continued advancements in all realms to get clean beauty makeup to perform on par with (and better than!) mainstream products. I know it’s possible!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WANTING TO TRANSITION TO CLEANER BEAUTY PRODUCTS?
Start with whatever touches the largest surface area of your body, meaning start with body wash, shampoo, and conditioner—whatever is cascading down your body during your daily shower. Then look at what’s going on your lips. The options of balms, colorful glosses and lipsticks is vast and there’s really no reason not to choose a clean product in this category.