Friends Friday | Katey Denno

Good morning! This week has been absolutely insane, I think we can all agree on that. Anyways, it’s Friends Friday today on Jamie Makeup & I am introducing you guys to Katey Denno! She is an amazing makeup artist based out of LA & NYC working with natural products. Katey’s list of clients includes beautiful and inspiring clients such as Chelsea Handler, Felicity Jones, and more. Check out my interview with her below!


How long have you been working in the industry?

10 years! 

What’s your “break in” story? 

Before I was a makeup artist, I worked as a social worker, mainly focusing on helping women in difficult situations. I also worked with HIV+ folks, and ran some support groups for men transitioning to live as women. I learned so much from them about the transformational and emotionally uplifting qualities that makeup can have on a person. One night I went to a friend’s birthday dinner, sat next to a woman who told me she was a makeup artist, after she saw me doodling on a napkin. I figured she meant that she worked at a makeup counter, but when she told me more about her industry, and what she did with her days, and suggested I call in sick to work one day and come assist with her, I realized this was a world I knew nothing about… but wanted to. 

I knew nothing about makeup artists, but decided to become an expert by sitting in the magazine stores in the East Village, NYC, with a pen and paper, making a spread sheet of the magazines, the photographers, the hair and makeup artists whose work looked good to me. I made a business pseudo card, and a list of all of the NYC agencies, and I went door to door, telling whoever would let me in that I wasn’t a kid (i think I’d already turned 30!), wouldn’t screw around on set, would work for peanuts, that I understood color, knew how to keep my mouth shut. It served me well, and there must’ve been a hole in the industry at precisely that moment, because within a week of knocking on agency doors, unannounced, without a book, I started getting calls to assist. So many, that I found myself turning more down than I could take. At some point within a few months (during which time I learned from other assistants that I was supposed to be ‘testing’, which I did with everyone who would say yes, I was fortunate enough to get a call from The Wall Group, asking me to come in for a meeting. I did, and I met the woman who had come from the top editorial agency to start a new division at the wall group – emerging talent. I was their first signed makeup artist, and it opened up a whole new world for me. I’ll forever be grateful to my then agent, Bianca, for believing in me, and pushing for me to grow.

We love that you work with all natural products, what inspired you to make the switch? 

Thanks! You know, there wasn’t an a-ha moment that I can speak to, it was really a culmination of things. As a social worker, I’d worked with clients who were in shaky health, so I was already familiar with reading ingredient labels, and assessing for risk. One day I was asked to do a volunteer job with a then unknown brand called Tata Harper, who was hosting a spa kind of pampering afternoon for women living in domestic violence shelters. I went and listened to Tata’s story about her a-ha moment, which came during her pregnancy, when she realized that all of the expensive, high end face serums and creams she had in her cabinet were full of questionable ingredients- many that are known carcinogens (can cause cancer). it opened my eyes even wider than they already were (i was already into healthy eating, caring for my body, meditation, etc), and I realized – why the heck would I put something on my skin (my largest organ) that I wouldn’t want IN my body? It was a no brainer.


What does “A Day In The Life of Katey Denno” look like? 

As with all freelancers, it completely depends on the day, but I try and fit the following in:

  1. Nature: whether it’s a hike in the Griffith Park hills, or jumping rope out back by the orange trees, or even speed walking the crazy nearly vertical streets in my neighborhood, I have to be outside getting my heart pumping at some point.
  2. Some sort of facial treatment: Whether it’s an at home electric current machine in the morning, or an evening peel or mask or scrub.
  3. I read! I have to spend at least 30 minutes with my nose in a book, learning something new, or being transported into the life story of someone else.
  4. Some sort of beauty product testing. Every single day there is at least one package delivered to my home from a makeup or skincare company. It’s overwhelming and wonderful.
  5. TONS of texting/emailing/phone calls. I’m the opposite of keep-to-myself. I have at least 5 conversations (if not 15) going throughout the day, most days. It’s also overwhelming and wonderful.
  6. No matter if I’m at home, in the car, or on a hike, 75% of the time I’m listening to indian chanting music (and generally chanting along).
  7. In addition to working as a makeup artist, I fit in clients on the side who hire me to ‘green over’ their lives. Often it starts with me helping them change over some of their cosmetics, and then for others, I help them find the ways within their every day life that they can be more eco-friendly, and consume fewer potential toxins. Clients come to me for all sorts of reasons, but it’s often a pregnancy, new baby, or health scare that brings them first. It’s been fun to see families grow, and children being raised inside of homes I’ve ‘greened’, for whom being eco-friendly and green minded has been a way of life since birth!

What/ who is a daily inspiration for you? 

The repeating patterns and incredible colors in nature. I moved to Los Angeles so I’d get to experience it up close every day. 

What are two everyday beauty tricks that anyone can incorporate into their daily routine? 

  1. Curling your eyelashes (not a trick, but something I think everyone should incorporate into their daily routine).
  2. Using a face oil or serum. It penetrates into the deeper layers of of skin to truly hydrate – not just make skin appear hydrated on the surface. There are expensive ones, and really inexpensive ones, and two-three drops on a damp face is all you need to start your beauty regimen!

What are three of your favorite all natural products? 

  1. Jasmine Garden Mist from May Lindstrom
  2. The Illuminator, Biossance eye gel
  3. RL Linden Lip balm

What advice would you give to others who have the desire to pursue a career as a makeup artist? 

Spend all of your spare time researching everything you can about makeup aritsts you want to assist. Know what’s so special about the work of each one, and reach out to their agents, or if you can find their info online, to them. Be humble, be focused while you assist, and test on your own with everyone you can. Work at developing your own style, while learning about all of those who have come before you. Take this as seriously as you would going to grad school for an advanced degree, and know that you’re in charge of making your syllabus and sticking to it!

We know the glamorous sides of the job, but what are some challenges that you face daily? 

My suitcase generally weighs 60lbs. If I’m in LA, I heave it in and out of my trunk, and up and down clients’ steps, and if I’m in nyc, it’s in and out of taxi’s, and up and down city streets.  

Products melt and run if my kit has been in the sun or near a heater inadvertently.

We want to stay connected. Where can we find you? 

It’s all my name! (relaunching mid-Nov!)

kateydenno – insta, twitter

my blog:

Check out some amazing work by Katey Denno below!







Thanks for reading! Have a lovely weekend.



(images via vogue, the wall group, spiritbeautylounge, tataharperskincare)