Kayleen didn’t get her start in makeup the old fashioned way. She was actually on her way to becoming a psychologist! It was her famous older sister, actress Rachel McAdams who helped sparked Kayleen’s interest in the makeup industry! Talk about sisterly love!

I met Kayleen over 8 years ago. We were both assistants at the time on a job with Jillian Dempsey for Avon in Texas. We didn’t have a ton to do, so we spent most of the trip walking around the city. It was so hot and we were drenched in sweat, but we wined and dined the night away as we got to know each other. And we’ve been friends ever since! She’s one the nicest makeup artists in the industry and super talented!!!!!!!!!! I love hitting up Kayleen up for a hike or a girl’s lunch! We have grown up together in the business, and I look to her for advice often. She’s a friend and a huge talent in this city! Her awesome work has been featured in top name publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Teen Vogue, as well as numerous red carpet events and movie sets! Read below to get to know more about this awesome and inspiring woman!

How long have you been doing professional makeup?

Some complicated math here…. I moved to Los Angeles 8 years ago but I worked in Toronto before that… approximately 10 years?

What got you into this industry?

I am forever grateful to my sister that she saw a love and passion for makeup in me and helped me find my creative voice. Growing up in a very small town, I made my choices from a lack of awareness of how many amazing creative jobs are out there. I wanted to help people, so I went to University and got a degree in Psychology.  It wasn’t what I expected and was looking to make a change.

I went to visit my sister on the set of The Notebook and spent most of my vacation in the makeup trailer.  That experience and my sister’s support gave me the leap of faith I needed to become a makeup artist instead. Now I get to help people every single day, but it a very different way than I expected.

What was your big break?

Assisting Pati Dubroff on Hilary Duff’s “Wake Up” video in Toronto. One assisting job with her led to another and working with Pati helped me build a relationship with my current agency, The Wall Group.

Who or What is your inspiration for a makeup look?

I tend to be very inspired by the products themselves. I’ll get something new, whether it be an inspiring color or an innovative formula and want to build a whole look around it.

What was your favorite project or campaign that you’ve worked on?

Every press tour I have ever done with my sister has been a dream.  She is so adventurous with makeup and welcomes teamwork and creativity. To get paid to do that while traveling around the world with one of your best friends is my favorite thing to do.

What’s your holy grail makeup tool?

Product: Lipstick

Tool: Beauty Blender

What are some drugstore products you are currently obsessed with?

Kiss Trio False Eyelashes

Q-tip Precision Tip buds

CoverGirl Lash Blast Mascara

Revlon Skinlights Face Illuminator (I can’t remember, this might only be in Canada, but Canada has REALLY good drugstore products)

Avene Thermal spring water

What are 2 basic makeup tips everyone should master by the time they hit 30?

Picking the right shade of foundation, by the time you are 30. You must learn that your color might not come in just one product.  Mix and match and splurge on 2 (or 3!) colors if it means being the correct shade.

You must master red lipstick. I have never ever met a person that doesn’t look good in red lipstick.  It is truly universal, it’s just a matter of finding the right shade and texture.

You’re known for delivering a natural, flawless look. What are some ways someone at home can achieve something similar?

Why thank you Jamie. Blend, Buff and Build. The 3 B’s. They are key to getting a really natural look, you can always add more if you need to.

What makeup trend(s) are you looking forward to most this season?

Monochromatic makeup.

What are some on-the-go makeup products you never leave your house without?

For me personally? Sunscreen – I love the Water Powder Jelly formula (just discovered, but am obsessed)

Mascara -My latest favorite combo is  L’Oreal Telescopic because it gets right at the roots, followed by MAC Extreme Dimension because it builds great volume.

Fresh Lip Treatments in any color. They smell like Skittles and give me that flushed, but not heavy look that I love.

You’re constantly traveling— what are some products everyone should carry in their travel bag?

Tatcha facial spray, smells great and is hydrating on planes

Face mask & ear plugs (no brainer)

Immune support (I take Wellmune every morning)

Lanolin cream for my lips

If you could only use 3 makeup products for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

Mascara because my eyes are a little hooded and I need a bit of oomph.

Concealer, I rarely wear a full foundation. I like just a little coverage while still letting my skin shine through.

Every lip product under the sun. Can’t pick just one; I love lipsticks, liners, stains, balms, glossy stains, glosses and everything in between.

You recently got married, congrats! What are some tips you have for brides to looking fresh all wedding day long?

Take care of your skin! This is a given, but getting married is the perfect excuse to get your skin in tip-top shape.  I started seeing Kerri Ann at Dr. Ava Shamban’s office and she really made me feel youthful and glowing in the months leading up to my wedding. When the actual day came, I needed little makeup to look fresh and for my skin to look clear.  I don’t think I even used any powder.

Make sure you look great for the ceremony, but eventually there’s a point where you’ve just got to let it go. When I see the pictures from the very end of the night, I can tell that I had just let it all go by that time.  My lip color was long gone, my nose was shiny, my hair had been pulled back in a bum, but I look really happy.  Those are some of my favorite pictures.

As a Canadian, do you feel there are cultural differences between how American women wear their makeup vs. Canadian women?

Hmmmm good question.  I think Canada and America have a lot of similarities culturally.  We watch a lot of the same television, movies, etc. so I think there is a similar esthetic.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?

I am really happy with the trajectory I am on right now.  I am trying to stay really open to every possibility that comes my way, that mentality has worked for me in the past so I’m sticking to it.  My agency just went through a major change and was acquired by WME so I’m interested to see if that brings any different opportunities my way.

Any advice on someone looking to break into the industry?

Fake it till you make it.

How can people follow your work?

@kayleenmcadams on twitter, instagram and pinterest.

kmgmcadams on snapchat.


(images via vogue & thewallgroup)