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Local makeup artist promotes individuality over trends

Kathey Hill Irby, 30-year veteran makeup artist
Photo courtesy of Kathey Hill Irby

As women, we often gaze at models and celebrities gracing beauty magazine pages coveting their symmetrically arched eyebrows, smoky eyes, thick eyelashes, contoured noses and radiant lips painted on flawless skin.

It’s a glamorous façade contrived with hours of makeup, lighting and digital refinement; an image that continuously entices us to spend hundreds of dollars annually on products striving to look as beautiful and feel good about ourselves.

“Makeup shouldn't be something you rely on to make you happy,” says Kathey Hill Irby, a 30-year veteran makeup artist in Charlotte, North Carolina. “It's going to enhance what you already have."

According to Irby, makeup is essentially an accessory used to put a finishing touch on a wardrobe or compliment a hairstyle. “It should not be the center of your being,” she says. And while women rush to drugstores and department store makeup counters to buy products promoted by the latest trends, Irby, who views trends as “mass production,” prefers to promote a different product: individuality.

“Because a lot of women come to me with low self-esteem; they come with pictures of these glamorous women and I have to explain to them they don’t even look like that,” says Irby, one of Elle magazine’s 100 Recommended Makeup Artists in 2012. “My job is to tell them let me pull the best out of you. Bring your own beauty into this world not somebody else's.”

Irby begins the unveiling process by prescreening her clients. “I have to talk to this person for at least five or six minutes to get a feel of their personality,” she says.

Then, she removes their heavy makeup and reapplies it with powder, concealer and lipstick creating a remarkable transformation that’s made several clients cry. “It's more cleansing of their minds rethinking I don’t need all of this. I'm putting on a mask because I'm afraid of who I am.”

Irby, whose clientele ranges from housewives to corporate executives, recommends a 15-minute daily beauty regimen of skincare, concealer, eye shadow, mascara and lip color. To further assist, she teaches private classes on skincare, application and colors.

And although she’s worked on commercials, music videos and fashion photo shoots, nothing is more gratifying than transforming how women see their individual beauty. "When you come in with your head down, you look in that mirror and you smile the biggest smile, that can't be paid with money.”

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