You have makeup artists, and then you have makeup auteurs: Those pros who help their clients express their unique energy but leave an undeniable signature of their own. And I would consider Kali Kennedy to be the former.
As the makeup artist of choice for alternative It Girls such as Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie, and Barbie Ferreira, Kennedy is the reigning queen of the maximalist beat (and arguably the godmother of the Dark Bimbo aesthetic).
I got to chat with Kennedy after a Masterclass she hosted in collaboration with MAC Cosmetics for the launch of the brand’s Lash Dry Shampoo Mascara Refresher ($24). Read on for all of her best beauty tips.
On the 2023 Makeup Trend She’s Loving
"I like that a big, bold eye is coming back! A really smoky, undone eye has kind of been my thing lately. And the fact that I can refresh my mascara at the end of the day [with MAC’s Lash Dry Shampoo Mascara Refresher] has been a total life changer."
On How to Get the Lip Liner Look of the Moment
"At the moment, I really like—it’s a bit of a TikTok thing—starting below my pout and not extending over the lip line on the sides. I keep it extended at the center of the lower lip, then keep it at the true lip lines on the sides. Then I like covering my cupid’s bow and keeping it at the lip line on the sides. That gives you that pouty, vertical, as opposed to horizontal look."
On Achieving an Alexa Demie-Worthy Pout
"If you’re trying to get really defined lip liner, I like to get it in there, really work it on, and then take a Q-tip with micellar water and clean the interior of the lip. Then I’ll add a gloss or a lighter lip color and work them together. That way you can get a super-defined look or leave it a little bit thicker; Alexa [Demie] likes hers a little thicker."
On Where She’s Getting Inspo
"I’m huge into music—I have a lot of friends in music, and I’ve been influenced by it from a young age. One of my friends is in the band Deftones, and I recently went to a Deftones show that my friend Yves Tumor DJ’d. I’ve done his makeup recently, and I’m doing it for Coachella. I don’t know, having that sort of creativity and connection with someone is important to me, so my groundbreaking music friends [have been influencing me a lot lately]."
On How to Keep Your Face in Place
"Yves is very animated, so I like to use products that are very, very long-wearing. I think for Coachella we’re going to do something that’s airbrushed, so it’s very much not moving! For the girlies, when we go out—apply a lot of mattifying setting spray. Fix+ Matte is amazing. I also usually send the girls out with a powder and a small brush."
The Three Products She’s Loving at the Moment
"I have to have four! At the end of the day, if I have to do a day-to-night look, my must-haves are Phone Number, which is a cool-toned gray MAC Eye Kohl that’s easy to blend; MAC Eyeshadow in Seen, which is also a nice cool-toned gray; and Feline, which is a nice blendable kohl. You can do so many looks with those three products, but if you have your little Lash Refresher, also, you’re going to have the most impactful, beautiful look. I worked with Arca recently, and we made up this word—Socketed, which is when your eye look is super impactful. It’s just Socketed!"
On How to Nail Your Eyeliner
"I think with graphic liner, practice makes perfect—you just need to have a little bit of patience and practice. Commit to it. But I think once you get a shape down, there are techniques that can make that shape so much easier. For me personally, I love a winged liner. I’ll create the wing first, depending on the shape I want, then I’ll connect the wing to the lashline, then I’ll work with the lash line, connecting that.
"Lay a couple of ground rules that make the process easier for you and make [the look] more symmetrical. Say you have a felt tip liner: If you use your lashes as a guide, and set the liner on top of your lashes and just sort of stamp very slowly, it makes it look like you have the most intricate, precise liner—and you just used your lashes as a guide."
On the How She's Kind of Living for This Moment in Fashion
"I think fashion has a bit of an edge to it right now that I love because I love edgy, goth stuff. So I hope that it goes even harder into the Socketed looks! Heavy liner, heavy smoky eyes. I love that people are playing with their brows more: Skinny brows, bleached brows. I might even grow my brows back and pluck them into interesting shapes. I just want to see more drama, hardcore grunge, and rock and roll."