Makeup Bag: The Beauty Department’s Kristin Ess
“My first memory of playing with hair revolved around Barbie, of course. Typical 5 to 7-year-old phase of wanting to braid and chop that nylon hair. The first time I played with hair on a human was my own. I was watching Madonna’s “Material Girl” video and I went in and curled my bangs, feathered them like hers and then bumped the ends under. Nothing could stop me that day. I didn’t know how rare it was for a 7-year-old to curl and style her own hair until much later. I just knew I wanted that hair. Oh, and that dress with the big pink bow.
I got into the hair business early. It was my first job. Actually, it’s been my only job. I’ve never done anything else. I was 15 going on 16 when a nice man who was friends with my aunt gave me a job as an apprentice. I was able to go to school until noon, then work in the salon from 2-9pm. I would take three buses from the valley to Century City – really far – and do my homework on the way. I graduated from high school at 17, and then got my own chair at the salon. I lied to all my clients and told them I was 23 because no one was going to trust a kid to do their hair. I still have a lot of those clients and now we laugh about how I stayed 25 for 5 years.
My biggest professional accomplishment happened [when] Allure put me in their Best of the Best directory. It’s like winning an Oscar in the hair world. It’s an incredible honor because your name is next to some of the greatest talents that you could never imagine it being next to. I think I threw the magazine across the room when I read it because I was so shocked. Had to go out and buy another one right away!
Over the years, my makeup has changed a lot. I used to wear major liner and a red lip to work every day. That was fun but now every minute of my free time is taken up by The Beauty Department. My makeup is definitely more natural now, but I always keep my liners, lashes, and lip colors with me – as you see in my bag – for going out.
I’m not a huge follower of trends. I like a bronzy, dewy, glowy look for the day-to-day. It’s my go-to thing and I can do it in exactly 11 minutes. I love to talk beauty trends, obviously, and I love to try them, but it never really becomes part of my signature look. I pair that makeup with my flaming red wavy hair and I feel like a mermaid every day!
My job as a blogger doesn’t affect my makeup preferences but it does introduce me to many things I wouldn’t have picked up on my own. Obviously one of the big perks of being a blogger is having stuff arrive in boxes at the office. Sometimes I stumble upon something I wouldn’t have purchased that quickly becomes a staple on my vanity. I love getting things from new brands, too. Helping a company get off the ground is so satisfying if the product is great. Even if it’s just a little boost. It’s fun to support the small guys, too.
I pick up incredible tips from makeup artists on set. In fact, one of my closest friends, Lottie, is a makeup artist. That girl has some kind of special God-given gift when it comes skin and makeup. She taught me her secret and then told me if I ever tell, she would kill me. I take that very seriously. She was also the one who taught me to do my eyeliner with my eyes open, looking straight into a mirror. It’s one of those no-brainers that we seem to forget. I always tilted my head back to start but she told me to try just looking straight ahead. I made my first perfect pair of swoops that day. Then you tilt your head back to finish the rest. Such a great tip.
My makeup bag is from Zara. The label said it was a clutch, but all I saw was a very glamorous makeup bag.
Shu Uemura Face Architect Illuminating Moisturizing Foundation – I found this at Shu in Paris on my last trip. The most glowing, moisturizing foundation I have ever experienced.
Tom Ford Beauty Bronzing Powder in Terra – This was an impulse buy while I was at the Tom Ford counter. I’m SO pale; needed a little boost on the bronze. I’ve now been using it for a year and a half.
Sephora + Pantone Makeup Brushes – I saw these in the window of Sephora while strolling around Miami. Had to get them because that green is so on point! It’s such a happy green.
Random Lashes from Koreatown – I always go to Koreatown in Los Angeles. I buy short lashes in full strips instead of long lashes. I use these to fill and thicken at the base of my lashes. My own are plenty long, I just want them to appear more dense and these work so well.
Bare Minerals Ready Translucent Touch Up Veil SPF 15 – This is one of those powders that’s perfectly mattifying and completely weightless. I have found that some translucent powders are too white, but this one is completely transparent. I also like that it comes in a compact instead of loose powder form.
Bare Minerals Loud + Clear Tinted Lip Balm in Amped Pink, Remix Berry, and Tangerine Trance – These were in my gift bag when I spoke at IFC in New York. They quickly became my new favorite tinted lip balm. The texture reminds me of those thin tubes I got as a teenager called Soft Lips. I’m obsessed because it gives just the right amount of stain.
Bare Minerals Flawless Definition Mascara in Black – I got this in the same IFC gift bag as well. I will never go back to my old mascara! This one is like a liner and a mascara in one tube. The brush is so amazing and really gets into the base of your lashes making them look SO thick and not in a chunky way.
Stila In The Light Eyeshadow Palette – I bought this a year ago and I can officially say that there’s nothing you can’t do with this palette. Whether I’m going into the salon to work or on a hot date, I can rely on it to get my eye makeup just right. And I love having just ONE for everything!
Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes in Matte Brown – I’ve had a hard time finding a liner that won’t run off my waterline. Finally, I found it. I use it in brown because it just looks better and softer than black for me and my complexion.
BeautyCounter Rosewater Uplifting Spray – It’s so simple and so clean with zero bad ingredients. The beautiful packaging caught my attention but the amazing product inside kept me coming back. I love using it to set my makeup. I don’t like when my makeup looks overly-fresh, so once I’m done I use one spritz over the top of everything. Magical.
RMS Beauty “Un” Cover Up – This concealer changed my game. It’s coconut based and so dreamy! I have some redness and need to cover it but every single concealer I used in the past irritated my skin. But this stuff feels like heaven and makes my skin look bright and happy. If I was going to lunch with a friend, I could use just this with no foundation. It’s that good.”
— Kristin Ess, celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of The Beauty Department