Kate Upton, Freida Pinto, Florence Welch -- these are just some of the big names that LA makeup artist Kirin Bhatty has worked with over the course of her career.
While Hollywood is known for its glitz and glamour, it’s refreshing to see the in-demand artist keep it simple.
‘As a young girl, my mother really put a big emphasis on natural beauty and natural skincare, which came from her growing up in Pakistan. There was always henna in my hair, and coconut oil was always around the house. My mom made her own face masks. I was really sheltered from a lot of chemical-based beauty products until I got a little older. That was very inspiring for me as an artist, because I’m very skin focused: I take a less is more approach to makeup; I love skin, I love letting it breathe.’
‘I grew up in LA, and Los Angeles is such an artistic and diverse city. I was really inspired by my environment and my culture, because the Pakistani culture is very beautiful: there’s lots of colours, and a lot of focus on beauty in general, so I got to benefit from that American culture and my parents’ own culture as well.’
Kirin graduated from UC Berkeley and went on to work in advertising but it was a short-lived career due to the U.S. recession.
She was struggling to make ends meet when she was given an opportunity to work as a makeup assistant.
‘A friend of mine was a photographer at a studio, and I asked if there were any jobs in the marketing department. He came back and said there was a role as a makeup assistant, and I said, “Okay, I’ll do anything.”’
‘The studio did beauty campaigns, so I got to spend time with photographers and amazing hair and makeup artists first hand. And that’s where I fell in love with the whole art of it. I refined my tastes and my talent there as an assistant for years, until makeup could be my only job.’
For Kirin, it’s all about enhancing her client’s natural features, and showing them in their best light.
‘What I find beautiful is beautiful skin. If your skin is simple and clean, the look will always come together. I think the most important thing is at the end of the day, no matter how glamorous or how simple, you still end up looking like you.’
‘My agency curate who we work with as well, so if someone is really into heavy makeup application, usually we’re not going to get paired together. And when I get a new client, I’ll tell them I’m generally a light-handed artist. I’m proud of all of my clients and I’m proud of all of their beautiful, unique features, and I want them to be proud of them.’
Having travelled extensively for her job, Kirin also ensures that her products are as diverse as the clients she’s worked with.
‘This year I got to go to Tokyo, Morocco, and Paris over the summer, and any time I travel, I try to stay inspired by the beauty rituals of the women who live in that community.’
‘In Morocco, I was very inspired by all the oils women use. When I was in the Middle East I brought home a bunch of beautiful eyeliners and kohl, and when I was in Tokyo I brought a bunch of skin care products home.’
‘I feel that beauty in and of itself is something that we pass down to each other. It’s kind of like this language amongst women, and men too. So, travelling has been amazing, because not only are you exposed to how women take care of themselves around the world, but also what different cultures find beautiful, and what they emphasise.’
But back in America, it’s only now that big cosmetic brands are opening their eyes to diversity.
‘I think there’s nothing worse than going to a makeup counter, trying to find your shade, and being told, “Oh, we don’t make that”. It’s like somebody shutting you out of the party, and I feel like brands are catching on to that.’
‘I can’t tell you how many products I have to mix for my women of colour still. But now I have more options. Since I’ve started this career until now, I’ve seen the shade range double. Five or six years ago, there was just one shade of nude lipstick. Now, there’s five or six or seven. We’re seeing beauty with inclusivity for all, and I think that’s an important place to be. Women of colour deserve it.’
KIRIN’S BEAUTY MUST-HAVES:
Skincare: I love a mist. It’s an essential that I carry with me. I’m also an oil girl, so I love skin oils. Even if you’ve got oily skin, they’re good to have. I love a really good body butter, especially when you travel a lot. My personal regime is skincare heavy.
Foundation: I’m not a huge foundation person. I tend to use a tint, and I spot treat with a concealer – or I’ll make a tint myself with a tinted moisturiser and blend it down with some oil.
Makeup: I love a good cream shadow, and liquid highlighter is what I swear by because I love glowing skin, and a liquid highlighter is what’s going to do that for you. My favourite is the Armani Fluid Sheer. I love a good inky mascara, my favourite is the Dior Iconic Overcurl Mascara. I love a good sheer blush -- Chanel do that really well. I love a radiant concealer, for me it’s the Creamy Radiant from NARS. For brows, I do a three-part process: powder, pencil, then gel. I love a lipstick or a sheer lip. Having a really great black eyeliner pencil is also really important. I think having classic things, like a red lipstick or nude lipstick.
You can follow Kirin on her Instagram.