“The last thing I want to do is give any notion to women that they need to be perfect,” says Kay Montano, one of the world’s leading makeup artists. “I prefer to think of the Imperfect Woman.”
Kay takes a more nuanced and interesting approach to beauty – just check out her Instagram feed and you’ll see what we mean.
“I never intended to perpetuate myths by simply being good at facial embellishing,” she says of her role as a makeup artist. “I’m spinning some spells.”
Kay certainly spins her spells on some of the most beautiful women in the world. She travelled with Jennifer Connolly on the recent publicity tour for Top Gun: Maverick, and loves nothing more than working with midlife actresses whose faces have grown into their beauty. Asked to name favourites, and Julianne Moore and Rachel Weisz are top of her list.
“I’m interested in bringing out the best in my subjects,” she says. “The reason I love working with actresses is that I’ve always been fascinated by those who tell stories. These are women who have really done something with their lives and worked really hard.”
Beauty at our age is holistic. Everything is connected in your body and mind
So how does she look after her own midlife beauty and wellbeing?
“My attitude to beauty is that it’s very personal,” says Kay. “You do you. For example, I have Botox. I don’t think Botox is good or bad. I think if you bring a good or bad intention to anything you do, that’s what comes up. I live very much in the middle ground.
“I think beauty at our age is holistic. Everything is connected in your body and mind. As best you can, you need to take care of your physical and mental health.”
For Kay, physical exercise is a big part of that holistic approach to beauty. “My mum put me into ballet classes when I was four and I’m eternally grateful,” she says. “It forced me into a life of being physical.
“Find something that works for you. I used to get the best runner’s high in the world but I can’t run any more. Now, I do a combination of Psycle London and Heartcore Pilates, which I love.”
As for favourite beauty products, Kay has a few that she swears by. Luckily for the rest of us, she’s happy to pass on her tips.
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, £55
When I was a kid, a facial scrub was like gravel grating your face! This one is like a powder, I love it.
You use it after your foaming cleanser and then you get your flannel and rub. It gets rid of the subtle layer of dead skin, so that your skin really shines and attracts light. Anything that creates light reflection is always rejuvenating. Healthiness is always beautiful.
Face Gym Skin Changer, £38
This is another exfoliator that I really like. It’s got acid and pumpkin extract. It’s a toner after your foaming cleanser, for gentle exfoliating.
Face Gym Hydro-Bound Daily Serum, £60
I’m very keen on serums and this one is really good. It comes in a little white bottle that you pump. You can also use it with a little collagen ball that explodes when the fluid is on there. It’s good for a boost.
Liz Earle Superskin Moisturiser, £34.40
I love Liz Earle Superskin. I’ve been using Liz Earle products for many many years, and this is one of the ones I discovered in the beginning. I forget about it and then I go back to it – it’s great that I can now buy it at the airport.
What I love about this moisturiser is it’s not perfumed and it has a wonderful wet quality that traps the moisture in.
Wilder Botanics Phyto Radiance Day Oil, £55
This is a family run business and their oils all smell so good because they are the highest grade quality. I also love their Recovery Night Oil.
RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum, £29.99
Oh my god, this is one of my desert island products. You have to buy it!
I don’t think they realise how much I’ve spent on this and how many women I’ve turned on to it. It absolutely helps, my lashes are so long now. I’m proud of them! I can’t go out without mascara because I want everyone to see how long they are.
This product is also good for all those of us who overplucked our eyebrows. It sorts that out and prolongs the life span of the hair.
Chanel Eyelash Curlers, £30
I’m a big big fan of eyelash curlers. When we notice signs of ageing, it’s basically gravity and everything falling down. So anything that can go up is a godsend – and that includes eyelashes.
Monika Blunder Beauty Blunder Cover, £45
The great thing about being a makeup artist is that I get sent stuff I’ve never seen before, like this new brand.
This is a wonder cover. I love it is because it’s so good for grown up skin. What happens is when products have too much talc in them, or they’re too mattifying, the talc falls between the lines on your skin.
Instead, you want products that are creamy and dense, like this. You use minimal amounts and just dab dab dab.
Make Up Forever Artist Colour Pencil, £16.50
I’m obsessed with the line of the lips. The shade Anywhere Caffeine is exactly the same colour as your lips. I love it.