BeautyCCCW Creative PartnersNew York

New York Wedding Makeup | You’re so Beautiful! | Q & A with Cati James

New York Wedding Beauty Pro, Cati James…

CCCW Creative Partner, Veteran TV/Film/Fashion Makeup & Hair Stylist, Cati James shares Wedding advice and tips…

How long have you been a makeup artist and how did you get your start in the industry?
I’ve been in the industry almost ten years, beginning in retail cosmetics (I’ve worked at almost every high end department store in the city!). I worked as a freelance beauty consultant for Benefit and Yves Saint Laurent, and then I was a member of Tom Ford’s first beauty team for the North American launch of his cosmetic line. I did several weddings and photo shoots through connections I made in the retail world, either from clients or my coworkers, and then moved on to make that my full time career.
Makeup is such a huge part of fashion and style. How or what do you bring from fashion and cinema to wedding clients?
Because I am active in the film/TV/fashion world, in addition to bridal and events, I am called on to make my hair and makeup work fit into a broader vision of whatever project I work on. I’m also exposed to new products and trends regularly, so I can keep all my looks very current. I bring the same eye to my bridal work, by making sure the hair and makeup complements and completes the vision the client has of their entire wedding.
What has your collaborating with designers taught you?
Collaborating is a really vital skill in my line of work, being able to listen and take direction, and create a cohesive hair and makeup look that combines the overall feel of the project with the personal preferences of the director or photographer I’m working with is essential. The most important thing about collaboration is knowing how to apply your skills to serve the greater look of the project.
How has that translated to wedding makeup?
Wedding makeup is a collaboration between myself and the client. I love listening to a client’s vision of how she will look on her big day, and then using my skills to execute it. Often a bride will have a few images of looks she loves, and it is my job to translate the images to fit her coloring, bone structure and hair type, while still maintaining the style.
How is working backstage or on set different from being behind the scenes at a wedding?
The main difference is that models or actors have little to no input on the hair and makeup design I’m applying. I consult with the director or photographer to develop a look, and then I have total control of the application. With bridal work, the client is the director and the model! What makes bridal work fun for me is that the client’s personality changes the way I develop her look, which never comes into play on a film or photo set. I love when a bride feels like herself, and making sure my clients’ unique features shine through is my favorite part of my job.
Where do you see the trends going for 2017?
This past summer, makeup trends were  definitely “less is more”. Picking one feature and keeping everything else as minimal as possible. On the runways I saw lots of candy apple red lips with extremely sheer foundation and just mascara on the eyes. I’m also seeing the return of electric blue liner, which can be so much fun, just make sure to keep everything else super simple. Interestingly, for Fall/winter I’m seeing very minimal makeup trends also. Very sheer foundation pretty much across the board, full brows, and maybe a sweep of golden brown eye shadow. The deep burgundy lip is always a staple at the Fall shows, and while it did make a few appearances this year, the rest of the face was always very clean and minimal.
When I think of NYC I think of very classic looks. Red lips and minimal eyes. Do you think there is a make up trend that is New York specific?
A classic never goes out of style, and I think New York women generally go for timeless looks. The image that popped into my mind was very chic and polished, and I think low maintenance beauty is the name of the game here. Think BB cream instead of foundation, very minimal eye makeup, and maybe a stain for the cheeks and lips.
What is your favorite drugstore find?
L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara. I promise you’ll thank me!
Is there a current look that you hope goes away?
I’m really over the heavy contouring (Sorry Kim K!). Very light, strategically applied highlights and shadows really can enhance your bone structure beautifully, but subtlety is key.
What are some of the makeup mistakes you see over and over again?
I think women have a really hard time finding their foundation match, and I understand why. Foundation is usually sold in numbered shades, and we are led to believe that you pick one, and that is your color for your entire face. In reality, everyone’s face is slightly different colors in different areas, so I always end up using multiple foundation shades on one client. A quick fix for this is to purchase a foundation one shade lighter than your cheeks, and then “warm up” the edges of your face with a powder one shade deeper than your cheeks.
I do believe no question is stupid, however what are some of the most ridiculous questions clients ask?
Most New York ladies have a good handle on beauty, so I don’t get asked silly questions too often, but I have to admit I do cringe a little when I get a request for only MAC products. Don’t get me wrong, they have some great stuff, but there is a whole wide world of wonderful lines out there! Ask for recommendations, I love to introduce people to their new beauty staple.
Why should a client listen to you?
I never tell a client what to do in terms of the design of the look, since I really believe it is your day and I want to bring your ideas to life. However, there are a couple of tips that I tell every bride, just from my personal experience of what works best for certain situations. First, you will look like you are wearing 20-30% less makeup in photos than in real life, so that is just something to keep in mind if you feel more “made up” than in your day to day life. Second, minimal makeup under the eyes is almost always the way to go. Even the best waterproof makeup can start to run after hours of crying and dancing, and you don’t want to be caught in pictures with raccoon eyes. Finally, if you’re not a bold lipstick person in your everyday life, I’d advise against it on the big day. You will be kissing and eating and drinking, and you probably want to just have fun and not worry about smudges.
Clients should never tan, but I see it over and over again and their faces turn out looking muddy. Once and for all, why do we not want our clients to tan?
This kind of goes back to what I previously wrote about foundation colors. Everyone’s face is naturally different colors in different places, because of where the sun hits your face. When you tan, whether it’s in a bed or spray tanning, your whole face gets exposed evenly, and it removes that natural contrast (which is what gives your face dimension and life in photos). I can artificially reproduce the natural highlights with different shades of powder and foundation, which is what I normally do for clients that are frequent tanners, but it will never look as glowy and gorgeous as letting your own beautiful skin shine through.
Can you help a client figure out what look will work for them?
Of course! That’s my favorite part of doing bridal and event work, offering guidance and advice so we can work together to find the look that expresses the client’s personality and makes them feel like the most beautiful version of themselves.
When should a client book you?
The short answer is as soon as possible. If you are getting married on a holiday weekend, or a Saturday in May-July, most artists will start to fill those dates a year or more in advance. Even if you are getting married in the off season, it is good to leave yourself enough time to schedule a trial and discuss scheduling with your artist. The average in my experience seems to be 6-9 months in advance. That being said, I do lots of last minute bookings for elopements or small weekday weddings, so if you don’t have a large bridal party or are having an impromptu ceremony at City Hall, you can probably find artists with availability a month or two beforehand.
What makes you compatible with your clients?
I genuinely love collaborating with clients, and I don’t have time limits on my trials. I believe this creates a sense of trust with my clients, because I want every bride to know I am really invested in the process of finding her perfect look.
Any last words?
Stick with your gut, no one knows you better than you. While it can be helpful to bounce ideas of off your girlfriends or family, the final decision on your look should be yours alone. Congrats!


 Cati James


Cheers! CCCW