Here's How This Clean Beauty Expert Takes Care of Her Skin During Hormonal Changes
Cleanse, moisturize, sleep, repeat—or not. From the 18-product maximalists to the one-and-done movers and shakers, everybody's skin care routine differs. In A.M. to P.M., we explore the morning and evening routines of people with different skin care concerns, from targeting acne to embracing vegan beauty.
Skin type: Dry
Skin concerns: Mask-ne and dryness
Before Katey Denno was a world-renowned clean beauty expert, makeup artist for A-listers such as Beanie Feldstein and Margaret Qualley, and a HelloGiggles Beauty Crush Award expert, she was a social worker. When we note that her rise to fame is similar to Cinderella's glow-up, she says, "I never thought of it like that, but I guess it's true—I still feel like that and that any day people will figure out that the glass slipper doesn't fit."
Speaking to HelloGiggles, Denno explains that after getting her Master's degree in social work, she worked for a few years in D.C. "primarily with women and children in difficult situations." Eventually, she started working with transgender women who would, at times, come in with a full face of makeup. "It was amazingly transformative—I was mesmerized, and I think that laid the groundwork for my interest [in makeup]," Denno says.
After a few years, she moved to New York City to continue her social work. One evening, she went to a dinner party and sat next to a makeup artist who saw her doodling on a napkin and asked Denno if she'd be interested in assisting her at a fashion shoot. Denno agreed, and after that job, she got other offers to be a makeup artist assistant. One gig led to the other until she was named one of the industry's emerging makeup artists by The Wall Group (a prominent talent agency in Manhattan). From there, her clientele kept growing and the rest is history.
Denno found herself drawn to clean beauty products, with ingredients that seemed safer than some of the ones she'd read on the backs of skincare labels. "I think it's because as a social worker in a hospital, I was acutely aware of how doctors were treating their patients," she explains. "Some would have serious illnesses and the doctors would put topical patches on them to deliver actives and I thought, 'They could choose to do anything in the world and they're choosing patches,' so obviously, what we put on our skin does end up in our system." That's what lead her to be hyper conscious of the skincare ingredients she puts on her skin, and why she opts for clean beauty products.
She's come a long way since those early days, and over the years, a lot has changed for her, including her skin. "I have early onset menopause, and for the first time, I really appreciate my skin," the 44-year-old shares. In the past, Denno used to have cystic acne to the point that she'd call out of work to hide her skin from the world. But now, she doesn't have to agonize over her acne, as her hormones aren't as active as they were before. Recently, she's also learned to appreciate her skin more and be in awe of all it does, and she's adjusted her skincare routine accordingly, as well.
Before getting out of bed, Denno likes to wake up slowly by taking her time to drink three small glasses of water as she does her CARs [controlled articular rotations]. "My yoga teacher recommends them," she explains. "It's super slow and very simple. You take your wrists and move them in circles, but you do it with extreme attention to each movement—it's amazing how it changed my body function."
When she gets out of bed and starts her skincare routine, she begins by spritzing her face with an aromatic toner. She keeps a few in rotation, and one she keeps going back to is the RANAVAT Organic Jasmine Tonique. The jasmine is sourced from west India, is certified USDA organic, and, Denno says, it smells divine. "It's almost impossible to believe that it's real, but it is and it's overwhelmingly delicious," she says.
"Then, if my skin is super dry I'll apply a moisturizer and put a face oil on top," she shares. Her go-to moisturizer is the Tata Harper Water-Lock, which we gave a Beauty Crush Award to for its peptide-rich formula and eco-friendly packaging. "I love it for myself and for my clients," she shares of this gel moisturizer. "It doesn't have an abundance of oils in it in the same way a lot of creams have, so it's a nice primer," she explains. However, if she's going to be outside for the day, she opts for the Josh Rosebrook SPF 30 to protect her skin from the sun.
Before menopause, Denno didn't realize how much extra hydration her skin would need once it hit, so now she doubles up with a moisturizer and oil. "I tap and then press the oil all over my face to seal the moisture in," she says of her technique. Her oil of choice? The Kypris 1000 Roses Elixir. Apart from the aromatherapeutic benefits of the Bulgarian rose, it's also packed with vitamins C and E to nourish and plump the skin.
She wraps up her routine by adding ILIA's new Lip Wrap Lip Mask to her lips. "It heals really nicely," she explains, adding that she'll also use it on her clients before applying lipstick or lip gloss to nourish the lips before adding makeup.
Like so many of us during the pandemic, Denno has spent most of her time at home. "I'm usually in my studio working, which means there's no separation between home and work," she shares. One way she starts to unwind and mark the end of her workday is by sipping a hot drink made with Mab & Stoke's dissolvable tab that calms her. "I drink it when I want to chill without the drowsiness," she explains of the botanical blend.
Denno says she likes to remove her makeup way before going to bed, to prevent "face-planting on her pillow with whatever's on [her] face." Lately, she's been very into oil cleansers to remove her makeup and cleanse her skin. "I use a hydrating one from Sahajan, and it gets everything off. I massage it into my skin, leave it on, and then I'll use a green tea cleansing bar from Jenette's and rub it into my skin to get everything off," she shares, adding that she'll then remove everything with a gentle washcloth.
Once her face is clean, she'll reach for either the Tata Harper Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Floral Essence or the Josh Rosebrook Daily Acid Toner. If she opts for the toner, she primarily uses it around the areas where she gets blackheads, like her nose, and will use it up to three times a week to keep blemishes at bay. The essence she can use as frequently as she wishes. Then, she applies the Marie Veronique Vitamins C + E + Ferulic Serum to her face. "I've been using it for years," she shares.
After her antioxidant serum, she'll layer on a bakuchiol-rich cream onto her face. "It's nice and thick," she says. "I'm a fan of the science behind retinol, but for my skin, it plateaus at the shedding skin step, which I don't want, and bakuchiol has been more than sufficient at keeping my sensitive skin looking and feeling good." And like she does in the morning, she'll apply some face oil on top of her moisturizer to seal in the moisture.
"Before going to bed, I'll put the thickest amount of Nucifera Balm on my neck and sometimes around my eyes," shares Denno of the last step in her skincare routine. "I love the blend, and the scent is one of the most appealing things to me, but I of course love the mix of great butters and oils."