Interview: Moani Lee, Makeup Artist
Moani Lee is a leading makeup artist in the fashion and celebrity world with a unique tilt toward sustainable beauty. With faces such as Natalie Portman, Miranda Lambert and Kristen Bell as her canvas, Moani brings her modernist, minimalist vision to life on the red carpet and in the glossy pages of magazines. After receiving a degree in chemistry and theatre, Lee honed her craft at the Christian Chauveau makeup design school in Paris, where she developed her eye for color and composition. We sat down with the beauty guru to discuss how she achieves effortless beauty the “green” way.
Moani, Tell Our Readers Why Buying Sustainable Beauty Brands is of the Utmost Importance To You
ML: In the last few years, I’ve become quite conscious of the power of the human body to heal, if given the right nutrition in the proper quantities. I then began to think about the absorption of products externally through the surface of the skin and the effect that has on the overall health of our bodies. Being the body’s largest organ (our skin) also means that the high quality products both in skincare and makeup has become of utmost concern to me.
Tell Us About Your Favorite Sustainable Beauty Brands
ML: I have fallen in love with a few brands that have based their beauty philosophies in nature merging with science. For skincare, I love Jurlique and Tata Harper. Originally from South Australia, Jurlique has spent the last 25 years harnessing the power of organic and natural ingredients to create amazingly gentle and effective skincare. Tata Harper has also been at the top of my list recently. It is 100% organic and natural with formulas of all their products developed using the most advanced natural skincare technology. For makeup, I love RMS and Hourglass Cosmetics. RMS beauty products use raw food grade and organic ingredients in their natural state, which allows the products to nourish and heal the skin. They are non-toxic and are amazing in their anti-aging benefits. Hourglass Cosmetics has also become my go-to for celebrities and fashion clients alike. They boast clinical levels of skincare technology infused into high performance luxury makeup. Many of their products are vegan and gluten free and known to heal skin problems.
Explain Your Best Practices for Making Your Own Organic Facial
ML: There are so many wonderful natural ingredients that are fantastic for the face like manuka honey, yogurt, and castor oil, but my favorite is to use avocados as a face mask. In recent months, I’ve had to deal with my own skin challenges of adult acne due to the onset of hormonal imbalances and I’ve found a recipe I’ve loved which has aided in balancing out my stress-ravaged skin: I take 2 tbsp of mashed avocado, add 1 tbsp of manuka honey and ½ tsp of cinnamon powder. I mix it into a paste apply it to my face and neck, carefully avoiding the eye area. Leave it on for 10 min. Rinse with lukewarm water. I repeat this mask once a week. I’ve found that is has helped to not only treat but also prevent further outbreaks of acne whilst nourishing and softening the skin.
What Are Five Easy Steps for “Going Green” With a Daily Makeup Routine?
ML: First, always make sure to test “green” products on a small part of your skin eg. back of the neck or near your ears to make sure you are not allergic to any natural ingredients. Going green is a fantastic idea for most but I have known some clients to actually be allergic to all-natural products just as one might be allergic to certain types of fruits/vegetables.
The key to going green with your makeup is to simplify, simplify, simplify.
- Replace skincare with natural skincare options such as Éminence skin cleanser.
- Investigate makeup lines that pride themselves in using all-natural products and replace makeup that seems to only list out chemicals or hard to understand ingredients.
- Simplify your makeup selection to: a tinted moisturizer, one mascara, one lip conditioner, one cheek tint and a loose powder.
- Replace your makeup on a regular basis as all-natural makeup products may have a shorter shelf life - though all makeup is meant to be used within 3-5 months of purchase.
- DRINK WATER. This may seem unrelated to make-up, but focusing on adequate intake of water (8 glasses / day) will surprisingly change the quality of your skin immediately. Simple step, extraordinary results.
What is the Best Way to Clean Makeup Brushes without Placing Chemicals on Them?“
ML: I love using olive oil soap to clean my brushes. It is gentle and non toxic on the brush hairs and the natural oils help to condition the bristles. Be sure to dry the brushes with the brush end hanging over a surface edge to allow for the free flow of air through the brush hairs.
Why is Natalie Portman your Favorite Celebrity to Style and How Would You Describe Her Personal Style?
ML: Natalie is one of those quiet, confident beauties who is so incredibly committed to her craft and extraordinarily dedicated to her role as a new mother. To me, she embodies what I love in strong women: a sense of comfort in her own skin, an internal beauty that emanates from within and a constant hunger to seek truth and knowledge in everything. I would describe her personal style as classic, sophisticated, chic while adhering to vegan practices in fashion design and manufacturing.
What Are Your Must Have Beauty Products While Traveling?
What are The 5 Items You Keep On You At All Times?
ML: My phone. My keys. My wallet. Hourglass No 28 Lip Oil. RMS Living Luminizer.
Favorite Song? Book? Magazines?
ML: Right now my favorite song is Judith Hill’s "Beautiful Life”. I heard her sing this live during a shoot we worked on together. It brought me to tears on the spot. My favorite book changes all the time, but right now I’m really enjoying “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. As for magazines, French Vogue and Architectural Digest.
To view Moani’s work, visit her on Instagram: @moanilee.