Makeup much like art, can act as the perfect medium for self-expression - an ethos that Kat Von D epitomizes in her eponymous beauty line.
Drawing inspiration from her experiences as a tattoo artist and experimentation with makeup as a teen, Kat Von D Beauty’s vast range of colours and finishes comes as a breath of fresh air. Huge in the States and now available on UK shores, the brand prides itself on providing long wear, high pigment and full coverage products that really deliver. And boy, do they.
With its illustrated packaging and impactful colours, the brand has at times worked under the misapprehension of being Goth in its appeal - perhaps suitable for only a select few. However, there’s very much something for everybody. The choice it provides is demonstrative of its inspiration - that they act as “tools of self-expression” (Kat’s words at the UK launch), whether that be through a rosey nude lipstick or a splash of green.
From filling sketchbooks as a child to becoming a celebrated tattoo artist and beauty phenom as an adult, her hope is to inspire people to freely express themselves with makeup. We caught up with Kat to find out what inspires her, the importance of keeping products cruelty-free, the growth of vegan beauty and her future plans for the brand.
GTG: At the UK launch, we loved how you described your brand and makeup as “tools of self-expression” – what are your favourite ways to express yourself through your makeup?
KVD: For me, it depends on lots of things - the song I’m listening to, a mood, a feeling, even a pair of shoes can dictate or inspire the way I do my makeup.
GTG: Do you have a beauty icon? Is there anyone who you think expresses themselves particularly beautifully through their makeup?
KVD: I don’t have a makeup hero per se; I’m more inspired by things - eras, nature, people’s style and aesthetic. It’s more a sense of being, when people don’t care what others think of them and they feel free to be themselves - whether that be extreme or not - it’s their style.
GTG: How would you say being a tattoo artist has influenced your vision for the brand and your personal makeup regime?
KVD: I think tattooing has influenced my makeup line a great deal, but it’s not a makeup line designed for tattoo artists. It’s more that my art background influences the creative process and my approach to technique, as I’m not a professional. I understand contouring from knowing how to draw portraits and my understanding of facial structure. Tattoo Liner for example was inspired by the precision I can achieve with a fine needle, portraits and from what I want when I use an eyeliner. The formula is waterproof, not permanent, but it’s more about the bristle brush and the definition you can achieve.
GTG: The fact that the brand is 100% cruelty-free is a hugely in-demand quality and the world of vegan beauty seems to be really expanding too. We wondered how easy it was in your experience to find a level of finish, pigment and formulation that could rival and better non-vegan alternatives?
KVD: It’s exciting to see demand for cruelty-free and vegan products growing so much. It’s a symbol that we’re moving in the right direction as human beings.
Being cruelty-free doesn’t change the quality of the makeup, so there’s no excuse for it. Making vegan makeup involves the introduction of substitutes for animal-based ingredients, but we’ve come such a long way with technology and formulations that at this point we’re finding substitutes that are just as good if not better. My line wasn’t always vegan, but we worked at creating reformulations. We use synthetic beeswax in our lipsticks and I love the formula. I wouldn’t want to put anything else in them. It’s something that’s totally doable - it’s whether the brand cares enough to do it or not.
MORE GLOSS: 5 reasons to go vegan
GTG: Your #VeganAlert symbol is a great idea - do you prefer to use vegan beauty products in the rest of your regime also? If so, which products are your favourites?
KVD: Most definitely. Nowadays there are so many good indie brands which are small and not too corporate, who take a stance about where their ingredients come from and share our anti-cruelty message. It makes it easy for anybody to have their entire kit be vegan and cruelty-free.
Too Faced has always been one of my favourites - I was a fan before I even started my line. I love its Better Than Sex mascara , £19. Ole Henriksen does my favourite scrub cleanser – its Walnut Complexion Scrub , £26, which I use daily as well. Melt Cosmetics is also always coming out with amazing products - they might not be for everyone, but I love pop colours and neon though. Sugar Pill has always been a classic favourite of mine too and Josey Maran skincare is amazing stuff.
There are always dream products that I’m constantly hoping to make into a reality
GTG: What can people expect from Kat Von D Beauty products?
KVD: The UK has been so patient with us and it’s really exciting to now be able to give them accessibility. It took a long time to find a good partnership, but we’ve definitely found the right place to house the line in Debenhams, as they're widely available in the UK and Ireland and have click and collect which I wish we had at home! People can look forward to being able to buy the whole collection - including the new launches too. I did an amazing collaboration with Too Faced which will be launching here too. We’ll make sure everyone’s taken care of.
MORE GLOSS: Kat Von D Beauty - our top picks from the range
GTG: What were your experiences of beauty growing up?
KVD: To be honest, I didn’t come from an upbringing that was financially well off, we were quite poor. I didn’t have financial access to luxury brands, which I think was a blessing in many ways as it forced my sister and I to take existing products and be as innovative as possible with them. For many girls, their typical first memory is going through their mum’s drawer and experimenting - like me at 11 or 12. When we were talking about expressing yourself though your makeup earlier, it was only when I really got into punk rock music that I started to want to do that. For me, I wanted to black out my eyes as that was how I was feeling and so I used eyeliner in a non-conventional way.
GTG: Do you think anything is still lacking in the beauty industry?
KVD: There are always dream products that I’m constantly hoping to make into a reality. We work a year in advance in production creating new innovative formulas and my goal is to create and fill in all those voids that are missing, whether it’s a shade that isn’t available yet or a finish (we recently launched a pretty shade of green called Plan 9 in the Studded Kiss lipstick range). I’m a huge fan of really great formulations and we pride ourselves on our long wear products.
GTG: What are your future plans career and brand-wise?
KVD: We’re constantly working on new collections and have tonnes coming out. In the rest of my life, I’m still tattooing when I’m at home and not travelling, working at the shop, writing music and I’m just in the first few phases of releasing a vegan shoe line. I want to find easy ways for people to be vegan. More than makeup, shoes and bags are the most challenging part to leading a vegan life because of things like horse based glues. I want to create something affordable, stylish and good quality. Like my makeup line.
GTG: And finally, how would you best describe Kat Von D Beauty?
KVD: Kat Von D Beauty is for everybody - not just for gothic outsiders. My mum wears it, I wear it and you can too.
The Kat Von D Beauty range is available to buy in-store and online exclusively at debenhams.com .
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