Chauntal Capri Lewis doesn’t remember her life without makeup. As a dancer, a cheerleader, and then an actress, she’s been painting her face with the stuff from the time she was three years old. “I was always asking makeup artists, ‘What’s that?’” she says, adding that she had always had an obsession with beauty products.
Today, she’s a makeup artist, but she only initially started doing makeup as a side hustle 12 years ago. Slowly, though, it became her full-time gig when her stylist sister, Riawna Capri, opened 901 SalonTM; in Los Angeles, and Lewis worked alongside her. It was there that she landed her first celebrity client, Heidi Klum. The mega model and TV host had come in to get her hair done and requested a makeup touchup, as well.
Thanks to word of mouth around Hollywood, she’s since worked with A-listers like Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Hilary Duff, Lea Michele, and Jessica Alba. You’ve also likely come across some of her glam while flipping through the pages of magazines. Despite her rise to fame, she also adores working with friends and non-celebrities for the big events in their lives. “At the end of the day, I just love making women feel beautiful and confident,” she says.
In addition to being unequivocally talented (during our call, she casually let slip that her makeup skills are 100 percent self-taught), Lewis is also a source of serious inspiration. After a serious car accident in 2009, she lost one of her hands, despite all efforts from doctors to save it. Though the loss changed her life, it gave her serious perspective — and ever since, she has done everything in her power to ensure that it has not gotten in the way of her dreams of becoming a makeup artist. Here, Lewis shares her journey, plus the beauty tips and trends we should all know.
Spotlyte: You’ve been through so much, and are such an inspiration to so many people — both for the obstacles you’ve overcome and for what you’ve achieved. What has that been like for you?
Chauntal Capri Lewis: I’ve come full circle. My accident was 10 years ago. I didn’t die that day, so my life needs to be really awesome. I do makeup with one hand. Women sit in my chair and are complaining about one little wrinkle or bump in their nose, but then they’re like, “Holy sh*t, you have one hand.” There are times when I feel like [the accident] has given me a higher purpose. There are so many times when women will say, “Remember how insecure I was before I met you?”
There’s such a comparison through social media, and everyone wants to look perfect, but sometimes it’s nice to remind them that they’re beautiful just the way they are. In our beauty-obsessed culture, when I’m doing someone’s makeup, it’s an interesting perspective to realize that beauty isn’t what defines us. I say “beauty comes from within,” and people say, “but you’re a makeup artist — isn’t that contradictory?” Well, no, every woman should feel beautiful. It’s a really powerful and magical thing, that I can try to encourage that aspect of the industry.
Spotlyte: Where do you find inspiration for the looks you create?
CCL: Of course, Instagram® is like a digital magazine that we can always go to, [as well as] Pinterest®. There are also some artists that I absolutely admire. Pat McGrath is one of my makeup idols. My favorite kind of makeup is when it’s done in a way that doesn’t look like makeup, [meaning] it still looks like your skin and your face. [I also love] when there is color, sparkle, or a different shape to the eye — when it’s really art.
Spotlyte: Are there any makeup trends that you’re really excited about for this season?
CCL: Colored liner is coming back in, which I really like. I really love the glowy, glossy, dewy look. It follows my philosophy of “no makeup makeup.” Skin is everything — and that’s what I always talk about. Makeup is [only] as beautiful as your natural skin. If you have a pretty canvas, the makeup is just a bonus.
Spotlyte: Is there one particular makeup trick you think everyone should master?
CCL: The biggest compliment I get from clients is when they ask, “What did you do to my skin?” because it doesn’t look like [they’re wearing] makeup — it just looks like a flawless face. I’m crazy about skin prep, so I put on three or four products before I even put makeup. This gets [skin] as hydrated and naturally glowy as possible, and then the makeup is actually minimal. I’m really not heavy handed on foundation and concealer.
There’s this brand called Retrouvé®, which transformed my skin, and then I use a glycolic, which really helps with fine lines and wrinkles and to plump the skin. Then serum, serum, serum — [but] it’s very rare that I use the same exact formula on all my clients. And then any sort of argan oil and rosehip oil, which plump your skin and make it look like you drank a gallon of water. I really do a whole process — like what you would do at home — before I put makeup on the skin.
Spotlyte: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three beauty products would you bring with you?
CCL: I definitely need my mascara — and I love Lancôme® Monsieur BigTM;. Then I would have to say argan oil for my skin, because I could just put that on and look hydrated, glowy, and dewy. And my concealer, because I feel a bright eye is really important to looking awake and alive. I use NARS® Radiant Creamy Concealer, which really helps brighten me up.
Spotlyte: Have you tried medical aesthetics?
CCL: [I get] injectable wrinkle reducer and filler. I’ve been getting injectables for three years — since I was 27. I do filler in my lips, and wrinkle reducer in my forehead.
[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face, including the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet; they should not be used more frequently than every three months. Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, both injectable wrinkle reducers and injectable fillers have potential risks and side effects. Talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. And learn more now by chatting with a trained aesthetic specialist.]
Spotlyte: You work very closely with your sister, Riawna. What are the best parts of working together?
CCL: My sister is a powerhouse — she is a rockstar and so inspiring. Not just in the beauty world, but in life in general. We both have a very optimistic outlook on life, and we love life. She always has great advice, and when we get to work together or travel together, it’s really fun.
Spotlyte: What are some of the biggest challenges of working together?
CCL: When I was at the salon six days a week, it was tough, because I’m still her little sister, and she’s such a protector. She always wants to teach and help, but I’m like, “I’m a big girl and I’m going to figure it out, with or without you!”
Spotlyte: Has there been a moment in your career thus far in which you really feel like you’ve “made it” in the industry?
CCL: To be honest, I wish I gave myself more credit. I’ve always said, even if it’s between Selena Gomez and [Jane Doe], I’ve never seen the difference. I know that sounds crazy. It was pretty cool when I was taken to Milan with a client, and she felt safe with me and confided in me so much. I was sitting there at the EMAsTM; with everyone under the sun, and I was like, “Pinch me. Is this really happening?” This happens all the time with makeup artists or hairstylists. But any opportunity I get, I really stay present and remind myself, “I am really blessed.”
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