How Audrina Patridge Helped Launch Hollywood Makeup Artist Kelsey Deenihan’s Career

How Audrina Patridge Helped Launch Hollywood Makeup Artist Kelsey Deenihan’s Career

A lot of kids experiment with their family members’ beauty products, but few turn that play into a career. That’s not the case for Kelsey Deenihan. Ever since she was three years old, the Los Angeles native has been fascinated with makeup, applying it to anyone and everyone who would let her. That intrigue never went away, and it was in her teen years that she discovered her passion could be a career. “I decided in my sophomore year of high school that I wanted to be a makeup artist for the rest of my life, and set to make it happen from there on,” she explains.

The aspiring professional still wanted to attend college, however, so she decided to leave L.A. and pursue subjects that would help her future path. “I studied art and photography to help inspire my work, and figure out what types of makeup would photograph best or look the best on skin,” says the University of Colorado at Boulder graduate. After a few years spent working in Australia, she returned to Los Angeles, and it was there that she started working with a friend whose success would transform Deenihan’s own career: Audrina Patridge.

“Audrina and I were really close friends, and I would do her makeup," Deenihan reveals. This was in the heyday of The Hills, and that close relationship not only got her work seen by millions, but it allowed her to learn about celebrities and being on a set. From that point on, she had “tunnel vision,” and didn’t stop networking until she rose to the top. She was never an assistant — instead, she collaborated with photographers and models for free in exchange to build a portfolio. For Deenihan, being anything but successful in this field was not an option. “Honestly, there was never a plan B,” she admits. 

And she succeeded — she’s the first-ever LORAC® Cosmetics Artistry Advisor and works regularly with Reese Witherspoon, Cindy Crawford, and Jennifer Garner. Here, the 36-year-old pro talks to Spotlyte about how some women "hide behind makeup," her must-have makeup picks, and how an Instagram poll created a red hot red carpet look for Lucy Hale.

Spotlyte: Who was your first celebrity client? 

Kelsey Deenihan: I am from L.A., so I had a bunch of people in my group of girlfriends that ended up becoming known people in the industry. And when The HillsTM; started becoming a thing — not the remake, but the original with Lauren [Conrad] and Audrina Patridge — Audrina and I were really close friends, and I would do her makeup. 

It was through Audrina that I met a bunch of publicists and managers, who all have their roster of clients. And then [I got] hooked up to them. I really do think that I got my foot in the door with Audrina on The Hills, and just really understanding the celebrity aspect of it, and learning about sets.

Spotlyte: Do you have any favorite award show looks you’ve done over the years that really stand out?

KD: I really like when my clients are feeling creative and want to do a little bit more than just doing a natural carpet look. It's very interesting: Actor and actress clients are playing a role when they're on camera. When they're on the carpet, they want to be and look like their most beautiful selves. But some clients, like Lucy Hale, want to go wild. They're like, “Let's play. I want to have fun.” [For the 2018 Teen Choice® Awards], we did this huge green smokey eye.

Another one that was super memorable was Reese Witherspoon for the [2018] SAG Awards®. She wore a green dress, and we just did a really pretty neutral warm color that I loved. A lot of times, we see her in a bold lipstick, so we went for more of a neutral thing. Her hair was kind of old Hollywood, pulled to the side a little bit, and she had this gorgeous emerald dress. I loved the whole look.

“A Lot of People Hide Behind a Lot of Makeup”

Editor's Note

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