The face is her canvas, models are her muse. As Maybelline Canada’s head makeup artist, Grace Lee is living her dream – traveling the world and creating visual masterpieces. This month, Grace will lead a team of makeup artists in translating fashion into makeup for the Fall/Winter 2012 shows at Toronto Fashion Week.

We spoke with Grace Lee about the fashion and makeup industry, her favourite products, makeup trends, and how she juggles an international career with two kids.

JS: You’ve been working in the industry for 15 years. When was the moment you realized, I’ve made it in the industry.

Grace: I don’t think like that. I just feel like I’m living my career dream path. I feel like I’m always reaching or wanting more. I still feel like I’m not 100% there yet. Signing for Maybelline was pretty close to it, but I still want to pursue more.

JS: What has been your favourite project?

Grace: I’ve worked on a lot of cool projects. My pinch me moment was working for McQueen at Paris Fashion Week. I also did makeup for the 2004 olympics in Greece.

JS: Do you prefer runway work or editorial shoots?

Grace: They’re very different. There’s more of a rush working backstage. It’s very quick. Very present in the moment. Editorial is a different process, you work with a team.

JS: Who is your favourite designer?

Grace: Balenciaga, Celine – I love designer bags and shoes! There’s not really one that I have in particular. I like Marc Jacobs. I love Michael Kale, he’s closest thing to Canadian couture.

JS: What makeup trends we can expect at Toronto Fashion Week?

Grace: We’re thinking about fall, and there will always be an emphasis on skin. There will be a skin statement. The red or bold lip will still stay strong. It’s been popular in the Spring and you’ll see that again. I’d like to see very defined eyes – in liner, lashes, colour, and smokiness. There may be a revision of the brow, either no brow or a stronger brow.

JS: Do you decide what beauty looks go out on the runway?

It’s a process between the designer, stylist, hair person, and me – it’s a collaboration.

JS: What are some Spring beauty trends that you’re looking forward to?

Grace: I’m obsessed with the bright lip, the brighter the better.

JS: What makeup tips can you suggest for women with darker skin?

Grace: Darker skin can get away with more colour, more eyeliner, more blush. You can play a lot more with makeup versus someone who’s more fair skinned.

JS: What’s one must-have product for this season?

Grace: Hard to say. I would say mascara. It doesn’t matter what eye look you use – smoky or colour. If you don’t have a good mascara it won’t look good.

JS: What are three key items everyone should have in their purse?

Grace: Bronzer, good mascara, cream blush. I love wearing the new Maybelline Bouncy Blush. I wear it on my lips and cheeks and the texture really does bounce. Maybelline’s Illegal Lengths is a fibre mascara that really does lengthen your lashes.

JS: How can women with darker skin use bronzer?

Grace: Bronzer for darker skin is multipurpose. You can contour and use it as a blush. A lot of darker skintones can use bronzer to contour cheekbones. [JS: We’re going to try this!]

JS: What was your first makeup product?

Grace: Maybelline Great Lash Mascara. The pink tube. And a drugstore brand bright red or pink lipstick.

JS: When you’re not a makeup artist, you’re…

Grace: Taking care of 2 kids! Or I’m usually working on my kits, cleaning brushes, shopping.

JS: You travel internationally for your work. How do you manage that with 2 kids?

Grace: I have a lot of help, a good support system, family, neighbours, and nannies.


Maybe she’s born with it?


Interview + Story By: Manjot Bains | Photography: Courtesy Maybelline Canada