“See how you’ve smoked out that brown liner on your upper lid? Just like that, but more intense,” she points out while precisely pantomiming a makeup trick she learned from her “scientist sister.” It was my barely-there morning eye makeup that subtly defines the eye, details of which only a true makeup buff would notice. And she did. The same fervour lingers through our chat in her sunlit home, as bright and colourful as the topic du jour: beauty.
It’s hard to pick a flaw when you look at Katrina Kaif. Sitting ramrod straight, comfortably makeup-free in her shower-fresh skin, bee-stung dewy lips and easy at-home athleisure, she is a determined ball of energy who cannot wait to share her take on beauty with the world—not by talk, but by action. Kay is what she’s named it, her very own makeup brand with which she’ll be making her entrepreneurial debut. “I wanted to give it its own identity instead of making it an eponymous brand. I want the product to shine and Kay to stand on its own.”
At 11am on Sunday, she’s already finished two meetings with the Kay crew (I come third) and there’s a long day of swatching, speaking and shooting ahead. Her calm demeanour hints that, for her, makeup is serious business. It wasn’t an overnight impulse; it goes way back, from her early days in Bollywood when ‘contouring’ seemed like a phenomenon, to today, when she can enter a beauty shop and blindly pick every single product to create a full face of makeup for every friend and family member.
Lessons from Bollywood
Bollywood did more than just initiate Kaif into the world of big-screen theatrics. It turned her into a makeup artiste. “From day one, I was exposed to the best talent whose work constantly fascinated me. The first time Subbu (makeup artiste Subhash Vagal) applied makeup on me, I witnessed the power of contour and his lithe liner skills. Mickey Contractor helped me understand what shades look good on my lips,” she recalls. And Jackie Shroff told her she should use a lot of kajal! “There were so many conversations around it, and so many little moments that would register in my mind on what makeup can do to enhance your features. Gradually, I picked up on even the smaller nuances and learnt many techniques through the very talented makeup artist Subhash dada, who worked with me for a long time.” In no time, she picked up the brush herself, working makeup on her face like the pros taught her. “It became second nature to me. I can tell you how good or bad a formula or product is in three seconds!”
Then there were the inevitable consequences of growing up and living with six girls. “There was always tonnes of makeup!” And it was never enough. “Even now, every time we get together for a family gathering, bathroom conversations go from ‘that is my blush, you better put it back to where it belongs’ to ‘I love what you’ve done with that eye, teach me!’ Picture six girls standing in the bathroom fighting for mirror space, putting on their (and each other’s) makeup. It’s a riot!” Kaif even picked up her best go-to trick from her younger scientist sister: “Apply kajal on your lid, close to your lashline, then tap a thin, fl at brush into a pot of black eyeshadow powder and press it on top of your kajal line. This creates an incredible depth,” she reveals. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before Kaif turned all this knowledge and obsession into more than just a hobby.
Kay is for you
Lip-defining pencils, creamy matte crayons in 24 shades, eye pencils that go from smudgy to gel and demi-matte, a brow definer, and finally, high-shine, ultra-glossy lip toppers—the nascent brand’s launch drop is big and it has everything Kaif considers essential.
Infused with chamomile and marula oil, the crayons carry pigments that span pastel to plum, and the toppers let you glam it up if you’re feeling it. With her pencils, she leaves it up to you to decide whether you want to glide it on smooth or smoke it out. Everything comes dressed in sleek, easy and clean packaging with Kaif’s logo. “Each step of the way has been crazy and fun. Imagine 20 girls in a room making a bunch of noise, trying on 20 (or 80) products. I’ve created so many different looks on so many different types of faces, trying out foundation shades, looks going from disco to office.”
The products will be rolled out in phases. “If you throw everything at everyone at once, you’re not giving them enough time to play with it and discover it.” What’s the year looking like, then? A nail collection with scores of colour options one week, foundation and contour kits a few weeks later, powder highlighters the next, and so on.
Kay, like Katrina, is an unapologetic, honest ode to beauty. It has been two and a half years in the making for Kay to speak Katrina’s language today. “I want it to portray my philosophy. It definitely does not say, ‘Look like me.’ I want you to have fun with my makeup and let it enhance the favourite parts of you…”
Read the interview in Vogue India’s November 2019 issue. Subscribe here
© Greg Swales
Photographed by Greg Swales, Styled by Anaita Shroff Adajania
Sports bra, Reebok. Earrings, Butler & Wilson
Hair: Yianni Tsapatori/Faze Management. Makeup: Daniel Bauer/Artist Factory. Manicure: Tip & Toe Nail Salon, Mumbai. Photographer’s assistant: Ryan Martis. Assistant stylists: Fabio Immediato; Naheed Driver. Set design and props: Bindiya Chhabria. Production: Bindiya Chhabria; Divya Jagwani