In the Hot Seat with Stephen Keyes


Makeup artist Stephen Keyes has always had an eye for and an understanding of unique beauty, be it an illustrated piece of art or the face of a woman. The makeup artist, who is also an artist, founded his own eponymous cosmetics collection, which women of all ages will lurve, thanks to its universal and easy-to-use offerings. It launched a decade ago and has just recently undergone a relaunch. It’s certainly a brand you need to know and we recommend that you try!

We invited Keyes to sit In the Hot Seat this month to give us the scoop on his brand, his philosophy on beauty, the Party Pump and his favorite Fall 2014 trends.

BN: Tell us about the history of your brand — why did you launch your own makeup range? How? When? Why? What was the impetus?
SK: I began my career working as a fashion and beauty illustrator in the mid ’80s, after years of study in fine arts, painting and illustration. I freelanced for several ad agencies, including Ted Bates and Grey Advertising, and then for fashion designers such as Perry Ellis, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger; along with major department stores such as Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdales. During this period I was also working as a makeup artist and absolutely loved it!

In 2004, I decided to launch my line, Stephen Keyes Cosmetics. The concept from the beginning has always been based upon my experience as an artist painting portraits of beautiful woman of all skin tones and hair shades. I initially developed makeup kits for women-on-the-go. Each kit contained all their essentials and also included my illustrated ‘How To’ chart. The kits sold mostly in spas and beauty supply stores.

In 2010, I met my business partner, who lent a much needed corporate discipline to my efforts. With research and development, we decided to relaunch the line with new packaging, colors and formulations. My partner and I are so different in many ways – he’s a former NFL player – yet so much alike in others. He is completely business-minded whereas I am the creative force. The unique combination between the two of us works very well.

We are currently meeting with department stores, along with more spas and salons.

I truly love the beauty business and there’s still that amazing feeling I get after completing a makeover for a client. I literally get goose bumps every time I see the expression on her face when she first sees herself in the mirror… That alone is what has kept me in this wonderful industry for over 25 years.

BN: What is your personal beauty philosophy?
SK: I believe that everyone should embrace the true beauty that we all hold, inside and out. We can learn how to enhance the best of what we have and to treasure it. Like an opera singer who knows just how to hit those certain notes.

BN: What is your favorite product you have created?
SK: My favorite product is my Eye Shadow Trio Kit. I love the kits because they really transform the eyes; they become so alive! With my ‘How To’ chart included, the user can achieve the classic smoldering smoky eye and other looks. It’s enjoyable to use and one looks forward to replenishing and updating with new colors for next season’s look.

BN: What is your favorite product that you did not create but use all the time?
SK: Chanel lipsticks. From the beginning, I’ve carried them in my makeup kit. They are the best on photo shoots because the pigments are so intense, so rich and so luxurious. I’ve never known a model that wanted to wipe them off.

BN: What is the one Stephen Keyes product that all women need in their makeup bag and why?
SK: The Party Pump. It’s amazing. These days, women are so busy that even applying makeup is just so time consuming. This is my 3-in-1 stick for eyes, cheeks and lips that gives you just the right amount of sparkle and glow for those last-minute plans to go meet the girls after work.

BN: What is one universal beauty tip you can share?
SK: I feel that the eyes are the most important when it comes to makeup. The universal tip that I will always give is to use a brush to tap a bit of a highlighting, soft shimmering shadow in the center of your eyelids. Just that little touch alone says so much but don’t forget to blend, blend, blend!!

BN: What are some of the NYC makeup trends for fall + winter?
SK: I am loving that eyebrows of all shapes are back! They were thick in the ’80s, skinny and tweezed in the ’90s, and now it seems that NYC women are sporting the proper brow that suits their face appropriately.

BN: Where can we buy your new makeup collection?
SK: We are currently meeting with department stores, along with more spas and salons. Right now, it’s available in select spas and on my website,

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