New York has always been a fertile ground for nurturing artists of every kind, a truth celebrity makeup artist Cat Mignano knows all too well. It was here that her childhood dreams blossomed into a full-time career, where every brushstroke on canvas or skin opened up a world of limitless creativity.
Cat’s formative training happened at the renowned Make-Up Designory (MUD) located in the heart of New York City. As with several others, it became a creative haven where the makeup artist sharpened her skills, working on numerous beauty and fashion photo shoots. It was here that she learned to use makeup as a tool to tell stories, creating characters that communicated far more than words could express.
However, Cat’s philosophy extends beyond surface beauty. Her early forays into beauty reshaped her understanding of makeup, elevating it from a tool for enhancement to a powerful medium for self-expression. Those initial, often unpaid gigs in the industry served as a rich learning ground where she built a network and gathered invaluable experiences.
The makeup artist explains, “Something that’s never changed throughout the years is my passion for being an artist. I think you need to have that love for it to really succeed.”
In the here and now, Cat champions a philosophy that’s all about the inner radiance over mere surface shine. Her makeup artistry is like a magic touch, a way to bring out the natural beauty in each of her clients, giving them a boost of confidence that shines from within. Thus far, the MUA has worked with notable names like Danielle Carolan, Ellen Pompeo, Jourdan Sloane, Sophie Suchan, and several more. And her dream board is far from complete; she’s setting her sights even higher, with hopes of one day collaborating with the likes of Kendall Jenner.
Below, we spoke with Cat Mignano about becoming a makeup artist, her holy grail products, and predictions on where the beauty industry is going next. Continue scrolling to read our conversation!
Hey Cat! Where did your journey with beauty begin?
I have always been creative and loved to draw and paint. In middle school, I discovered the world of beauty on YouTube and absolutely fell in love with the art of makeup. My artistic abilities then transformed into a different canvas, my own face.
Tell us about the process of becoming a MUA. What were those early stages of your career like, and how much do you think you’ve evolved?
My job has always been really exciting. In the early stages of my career, I was so eager to grab any job and opportunity that came my way, most being unpaid since I had little to no experience. I worked a lot in the film industry in the first three years of my career and felt really unfulfilled.
I learned so much during those years, met so many cool people, and gained a ton of experience. I’ve dipped my foot into different areas of the industry and found the spot I’m meant to be in. Something that’s never changed throughout the years is my passion for being an artist. I think you need to have that love for it to really succeed.
I read that being a makeup artist was your dream job as a young girl. Looking back at the past, what did the term “beauty” mean to you then, and how has it changed now that you’re in the industry?
As a young girl, I had very distorted beliefs of what beauty was. I always wanted to be “perfect,” and I was obsessed with the idea of it. I think that’s why I reached for makeup so much, too, because it made me feel close to that. Now, I focus so much on beauty from the inside out. I actually rarely even wear makeup!
When applying makeup on my clients, I always strive for enhancing their natural features instead of trying to make them look like someone else. I think it brings out a confidence inside them that they didn’t know they had, and that’s the most rewarding thing.
There are obviously so many beauty products on the market, but only a few tend to be your holy grails. Which ones really stand out to you and which ones are a must-have?
I have a couple of products that I swear by, and I will always go back to. Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Clear Brow Gel has been in my personal and professional makeup kit for years. Best brow gel on the market, hands down. Tarte Tubing Mascara is a personal fave. It’s the only mascara that doesn’t run for me!
NARS’ Radiant Longwear Foundation and Armani Beauty’s Luminous Silk Foundation are the two foundations I’ve had in my professional kit since I’ve started my career. I love them separately but mostly use them mixed together. It’s the perfect cocktail!
Let’s talk about some of your work! Is there anything in particular that you’re really proud of?
I think, in general, some of the clients I’ve worked with have been a real pinch-me moment. But something I am so proud of is how closely I’ve been able to work with some of my favorite brands. For some reason, that always seemed really out of reach for me, and now I’ve built such amazing relationships!
You’ve done makeup looks for quite a few familiar faces and celebrities, but is there anyone you’d love to work with?
This answer always changes, but right now, Kendall Jenner. I think my makeup style is very similar to what she likes. I also think we’d really get along, which is something so important to me.
Finally, what beauty trends are you looking forward to seeing in 2023 and beyond?
I love the trend of skin. Seeing freckles and beauty marks through makeup and letting natural textures come through. I hope that’s something that stays because I think it’s really beautiful!