The star of Dollface shares her unique take on double cleansing, the products she can’t live without, and the discontinued products she’s living without — but just barely.
Kat Dennings loves — loves — to talk about beauty. This is not merely an observation, even though it was abundantly clear when I talked to her recently; this is an admission. “Beauty’s kind of like my favorite thing,” she tells me, followed by the five little words that serve as the secret handshake among those of us who became enamored of makeup before we were allowed to wear it: Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin. Turns out we both got the legendary book, which she credits with changing her brain chemistry forever, as a Hanukkah gift in the mid-’90s. “The looks he did, like making people look like other people by changing your eyebrow shape or your lip shape or whatever, and all his diagrams on different lip liners — I mean, the whole thing made me obsessed with makeup.”
So it was a little strange that the first two drugstore products that came up in our chat weren’t, say, mascara and shampoo, but rather topical pain-relieving foam and Scotch tape. For nearly a week before our phone conversation, Dennings was tormented by an especially obstinate migraine that had finally lifted that morning. “I know we’re talking about beauty products, but shoutout to Biofreeze foam,” she says. We’ll come back to the tape later.
Dennings has been talking to journalists and fans cleverly disguised as journalists (hello, it is I, the latter of the two) about the second season of Dollface (premiering February 11), in which she continues to play Jules, one of the most relatable characters in Hulu’s vast array of streaming entertainment. Even Dennings relates to her — at least in terms of her makeup, which is very much in sync with the actor’s own signature look.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that I love a cat eye. That’s my thing. And yeah, so does Jules. It’s weird how that happens,” Dennings says. Dollface‘s head makeup artist, Cheryl Calo, applies Jules’s go-to false lashes — which breaks from Dennings’s real-life makeup routine — but Dennings insists on applying her cat eye herself for filming. “It’s controversial because I know that many makeup artists are amazing at it. It’s just that I know my eyes so well, and I can do it in three seconds,” she explains. “Also, I wear contacts, and I get really scared having things really close to my eyes.”
Always welcome near her eyeballs: Pat McGrath Labs Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner. “Pat McGrath, has, in my opinion, the best liquid liner,” she says, though she also loves Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner.
Eye makeup is actually what Calo — and Dennings, as we’ve established — would start with when she was in the makeup trailer in order to spare Dennings’s skin from heavy complexion makeup as long as possible. “She would do my eyes first, and then we would do my foundation and concealer last. So it was great for her because any fallout, you can just wipe it off,” Dennings says. “But even though it might be 20 minutes, it’s still less time that the makeup’s on your face.”
Keeping on-set makeup off her face as much as possible has become a priority for Dennings, who, from the looks of her skin, is clearly doing something right. In fact, she has her own version of a double cleanse, you could say. “I used to break out a lot more, and now I kind of have this down to a science,” she says. “The second you can take it off, take it right off.” For Dennings, this means using Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes the moment she’s done shooting. Then, after a brief intermission — otherwise known as driving home — the second part of her double cleanse begins.
“I’m lucky enough to have a bathtub, and I have one of those little tables on it, and I keep removal products on that table so I can take it off in the bathtub again,” Dennings says, immediately prompting me to make a note in my phone to look into one of these bathtub tables for myself. She’ll then use either Clinique All About Clean Rinse-Off Foaming Face Cleanser or Weleda Clarifying Gel Cleanser with a “little silicone scrubby pad” she got on Amazon for three bucks. Her three-second cat eye is removed just as quickly with Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover.
If she’s feeling especially fancy, Dennings adds yet another step to her cleanse: Bésame Cold Cream. “It’s like a ’50s-style cold cream, except not full of weird lead or whatever they had back then,” she says, which — OK, yes, good. “This is only if I’m really giving myself a treat. It just leaves your skin very soft.”
On the rare occasion that Dennings finds herself wearing glitter, the removal process is significantly less… wet. “We had a scene where we had a lot of glitter on our eyes, and I’m sure you know that glitter is the devil. So Cheryl’s tip, which is brilliant, is to take it off with tape — push it onto your eyelids, obviously being very careful,” Dennings says, clarifying that she means Scotch tape. Please, for the love of Hulu, don’t put packing tape or duct tape near your eyes. “No more sadly taking specks out of your nose a year later.”
Although it sounds like she’s got pretty much everything figured out in the beauty realm — and much of her Instagram content over the last couple of years would seem to confirm that — Dennings admits, there are a few things she’s still wrestling with.
“I don’t mind telling you that I have gotten so many gray hairs. It’s, like, making me really upset. I don’t know what to do about it. So I’m in this weird place of, like, do I start dyeing my hair? Do I just give in to this happening?” she says. When I tell her she’d look awesome with a badass Bonnie Raitt-style silver streak, Dennings begs to differ. “Of course, Bonnie Raitt looks amazing, but I look like I just got scared a couple of times.”
Another beauty struggle: Where have all the great lip stains gone? “They always discontinue my favorite things,” Dennings says. “Do you remember the Vincent Longo lip stain?” Ugh, yes — they were so good. Also gone: “CoverGirl made my favorite drugstore stain. It’s just, like, a marker.” She lets out a completely justified grunt of frustration, followed by laughter.
So because her favorite lip stains have moved on to the big acrylic lip-color organizer thingy in the sky, Dennings is forced to get creative to achieve the lip looks she’s going for. “Anytime I wear something, people are like, ‘What is that? What color is that?’ I’m like, ‘Well, how much time do you have? It’s five different things.'”
It begs the question: Is it time for Kat Dennings to become the eleventy-thousandth celebrity to launch a beauty brand? And that question apparently begs another question, according to Dennings: “Who would buy the Kat Dennings line of anything?”
To which I say, my future bathtub table and I are ready.
Written by Marci Brown for Allure, article published on February 11