It’s not hard to refer to those who contour their cheekbones and dust foundation as artists. Anyone who has witnessed the transformational power of a full beat with their eyes can only call it art. Numerous sculptors, painters, and photographers have long drawn their inspiration from the corporeal body.
As an art school graduate who is now responsible for enhancing faces of celebrities like Mary J. Blige, Adut Akech, and Iman, Keita Moore understands the power that art holds. Moore says that art was something that to fall in love with at an early age. “My parents encouraged me to pursue it.” Moore’s mother was an important role in his passion for beauty. She was a complete glamour girl, whose makeup would bring a lot of attention from his peers at school. Moore says, “That was when I discovered the power of makeup. She was my mom for a moment and then she was all dressed up in makeup the next. It was evident that she had a superpower.”
Now Moore is working with some of his idols, including people who got him through tough times and served as inspiration when he was coming into his own. His clients are “surreal” and he describes it as an incredible experience. It feels like a dream to paint their faces. It is important to me to keep in mind how far I have come.”
Here, we talk with Moore about how he creates his signature makeup glow, the upcoming Met Gala, the effect the pandemic has on makeup artists of color, and more. I would draw Elle covers and make the makeup. Then I would paint them. These experiences prepared me for my career as a makeup artist. It was something I didn’t really enjoy at first. However, after I graduated and worked a nine-to-5 job for several years, I realized that art wasn’t for me and that it was not what I wanted.
“My friend was doing a fashion show in Rochester, New York, where I’m from, and one of the makeup artists bailed on her. With three days left, she asked me to do her makeup. After a while, I was feeling more comfortable, so I packed some Mary Kay makeup from my mom and headed out to buy a few items. I arrived at the event with a bag full of makeup, and was already shaking from the fact that two other makeup artists had brought full-fledged kit kits. As I began to apply the makeup to the girls, I was overwhelmed by their enthusiasm. I glanced back, and saw a line of models waiting to be done. I thought, “Wow, this must be easy.”
“I started practicing makeup on my nieces, and I ended up applying for a job at MAC Cosmetics. I learned the basics and worked for eight months.”
On the power of makeup: She is Mary when she walks into the room. Mary J. Blige is Mary J. Blige when she’s fully dressed and glammed. She is the icon everyone knows her as and has that confidence. This is the power of makeup.
On how he achieves his signature glow: You just need to tap it onto several areas of your face. It looks as if they are glowing from the inside when the light hits them.
“I didn’t even know the power I possessed when it came to makeup. “You know that’s your signature?” People would tell me that. It’s the glow. It’s the glow! “I just want women feel the best version possible of themselves.”
On how he’s preparing for the Met Gala: It won’t matter how it goes, I’m going to make the magic happen. It’s going to be back in September! Camera IQ allows you to virtually try on makeup and show your girls how it will look with their outfits. It makes my life so much easier.”
On the lessons he learned from the pandemic: It taught me that you must be prepared for any situation. I did have a savings account so I could have money, and I even managed to work through the pandemic. Although I didn’t work with many of the celebrities I usually work with, I did have partnerships with brands and even worked on campaigns during the pandemic. It was crucial to be safe, as we didn’t really know what we were dealing. We all learned that even the smallest things in life are important. There is a lot of information in our daily lives that is driven by social media. It is important to find peace and mindfulness. These were the things that mattered most to me in 2020, and will continue to do so in 2021. These are the things I am paying more attention to now than ever before.”
On his new and improved self-care routine: To go to a client, I took a flight. These times taught me to prioritize myself and to accept that I may have to say no. Our bodies and our peace-of-mind come first at the end of every day. If you are able to show up for yourself, you will be able to show up for everyone else. It can seem like me-time is scarce in the beauty industry. But, taking care of yourself is vital for your health.
“Before I leave Rochester to head to New York City, or wherever I’m going, I make sure my vitamin pack and my herbs are ready. I enjoy going for walks with my dog and meditating with him. Meditation is something I do every day. I need to be able to focus in the midst chaos and noise and clear my mind so I can recharge and get back out there.”