Finding the eye shadow that brings out subtle green or brown hues and the lipstick that accentuates an almond or olive skin tone is more than just part of the morning routine for makeup artist Karim Orange. “Makeup is a very spiritual process,” she says. “You’re creating beauty and touching beauty.”
For Orange, makeup is not only an art, but also, at times, a science. It’s about finding inner beauty and using the materials available to capitalize on it. It’s taking colors, textures and a canvas, and creating something unique and special. “I mix things together,” she laughs. “I’m almost a chemist sometimes, mixing and blending.”
Like a scientist, Orange always is learning about new ingredients to add to her magic mixtures. She just began working with another kind of makeup—organic—for her new job at Pratima Ayurvedic Skin Care Clinic and Spa in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. This organic spa incorporates bamboo floors, organic paint and all-recyclable materials into its design. Here, Orange encourages women to come to her with their old cosmetics, and she then makes recommendations about alternatives, using totally natural makeup lines. “They need to make you look good, and be good for the senses and the body,” Orange explains.
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She has worked with all of the major makeup lines, so she believes that she knows what is available and what is best. “I love them all—no bashing the non-natural ones,” Orange says. “I know everything that’s on the market. I want to educate about the differences between natural and synthetic makeup.”
For 12 years, she worked in Los Angeles using nonorganic makeup lines on her clients, who included celebrities such as Mary J. Blige, the Dixie Chicks, Donald Trump and many others. Orange has been an Emmy nominee twice for her work as the makeup artist on The View. Despite all of her success, however, she began to feel burned out and underappreciated. “Hollywood diminishes the art. When it’s so much about business, it takes away from the art; if it’s too pushed, it loses the art,” she notes. Orange felt as though she was using her own energy to camouflage the hard lifestyles of the stars on whom she was working.
At the same time, Orange was deeply affected by Sept. 11. The native New Yorker’s ex-husband, who remained there with their young daughter, worked in one of the towers but survived the attacks. After her daughter became ill from the smoke and debris from the aftermath, Orange decided to leave the glitz of Hollywood, California. She spent some time at a yoga ashram in upstate New York, then moved to Maryland and took a job at a department store makeup counter. There, she rediscovered her passion for her craft.
“I met amazing people and would give them heartfelt beauty advice. I met women with cancer who would come in every week, as well as stay-at-home moms who had nothing to do but come talk to me. It made me want to explore talking with women from all over,” Orange explains. Because of this, she began reaching out to females from many different situations—senior citizens, women in prison and at-risk teenagers. Orange’s message was the same for all of them: Beauty starts from within.
Her new goal is to gear all of her projects toward the concept of “beauty from the inside out.” Orange is writing a book titled Absolute Beauty. It is a collection of interviews and portraits depicting women and their lives. The purpose of the book is to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the female behind the photograph. “A lot of times you see a beautiful picture but know nothing about that woman,” Orange says. Her book will explore each person’s life story, providing a more complete picture of the individual. She also is launching a Web site, www.beyondfaces.com, to inspire women to live healthy, productive lives.
“I want to be known as the organic celebrity makeup activist,” Orange says. “I want to use my work to empower women in different situations.” For her, the best part about this new path is the joy she sees reflected in the faces of the people with whom she works. According to Orange, “The look in their eyes—it’s wonderful working with women who really appreciate you.”