I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m a huge fan of What Not to Wear. I spent my university days watching reruns when I should have been reading at the library or attending class. With eight seasons of fashion road kill, the show is legendary.

Stacey London and Clinton Kelly do a great job dishing it out cold and playing good-cop-bad-cop, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Carmindy, the show’s impeccable make-up artist. No matter how much the hosts abuse their fashion victims (all in the name of good television, of course), Carmindy always manages to complete the transformation, showing the caterpillar that being a butterfly does take effort, but it’s minimal, and totally worth it.

For the past two seasons Carmindy has been using her own make-up line, Sally Hansen Natural Beauty – Inspired by Carmindy on What Not to Wear. And after two years of petitioning by beauty-hungry Canucks, it has finally arrived at Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix locations across Canada. I sat down with Carmindy at the Thompson Hotel in Toronto to learn more about the line, the secrets to natural beauty, and her love of Canadians.

So you’re finally launching your line in Canada. Dish!

I’m here because of the Canadian fans. They love the show, they love the product. It’s the only thing I’ve used on What Not to Wear for the last two seasons. So when the viewers get to see every woman, no matter what she looks like, look amazing because of the product, they’re like, “What are you using? Where did you get it?” And we listened.

How do you suggest that women follow make-up trends while still looking their best?

First of all, my line is really your basic make-up wardrobe. It’s what you wear everyday. When it comes to trends, women can interpret the trends by making them make sense to them. If teal eye liner is all the rage, and say that eyes are our feature focus, instead of teal, go for navy blue. You’re still in the blue-coloured family of eyeliner but it’s much more wearable and it makes sense to them. If all the rage is red lipstick and a woman doesn’t want to wear red, she can go with what I’m wearing which is a sheer red lip gloss. So you’re playing with the colour but you’re not fully committing to a red lipstick. It’s about interpreting the trend and making it work for you.

Which products do you recommend splurging on?

Face cream. I love face cream, I’m a Crème de la Mer fan. I think skincare is key because skincare is what’s going to carry you through the rest of your life. I believe that splurging on a dermatologist as opposed to a facialist is the way to go because they’re doctors and they’re going to tell you exactly what to do. In terms of your actual beauty products, you can get everything at a drugstore now from lashes to mascara to foundation. I would say skincare is where you splurge.

And how do you feel about skin primer? It’s been getting a lot of attention lately.

I’m really behind it. The Luminizing Face Primer is the number one seller in my line in the United States. I put this on my body, I put this on my face. It actually evens out your skin texture so that any makeup that you put on your skin is going to look light and creamy and it’s not going to catch. What happens is when you put on a little bit of foundation over top of that, it just glides on smooth and sheer and you have a nice smooth sheer finish so you never look cakey, you never look overdone and you always have a luminous glow to your skin.

What beauty advice for women in their twenties?

Women in their twenties should think about sunscreen each and every day of their lives, even when it is snowing outside and the coldest day of the world. Sunscreen and prevention is the key for women in their twenties to keep it locked and loaded and looking good for a long time. And also, wash your face every night. I know a lot women in their twenties get tired from work or go out and party with their girlfriends and don’t wash their face. You’ve got to make sure that you’ve got a nice skincare routine going at a young age to keep you looking young and fresh. And antioxidants, one of the main ingredients in every product I have. It’s a paraben-free line filled with anti-oxidants and natural botanicals. If you ingest anti-oxidants with your food and also topically with make-up it’s going to make you look young and beautiful for a long time.

What three products would you bring with you if you were trapped on a deserted island?

Absolutely hands-down SkinCeuticals sunscreen with SPF 45. Can’t live without that. I would say my Lift and Define Mascara and probably either my Airbrush Spray Make-up or my Crème de la Mer. Those are my favourites.

Have you noticed changes in make-up faux pas over the years?

It’s pretty much the same, however there has been an epidemic of over-plucking of the eyebrows. I think women get carried away and then they try to change their natural shape into somebody else’s, they realize it doesn’t look right and so then they over-compensate by plucking too much. The key is really knowing your face, knowing your naturalness and grooming without over-plucking or changing.

Do you prefer high end or drugstore products?

I’m a drugstore make-up junkie but more of a high-end skincare junkie.

What sort of differences do you notice between Canadian and American customers?

To be honest, and I hope no Americans read this, but I think that my Canadian customers are a little bit more savvy and sophisticated in the way they embrace themselves. American customers are still looking for quick fixes and “how to look like this” and they’re still fighting the “how to look younger, how to look like this” where Canadian customers are a little bit more self-assured, they’re comfortable in their skin. I think they own their beauty differently. I think it’s more polished and sophisticated. I think that they want to enhance they’re natural beauty and that’s why they’re such fans of What Not to Wear. In the United States because we’re inundated with so much that I think we get a little insecure and we try a little too hard. Don’t tell them that!

What’s been your most memorable moment working on the show?

There’s been so many, but I would say just changing women’s lives. I’ve had so many women break down in tears not because they were unhappy but they were so grateful that we broke through a wall of insecurity and showed them how to feel good about themselves. Those are the moments that I cherish the most.

You’re extremely accessible to your fans. Why did you decide to go the more people-oriented route rather than a high fashion, runway focus?

I spent twenty years of my career working with nothing but high fashion and celebrities, doing magazine covers and photo shoots and catalogues, but I was always known in the industry as being a light-handed make-up artist and creating a natural beauty, so I’d be hired for natural looking shoots. When the show came about and I started working with real women, they were so upset because all of the information they were getting was from celebrity make-up artists saying, “How to look like Beyonce, how to look like Jennifer Lopez, how to look like Cameron Diaz.” And these women had children and a job and real lives and they wanted to know, “How can I, on my budget, look good in five minutes when I’m getting my kids ready in the morning?” So I stopped doing celebrities, stopped doing shoots, and focused all my attention on being the real women’s make-up guru and started listening to them, wrote books for them, developed this line for them.

One of my favourite quotes is “The definition of celebrity is ‘One who is celebrated’ so celebrate yourself.” Stop playing the compare and despair game and stop looking at other people and trying to look like them. I mean look at you and your features, look at your eyes, your skin and your lips. You have gorgeous features. Using make-up to play that up is much better than having someone tell you to look like somebody else.

Oh Carmindy, we do love you.

To find Carmindy’s new line, or for more info, visit Sally Hansen Natural Beauty or hit your local Shoppers Drug Mart.

By Caitlin Agnew