When Jentry Kelley Gives Makeup Advice, You Listen

The Houston makeup artist on her new book, her go-to makeup look and the most important feature for photos.

By Julia Davila April 7, 2016

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Makeup artist Jentry Kelley working backstage at Fashion Houston 5 in 2014.

Repeat after me: Less is more. Now say it again if you're considering the best makeup for your everyday routine or a date. Put down your black eyeliner pencil, matte red lipstick and the lip brush, too.

As any woman who has taken a ride on the never-ending roller coaster that is the beauty world can confirm, wearing just enough make-up to look natural—but like, the best possible version of natural—can be a struggle. Enter Houston makeup artist Jentry Kelley.

Kelley is known for creating beautiful no-makeup looks with, umm, makeup, and in addition to painting the faces of Houston's most glamorous women, she's launched her own makeup line and a YouTube channel full of beauty advice. Her less-is-more philosophy also applies to her latest project: Three weeks is all it took for Kelley to complete her first book, Hooker to Looker: A Makeup Guide for the Not So Easily Offended

Houstonia: What made you want to write a book?

Jentry Kelley: My mom went to a psychic when I was around 25 or so—it was that guy over in Bellaire everybody goes to—and one of the things he told her was your daughter is going to be an educator. At this time I was working at Neiman’s and in college and I told my mom I wasn’t going to be a teacher. My mom said, “Well, this is what this guy said and he’s right about everything” and sure enough, that’s kind of what I turned into.

With my brand and now my YouTube channel, I think it’s not only a good selling tool but it will really help my name blow up, hopefully. Because the name [of the book] is very catchy, I think, and people like reading my social media because I am so in-your-face and blunt. I’m doing it not just to be an asshole, I’m doing it because I really want people to listen.

At the end of the day, I think to catch someone’s attention you have to be a little raunchy, inappropriate, you have to be unprofessional, which happens to be my personality and since I own a business, I can be that way. So, not only am I educating women and making them feel beautiful, but also making them laugh, too. That’s why I wanted to write the book.

You let your clients and social media followers help choose the title of your book. How did that go?

People really like feeling like they’re a part of the company, whether it’s an investor or it’s just naming a product. People want to feel involved. For the book name, I wanted something catchy and a girl I went to high school with said, “hooker to looker.” It was controversial, of course, but it’s my favorite word. Everyone knows I call everybody a hooker. I call my customers hooker, I call my mom hooker, I call my friends hooker and my employees, hooker. It’s an endearing term in my vocabulary.

I liked how Hooker to Looker was balanced because I knew I wanted to split my face in two for the front cover photo. The name was fitting and again it got people excited because they got to be a part of the process. And, I think from the very first post, when she said “hooker to looker” and everybody started liking it, everyone was coming up to me saying they love “hooker to looker” because it was so catchy.

What can people expect from the book?
Jentry book cover swf0bt

A good laugh, a good easy read, a lot of pictures to reference. The digital version, which will be [available] on Kindle and iBooks will have integrated videos. Each chapter has its own video, with 12 in total. After you read each chapter, you’ll pause and watch a video of me doing my own makeup to show you exactly what to do in the technique. I didn’t do a lot of how-to photos in the coffee table book because you really have to see it while it’s happening; you can’t just say your blush goes from here to here without showing it. I’ll be slowly adding the videos from the digital version to my YouTube channel.

What’s your favorite go-to beauty routine?

My daily routine is called Cute in Carpool. That’s what I’m wearing right now. I literally have the eight-step makeover on and nothing additional. It’s three to five minutes in eight steps and I can feel presentable and not like I just rolled out of bed—because you can’t be the makeup artist with no makeup on or people won’t have faith in you. I think it’s realistic for the average woman on the go, even if you don’t have kids in the carpool line.

What do you focus on to be photo-ready?

I think the most important thing to be photo ready is to focus on the skin. I would prefer someone to skip mascara before skipping a tinted primer or concealer or foundation. I think pretty skin, glowy skin is so important. Get rid of the rosacea, get rid of the sun damage, reflect the light and stay away from the matte, dry finish. You want your skin to look like skin.

What do you always carry in your makeup bag?

Jentry Kelley: I have about 14 tubes of lip gloss in my makeup bag because you never know what color lip gloss you’ll want to use. I also have a lash curler, mascara, my mattifying oil blot powder and a tiny little travel brush.

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