Power Duo

Thandie Newton & Kay Montano

Award-winning actress Thandie Newton met superstar makeup artist Kay Montano on a Vogue photo shoot. That’s when Kay revolutionized Thandie’s approach to makeup. “Kay looked at me first, rather than making me look like an idea she had before she got there.  It made so much sense.” Fast-forward ten years, and this power duo’s website, ThandieKay, is a place where others find that sense of empowerment.  Their happy, inspiring, follow-worthy Instagram delivers in the exact same way.

The First Step
Both women consider a healthy lifestyle to be the best possible prep you can give your skin.  “Health is huge in beauty,” says Thandie. “Keeping our skin healthy, hydrated, glowing—it’s the foundation before foundation!” Kay wholeheartedly agrees. “The reality is, if you do not look after yourself by drinking water, exfoliating and practicing good skincare, any makeup you use on top is going to be eighty percent less effective. I say this as a woman, and I think it’s really important.”

"I don't want to change myself into someone else, I just want to play with colors and moods. That's the breadth of expression I feel I've earned as a modern woman."
- Thandie Newton

The Reasons You’ll Love Their Site
As two mixed-race women, (Thandie is half-Zimbabwean, half-English; and, Kay is half-Nigerian, half-English), these longtime friends curate an inclusive representation of beauty that appeals to all women, regardless of skin color or age. “Also, I get to try a ton of products and learn different application techniques. That’s something else we share on ThandieKay. The right makeup for everyone is out thereit’s just a matter of finding it.” 

It’s the sort of site Thandie herself could have done with growing up. In Cornwall, rural England, she didn’t have a community on hand to help her embrace who she was. “Where I lived, people were unfamiliar with darker skins. There was a lot ‘wrong’ about me, so I looked to make it ‘right.’ I couldn’t wait to straighten my hair, and when makeup artists lightened my skin because they didn’t have darker shades of foundation, I allowed it. I was super-vulnerable to what others wanted to mold me into. It was a long and gnarly journey to enlightenment and self-acceptance.”

The Makeup
“I’m natural by day and ‘play’ when I go out,” says Thandie. Often she turns to Kay for help. “I love a smoky eye, and I’m really fond of cream-to-powder eye shadows. I have one rule—which I love to break occasionally—and that’s either a strong eye or a strong lip.”

It’s an important rule to adhere to, says Kay. “Even for the red carpet, I keep skin as transparent as possible. Everything strong can look quite dated, and it can be aging.” And their message rings clear: makeup can be loved, experimented with and used to enhance not only how we look but also how we feel about ourselves.  It’s a resounding credo from two women who are each full of authenticity—and all the more powerful as a duo.

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Photography: Jackie Dixon | Words: Gemma Soames