This week’s That Girl is make up-artist extraordinaire and founder of the amazing Facetools, Natasha Sajnani! This Hong Kong girl knows how to work those make up brushes like a true pro, and has used her skills on beauty editorials, brides and even celebrities. We chat to this super glamour-puss about her favourite Hong Kong spots, her future plans for Facetools and some of her must-have beauty tips and tricks!
Fill us in on your background and where you grew up? How did you end up in Hong Kong?
I am a full on Hong Kong Girl! I was born and raised here, studied at KGV and then went to London College of Fashion to study Fashion PR. After three fabulous years away, I wanted to bring all of my newfound skills home and I immediately started working in fashion. I then moved on to entertainment and then on to beauty! Now you could say I’m pretty much doing a mix of all three!
Where do you live? How have you made your home your own?
I live on ‘the dark side’ – apparently! Yes, that does mean Kowloon. I live in Laguna Verde, right by the waterfront, and despite being on the island most of the time, I must say I do love it here. I’ve lived here for over 15 years now, and have very much made it my own by adding little elements of gold wherever I can. But more importantly, I have an entire beauty closet and studio which is left in a complete MESS 98% of the time! I will be getting a new place with my soon-to-be husband next year and I’m so excited to start designing and literally building something from scratch… I love decorating!
Where do you shop in Hong Kong? Any secret finds you can let us in on?
I love to shop if I have the time, which means I end up shopping literally anywhere! I travel quite a lot as well so little boutiques are always a go-to for me in any city. However, I do have some secret finds in HK that I’m happy to share! Almost all my shoes are now from SLEEH… Being a huge shoe addict, my love affair with SLEEH was definitely a match made in heaven! Not only do they have some of the most insane styles, but they are super comfortable and most importantly, super affordable. I now need a whole new closet for my shoes… Good luck to my fiancé!
As for clothing, I do love high street shopping – I don’t think I’ve ever walked into H&M and not bought something! I also love Hong Kong’s little boutiques; there’s this awesome store called “Gotta” on Cameron Road in Tsim Sha Tsui – they have some amazing outfits that are so reasonable – definitely a good reason to cross over to the dark side for any islanders. Besides these, I’ll also scour online for great buys at Net-A-Porter, ASOS and Nasty Gal.
What are your favourite restaurants and bars in Hong Kong?
Wow, that’s a tough one! With all the new places in HK, it’s difficult to choose! Right now, I would definitely say Brickhouse… it’s perfect for a fun night out, and also all of Harlan Goldstein’s restaurants – Comfort has amazing food and so does GOLD! I do enjoy Zuma too, but then again, who doesn’t? For Chinese food, I love KEE Club and dragon-i’s dim sum! Ambience is key for me, although there is this one exception to that rule… my secret place that I believe has the best sushi in the world (I’m a sushi addict so this is a huge deal for me to say) is a teeny, tiny restaurant in TST called UNCLE SUSHI. This place literally has one guy creating some of the most interesting sushi I’ve ever had. If you go, please try the “spicy Natasha roll” (yes, it IS named after me!). I also can’t forget to add that I do love yummy shisha (hookah) and I’ve been hanging out at this new place on Elgin Street, Boba Bear, which is a franchise from the US. I’m a huge fan of their cocktails and pipe flavours!
What is your favourite place in Hong Kong?
I know this sounds really lame, but I love Ocean Park. It’s the one place I’ve been going to since I was a child that has never disappointed me and it makes me happy going on all the crazy rides. I love the thrill! However, I’ve gotta say that I do miss those winter carnivals that used to happen in HK. I hear they are making a comeback this year – I can’t wait for them and I hope it’s not just a rumour!
Where do you go for hair/nails/maintenance?
I am super-duper picky when it comes to hair… it’s been so difficult for me to find someone or somewhere in HK that I can trust. For more than two years now, I’ve sworn by La Biosthetique HK (formerly known as Marek Art Of Hair). I’ve been going to them religiously and have never been happier with how my hair looks. My stylist, Jackal Wong, is a hair genius! He creates the bounce, colour and style that everyone wants! For nails, I go to my super busy but talented lady Winnie in TST. Her little salon is called W Nail. She is extremely busy, so make sure to book far in advance to get a slot!
For skin, I travel all the way to the Philippines for my amazing dermatologist, Dr. Javellana… she is a godsend. It may seem extreme but flights are only 2 hours from HK and very affordable! Dr. Javellana and her team are renowned for giving people clear, glowing skin. I’ve just started a few of her treatments and use her home care kit on a daily basis. In only one month I’ve seen a massive difference with my skin. She targets acne scars and blemishes and helps prevent wrinkles. I believe the most important base is your skin – no matter how much make-up you use, when your skin looks good, your make-up automatically looks flawless. I’ve always had sensitive skin, so having Dr. Javellana in my life has literally turned it around. I’m confident she’s going to make my skin absolutely radiant for my wedding next year!
Did you always want to be a make-up artist?
I think it was always in me. I bumped into my primary school teacher and she remembered me immediately… she said, “you’re the little girl who used to do my hair and make-up during school!”. It was a nice affirmation that my make-up obsession started that long ago! Looking back at all my old art projects throughout high school, I would always do something around the idea of manipulation… starting with make-up, then Photoshop and then photography. It’s interesting to look back and reflect that it’s always been something I’ve loved, but had you asked me this question four years ago, I would have said no; that I wouldn’t want to turn something I’m so passionate about into a full-time career. Having said that, now that I’ve done it, I couldn’t be happier that I followed my gut and took the leap to become a make-up artist! It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
Why did you decide to start Facetools?
Firstly, I always wanted to have something to call my own. Make-up was just not enough. Doing make-up is a way to de-stress for me, I’m normally relaxed and enjoying it, so I was eager for something to stimulate my mind and get me thinking – I do like placing high demands on myself! I then noticed a niche in the market; almost every one of my clients would ask me to list them the items I used on them, so that they could buy them themselves. I realised that make-up brushes were neglected… people didn’t feel the need to spend on good quality brushes. Brushes are also extremely expensive and the brush sets that were available at the time didn’t look as attractive as they should, considering how expensive they were. I was determined to create something for my clients by finding the best quality and price. Tools are the most important part of make-up, when you have the right brushes, you can paint the perfect look on any canvas, flawlessly!
What makes Facetools different from other make-up brands and brushes?
It’s the first of its kind! Facetools are the first to have bristles that have been bathed in olive oil for guaranteed softness, and then infused with rose and chamomile to neutralise the goat hair (this makes them perfect for sensitive skin). They also come in gorgeous packaging. I got so frustrated seeing brushes unattractively placed in a glass on my dressing table, so I designed the set to open out into two useable brush stands, making it fabulous to display anywhere! Not only that, the set of 13 comes with a how-to guide, teaching you how to use each brush along with tips and tricks to ensure your make-up is on point.
You’ve recently been to L.A… Any exciting developments? Any career highlights so far?
It’s actually been an extremely exciting few months. My L.A.-based manager made sure I met with the right department stores, make-up artists and celebrities and really maximised my time there. It was wonderful seeing how excited people were about the brand and the fact that they really wanted it over there was a dream come true. We’re working on a few projects that will take some time, but I am just so, so excited for it all! I guess a career highlight is knowing that a few A-list celebs are dying to get their hands on a set of Facetools. A few already have them, and I can’t wait to personally deliver more to the others! I guess to keep updated you’re going to have to follow me on Instagram (@missfacetools). Ha!
What are you hopes and dreams for Facetools in the future?
I dream BIG. I’m so excited for what’s in store and I definitely have some big plans. There’s not much I can give away right now in these early stages (it’s only been five months since we’ve launched!), but all I will say is definitely look out for this brand. My goal is to ensure I have the best quality and most glamorous-looking cosmetic tools and accessories with a price tag that is super attractive!
Which is your favourite brush out of the whole Facetools collection and which one do you use the most yourself?
This is the question I was not looking forward to. It’s so difficult to pick just one… that’s like asking me which child I love more! I guess I could do a top 5. I love the “flawless foundation brush” – I did a few blind testing sessions with this and found that with a little amount of foundation it can conceal my imperfections so beautifully. I love how it picks up product and applies it on skin so naturally. A quick tip – wash it so it’s damp before you apply the foundation. It gives such a nice, natural and airbrushed finish! I also love my “contour pro” brush. I seriously cannot go anywhere without this brush… it gives me such a nice chiseled look – cheekbones that I don’t have suddenly appear. I love it! I guess the next would be the “skin perfecting concealer brush”. This brush helps to cover all the horrible blemishes and dark circles. I also do love “the brow defining pro” – it’s the best to give you those gorgeously arched and filled eyebrows! And last but not least, I guess I would have to pick the “shadow blender” brush. Blending is key when it comes to applying makeup and this brush really helps blend everything out- it’s the final touch on the eyes that puts the whole look together!
You’re such a glamour queen – how do you stay looking so fabulous in the crazy Hong Kong heat and humidity?
That’s so sweet! I wish there were some magical answer to this, but the honest truth is that I touch up my make-up. It’s way too hot to say it stays on all day! The main thing is to remember that less is more, but when you do need to touch up, fix your concealer under your eyes, use a little powder to control the oil and definitely add a little bit of blush – a little “natural flush” never hurt anyone! My main issue with the humidity is my hair… I can’t stand how frizzy and big it gets, thank goodness for La Biosthetique… when summer hits, I get myself a keratin treatment which lasts me the whole summer. It’s the best feeling, walking out of the shower and letting your hair dry naturally and not have to worry about it!
What five essentials should we all have in our make-up bags?
1) Concealer – it’s so important to conceal those dark circles and blemishes!
2) Mascara – flirty lashes are the way to go! You never know who you’re going to meet.
3) Lip liner/lip stick
5) A set of Facetools, of course!
What are your most-hated make-up faux pas?
There’s quite a few actually but I’ll mention the ones people wouldn’t normally think of so that you’re aware!
1) It really annoys me when people don’t tightline (line the inner upper water line) that one little trick makes the biggest difference, your lashes look longer and it makes everything look so clean, it’s a must do!
2) Brows are just so important! They frame your whole face, so ladies please remember to always fill in your brows. And never ever use black… a light/dark brown is ideal.
3) Make sure your blush is blended into your skin. No one likes a big bright pink cheek. The set comes with a “blending hero” brush, which I like to use as the final touch to blend all the make up together giving you a natural, flawless finish – just how make up should be!
What are your top 3 beauty tips or tricks for busy Sassy girls-on-the-go?
Firstly, I’d like to say that make-up should be used to enhance your beautiful features, so less really is more! For women on the go… (like me!) I would say these are the 3 tricks that have helped me the most:
1) When in doubt, smudge! For example, if you think your black liner on your upper lid is not straight, simply smudge it up and add some bronzer to it to create a sexy, subtle smokey look! This is another awesome way to go from office chic to party babe – especially those nights when you’re working late and just don’t have time to change (story of my life!). Glam up with a little liner smudging… this has been my go to “touch up” for a while now!
2) Got no blush in your purse? No problem, use some of your pink/red lipstick and gently dab it on the apple of your cheeks, then rub it in for a natural glowing blush!
3) When you’re in a rush, the top 4 things to do are conceal, apply some lip balm, then blush and mascara! This will give you the perfect “no make up look”.
Any advice for aspiring make-up artists?
If you’re passionate about it, don’t let anyone stop you. I will say it is definitely nowhere near as glamorous as it sounds. It’s hard work with 6am photo-shoots, but if you love it you will be wonderful at it. Keep working towards your dream and make it happen! Be confident, you’re always going to have people that will adore you and people that will doubt you… I guess my advice here would be to believe in yourself, be confident, work hard and always stay humble. It’s always good to see someone successful that’s still so down to earth! Another piece of advice: if you want to “study” make-up, go for it, but please remember everything you learn will come through practice. It’s a never-ending learning process for everyone no matter how high up there you are, so always be willing to try new things and experiment. Being closed-minded is a big no-no in the beauty and cosmetics industry!