It might be hard to believe that the hunky A-list actors that you swoon over don’t just #wakeuplikethis when they’re at shoots or on the red carpet. They often rely on the clever hands of a Celebrity Groomer such as KC Fee and Debbie Gallagher. We sat down with both artists to find out where they got their training, how their male clients really like to be pampered more than you’d think and some behind-the-scenes gossip on set and on tour.
What kind of training did you have to go through to become a groomer?
I am a trained makeup artist. Groomers have a tendency to be either makeup trained or hair trained and then learn either or. I was lucky enough to learn basic barbering through a colleague and then took it from there.
What’s one thing people wouldn’t know about being a groomer?
Men are just as vulnerable when it comes to how they look. A big part of being a groomer is to be able to make them comfortable.
Can you describe one of your most memorable shoots working with a male client?
I was told by my agent I was working on a shoot with a band called "Twilight.” It turned out we were shooting an unknown UK actor to promote an upcoming film based on popular teen books. It was fun to see how that unfolded!
What are some beauty staples you carry around in your set bag?
My latest obsession is Tom Ford Beard Oil. It comes in three of his signature scents. Beards are very much on trend at the moment so this comes in handy for many of my clients. It moisturizes the skin underneath while softening the beard. It's definitely a luxury product but ends up being a huge hit. Anti-shine is an essential for men. I use Kryolan Perfect Matte. It can be used before or after makeup is applied and can take the place of powder. It leaves a natural shine-free finish without looking too matte. Men need to look as "undone" as possible. Lucas Papaw Ointment is an all-purpose ointment with healing and antibacterial properties. I always have it on hand. I mainly use it as a lip balm. Kevyn Aucoin Tinted Moisturizer is one of my favorites for men. It is lightweight but has enough coverage to even out the skin while keeping it looking natural. I use YSL Touché Éclat for an under eye pick-me-up. It's lightweight and light reflective. Again, keeping it all natural looking for the boys.
KC Fee has worked with celebrity clients such as Ralph Fiennes, Kit Harington and Andy Serkis among others. She is represented by The Wall Group.
What’s the best thing about grooming vs. full makeup on women?
I love both to be honest. Grooming is great because I get to hang out with a cool dude all day. It’s nice to make someone feel pampered for the day. Men need that, too.
How did you embark into the grooming world?
I started makeup when I was just out of school. I went to the London College of Fashion and did my makeup course. Then I went to work at MAC part time. I had lots of friends in bands and one day my mate Nick asked me if I wanted to work with this new boy band called The Wanted. I’d never really done hair but he said it was easy and he'd teach me so I became their full-time groomer.
You toured with Justin Bieber. What was that like?
I was on tour with Justin Bieber for eight months. I loved Justin as soon as I met him. We got on so well. I’m quite tattooed so I think he liked that about me. We travelled the world and it was crazy hard and so much fun too. I found it really hard flying all the time and all the late nights. He was quite demanding and I would be out at dinner and get a call from him to come back to the hotel to do his hair. I had to leave many dinners and rush back in a cab [to work with him]. Also staying in hotels all the time can get old even though they’re the best hotels in the world, I’d much rather be at home in my own bed.
Can you describe any favorite looks you created for him for his performance?
I never really created any looks for him. Justin likes to have his hair in a James Dean/Elvis vibe. We would do that most days.
Debbie Gallagher has worked with celebrity clients such as Justin Bieber, The Wanted, Mark Wahlberg, John Legend and Sam Smith. She is represented by Opus Beauty.