Wise Words
A moment with holistic beauty and lifestyle expert Kat James, author of The Truth About Beauty

Q. You changed your looks and your health through eating well, taking supplements, and eliminating toxins from your life. What inspired you to write a book about that experience?

A. After overcoming a 12-year eating disorder and reversing a life-threatening liver disease, it became obvious to me that the basic beauty tips I was sharing [as a makeup artist] in all the top magazines were not touching on the real keys to transformation. I have had a long career in mainstream beauty, and it took a while for me to face up to my own deeper beauty issues.

Q. Was it your health crisis that spurred this refocus of priorities?

A. That was the turning point to getting informed and on a path to bring myself beauty rewards I could only achieve once I forgot all the external beauty goals. That was the ultimate lesson—by focusing only on our health, we can gain far greater beauty than by the mainstream pursuit.

Q. How do you define beauty?

A. I think it is the product of enlightened self-cultivation.

Q. What things are beautiful to you?

A. Self-knowledge. Connecting with ourselves and with our true gifts. Where it touches with the physical is vitality. Vitality, I believe, is the universal beauty aesthetic. It is also the most elusive and precious of all beauty attributes.

Q. In addition to writing and touring to share your insights with the public, you’re still a makeup artist. How has your approach to your job changed?

A. Natural makeup has gotten so much better in recent years that I’ve incorporated more and more of it into my kit. But my approach to makeup also changed after my transformation to one who sees a potential in people they can’t see in themselves. I truly believe that I can do a makeup on them that lets them see that potential and use makeup as a visualization tool to see their most radiant self and stay true to themselves.

Q. Can you share with us a few more pragmatic natural beauty tips?

A. If you really want to change your appearance, look at your beverages and your food first. For example, cutting out sugar can be seen in your face in as little as one day. As for the skin, reverse the regimen overkill that strips the lipid barrier. Then, once your skin isn’t reeling and reacting, you can actually assess what skin problems you have. So many of the problems that I see in my profession are actually caused by the products that are intended to make skin beautiful.

Q. Can you tell us a few herbs and supplements you think are essential for all women?

A. I think milk thistle and turmeric are incredible. And to women of a certain age I highly recommend chaste tree berry and dong quai. Co-Q10 for energy production. And carnosine—as far as an actual anti-aging supplement, it’s as exciting as any.

Q. Are there any other natural products or companies you would recommend?

A. Carbsense tortilla chips, I love. They’re organic and they’ve got flaxseed. Gram’s Gourmet does flax-nut crunchies. Anyone doing low carb gave up granola long ago, and this brings it back. It’s got whey protein and coconut and other things that are really great for you. For skin products, Spirit of Beauty Nutritional Skin Care is great; it’s not just botanicals and essential oils, but also cosmeceuticals such as tocotrienols. My Chelle is also fabulous for its use of cutting-edge phytopigments. These companies are taking natural to the next level.

Q. What’s the one message you’d like women to take away after reading your book?

A. That we should cultivate ourselves with the passion of an artist. No one ever called an artist or a painter high-maintenance for demanding the finest tools and raw materials. We should demand them for ourselves.

—Jena Hofstedt

Delicious Living’s Senior Editor Jena Hofstedt interviewed holistic beauty expert Kat James for this month’s “Wise Words.” “It’s refreshing to speak with a top-level makeup artist who talks about the true meaning of beauty—being healthy and feeling good in your own skin,” Hofstedt says.