"I just have an entrepreneurial spirit. Even back when I was 21, I started my own company called Maids Express. I used to pick up these ladies and drop them off at jobs. In grad school I ended up meeting someone—you know how that goes—and we opened a construction business, in historical restoration. We actually went and built homes for people after Hurricane Katrina, which was an amazing experience. Then we moved to Los Angeles and rented a little house by the lake, and by that point, I was so over construction. I told my husband at the time, 'You know, I think I’m just going to get a part time job at Saks.' But the reality was that it didn’t fit with my personality. I like to feel like I’m controlling my destiny, you know?
But I was being exposed to all of this makeup and skincare through the job. I have makeup on today because I wanted to look cute for you, though generally, I don’t wear much—but I always wear sunscreen. It’s a disaster how women of color are left out of the conversation about sunscreen. And the sun doesn’t care [about your skin tone], it’s more brutal now than ever. I’d put on a mineral sunblock and my hairline would be white, my eyebrows would be white, my skin would have a cast. I called my friend who had a haircare line, and I was like, ‘Do you think I can meet with your chemist?’ Within two weeks we were testing sunscreen formulas, and that’s kind of how Unsun was born. I’m really happy with the response, and I love educating people about sun protection. It feels like you’re doing something good and something important. Building houses after Katrina, that was important, too. This is just a different kind.
So, I wear sunscreen every day. I wash my face with Glamglow Supercleanse Clearing Cleanser, too—I love their products. Then I use Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, which I’ve been using for about four years, consistently. It acts like an antioxidant, and it also protects against pollution, and it’s like an additional sun defense. It’s really good, I think it’s one of their best products. I’ll put on an eye cream, and right now I’m between Murad and Dermalogica. I’ll use the Murad until it’s gone.
At night I use a heavy cream, and the heavier it is, the better. Right now it’s Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Balm and I pile it on. Depending on my skin, I’ll mix a little coconut oil in my hand and layer it on. My skin’s dry, I’m getting older, and it doesn’t make me break out. Sometimes I use retinol, but I’m sensitive to it. I can use it once, twice a week at most. But if I have something coming up I won’t use it because it really does make me peel. And that’s just the Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream, it’s not even prescription. Could you imagine if I had prescription retinol? [Laughs] But that cell turnover is important. I get a facial once a month at Calabasas Medspa for microdermabrasion. Other than that, my routine isn’t very fancy. I don’t think I really need it. Moisture, sun protection, and regular exfoliation. That’s it.
My hair is usually natural, but I found that wearing hair natural in LA breaks it off, because it’s so dry, and the water is so hard. In New Orleans it was fantastic with the humidity and the soft water. Miserable for the aesthetic, amazing for the skin and hair. [Laughs] Literally I just wash it, use conditioner, put some product in it and go, but every time I go to straighten it, it breaks off. So I’ll do braids over the summer and change it up. That’s the good thing about having black hair—you can have an afro today, straighten up tomorrow, and braids next week! I’ve used Carol’s Daughter for a long time, literally since her shampoo was water and tea leaves, and looked like it was made in the kitchen. Now it’s commercial. Obviously they have to make money, but I still think the products are really good.
For makeup, I put eyeliner and some mascara on, lipgloss, and I’m done. I spend my money on eyes and lips—I love Chanel and MAC eyeshadows, and I stick to skin tones. For lips, I use a little bit of everybody. But there's one I really love right now, Marc Jacobs' Enamored Hi-Shine Lip Lacquer Lipgloss. It’s so natural and easy, and looks like I didn’t put a whole lot of effort in. I like the look of no effort, like I just woke up like this. That's why I got my eyebrows microbladed. It's literally drawing little hairs with a blade. It hurt like hell, but now I don't have to draw them in. Can you imagine waking up like this?"
—as told to ITG
Katonya Breaux photographed by Tom Newton in New York on May 19, 2017.