We love welcoming newcomers to Hong Kong, so it’s a big hello to KATIE OROPALLO, who moved here from the UK only a month or two ago. We find out about her career as a hair and makeup artist – and get some beauty tips for the hot summer months.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I grew up in Surrey, England, before moving to London in my early 20’s. I started working in the West End in the wig, hair and makeup departments for all the top musicals. After a very fun and successful career there, I then went into film and television – I’ve worked on various series, including Season 2 of Netflix’s Bridgerton. My husband and I have just moved to Hong Kong, which will be home for the next three years!
What will you be doing here?
I’m working as a freelance hair and makeup artist. I offer private and group lessons, plus bridal and event hair and makeup services. I love to give people confidence by just enhancing what is already there! I also love to be creative, so I’d like to get involved in different types of media filming and photoshoots.
Any surprises or challenges of working in HK so far?
Hong Kong doesn’t really have a musical theatre scene, so I’ve had to focus on a different part of the hair and makeup industry. Also, I was well known in London, which led to work offers; but here nobody knows me, so I have to be productive in finding the right people to network with. Keeps it exciting, I guess!
Give us an insight into a typical working day for you.
What I love about my job is that every day and every booking is different! If I’m filming, I might get up as early as 3am, drive to the studio to do a couple of hours of hair and makeup to get the cast ready, then hang out on set all day.
If I’m getting a bride ready, I again get up early, have a wonderful morning making everyone look beautiful, drink some champagne and get home by lunch!
What neighbourhood have you chosen to live in, and why?
Central – we chose here as we were already familiar with the area, we have some friends here and there is everything you want nearby! Describe your home to us. We live on the 37th floor – and we’re both scared of heights! But we love our view as we can see the sea from every window. We’re still waiting for our belongings to be shipped, so our place is currently a mashup of IKEA and Facebook Marketplace items. But it feels like home already.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies in Hong Kong?
I love hiking, and I’m excited to do more of it – I’ve already been to some of the smaller islands, which I adore; it feels like going on holiday for the day! And I just started working out again after four months.
Quick questions about Hong Kong: what is your favourite …
Casual restaurant? Honky Tonks Tavern (best chicken ever)
Local food? Roast goose and pork
Thing to do with visitors? I haven’t figured that out yet as I still feel like a visitor myself!
Thing to do with kids? Disneyland – and I can’t wait to show my nephews the monkeys in the Botanical Gardens!
Nearby holiday destination? I don’t really fancy isolating, so maybe Cheung Chau!
Summer Beauty Tips
Katie shares a few ideas about the best way to beat the heat in HK when it comes to hair and makeup.
What makeup tips do you have for Hong Kong’s hot and humid summer?
Use a mattifying primer (MAC Prep and Prime is my favourite) – it holds your makeup on and prevents it from sliding down your face in the humidity! I definitely would say that “less is more” here, and my tip to concealing under-eyes is to use a colour corrector rather than packing on the concealer. Less product means there is less to slide off – and less congesting your skin under the masks.
If you find your mascara is spreading up and down your face or on your eyelids, move over to using a waterproof one! Make sure to take it off with an oil-based remover. I like L’Oréal mascaras – they are no-fuss, good value and have been around for years.
What about hair?
For hair, it really depends on texture. If you have fine, flat hair, try conditioning your hair first and shampooing second! It stops the heavy conditioner weighing you hair down. Once dry, use a light serum with anti-frizz qualities.
If you have thicker, course or curly hair, definitely try Living Proof anti-frizz shampoo and conditioner. Before drying your hair, spray on WOW Dream Coat Supernatural Spray. And finish with a style or curling cream.
What are some current and upcoming makeup trends?
Makeup seems a lot more natural these days! After the pandemic had set in, we all became more about skincare and embracing what we have. So, it’s natural tones this year – and again, less is more. Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk seems to be the main collection that people are finding inspiration in, with lots of highlights for a fresh sun-kissed look.
Next year, I expect we will all become a bit more bold, with bright pastel colours and the return of lip gloss!
What are your tips for choosing the perfect foundation?
Find a brand with a price bracket you’re comfortable with, then explore their products! Think about what you want the foundation to do: cover and balance colour, tone or texture. I would always test a foundation by getting the counter artist to apply the foundation on my face and seeing how it sits for an afternoon. We all react differently, and you need to see if the foundation oxidises (turns orange) or dries your skin out. It’s a bit of a faff, but worth it! I use Armani Luminous Silk for a natural-looking glow. And Givenchy makes one of the best foundations I have ever used – it’s always in my kit.
What’s your favourite lipstick?
Tom Ford – the texture, pigment and colours are the best you can buy; I’ve used it on a lot of leading ladies! Find out more about Katie’s work at katieoropallo.com and on Instagram @katieoropallo. Plus, don’t miss your chance to win a hair and makeup session with Katie in our competition.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.