A Day in the Life of Kate McKinnon’s Makeup Artist on Oscars Day

For Cassandra Garcia, jetting to L.A., playing with makeup, and prepping Kate McKinnon for the red carpet is all in a day’s work.

A Day in the Life of Kate McKinnon’s Makeup Artist on Oscars Day
Photo: Courtesy of Instagram/@cygmakeup

Ahead of presenting at this year’s Academy Awards, Kate McKinnon was sitting pretty at her hotel joking with go-to makeup artist Cassandra Garcia and hairstylist Joseph Maine. The duo worked together to make McKinnon look like the best version of herself, but in full red-carpet fashion (it was the Oscars, after all). Garcia painted her eyelids with navy liner and soft gray shadow, while Maine kept it old-Hollywood with long, brushed-out curls before helping her get dressed in custom Narciso Rodriguez (very fancy).

Lucky for us, Garcia gave us a behind-the-scenes snapshot of exactly what happened before, during, and after flying the red eye from New York to L.A. to prep McKinnon for her Oscars day. Let’s just say there’s a lot of caffeination, vegan croissants, and—as you’d guess when you’re doing makeup for an SNL comedian—major laughs involved.


6:00 AM

“I started the day waking up around six, since I am still on New York City time. I’m trying my hardest to stay in bed till an appropriate hour.”

9:00 AM

“Breakfast is at Groundwork, a local coffee shop in Hollywood with my best friend, Tanzia, and my mom, where I fueled up with my daily caffeine dose. Then a stroll through the farmers market, and of course ended up at stand for vegan croissants (because if they are vegan it’s okay, or so I tell myself). I’m justifying all purchases because Kate [McKinnon] would love a snack and so would Joseph (her hair stylist). I load up and buy everyone pastries! It’s fuel for Oscar day, right?”


Photo: Courtesy of Instagram/@cygmakeup

1:45 PM

“I arrive at the hotel with chocolate croissants in hand and walk in the lobby to meet Joseph, who has coffee waiting for me. We’ve worked together for a while now and share a deep love for coffee. We go up to Kate’s room, where we proceed to set up. We talk about the look we are going to create and get to work! Having a high stool, director’s chair, or bar stool is a luxury but also a necessity when doing makeup. Joseph, being the romantic man he is, called downstairs to have a ‘bar stool’ brought up, and of course the doorbell rings and a man delivers a bar of soap. So we have a laugh, get our high chair, and continue on our glamorous afternoon.”

2:00 PM

“I decided to keep Kate’s Oscar look super clean but still red-carpet glam. Since she has the most gorgeous eyes, I decided to do a soft gray smoky eye with a diffused black navy liner. Using Bobbi Brown Grey and Navy Eye Shadow, I created a soft but subtle diffusion, and added individual lashes of all sizes. Then I used Bobbi Brown Art Stick in Rose Brown on the lips for a matte finish and balanced the look with a nude pink blush and pink glow highlighting powder for a red-carpet glow.

“Joseph added a beautiful old-Hollywood-esque wave to her hair with a deep side part. The whole look was super fun and fresh with a glamorous finish. Then...the diamond arrived, and I saw my soul mate: an emerald 12-carat ring. But we had to part ways; I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”


3:30 PM

“Kate’s dress is on, her clutch packed—I threw in a Bobbi Brown Art Stick—behind-the-scenes pictures are taken (we tried to take this last picture seriously, but we couldn’t stop staring lovingly at each other), and her luggage is packed—I also snuck some makeup wipes in her carry-on so she could remove her makeup later on. We just worked our little butts off until Kate had to run out the door at 3:45 PM on the dot.”

4:00 PM

“Our work is done, and we’re just watching red-carpet coverage to see if we can get a peek of Kate as we pack our kits. Then we head out the door for an early-bird dinner at Manuela’s before going back to reality.”


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