Sandra Saenz is Redefining Latina Beauty
Sandra Saenz, the Mexican-born makeup artist, grew up wrestling with what career path she would follow. Now, she helps empower women to embrace and feel comfortable with their own beauty as KVD Beauty's Global Veritas Artistry Ambassador. Her perspective comes from her own unique blend of culture and religion that gives her a sense of freedom. She spoke to People CHICA about her journey.
How did you get your start as a makeup artist?
I always thought I wanted to be a doctor, because if I got to be a plastic surgeon, I could change what people don't like about themselves. Later on in life, I realized how transformative makeup is. My stepdad went to Costco and bought me one of those train cases with all the makeup and when I was in high school, I would charge for prom and homecoming makeup. I thought, maybe this is what I want to do. And that's how it all got started.
Are there any Latina icons that inspire you and your work?
Yeah, big time. I think Maria Felix has to be the biggest, her story is mesmerizing. She's just an icon. I mean, she was way ahead of her time. And then, the one and only Frida Kahlo. Her life was so painful, but she was able to make beautiful art throughout all her struggles. That's amazing.
What does it mean to you to be Mexican and Muslim woman? How do those two identities come together?
It might be ironic for many people, but freedom comes to mind. I was born in Mexico and Catholicism is the main religion. was able to chose for myself, I didn't get married and then convert. This was something that I studied and read that made sense to me. Being able to make my own choice is very liberating.
Being Mexican and Muslim is very unique on its own. I always tell people I'm like a unicorn. Have you ever seen a Mexican Muslim?
It's very important to remember that Muslim is not the religion, Islam is the religion and a person that practices Islam is called a Muslim. You can be a Muslim from anywhere in the world. I practice Islam, but at the same time, I don't forget where I come from, because that would be erasing who I am.
What advice do you have to young women who come from similar backgrounds to you whether they're Latina, or they practice Islam?
Don't forget that your culture and your religion can be completely separate from each other. Don't lose the essence of who you are or have been as a person. That's very important because I can be a Muslim that prays five times a day and I can eat enchiladas. I don't have to change.
Back to makeup: can you share any of your career goals?
I want people to feel comfortable. It's up to you how you wear makeup. As women, we have been conditioned to think specific things about what is best for us, but I would like everybody to make that decision independently.
What are some of your must-have beauty products?
One of my favorite products from KVD has to be Epic Kiss. I love the packaging. It looks very feminine, but very cool at the same time. I also love a good facial oil; it doesn't have to be a particular brand.
For more with Sandra, look for the November issue of People en Español, on sale now.