Children's Entertainer Suzy Cato Shares Her Beauty Routine

Iconic New Zealand children's television host Suzy Cato started performing with makeup at a young age


Suzy Cato is one of NZ's most beloved television personalities. Photo / Supplied

As a child Suzy Cato clearly had an eye for putting on a show. At primary school she demonstrated how her mother put on makeup to her classmates and teacher.

That confidence to step up in front of a crowd has stood her in good stead throughout the decades and will be needed again soon when this popular television personality acts as grand marshal at Farmer’s Santa Parade. If anyone can jolly along thousands of youngsters it’s Suzy.

READ: Singer & Presenter Anika Moa's Beauty Routine

From hosting shows including You and Me and Suzy’s World she has a natural rapport with an audience. The mother of two has also written children’s books and recorded music and made a memorable appearance on Dancing with the Stars in 2018, further cementing her status as a family favourite. One who could vamp it up, as well as be bright and breezy.

The Santa Parade is on Sunday, November 24 (rain date December 1), starting at 1pm. It’s the 86th parade and features new floats, inflatables, characters and performances, alongside old favourites. Pre-parade entertainment begins at noon and the event around the streets of Auckland’s central city is followed by Santa’s Party in Aotea Square. To find out more visit Santaparade.co.nz

As to how Santa’s Little Helper Suzy likes to look in everyday life, well read on.

Early makeup memories
As it is for most youngsters, mum’s makeup bag was a treasure trove of bottles and palettes and brushes. I remember watching her gaze intently at the mirror while the bright lipstick glided onto her lips, then her gentle smooshing of those lips, to ensure a total coverage. It was a wonder to behold, but I only now think, with envy, of how mum would always seem to get a perfect lip line — without lip pencil or repeat applications. At that age, I was more agog at the shape a mouth took to get covered in paint!

My first hands-on experience with makeup was not actually creating a beautiful canvas of myself; instead I found an eager friend to volunteer as my model as I lead the class through a thorough step-by-step explanation of how to apply a “face” worthy of a trip out to the shops. I must have been around 8 or 9 and we’d been given our first public speaking challenge — “Share a process with the class, 1 -2 minutes long. Bring your own props, to help tell your story.”

I remember mum stepping me through the process, just the once. I’d been glued to her side for many a “face” so the process was almost second nature; though I had no idea why you did half of what you needed to do or the exact order, it turned out. The class presentation went without a hitch, and I recall the teacher raising her hand to her throat as I demonstrated how to take the foundation down the neck to blend just below the collar bone “as your body doesn’t finish just below your chin — you’ll end up with a high tide mark if you don’t blend your foundation!”.

This does make me giggle, when I think of it, as I so seldom wear a full face of makeup, unless I’m on set or out for a “work” event.

If you knew then…
I’d tell my younger self that I am beautiful, and that I am loved. I’d also remind myself that a smile makes every face beautiful. And, that life is too short to worry about what other people think, so I should just get on with living my best life, as I am. Don’t sweat the small stuff or the stuff you can’t change. Oh, and use sunblock and a sun hat!

Style evolution
Natural would probably be the best way to describe my style and the evolution of my style has often been at the hands of makeup artists, dictated by the role I’m in.

Since I was old enough to start dabbling with makeup I’ve always been the proud owner of a good mascara. Having eyes hidden by glasses I’ve always tried to ensure that I don’t leave the house without “my eyes” on. I like a good lengthening mascara, as my stubby little eyelashes are like my legs — they enjoy a little assistance. A good mascara is like a good pair of heels!

At times, like the heady days of Dancing with the Stars in 2018, the mascara has been superseded by lashings of false eyelashes, but I’ve never had great success with falsies at home — they tend to end up on my bathroom sink like a gangly spider wrestling with a praying mantis, so I tend to leave those to the professionals.

Work makeovers
I’ve been very fortunate; the opportunities I’ve had have been amazing and the makeup artists I have worked with have been wonderful. In front of the camera (still or TV) I’ve generally had a talented team work on me to create the look required. Lisa Phillips-Hogg was one of the first makeup artists I ever worked with. She styled me for The Early Bird Show, back in the 1990s. We had so much fun with the puffed-up shoulder pads, big earrings, and big hair. The hair and makeup for You and Me was so much simpler, and after a short while I ended up doing it myself. Same for Suzy’s World. I had so many different costume changes for Suzy’s World and I was usually on location, so we kept the makeup simple and just focused on the clothes and performance.

I was also blessed with pretty good skin, in my youth, so a simple layer of foundation (down the neck to blend!) colourful eyes, highlighted with eyeliner and mascara, and a bright lipstick was all that was needed. A highlight of the styling of my telly career, though, has to be the styling of DWTS! Kath Goulds and her team of hair, makeup and wardrobe stylists worked their magic on us all, each week. I absolutely loved the transformation.

Best beauty trick
That there is this wonderful product; a primer, that you put underneath your foundation, that works to fill in the cracks — a bit like bog for a car — hmmmmm, must get myself some!

Staying up to date
With my day-to-day look, I’m a bit of a minimalist so that never really goes out, or comes in, to style. When it comes to a full face I rely on those amazing professionals.

Everyday care
My routine is really very simple. I’m a water and flannel kinda girl in the morning, and I follow that up with moisturiser. Once the moisturiser has settled, I add my much-loved mascara, a little eye liner and a lip balm. And often that it is it for the day. As I head out the door, I replace the lip balm with a lippy and, especially during winter, a light dusting of a warm bronzing powder.

At night I use a cleanser, followed by a spritz toner, and then moisturiser with a little extra rosehip oil.

Once a week I’ll use a very slightly exfoliating cleanser, especially before something special, like a day of filming or an evening out. And I’ve been known to use a face mask now and then… but as I have a teen in the house now, I often reach for one to find that it’s magically disappeared!

Suzy counts New Zealand made products among her favourites. Photo / Supplied

Favourite products
I love supporting NZ made. That was a little harder to do a few years back, but I added to my kit as I found them.

1. Trilogy skincare: I’ve used Trilogy products for years and always have a pot of moisturiser and rosehip oil at hand.

2. Natural fragrance: Country Kitchen have a fabulous Uplift fragrance that I carry with me at all times. I haven’t worn traditional perfumes for years, instead opting for aromatherapy blends. World Organics has another one of my favourites — Joy. The name says it all. Country Kitchen’s Blemish Be Gone is fantastic for those spots that we were supposed to have grown out of as teens! My daughter finds it fabulous too.

3. Tanner: I’ve been a regular customer of the Tanning Boutique, since a dear friend, Kimberly, started her business [in Birkenhead] a couple of years ago. But I also love Little Honey for a wonderful DIY tan.

4. Love Skin Toner: A lovely spritz — it’s light and fresh and… lovely.

Transformation tip
Bigger eyes and darker lips are my go to when transitioning from day to night. This is easy for me, because even when I do wear makeup during the day, I usually keep it very simple. At night I like to add a dark green to my lid, to highlight my eye colour; deepen the line of eyeliner and add a darker hue to the hollow above my brow. I’ll darken my brow a little too. With the lip colour, I tend to go for a deeper red or darker crimson than I’d wear during the day. But it does depends on the event.

Hair and its care
My hair is a force to be reckoned with. It is a thick and I love it untamed — probably because I’ve never really been able to tame it. Seriously, my hair was once so thick, especially while living in Dunedin during the You & Me years, that if I washed it in the morning it would still be damp in the evening if I didn’t blow dry it.

I can wield a curling wand reasonably well but I need talented hands and industrial strength products to keep a coiffured ’do in my hair. Luckily Linda Joy, of Heroines on Jervois, has just the skill I need. She’s also a dear friend who listens to me mutter about the possibility of change, hugs me, then gives me the style that I really want — the same styling I’ve been having for years! However, she is poised and ready to create something amazing, when I’m finally ready to take the leap and loose some length on my locks.

Treatment to try
I’ve never tried anything more than a facial or a massage and those have been few and far between. I keep telling myself that I’ll do more to look after my body and my face, but always manage to find something else to do with the time (office work is often the culprit). Touch, in the form of massage or facials is therapeutic on so many levels. Just the act of taking time for yourself; of having someone ease the pain or, stress or someone pamper you, for even the shortest time, is so good for you. Right, that’s it, I’m booking myself a facial, or a massage… or both!

Ageing to you is… beautiful. It’s part of the journey; it’s part of the rite of humanhood.

Beauty is… natural, free, love, happiness, comfort, unconditional, from the heart, in a smile. It is all of us — all ages, all stages, scars, wrinkles, “warts” and all.

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