Kristina Vogel at the new shop, Bath Bar. Photo by Ed Pilolla.
The celebrity makeup artist Kristina Vogel knew she wanted to work in Hollywood since she was a kid. She watched television shows and remarked about how badly some characters needed makeup.
Vogel, who currently works as the department head for makeup on the television show 90210, also had another dream of hers come true recently: She opened up her own business in Hermosa Beach.
Bath Bar opened this month in the former Alta Dena Dairy drive-in property at 205 Pier Avenue. The natural and organic products she created for herself and her Hollywood clients are now at her shop, where customers create their own fragrance for their bath and beauty products.
“I thought this would be a really interesting business, where women can come in and create anything they want and it wouldn’t be so difficult,” Vogel said in her shop last week. “They could choose from fragrances and any bath products they wanted, and have us help them create it without them having to go out and be a chemist themselves.”
Vogel has been a film and TV makeup artist for two decades. She grew up in Arizona outside Tucson. After graduating from high school, she attended makeup school. She worked on a lot of low-budget and student films. Her father made her go to college because he thought what she wanted to do for a living was crazy, Vogel said. So while she was doing print and photography and going to college, she received a call to work on the set of the movie Tombstone, which was being shot in Arizona.
It was her big chance.
Vogel was asked to work just one day while another make-up artist was flown out from L.A. Most of the movie’s cast included men, and Vogel’s job was to make the actors look weathered, tanned, sun-burnt and dirty. The respectable women of that era didn’t wear makeup, and so Vogel had to apply makeup that looked as if they weren’t wearing any.
Vogel was retained for the duration of the film, which came out in 1993.
It turned out to be her big break.
“I was young and fresh,” Vogel said. “I got teased. I was so shy. I think that helped. I was so shy, I was a sponge. I just wanted to learn as much as I could.”
Vogel stayed in Arizona, working on westerns. After a while, she had made enough contacts to move to Southern California.
“I got really lucky,” said Vogel, who has two Emmys and a Makeup Artist Guild Award. “I worked really hard, too, but I got pretty lucky. It’s hard to break in.”
One of her first jobs after relocating to Southern California was Mad TV, which was just beginning its first season. Initially, Mad TV was a non-union show, but then turned union, and that allowed Vogel the chance to join the makeup artist union. From there, she never stopped working. She did makeup on the movies Disturbia, Eagle Eye and for a stint on Transformers. She also worked The Martin Short Show and more recently The Closer, serving as Kyra Sedgwick’s personal makeup artist for the last two seasons.
Although the producers of 90210 inquired about her services several times, Vogel said she was always working on other projects until this season when she accepted the job, and now the actors on the show use her skin care products as well as Rachel Bilson.
Working as a Hollywood makeup artist means working on location, and Vogel found herself in so many hotels and gone for so long from home. She ended up visiting the local health food store for bath salts and oils and mixing her own combinations to make herself feel more at home in her hotel room after a long day of work.
“It just kind of went from there,” Vogel said.
While living in Culver City, she visited the Beach Cities three or four times a week to surf. In 2007, she moved to Hermosa Beach.
“I just finally decided to sell my other house and live where I wanted to live and open up a business where I wanted to be and that’s what I did,” Vogel said.
Vogel formulates her products consistent with her beliefs, so that her body care products are chemical-free, paraben-free and cruelty-free.
In an effort to recycle, if you bring your container back for refill she will discount your purchase.
Bath Bar has body washes, lotions, scrubs for the shower, bath soaps and salts, perfume and men’s products. The fragrance bar is the store’s main draw, Vogel said.
The base product is made in a lab, and then Bath Bar adds selected fragrances and packages it for the customer in her store.
Vogel’s signature fragrances are featured, which include Zen Milk (sexy vanilla musk), Magic Blossom (floral), Pom Star (pomegranate), and Laze Daze (lavender).
“It’s a work in progress, just trying to see what the customer wants and what they are most attractive to, just being really observant to what women want,” Vogel said.
Generally, women like a tropical or floral blend. Men generally like a scent with tobacco, orange and a tiny bit of vanilla or something woodsy, she said.
“It’s my first business, so it’s a huge learning curve for me,” Vogel said. “I’ve had a lot of people give me advice because I’ve sought it out.”
Vogel launched the online store, bathbar.com, a couple years ago. She always thought she would have a storefront and then an online store, but it worked out the opposite. She searched for the right location for a store for two years, first looking in Manhattan Beach. Then 205 Pier was available and she signed the lease in February.
Vogel lives with her boyfriend, who also works in the film industry. Although her family remains in Arizona, she said she’s home here.
“I don’t want to leave; I love the South Bay,” Vogel said. “I always have loved skin care, and I have always loved bath products. I take a bath every night to relax. I love beautiful smells, and I have a really sensitive nose, like if I walk into a perfume section of a department store, it kind of bothers me.”
Vogel said her goal is to spend less time doing makeup and more time with her business in the community, and that’s why she decided to open Bath Bar.
“What I really want is for people to love it as much as I love it, and that would feel like the biggest success to me,” Vogel said.
Stacey K. Black, a Hollywood hairstylist who worked alongside Vogel on The Closer, said a lot of people in Hollywood have eagerly bought products from Vogel, who was always refining them on the side.
“There are some people who specialize in special effects makeup,” Black explained, “and there are some people who specialize in beauty makeup and body makeup. Kristina does everything, and she does everything brilliantly. She did her job, one hundred percent. But every moment we didn’t have to be on set or working, if there was any kind of downtime, [she worked] on Bath Bar.”