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Masterful makeup

[Times photo: Stefanie Boyar]
Osvaldo Perez of Chanel enjoys showing Mary Jane Park the results of his artistry.


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 27, 2001

Sure, they can make models even more beautiful, but what can the makeup pros do for faces with a little more mileage?

Every now and then, I glance toward the cosmetics counters in department stores and wonder what it would be like to have my makeup done by somebody who works with fashion models and movie stars. I am neither young nor lithe enough to sashay along a catwalk, but I like to think of myself as being well-groomed.

With two celebrity makeup artists en route to the Tampa Bay area, my thought was to learn a bit about skin care and cosmetics for women older than 50 and get some professional makeup tips along the way. Angela Lansbury, Sophia Loren and Tina Turner look their best; why not the rest of us?

Sonia Kashuk, who collaborated in the writing of Cindy Crawford's Basic Face, was the first to offer makeup lessons. She developed a cosmetics line for Target, and we met early one morning in the Gateway store in St. Petersburg.

[Times photo: James Borchuck]
At Target, Sonia Kashuk uses her line of cosmetics to make up Mary Jane Park.
A recruiting trip through the store yielded no volunteers for a makeup lesson, so I was drafted. My delight in the chance to have my makeup applied by a woman who makes even supermodels look better overcame my reluctance to be photographed.

I am not quite old enough for AARP membership or the senior golf tour, but almost. I have a wrinkle or two, so I qualify for "older skin" tips.

First, Kashuk asked me to use a cleanser she is developing to remove the makeup I applied that morning. Testimonial: Even with scratchy paper towels from the public restroom dispenser, it dissolved mascara and required no scrubbing. Next, she applied moisturizer, gently massaging my face.

Using her fingertips in a gentle patting motion, Kashuk used a concealing cream to cover the dark circles under my eyes and blended liquid makeup in two light shades with yellowish undertones to even out imperfections such as broken capillaries and splotchiness. The makeup went onto eyelids and lips as well. An eye shadow brush dipped in foundation filled in some acne scars and wrinkles. I feared a heavy look, but a glance in the mirror reassured me.

Again using her fingertips, Kashuk dabbed a terra cotta cream blush onto my cheeks, "making the skin look as if it is sun-kissed," she said.

[Times photo: James Borchuck]
Sonia Kashuk uses navy blue shadow, adding lavender in the crease to “lift out’’ the eyes.
Light-brown pencil, applied to the eyebrows in soft, short strokes, gave them definition; Kashuk smoothed the look using a clean spoolie brush, the kind that comes in tubes of mascara.

Many older women eschew face powder, worrying that it emphasizes wrinkles. Kashuk dipped a huge, fluffy brush into loose powder and tapped it onto the edge of the box to remove the excess before dusting powder onto my face.

"Powder should take away the shine but leave the sheen," she said. With an eye shadow brush, she used the same technique -- dip, tap, dust -- applying a bit more powder under the eye, "to catch extra eye makeup" that may have accumulated during application. Then came powder blush on the cheeks, a pinkish shade fluffed on with a blush brush.

Having committed numerous gaffes with eyeliner throughout the years, I rarely use it. Kashuk chose a dark-blue pencil and applied it to upper and lower lash lines, again in short, quick strokes, then softened the look with a small smudge brush. Because the eye pencil has a creamy texture, she "set" the look with another application of loose powder, using an eye shadow brush.

Cumulus clouds of powder there may have been, but I closed my eyes so it wouldn't affect my soft contact lenses.

For coloring the eyelids, she used navy blue shadow, adding lavender in the crease "to lift out" the eyes. Always curl the lashes before applying mascara, Kashuk advised. Doing so "opens the eyes." I haven't wielded an eyelash curler since high school, but I did look more awake.

Before adding lip color, Kashuk used a liner to color the entire surface of my lips, then brushed on lipstick.

My own makeup case holds black/brown mascara and taupe shadow. Because I have fair skin and graying blonde hair, I've thought of black as too stark a mascara look. I avoid pink and blue. Kashuk used black mascara along with the navy and lavender eye shadow. I generally wear lipstick in reddish brown; Kashuk used a pinkish mauve. ("For spring," she said.)

Kashuk is 42, married and has two children. Two of her sisters live in Tampa and Orlando. The day after our session, she was headed to Kansas City to work with model Christie Brinkley.

"Anyone in the world can look amazing," she said, especially if hairdressers and makeup artists spend hours working magic on their clients. In reality, most women should be able to complete their maquillage in about 15 minutes, she said.

"I don't advocate tons of makeup," said Kashuk, whose own look was subtle and understated. "The less I do, the better off I am. If I'm not on TV, I usually don't wear powder. Blush and lipstick, for me, are key factors."

Sure, she's trying to sell the products that bear her name: "I wanted to bring top-quality makeup and make it affordable." The cosmetics are made in Italy, the brushes in the Far East.

Even under the harsh store lights, the finished look was polished and not overdone, and I had learned a trick or two. And now I can claim sisterhood with Cindy Crawford: Both of us have distinctive facial moles and the same makeup artist.

For brushes and a basic set of cosmetics (foundation, concealer, eye pencil, shadow, liner, mascara, cream and powder blushes, face powder, lip pencil and lip color), the Sonia Kashuk line will set you back about $125.

The Chanel look

At Chanel, the prices, and the cachet, are considerably higher. Osvaldo Perez, a national makeup artist for the cosmetics line, did makeup at Jacobson's in Tampa. I went to the store wearing no face color; a blank canvas, so to speak.

For older women, he suggested a skin care routine that includes morning and nighttime application of moisturizers that hydrate, firm and tighten the skin; exfoliation (removal of dead skin); and masks that remove dead cells, firm and tighten the skin and lift fine lines. (Kashuk's line at Target offers only makeup and brushes, but she is developing skin care products.)

Perez is 40, and his skin is clear, firm and smooth. As he worked, a Chanel assistant filled in a card that outlined my skin problems and listed the Chanel products for correcting them. The information is kept on file at the store.

Proper skin preparation, Perez said, might be compared to getting a room ready for painting. "You can paint over a crack in the plaster," he said, "but eventually it will show through."

I began to think about all the nooks and crannies in my face. Thank goodness he didn't mention spackle.

[Times photo: Stefanie Boyar]
We decided to shoot for a professional daytime look. Perez chose a foundation to match the skin on my neck, then applied it with a nylon brush. Brushes made of natural hair such as sable cause streaking when damp, he said, but nylon blends smoothly. "Or use your ring finger," which exerts less pressure than the others. He chose liquid makeup with a sun protection factor of 15 and a yellow base, to cover the aforementioned imperfections. Next: eye cream and a lip conditioner.

As Kashuk had, Perez noted the misconception among older women that powder brings out facial lines. Over the years, powders have been reformulated; brushes rid of excess powder fluff exactly the right amount of coverage onto the face, he said.

Perez applied a transparent eye shadow base. "Foundation is oily; the base is dry, so that the shadow won't crease." He used a pale pink shadow on the lid, rose in the crease. A dark-green liner went on the upper lids, brown on the lower, both applied in short strokes. Perez topped the upper lid liner with silver, the bottom with taupe, and blended the colors together.

[Times photo: Stefanie Boyar]
Perez gives the eyes special attention during a makeover at Jacobson’s in Old Hyde Park.
"Black is what I like" in mascara, he said. "It opens the eyes." Under the lower lashes, he rolled a cotton swab to remove excess lash color. Finally, he applied concealer, to "clean" the under-eye area.

Next: Taupe eyebrow color, applied with a stiff, chiseled brush. He dusted a peachy powder blush from the hairline down toward the apples of the cheeks and along the hairline.

Perez used a lip liner pencil to outline my lips and added rosy color. After that, he used a lip brush to blend creamy gold into the color, then iced it all with a white-silver gloss, "to bring the color back to the hair."

Lip balm or conditioner and lip liner help keep lipstick from feathering into wrinkles, Perez said. He used a pencil the color of my skin to "clean up" around the lip line.

Pretending that I was on the way from my office to a nighttime party, Perez gave my eyelids a a swipe of black liquid liner.

Again, the look was more sophisticated than that rendered by my own techniques, and I had picked up some professional secrets. With the full line of skin-care products, cosmetics brushes and makeup, my investment with Chanel would be roughly $600.

I still had to go back to the office. Would my colleagues think of me as a glamorous international woman of mystery? Probably not, but I liked the look for special occasions.

As I left, a Chanel employee invited me to dip my hands into warm, sudsy water scented with Coco perfume and to scoop out a small vial of the fragrance. She dried my hands with a thick towel, and I went on my way, feeling pampered and spiffy.

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