Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Stop At Henri Bendel's NARS Counter

712 Fifth Avenue, New York
Recently, I got a call from NARS at Henri Bendel's to come in for a makeover.  Unlike e.v.e.r. before, I looked natural and dare I say, like a professional model or actress when all made-up.  I know it wasn't just my imagination because as I circulated the floor afterwards, strangers took the initiative of telling me how pretty I looked, and this doesn't normally happen to me.  Gee whiz, could I stir such flattery every day?  Realistically?  Nooo, not if I have to do my own makeup.

I don't know what possessed me to accept the invitation as I rarely do such things, but it turned out to be a great experience all around, and I learned a few tricks of the makeup trade.  My appointment was at a slow time of the day, and the cosmetologist spent an hour on my face!  At the end of the hour I wore 31 products -- 5 different items on my lips alone -- so I should have looked my very best!  Fortunately, I had a makeup artist who was very talented and conscientious too.  That makes a difference.  Gissel ... herselflovely and sweet ... from Seville, could make a baked potato look gorgeous.

There is one consideration though.  When a professional spends so much time making you up, you feel pressure to buy something, and NARS is an expensive line.  But, I knew this going in and went anyway in order to learn something new.  And, I have a pretty good idea what cosmetics to spend my money on.

In general, you need to spend more on makeup when top ingredients and rich pigments count.  The colors will last all day, and not fade off your face.  You can save on moisterizers and cleansers that are nearly the same despite price points.  There's no need to pay more for skin care, or products when cheaper versions exist to give you similar results.  According to many experts, here's how to break it down:
Spend on:
Anti-Aging serums – Stay informed on the best ingredients and latest technologies for your face.
Foundation – I don't wear, or buy it.  But the consensus is to spend if you use foundation everyday, since it determines how the rest of your makeup looks.
Concealer – For under eye dark circles, we are well acquainted!

Save on:
Body scrubs and exfoliators – Try exfoliating with table salt while showering.  It works.
Bronzers – I don't use it, but then again, I don't usually walk around with the sculptured, high cheek bones that Gissel defined for me.
Mascara – Another item I usually skip. I have long lashes and don't want to look like a raccoon at the end of the night.
Eyeliners - like 
Eyebrow pencils – Don't mind if I do once in a while.

Spend and Save on:
Lipsticks and lip glosses – You need some lipsticks with good pigments that will stay on your lips for hours, plus some fun, trendy shades you don't mind reapplying.
Eyeshadow  Ditto.  I don't usually wear this either.
Skin and face moisturizers – Some of the drug store brands – like Booths No. 7, Olay and L'Oréal – are bargains, containing effective ingredients.  Unless you have an allergy, you can use these.  Spending more on eye cream makes sense because the skin around the eyes is more sensitive.

Gissel taught me (1) to try different looks and not be married to just one; (2) celebrities aren't born beautiful; it takes lots of products to look good and; (3) having a skilled professional share tips and show you how to better apply makeup is a wonderful opportunity.

Just decide how much you will spend before you go, and stick to your budget!


  1. Good posting - makes me want to try it myself - after all men are becoming more and more aware of "looking good"- and indulging in makeovers as well. Why not me - after all I do carry a pocket book!!

  2. Carl ... and any other reader with the interest, "Why not you," is reason enough. It's quite an education!

  3. Did they take a picture of you before-and-after? Now that, I think, would be great if they did. And maybe we could see it?

  4. Hi Loretta,
    No they didn't, and I didn't even think to take a picture -- even though I wore the makeup for the rest of the day. If ever I get another chance, I'll be sure to take a camera.