Fall seems like the perfect time to shake up one’s wardrobe. And one’s make-up routine, I always think. In the fall, I lose the very minimal tan I’ve gained over a summer of biking, walking, camping, and fishing. Even with SPF 45 sunscreen, I do get some tan and a few more freckles. Plus the darker colours and heavier fabrics of fall and winter clothing, seem to require a different make-up palette than summer.
Every year at this time, I long for a pale, clear-skin look with bold brows and a bold lip. Like these lovely ladies. Or a close facsimile. Even a somewhat close facsimile would do. To be more realistic, I scrunch up my eyes and try to imagine these girls in… say… thirty-five years.
And every year, at this time, I visit the Bobbi Brown counter at Holt Renfrew for some ideas to freshen up my fall make-up. Except this year. Holts in Ottawa closed last winter. Sob. I was verclempt, until I discovered Nordstrom. To be honest, the only reason I visited Nordstrom last spring was because my buddy Liz, who used to be the personal shopper at Holts, was now working in that capacity at Nordstrom. If you read this blog regularly, you’ll have heard of Liz. And you’ll also know that I’ve become a “Nordy” fan. I don’t shop exclusively at Nordstrom but, over the last few months, they have become my first port of call in any shopping adventure. And why should shopping for make-up be any different, eh?
Now, let me make this clear before we go on. I am much more loyal to a specific salesperson than I am to a specific brand, or store. And I’m at least as interested in service, as I am in the product. I won’t buy a crappy product even with good service….but I have walked away from a product that I would otherwise have bought if the service is snooty, or disdainful, or non-existent. Like at the J Crew store in the Rideau Centre. I wrote about that experience in an earlier post about jeans shopping.
But… let’s get back to make-up. This summer I met the lovely Katie… see below… while shopping for mascara at Nordstrom. Katie manages the Laura Mercier counter there. She was so friendly and knowledgeable and helpful, that I decided to visit her counter for my fall freshen-up.
I had a few goals when I set off for Nordstrom in late August.
Goal #1… I had been searching for months for a better eye liner. One that was easy to use and which worked for my new more casual lifestyle. Not to mention aging, wrinkly lids. I had tried using a brush and a gel liner, too difficult to make an even line. Sometimes after trying to make both eyes the same I ended up with an (almost) inch wide smear across my lid. And I had tossed out numerous pencils which were too soft and gloppy and messy, or too hard…ouch.
Goal #2… I wanted to see if I could achieve that clear-skin, no make-up look…with bold brows and lips. You know… me…but better.
Goal #3… I wanted a fresh look for fall.
Goal #4… And a week or so before I went to see Katie, I received an invitation from blogger D.A. Wolf at Daily Plate of Crazy to participate in her Midlife Makeover series. I’d have to try something new in my make-up routine, and take before and after pictures. Ok-ay. That sounded like fun.
Here’s my ‘before’ picture. Before make-up. And obviously before I left the house. Hence the bathrobe.
I spent almost two hours with Katie that day. She stripped off all of my make-up, and talked me through the whole routine. From skin care to final lipstick application. And I learned lots.
Here are my ‘after’ pictures. We took the shot on the left in the store. And the one on the right, I took when I came home. I wanted to try to replicate the same light as my ‘before’ shot. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how much difference lighting makes. See how much blonder my hair looks in the left one?
I love how Katie did my eyes. So my next step was to master the new skills I had been taught.
This is me below, trying to practice what I’d learned. First I used a Laura Mercier eyelid primer in a colour called cotton, which I dabbed on and then blended with my fingertips. I love this product. I generally like a soft colour on my lids, so I applied a petal pink shadow next, and with the primer I could actually see the colour of the shadow.The primer, a soft vanilla shade, can also be worn on its own when I’m in a hurry. I learned that I have been applying my darker contour shadow incorrectly all these years. Katie says to apply it with my eyes open, and to NOT extend it to the corner of my eyes, to use a brush aligned with the end of my eyebrow to give me guidance. I used a kind of bronzy brown colour.
I am now a convert to the Laura Mercier eye-lining technique called “tight-lining.” I moistened my brush, swished it in the black ebony “cake eye liner” to make a paste, then dabbed it on at the root of my eyelashes. First under the lashes. Then on top. Dab, dab, dab all the way across my lid. No drawing squiggly, increasingly wider and wider lines. The brush is perfectly flat at the end and the liquefied powder actually sticks to your lid in amongst the lashes. It really does. I know…. sounds weird. When Katie described it to me, I thought, I’d never be able to do that. But I did. This was only the second time I tried.
This is me, below, with the rest of my make-up done. I took Katie’s advice and only applied foundation where I needed it, to even out my complexion. Mostly across my cheeks and my forehead, where I have roscea. (I eventually plan to switch from my Bobbi Brown foundation to the Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser that Katie applied instead of foundation.) I also used a bit of bronzing powder under my cheekbones, and a swish of desert rose blush on the apples of my cheeks. I tried for a somewhat bolder lip than I usually wear. To be truthful, I’m not sold on a very bold lip for me. I feel as if it’s a bit aging. Maybe for an evening look…. which I don’t do very often… well, hardly ever, actually.
And speaking of lighting. The halogen lights in my bathroom make this shot look like it’s in soft focus. Cue the dreamy muzak.
This one was taken in my sun room in more natural light. I love that tight-lining.
And this is the final look in natural light. Okay. Okay. Enough with the pictures. Eye roll.
So let’s sum up….
Goal #1…Check. Totally love the new “tight-lining.”
Goal #2… Maybe I’ll modify my goal to achieve that clear-skin look. Hard to achieve without a heavy foundation. I’ll settle for just matching the colour of my face to my neck. Which the Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser, that Katie used, achieved a lot better than my Bobbi Brown foundation. Bolder brow…I liked. Bold lip…not so much.
Goal #3… Hmmm. I feel like my look is fresher. And my new method of applying eye-liner and contour shadow really opens up my eyes. Which is great for my increasingly droopy lids, for which I have gravity and age to thank. And I may invest in a new lipstick. In just a teensy bit bolder colour.
Goal #4… Done and dusted. You can read D.A. Wolf’s post called “Shake Up Your Make-up” here. Besides my make-over and Barbara’s from Sixty Days in Paris, D.A. has lots of great expert advice on make-up for us middle-agers.
Now about that comment I made earlier with respect to good service. As I said, Katie spent almost two hours with me. And here’s what I bought. The eye shadow primer, the cake eye-liner, and the little flat application brush needed to apply it. C’est tout.
Throughout our session, Katie was perfectly professional, as well as charming and personable. We discussed everything from skin care, to Laura Mercier make-up, to our experiences in high school…. hers as a student and mine as a teacher. And in the end there was no awkward hard-sell moment when I felt pressured to buy more than I had intended. And you know what? As much as the Laura Mercier products, which I really like but not any more than Bobbi Brown’s, it’s that service which will take me back to visit Katie. I intend to buy the tinted moisturiser and the brow definer, in the short term. And for the long term, I’ve found a sales person who is knowledgeable and whose opinion I can trust. And I’m very loyal to people like that.
I certainly hope that Laura Mercier, and Nordstom, appreciate what they have in Katie.
Yep, my fall 2015 make-up shake-up was definitely a success. I had fun and I learned some new stuff. And I’m getting faster and more adept at that “tight-lining” thing.
And so I remain….at least in the make-up department….all shook up!
Hit it Elvis…
P.S. The Elvis video is for Wendy in York. Who said she couldn’t get the song from my last post out of her head. Maybe this will help?
How about you. Any shaking (a whole lot or otherwise) going on in your make-up routine this fall?
High Heels in the Wilderness is for women like me. Women who love clothes. And books. Who dream of travelling to amazing places. Who want to explore their own lives, and their own potential, now that they aren't twenty (or even forty) anymore.