Giving foundation, powder the brush-off

When it comes to facial makeup, the light look is in

August 28, 2005|By Susan Chandler | Susan Chandler,Chicago Tribune

When Sandy Di Stefano sees a woman wearing a lot of makeup, she doesn't think "pretty," she thinks "face paint."

Di Stefano prefers a more natural look. No foundation or powder for her in the morning. A little lipstick, blush and eyeliner and she is good to go.

"If it's really noticeable, it's like, 'That doesn't look good,'" says the 31-year-old marketing coordinator for the Italian Trade Commission in Chicago.

Like Di Stefano, lots of women are paring their morning makeup routines. The hottest look in makeup right now, beauty editors agree, is looking like you're not wearing any at all.

"No one wants to look like they are spackled," said Sarah Brown, beauty director at Vogue magazine. "The point is to make your skin look better than it is."

Signs of the "less is more" approach are popping up in unexpected places.

Designer Diane von Furstenberg's spring makeup collection was called "In the Nude," and was billed as the "no makeup makeup."

High-profile models such as Gemma Ward sported a natural look on designer runways this spring.

That prompted Vogue to declare the "Flemish Face" the hot new look.

"Forget dark lipstick. Don't even think about mascara. The look of the season carries with it the painterly signature of the Dutch masters," a headline in Vogue's July issue proclaimed.

The lighter approach is an easy sell to women in their 20s and early 30s, beauty experts say.

Many young women are rejecting lengthy beauty routines that require more than a dozen products for quick dustings of bronzer and swipes of lip gloss.

The pared-down look is low maintenance and matches the casual wardrobe they've embraced. The fresh-scrubbed look seems natural when you're wearing a camisole and flip flops.

Where younger women go, many older women try to follow, marketing experts say. One goal of many women who wear makeup is to disguise flaws and make them appear more youthful than they are.

Women who can afford the services of dermatologists are flocking to the doctors' offices for regular micro-dermabrasions, treatments that make their skin appear fresher by sanding off the top layer with a stream of crystals that are then vacuumed away. Prices run about $160 per session.

Others opt for more expensive dermal fillers such as collagen or Restylane, to minimize wrinkles around the mouth, or Botox, an injection that paralyzes frown lines on the forehead. Still others seek out chemical peels or laser treatments that zap away broken blood vessels on the face.

Dr. Jerome Garden, a dermatologist, hears it all the time from patients in their 40s and early 50s.

"They're noticing they need more and more makeup, and they're not comfortable with it," Garden said. "They come in and ask, 'Is there anything I can do so I don't have to wear so much makeup?' "

Some cosmetic companies are trying to adapt by bringing out new products that help women use less makeup without feeling naked.

One popular product is tinted moisturizer, a lighter version of foundation that usually comes with sunscreen protection. Dramatic cheek colors are being supplanted by bronzing powders and sticks of creamy blush that offer a hint of rosiness. Tinted lip gloss is capturing part of the market share away from lipstick.

Some companies are creating whole new categories of products that support makeup but don't make a woman look painted.

Laura Mercier, the makeup artist line that is partly owned by Neiman Marcus, has introduced a translucent gel that goes under foundation to help it wear longer and look better. But "foundation primer" can also be worn without makeup, giving blush or powder something to cling to.

Mercier also has a product called "secret brightener" that promises to brighten dark circles under the eyes and reduce shadows. The $30 tube of sparkly pale pink cream is paired with a $22 pot of brightening powder to "maximize wear and coverage," according to the Laura Mercier Web site.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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