When it comes to makeup, the eye area is the most problematic for women. Often a multitude of different products are involved, making the process a complicated one, and the situation is worsened when different looks are desired for different occasions. To gauge how beauty advisers from prestige cosmetics companies address the complexities of dressing up the eyes, WWD sent reporters to department stores in four American cities for up-close encounters. While the reporters often felt overwhelmed by the shade choices and the detailed procedures involved, the end results produced by the saleswomen were likely to be well received.
LOS ANGELES I have been a religious user of Clinique foundation for quite a few years now. Just recently I ran out and as usual my busy schedule did not allow me to make the trip to buy a new bottle of foundation. During the next few days my wonderful roommate allowed me to borrow hers: Lancôme Maquivelours. It was the most incredible makeup I had ever used; the coverage was phenomenal, and it gave my skin a youthful, dewy sheen. Seeing how happy I was about my first Lancôme experience, I became curious about their other products. I went to The Broadway in Santa Monica and wandered around the Lancôme counter, finally alerting the sales associate that I was interested in having my eyes made over. She started by using a light Lancôme moisturizer, which had a fresh scent and feel. Next she applied the Maquimatte foundation, which was very similar to the Maquivelour. She then started on my eyes. I told her I wanted an evening look that was sultry yet subtle. She said, "I'm going to use the new fall colors we have just received." She started with cream eyeshadow which she said was a base, then applied a light brown color to the inside corner of my lids, following up with a gray-brown color in the crease and outer section of the eyelid. I was then informed of the new mascara that had just arrived, an item that was supposed to make my lashes "full and lush." The saleswoman told me that my eyebrows had a great shape and that she was just going to fill them in a little bit more with an eyebrow pencil. That was it; the whole procedure probably took 15 minutes. While the Lancôme consultant was very knowledgeable about the products, and she didn't do a bad job on my eyes, the makeup just didn't look complete. The main complaint I had was that I didn't feel she used the correct colors on me. The ones she used seemed to have too much gray and seemed to clash with my warm complexion.CHICAGO My makeup regimen had always entailed some brown eyeshadow, light blush and a dab of lipstick, but the colors were so light and natural that my face usually looked naked. I decided that I wanted a different eyeshadow, preferably one with more color. So, on a mild July day, I visited Marshall Field's on State Street to find out from an experienced beauty consultant what colors I should wear and how to apply them. Since I like Clinique's lipstick, I went to the Clinique counter for advice on my eyes. While browsing through a display of different colors, a consultant asked if I needed assistance. I asked what color eyeshadow she would recommend for me. She reached for a creamy shadow base in a compact and explained how it would help keep the eyeshadow from creasing and also make it last longer. As I leaned uncomfortably over the counter, she applied it to my left eyelid. Then she asked which of the colors on my hand I wanted to try and suggested a drab khaki pair, ignoring my request for more color. After applying the lighter tone on the whole eyelid with a cotton ball, she used a cotton swab for the dark tone. She told me since my eyelids were small, I needed to blend the darker color above the crease and onto the brow bone. She finished with a khaki eye pencil, not the usual brown, under and above the eye. She said it made my eyes appear more hazel. After applying shadow base to my right eye, she instructed me to do the rest. I finished the two tones and was ready for the eye pencil, but when I looked down at the counter, everything was gone. While I was busy trying to replicate her design, she had cleaned up, leaving only the mirror. Trying to close the sale, she quickly asked me what she could get me. I said I wasn't sure. She said, "Well, wear it and see what you think. Have a nice day." She walked over to talk to a co-worker who had been standing next to me at the counter. I stood there wondering what colors were on my eyes and how much they cost. I excused myself for interrupting and asked her. "Khaki," she said without further explanation. Without even looking in my direction she reeled off prices: $12.50 for the shadow, $10.50 for the shadow base and $13.50 for the pencil. I knew I was wasting her time and mine and exited onto State Street with one and a half made-up eyes.ATLANTA I've never been known to wear much makeup, but as a recent college graduate with a new job, I decided it was time to polish up my image. I wandered around the cosmetics department of Macy's at Lenox Square Mall, finally deciding to try my luck at the Clinique counter, as it was relatively uncrowded. As soon as I approached, I was greeted by a smiling saleswoman in an official-looking white lab coat. She asked how she could help, and I explained that I was trying to spruce up my overall look. She said she liked what I was doing with my eyeliner and mascara, but thought some shadow would really seal the overall look. She quickly whipped out several trays of color. "With your dark eyes, I'm definitely going to recommend you stick to brown," she said. She rubbed a few swabs in several different browns and tested them on her hand. "This is the one I want to try on you," she said, pointing to a color labeled Fawn Satin. I agreed it was a nice color. As she applied the shadow to one of my lids, she carefully explained her techniques. "You should always cover the whole of the lid, up to the top curve of your eyeball, but don't shadow past the outer corner of your eye," she instructed. When she was finished she offered me a mirror, and I smiled at my reflection; I had to admit, the shadow did produce a subtle improvement. Next, the saleswoman showed me a tray of eyeliners, saying, "There is a pencil that matches each shadow, so when you run out of what you have been using and want to upgrade your products, you can find what you need right here." I decided to go ahead and get the shadow and come back for the matching eyeliner when my other pencil ran out. I thanked the saleswoman, and made a mental note to buy from her again. She had been very friendly and knowledgeable, without being the least bit pushy. Best of all, she had found a way to improve my makeup, while still respecting my desire for an overall natural look.
DALLAS The soft sell works best with me, and that's why I walked away from Neiman Marcus $52.50 lighter with a trio of eye shadows and an eye shadow base by Princess Marcella Borghese. I usually reserve eye shadings for black-tie occasions, so I figured I'd learn how to apply the stuff for day when I went to Neiman's at NorthPark Center late one morning for a makeover. My first choices were Chanel and Christian Dior, but their makeup artists weren't in yet, so I moseyed over to Princess Marcella Borghese since I liked their treatment products. At Borghese, a saleswoman produced a makeup artist within seconds, and I was quickly seated on a high cushioned chair. I told the makeup artist I rarely wore eye shadow and would like to learn to apply it for an everyday look. She asked what colors I preferred for lipstick and blush, and I told her mauve and pink. She easily interpreted my taste, suggesting a soft pink and brown eye shadow trio that I liked. Then the 45-minute, 10-product glamorization began. She applied a sheer foundation that looked very natural, assuring me that it contained an SPF 6 sunscreen. Next came brow gel and shadow that darkened my eyebrows. Then she showed me how to apply the eye shadow. All was going well until she used the dark brown shadow as an eyeliner, drawing a line halfway under the eye that was a bit too thick for me. I felt it crossed a fine line from merely accentuating the eye to creating a theatrical raccoon look. Then she stroked on lots of black mascara, which overexaggerated my lashes. After applying concealer under the eye and powder all around, we got to the lips, which she coated with a base, edged in lip liner, and brushed with a pretty, dark pinkish shade called Mauve Boheme. Despite the slightly heavy under-eye shading, I still liked the trio of eye colors ("Coastal Plums") and inquired about the price--$32. The makeup artist and the sales associate were pleasant, chatting away about makeup and the movies and O.J. Simpson, pushing none of the products overtly at me. I said I would take the eye shadow and bought the makeup artist's mild pitch, that the $16.50 tube of Eye Shadow Base would set the color to last all day.
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