Danielle and Annick Mayer were shopping at the East Houston Street branch of American Apparel on Sunday, Oct. 19, both wearing thick eyeliner by NARS around their lids. They’d given the vivid cobalt color careful thought. “I tried deep purple, but it made me look like I was really tired, with pinkeye,” said Annick, 21, who lives in Williamsburg.
“Black is really intense,” said Danielle, 24. “And everyone wears it.”
Meanwhile, up at Sephora on Fifth Avenue at 48th Street, Hilary Danailova, 33, was among the ladies pawing frantically through racks of shadows, creams and unguents. “Every single woman I know wears mascara every day,” she said. “But most of them don’t even bother with lipstick. If their lipstick washes off, they don’t bother fixing it.”
For the better part of a decade, the face of New York womanhood has been dominated by a pillowy, glistening, Restylane-enhanced Jessica Rabbit mouth. It was the self-satisfied, lip-licking, inflated look of a long economic boom.
What seems more appropriate given the current mess we’re in?
All of a sudden the streets are awash in colorful liner, lash conditioner, eyelid rhinestones and powders for a finely arched brow. Estée Lauder’s TurboLash, battery-powered vibrating mascara, which retails for $30, is currently being sold at a 60 percent markup on eBay. On Wednesday, Oct. 22, Lancôme will roll out its own version, Ôscillation—7,000 oscillations per minute!—for $34. “Normally you have to wiggle the wand to avoid clumping,” said makeup artist Annabelle LaGuardia. “This does the wiggling for you.” Skeptical? Lancôme might have been, too. They didn’t make enough of their magic wand, and now the waiting list numbers 13,000.
Women are also going batty for an eyelash conditioner called RevitaLash (retail price: $150), made out of a friendly chemical called (Z)-7-[(1R,2R,3R,5S)-3,5-Dihydroxy-2-(R,E)-3-hydroxy-4(3- trifluoromethyl)phenoxy)but-1-enyl)cyclopentyl]-5-Nethylheptenamide. “It’s like Rogaine for your eyelashes,” said makeup artist Erica Gray, calling from the bucolic Connecticut set of HGTV’s Design Star. “If you use it for a month, I kid you not, your eyelashes look twice as long.”
Pregnant, nursing or skeptical of advertising slogans such as “There has been NO RECALL on the product”? Don’t worry; less toxic alternatives abound.
Eliza Petrescu, who runs the cult eyebrow-waxing Eliza’s Eyes salon out of the Exhale Spa on Madison Avenue and 77th Street, added eyelash extensions ($150 for the service) just over a year ago. This is a couture operation. “Don’t go to someone who will automatically sell you the full set,” Ms. Petrescu said. “Go to someone who will do what’s right for your face.”
The DIY false eyelash market is growing, too, buoyed by the fluttery fillies of the L train. Ms. LaGuardia recommended “individual eyelashes, little clusters of eyelashes,” such as those made by Make Up For Ever for $14. “They’re more natural than a strip lash.”
Meanwhile, Ms. Gray warned to brace in the coming months for a deluge of false eyelashes that come with rhinestones at the base. The look is intended to be “over the top, for holiday parties.”
‘Purple is Huge’
Please note that there are dissenters to the super-fringed look. “Bobbi Brown doesn’t believe in fake eyelashes,” said Marisa Caruso, one of the company’s makeup artists at Bloomingdale’s. Rather, Ms. Brown would like to “enhance your natural beauty.”
No thanks, Bobbi! Even more than false eyelashes, eyeliner and shadow are now about tacking stuff onto your natural beauty. Think Amy Winehouse, with her liquid liner. Or Prince, circa 1988. “Purple is huge this year,” Ms. Gray said. “You can play around with a dark purply, smoky effect or a funky pop of violet.”
Then there are brows. Don’t forget brows! Brooke Shields’ famous shrubbery has resurfaced on Lipstick Jungle’s character-who-has-it-all. On the runways last month, Christian Dior paired thick arches with blunt bangs. Marni’s eyebrows were flatter but just as fat, lining up under severely side-parted bangs.
If you really want to commit to eye enhancement, there’s a more lasting option than plucking and feathering. “There’s a big increase in women asking for permanent makeup for their eyes,” said Amy Kernahan, who runs an eponymous Upper East Side studio offering the procedure, which is similar to tattooing but with gentler pigments. Business has tripled in the past few years, she claimed.
“It’s a trend but also a huge convenience for women who don’t want to spend most of their time in the morning making their brows look perfect or trying to apply eyeliner,” Ms. Kernahan said. “One of my younger clients had a new boyfriend and she didn’t want this new guy to see her in the morning without makeup, She wanted to wake up looking fresh.”
Laura Vivas, 24, a student living in Brooklyn, had her brows permanently enhanced by Ms. Kernahan last May. “I am definitely happy,” she said. “My brows were very sparse from over-plucking. I had to wake up 45 minutes early every day to pencil them in and it was very annoying.” Ms. Vivas plans to have permanent liner added soon as well, copying one of her friends. “She’s thrilled. She is a mom and she has no time for makeup.”
Melany Whitney, a certified permanent cosmetic professional (CPCP), also works on the Upper East Side, in the office of a dermatologist named, we kid you not, Dr. Doris Day. She said the procedure, which can be performed during lunch hour, is complementary to cosmetic surgery. “And for those who don’t want to go under the scalpel,” Ms. Whitney added helpfully, “PM can give the illusion of a face-lift.”
She described the “two-step process” of applying permanent liner. “First I apply a layer of pigment and I’m very conservative. Then, four to six weeks later, I see what the skin brings back to me, and then I make corrections or additions. This gives the client a chance to live with the makeup for a month and decide if they want anything changed. Then I apply the second layer on top.”
How permanent is it? “If you expose your face to the sun a lot, it can fade faster, but for some women it lasts 15 years,” Ms. Whitney said. “Lighter colors also fade sooner. The average process takes years to fade. And if you decide you don’t want it anymore, there are lasers that will remove it, although removing permanent eyeliner is more delicate to do than the eyebrows.” Yee-ouch!
New York may not be ready for permanent makeup, but on one thing everyone can agree: If you paint your lips along with the eyes, “you look like a drag queen,” as Ms. LaGuardia put it. “There’s too much going on.”
What does the ordinary woman on the street have on her mouth?
“Chapstick!” said Lisa Sdrigotti, 19, shopping at Sephora in black eyeliner and fringey ankle boots.
“Chapstick!” said one Mayer sister.
“Nothing!” said the other. “But right now I wish I was wearing Chapstick.”
—Additional reporting by Pamela Weiler Grayson and Carla Pisarro