Put your best holiday face forward

We talked to 3 makeup artists and scored great DIY party looks

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Bobbi Brown makeup

Bobbi Brown makeup (Brent Lewis, Chicago Tribune / November 25, 2011)

Everybody needs a little pick-me-up, especially around the holidays.

Sure, inner beauty is great. But there's a lot to be said for outer beauty too. And to discover how to achieve that, I went on a mission to the busy makeup department at my local Nordstrom.

I watched women transformed from busy shoppers, students and working professionals to their best selves. As makeup artists worked their magic with brushes and wands, I took notes and accumulated beauty tips from the experts that we can all use to amp up our looks for daytime, evening and blow-out party night.

And if you're looking for customized beauty tips, makeup consultations and beauty makeovers at all Nordstrom stores are free (except for booked appointments Friday and Saturday at some counters when there's a $25 to $50 charge, sometimes redeemable in products).

I know what you're thinking: "If I get a free makeover, I have to buy something, and I should tip the makeup artist." No and no. That is the word directly from Laksmi Sam, a Nordstrom regional beauty director. Of course, the store would like you to return later to buy. But, "We know that our customers want to try products before they purchase them so we love to offer free samples as well," Sam said. "We do not take tips!"

All it takes is 30 minutes or so, and you, too, can be happy every time you look in the mirror.

Ready? Let's get pretty.


College student Karli Barley, 21, says her usual hasty beauty regime is concealer and mascara. Period. She asked Bobbi Brown makeup artist Kelly Letto for a more polished look that would still be easy and fast. Letto used the Bobbi Brown 10-Step Beauty program that starts with skin care (cleanse, tone, moisturize) and ends with mascara. (The other steps: concealer, foundation, powder/bronzer, blush, lips, browns, eye shadow, eyeliner). Barley couldn't wait to look at herself in the mirror, and when she did, she was amazed at the transformation. So was her sister, Kayla, who declared, "She looks good!"

Take-away tips

•To apply foundation, start at the center of the face problem areas and feather outward; often unnecessary to extend to hairline, jaw and neck.

•Consider bronzer, not to look tan but to warm and correct skin tone, especially in winter.

•Without-a-mirror lips? Use a neutral gloss instead of lipstick for a quick makeup refresher anywhere.

•For maximum eyelash volume, place mascara wand at base of lashes then wiggle upward to lash tips. Repeat. And repeat.

Makeup costs for this look, all Bobbi Brown, excluding skin care and brushes: $306

Evening/date/cocktails/black tie

"I don't need too many steps," was the only guidance 52-year-old Beverly Hills, Calif., real estate agent Florence Mattar offered when she sat down for her makeover at the Nars counter. Although she added that she was game to try this season's fashionable bold red lip. After foundation, concealer and powder, makeup artist Adrienne Wheeler applied a thick line of black liner but kept the eye shadows neutral so the red lip was the focal point. There she used a Velvet Matte Pencil ($24), the point to line the lips and the side to fill them. "I live for this pencil!" said beauty director Sam. The lips were finished with gloss in Moon Fleet ($24). Wheeler kept blush to a minimum, saying, "The cheek should never overpower when you're doing a great lip." Wheeler wants women to enjoy and experiment. "Don't be so serious," the company mantra goes, "It's only makeup."

Take-away tips

•If using shimmer beneath the brow, use matte eye shadow on lids to avoid a "disco ball" effect.

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