Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where The Pros Go

"Cinema Quality" KOH GEN DO High Definition Makeup (What Sarah Jessica Parker purchased). Tinted Moisture Foundation ($60) and Pressed Powder ($28).
“I was told that you were the only place that had it!” A recognizable female voice trilled behind me as I snapped photos of the products at ALCONE NYC (322 W. 49th St. 212.757.3734). I glanced quickly at the woman and was stumped. The sales associates were all fawning over her and she was being very sweet and friendly, chatting and giggling with everyone. “I LOVED the movie!” Shouted another sales associate who had appeared from somewhere above us. “Thank you!” Replied the woman. It was a lovefest.

“Would you mind signing our wall?” Someone asked her. “Of course not!” She agreed enthusiastically. She was handed a marker and she started writing. I got a better look at her this time. Aha! Sarah Jessica Parker! She gathered together her purchases and left the shop. “What did she write?” Someone asked. A sales associate examined the wall. “I don’t know! All I can make out is the word ‘Obama’!”

Well, whatever Parker lacked in penmanship, she certainly made up for in graciousness. This A-lister would be a great example for the B and C-list rubbish who think that you prove your worth by being surrounded by security and gofers and acting rude and entitled. Obviously, SJP was very capable of shopping on her own without “people, ” without requesting that a store be shut to outsiders and, somehow, managing to be lovely to everyone. Shocking!
KRYOLAN Creme Eyeshadow Mini Palette ($23.70).
KRYOLAN Mini Lip Palette. "The original showgirl lipstick that stays on for long, hot productions." Available in 2 combinations of 16 shades: Light-Medium and Medium-Dark ($19).
Parker was purchasing KHO GEN DO pressed powder and Moisture Tinted Foundation. It’s a makeup for High Definition (HD) and one she had been introduced to by makeup artists. The odd part about HD is that its resolution is so high that makeup has to be kept on the down-low. I had discovered this when I played myself in the film “Rachel Getting Married” (out now!).

I was horrified that it was being shot in HD because I knew HD showed every line, crack, crevice and pore. Though the makeup artist spent an inordinate amount of time covering a broken blood vessel INSIDE my nose (that I had never noticed), the full makeup was very lightly applied and VERY natural.
BEN NYE Eyeshadows (Pearl Sheen: $6 each; Fireworks: $7 each; Lumiere Grand Colors: $9 each).
BEN NYE Loose Glitter ($20 each).
In fact, it was that experience that brought me back to Alcone, a makeup establishment for professionals that I hadn’t visited in a decade. I loved the matt-finished bobby pins ($18) they used on my hair and the hairdresser told me he got them there.

Which leads us back to why SJP… or anyone … goes there: Alcone is a tiny heaven-on-earth over-flowing with EVERYTHING involving makeup and other beauty items (like the hairpins). You can find some of their more old-school theatrical makeup (Ben Nye/ Kryolan/Joe Balasco) at Ricky’s or online, but you’d be smarter coming here: The full range of their offerings are astonishing, their extremely helpful and personable staff are ALL makeup artists and the recession-proof prices will stun you.
BEN NYE Special Effects Color Wheels. Remember these for next Halloween! ($9.50-$15).
BEN NYE Powder Rough & Contours/ Powder Rouge Compacts ($6-$7).
“We’re cheaper because you’re not paying for the packaging or name.” I can live with that. For example, false eyelashes cost a whopping $2.75 to $5 and non-irritable non-abrasive cucumber-scented cotton makeup remover pads (the best I’ve ever used) cost $6 for a 12 pack or $30 for 80.

The aforementioned BEN NYE products include amazing concealers, shadows, rouge and lipsticks in every sheen (matt/ iridescent/ pearl/ glitter) and configuration (crème/ powder/ loose) for $20 and under. For under $30, there are the jaw-dropping shades available in the KRYOLAN mini-palettes for eyeshadows, lips and concealers. Compare those prices (for professional-level goods) to the price of ONE product from ... well, I won’t name names ...
KRYOLAN Dermacolor Mini Concealer Palette. Available in 4 combinations of 16 shades: Light to Medium, Yellow Undertones, Pink Undertones and Ethnic Shades ($27.90).
Alcone doesn’t do custom blending or other hands-on services, but they are very free with advice, which is as no-frills and excellent as their products. When I mentioned that my makeup probably needed replacing because of its age, store manager Maria Mallardi instructed, “If it smells like crayons, it’s gone bad. Otherwise, you’re fine.”

But, all the beauty magazines advise buying new mascara every three months because bacteria invades at that point. Maria laughed. “That rule is as absurd (and self-interest-based) as shampoo labels that insist on TWO latherings each time you wash your hair.” And when I asked about which of their huge array of brushes was best for applying concealer, someone shot back, “Using your finger is the best way to apply concealer.” (I’ll assume that doesn’t apply to those who conceal imperfections inside someone else’s nostrils ...)
BEN NYE Creme Foundations ($9 each); Creme Highlights ($4.50 each); Creme Colors ($6).
ALCONE LIPSTAMP KIT ("Just pick your favorite lipstamp shape, apply lipstick and stamp perfect lips.") Kit includes 10 different lip shapes and a mirror-topped stamping tool ($29.95).
Nevertheless ... so much for the hard sell, right? If you can’t make it to their theater district shop, there’s always their in-the-process website, (My beauty best friend), to turn to. The idea is “... to integrate products with the average person by making one-to-one connections with advisors who are available for blogging. (They’ll) feed you content while you’re finding your own products,” says Robert Moore, the site’s co-founder and partner.

BEAUTYBLENDER Makeup sponge with Sponge cleanser ($14.95).
“It’s about connecting women as individuals with beauty experts in fashion, hair, makeup and skin.” Their top beauty advisor is Scott Andrew, who works on almost all covers for Allure. “We want to be the Facebook for beauty addicts.”

Two items I “integrated” with were the spinning top-shaped BEAUTYBLENDER makeup sponge and the insane LIPSTAMP. The Beautyblender’s shape allows one to apply foundation in places normal angular applicators can’t go. The Lipstamp is a product from the 50’s that Alcone has re-released. Just think: you can be Joan Crawford one day and Clara Bow the next. Fabulous!

Despite the hordes of mineral makeup currently being hawked, Alcone is very high on High Def. “It’s cool for the consumer on the street because it’s idiot-proof and lightweight.” These products are free of mineral oils and lanolin (RCMA) or alcohol-based and waterproof (KETT). Not that mineral makeup is totally useless: “You play texture against texture.” Alcone Info-god Alex Almeida advised. “That’s when it’s beautiful: Play dewy against shiny and matt.”

Remember that whenever you’re going anywhere where photographers lay in wait because totally sparkly shiny makeup photographs greasy under a flash. If pros (like Sarah Jessica) know that, shouldn’t you?
KETT Alcohol-Based Waterproof Hydro Foundations ($27.50). Ben Nye Neutralizers, Tattoo Cover, Five O'Sharp Beard Cover and Highlights ($7).