The secret to using beauty products and cosmetics to their greatest effect lies not so much in applying a mask of perfection over the flaws of nature but instead in optimizing the vitality in a person's skin, features and personality.
The entire staff at Make Up Art (7736 Maple St., 862-0005) is dedicated to bringing out customers' natural beauty and making them feel good inside and out. The best part -- and the greatest successes -- are when customers get compliments that they look "great" or "younger" or "alive" without people realizing it's because of a good facial or makeup job.
"My ultimate goal is to make someone look fresh and healthy, but not to look like they have a lot of makeup on," says artist and owner Susan Spaid, who opened Make Up Art about 16 years ago. "Everyone is beautiful in their own way, and I like bringing that out. We know our stuff here and enjoy doing this: making people beautiful."
Spaid and the other women who work at the studio enhance beauty through makeup application and lessons, eyebrow shaping, eyebrow and eyelash tinting, manicures, pedicures, facials and more. Going in to the shop is like visiting a girlfriend and experimenting with different makeup and lipstick colors along with myriad other products and lots of expert advice. Those who opt for other services also get a little added fun.
The standard pedicure, for example, not only features a paraffin footbath and toenail polishing, but takes place in a massage chair and includes a leg and foot massage and exfoliating aromatherapy salt treatment on the legs. In her facials, Pernilla Malare applies a mask, massages the scalp, covers the face with deliciously hot aromatherapy towels, works on the arms and hands a bit and ends with a shoulder massage. She also offers a "manual face lift" using hand-applied microdermabrasion, and a protein enzyme-based peel that speeds up the cellular activity in the skin, which ultimately helps to heal damaged cells, rehydrate and rejuvenate the skin and improve its texture.
Spaid, who began her career as a movie makeup artist 25 years ago, says Malare's facials surprised even her. "I've had facials all over the world," Spaid says. "Honestly, this is the best facial I've ever had. Afterward I felt like a piece of putty. Plus, I kept getting compliments."
To help natural beauty along, Make Up Art stocks a very selective variety of cosmetic lines, including new Paula Dorf products developed by a movie makeup artist of the same name. The beauty studio also carries Bodyography, Kiehl's, TIGI, Trapp Private Gardens, Astara, Dirty Girl and Benefits body- and skin-care products and cosmetics. For younger sets, Spaid recommends Petits baby massage creams and body foam and for teenagers, Benefits, carried exclusively at Make Up Art. That line not only makes cosmetics that are good for the skin, but the packaging, names and philosophy behind the line is playful, innovative and alluring. Aruba In A Tuba is a container of cream body makeup while Boo-Boo Zap reputedly defeats blemishes in a day and Ooh La Lift reduces puffiness and firms skin under the eyes. In about two weeks, Spaid will introduce a new product from Benefits, Kitten Goes to New York. In addition to its intriguing packaging, Kitten Goes to New York is a body powder box that includes a big powder puff and body shimmer. Proceeds from sales of the item will benefit New York City relief efforts.
Spaid says she likes to seek out cosmetics lines in which the artist still takes an active role in developing the products and keeps a firm hand in quality control. "I really like makeup lines when the makeup artist is still behind it, before it gets bought out by a large corporation." The boutique lines tend to be more aware of how to use subtle colors to enrich the skin tones and how to make the makeup more translucent. "The right color is very important -- and the texture," she says. "You see some makeup on and it makes the skin look kind of dead; you can really see exactly where the makeup is. Here we use makeup to make you look more fresh and alive ... to make you look like you don't need makeup."
She's an expert in the craft, beginning her art career as a painter who "was always doing everybody's makeup as a favor, not knowing there was a career in it." Spaid later was hired to do makeup for Santa and an elf for a television commercial, and later moved up to movies, stars, album covers and more. She's enhanced the faces of personalities such as Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, Roy Orbison, Anne Heche and actors in Interview With the Vampire, The Pelican Brief, JFK and The Big Easy TV series. Her penchant for fashion and beauty is reinforced by her husband, modeling agency owner Kenny del Corral. The couple has a lovely 1-year-old daughter who already mugs and poses for the camera.
"Everyone can be made more beautiful," Spaid says. "That's what we do here. It makes them happier, and it's a fun job."
- The Make Up Art beauty team (from left): facial wizard Pernilla Malare, Samantha del Corral (who acts as inspiration), her mother and shop owner Susan Spaid, makeup artist Tracy Ewell, and manicure/pedicure expert Edie Cruz.