By Gabriela Resto-Montero, Leslie Albrecht and Carla Zanoni
MANHATTAN — Sometimes reporters need to suffer for their craft.
With summer almost upon us, DNAinfo journalists Leslie Albrecht, Carla Zanoni and Gabriela Resto-Montero tackled the challenge of finding different looks at make-up counters across Manhattan. It was hard work, but someone had to do it.
After several days in make-up artist chairs and with the help of some friends, we can bring you the rundown on the best products and tips on how to look great this summer.
Duane Reade Look Boutique, West 72nd Street and Broadway
The Experience: The Duane Reade store at 72nd Street and Broadway has a trick up its sleeve, or at least upstairs from its main floor — a full make-up boutique featuring mid to high-end products. The Look Boutique on the store's second floor features elegant floor to ceiling windows and includes Ramy eyebrow services as well as skin consultations and foundation matches for customers.
"They come in and they're like, 'This is Duane Reade?'" said Nashon 'Honneybells' Woods, a manager for the store and professional make-up artist who did Leslie’s make-up.
"I have a lot of people who only came in for toothpaste," Woods said of the boutique.
The Classic Look: We told make-up artist Nashon Woods we wanted a basic face. She took care to match Leslie’s skin tone with the appropriate foundation from Purminerals, and focused on bringing out Leslie’s eyes with three shades of Purminerals eyeshadow. The look was a classic daytime face that didn’t feel too heavy.
The Tips & Takeaways: Wet 'n Wild's lip gloss, a bargain at $2.19, still works as well as it did when you were in seventh grade.
With eyeliner, Woods advises: "Sometimes black is too much. You can still smoke an eye out with brown, it’s softer."
Highlighters that add glow to cheeks and browbones are popular right now, but Woods cautions not to go overboard with them. "Take it easy with the highlight, I’ve seen New Yorkers make mistakes with way too much highlighter."
When you’re moisturizing the eye area, don’t rub it in. Lightly tap the moisturizer into the skin with your ring finger.
Product Highlights: The Look Boutique carries Lierac Mesolift Serum ($60) which Beyonce reportedly uses to keep her skin toned and radiant. We liked the Purminerals Purbalm, which can be used to soothe and soften both lips and cuticles.
Space NK at Bloomingdale's, 59th Street and Lexington Avenue
The Experience: Space NK carries a carefully curated selection of products chosen by founder Nicky Kinnaird, who travels the world in search of the best brands. "She felt that no one brand did everything from top to toe," said Trasy Baker, assistant manager at Space NK’s Bloomindales counter. "It’s not about selling one brand. It’s about selling the best products for the customer."
The Glamorous Cat Eye Look: Gaby walked out of Bloomie’s with her skin literally glowing and eyes glammed to the max.
The dramatic look wasn't too much for daytime, and could have worked well on a date.
The Tips and Takeaways: Faustino used a short angled brush to turn Michael Nars cream eye shadow into an eyeliner.
To highlight Gaby’s face, Faustino marked her cheekbones and the bridge of her nose with a Michael Nars Soft Touch Shadow Pencil in Goddess. "It looks crazy at first, but we’re going to blend it all out and it will look beautiful," Faustino said. She was right - the highlighter gave Gaby's face a dewy glow.
Product Hightlights: Our favorite products at Space NK were the Nars highlighter (Soft Touch Shadow Pencil in Goddess) and By Terry's Or de Rose lip balm ($70) with flecks of pink gold. "It looks like jewels on your lips," Faustino said.
Blue Mercury, 2305 Broadway and West 83rd Street.
The Experience: Blue Mercury’s Roxana Rodriguez told us the store’s focus was on making friends in the neighborhood, not pushing products. Blue Mercury, which carries a variety of cosmetics lines, woos customers with lots of samples, not high-press sales techniques, Rodriguez said. "We know every product and we know what the payoffs are, so we can pull together a unique cocktail for you," Rodriguez said.
The Pretty and Polished Look: Blue Mercury emphasizes skincare, and Rodriguez started by asking how our skin had been acting lately. She applied what she called a "magic potion" for dryness, Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel. After a few other balms and serums, our skin looked even and glowy. Rodriguez gave Leslie a golden eyelid, and made her eyes pop with Trish McEvoy’s High-Volume mascara.
The Tips and Takeaways: Rodriguez wowed us with her tips on how to line lashes effectively. She used what she called "the press and wiggle" technique. With her pinky finger she pressed lightly on the eyelid, which forced lashes upward, then pushed color onto the root of the lash line.
She also advised us to brush on blush in a "backwards check mark" two finger widths from your nose.
Product Highlights: We loved Trish McEvoy’s High-Volume mascara ($30). It made each lash stand out and was surprisingly non-clumpy.
Bobbi Brown’s Sand Pink blush ($20) made cheeks looks naturally pink.
The Michael Nars illuminating stick, Copacabana ($36), added a lovely glow.
The Rock and Roll Look
Nail Lounge, 4752 Broadway, between Dyckman and Thayer streets
Bodre Cut and Color Room, 4714 Broadway, between Dongan Place and Sherman Avenue
The Experience: Makeovers at Blue Michael Cosmetics come in all shades and colors, but the overall concept of the line is green.
Purportedly the only cosmetic line born and bred in Washington Heights, the makeup artist and former model Blue Michael has created a ecofriendly line of cosmetics that are good for the skin and the environment.
Makeup is mineral based and does not come in cardboard packaging that quickly get tossed in the garbage. Blue Michael doesn’t even have business cards.
"Everyone has Facebook and email, why print on paper?" he said.
The Blue Michael counter at both Inwood locations offer elegant stations where customers can sit and sip a drink while having their make up applied by Blue himself, or an expert makeup artist.
Makeup applications run $40 with brow shaping and false eyelashes included, far less than professional at many downtown locations.
"As a consumer, I don’t think it’s fair that prices are jacked up because of the area where they are sold," Blue said. "It’s not about that, it’s about giving 100 percent to your customers, always."
The Rock-n-Roll Look: We told make-up artist Blue that we wanted a rock-n-roll, glamorous look for a night out on the town. He said his most requested look is that of reality television star Kim Kardashian’s typical smoky-eyed bombshell look, but be warned, the look is not for the meek.
And to take the look all the way, Blue added a bold pop of a new color called "Puss-Puss" on the lips, instead of staying to the tried and true adage of strong eyes, nude lips.
The Tips & Takeaways: Blue suggests adding a primer to the face to create a smooth palette. The line’s silicon primer ($18) fills in any lines and evens out the texture of skin. "It’s really light," he said. "You don’t even feel it."
Although many people start out their look with an application of foundation or concealer ($28), Blue says to save that until after the eyes are done. The move means you don’t have to reapply make up if eye shadow falls onto the cheekbone.
Blue also stays away from foundation, saying it can crease and inadvertently age a face, and instead uses a spot application of concealer with a brush. Make sure to use the concealer over the brow bone to further highlight your eyebrows.
Product Highlights: No rock-n-roll look would be complete without false eyelashes. Blue Michael has an array of lashes ranging from natural to fully fierce. Lashes ($10) can be reused up to seven times using lash glue ($7).