“The Basics of Beauty”: in Sam Fine’s Words

Facelifts: They’re not just for humans anymore. Duane Reade, the New York institution that graces every other street, has dramatically altered their beauty aisle at select locations around the city, like their Herald Square store. The newly revealed drugstore space looks more upscale, a Sephora more than a drugstore. To celebrate this transformation, make-up artist Sam Fine, and author of a coffee table makeup book that really MUST be on your bookshelf (Fine Beauty) has also complemented it with a DVD of his own.

He took us on a tour of the make-up.

Every time Fine opens his mouth, a pearl of precious beauty wisdom falls out, sometimes faster than my thumbs can record them on my smart phone. Women have so many more options now with the new drugstore trend for ‘masstige’ products that cater to wider scale of consumers. I distilled some of Fine’s immense beauty knowledge as it pertains to the brave new world of makeup for darker skin.

1. Most women are one or two products away from the full benefit of makeup. In our efforts to save time, money, and appear low-maintenance, we often use foundation and concealer, but no powder, or just blush with no bronzer. Foundation and concealer brighten skin and cover flaws, but powder sets and gives them staying power. The color blush adds to skin is great, but sometimes it’s best to start with a subtle bronzer, which adds luminosity to the skin. Then layer a little blush as needed for a pop of color. These products are meant to work together.

2. Don’t feel obligated to stay loyal to one brand. One line may nail foundation, but fall short in the lipstick department, so always choose the best product regardless of the name on the packaging. Similarly, there’s no law requiring that all eyeshadows in quads, trios, and duos must be used together. If a quad has two great shades but two duds, don’t both with the disappointing hues and wear out the stunning colors instead.

3. Use less of a heavy product, like a foundation stick (Fine likes those made by Becca) rather than more of a thinner one, like a tinted moisturizer. A dab of a creamy formula covers more efficiently than a glob of watery one.

4. Shop with a specific goal in mind. Instead of walking into the cosmetic aisle to buy eyeshadow, come in with the goal of buying three green eyeshadows – one mint, one moss, one emerald. It will keep impulse and unfocused purchases to a minimum.

Fine briefly pointed out favorite products, noting that Iman’s pressed powder and bronzer trios and Black Opal’s stick foundations are great options for women of color, who until recently had slim pickings in the foundation, concealer, and powder markets. He pointed out that the Covergirl-Olay blends of foundation and blush with skin cream come in handy when doing makeup with winter weather in mind. Fine can’t stress the importance of bronzer enough – it’s a great option for the blush-shy, it balances a strong red lip, and is appropriate year-round when used with a light hand.

He likes waterproof mascara from Maybelline and Covergirl, especially the new volumizing and lengthening formulas. He’ll put a coat of mascara on a client, move on to work on another part of her face, then come back and hit the lashes again with another coat, since the waterproof variety builds faster. For lips, he likes L’Oreal HIP for their rich pigments, and a friend recently turned him onto Wet ‘n Wild’s new lipsticks.

I was fairly itching to buy Fine’s wisdom to work as I wandered through the aisles. If you’re feeling similarly inclined, all of the products mentioned can be purchased online at duanereade.com, and Sam Fine’s DVD, The Basics of Beauty, which specializes in makeup application for women of color, is available at Amazon.com.

Katharine McKenzie

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