Minimum Makeup, Maximum Impact!
Four years ago, after launching my Makeup & Brow Bars at the LOOK Boutique at Duane Reade, I came up with the idea of hosting “Eyebrow Intervention Day” where the eyebrow shapings would be free for the day at all the RAMY Brow Bars. The idea was to announce that there are now prestige beauty services being offered at accessible prices at the LOOK Boutiques.
The first year we had three locations offering the free brow shapings, ten locations the second year and thirty locations last year. This year we will have Eyebrow Intervention Day at nearly fifty locations in LOOK Boutiques in Duane Reade and Walgreens stores around the country.
All of the brow experts are trained by me personally and must be certified in my technique of tweezing and trimming to ensure perfect eyebrow results at every location!
While National Eyebrow Intervention Day has been well received by both the public and the media, with mentions in the New York Times, local morning shows, magazines and blogs, it’s also brought up the question:
How does one do an eyebrow intervention? We all have that friend, relative or co-worker who is either getting tragic brow shapings, self inflicts bad brows upon themselves or does nothing while their brows either take over their face or brings their gender into question.
Usually there is a reason they need an intervention in the first place. They don’t care, they want to save money, they are afraid or they are completely unaware of how much better they could look with a little brow grooming. The good news is that most people know when their eyebrows are not good. It’s rarely a surprise to them. Usually they just don’t know how to go about correcting them, so broaching the subject delicately can often yield positive results and appreciation.
A few ways to bring up the subject without offending:
However you approach the subject, you should never pressure someone to get their eyebrows done if they are not ready. You can invite the person in need of the intervention to come with you for moral support. Often, when they see how great your brows look, they’ll volunteer to get theirs done too.
If your friend is concerned with maintenance, they can either maintain it at home (Ramy’s Brow Tips page: http://www.ramy.com/tips-and-looks/brow-tips.html)
or return to the LOOK Boutique for full brow shaping ($20.) or touch ups ($10.) Either way, their appearance and outlook will be impoved!
This Year’s National Eyebrow Intervention Day is June 14th 11am-7pm at participating locations. Check http://www.ramy.com/about-ramy/store-locator.html to find a location near you! You can schedule in advance or walk in.
Over the years as a makeup artist based in New York city, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working on some very famous faces. While the professional side of me keeps me calm and collected during these encounters, the fan inside my head is always thrilled and excited to meet a celebrity or reknowned beauty and to have my own, personal experience with them.
In 2005 I published a makeup & beauty book, “The Ultimate Guide to Looking and Feeling Great While Living with Cancer” (M.Evans, Rowan & Littlefield). While the gist of the book is about maintaining a positive outlook and counteracting the physical side effects of Cancer treatments, I wanted to glam up the book by adding celebrity quotes. I asked every celebrity I encountered ” Whats your favorite beauty ritual when you’re having a bad day?” and I got some very interesting answers.
The only celebrity who turned me down was Star Jones, who, while seated at the front row of a Cancer fundraising event told me, “I don’t think this is the place to give you a quote for your book” Ugh. Below are some of the answers from the gracious and generous celebrities that made it into the book.
Supermodel Karolina Kurkova: “Splash your face with cold water to refresh and add a hint of rosiness to cheeks. It’s an old eastern European trick.” Karolina could not have been lovlier. I approached her while she was sitting with friends and she invited me to sit and join them so I could tell her about my book. A total doll!
Sarah Brown, Beauty Director, Vogue: “The most important beauty ritual for me is not the ritual itself but time. Taking time for myself is the ultimate luxury.”
Chris Royer, Supermodel: “My favorite beauty ritual for improving a bad day is applying makeup. Makeup is fun and makes you look better. What more could you ask?”
Susan Lucci, Actress: “When having a bad day, taking a shower and shampoo and slathering my body lotion all over really turns it around. And if I can fit it in, a little shoe shopping!” She is as nice as everyone says and even younger looking in person.
Michael Bolton, Singer: “Whats my beauty ritual when having a bad day? I stay in!”
Lorraine Bracco, Actress: “When I have a bad day, I get a massage. That always does it for me.”
Janice Dickinson, Supermodel: “Lots of sex really takes the edge off. Also helping the less fortunate.” I suggested she combine her interests. Janice was great actually. Later the same night, I ran into her as I was exiting the unisex bathroom at the venue. She stopped me and asked me if I happened to have any lipstick on me. To my eternal thrill (and embarrassment), I did! I always keep my lipstick in Smile on me when I’m out somewhere where I might be photographed. We went into the bathroom together and Janice SLATHERED the lipstick all over her generous lips. “What is this? I really like it” she said. “Keep it” I replied, because I sure as hell wasn’t going to use it again!
Everyone looked great on Oscar night. The gowns, both gorgeous and not-so-gorgeous, were beautiful. The hair, both spectacular (Reese Witherspoon) and mediocre (Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner) got the job done. The makeup, however, was beautiful across the board. Did everyone play it safe? Yes. Did everyone look their absolute best? Yes.
Every actress had neutral, earthtoned eyes and primarily light colored lips with a few exceptions of pink and red. This is the makeup message I try to instill in everyone – people should notice YOU, not your makeup and at this year’s Oscars, you can look at almost anyone and see this is the golden rule the all abided by.
That said, there were a couple of standouts:
Best Supporting Beauty: Jane Fonda. I want what she’s having! She looks so beautiful and still looks like herself. She is an inspiration to all of us that want to look good at any age. She truly does everything right when it comes to her appearance.
Best Supported Beauty: Salma Hayak. She hasn’t aged a day since coming to America. While some people criticised her hair and dress for the Oscars, everyone agreed she looks beautiful. Best Beauty Tip: Marry a billionaire!
Truly every actress looked amazing and stunning and very classic, with honorable mentions to Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence and Naomi Watts, but the absolute Best Beauty award has to go to…..
Charlize Theron. I can’t stop looking at her. Many will say it’s because of her lucky genetics and of course she looks great because she’s a former model, but the fact is she looked extraordinary because her makeup was clean, minimal and played up her features in a way that truly doesn’t draw attention to the makeup itself. This is a true example of “Minimum Makeup, Maximum Impact!” Her skin looks flawless, eyebrows defined and every feature is enhanced subtley. I couldn’t find one bad photo of her from Oscar night. This is beauty at it’s best and what we should all aspire to!
Here are the products I use when creating the classic looks we saw on Oscar night:
TV junkie that I am, I recently got sucked into watching the new show, “Catfish” on MTV. When I first heard of the show I assumed, of course, that it’s a reality show about fishermen who catch catfish, maybe even starring Sarah Palin, but no!
Catfishing is when someone fools another person or people online by assuming a fake identity. Often an insecure secret crush living out their fantasy by chatting with their target online using fake (far more attractive) photos and assuming a different identity – of a model or the opposite sex. The common thread is that the people perpetrating the fraud are in some way unhappy with their own appearance or self.
One particular episode actually moved me to tears. A woman had been chatting online with a man for TEN long years. During that time, she broke off an engagement to her fiance because he was a drug addict and he then committed suicide. Devastated, this very pretty woman was a wreck for two years, in which time she gained alot of weight. Through it all, her online friend was there for her and helped her get past the tragedy and move on.
She wanted to meet this man who she’s been chatting with for ten years because she felt they might be soul mates. They exchanged pictures of themselves and spoke endlessly on the phone, but he always had an excuse not to meet in person.
She reached out to the Catfish show because she was dating another man and was considering getting engaged to him, but wanted to meet her soulmate first to be certain she was making the right decision.
Her soulmate agreed to meet her through the show. He was indeed a nice young man with sincere intentions toward her, but he’d been afraid to meet her because he was morbidly obese, tipping the scales at one point at over six hundred pounds.
They met and while he professed his love for her, she decided they are better off as friends. She realised she was still traumetised by her fiance’s suicide and she also broke up with her boyfriend in order to get her head together.
What does any of this have to do with beauty or being a makeup artist?
The obese man confided to the Catfish crew that at his lowest point, when he could barely function because of his weight, he contemplated suicide. Crying, he said that even when thinking of killing himself, he was thinking of how to do it in a way where no one would find his body because even in death he was so ashamed and embarrassed by his appearance.
I can’t imagine being so utterly unhappy with oneself that he or she would be embarrassed of their appearance even in death. No one should ever ever feel that way. I’ve worked on some of the most beautiful faces in the world and the one thing I’ve learned is that everyone EVERYONE has something beautiful about them. It’s the same formula for the entire human race: we have features we should play up and things we should draw attention away from.
While we all aspire to be taller, shorter, thinner, have a better nose, look younger, etc. most of us also have things we like about ourselves or take pride in. The overweight man on Catfish started to diet and exercise and was losing weight and getting himself together. I hope for his sake that he keeps it up! I wanted to speed dial Richard Simmons and say “This guy needs you! Help him!!”
I always say that as a makeup artist, I never get tired of the “Before and After” I still get a little thrill when I’ve shaped someone’s eyebrows or do their makeup and they look amazing. I realise that the reason it thrills me is because they light up when they look in the mirror. Everyone should feel that way – even without makeup on or at six hundred pounds.
Having just sold my apartment in New York’s Greenwich Village and moving temporarily out of the city, I find myself commuting for the first time since I moved into Manhattan mere days after graduating college. My new place is still in disarray as I havent had one day off since the move to set up my new temporary digs. Boxes are everywhere and I havent yet put everything in it’s place.
As a result, I just grab the first thing I see when I’m getting dressed and haven’t been putting as much thought or effort into my appearance as usual. The combination of suddenly having to catch a train as opposed to walking to work and the rush to dress have resulted in some less-than-stellar ensembles. This morning I ran to the train in black jeans with cuffs (!) a not-too-bad navy pullover and brown clogs (!!!!!).
I realised that anyone who saw me would be shocked that I was in an industry that requires a great aesthetic sense and it got me thinking and wondering that maybe there is a story behind the bad outfits we see strangers wearing and are often are quick to judge?
Maybe the lady with the way too tight jeans had a laundery mishap and shrank all her clothes and is on her way to buy more appropriately fitting attire? Maybe the crop topped shirt with the muffin top ate something she’s allergic to that caused her rock hard abs to swell?
Or maybe some people just had poor judgement or bad taste. Or maybe they just moved to a new home and are still getting acclimated. The point is, we shouldn’t be so quick to judge others. When I see someone with bad hair, brows, makeup, outfit, I now wonder about the process: What led this person to this point? What series of events in his or her life led to this particular look?
I suppose this means our clothes and appearance really does tell a story to the world and says alot about a person. I have to admit, after a very busy week on my feet, the decision to wear my most comfortable clogs today was not a total accident, but I still don’t want to look as though I bought my clothes from the “I’ve Just Given Up” Collection.
As a firm believer that we shouldn’t dress for others, but rather to express ourselves, I also realise that the world judges us by what they see. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wear the Gucci shoes that pinch….
I’m often asked how did I start to do eyebrows – or rather, how did I discover I have a talent for doing eyebrows. I’ve shared the story with a handful of clients but thought I should write it down for posterity since people seem to really like it.
I was hired to be the Makeup Director at Brad Johns Salon at the famous Takashomia building on Fifth Avenue. My duties were to develop the makeup line for the salon and offer makeup applications and lessons to clients. About two weeks into my new job, the salon aesthetician decided she didn’t want to offer brow shaping services because it conflicted with her more lucrative facial services, so the Salon manager came to me and said, “You’re the makeup guy. you’ll be in charge of eyebrows.” So I started practicing on the staff and it turned out I had a good eye for shaping brows. Before I knew it, the salon staff was lining up to have their brows shaped and they starting sending me clients.
Almost immediately, I was written up in Vogue in a story about obssessive eyebrows. I genuinely believed I was included in the article simply because of my affiliation with the salon and not for any special ability I might have for eyebrow shaping.
Shortly afterwards, a new client came to see me and I recognized her immediately. “Did you used to model for the Ford agency?” I asked her. She almost fell out of my chair, because she couldn’t believe she was being recognized. She was Chris Royer, Supermodel of the 1970′s and ’80′s. I told her I recognized her because when I was in high school, I’d send away for the Ford modeling agency’s Model books. I’d call the agency, posing as a potential client looking to hire models and they’d send me their giant white bound books that showed all the models in their agency. I could look through any magazine and tell you not only the model’s name, but also her shoe size, height, waist size and eye color.
Chris was in a special section of the book called “Special Bookings”. These were the Ford agency’s superstars, like Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Teigs, Nancy De Weir. Chris was Halston’s favorite runway model and muse. Unlike the other models, whose pages showed various pictures of them – full body, swimsuit, headshots, Chris’ page had only one photo and it was an extreme closeup of her remarkable face. So when I met her, I recognized her instantly because I spent endless hours pouring over my Ford books!
As a result, we clicked right away and Chris told me that when she was modeling Way Bandy, the superstar makeup artist of that era had taught her a trick to shaping eyebrows. She picked up my little brush and taught me the six measurements Way taught her to do with the brush to dictate what the perfect brow shape would be.
Then she handed me my brush and said, “Ok, now do my brows!” I told her the whole measuring technique seemed very mathimatical (not my strong suit!) and that I’m afraid that if I try to shape her brows by following this measuring technique that I might ruin her brows. So she said, “Ok, I’ve heard good things about you, so forget the measuring trick and just do your thing” So I shaped one of her brows and then held up the mirror to show here the results. She loved it.
“She said, “Do the other one! Do the other one! wait, I want to see something” and she picked up my brush and did the measuring trick Way Bandy taught her on the brow I’d just shaped and it was perfect. That was the moment I realised that I have an eye for shaping brows and that I need to trust my instincts.
I recently posted on Facebook that I estimate that I’ve shaped over 156,000 eyebrows in the past 15 years. I was rounding down. As you can imagine, when one spends their days shaping, correcting, guiding other people’s eyebrows, you learn a few things about what a great eyebrow – or a badly shaped brow – says about a person. Eyebrows definitely tell a story. Is the person sophisticated? Affluent? Cheap? Visually impaired?
Maybe I’ve become a snob over the years, but to me, a person’s mental state and status seem incredibly obvious based on the eyebrows they’re sporting. You don’t often see poorly shaped brows in a cosmetics ad. None of Victoria’s Secret’s Angels have the dreaded hook.
See the photo below. Guess which one is a supermodel?
Of course, eyebrows are not simply either perfect or tragic. Most fall somewhere in between. It pains me to think that some people walk around perfectly content to have a mediocre appearance when its so easy to look great. One of my least favorite excuses that I’ve heard when someone with crazy brows asks me what I think of their eyebrows (they almost always know they dont look good) is “I’ll just have to keep grooming them if I start” to which I reply “So are you also never going to shower again? Or get a haircut? because you have to repeat those things too.”
Average eyebrows dont upset me as much as really bad brows. The ones that don’t scream “Good Mental Health” – those are the ones I’d like to get my hands – and tweezers – on.
Sometimes, bad brows say, “I’m mentally unbalanced” or “I’m in a gang” or “Yes, I do Crystal Meth, Why do you ask?”
When the police were chasing Andrew Cunanan for allegedly killing Gianni Versace, I knew he was guilty. He had the eyebrows of an escaped mental patient.
If your brows look remotely like the photo above, please just turn yourself in to your local authorities.
Having a fully actualised eyebrow – not too thin, not too short, not too far apart – is the easiest way to perfect your appearance short of plastic surgery. It’s like makeup that you don’t remove. Everyone can tell which of the pictures above is a beautiful model with classic eyebrows and which photo is the drug addled mere mortal. Just as you can tell who is who, so can the rest of the world, even if it’s on a subconcious level.
So when you think about grooming your brows, it should be more than an afterthought. Give your eyebrows – and your face – the attention they deserve!
Would you believe the two models pictured are wearing the same shades of makeup? Well, they are! Obviously, their concealer and foundation match their skintone, but the Pure Radiance pressed powder, Alive Blush, Perfect Eyeliner, eyeshadows and Chutzpah Lipstick are the exact same on both models.
Many of you know my philosophy of beauty is Minimum Makeup, Maximum Impact! and I’m truly a minimalist when it comes to makeup. Part of that philosophy lends itself to using universally flattering shades that compliment every skintone and ethnicity. It’s a tough lesson to sell, as most women want to enjoy a huge selection of colors where they can pick and choose. The fact is, the shades I offer are the ones you actually end up wearing. Turquiose eyeshadow is fun, but how often are you really going to wear it? Neutrals and warm shades can enhance your God given good looks without drawing attention to the makeup itself and choosing unversal shades take the guesswork out of it.
Beauty and symmetry are universal truths. Regardless of ethnicity and varying cultures, we all know beauty when we see it. We all know a jacked up eyebrow when we see it too. This past summer I was in Zurich, Switzerland and could not help but notice what was happing there with the local’s eyebrows. Many women looked as though they never groom their brows at all, but the ones who did seemed to remove the eyebrow completely and then tattoo a brow higher up on their forehead in jarring black or blue colors. Not a good look.
The men, on the other hand, either also did nothing to groom their brows, or, worse, had them waxed dramatcially in a very obvious and overdone manner. I would see handsome, masculine men with great hair, cool clothes and only half an eyebrow. They looked like weekend drag queens – the polar opposite of “Guybrows”, my subtle technique for brow shaping for men. In Italy, the same holds true. People are either completely au natural when it comes to their brows, or terribly overdone, as though they are preparing to visit the Jersey Shore.
I’m fascinated by the cultural differances. We all want to look our best, yet sometimes it does seem better to do nothing as opposed to having your eyebrows butchered. The bad brow jobs are not just happening in Europe. It’s happening across the country here in the United States because in small towns they may not have the options found in larger cities.
I had a candidate interview with me to work at one of my Brow Bars. She brought in a model with very heavy brows and proceeded to shape them beautifully. Why didn’t I hire her? She shaved off her own brows completely and drew them back on with what appeared to be a black sharpie magic marker. I asked her if she thought her model’s thick, well shaped brows looked good and she said, “Yes, I think they’re beautiful” so I said, “Wouldn’t you like to have fully actualised brows like that?” and she said, “No. I like mine thin”. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she looked crazy and potential clients would run screaming from her if she worked for me. But this was her taste. And she lives here in New York City! I was secretly hoping she’d say her brows just won’t grow in but I could tell they would if she let them and she admitted as much. I told her that if she lets them grow in, I’ll shape them for her and hire her, but I never saw her again.
So its not just cultural, its also a matter of personal preferance. For the most part, beauty is universal and clients are on the same page as you and love their eyebrows when shaped optimally, but once in awhile, I’ll get someone who comes in with extremely thin, badly shaped brows and requests that I make them even thinner. I’ll tell them to save their time and money. It just not going to happen. I’ll show them how to fill in their brows so they can see how a fuller brow is more flattering.
What is fascinating to me is that the bad brow shaping you see in Europe looks very much like the back brow shaping you might come across in Ohio. The same holds true for a beautiful eyebrow. A gorgeous brow shaping in Tel Aviv looks like the same gorgeous brow you might see in Florida – so some universal truths hold up all over the world. I guess the lesson here is, if you’re going to do it, do it right.
Help! I’m trapped on an island where we recently had an earthquake and a hurricane! This island is known as Manhattan, the epi-center of New York City, where, for the first time in the history of New York, the subways and public transportation were shut down, homes were evacuated and the general expectation was that we were about to get slammed with our very own “Hurricane Katrina” type storm. I’ve never seen my supermarket so swamped with people, buying anything they could grab. I was shocked to find everything I needed (wanted) to buy, in case I was going to be homebound for an indefinite amount of time.
As it turned out, Hurricane Irene was terrible for some parts of the country, but in Manhattan it was more of a tropical storm with a great publicist. She was on every news channel and newspaper, generally terrorizing us, but in reality was thankfully anti-climactic for most of us in the city. I ended up enjoying a weekend in my apartment having Chinees food delivered and catching up on my DVR and watching movies. Of course, I wanted to hit the gym, but darn it, they were closed due to the incriment weather!
While suffering cabin fever and staring at my beauty closet (a coat closet I converted to house all the skincare, haircare and assorted beauty products I bought or recieved in swag bags – a veritable Sephora, right in my own apartment, like the magical wardrobe in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” – a magical door leading to a new world of better skin, more managable hair, longer eye lashes and fuller lips. This got me thinking that being trapped by a hurricane is the perfect time to play and experiment and have an at home spa day.
So here are some things you can do next time you know you’re going to be homebound (maybe even plan ahead and buy some of these provisions. Who needs so much canned soup anyway?
1. Color Me a Recluse – Color your hair – especially if you don’t already get it done at the salon. There are many great temporary haircolors to try at home without a permanent commitment. Natural Instincts is great.
2. Mask it Baby! -Apply Masks – Face mask, eye mask, lip mask, etc. Mask it all, and lay down for a nap! When you awaken and rinse you’ll feel brand new.
3. Deeper and Deeper! – Deep Condition your hair. Use either a traditional hair mask or opt for Coconut oil, or Olive oil or Mayonnaise for really dry hair! The mayo smells awful, but once you wash it out, your hair will feel silky.
4. Lash Out! -Tint your lashes – follow the instructions carefully if you’ve never done this yourself before, but this is the perfect time to try it.
5. Multi Task -Give yourself a full on mani/pedi. Scrub your hands and feet if you dont have the tools to do this, then apply a facial scrub to hands and feet, massage and rinse. Then trim nails, fix those cuticles and buff or polish to your heart’s content.
6. Call me if you mess them up – Clean your Brows – pluck the obvious strays and don’t allow your boredom to let you get carried away. Just a little clean up since you have the time.
7. Shop – online is ideal while stuck at home, as long as your electricity stays on – but if you’re in a bad relationship,follow steps 1 through 6 and then go out for essentials and don’t go back!