Our makeup artist Lauren Cosenza supports trying anything in the quest for self-expression. Each month she pushes our cosmetic boundaries beyond the beauty comfort zone. In this edition she asks a friend to change things up by trying out a makeunder.
No-makeup makeup is a look many women would love to perfect, except my friend Brenda Della Casa.
Brenda is a relationship writer who penned the popular dating book, Cinderella Was a Liar: The Real Reason You Can't Find (or Keep) a Prince. She is also the managing editor of the men’s wedding website, I Am Staggered USA, and has contributed to magazines, including Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Redbook. I have known Brenda since college and she has always marched to the beat of her own drum when it comes to style. She wears open-toe platforms in snowstorms, sequins to brunch and full makeup for all occasions.
So when I suggested to her that I give her a makeunder and she agreed, I only half believed her. In fact, I was anticipating her last-minute exit strategy.
Brenda showed up for her beauty dare, though, and the results were amazing.
Here are the 10 quick-and-easy steps I took to create a full makeup look that appeared as hardly any makeup at all.
Step 1: I prepped Brenda’s skin with the intensely nourishing and hydrating Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè 24-Hour Miracle Cream using a buffing brush. Proper skin care and the use of primers to improve the appearance of skin is a must for a natural look, since it allows for less makeup.
Step 2: I applied a thin layer of Garnier BB Cream Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector with the same buffing brush that was softened by the priming moisturizer for a more natural and even application.
Step 3: I brightened Brenda’s undereye area, as well as around her nose and mouth, with a YSL Touche Élcat Radiant Touch pen.
Step 4: With the champagne-tinted Josie Maran Argan Illuminizer, I accentuated Brenda’s high cheekbones and defined her cupid’s bow.
Step 5: I added to this faux glow with an allover sweep of MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural powder.
Step 6: For a touch of sheer color, I tapped Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush in Peach Satin onto Brenda’s cheeks.
Step 7: I dusted Brenda's lids with a wash of Bodyography Expressions in Camel and rimmed her top and bottom lash lines with Bodyography Expressions in Sun Ray.
Step 8: I ran It Cosmetics No-Tug Anti-Aging Waterproof Silk Eyeliner in Bronze lightly along her lower lash lines.
Step 9: I glided Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Gel Eyeliner in Brown tightly along her upper lash lines, as well as onto the tips of her lashes.
Step 10: I finished the look with Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Intense lipstick in Satin Nude.
Here is what Brenda had to say about her makeunder:
Who are your beauty icons and how have they influenced you?
I grew up watching classic films, which introduced me to Vivien Leigh, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner and the single most influential woman in my life, Marilyn Monroe. I fell in love with Marilyn the moment I saw her onscreen. I've watched every one of her movies, read every biography, collected hundreds of photos and studied everything about her style. I very much learned what I know about "womanhood" from Marilyn. I later discovered Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor and Sharon Tate, who are also all icons.
How did you learn to do your makeup?
I did not have a mother present to do my hair and teach me how to do my makeup, so I looked to photos of Marilyn, Sharon, Brigitte and even Playboy Playmates like Pamela Anderson instead. The latter might surprise some. But being that Hef is a huge fan of Marilyn's and a lot of the Playmates are made up to look like her, it makes sense.
What are your feelings on makeup?
Makeup makes me feel glamorous. I wanted to be a 1950s movie star my entire life and I dress and live like one as much as I can. I don't go outside without mascara and am rarely without Bardot eyeliner.
Do you use makeup to hide or enhance things?
I am not about to pretend I don't use makeup to hide things! I will conceal a dark circle in record time, but I also use it to play dress-up. I'll light a candle and put on Edith Piaf or Ella Fitzgerald and have a ball. Doing my makeup puts me in a good mood.
How did you feel when I asked you to do this dare?
A lot of people who don't know me would say, "This is no big deal." But those who do know me were as nervous as I was. Vanity is my sin.
How did you feel after the makeunder?
At first I felt a little exposed, but I felt fresh and current when the look was done. It was natural, but sun-kissed and glamorous. Very Sophia Loren in Naples! Of course, going out that evening without my signature look was scary. I felt lucky I was going to a bar for a birthday and not a lounge. And at times I did feel a little naked and wanted to sneak in some liner on my lips and my eyes, but I held my end of the bargain.
This was a huge transformation for you. How did people react to the dare?
They loved it! A woman on the street pointed and told her friend to "look at that pretty girl" during the photo shoot. A guy in my neighborhood told me I looked like a princess. When I met my girlfriend Kaley, she squealed, "Your makeup looks amazing! Your eyes look so much better and less harsh!" My guy friends all told me I looked beautiful. And I was approached by several guys at the bar—something that never happens—and I think it's because I looked more approachable and confident in my skin.
Would you re-create this look or parts of it?
Absolutely! I'll actually try to re-create all of it, plus a little more eyeliner, mascara and a lined lip. I am a big fan of the brown and gold shades. I have incorporated the tips into my regimen, too. My makeup looks fresh and less cakey and everything glows.
Do you now think less is more? More is more? Or does it just depend on the day, the occasion and the mood?
I have always believed that less is more, but didn't know how to apply that to my face in a way that created the effect I wanted. I now understand that you can still have a full-face effect with the right products and lighter shades. Also, knowing proper application and tricks are time- and face-savers.
Photos: Aisha Singleton