Mall Makeovers: 'I Wanted to Scare My Friends'

In Depth

Welcome back to Mall Makeovers where we send readers to, you guessed it, the mall for, you guessed it, a makeover. If you’d like to volunteer for an upcoming installment, send us an email.


Name: Katie

Beauty Routine: I have three sons between the ages of 11 and 5, so my beauty routine vacillates between “I’m just lucky I got a shower today. Here, let me at least put some mascara on so I don’t look like a blind alien” and “DAMMIT I will wear a full face of makeup, complete with shimmery blush because I am a human female and not just a lunch-making carpool driver.”

Fresno Trends: Fresno is essentially an overgrown farm town and makeup for Fresno ladies tends to show that: there’s lots of it and it has a lot of sparkles. False eyelashes are everywhere (even the gym!) and the full eyebrow trend hasn’t quite happened.

Process: Because of how sparkly Fresno is, I was hoping for a drag queen-type makeover; I was headed to a wedding shower after and I wanted to scare my friends.

My astonishingly beautiful (seriously, I think she was a princess) Sephora makeup artist took me through a very thorough tutorial on how to contour my face. She beeped my skin with some kind of camera device that told me my tone was a C707r (I made that up, but it was definitely a bunch of letters and numbers), helped me figure out my face shape (square), then proceeded to very gently apply layers of foundations and powders in probably five different shades. She even showed me the right way to hold a makeup brush (hold the brush way out toward the end, so you can’t apply too much force), which was very helpful because evidently I have been trying to murder my own face with my brushes all these years.

Outcome: Alas, my drag queen dreams were not realized, but I was happily surprised with the result. My skin looked glowy and all the layers of makeup didn’t feel gloppy. Because I am cheap and opted for the complementary makeover, my eyes were left bare but that was no biggie because I’m cheap! I swiped on some mascara and beige eyeshadow from the samples and I was all set.

At the wedding shower after, I aimed my face at a few people to show off my fancy free makeover. They were all of the opinion that the makeup was lovely and not in the least bit drag-queeny. My husband and boys, of course, could not tell the difference.


Name: Katie

Beauty Routine: Until the last few years, my usual beauty routine was mascara—and that’s it. Recently, though, I discovered the wonderful world of Urban Decay, which has changed my process a little. I’m only recently learning to branch out. Right now I use their Naked powder foundation, Perversion mascara, and the Naked on the Go palette for pretty much everything else. (I’m slowly learning to like pencil eyeliners: I like the ease of application of a liquid, but the softer lines of a pencil look better on me.)

Basically, though, I spend a lot of time applying makeup that, I hope, looks like I’m not wearing any. My one ostentatious choice is purple: purple anything. You have a weird lilac lip color? I’ll try it even though I know it won’t work! Bright purple eyeliner? Gee, I hope you have it in a pencil AND a liquid so I can really commit. My big makeup “splurge” in the last few years was a single shade Urban Decay eye-shadow called “Asphyxia,” which is—no surprise at all—purple.

Indiana Trends: Even though I’m originally from Dallas, I’ve been living in Evansville, Indiana for the better part of a decade, and I’ve noticed that makeup is very different “back home.” Dallas has an iconic image, sure, but I was surprised at how much uniformity I’ve seen in the Midwest region, as well. So instead of going to my comfort zone (the Urban Decay counter at Ulta), I started asking friends of mine who wore makeup what they would recommend a new makeup user try. The answer was, across the board, “Go to the Lancôme counter.” Happy to oblige, I made an appointment with Lindsey, the counter manager at Eastland Mall.

Process: As someone who had never had a “proper” makeover, I was shocked at Lindsey’s comprehensive knowledge. The Lancôme experience started with a complete skincare routine, including cleanser (with a Clarisonic), toner, serum, moisturizer, and eye cream. As she went, Lindsey explained why makeup adheres better to skin that has been exposed to serum and moisturizer (the serum absorbs the moisturizer) and how prepping your skin improves the performance of the makeup products. For me, this was one of the most interesting parts of the process: I’ve always known that there should be more steps than “wash with soap, hope for best,” but I’m overwhelmed when I hear all the products. By breaking down what everything did, I felt like I was better prepared to take care of my skin at home—which was a huge bonus for me. (She also explained other interesting things about products as we went, for example: “Many people think that if something is fragrance-free, it has fewer chemicals, but there is actually a chemical many companies have to use to get rid of fragrance.” The more you know!)

A few easy tricks she taught me: first, do skincare, then hair, then makeup. It gives your skincare materials a chance to work. She also explained why many brands have day and night creams—usually the day skincare is lighter and has some sunscreen in it, whereas the night cream is thicker and more moisturizing. If I’m honest, I always thought that was just a money grab, so it was interesting to hear the logic behind it.

Lindsey then began to discuss current trends while applying different kinds of makeup. About halfway through the process, I realized that I had never had a full makeover, and had probably never had a full face of makeup. It was a little otherworldly to feel the different places she would apply makeup—brushes had never really touched my forehead (where my bangs rest) or under my eye! A few trends she said are popular in our area right now are, of course, contouring—though “not the dark, Kardashian contouring. That’s on its way out,” she assured me. She worked with light, cool tones to contour on my face, but even after the makeup dried, it didn’t feel as though she had put much on. Overall, on my face, she used primer which felt great, foundation, and concealer.

When she moved to doing my eye makeup, she told me that because my eyes are green, purple eyeshadow is a good choice for me. I almost hugged her. However, first, she started with a base color called Kitten Heel. I asked if it was a trend, and she said, “Kitten Heel is not a trend, it’s a lifestyle necessity.” After telling me it was the world’s best eyeshadow, I was a little dubious, but by this time, she wasn’t letting me look in the mirror. We’d both become invested in the process, and she wanted to have a big “reveal.”

She used a primer on my eyelashes before applying mascara which apparently goes on white so you can see where to apply. She also had a mechanized mascara applicator that vibrated, so it was curling my eyelashes as it applied the mascara. This was all very futuristic and confusing.

Two of the biggest trends she’s seen in the Midwest right now are using a white eyeliner pencil to highlight parts of the eye, especially the waterline, and playing up thicker eyebrows. I instinctively loved the idea of white eyeliner because, as a child of the ‘90s, that sounded like what Middle School Katie considered beautiful. I have always had thick, heavy eyebrows, so I have never messed with them—however, Lindsey said that you want to use an eyebrow pencil to play up the natural angle of your eyebrow and color it in, and then use a colored gel. She finished off by applying a coral lip (and advised me to “always use the lip liner to color in your lip, because it adds to the lipstick’s staying power), and then used a sheer gloss over it. Finally, I was allowed to see my face.

Outcome: I was absolutely shocked. Though the Lancôme makeup is lightweight, it still felt like more makeup than I normally wear, so I was surprised at how natural much of it looked. I think my eyebrows were my biggest surprise: I actually bought the pencil, and have considered going back for the gel all week. I also agreed with her about Kitten Heel, and bought my own shadow.

I was stopped and complimented a few times that night, which is rare for me—however, the bigger surprise has been the subtle changes in my every day routine. Lindsey’s tricks are saving me time in the morning, but my makeup is more effective: I’ve actually had three co-workers stop me this week to comment on my eyes — mostly “I didn’t know you had green eyes!” — and one person actually complimented my eyebrows.


Name: Liz

Beauty Routine: I wear makeup every work day and for evenings out but on the weekends I will sometimes wear it, sometimes not, and maybe skip some steps. For the workday, I always wear a primer, undereye concealer, foundation, concealer, powder, mascara, brow gel and some kind of lip color. Depending on my outfit/mood/day I will add eye shadow and eye liner. I like lots of bold colors so I am not too timid, but I try not to use too much at once.

Chicago Trends: I’m a teacher so I work with women of a wide range of ages. Many wear makeup, either a bold lip color as well as eyeshadow/liner or full face makeup. Out and about in my area of the suburbs I tend to see what I would call “fresh-faced” looks and I do think that when I notice someone’s makeup it tends to be because it is very over the top. Most women tend to stick to the rule of playing up one feature at a time – eyes or lips.

Process: I went to the Nars counter at Nordstrom for this makeover. Overall it was fun experience because the woman doing my makeup was talkative and we had common interests. We talked about what I normally use/do and she suggested that I try different things.

She put a lot of products on me – primer, foundation, concealer, bronzer, blush, setting powder, three different shades of shadow, mascara, two different eyeliners, lip pencil and lip gloss. The gloss was very thick and overall I liked the look of my lips, but to me it doesn’t feel very daytime/work-like either. Plus it was annoying outside because my hair kept blowing into my sticky lips.

Outcome: I loved the eyeshadow, Himalia – the texture, shade and shimmer, and I bought that. I also purchased the blush, Mata Hari, because I am going to try to add that to my routine and the lip color, Never Say Never, because it is a more purpley shade; a bit outside of my comfort zone, but it works. My husband thought it all looked good but also thought the eyes were a bit heavy for daytime. Normally I do not wear eyeliner or mascara under my eyes — for me that was hard to get used to. I think it is too heavy for daytime, and it bothered me physically — my eyes felt itchy and I think it gave me a headache to have it in my line of vision. Maybe I’m just weird though?


Name: Alise-Ann

Beauty Routine: Pretty basic. I’ve always been timid with my makeup application, but want semi-even looking skin. On my usual work day I start with an oil control primer, SPF moisturizer for combination skin, concealer for my dark circles and blemishes and a mineral foundation. I’ll attempt to fill in my eye brows with either a powder or pencil depending on how much I’ve slept. I usually use a taupe eyeliner and a tiny bit of shimmery champagne eye shadow on the inner corners of my eyes. And then a bunch of brown mascara on my upper lashes.

Downtown Toronto Trends: Toronto is a very multicultural city with all sorts of things going on. That being said, because of my job right next to an art school and my social circle of mostly artsy types, I feel like I get a skewed exposure to makeup trends. On a daily basis I see a lot of hipster looks, cat-eye eyeliner and dark lips as well as bright colored EVERYTHING and a lot of experimentation. Heavy, filled in eye brows are on almost everybody. Quite a few “natural” makeup looks.

Process: I opted to go to my closest Sephora inside a mall for my makeover. They offer a 45 minute full face as long as you promise to buy $45 worth of anything when you’re finished. I can spend money in Sephora no problem so $45 does not seem like a lot to me. I phoned ahead to book an appointment a few days in advance.

I showed up there wearing make-up but that didn’t seem to be a problem! I was given a nice smelling wipe to remove everything. The artist in charge of my face asked what I had in mind and if I had any skin sensitivities. I opted for a day time work look with something fun. I have pink hair and sell art supplies, so my day look, as rationalized by the makeup artist, probably isn’t going to be the same as everyone else. I agreed.

Lots of things happened! She used a machine to figure out the Pantone shade to colour match my foundation as well as applying a rose water toner, under eye cream and moisturizer. Next she started on the eyes. She picked a large multicoloured, very vibrant palette and asked which colours I liked… and then choose different ones to apply? Ah well. I do like the result. On top of colors I also received eyeliner, filled in brows and loads of mascara. She managed to even get it on my lower lash line.

Concealer was applied to my under eye area and I was asked to point out any other places I’d like concealed. I pointed out some weird blemishes on my chin. I thought it was nice she asked this before concealing anything I didn’t think was that bad. It made me feel less self conscious about any pimples or redness I have.

Before doing any foundation the artist was kind enough to ask which I’d prefer. After some discussion we decided powder foundation would be easier and faster for me to do in the morning. Lipstick was minimal because I don’t really wear it and when I do, it never lasts. I’m always drinking water or biting my lips. As a final touch she added a little bit of blush, Deep Throat by Nars — a name I will always remember because that is hilarious.

Outcome: I like it! It certainly was not what I was expecting. I sent a photo to some friends, one even demanded I wear the look to work! I got a lot of compliments on how it looked with my hair. I bought a few of the products she used, the foundation and the concealer. I ended up getting a tiny blue eyeshadow in a similar shade she used with points I had.

Overall it was a lovely experience. I’ve never really had my makeup done professionally and I now wish I had someone to do this every morning.

Contact the author at [email protected].

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