Makeup lessons for my girlfriend
September 8, 2008 10:17 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend admittedly struggles with makeup, so her routine is quite simple. Can anybody in the New York area recommend a great place to learn how to apply makeup, get makeup tips, and purchase makeup in person with a stylist. I am looking for a business, stylist, or salon in Manhattan. Excellent customer service is key and somewhere they will take the time to teach (willing to pay for lessons) here how and what makeup to apply and not something like going to Macy's to the makeup counter. Open to paying for lessons, makeovers, etc. Any ideas?
posted by bobadoci to Shopping (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
MAC is expensive, but the girls there are really good. i had problems with dry skin, concealer, and knowing what lipstick to get - we tried some different things, she put stuf on me, talked me through it, and wrote all the products down on a card so i'd know what to get next time. i believe i went to the one that's close to times square.

when i was a teenager, i bought all the Kevin Aucoin books. looks like he has his own line of products and make up tips and lessons here. it also has an "ask the expert" section.
posted by nadawi at 10:32 AM on September 8, 2008

also - googling makeup how to video, i got this page which might be useful.
posted by nadawi at 10:33 AM on September 8, 2008

I'm assuming that this is your girlfriend's idea and you're just posting on her behalf, rather than you just wanting her to be prettier. (If it's the latter, expect to get a lot of flak.) So, with that assumption in mind...

I've never been to NYC so can't help you with the live makeup lesson recommendations, but I've gleaned a ton of makeup knowledge from MakeupAlley and Specktra - there are lots of wonderfully informative tutorials with photos. There are also several Livejournal communities with makeup tips and tutorials; Eyeshadow Sluts is one of my favorites.

I have also heard wonderful things about Kevyn Aucoin's Making Faces.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with a simple makeup routine, as long as it's done well. (And any makeup artist worth their moisturizer will show her how to do something good in under five minutes.) Plenty of women look a lot better with just a light dusting of powder and a quick swipe of non-volumizing mascara than the full-on Tara Reid raccoon-eyes look. I adore makeup and can happily spend an hour on my face for special occasions, but I almost never wear makeup during the day and I look fine.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:43 AM on September 8, 2008 [3 favorites]

My only real cosmetics experience for a long time was stage make-up for ridiculous bands I was in, which, as you can probably guess, is not an appropriate "daytime" look for most people.

Maybe a month before I got married, Mr. Hybridvigor and I went to the Macy's makeup counters. I went to a few-- Clinique and MAC were the best, I thought. I sat down and said I needed to learn eye makeup, and I needed my boyfriend to watch so he could teach me later. So, she talked me through it, and I watched in a mirror, and he watched and drew diagrams of what they did. Later, I was able to re-create the eyes by his notes and my own memory. It turned out well, and now I'm pretty good at makeup.

Best of all, the makeup counters are free! Unless you buy their stuff at the same time, which is highly possible if you like what they did. I would recommend her just walking around any department store's cosmetics area and looking for girls behind the counter whose style of makeup she likes.
posted by hybridvigor at 10:59 AM on September 8, 2008

The perfect choice is Filis Forman, a Manhattan makeup artist. You can reach her at And see, which will have additional contact information.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:59 AM on September 8, 2008

MAC, Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown.

Hardcore, theater type tips needed? Alcone.

Buy all the Kevyn Aucoin books (may he rest in peace). He was the master. Simply the best.
She can go get the lessons and get the pricey makeup (for somethings it does matter-- foundation and shadow; less so for lipstick), but she should go to the drug store and buy a bunch of cheapies, take them home, and one night when she is not doing anything, make herself up over and over. Pile it all on in many different ways-- she needs to learn the contours of her face. The professional advice is good, but she eventuall has to hold the brushes herself.

Oh, she needs really good brushes. Yes, she does. No, it is not an option!

Avoid makeup tips from the people at Sephora. They are good, but they are not as extensively trained as some of the other places I mentioned.
posted by oflinkey at 11:05 AM on September 8, 2008

Sorry, in a rush. Excuse the typos.
posted by oflinkey at 11:06 AM on September 8, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips folks.

@Metroid baby This is something she has been mentioning wanting to for awhile, so I thought it would be neat to do some research and see if there are any good makeup artists, stores, etc. to send her to on my dime for birthday or anniversary present.
posted by bobadoci at 11:16 AM on September 8, 2008

I recommend having someone at the Bobbi Brown or Laura Mercier counter at Saks help her out. I typically don't like letting make up counter folks touch my face, but pretty much any counter at Saks will have very talented people who are good at what they're doing. I'm just partial to Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier.
posted by Faithos at 11:27 AM on September 8, 2008

Thanks bobadoci - I figured as much but just wanted to make sure.

Incidentally, I think this is the nearest MAC Pro store. (The Pro stores do sell Pro products to regular people - they have much more stuff than the department store counters, plus those awesome customizable eyeshadow palettes.) You might want to call them and see if they offer lessons, but even if they don't they'll be willing to help her with questions. MAC is a great line and their staff is often wonderful.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:28 AM on September 8, 2008

If you are looking for more of a spa experience, I would suggest Eva Scrivo.
posted by spec80 at 11:33 AM on September 8, 2008

Avoid makeup tips from the people at Sephora.

This might be true, as I've never sought out a makeup specialist, but a bonus is that Sephora sells all kinds of makeup, so your girlfriend won't have to commit to one specific brand. She'll have more variety and more freedom to determine what's worth the money and what's too expensive or just unnecessary.

If she calls ahead and emphasizes that she's going to be dropping some cash for decent tips and pointers, they'll probably enlist a senior specialist to give her quality attention.
posted by zoomorphic at 12:22 PM on September 8, 2008

@Hybridvigor: and you and Mr. Hybridvigor both looked beautiful!

I second the MAC and Clinique counters at the department store. I would say, if there is an independent MAC store in your area, go there first because they will probably have more time and be less likely to push products. I've found MAC folks to be super-helpful, they are happy to share their knowledge and the products aren't too expensive. They also don't make skin care stuff so you don't have to worry about getting the hard sell on a $120 emu-oil moisturizer - the folks at MAC are much more interested in helping customers pick out the best shade of $12 brow pencil.
posted by abirae at 12:37 PM on September 8, 2008

I think this is a nice gift idea for someone who wants to learn more about using makeup!

Tobi Britton's Makeup Shop at 131 West 21st Street offers lessons. It's a cute store, and the folks working there always look great, but I don't know anyone who's taken lessons there.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:55 PM on September 8, 2008

Nthing MAC. Every time I've gone in there, they've just looked at me and known exactly what colors of everything would suit me, etc. Their make-up is very high quality as well.
posted by Nattie at 1:45 PM on September 8, 2008

I have a friend who taught me a lot and might be able to help your girlfriend. PM me through Metafilter and I'll give you the contact info.

High quality makeup and good brushes are key, then comes technique. If you want to choose one brand to go with you can then go to their store and get a makeup specialist do a class or a makeover. I like Lorac, Makeup Forever and Shadowbox a lot. Makeup
Forever has stores in NYC and you and you can have them custom blend foundation for you which is a really nice treat. They also have really great translucent powder which I highly recommend. For eyeshadow you want a brand that is highly pigmented and any of the above brands I mentioned fits that bill.

I'm not sure I'd trust the makeup people at Sephora to teach me much but the store has a LOT of choices and it will allow you to pick and choose what you like without getting stuck in one brand.

In the end, I would suggest getting lessons from a makeup artist and have her suggest what colors are good and what brands she likes, and then just go shopping and practice a lot. That's what worked for me!
posted by kenzi23 at 3:19 PM on September 8, 2008

I don't really wear makeup but as a bridesmaid for a recent wedding the bride called in a friend who works at Sephora and she did an amazing job with all of our makeup taking into account our coloring, the lighting, etc. Then I saw her make up and was blown away by the look she gave herself, which was entirely different and very fresh. If you're interested in a personal recommendation from a stranger on the internet, drop me a Mefimail and I'll track down her information to pass on.

And I will recommend Kevin Aucoin's books to anyone - they're as fascinating as they are beautiful and they've made me much less apprehensive about attempting my own makeup when the occasion calls for it.
posted by oreonax at 4:04 PM on September 8, 2008

Sephora, for certain - they'll do free demos, product testers (and things to clean off product) are all over the store, and they have gobs of different makeup lines for every kind of situation.

This is a listing of NYC MUAs who do wedding packages, but if your girlfriend calls to find out what they charge for a simple lesson on basics with both a day/night look as takeaways, you're sure to find that the prices aren't nearly as insane as those listed for nuptial services.

This list is not wedding focused, and offers good descriptions of what each artist offers. There's even a specific link to filter by consultation instead of all the fancy, spendy stuff.

I'm going to nth Mr. Aucoin's books. He was a genius with makeup and knew how to explain it. The library will also have many other makeup books she can check out and do experiments from. This is how many people used to learn back in the olden days, and I highly recommend it ;]

Finally, send her to YouTube to search for makeup tutorials/demos. Finding basic instruction and even amazing effects makeup in a format that makes it easy to learn for free? Yay!
posted by batmonkey at 5:06 PM on September 8, 2008

i somehow missed the news of Kevyn Aucoin's passing. i am very sad. i just figured he hadn't put out a book in a while.
posted by nadawi at 5:36 PM on September 14, 2008

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