For Sunta Izzicupo, a Los Angeles television executive, having her makeup done for her wedding day was "one way to treat myself. I knew I'd be nervous, so I wanted to relax and let a professional do my makeup. It was one less thing to think about."
When it was time to take last year's holiday greeting-card picture, Karen Locke, a Santa Monica housewife, called in a Hollywood makeup man to do her face. Not that she wanted to look like a movie star, "but I wanted to look my best. I've done this for the last few years, and every time I look back at the Christmas cards I'm happy about the way I look."
These women have taken personal beauty and maintenance a step beyond the pricey haircut, the weekly manicure and facial and the thrice-weekly exercise class. They've surpassed the free application of makeup offered by consultants at department-store cosmetics counters. Now they're paying professionals to put their faces on for them.
Once thought of only as behind-the-scenes servants of the rich and famous, makeup artists in this country's metropolitan hubs are now building clientele among the notably unrich and unfamous. Women from varying socioeconomic levels are beginning to set aside the time and money to let makeup experts fiddle with their faces.
Andy Lee, resident artist at JosephMartin salon in Beverly Hills, says he's booked early in the morning, at lunchtime and late in the afternoon to accommodate the schedules of busy women. Lee's clientele includes active socialites such as art aficionado Marcia Weisman and media powerhouse Wallis Annenberg, but he notes that recently more secretaries and boutique clerks have been coming in. They're adjusting their budgets to find ways to pay $50 for his 90-minute application and lesson. "Now they're realizing that proper makeup application is another part of good grooming," Lee explains.
Eugenia Weston, who says that her Senna Cosmetiques salons have catered to celebrities such as Linda Gray, Bette Midler and Lesley Ann Warren, concurs. Well-known faces are just the frosting on her cake. Most of her customers are working women and housewives, she says. And although this relatively new breed of client has long associated makeup artistry with stage and screen stars, Weston says most of her customers do not bring unrealistic expectations to their sessions: "They just want to look 10 years younger for special occasions such as formal parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs and benefits. Occasionally, a new client will come in and ask for 'Donna Mills eyes,' but most of the time they want a natural look--something young and fresh."
For a growing number of fast-track career women, putting on the appropriate face for business meetings, job interviews and corporate dinners has become a necessity, not a luxury. And they're having their daytime makeup done more frequently, according to Danton Thompson, director of the makeup division of Christine Valmy Schools in New York City. "These aren't women who don't know how to put on their own makeup. But for certain occasions they want their faces to look perfect. That's when they turn to a professional."
Anxious to speed their morning beauty routine, most women apply their own makeup in 15 minutes or less. Not so the professional makeup artist. It typically takes an artist at least 30 minutes to complete daytime makeup and about an hour to create more glamorous looks for evening. "I do corrective work that most women would never dream of doing. That takes time," says Thompson, who charges $125 for a one-hour makeup application and lesson in his Upper West Side studio and $150 for house calls. An hour with Eugenia Weston or one of her staff artists commands $35 to $45 for salon work and $150 for in-home service. "They want their faces to look flawless, and they want a fashionable look, so they are willing to pay for it," she says.
A visit to the makeup artist isn't always just for looks. A new approach to cosmetics is sometimes a first step toward other changes. Free-lance Hollywood makeup artist Jeff Angell says many women who are contemplating cosmetic surgery come to him for consultations. "By changing the illusion of the facial structure with makeup, a woman can see what a face lift will do for her. Then she has the confidence to go on for the surgery. Some women are so amazed with what can be done with corrective cosmetics that they decide they don't need surgery. It can work either way," he says.
Perhaps some women long for a taste of movie-star pampering--and perhaps a bit of glitz--and turn to makeup artists to fulfill their fantasies. But for most women, a makeup artist performs a real-life service--much the same as a top-notch hairdresser who knows the power of a great cut and color to transform a woman's appearance. And just as a client can relax while her trusted hair stylist works his or her magic, a woman who has confidence in her makeup artist can settle back while an expert makes her look and feel more attractive. As Andy Lee at JosephMartin puts it, "My clients are busy women. When they sit down to have their makeup done, they get a break in their day. And for many of them, it is the only break they get."