FOR THE FIRST time in several seasons, beauty experts are emphasizing a polished but natural look for Asian and black women that stays true to their skin tones and plays up their features. Instead of trying to adapt the latest cosmetic palettes for whites, these women will be basing their fall makeup on shades designed with them in mind.
The new approach is devoid of color clutter: no shining red or fuchsia lips; no multi-shadowed eyes; no vibrant red or purple blushers on ebony or mocha skin; no bright pink or coral cheek rouge on pale bisque Asian complexions. If blusher is worn, it is used only to create a subtle contour in the cheek.
The most important element is foundation, which should be matched perfectly to the natural complexion, according to makeup artist John Matsuura of Bumble + Bumble, one of Manhattan's trendiest beauty salons. "People should be complimenting a woman's face, not her makeup," he says, "so a foundation must just even out the natural tones and cover minor flaws, not change the color."
Prudence Walters, a British makeup artist whose work has been featured on the covers and editorial pages of international fashion magazines, observes that "high-fashion Asian girls are looking totally natural. It's a much younger look." Walters, who uses powdered foundations for a matte finish or no foundation at all on models of Asian heritage, adds that last year's "pasty foundations," which whitewashed Asian skin to an extreme Kabuki look, are definitely passe.
Foundation is also critical to the new trend in black beauty. Monochromatic makeup, in which one family of color keys the entire face, starts with a foundation that creates a flawless, natural-looking finish. According to Mikki Garth-Taylor, beauty and cover editor of Essence magazine, lip and eye colors should not contrast with the complexion. She adds that eye and lip colors in the same color family as foundation make the features--not artificial colors--the most important aspect of the face.
Mascara may be the single most important eye cosmetic this season. Luxurious lashes eliminate the need for strong eyeliner and bright shadows. Mari Chihaya, spokeswoman for Shiseido Cosmetics, says that Asian women in the United States and in the Orient are defining lashes dramatically with black and dark brown mascara. "Until very recently, Asian women were somewhat hesitant to wear much mascara, but now Asians are highlighting the lashes and it looks very natural," she says. The look may have been precipitated by Japan's big trend of 1986 among young women: blue-, green- or gold-flecked artificial eyelashes. This year, however, natural-looking faux lashes--or dark mascara only--is the freshest-looking choice.
The monochromatic palette for black women calls for eye shadows one or two shades lighter than the foundation to accentuate the lid and lashes. Matsuura suggests an earthy brown, grape or brick color that can be blended carefully for a subtle hint of shadow. Liner, he says, should be worn only at the roots of the lashes, or not at all. "Most important," he says, "no frosted colors on the eyelid. The entire face should have a soft, matte finish. No glimmer and shine."
Serge Lutens, the Paris-based image director of Shiseido, rims the entire eye with liquid or pencil eyeliner. But according to Prudence Walters, most young Asians are opting for a more natural-looking eye. "They used to want the European look. Now when I suggest keeping the look natural, they're totally open to it." Matsuura says he keeps eyeliner to a minimum, "and the line itself is always straight, not curved or slanted. I never want to detract from the natural shape of the eye."
Lori Hegedus, Los Angeles regional training director for Shiseido Cosmetics, says that defined eyebrows are an important part of the new natural look for Asians.
"We don't create a new shape--no arch if it isn't there
to begin with--but we fill in, if the brow is sparse, to create a frame for the eye," Hegedus says.
Although many women of all races will continue to wear the bold, red mouth this fall, makeup artists say that the newest lip color is a neutral brown, especially for black women.
"I use brown pencil--with no red in it--on the lips," Walters says. "It has a flat, matte finish and it lasts the longest." Another option for Asian women is colorless lip gloss, she says.
Matsuura chooses shades of pecan, slightly lighter than the complexion. "Anything that looks wet, greasy or super-glossy is old-fashioned. The texture and shape of the lips are what's important. A neutral matte look is more direct, more straightforward." And it is the ideal way to let the beauty of ethnic features come through.
Hair and makeup by Beth Katz / Cloutier.