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Inspired by a Brush With Cosmetic Greatness


Most women learn about makeup early in life. By the time we graduate from high school, our minds are made up about how to use eye shadow, mascara and lipstick. But every once in a while, someone comes along who breaks all our rules in a completely refreshing way.

Paula Dorf, a New York makeup artist for stars, TV actors, even presidents, was in town last week to promote her cosmetics line of the same name and to give makeup lessons. We ended up learning more than we thought possible. "I want women to really understand their faces, to have fun," Dorf said.

Dorf's line is decidedly classic--no glitter or fuchsia pinks here. Her typical customer is, she said, "25 to 65, a woman who has a sense of herself. I don't believe every woman can wear glitter over her eyes."

Dorf started out as an artist relations manager for a record company but quickly changed fields to become a makeup artist. Her first big job was in 1982, working with the rock band Kiss when they wanted to stop using full-face makeup. "I did the unmasking for them," she said. She has also worked with Billy Joel, the Bangles, Whitney Houston, Paula Abdul and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Dorf had a cameo in the Barbra Streisand film "The Mirror Has Two Faces," playing herself as a makeup artist who helps Babs blossom into a swan. (Dorf did her own makeup for the movie, but not Streisand's.)

She's prepped President Bill Clinton and wife Hillary, Mikhail Gorbachev and Bill Gates for photo shoots. She makes the actors in Hallmark commercials look natural.

And for the last two years, she's run her own cosmetics line--the Paula Dorf Cosmetic Collection--starting with brushes and later a full line of makeup.

We caught up with her at Apothia in Brentwood and got a refreshing makeup lesson.

* Lips and eyes should match in intensity. "When you walk into a room, you want your eyes and lips to walk in together."

* Use brushes to apply makeup. "Did Michelangelo use sponges?" she said. In more practical terms, sponges waste cream foundation and harbor bacteria. Before creating her own line, Dorf bought her brushes from art supply stores and cut them to fit her needs. The brushes in Dorf's new line are made of a synthetic named Tyklar for cream-based products and of Canadian blue squirrel fur (farmed and shaved) for powder-based ones.

She doesn't even use a brow pencil. Instead she brushes on a blend of eye shadow and her own liquid mixer, Transformer.

* Do the eyes first. "The eyes are the focal point of the face. They start to sparkle and you can do the rest of your face feeling great about yourself." And you don't have to worry about messing up your foundation.

* Apply eyeliner, stopping at the end of the eye, not the end of eyelid. If you go to the end of the lid, the eye will look droopy, she said.

* Dorf uses her own white primer before applying eye shadow. "If you're going to paint a wall, you prime it white. That way the true color goes on."

* Match the foundation to the skin color of your neck, but apply it just down to the neck. "Everyone's neck is paler than their face."

* To apply blush, smile and apply to the apple of your cheek and up to your hairline. "I believe in a cream blush after foundation and before powder, so it's almost like a stain."

* Blonds should try a chocolate instead of black mascara. And everyone should apply mascara with a brush rather than a wand. The brush applies more evenly.

* Put on lipstick before outlining your lips in pencil. Your mouth will be more defined and the pencil will have more of an effect.

* Reassess your makeup application occasionally. "We all get into ruts with our makeup."

Dorf's brushes ($16 to $60) are available in many cosmetics stores. Her cosmetics ($20 for concealer, $14 for mascara) are available at the Greenhouse Spas in Beverly Hills and Newport Beach and at Anne Ticipation in San Marino. For information: (888) 472-8523.

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