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Lights, Camera, Makeup Action

Who says no one likes a painted face? With Dinair's new airbrush, just spray it on and go.

May 23, 2000|BARBARA THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Everyone knows that makeup from the movies helps define the way the rest of us want to look. In the earliest days of Hollywood, women took beauty cues from makeup artist Max Factor, who popularized red lipstick and pancaked faces.

These days, advances in technology, including the advent of high-definition TV and more sophisticated lighting and cameras, are requiring more subtle shading than previous generations of makeup have provided. In what seems a perfectly logical progression, a local company has introduced the concept of makeup applied by airbrush.

Makeup artist Dina Ousley, a former child actress who runs a North Hollywood company called Dinair, has created an airbrush that applies foundation and other kinds of body paint. (Ousley, whose last big role was Warren Beatty's assistant in "Shampoo," co-starred as Jack Palance's daughter, Ellie, in the 1975 TV series "Bronk." She went to work as a makeup artist after tiring of the stress of acting.)

Since Ousley and her partner, George R. Lampman, developed spray-on makeup, they've done more than use the machine to help improve complexions. Ousley airbrushed "lingerie" on Playboy models for Hugh Hefner's 1999 New Year's Eve party. She spray-painted the go-go girls in the "Austin Powers" movies. Her airbrush system is also used on fashion runways. They also have a rental business; offering short-term use of the machines at parties where the faces of guests can be airbrushed with whimsical designs.

Recently, the couple offered the airbrush system for sale to consumers.

"The concept is really neat," said Cheri Botiz, Nordstrom's cosmetic products/market buyer for Southern California and Arizona. Still, Nordstrom only sells Dinair during special promotions because the system is very expensive and bulky for general consumers. (The machine and accessories cost $350-$475; makeup refills cost $16-$22.)

This fall, Dinair is expected to release a smaller, less expensive model, and Botiz is intrigued by what the next generation of this technology will bring.

In the last five years, cosmetics customers have become increasingly sophisticated and demanding, she said. "As new technology becomes available, consumers just grab it."

In the meantime, the world of high-definition TV and better film for movies proves to be a challenge for professionals, said Al Fama, business representative for Local 706, the Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild. "You have to be careful," he said. "If you use the old methods, you end up looking like a pumpkin, or heavily made up."

Two other companies make spray-on makeup devices for the entertainment business, but they use alcohol-based makeup (as opposed to Dinair's water-based system) and are employed mostly for special effects.

Rita Green, makeup artist for the weeknight Channel 5 newscasts, has been using the Dinair system for the last four years. When Channel 5 began using high-definition technology, she did a lot of testing with regular makeup and spray-on.

"With traditional makeup, it was generally put on so heavy that people were better without it," Green said.

And the spray-on technique, which allows less makeup to be used and creates smoother looking skin, helped with her print and movie work as well. Green, who works a lot with actress Gena Rowlands, said the actress is relieved her makeup can be applied by airbrush.

"She adores it," Green said. "We can use it from head to toe on her. And we can give her a tan on her legs if she doesn't feel like wearing pantyhose."

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