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Corrective makeup conceals flaws, flatters faces

| Thursday, July 10, 2003

Karin Neilson says corrective makeup has transformed not only her appearance, but her entire life.

"People I haven't seen in years all say I look so much better and so much younger," says the 50-ish Downtown businesswoman.

Neilson and others are taking advantage of corrective techniques offered by Wendy Fitos, a professional makeup artist and licensed esthetician at Jacques Dessange Paris Salon and Spa in Shadyside.

Neilson was one of Fitos' first clients and has been using corrective makeup for about a year.

"She's transformed the way I cleanse, the way I moisturize ... everything," Neilson says.

Fitos begins the corrective process by applying a creamy foundation to Neilson's face with a soft brush. The makeup fills in fine lines, enlarged pores and evens out red tones around Neilson's nose and chin. She softens up the eye area using a "pat and roll" technique so as not to stretch and irritate the skin with harsh rubbing.

Finally, she chooses the colors of eye shadow, blush and lipstick that complement Neilson's fair skin, blond hair and blue eyes.

"Wow, look at this," Neilson says, gleaming at her reflection. "I just love coming here."

When Fitos is finished, Neilson doesn't appear as though she's wearing heavy makeup at all.

And that's the whole point.

"The goal is to hide imperfections in the skin and create a flawless complexion," says Fitos, who studied theater makeup in college and worked previously at makeup counters at several local department stores. "I use the makeup to enhance and bring out a client's best features."

Corrective makeup conceals major and minor skin flaws or conditions such as rosacea, acne, scars, birthmarks and age spots. It can also be used to brighten the appearance and boost the self-esteem of cancer patients, burn victims or those with birth defects, such as cleft palate.

Fitos, who first got interested in makeup as a teenager suffering from acne, says she began studying corrective techniques in-depth after a friend was diagnosed with liver cancer.

"She wanted to have a final family portrait taken, but she was extremely jaundiced and her skin was very yellow, so she asked me to do her makeup," Fitos says. "The picture turned out beautiful, so that became my inspiration."

Softer, warmer and smoother are the words that best describe the type of corrective makeup Fitos uses. She works with a brand called Cover FX that was developed by dermatologists for patients in a Toronto hospital.

Instead of a heavy foundation that darkens the complexion, Cover FX uses natural pigments that blend with natural tones in the skin. According to the company Web site -- www.coverfx.com -- the makeup effectively conceals Lupus, melasma, vitiligo, psoriasis, tattoos, surgical scars and redness, varicose and spider veins, and a host of other conditions.

"Instead of making the skin look darker, as many foundations do, it brings out a healthy natural glow," Fitos says.

Cover FX is also oil-free and fragrance-free and contains SPF. Jacques Dessange is the only salon in Pittsburgh to carry the brand, which was developed for all ethnic skin types including Asian, Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Indian and African-American.

"The advantages of this makeup is that it stays on longer and doesn't run, yet it's light enough to be worn every day," Fitos says.

Neilson says she likes the subtle tones of corrective makeup.

"The colors are not garish or unnatural looking," she says. "I'm always happy when I leave here."

Neilson says she was "makeup challenged" before meeting Fitos.

"I didn't know what colors looked good, or even how to apply makeup, but Wendy has given me so many options and alternatives for day and evening."

Neilson, who travels, meets with clients and gives business presentations regularly, needs a versatile makeup that keeps up with her lifestyle.

"I like to use as little as possible so that it doesn't feel heavy," she says. "Wendy has a very holistic approach."

Once taught the proper methods of application, Fitos says most women can learn to do their own makeup in about 10 minutes. A consultation and corrective makeup application with Fitos costs $35. Cover FX foundation and other products range from $24 to $40.

"For the most part, it's not hard to do yourself, which is good, because today, women don't like to spend too much time on their hair and makeup."

Fitos begins a consultation by looking for her client's best feature -- the eyes, cheekbones or smile -- and then uses the makeup to enhance that feature and play down other flaws.

"I've yet to have a client that I can't find something pretty about," she says.

Fitos most often works with people who have rosacea, broken capillaries, acne, age spots and wrinkles. And although she has worked with a few men, most of her clients are women between the ages of 30 and 70 who are interested in anti-aging techniques.

"I love it when a woman leaves my chair saying she feels so much better," says Fitos, who has worked at the salon for about a year. "My goal is to teach these techniques, not just sell the product."

Fitos uses basic foundation, warm blush and lip gloss on Bonnie Teng, 23, of Shadyside.

"Bonnie has some darker pigment spots, which are very common in Asian skin," Fitos explains.

Teng says that although she is new to the corrective makeup technique, she is pleased with its overall effect.

"I really like the way it makes me look," she says.

Fitos, who is in negotiations to provide services at the Hillman Cancer Center, says that's her goal with any client, no matter what their skin type or condition.

"As a young girl, I had very low self-esteem, and then I got into cosmetics. Now, I feel like I'm 12 years old again, playing in my mother's makeup," she says.

How to conceal imperfections


No matter what brand of makeup you use, Wendy Fitos, professional makeup artist at Jacques Dessange Paris Spa and Salon in Shadyside, offers these tips for effectively concealing scars, blemishes, discolorations and other imperfections:

  • Match foundation as close to your skin tone as possible. Avoid shades that are darker than your natural color.

  • Less is more. When applying foundation or concealer, use as little as possible to cover the scar or red area.

  • Start with the eye area. Cover dark circles and other problem areas first, then blend over entire face, using a brush for best coverage.

  • Add powder and blush to give the skin more color and glow.

  • Select eyeshadow that contrasts with your eye color. For blue or green eyes choose shades of coral, copper, peach, plum or brown. Those with brown eyes can wear almost any color.

  • Choose brown eyeliner for day and black for evening. Apply to top lid and corner of bottom lid only. Then blend and soften lines with a brush.

  • When applying mascara, brush lashes out to the side instead of upward to make eyes appear bigger and younger.

  • Select warm colors for lips based on the shade of eyeshadow.

    -- Alyson Walls
    Additional Information:

    Details

    To schedule a consultation or to purchase Cover FX corrective makeup, contact Wendy Fitos at Jacques Dessange Paris Salon and Spa, 802 S. Aiken Ave., Shadyside, (412) 621-1900.

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