Yesterday, we dropped by Barneys New York for a bit of breakfast and a make-up/skincare primer (couldn't help it) with in-house beauty guru Jason Ascher. This job isn’t just about giving beauty tips to his clients; the role encompasses responsibilities as a resident make-up artist, beauty/haircare/fragrance/skincare expert, and personal shopper (plus, he’s happy to upsell clients — literally — upstairs to the shoe department or the Lanvin boutique for ensembles to match their new glow). Oh and his services are free-of-charge, although we can’t be held responsible for any impulsive purchases made following a consultation.
Ascher was on hand to convince us to trade in nude lips for bold ones, remind us to, please, please clean our makeup brushes, and introduce some new exclusive beauty lines launching at Barneys, including: Arquiste Perfumeur (“not your grandmother’s Shalimar”), Kre-at Beauty False Eyelashes (complete with a handy applicator tool), Radical Skincare (moisturize your necks, ladies!), Serge Normant haircare, Rodin Olio Lusso skin products, Claudio Riaz brushes and makeup, Hourglass brushes and cosmetics, and Astier de Villotte fancy candles. Here’s what we learned:
1. There is a slight skincare transition involved for the weather change into Fall.
Time to put the light and/or oil-free moisturizers in the back shelf and put the heavier moisturizers back into rotation. Even if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, heavy is OK. Ascher suggests layering the heavier product into specific areas that need the extra moisturization, such as the chin and between the eyebrows. No need to slather it on your entire face.
2. A layer of skincare product does more than moisturize. It basically protects you from, well, New York City.
If you can’t visualize it, Ascher will scare you straight. “A nice hygienic layer of good skincare and/or makeup protects your skin from what’s really - let’s face it - a dirty city,” he warns. “If you’ve left your window open for one day, and then run your finger across the window sill…that’s on your face.” Get us some cleanser, stat.
3. The top three items that Ascher thinks every woman should have in their skincare repertoire for the Fall?
- An SPF product of at least 20 or 25 and with UVA/UVB protection - 15 is not enough and he really likes the Chantecaille SPF 50 primer.
- A tinted moisturizer, which is a happy compromise between a full-strength foundation and an oil-free one.
- A good lip balm.
4. Bottom line: Physical exfoliants and scrubs are not recommended.
Course scrubs and exfoliators can aggravate and scratch delicate skin, especially for complexions that are irritation and/or breakout-prone and those with rosacea. (So, basically everyone.) Ascher recommends fruit acid infused-pads or a night-time mask with a bit of retinol, hydroxy or fruit acid.
5. And contrary to popular belief, if you have a good skincare regimen, you only need to get a facial two to four times a year.
That’s straight from Ascher and his dermatologist, who recommends, “top of every season”.
Namely a navy eye — be it eyeliner, shadow, and/or mascara — because blues and navy tend to brighten the whites of the eyes, and a bold fuchsia lip.
7. And the next obvious question: How does one properly apply a bold lip and make it last?
First off, according to Ascher, a dark lip should be matte, as opposed to glossy, which he deems “a little sloppy” and it “breaks up too fast”. (Neither of which sounds very appealing.) So first, choose a color that isn’t “greasy, shiny or oily” and he suggests using a primer — either a specific lipstick primer or a facial one — as base. Use a brush to apply the color, fill in the edges with a liner (either the same hue as the lipstick or a slightly browner version), blend as needed with your finger, blot your lips, and then apply a little more again. When touch-ups are needed, just tap some color in. Easy, peasy.
8. Use brushes — not your finger — to apply concealer and foundation.
Squeeze a little foundation onto your hand, dip your brush into it, and then gently pat the liquid onto the areas needed. A patting motion under your eye diffuses any fluid that’s puffing up your skin. Two minutes is the recommended patting-session time. Applying with your finger is counterproductive. “You end up pulling on the delicate under-eye skin way too hard, you move too fast and you end up putting it on and taking it off,” Ascher warns.
9. So much talk of brushes and the best way to clean them is right underneath your sink. Oh, and remember to actually clean them.
Ascher uses anti-bacterial brush spray in between clients (thank goodness), but to give them a thorough wash, some good old dishwashing Dawn is the way to go. Then lay the brush flat on a paper towel to dry overnight. He recommends cleaning any brushes that touch creamy products at least two times a week. Not two times a year, ladies.
10. Going against Kate Middleton’s self-applied wedding day makeup routine, Ascher recommends that brides-to-be look to a professional for their big day.
And he has two valid reasons. First off, an expert will have better knowledge of makeup techniques that really stand out (or worse, look horrible) on video and in photographs. Also, he points out that getting makeup done is probably the “last relaxing moment” they’ll have that day. Good point. As for Kate Middleton? “I think she could have softened things up a little,” Ascher says. “There could have been things I would have done differently, based on the fact it was on video and it was such a large venue with, I’m sure, very bold lights. A lot of video lights.”