Spring is a good time to rethink your beauty regimen. Are you getting what you need out of your cosmetics and creams, or is it time to retool? Ladue News spoke with three national experts who will be in St. Louis March 6 for ‘Face the Nation,’ a Press Club event at Neiman Marcus that will offer top-notch beauty advice while raising funds for Haiti and for journalism scholarships. Representatives from Natura Bissé, Laura Mercier and Frédéric Fekkai offer LN readers a preview of their sage advice.  

Michael Ann Guthrie of Natura Bissé

    St. Louis native Michael Ann Guthrie has been in the beauty/skin care industry for 25 years, working for namesplates like Estée Lauder, Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier. For the past 11 years, she’s been with Natura Bissé, a Barcelona-based company known for its luxurious skin treatment products. As national sales director, Guthrie is involved in many aspects of marketing, new product development and training.

LN: Natura Bissé launched more than 30 years ago as a professional only skin care line. How have you been able to widen your demographic? 

MAG: Getting our start in professional skin care for spas set a very high bar for our products; it takes a higher concentration to achieve targeted results. So we applied the same technology when we got into retail in ’94. Our products have built a reputation for getting spa results at home. For instance, the Inhibit Collection, which we introduced in ’03, is the first topical alternative to Botox. The new Cure Collection uses technology to restore the health of cells before cellular turnover. So much of anti-aging skin care has been about reversal, but what we’re offering is prevention. From young girls to women in their 40s and 50s, that’s what people want these days. We get it: When people seek ‘anti-aging,’ they mean for it to work before they start seeing the lines.

LN: What are some of the biggest trends in beauty you’ve seen over the years?

MAG: Even when I was with Estée Lauder and Bobbi Brown, I knew that skin care was going to be the new dimension. Unlike my mom’s and my generations, it’s now more about bringing out natural beauty, not disguising it. When Natura Bisse launched Inhibit, it doubled the size of the company. It’s really not about looking young, it’s more about looking healthy. The other thing I’ve seen is the growth of the laser industry—it’s exploded. Laser is probably going to postpone or maybe replace plastic surgery by about 25 percent. So people who are seeking laser treatment want a skin care regimen that will maintain those results. We really were a little in front of the curve.

LN: What’s the best way to read labels to determine whether the product will do what it promises?

MAG: If it’s an anti-aging cream, find where the energy and repair are coming from. Women need to look at emulsion—that’s the real key of quality. For instance, the face and the décolleté have different types of skin. The emulsions are very important for those specific areas. Also take a look at the first few ingredients—those are the ones that have the highest concentrations. It’s also important to listen to why and how the product works. Ask questions like, When will I see results? Also, every woman needs to go in knowing her skin and how it reacts. Find someone who listens to you, not someone trying to sell you a product.

Penny Cooley of Laura Mercier

    National makeup artist Penny Cooley got her start at Laura Mercier as a freelance artist at age 17. “It was a brand I felt comfortable with,” she says. “When you think of Laura Mercier, you think of a natural, polished look—nothing heavy—and that’s the way I’m comfortable with doing makeup.”

LN: What are some of the hot looks for spring?

PC: You’ll be seeing the matte look early on. There’s plenty of brown and structured, polished and tailored shapes on the runways, similar to the ‘Jackie O’ look. The look of the face is very natural: brown lipstick and a hint of glow on top of the cheekbones. Eye color will be very soft at the beginning of the season. We have Cocoa Rose, which is flat pink and brown. Just dust the pink over the entire eye and with a smudge brush, apply the brown right along the lashes.

LN: There’s also talk about a ‘minimalist’ look.

PC: Further into spring, we have a Zen Face Palette with bright watercolors for more of a ‘dewy’ look. Willow (bright green) and Haze (soft blue) are among the colors. To brighten the eyes and achieve a soft, minimalist look, use splashes of color all over the eye and highlight with Black Turquoise eyeliner and pencil. For summer, the look is glowing, outdoorsy skin, with a bronze face and bright lips.

LN: What’s the biggest makeup ‘don’t’ that you see all the time?

PC: Wearing the wrong shade of foundation. I recommend walking up to the counter, finding the appropriate color and matching it to your neck. Oftentimes, I see a woman with lighter skin tone on her face and a darker color on the neck. You want to be the same color up and down. Another ‘don’t’ is too much eyeliner. A lot of times, people can get too heavy-handed.

Jamie Miracle of Frédéric Fekkai

    As regional education manager for Frédéric Fekkai, Jamie Miracle knows everything there is to know about the celebrated French hairstylist’s line of luxury hair care products. He’s also a familiar face during New York Fashion Week, working behind the scenes for designers like Marchesa, Rag & Bone, alice + olivia and Rachel Roy.

LN: How much of a challenge is it to set yourself apart from the deluge of hair products out there?

JM: Frédéric truly believes that hair—like skin—deserves special treatment. His concept is to adapt and use comprehensive ingredients as in skin care. It’s the ingredients and formulations that set our products apart. For instance, the Marine Summer Hair Collection (available in mid-March) has botanical extracts like sea algae and marine peptides to protect and repair damaged hair.

LN: What’s the key to keeping hair healthy?

JM: Hydration. Friction causes damage. So when you color, the hair cuticle is lifted to deposit the color, and when there’s a lifted cuticle, even running the fingers through the hair or brushing it can cause even more damage. For someone whose hair is damaged by processing or coloring, it’s important to nourish and strengthen it.

LN: What’s your recommended hair regimen?

JM: When we choose products, we like to stick with what we call the ‘Fekkai Five:’ shampoo, conditioner, two styling products and a treatment. We have an overnight hair repair serum that’s very unique. It carries a positive charge to counter the negative charge caused by friction in damaged hair. Usually blondes or people who use chemical relaxing treatments have the most damage. We recommend using it two to three times a week, or every other time you wash your hair.

LN: What are some common, everyday things that people do to their hair that they shouldn’t?

JM: Over-exposure to heat styling. You should never see steam coming from a styling tool—you’re cooking your hair!  

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