Men who dread a simple visit to
the perfume counter this season
should have no fear; that's nothing
compared to what we put
these guys through
See Also: The Goddess SpeaksBy Nadine Kam, Features Editor
THE POINT OF RENDEZVOUS: Sephora. "What? Sepora?" "Sephorum?"
NEVER MIND. MAKE THAT LIBERTY HOUSE, a store everyone in Hawaii knows.
I was meeting five men -- Randy Aina, Joe Bergman, Ed Clapperton, Derek Inouchi and Steve Lee -- for a shopping expedition, so the easier the directions, the better, and none of them knew Sephora existed.
Their challenge: To apply their man brains toward the dizzying task of sorting through the array of cosmetics on the market. Makeup shopping. Perhaps in their innocence, they might come up with novel approaches that elude those of us who have spent a lifetime flitting from one brand to the next.
To start, there was homework to do. Their texts: Vogue, Elle and Glamour magazines. Lee e-mailed me his research. First, a nine-page treatise on his ignorance about makeup. Then, a couple days later, he sent 13 more pages on products and web sites he discovered.
Randy Aina, vice-president and sales manager, Edward Enterprises
Joe Bergman, former Senior Art Director at Adworks, now at Wunderman, Cato, Johnson advertising in San Francisco
Ed Clapperton, vice-president of account services, Adworks
Derek Inouchi, Assistant Media Relations Director, University of Hawai'i Athletics
Steve Lee, an economic development specialist
I reminded him that I hadn't asked him to write a word.
"This is what I do," he said. "If you're going to buy anything, you do research. That goes for other products -- fishing equipment, cars -- as well. You gotta find out what's real.
"(Makeup) is something more crucial because you put it on your face, skin, it affects your health. Once you go down this road, you either do it right or you just get old faster."
Although Lee professed to be "old school macho" and "out of style," he was intrigued by this exercise, saying "I can just imagine myself trying to coach my daughter (who's 5 years old) in a few years about makeup. My heartless side says 'No makeup!' but realistically, she'll put it on anyway. She does now, when mommy's not looking."
Of course, the best way to learn about makeup is through hands-on experience. We sacrificed Catherine Toth for the cause.
"Oh, they're going to choose such awful colors," she said gamely. "This is going to be goooood!"
In the cosmetics department of Liberty House, the men decide to go with the Bobbi Brown line, known for the "natural look" they all claim to love. Toth's makeup is removed while the men debate the first step for her makeover, discussing the choice of foundation.
"Wait, don't you have to put on moisturizer first?" Bergman asked. He had done his homework.
After settling on three colors, Bobbi Brown resident makeup artist Malea Peters went to work, dabbing the colors one at a time on Toth's chin. "Actually that's very nice," said Bergman, examining the first color.
"That one's a little yellow," Lee said of the second color.
They settle on #3 beige.
The men stare in amazement as Peters completes the application and explains how foundation is used to even the skin tone. A few other words are tossed in: bondo, spackle.
"OK, I understand spackle," said Aina, who also asks whether women must wear foundation down their necks as he's seen.
Peters says if a woman must wear foundation on her neck to match her face color, she's wearing the wrong color.
The men take in the information in silence before Aina says, "That's scary."
By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
The guys get some coaching from
Malea Peters of Liberty House.
By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
The men try matching eye shadow colors the only way
they know how, by holding it up to Catherine Toth's
face. (It should be tested on the skin.)
By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Oops, too much! Steve Lee, applying blush to Toth's face,
overdoes it. Randy Aina, left, and Joe Bergman
watch the delicate process.
By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Aina blows on some nail polish he's sampled
-- for his wife, of course.
As Jones pulls out a brush to apply loose powder to set the foundation, someone asks about the brush's price.
They again fall silent at the answer, $62.50, as if calculating the cost of one woman's complete makeup wardrobe.
Then it came time to apply the eye shadows and Inouchi suggests "something like blue or purple."
"Let's make a statement," said Lee.
"Her eyes are brown so why not go with brown?" offers Bergman, until he spots a muted gray. "I like that coz it sort of matches the gray in your vest," he tells Toth.
Clapperton has the honor of applying the color. With a little instruction from Peters, he starts and the other men are supportive.
"Oh yeah. That's a good job man," said Lee. "You did it!"
"Yeah," Clapperton agreed.
"If we could, we'd be high-fiving now," said Aina.
After working the eyes, it came time to apply the blush and it was Lee's turn at the brush. But, as he dusts Toth's cheek, the other mens' faces tell Toth something is wrong. "What?" she asks, worriedly.
"You made her look like Raggedy Ann!" someone exclaims.
Heather Kleinman's Cosmetic Connection (http://www.cosmeticconnection.com) provides unbiased reviews of products the self-proclaimed Cosmetics Diva has known and loved, or hated.
STEVE LEE'S ONLINE FIND:
Lee tries for the save, attempting to brush away the color, but her cheek becomes even rosier, like Santa engulfed by a snowstorm. Someone waves a mirror at her.
"Don't look! Don't look!" Lee warns. "It looks like you've had a little too much sun, that's all."
Grabbing the mirror, Toth has the last word. "It's bad. Fix it."
Peters stepped in to do the blending. The problem, she said, was not that the blush was the wrong color, but that Lee had picked up too much color on the brush.
Next, focus turned to the lips.
"We want to do some gloss," said Aina, before recalling, "I like that stain thing where it looks like you've just been kissed."
"Do we need a base first?," Bergman asked.
Lee is sold on lipstick when he finds it has SPF in it. "It's good for her. I like that. We like the function with the look."
After perusing all the colors, they settle on the "Nude" lipstick just because they like the name.
Aina has application duty, but veers out of Toth's lip line, smearing her face. "I feel like I have to hold her head or something," he said. Once again, Peters steps in to clear and correct.
When it was over, the men had achieved the "natural look" they all claimed to appreciate before the session. Yet Inouchi seemed disappointed and a bit confused. "I don't think women have to wear any makeup, but if they do, shouldn't it show? That's what they're paying for. Maybe it's just supposed to make women feel beautiful."
"I was surprised that there's so much involved with that," said Clapperton. "It seems like there's way too many choices. Life's confusing enough already; I'm glad I don't have to make these choices too," he added, although he said that if he were a women, he'd do "whatever I had to."
"I don't mind shopping with my wife," said Aina, "but you kind of do get sensory overload. How do you know what product's better than the other? Doing (Toth's) makeup, it was hard to tell the differences between colors. Differences were incremental, a little better, more defined, but so close."
Although Lee had originally speculated that a woman could get all she needed for $80, by the end of the evening, he estimated a basic makeup kit would run closer to $300. "For my wife, whatever she spends is fine, but for me, I'd just use Neutrogena."
If he were a woman, he said he would look for and be willing to spend money on top-of-the-line skincare products, while sticking to drugstore brands for such "color" items as lipstick and blush.
Do you think we'd end their ordeal here? No, no, no. There was shopping to do. We headed for Sephora, where the men could sample products from cosmetics bars set up storewide. Glancing around, they were drawn to the Anna Sui display, with boxes of multi-colored tea roses set against a background of black and gold. "The packaging is awesome," said ad man Clapperton.
Aina was attracted to Sui's eye gloss and glittery colors. "This is kinda neat. When they do the Oscars, this is what they must use to put a little flash in there."
Meanwhile, Lee was shopping for himself. An avid fisherman, he is always on the lookout for a good moisturizer for his sun-exposed arms. He deems Erno Laszlo's Hydrating Lotion "too heavy. It doesn't go into your skin."
Some cosmetics lines have already begun touting cosmetics for men, but none of the men seemed anxious to buy into it. Clapperton said we are already seeing more androgyny in younger generations, but, "Older people were brought up to see that kind of image as not masculine."
Said Lee, "I don't put junk on my face. The only thing I use is sunblock."
At one store, a clerk was trying to sell Aina on the idea of an exfoliating cream to remove dry skin cells from his face. "I don't want to buy exfoliating cream," he said. "Maybe I'd try it because it was new, but after a while, no. It's just too much trouble. Just give me back my Dial soap."
Then we move on to M.A.C where we spot KGMB reporter Kim Gennaula buying "Vapour," "Malt" and "Vanilla" eye shadows and "O" lipstick.
The men "ooh" and "ahh" over her selections and speculate whether her choice of light shades has something to do with personal preference or TV lighting. Gennaula says the highlighting colors open her eyes for the camera.
By now, the men are familiar with many of the brands, but at Neiman Marcus, Lee ends up at the exclusive Chantecaille counter after spotting resident makeup artist Bonnie Berger.
"Look at her. Her makeup is perfect. It's important to look at the salesperson because her face is a demonstration of the product."
By the time the shopping tour ends, there are signs that perhaps these men have learned more than women want them to know.
Aina said, "It's made me realize that there are a lot of women who don't know how to put on makeup."
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