Natural: The New Look for Summer

Calistro, a free-lance writer, regularly contributes to The Times ' fashion pages

Throw out the red lipstick. Forget those multicolor eye shadows and apple-red blushing powders. The natural look has taken hold as the major beauty trend of the summer. And it's not just for models in fashion magazines. Pale lips and neutral color eyelids are the cosmetic touch a lot of real women are wearing in Los Angeles.

"I stopped wearing a full face of makeup about two years ago," says Elaine Kim, co-owner of the Ecru boutique on Melrose. "The trend is to a more innocent, ingenue look. I don't want to look too grown-up or sophisticated. I want to look girlish."

For Kim, who is not yet 30, fresh-faced and natural is a new look. But many older advocates started wearing it the last time it was the fashion--during the 1960s.

Mika Kyprianides, a Los Angeles graphic designer, says she has worn neutral makeup for 20 years. "I always will, regardless of the fashion, because it looks best on me," she adds. Judy Leaf, who owns the Prada boutique in Beverly Hills, concurs. "I'll wear neutral makeup forever--that's my look, whether it's in or out."

Another shop owner, Jan Brilliot of Weathervane, a women's clothing store on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, says the natural look simplifies her grooming.

"I don't even know how to put makeup on, nor do I like spending time with it," she says. "I wear a bit, but as you get older makeup starts to look heavy, no matter how little you wear."

Beauty experts and fashion magazines have been promoting the neutral, un-made-up look for several seasons, but the consumer was slow to respond.

"She needed a chance to adjust to a paler face," says June Leaman, senior vice president of creative advertising at Estee Lauder, which introduced a few pale shades last summer.

A fortunate few can achieve the look without powders and paint, however neutral the colors. "I live and breathe with an eyelash curler and Vitamin E oil. That's all," explains boutique owner Madeleine Gallay, holding up a Maybelline curler. "I own about seven lipsticks and they're all brown or muddy red. But I end up not wearing them most of the time."

But the vast majority of women find that achieving a "natural" face can require as much time and as many cosmetics as a colorfully made-up face.

Retailers report booming sales in makeups that create the no-makeup look. Gary Cockrell, cosmetics buyer for I. Magnin, says that during the recent launch of Stendahl's newest makeup collection--all neutrals--sales were up 79% over last year.

At The Broadway, Margo Scavarda, senior vice president of cosmetics, notes that Ultima II's The Nakeds collection of beige and brown eye shadows and lipsticks "sells very well."

Perhaps the most dramatic indication of the natural look trend is at Pigments salon in Beverly Hills. Owner Joanne Fradkin observes, "For years I've carried neutral colors and pushed the natural look--the difference is now 98% of my clients are asking for it."

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