‘It Takes Very Little Makeup to Look Pretty’


In the same store that launched her Lorac cosmetic line four years ago, Los Angeles makeup artist Carol Shaw poses for a picture. “Make me look pretty,” she tells the photographer. “I don’t care if the products are blurry, just make me look good!”

The salesclerks at Fred Segal Santa Monica laugh with Shaw, who, as a makeup artist for stars like Michelle Pfeiffer and Meg Ryan, usually feels much more comfortable behind the scenes than in front of a camera.

Makeup designed by hands-on beauty professionals like Shaw are enjoying a vogue right now; they’re popular with consumers who are more interested in the right shade of eye shadow and the proper applicator brush than in the dreamy images being offered by the big cosmetics companies.


Lorac (which is “Carol” spelled backward) offers natural colors and beauty advisors who have been trained by the boss. Lorac differs from other makeup artist lines with its minimalist approach and “treatment-based makeup,” meaning there’s chamomile in the foundation and calendula in the eye shadow--soothing botanical ingredients, Shaw explains, noting that her own skin is both sensitive and acne-prone.

Lorac also capitalizes on the image professional lines carry. Many women are attracted to the idea of wearing the same makeup that models wear. And 20 of Lorac’s lipstick shades are named for celebrities.

That stars like Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Winona Ryder, Kim Basinger, Claire Danes and Goldie Hawn would let their names be put on a lipstick tube speaks volumes about Shaw, 38, and her ability to bring out their natural beauty, instead of painting on a stylized mask.

She defers compliments to the product: “The celebrities don’t mind lending their names because it’s a good lipstick, matte but moist,” she says. And they don’t mind buying it either. Recently both Moore and Ellen Barkin dropped some change at the Lorac counter, says a salesclerk. Kidman came in with her mother, who bought a Kim lipstick, a shade of pale beige. The award for “most wearable” shade goes to the top-selling Laura (Dern), a plummy brown, and Meg (Ryan), a creamy taupe.

Shaw points to a noncelebrity pink lip gloss and blush that Kidman orders in bulk. “When Nicole isn’t working, she doesn’t wear a lot of makeup, and doesn’t need a lot, because her skin is so gorgeous,” Shaw says. “So she’ll put on a little of this pink blush and gloss and she looks great.”

There’s a lesson in that for the rest of us. “It takes very little makeup to look pretty,” says Shaw, who cites lipstick, blush and concealer as her top three tools. Her 10-minute makeup process uses, in this order, oil-free foundation sponged all over the face, concealer spackled under the eyes with a small brush, then loose powder to set both. Pewter eye shadow is painted on wet for intensity on the eyelid, and rose blush is applied in the crease of the eye and on the cheeks. Black mascara, nude lipstick and lip pencil finish the job.


“I used to see a lot of women who went overboard with makeup,” she says, “but these days what I see even more is women who don’t do enough. I’ll see someone who looks invisible and say to myself, ‘Give that lady a little color!’ ”

Even her 25-year-old goddaughter gets scrutinized: “She’s the most gorgeous thing on this planet,” Shaw says, “but every time I see her I say, ‘Would you just wear the cover-up I gave you? That’s all I ask.’ Because cover-up under the eye brightens up the whole face.”

Nevertheless, Shaw swears she doesn’t go around critiquing people’s makeup. “I’m too self-obsessed,” she says. Those who do want her advice, though, can visit one of the four locations where the unadvertised Lorac line is sold: Neiman Marcus, Fred Segal Melrose, Fred Segal Santa Monica and Apothia in Brentwood.