Beauty: Carmindy shares her makeup secrets for getting spring’s freshest face

Spring, with its theme of renewal, is the perfect opportunity to shut the door on a dull past and find a fresh look. That makeup that made you a ringer for Linda Ronstadt, the light blue eye shadow that got you noticed at the Bon Jovi concert or the glitter you were wearing when you saw your first Spice Girls video? Retire it. If you’re in a rut when it comes to shades, types and application techniques, it’s time to shake things up.

But where to start? For advice, we turned to makeup expert Carmindy Bowyer from the TLC’s “What Not to Wear.”

“What Not to Wear” is in its ninth season and Carmindy (who goes by the single name) has been there since the beginning. She has worked with top magazines and has a makeup line called Sally Hansen Natural Beauty and a new book, “Crazy Busy Beautiful,” that hit shelves March 30. She even does private 1½ hour make-up consultations in New York, where she is based.

“Between the show and being a makeup artist for over 20 years, I’ve done thousands of makeovers,” Carmindy says. She says that her clients get into a rut primarily because they learned about makeup when they were in high school. “Then they kind of just went along with their life,” Carmindy says. “And as they grow older, they hear about different trends as far as color, but they never update their makeup wardrobe in terms of the new formulas, picking the correct shades and learning how to apply things correctly.”

Step 1: Out with the old

“Things change, technology changes and makeup has changed,” Carmindy says. During a consultation, the first thing she does is clean out her client’s makeup bag. “I get rid of all of the old junk,” she says. This includes tossing mascara more than 3 months old and either cleaning or replacing brushes. (“One of the biggest sins in a makeup bag is that women don’t clean their brushes,” she says. The brushes “get really matted down, not applying makeup on the skin nicely, and are harboring lots of bacteria.”)

Next, get rid of any makeup that mattes the skin too much, or is too thick, heavy, chalky or opaque. “Like all of those powdery foundations,” Carmindy says. “It makes your skin look dull, tired and old. It’s all about light-reflecting now, seeing skin and light, sort of sheer, watercolor textures.”

Under-eye concealers that are too thick and opaque “wind up looking muddy under there, and it settles into fine lines and creases.” Apply concealer after foundation and use a formula that brightens, bounces light and seems to disappear into the skin. “That’s much more modern,” she says.

But the No. 1 thing that signals a makeup rut is colored lip liner. “Throw it away — it’s a thing of the past,” Carmindy says. “Women are using pinks, purples and browns and all of those crazy lip liners, and it looks wrong… although for a long-lasting red lip it’s OK to use red lip liner with red lipstick.” Colored lip liner is the hardest product to pry out of women’s hands, Carmindy says, with the problem harking back to the ‘90s “when we were being bombarded with this set standard of beauty.”

“In the ‘90s, women used to draw on this fake, perfect big lip. Well, lips are beautiful small, large, crooked, quirky — it doesn’t matter,” she says. She favors clear lip liners that will lock in lipstick to prevent it from bleeding and liners that highlight. She likes the lip shaper “Cupid’s Bow” by Benefit, Guerlain’s “Cupidon” lip liner/highlighter and Sally Hansen’s “Invisible” lip liner. Put on liner first and then apply lip color.

Carmindy says that the 1970s were more about natural beauty, the 1980s about wearing crazy colors, and the 1990s about a super-model-perfect standard of beauty — “which doesn’t exist.” In the 2000s, it’s all about makeup and makeup textures that enhance unique individual beauty, she says. “I’m very much against fixing flaws because I don’t believe that women are flawed,” Carmindy says.

Step 2: Do your homework

After throwing out the old, it’s time to forge into the department stores and drugstores to purchase new products. But educate yourself first. Carmindy suggests reading makeover books and makeover blogs such as or and watching makeover videos on YouTube or her own website videos.

“This way you’ll be like ‘OK, so this is how I get my day face or this is how I get my five-minute face,” she says. Write down the list of products you need and how to use them. Also, go to your dermatologist to find out which products and ingredients really will benefit your skin. “That way,” Carmindy says, “You don’t go to [a department store] and get sold on ‘Oh, it’s a miracle cream!’ for $300.”

Step 3: Take control

Carmindy emphasizes the importance of a strong mental attitude as you head to the makeup counter. “Be firm with the saleswomen upfront and say, ‘I’m not here to buy anything except for exactly what I need and I need: A , B, C, D and E. That’s it. I’m not looking for anything more,’” she says. “Tell them upfront because if you don’t, next thing you know they’re going to make you feel as if you have to buy a lot of stuff from them. Whatever you do — do not let that happen…If you go in like, ‘Oh gosh, I really don’t know how to play up my eyes,’ you’re a sucker because they’re going to sell you a bunch of products you don’t need.”

She says people behind the counter usually are trained primarily in sales, not in your individual beauty needs. If they start pointing out your flaws suggesting makeup to “fix” your looks, “walk away,” Carmindy says. “It’s more about playing features up....The minute you hear something negative, that person is not for you.”

She also says that although department stores are a great place to test new trends, you don’t have to spend $30 on a lipstick to experiment. “Drugstores are creating incredible, incredible products,” she says.

Step 4: Go professional

Though department and drugstores are well-stocked, if you really want personal attention or have an upcoming special event, hiring a professional makeup artist is a terrific option.

Before going for an appointment, make a list of all of the things you want to know or learn to do. Be ready to explain your lifestyle and budget and even share your fears, anxieties and insecurities. “Then I redirect them to focus into something positive,” Carmindy says. She likes to teach clients how to layer the right products on the right places on the face to create a modern look.

“Ask a lot of questions because when you have the time with a professional makeup artist, that’s what we’re there for,” she says. “Also, make sure that we write it down for you so that you can follow it step by step…because if you come to me saying ‘OK, make me over’ and then you walk out not remembering anything — it’s kind of a waste. So definitely have [the makeup artist] make notes and make you diagrams.”

Her experience on “What Not to Wear” has shown her that clients aren’t always ready to embrace a new look. “Right when we make them over, a lot of women feel very uncomfortable because they’re not used to seeing themselves that way,” she says.

So instead of buying everything the makeup artist recommends, she advises that you first walk around with it, ask your friends, look in the mirror, go home, make dinner, look in the mirror again and see how you feel about it. If you don’t love the eye makeup but you’re digging the lipstick, then purchase one lipstick instead of wasting money on products you don’t like.

Step 5: Blossom with spring 2010 trends

Carmindy says that the best way to get your face out of the winter doldrums and into this spring’s mood is to sparingly apply a light sheer bronzer with a mere hint of shimmer rather than use a highly metallic bronzer all over the face. “The modern way to wear bronzer is to start at the temple, work it along the sides of your face and then work it right under the cheekbone — almost in a C formation,” Carmindy says.

Another trend: “Lots of floral color. We’re seeing pinks, we’re seeing red, and coral is like the universal color.” If you’re using coral lip color, add a pop of coral on the apple of the cheek and keep the eyes simple with just black mascara. If you want to play up your eyes, Carmindy says colored eyeliner is hot for spring.

“You want to use a waterproof liner so that it stays through heat and humidity,” she says. “Smudge it just on the upper lash line only, skip eye shadow, [apply] a little highlight under the brow bone and add plenty of black mascara.”

What’s most important during your spring awakening transition? “Think about yourself in a fresh new light,” Carmindy says. “Be bold and go for it.... It’s just makeup!”