Pretty in the City - Interview with James Vincent

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Professional artists, product creators, and cosmetics mavens all over the city are so psyched for this weekend. Why, you ask? Because The Makeup Show, New York’s famous trade show/artists’ wonderland, is coming to Miami for the very first time! On Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., artist par excellence and editor of On Makeup magazine James Vincent will lead a hands-on workshop on “Perfecting the Canvas.” I had a phone interview with him prior to his arrival, and all it did is make me even more excited to meet him! Here are some of the interview highlights, which specifically tackle beauty issues for women of color.

Patrice – I noticed your field of expertise is perfecting the canvas – how to blend and create a flawless face.

James Vincent – I’m like the no-makeup makeup artist, so I like to use as little as possible. I’m not one of those people who cakes it on.

P- I think more people are starting to lean more towards that. Women want to look as naturally beautiful as possible.

JV – To me, it starts with great skin. You need to make sure you’re taking care of your skin and taking care of your body. Keeping the skin healthy and not falling into the media manipulation about your skin being bad. You need to think about coverage, texture, and undertones, and then you choose a foundation from there. I think a lot of women are just taking someone else’s word for it, or they are so in their head with insecurities that they give themselves more coverage than they need, which can actually age you and make you look over-made up.

P – When you said media manipulation, the first thing that came to my mind is the mineral makeup trend. I think a lot of women are entranced by the idea that you can go to Sephora, or turn on the Home Shopping Network, and buy a $75 kit that promises to make you look gorgeous. But I’ve taken pictures of myself and realized how mineral makeup has made me look gray. What’s the deal with that?

JV – First of all, all makeup is mineral makeup; there isn’t a product on the market that doesn’t use minerals. But this current crop is such a hit with women because it’s very easy. It gives a flawless look because all of these minerals are different shapes and sizes, and they reflect and refract light very differently and gives the skin a perfect look – almost a halo effect. It blurs everything out. And what happens when you put a flash on it, the light from the flash is reflecting off those particles and you get a lighter, gray, or ashy look. You see that with some powder foundations. Titanium dioxide is a color protectant that blocks the sun’s light. So when you take a photo, that burst of light makes your face look lighter and unnatural. So a lot of women are heartbroken when they go out looking flawless to their event, and then, let’s say when they get their wedding pictures back, they look insane. Especially for women of color, it’s become a real misconception because you see these women on TV getting this makeup done and it looks flawless because it’s a moving camera.

P – Oh! So that’s why I look like the Joker!. So what do you recommend for women of color, and Latina women who will probably be the primary audience for The Makeup Show Miami?

JV – I’d say, the biggest thing is getting out of the beauty myth. I grew up in a multiracial family, and to this day I have aunts who think the only makeup they can use is soufflé. It’s completely the wrong color for their skin, and they walk around looking orange, but they don’t want to deal with buying anything new – they’ve been wearing the same makeup since Diana Ross did Mahogany in 1976. With my clients, I really try to look individually at their skin. With black or Latin skin, it’s understanding that most of the makeup in this country is formulated for Caucasian women in mind. You need to look at color correction, that’s what a lot of women aren’t doing – white, Asian, Latin, or black – looking at the colors of your skin and seeking to neutralize that, then using a foundation that’s the appropriate texture is the easiest way to keep yourself looking good, instead of doing the classic coverage of the entire face with foundation, then putting concealer over it.

P – So get away from the Little Richard playbook, then.

JV – For a lot of women of color, the makeup they’re doing is the stuff they’re seeing in music videos. I started working on hip hop videos, I work for BET, I did American Idol last season… I see Latin and African American women dealing with coverage, and they think they need to create a finished canvas from hairline to jawline. For me, that’s not what it is. It’s dealing with the problem areas and focusing on the center of the face where most women have discoloration; then blending the makeup out from there. That will keep you looking younger, fresher, and keep the neck and the face matching so you don’t get that ashy look.

James has much, much more wisdom to impart, and he’ll be more than happy to share his tips with attendees at The Makeup Show. For complete schedules and information, visit www.themakeupshow.com/miami, or e mail info@themakeupshow.com.

-- Patrice Yursik

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