What I Learnt From The Best Make-up Counters In Los Angeles.

As an industry expert I very rarely visit beauty counters for the obvious reason that I’ve been lucky enough to receive the very latest in beauty well in advance before these products make their way to the beauty counter. But after an impromptu walk through the make-up department of Saks 5th Avenue post a beauty launch, I wandered around taking in all the rows upon rows of gleaming make-up counters displaying technicolour eye shadows, shimmering blushers and silky powders and had to admit that for anyone who appreciates make-up, the beauty counter has a magnetism that’s hard to ignore. All those gorgeous products laid out for your consumption, just begging for you to buy. So what’s the secret behind these beauty counters that make women continue to come back and spend more?

To my surprise, I discovered that all the counters are maned with beauty experts who gave me some invaluable tips and a better understanding of how they are teaching women how to care for their skin and apply make-up.

Here are some of the best counters staffed with the most talented associates.

Saks Fifth Avenue Trish McEvoy Counter – A girls Make-up Heaven.


Saks Fifth Avenue specializes in excellence, and its make-up counter does not fall short of the company’s high standards. In addition to offering a plethora of the best of the best in beauty, Saks has some of the friendliest associates around, who assess each customer’s individual needs before giving advice. My beauty stylist, Kitty, listened while I explained that my main concern was my eye area. I had always prided myself with the fact that I never suffered from puffiness or dark circles and attributed this to diligently using eye cream from a very young age. However, now I was faced with having to deal with both of these concerns. Kitty wasted no time in presenting me with three must-haves: Trish McEvoy’s Beauty Booster Advanced Repair Retinol Eye Cream with the highest non-prescription concentration of retinol and the anti-oxidant resveratrol, Instant Eye Lift eye concealer that brightens darkness and reduces puffiness and Liquid Face Color a long wearing gel-based cheek and lip stain. I started to feel skeptical, as I’d heard it all before… But as Kitty began to layer on the products with her soothing touch my skepticism disappeared as I started to relax. I listened very carefully to the instructions on how to get the best benefits from these products and when I looked in the mirror I was ecstatic! No more dark circles or puffiness and it looked like a little halo had been created with the Liquid Face Color making my eyes look wide-awake. I was so thrilled as I walked away from the counter with my three miracle workers!

What I learnt…That it pays to stop, listen and experiment with new products. Even with my make-up background, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that applying my concealer straight over my eye cream helps my concealer glide on seamlessly giving me a flawless finish.

Neiman Marcus, La Prairie Counter – Beauty destination of Beverly Hills housewives.


Recognized as one of the most elegant department stores in the nation, Neiman Marcus not only has the best in fashion, but it also has an excellent La Prairie counter that offers everything from luxurious skincare to creamy silk finish blush. (My favourite!)  Neiman Marcus boasts of experienced associates who know how to attend to customer needs without pressuring shoppers. Individuals who shop at the La Prairie counter can purchase with confidence, knowing that neither La Prairie nor Neiman Marcus will lead them astray.

My experience was so luxurious that I could have spent the afternoon speaking to my associate Vicki who was a fully qualified aesthetician. After giving me a skin analysis I was told that the Caviar range would be well suited as I had very dehydrated skin. Vicki explained that most of the women she meets had forgotten the art of a skincare routine, relying solely on the cosmetic surgeon and slapping on products instead of massaging and layering in products for the best benefits.

I totally surrendered my face to Vicki and let her work her magic…She cleansed, exfoliated and layered on my absolute favourite serum; Extrait of Skin Caviar Firming Complex and the new Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Transforming Cream in slow, sweeping movements that I almost fell asleep. My skin was left vibrant and plump and I was a very happy girl as I walked away promising to follow her application technique.

What I learned… To enjoy my skin care routine and that a double cleanse and exfoliation is a must before layering on my serums and creams. Indulgence is my new mantra.

Violet Grey – The Luxury Beauty Atelier


Located on Melrose Place, this one-stop make-up emporium offers the best make-up application and skincare advice. Whether you’re headed for a weekend get-away or a walk down the Red Carpet, they offer makeup applications and advice to suit your needs. In addition to giving advice they will customise a complete make-up bag for you or revamp your own make-up bag by going through it and letting you know what to keep and what to toss. It’s what they call creating your own individual make-up wardrobe. Kira Nasrat, Violet Grey’s Brand Ambassador, explained that the Violet Grey specialists are not there to sell but to educate women. Contrary to the average salesperson, they do not follow customers around the counter or suggest a distasteful colour just to make a buck. Individuals interacting with these associates can expect an honest response and quality care.

And that’s what I received from Kira as she applied my make-up, explaining that I needed very little make-up and that I suited the colour palette of plum and peaches and that I should wear very little foundation as the latest trend is to see your skin.

As I sat in Dean Martin’s makeup chair (yes! A treasured piece from the founder, Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey) I was anxious to see what I would look like with this NEW make-up look. I wasn’t sure about the plum eye shadow that she chose from Charlotte Tilbury’s The Dolce Vita Palette, as I am so used to my boring brown but I liked how natural and fresh faced I looked.

What I learnt…To experiment with colour and to use concealer and foundation only where I need it – keep it light so that you see my natural skin tone.

Macy’s  – Classy Looks at Discount Prices


Macy’s is the number one place to shop when visiting any shopping centre or as they say in LA, Mall! The department store has its finger on the pulse of fashion and make-up trends, employing the best and brightest artists who let imagination be their guide. Among the elite beauty specialists at Macy’s, I found Trish at the Clinique counter who is extremely cheerful and enjoys giving amazing makeovers as much as her customers enjoy receiving them. I was treated to a smouldering eye using the new Cocoa Pop Eyeshadow and a bold pout, with High Impact Lip Colour in Cider Berry, $36 (AU), which is not what I would normally do, but the result was rather glamorous. Trish explained that there should be no hard and fast rules when it comes to make up. It should always be playful and fun. Which I think is a good thing, especially if you are like me and stick to the same make-up look.  Women who have been made over by Trish I am told tend to have a spark of confidence after leaving her makeup counter.  And I have to say I did leave feeling upbeat and happy myself.


What I learnt…

Have fun and experiment. Who knows? You might just find your newest Holy Grail product!

High Impact Lip Colour in Cider Berry, $36AUDCharlotte Tilbury’s The Dolce Vita Palette, $78USDCellular Radiance Cream Blush, $85AUD

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