Although I’ve been through a lot of makeup phases, I’m currently a mascara-and-lip-gloss kind of lady. As I grow older, I’m wearing less and less makeup, operating under the delusion that I can just roll out of bed looking fabulous. But I find that Paris beauty is an art all its own; how is it that my Parisienne girlfriends spend 30 minutes applying creams, blushes and shadows to look like they were simply born beautiful and put together? As it turns out, there are a few secrets to a Paris kind of beauty, and I learned all the tricks of the trade at By Terry’s makeup tutorial, under the exclusive, discounted trip by Meeting the French.
Meeting the French takes visitors on trips of typically unseen places, like a bookbinding workshop, an umbrella repair shop or, in my case, the beauty makers of By Terry. Started by former YSL marketing and creative director Terry de Gunzburg, who began her line by mixing her Paris beauty potions right in front of her first clients, By Terry has now grown into an international brand that caters to both celebs and European royalty as well as regular glamour girls like you and me.
For a tidy sum at the By Terry laboratory, tucked into the Galerie Véro Dodat, in the 1st Arrondissement, you can get one-of-a-kind, customized foundations, blushes and creams (the same sort that are used on Vogue photo shoots). When I visited, we were treated to an exclusive trip through the laboratory (a unique experience that Meeting the French hopes to make a permanent fixture on its roster by next year). We peeked into the altogether scientific Paris beauty lab, where a young woman wearing a lab coat and what seemed like not a stitch of makeup outside electric-orange eye shadow was working diligently. Jars of colors ranging from bright blues and pinks to soft peaches and chocolaty browns surrounded her as she carefully added pigment to a continuously spinning beaker of creamy liquid. It reminded me of making homemade whipped cream until she added an emulsifying agent and the whole peachy-latte-hued batch transformed into a creamy mousse in seconds, which, after a few stabilization tests, would be ready for jars, labels and eventually Sephora.
Next we went to the By Terry boutique a few doors down. Here’s where you can scoop up any number of hydrating, illuminating, plumping or depuffing time reversers that you can think of. Nearly all of By Terry’s creams are rose based, and almost every product has a regenerating element, including the lash-growing mascara. But the real treat at the boutique was the makeup lesson.
Upstairs, in a comfortable, sleek space with the feel of a spa-on-the-go, is a complexion bar and tutorial station, which is furnished with six chic green YSL chairs and kindly lit mirrors. Terry, one of the world’s top 20 contemporary-art collectors, has outfitted the space with original photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Pablo Picasso, giving the upstairs loft an intimate and personal (if luxe) vibe.
The tutorial, which usually costs 80-165 euros but is a steal at Meeting the French’s price of 30 euros, gave us all the secrets to attaining that effortless, refined look associated with Paris beauty. What I loved was that the group was small—limited to six—and our instructor didn’t do our makeup for us, instead teaching us simple techniques that make a big difference.
She guided us through each step and offered advice and pointers that, frankly, I never learned when I was experimenting with makeup with my best friend at age 16. For example, when using bronzer (which I never would have even attempted on my ghost-white skin before that day), always start with dashes at the top of the forehead, down the nose, a sweep of the cheeks and along the chin, then blend, blend, blend. Also, when applying blush, it’s important to smile big—not because you’re so happy about being so beautiful but because it brings out the natural plump of your face. Sweep the brush from your temples down onto your cheeks, rather than in the opposite direction or (heaven forbid) by doing that awful swirling thing favored by early-1980s glamazons and inspired by Snow White’s apple cheeks.
We tried out subtle lip stains, eye shadows and concealers chosen for our individual skin tones, and by the end of the session, I looked in the mirror and felt like a true Parisienne. Under the By Terry tutelage, I didn’t look clownish or heavily made up—I just looked like a more radiant version of myself. I left feeling beautiful and great about myself, and on the way home I ran into a gentleman whom one of my Parisienne friends is always trying to set me up with. He finally asked me out, and as I walked away, I wasn’t sure what had finally inspired him: Was it my new makeup or my new confidence? Then again, isn’t confidence what Paris beauty is all about?
Meeting the French
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