comscore Lighten up for summer | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Lighten up for summer

    Madoka Tsubokawa does Joan Sato’s eye makeup as Sato receives a makeover for summer. A change in technique and product takes years off her appearance.
    Stylist Ralph Malani of Salon 808 gives Joan Sato a softer, updated cut.
    Joan Sato before, above, and after a makeover that makes her look years younger.

The rules for modern beauty are brief and easy to follow:

1. Less is more.
2. Be current.
3. Don’t take fighting your age to silly extremes.

Yet, makeover shows and magazines thrive on selling consumers the same information over and over because women don’t believe the general rules are enough.

Enter Joan Sato, a 53-year-old Realtor who’s making the transition to commercial development and seeking physical improvement to coincide with her enhanced business role.

“I think I’m in the category of OVER-haul, renovation, needing to add MORE to conceal/compensate for the ravages of nature and time,” she wrote in an email seeking help.

There are a lot of women like Sato who believe they will look younger if they bury their flaws under makeup, but doing that never fools anyone. What Sato really needed was a make-under, scraping off the layers of foundation and powder that screamed middle-age. For every woman afraid of letting her real skin show, summer is the perfect time to lighten up anyway, when warm-weather clothing, a relaxed mindset and the prospect of melting makeup call for a lighter hand.

To her credit, Sato had already started the process of refreshing her look last fall, when she looked at her new passport photo and saw an older person she didn’t recognize. She realized that over the years she had settled into a comfortable routine that was no longer working. Dressing and making up her face became, Sato said, “a matter of trying to hide this and that.”

She started exercising through Zumba classes and took an interest in more stylish clothing. A new haircut and color brought the child of the ’70s up to about … 1985, still a good 26 years behind the times.

In that time, beauty has gone from artificial to natural, with a focus less on color cosmetics and more on good skin that reflects health, radiance and youth. Heavy foundation has given way to lighter mineral makeup or BB (Beauty Balm) cream from Korea. With summer approaching, women can go lighter still, with just a thin layer of tinted moisturizer.

Over at Salon 808, stylist Ralph Malani said, “After 40, it’s about softness. As women age, they need to soften everything instead of calling attention to all the fine lines. When you wear a lot of foundation, you can see all the bumps.”

Malani said many women get trapped by trying to re-create the look they had in their 20s. “It’s when they felt they were most hot, and that’s where people get stuck. They still think that as long as they have that look, they look good, but they don’t. It just makes a person look as dated and old as they are. Especially in Hawaii, people hang on to trends longer.”

He suggests first reading up on beauty advice to find out what’s going on. From there, you can decide what to incorporate, or not, to your routine. Beauty trends also tend to follow celebrity, so television offers ample clues as to what’s coming up. Malani said women need only turn to the casual look of Kelly Hu and Grace Park on “Hawaii Five-0,” as well as Jennifer Lopez to see the direction toward natural beauty. He said the fabled J.Lo glow set the trend in the early 2000s, and says she’s doing the same since her return to television via “American Idol.”

“You’re starting to see a lot more bronze, gold in everything, in makeup, in hair,” Malani said. “When she had her highlighted look, all the local girls wanted stripey highlights. She’s relatable for people here because of her skin color. They figure if it looks good on her it’ll look good on them. Now her look is warmer, softer; she looks more beautiful now than when she was younger.”

Sato came in with the puffy bangs and crown of the mid-1980s combined with the high-contrast yellow striping of J.Lo, circa 2003. “When you’re 20, it’s cute because it’s funky and trendy, but when you’re older, you don’t want to call attention to the fact that you’re no longer young,” Malani said.”You don’t want to look younger, you want to look stylish.”

Malani’s first task was to soften the contrast with vegetable color gloss, then he cut her shag ’do into a sleeker style that follows the growth of her hair to avoid unnatural contortions.

Then it was Salon 808 makeup artist Madoka Tsubokawa’s turn to work on freshening Sato’s makeup routine. Simply cleansing the powdery, high-matte makeup from her face seemed to subtract 20 years from her appearance. Although she worried about her skin, Malani reassured that bare skin with flaws is better than trying to hide behind layers of cakey makeup.

Except where noted, Tsubokawa used M.A.C products, starting with a cream base as an eyelid primer for keeping makeup in place. She started with eyes first to avoid cleanups afterward because excess eye makeup tends to drift downward onto the face.

Sato was trying to enlarge her small eyes by using a thick black stripe liner that covered half her eyelid, making her eyes appear even smaller. Tsubokawa used lighter, eye-opening hues of eggshell, coral and mauve, working from lightest colors on the part of the lid closest to the nose, to the darkest, navy blue, at the outer edge of the eye. This was followed by a thin line of black gel liner that offers more control than the old-fashioned liquid liner Sato was using. Tsubokawa then rimmed the bottom waterline of the eye with white eye pencil to further open Sato’s eyes, finishing with Cover Girl Lash Blast Volume mascara and application of about six sets of individual lashes to the outer corner of her eyes to make them appear larger.

Moving onto Sato’s skin, Tsubokawa used only concealer for coverage. She recommends Neutrogena Skin-Cleansing Oil-Free Concealer with salicylic acid for those prone to blemishes. She set it with sheer pressed powder, then brushed on Bobbi Brown bronzer for healthy and natural-looking warmth and glow. Sato’s cheekbones were highlighted with a soft pink blush, but for most people, this would be an optional step. Peach blush is another summer option.

Sato came in with lip-shrinking, aging dark red lipstick. Tsubokawa created a fuller, younger look simply by applying M.A.C “Spice” neutral lip liner and following up with Dior Addict Ultranude lipstick and M.A.C gloss in soft pink.

“This is a lot lighter than when I started. … This natural look doesn’t feel natural, but I’m going to keep an open mind and see what kind of comments I get,” Sato said afterward.

Oprah Winfrey’s makeup artist, Ross Burton, talks about his picks for favorite summer makeup products in Nadine Kam’s Fashion Tribe blog. Visit Video of sato’s make-under at

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