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Back to school: Learning how to look good

Those that ponder the importance of “beauty” should recognize that the industry is valued at billions of dollars and is supported by men and women.

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New Year, New Me

Some people wish for their own private chef while others covet a personal trainer or a private jet. My secret wish is to have my own cosmetic/face designer. In my dream, every morning this person appears at my door, sits me down in front of a mirror, and gets my face ready for the day.

For celebrities and others with huge expense accounts or other sources of massive wealth and/or power (think Editor in Chief of Vogue Magazine) this is an ordinary part of their daily routine, for the rest of us – if we want the “look,” it has to become a do-it-yourself routine.

Don’t Call Me a Narcissist

No one calls me a narcissist because I work out 5 times a week, have regularly scheduled visits with my dental hygienist, have a manicurist on speed dial, know the name of the shoe salesman at Bloomingdale’s, and am on a first name basis with the doorman at Saks; however, when a conversation turns onto a review of the best foundations, eye shadows, brow maintenance and skincare routines, the response is frequently less than positive or supportive.

What is Beauty?

Those that ponder the importance of “beauty” should recognize that the industry is valued at billions of dollars and is supported by men and women. Some argue that beauty is a political and economic tool used to force us to spend time, money and effort on a part of life that is frivolous and adds no value to society.

Some researchers connect beauty with fashion, and looking good becomes a “status marker,” based on one’s level of access to resources because, according to Nancy Etcoff, “If an individual is fashionable, then the individual has the expendable income required to change his or her wardrobe as fashion commands” (1999, Survival of the Prettiest).

Whether beauty and fashion are inherently political can be argued; however, the existence and growth of the industry is undeniable.  Products and skill-sets that enable us to enhance the positive aspects of our features are no longer a luxury but, in fact, have become a necessity. Whether the time, money and effort spent on “doing face” is considered a political statement or an ego trip, the reality is – the better we look, the better we feel, and the more likely we are going to be selected for a job/promotion, a date, or a mate.

The well-worn concept that “beauty is only skin deep,” is likely to be true, however, without looking good it may be impossible to discover other qualities and attributes of the person – like kindness and intelligence.

There are times when we just want to look our best, and for those occasions, there are scientifically verified ways to appear more attractive. When we look and feel good, and considered to be “aesthetically pleasing,” we are likely to have a little added boost of confidence to help us take-on an important moment or event. At the end of the day, beauty and fashion are about our own personal feelings and not about what they are actually doing to us on the outside.


The beauty industry is not just about makeup, hair color and perfume, it is about deodorant, toothpaste and soap. It is not just about salons, but includes barber shops, waxing franchises, massages and spas. It is every product and service with a mission to help us look, feel and smell good… in the way we want to (or the way we should) look for professional/personal reasons.

Historically, beauty trends were driven by celebrities; today, 82 percent of women believe that social media drives trends. The information flow brings ideas and opinions from celebrities, but also from friends, friends of friends and an entire universe of people we do not know and do not know us.

Looking good takes effort and there is an entire army of products and services at our disposal to help us to achieve our objective. The arsenal includes cosmetics, skin care, hair styling, hair coloring, hair removal, hair growth, nail salons, tanning salons, massage and spas, a myriad of shower options, shaving products, perfumes, colognes, etc.

In 2015 the industry generated $56.2 billion in the US. Hair care is the largest segment with 86,000 locations. Skin care is a close second and with growth is expected to reach $11 billion by the end of 2018. A significant part of the growth is from an increasing awareness of the importance of skin care among men.

Share of Market

US Beauty Industry Segments Market Share by Revenue
Hair Care 4 percent
Skin Care 23.7 percent
Cosmetics 14.6 percent
Perfumes and colognes 9.5 percent
Deodorants, antiperspirants feminine cleaning 8.5 percent
Oral Hygiene 5.6 percent
Other 14.1 percent


In 2016, the global cosmetic market grew an estimated 4 percent. The production of cosmetics and beauty products is controlled by multinational corporations: L’Oréal, Unilever, Procter & Gamble Co, The Estee Lauder Companies, Shiseido Company and Lancôme.

As of 2016, French L’Oréal was the leading beauty manufacturer in the world, generating $28.6 billion in revenue for the year. The company owns the leading personal care brand worldwide, L’Oréal Paris, valued at $23.89 billion (2017) and was also one of the leading companies in cosmetic innovation, registering a total of 314 patents in 2015.

All About Me

Social media is fueling the cosmetic industry with Instagram and YouTube creating demands for beauty products and are the links between cosmetic brands and consumers. As of 2015, nearly half of the beauty videos on YouTube were tutorials that instructed viewers about beauty: how to use a product or create a style of make-up.

Beauty vloggers and other independent content creators produce the majority of conversations and social media buzz surrounding beauty brands on YouTube (97.4 percent as of June 2016). Makeup videos account for 50+ percent of the makeup content videos on YouTube.

Looking Good is Rewarded

According to Daniel Hamermesh, University of Texas at Austin labor economist, handsome men earn 13 percent more income during their career than looks-challenged peers (Beauty Pays) and some studies show that attractive people are more likely to be hired in a recession.

Becoming Better. A Soft Adventure

To satisfy my need for adventure and a beauty reboot, I signed up for a “how to” cosmetic class at the Greenwich Village – based cosmetic industry leader, Kryolan. According to their website, they are… “the only real professional make-up maker.”

Kryolan started producing cosmetics in Berlin, Germany, over 73 years ago and the products are made from their own cutting-edge formulas.  Kryolan is the go-to makeup of choice, selected by professional makeup artists for their clients in film, theater and television. It one of the world’s first professional make-up brands with over 16,000 high-quality make-up products and accessories.

Theatrical makeup must be extremely hard-working and Kryolan cosmetics meet and often exceed the expectation of their clients. Whether it is HD lighting or challenging filming conditions, the product holds up to challenges. The company guarantees color continuity, allowing the professionals to create similar looks time and again. The product is also safe and reliable and meets the needs/wants of the professional.

In addition, Kryolan scientists work with dermatologists to conduct ongoing clinical tests to make sure that the products are skin compatible and the company has refused to test the product on animals. Kryolan is the first color cosmetics enterprise to receive the strict European Center for Allergy Research Foundation certification. The products are hypoallergenic with excellent skin compatibility and nourishing properties, making them the better/best choice over commercial products available in department stores. To ensure color consistency, technology in the laboratories includes a photo spectrometer, commonly found in scientific laboratories, as it measures and monitors colors with pinpoint accuracy.

The good news for consumers, is that Kryolan is now making its products and professional services available to every consumer who wants to recharge their appearance or look ‘movie-star” perfect for a major event, whether it is a promotion to CEO or the birth of a new baby.

Back to School. What to Learn

It was a cold and rainy winter morning when I trekked to Greenwich Village to meet the professional makeup artists who run the Manhattan shop. The showroom floor at Kryolan is filled with an awesome array of cosmetic products that run from barely beige to colors perfect for New Year’s Eve.

To get us away from the temptation to put fingers in all the color pots, students were ushered down a small staircase to the classroom. With a cup of coffee in hand, we were welcomed to Kryolan, given a brief review of the company background and introduced to our “teacher” and her model.

The first lesson of the day focused on hygiene and how important it is to keep tool-kits clean (brushes, applicators, pots of colors). It does not matter if you are a professional artist creating beauty for clients, or working on getting your face ready for work, it is very easy to put soiled fingers into powders, creams and lotions, leaving traces of our DNA on whatever we touch.

Throughout the day we learned how to develop a makeup kit (and the importance of the right brush), plus the role of color theory; how to create “a look” based on facial shapes, characteristics, skin tones/texture; how to create highlights and shadows through colors, shapes and shadows. We also spent time learning how to apply foundation, make dark shadows disappear and big noses appear smaller. Lips received their own special hour and included how to accentuate them through lip liners, colors, gloss and sparkles.

The day went very quickly and, like all good things, this program, sadly, came to an end. Unlike other classes, when I was delighted that the class was over and I would not have to return for another week, I wanted to come back to Kryolan the next day (or at least the following week).

The instructors and staff at Kryolan are terrific to work with, approach students/clients with a “no judgement” attitude. The focus is on helping each woman discover her best features and “accentuate the positive while eliminating the negative.”

I strongly recommend men and women attend the Kryolan classes – and bring their friends and family. It is a perfect opportunity for corporate team building, male bonding, and/or gifts to the man/woman who has everything – but really could use a new look for the New Year.

Afterall, shoes and cars are regularly brought to a shop for a refresh and tune-up… isn’t it time to give equal love to your face and the faces of those we love and cherish?

© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.

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