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Camouflage--More Than Makeup

Andrea D. Vanin August 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

No matter where you are located or who your clientele is, there is likely to be a large population of spa clients who seek the benefits of a good camouflage makeup professional. Realtors require continually updated photography shots for marketing fliers and posters. Brides and bridal parties want flawless makeup for picture-perfect memories. Burn center and cosmetic surgery patients need to cover burns and scars. Many other clients also can benefit from camouflage makeup techniques.

Ciana Salon and Day Spa, located in Los Altos, California, realized the immense need for this service. Jody Bowen, the spa’s camouflage makeup expert, noted that looking at the demographics of the surrounding area helped to determine which approach to camouflage makeup services the spa should take. “In this area of the country, the demographics led us to promote more high-end services,” she says. “We have a lot of clients who are involved with photography sessions and need quality makeup application but just don’t have the time to apply it themselves. We also see a lot of cosmetic surgery clients who are looking to hide scars and cover the healing process after surgery.”

Camouflage application

Upon making a camouflage makeup appointment at Ciana Salon and Day Spa, clients meet with a talented camouflage makeup specialist. Although not all of the clients’ dreams will be achieved through the session, the specialist discusses with them what they are looking for and what they expect to see in the mirror.

Bowen suggests asking clients what makeup products they will be using. Make sure that the products are gentle enough for the skin and will not create an adverse effect or cause more damage. At Ciana Salon and Day Spa, Bowen uses Kryolan Professional Make-up because of its waterproof properties. She adds, “The waterproof availability is especially important for clients who may have some disfiguration from surgeries, accidents, fires or any kind of skin trauma or natural birth defects.” This enables camouflage makeup wearers to continue an everyday lifestyle—whether it be swimming or working out—without feeling self-conscious about their looks.

Next, the specialist helps clients to find the right match to their skin tone during a personal makeup lesson at the spa. Professional camouflage cosmetics are a little thicker and more disguising than regular makeup cosmetics. “This is an important feature of the makeup and the reason clients are able to blend and hide bruising or visible incision lines and scarring,” says Bowen. “I recommend explaining this to the client while the professional shows them the proper ways to apply the makeup.”

Ciana Salon and Day Spa takes the time to talk to each client on an individual basis. This effort really sets the team apart from other professionals. “Each person has a specific reason for needing camouflage makeup,” says Bowen. “Making sure to understand their reasons, helping them feel comfortable and educating them make a difference. They feel like a person and not just another client who is receiving a treatment.”

The right makeup

Because most camouflage cosmetics can be used under a client’s regular foundation or on their own, they can be matched to the skin tones of the area to be covered, similar to regular cosmetics. Bowen advises working with clients to show them how to find a good match. The best way to do this is to try the shade on the neck or face for the most accuracy.

Look for professional products that are hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, as added agents can cause discomfort or skin reactions. “When looking for new cosmetic products, keep in mind that a good camouflage makeup should be smudge-resistant and waterproof, as well as perfectly match the client’s skin tone,” says Bowen. “It also should be easily applied and quick to dry, and have enhanced staying power.” The client should learn how to apply the makeup and the most efficient way to make it look professional. “It may be beneficial to put together a question-and-answer handout for clients,” says Bowen. “This will help them understand more about the purpose of camouflage makeup, as well as the best techniques and product lines to use.”

Training and technique

As Bowen was studying makeup, she was very interested in learning the art and technique of camouflage makeup for use in photography sessions and artistic camera work. “I think that because camouflage makeup can be used in almost any situation—cosmetically or medically—it is important as a makeup artist to have some skill and technique in it,” says Bowen. “Also, I find it so satisfying to be able to make someone happy about who they are on the outside, as well as on the inside.”

A lot of training is available to professionals who want to become camouflage makeup artists, states Bowen. “Most camouflage artists must do their own research and find out what line of makeup works best for them and their clients,” she says. Bowen also suggests to her clients and peers that the best thing to do is just practice and be patient.

Because camouflage makeup application does take practice, consider offering a package, such as five sessions for the price of four. This gives the makeup professional the time to really help each client find the right color, as well as to assist them in the application process. In addition, Bowen notes that many of the brides and realtors who come in for camouflage makeup applications become regular skin care clients. “I believe that because we take the time to speak with the client and explain their skin, they seek other treatments that will enhance its condition and overall health,” she says.

Marketing camouflage services

In order to market camouflage makeup, Ciana Salon and Day Spa relies on word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals. “We have found that if a client is pleased with a service—especially camouflage makeup application—they tell friends, family members and even business associates,” says Bowen. “Being involved in the community also helps. We attend chamber of commerce meetings, and reach out to local burn centers and plastic surgery centers in the area.”

Alison Newman, owner of Ciana Salon and Day Spa, finds that most of its clients request camouflage makeup for special occasions and post-surgical procedures, yet her team is willing to provide custom makeup lessons for any client. Although Ciana Salon and Day Spa offers skin, spa, makeup and hair services, its professional camouflage makeup services help to set the spa apart from local competition. The facility also has a lot of bridal party business where many brides and bridesmaids request to have tattoos and birthmarks covered for photographs on the big day. “Having a talented and experienced camouflage artist on staff enhances our ability to really provide the bride and her bridal party with all of the makeup needs they may have,” states Newman.

More than makeup

Most important when working with camouflage makeup clients is to maintain good communication and consultation skills. “You have to listen to their needs and desires,” says Bowen. “Some clients request tips to coordinate with their existing makeup or ideas for special occasions. Others are looking to use camouflage makeup for covering scars and blemishes, and to make themselves feel more comfortable in their own skin after an injury or surgery. This makes listening to them the most important step.”

Bowen also notes that listening to clients and their reasons for using camouflage makeup commonly causes emotions to arise. However, it is crucial to continue to listen and work with clients to make them feel the best you can. Many individuals who require this type of service also may be dealing with the emotional effects of a trauma. “Keep in mind that you are aiding in their ability to feel better about themselves physically and emotionally,” she says.

At Ciana Salon and Day Spa, the spa team genuinely cares about its clients and wants them to leave feeling good about the end result of their service and about themselves as a whole. Learning how to apply camouflage cosmetics and teaching the techniques to others can be an asset to your spa. Not only can you offer your clients an invaluable service, you also can enhance their looks and confidence.

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