Professional Cosmetics Go High Def


Most of Hollywood has been doing it for less than a decade, and some television shows and channels are catching on. But in February 2009, all full-power broadcast television stations in the U.S. will air digitally in high-definition (HD); no longer broadcasting on analog airwaves. Subsequently, in 2009, the theatrically caked-on foundation and heavy red lipstick worn by performers since the days of silent films and vaudeville will also undergo dramatic change, as the professional color cosmetics market shifts its focus to products formulated for high-def use in film, on television, on the fashion runway and on the stage. Next year, professional color cosmetics brands will not only expand their high-pigmented products into more makeup artists’ studios, they’ll also introduce the concept internationally to the mass consumer.

According to Michael Benjamin, president and CEO of Temptu—a professional, U.S.-based airbrush makeup and body art business that’s launching a new consumer line in 2009—people’s lives are ever-evolving in the digital realm. “Video cameras and digital cameras are almost all high-def,” Benjamin says. “Consumers are able to see themselves in high-def now, too.”

With increased clarity and higher-resolution imagery, high-def is challenging the professional cosmetics market, as well as boosting its appeal. The intimidating aspect of high-def lies in its ability to document even the most minute flaws on the skin or in makeup, thereby making nutricosmetics and other product categories that much more appealing as complementary segments imperative to the high-def makeup market. “Women are taking better care of their skin,” Benjamin says, “which means cosmeceuticals and skin care create the foundation for making our products look flawless.”

Mary Krenn Phillips, product line manager for Presperse LLC, also understands the segment. “To accomplish a flawless, natural look, the canvas of the skin has to be flawless, forcing individuals to really care for and maintain skin health,” she says. “Therefore, you will see a growing synergy between cosmetics and skin care ingredients that promote skin health.”

Sourcing ingredients from industries outside of cosmetic science—such as the paint, the pharmaceutical and the electronics industries—has enhanced the array of formulaic options the supplier has to present to its clients. To meet demand, Presperse has added to its roster marine actives from Biotech Marine in France, arctic oils from Aromtech of Finland, botanical extracts from Bioland of Korea, and skin brightening actives from Technoble of Japan, which work in conjunction with its high-performance cosmetic powders for visible, long-term skin benefits.

Raw Materials

“Where heavy makeup is exposed, soft focus is the key to hiding blemishes on digital film,” says Phillips. “Presperse offers a line of powders that optimizes soft focus properties, including spherical silicas under the trade name Spheron, spherical Ganzpearl PMMA beads and micronized powders from Micro Powders Inc. Instead of masking the imperfections, the skin is blurred to create an appearance of soft focus without camera tricks.”

EMD Chemicals/Rona Ingredients, another supplier, similarly focuses its materials on light refracting properties that minimize the appearance of fine facial lines and wrinkles, such as Ronastar LDP. In addition, EMD offers color pigments that enhance cosmetic sparkle on the runway or stage through its new Xirona Volcanic Sparks line. Other materials that may have promising uses in the professional high-def cosmetics industry are colored bismuth pearl pigments, available through suppliers such as Presperse and Impact Colours, which provide smoother application and promote adhesion. But just as in the fashion industry, cosmetics are cyclical in that color trends constantly change for consumers and professionals alike, and in some ways, the two industries influence one another—an aspect to which some professional cosmetic brand owners pay close attention.

Fashion's Influence

“The cosmetic industry is driven heavily by the fashion forecasts set forth by the world’s most acclaimed designers, and cosmetics complement and enhance fashion,” says Phillips.

For suppliers such as EMD Chemicals, presenting color forecasts as far as 18 months in advance plays an important role in working with beauty brand clients. “This forecast is based on the fashion industry, along with economic trends and influences that illustrate how makeup colors and trends will be affected,” says Rebecca Vaiarelli, marketing, cosmetic pigments, EMD Chemicals.

Companies such as Color Marketing Group create color forecasts up to three years in advance for fashion designers to adapt into their runway lines. In turn, cosmetic companies develop products with colors that coincide with the trends.

According to Sheila McKenna, founder of Kett Cosmetics, professional makeup artists often lead the way in testing these new colors before consumers can buy them. “Roque Cozzette, director of makeup

at Kett, works on the front line of fashion—testing our products alongside some of the best makeup artists in the world,” McKenna says. “This has been just one of the ways that we go forward with new formulas and colors.”

However, as much as makeup artists may respect fashion trends and color forecasts, their suggestions are not doctrine. For Mezhgan Hussainy—makeup artist for American Idol and founder of the start-up professional color cosmetics brand Me by Mezhgan—people’s skin tones, not trends, inspire her work. “For the most part, I started this line with colors that will look good on everybody,” she says. “Later on, we’ll look into more dramatic colors.”

Unlike consumer cosmetic brands that must reinvent their lines each season to reflect current fashion color trends, Marty Melik, owner and president of Mehron, Inc., says professional makeup brands do not always feel that same pressure. “We have some products that have been essential mainstays of loyal customers for decades,” he says.

Melik’s father, Mehron Melik, founded the company in a New York City theater district in 1927 to serve vaudeville and silent film performers. As a youngster in the 1950s, Marty remembers delivering packages of makeup supplies for his dad backstage to theaters, to the Metropolitan Opera and even to 24-hour drugstores. Staying within a set of parameters without going to many extremes has lent to the 81-year success of the brand. However, mainstays aside, adapting to the times has also kept companies such as Mehron afloat, and that includes reformulating products or inventing new ones, specifically for high-definition purposes.

High-Def SKUs

“Mehron’s Celebré Professional Cream Makeup color range avoids red undertones that can wreak havoc with the new, highly sensitive HD cameras,” says Melik. For the stage performer, on the other hand, Mehron has introduced L.I.P. (Luxurious Intense Pigment) Color Cream, a line of 24 high-pigmented lip colors, and is preparing for a 2009 launch of shimmery HD-ready pressed powders. In addition, Mehron has expanded its customer demographic to include clients involved in runway modeling, editorial fashion and special effects makeup, by offering AdGem, a non-latex based adhesive that will adhere jewels to the face and body.

A similar company, ADM Tronics, Inc., has provided its Pros-Aide line to makeup artists for more than 30 years, for use in films such as Pirates of the Caribbean and on television shows such as CSI and Mad TV. Specializing in special effects, ADM is also widely used for body decorating, body painting and Halloween costumes.

“Pros-Aide skin adhesive gives long-lasting adhesion so that makeup appliances, skin decorations, beards and hair will remain adhered for long shoots and avoid the need for constant touch-ups,” says Andre’ DiMino, president, ADM Tronics, Inc. “Also, Pros-Aide No-Tack color base allows for the production of waterproof colors that will adhere to the skin and resist the perspiration and moisture that could ruin a makeup in a high-def scene.”

Other professional cosmetics brands such as Kryolan, headquartered in Berlin, specialize in products that camouflage skin discoloration, pimples and post surgical scars. “The Dermacolour line of products is meant for this purpose and can be used by professionals, as well as non-professionals,” says Dominic Cruz, Kryolan makeup artist, who recently helped launch the brand in U.S. salons and cosmetics boutiques.

“It is important to create the right skin tone by blending colors and gliding the brush over a face, which is a lot like being an artist,” Cruz continues. “We study the face and human body and then work with the actors and camera people to come up with the right look that will work under the arc lights.”

However, for Kett Cosmetics, which was used by makeup artist Ve Neill on Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in the film Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, as well as in four Cirque du Soleil productions, the high-def camera itself serves as the best “microscope” under which to find the right look.

“Testing all our prototypes on camera enabled us to create Hydro Foundation, our first liquid makeup that is versatile enough to be applied with an airbrush or traditionally,” Kett’s founder, McKenna, says. “Knowing that color and texture would be dramatically enhanced, we eliminated the need for unnecessary reflectors and mattifiers in our quest to create a finish that mimics the skin.”

Consumer Lines

Although professional color cosmetics differ from consumer products where pigment load and packaging are concerned, companies like Kett have already prepared for the transition. “We started targeting professional makeup artists because of their access to a wide range of clients from television to film and from bridal to the consumer,” McKenna says. “Our target market has since broadened with the development of Fixx Creme Makeup. It started as an alternative to airbrushing for the on-air talent in the television industry, but because of its user-friendly benefits, it has crossed over to the general consumer. We now have plans to expand and target the prestige market.” According to McKenna, “Consumers love using what the pros use.” To pursue the new client demographic, her line is sold not only at professional makeup supply stores and to makeup schools, but also in spas and salons. Since the brand was founded in 2004, Kett Cosmetics is available in 15 countries and expanding its airbrush awareness—specifically in India and Japan—by training its distributors with advanced airbrush makeup techniques. Similarly, airbrush experts from Temptu work with everyone from Hollywood makeup artists to salon clients. Recently, Temptu collaborated with designer Liz McClean to create limited-edition, temporary peace sign tattoo transfers for her Spring Collection runway show. “With airbrushing, there are no brush strokes, and the skin looks real,” says Temptu president and CEO Benjamin.

Temptu is currently working on patent-pending, high-tech airbrushing techniques that, according to the company, have never before been used, as well as a division expansion in 2009 to a consumer line based on its palette of professional colors. Soon, versions of the silicone-based makeup Temptu artists used for the porcelain skin effect on Nicole Kidman in The Stepford Wives could be available to mass consumers. In addition, Benjamin says the popularity of airbrushed makeup techniques will flourish in the new high-def environment.

Mehron, Inc. has also recognized the high-def possibilities for airbrush applications, developing such proprietary formulas for some of its private label clients.

Additionally, its worldwide network of re-sellers currently makes the brand’s products available in 25 countries.

And for makeup artist-founded brands such as Me by Mezhgan, retail channels such as Sephora or Saks Fifth Avenue department stores could one day offer the currently Web-exclusive line to mass consumers. “We are targeting both mass and professional channels,” Mezhgan says, “because the makeup looks great on TV and in person. I wanted multifunctional products that don’t make you look like a drag queen off stage and makeup that doesn’t look caked on.”

Minerals in HD

To avoid the caked-on look, consumer color cosmetics brands have reformulated products like foundation and bronzers with lighter mineral elements. According to Kett Cosmetics’ McKenna, however, the trend isn’t as prevalent in the professional market.

“Professional makeup artists choose their products based on versatility. They need to be able to use their makeup in as many situations and on as many skin types as possible,” she says. “During our ingredient research phase, we found that mica—the base of all mineral makeup—is highly reflective and is too unpredictable to be used in foundation formulations, but mica is still acceptable in eye shadows, lipstick and glosses. Instead, we have created a ‘conscious brand,’ by not including any ingredients that are animal-derived, which would satisfy the vegan artist and consumer.”

For professional brands that are interested in adding natural mineral powders or naturally derived active ingredients to products, suppliers such as Presperse offer such materials. “At the same time, we also provide highly technological synthetic ingredients to those customers not following the trend,” says Presperse’s production line manager, Phillips. “One path is not better than the other. It is just a matter of preference.” One global trend that is gaining ground in the professional cosmetics market, on the other hand, is the reduction of packaging waste. Mehron, for example, ensures its packaging vendors use recycled materials. Also, global compliance via eco-friendly ingredients parallels the sustainability movement, with suppliers offering products compliant with Cosmebio, Ecocert, BDIH, the Soil Association and NOP standards.

Making the Transition

Along with more eco-friendly ingredients and packaging, as the professional color cosmetics industry shifts its focus toward more high-definition-ready products in the next five years, Mehron’s president believes the overall quality of professional cosmetics will improve globally. “There are many areas of the world where consumer cosmetics are readily available, but not professional cosmetics,” Melik says. “A good example of this is India. India has the largest movie production industry in the world, but still lacks access to professional-grade cosmetic products. There are other emerging markets for professional cosmetics, as well.”

According to Dimino of Pros-Aide, the shift to high-def in film, television and photography will not only expand current product lines, but also provide the catalyst for the expansion of the professional color cosmetics arena as a whole. “The need for professional, quality makeup is now more acute than in the past,” DiMino says. “Anyone in the view of the camera has to look perfect, or the camera will pick it up. This is an opportunity for the industry, as the demand for quality makeup professionals—and products—is increasing.”

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