By Nakisha Williams

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There is something about winter that makes it the perfect backdrop for a makeover. Maybe watching Mother Nature shed her leaves makes us run to the salon to change our hair color, rethink our bright fall eye shadows, and contemplate new foundation that will match the new color of our skin.

My own desire for change took me to the steps of New York City’s illustrious Bergdorf Goodman ( The beauty counters were a buzz of activity as makeup artists consulted women. Brushes were liberally applying color on skin, and techniques were shared with the goal of making every woman look her personal best.


BeautyNews met with Quinntin Phelps, who is Bergdorf Goodman’s Global Beauty Expert. After working with Bobbi Brown and Vincent Longo to name a few, he came to Bergdorf’s to be a personal shopper and then climbed the ranks to the position he holds today. As Global Beauty Expert, it’s his job to know the ins and outs of every cosmetic line on the floor. In short: he’s fluent in the language of beauty.

After we sat down, Quinntin was my “skin shrink” for the next five minutes. He asked me a series of questions about my makeup regimen, listened to my skin woes, and when he had gathered enough information to assess me, he offered his diagnosis: Nars would be the makeup line that would offer the best colors to match my skin, although he would incorporate other products as well.

At the counter the Nars Beauty Specialist, Lori Dimos, helped me get back to the basics: my skin sans makeup. I was transformed into something primordial: a blank slate just ready to be painted. I have to admit that I was a little nervous, since I hardly allow myself to be seen in public without at least a little lip-gloss and mascara, but Lori assured me that I was in good hands, “It’s Bergdorf,” she said confidently “everyone –from the employees, to the clients–is beautiful.”


Before: Dry blotchy skin, tired after-work look

With my skin stripped down to its natural state, I realized that the cold weather had taken a toll on me. Flaky dry patches had formed and when exfoliated, left sections of my skin lighter than others. And apparently, long days at the offices have created deep circles.

Make my skin look flawless
Quinntin is a huge advocate of skincare. “Skin is the new makeup,” he explained. “These days it’s less about wearing a heavily made up face and more about having spotless skin. Everything about the skin needs to look radiant.” Quinntin kept reminding me (with a deeply serious face) “Great skin is not an option.”

After using a cocktail of skin care products, Quinntin used Bobbi Brown Corrector in Deep Bisque to tackle my after-work circles. Quinntin used a small brush to apply the Corrector in sweeping motions under my eyes up to the inside and outside edges of my eyes and blended with his fingers. Before he went any further, I had to remind him that I absolutely hate wearing foundation. I hate the cakey feeling that most foundations leave you with so usually I skip it altogether.

Quinntin showed me Becca Luminous Skin Colour in Mink. “This one happens to be very lightweight,” he said. “This is their tinted moisturizer and that’s all your skin really needs.” Skeptically I let him try it. “Using your fingers allows you to get closer to the skin so that the makeup doesn’t just sit on the surface,” he explained. Surprisingly after he applied it, my skin felt the same as when he started! What’s more, this product by Becca is multi-purpose, incorporating SPF 26, an array of vitamins and a water-base that provides firming benefits along with moisture-binding and skin softening properties–perfect for my thirsty skin! Quinntin reminded me that it is important to use products in the wintertime since the elements can strip out moisture from skin.

Since my skin had lighter colored patches, Quinntin used dabs of Bobbi Brown Moisture Rich Foundation in Warm Almond to even out my skintone. This product also has sun protection (SPF 15) and ingredients to hydrate the skin. This foundation is also buildable; you can use it for medium or full coverage, which was perfect since we were only using it on specific areas.

Before we went any further, Quinntin urged me to look in the mirror. I braced myself, but I was pleasantly surprised! My skin looked absolutely amazing. I could have honestly walked out of the store and been pleased with my natural looking face. “You can have great skin and still use foundation,” he said. “The point is to even out your skin out not necessarily trying to give a lot of coverage. The only time you need a lot of coverage is when you are trying to hide something, which is exactly what you don’t want to do. You just want to even out.”

Although I could have been happy just the way I was, Quinntin had a few more tricks up his sleeve to show me. “You see, skin care starts the process, foundation is the accent, and everything else is icing. When you don’t have great looking skin, it’s as if you’re ill-dressed.” Had I been naked all this time?


A precise brow

“Eyebrows and lashes are key” Quinntin said. Noticing my apprehension Quinntin asked if I have ever used an eyebrow pencil before. To be honest I hadn’t. I’m not a big fan of eyebrow pencils. There’s nothing I hate more than seeing women walk around like Groucho Marx! So unattractive! He explained that anyone could use an eyebrow pencil it’s just about picking out the right one. Women with thicker brows should use a pencil with more weight and texture so that it can be seen through the density of the brow. Women with thinner brows should use pencils that are lighter (lest they end up looking like Groucho!). Since my brows are thicker, he used Lancôme Le Crayon Poudre Powder Pencil for the Brows in Mahogany and applied it in a light motion with a goal of filling in the sparse areas and defining my arch. The result was striking, yet still natural. It only enhanced my already plucked brows and took them into overdrive!

Let me pause for a minute, because at this point, I simply couldn’t get over how natural and amazing my makeup looked and all without an ounce of color!

Eye See In Color
At the beginning of my consultation when Quinntin asked me how I preferred to wear my makeup, I told him that I loved dramatic eyes with lighter lips. Now that I had a skin revelation, I wanted to do a really down to earth eye, but Quinntin wanted to prove to me that I could still look natural and use the vibrant and dramatic eye colors I had grown to love. For eye shadow, he chose Nars Cream Eye shadow in Maracaibo, a deep purple, and he used just a bit of it over my lids to establish a color. However, the real definition came in the form of eyeliner.

“Eyes are so important so you want to do a line that’s vivid and strong,” he said. To create that effect he used he used tarte’s Eyeliner in Starry Night starting in the middle of my eyelid and drawing out. He also used the liner on the inside of my eyelids for a truly dramatic finish. “Tarte eyeliners are very easy to use and they don’t move around a lot,” he explained. Perfect! I wouldn’t want to slip back into the raccoon eyes that we so adamantly corrected!

“You can leave it at that or you can go to the next stage which would be a powder liner,” Quinntin explained, “a powder liner sets a regular pencil liner and is also perfect for an evening look.”
To create an evening look, Quinntin used Nars Eye Shadow in Night Breed with an eyeliner brush over the Tarte eyeliner. He smudged the powder liner lightly over the top of my lids and created a lightly smudged line on my lower eyelid to create a very polished “smoky eye.” He lengthened my lashes with Fresh’s Supernova Mascara in Black on my upper and lower lashes.

A Luminous Glow
To finish my look Quinntin used Nars Blush in Outlaw in downward sweeping motions. The pinky blush provided just a hint of color on my cheeks for a sun-kissed look. And since my eyes were so dramatic, Quinntin decided to give me toned-down lips and used Chantecaille’s Brilliant Gloss in Charm for a barely-there high gloss tint.

I grabbed the mirror ready to take in the result but Quinntin wasn’t quite done with me yet. I could barely hold my horses long enough for him to spray Scott Barnes Luminizing Mist on my face but I’m truly glad I did. This product by Scott Barnes is truly amazing. When sprayed on your face it not only sets makeup but also creates a beautiful glow! The silky finish not only pumps your face with moisture (without making your makeup run) it also provides a silky finish that makes it look like you’re not wearing any makeup at all.


After: Rejuvenated glowing skin, Dramatic night-ready makeup!

I almost squealed with delight when I held a mirror up to my finished face! Not only did my skin look completely summer time fresh again, Quinntin had somehow managed to give me a nighttime look that didn’t look completely overdone. I left Bergdorf with a spring in my step and went into the night ready to paint the town!

The Morning “After:” Makeup Meltdown
The next day I woke up and realized that all of Quinntin’s handiwork had melted down my face and I was once again back to the way I was before. A little sad that I was once again left to my own devices, I took Quinntin’s advice, gathered his recommended products and began to try to incorporate them into my daily life.

I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t look as perfect as I did under Quinntin’s guidance but I got myself pretty close! The nighttime drama of the Nars eye shadows wasn’t as practical for my day-to day life, but it was perfect for the weekends. And the Tarte eyeliner has become a favorite of mine for its bold finish that really does stay put during long hours at the office, cocktails with my girls and everything in between.

Thanks to Quinntin’s Global Beauty expertise, I feel like a Bergdorf Beauty even in the comfort of my own home.

Bergdorf Goodman is located at 754 5th Avenue New York, NY.
To make an appointment with Quinntin Phelps call (212) 753-7300.

All products are available at

Originally published December 2006



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