Fashion & Beauty

Own Your Wonder

April 5, 2019

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I’M A HUGE FAN of Angie Castellano’s laugh-out-loud makeup videos, but her style is, well, not mine. Smoky eye? Gold eye shadow? Nothing wrong with that. But not for me. Then Own Your Wonder, a makeup service in Georgetown, contacted LittleBird Janet to introduce itself, and I jumped at the assignment.

See, I love makeup. I don’t wear much, but nothing beats that optimistic feeling you get amidst the cosmetic counters at Bloomingdale’s or Saks. The right blush, eye shadow combination or new lipstick keeps hope alive. Plus I can’t bear facing the world with a naked face. And I was eager to learn how the pros at Own Your Wonder would approach a face that, let’s just say, wasn’t dewy with youth.

As their website points out, Own Your Wonder is a full-service makeup bar that makes professional makeup accessible and affordable. Whether you’re going for a no-makeup makeup, on-trend look or total glam for every day or special occasion. Offering monthly membership or à la carte services, there’s no retail, no pressure to buy products. Wonder welcomes all skin tones, styles and gender identities.

Six experienced makeup artists offer services that can be as specific as a 15-minute eye touch-up or as encompassing as a 60-minute chin to bangs makeover. Wonder offers makeup lessons too. The pros will point out what they believe is your best feature and teach you tricks of enhancement along with advice on how to conceal those not-so-desirable features.

The artists use a variety of cosmetics and even will use your brought-from-home favorites. They also can provide tips on making the most of all those products cluttering your bathroom counter. But don’t be surprised at being asked to reveal the contents of your makeup bag. And really don’t be surprised by a command to throw away that 10-year-old lint-covered lipstick you’ve been dragging around. You know you should have done it years ago even if it did cost $35, The pros recommend tossing any product older than a year, particularly lipsticks and eye products.

It’s easy enough to watch a makeup video with a model who looks nothing like you, but much better when you’re the model and a professional is tailoring the makeup just for you. Own Your Wonder allows you to walk away with a new appreciation of what works for you and, equally important, what doesn’t.

Prices range from $20 for a 15-minute eye touch up to $70 for the 60-minute total makeover. Bring a friend and get two 30-minute makeovers for $50. Makeup lessons cost between $60 for a 30-minute mini lesson and $350 for a 60-minute group session. Like I said, bring a friend (or friends). It’s fun.

I persuaded my friend JoEllen to be my test case. JoEllen, an amazingly talented pastel and oil artist (check out her work ) is a real girl’s girl who likes to glam up for gallery openings and receptions and always seems to have a wedding on her calendar. The plan was twofold—a minimalist daytime look that with just an added touch or two could segue into a more dramatic nighttime face.

Makeup artist Alexandria Washington, who with her waist-length blond braids and sweeping eyelashes is no stranger to drama herself, began with JoEllen’s light eyebrows, which Alex filled in with a soft brown pencil then carefully arched by applying concealer under the brow. Concealer evened out the darkness below the eye as well. Using concealer for shaping was news to me.

Alex applied a bare champagne-colored shadow to JoEllen’s lids and created depth by working a light plum shadow into the crease. That was it for eye shadow for this light, fresh daytime look. But it was perfect. It didn’t scream makeup. Just a touch of daytime drama came next. With eyeliner Alex drew the thinnest of lines at the upper lash line. The effect was illuminating. The subtle line defined JoEllen’s eyes, making her eyes the focus and not the eyeliner. A brush of brown mascara (not black!) and JoEllen’s eyes were softly transformed. A light liquid foundation and sweep of pale blush finished the face. I was surprised Alex finished with foundation rather than applying it first. Her reason? Applying it first allows for the possibility of eye shadow fall-out messing up the foundation. And, as she says, it’s almost impossible to clean it off without ruining the foundation you’ve just applied.

Alex’s philosophy is that you should always stress your strongest feature, assuming of course, you’re aware which feature is your strongest. Alex singled out JoEllen’s lips and for daytime chose a light plum lip color. She used a lip liner for definition and extended the liner color over most of JoEllen’s lips to keep the lipstick from feathering at the edges and to prolong its wear. It was easy then to up the nighttime ante simply by switching the lip color to a deep, darker berry. No need to redo the entire face.

Were my concerns about makeup on older skin valid? You bet. Hydration is key. Don’t skimp on moisturizer. Foundation and powder can accentuate wrinkles so it’s wise to be sparing with both. However, Alex believes older customers shouldn’t necessarily shy away from shimmer since, she says, it can make the skin look fresher. She recommends applying it lightly and in both directions for good coverage.

Have questions? Don’t be shy. Ask the artists. They want you to be engaged in the process. If you’re not happy with the outcome, let them know. Don’t walk out the door feeling you need to go directly home and wash your face. This is an opportunity to experiment. And have a good time in the process.

—Kathy Legg

Own Your Wonder, 1659 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 202 298-8000, Open weekdays from 8am to 7pm, weekends from 9am to 7pm, but often accommodates appointments both earlier and later in the day, particularly for membership holders. Book online or call ahead for same-day appointments.






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