An Afternoon at Naimie’s

The beauty center is vetted by industry insiders—and open to all

One thing I love about awards season is the ‘how to’ beauty guides for recreating gorgeous finger waves, statement red lips, and dark, smoky eyes with easy to find products that always seem to pop up. One secret that’s rarely mentioned: actresses have access to pro-grade products that create flawless looks that stands up to the glare of high wattage lights—and so can you.

I recently headed to Naimie’s Beauty Center, a pro artist’s one-stop shop, to play around with products by obscure brands I rarely hear from as a beauty blogger. I was looking for things that I could actually work with on my own. If you’re like me, you think some of the funkier beauty items out there, like banana powder (which gives Kim Kardashian her natural glow) and airbrushed foundations (Gabrielle Union swears by Temptu), are too tricky to master. But that’s not keeping lots of women, myself included, from wanting to try.

Kryolan professional makeup artist Jake Ramos, who showed me around the shop, tells me “women today want to know what the pros are using thanks to social media.” He says palettes are popular because they offer such a good value. Playing around with some bright, kaleidoscopic color wheels myself, I noticed the pro-grade powders and creams were richer than their big brand-name counterparts but easy to blend, even with my novice fingers. The setting powders (corrective greens, pinks, blues and stark white) photographed true to color with or without my iPhone’s flash.

I weaseled some more brand-specific insights from Jake, who tells me pro-grade products are more intense, which means you can get away with using less product. “The average over-the-counter brands have about 12% pigment, but pro lines (like Kryolan Professional Make-up) have up to 75% pigment.”

It took me two minutes to get hooked on Jake’s first recommendation—Kryolan’s HD Micro Primer ($27.50), which completely transformed the application of the Micro Foundation Smoothing Fluid ($49.95) on my skin. I spread three little drops of the concentrated, paraben-free primer over my T-zone to minimize my pores. It left my skin feeling smooth, not slick like most primers. Eight hours later, my foundation hadn’t creased at my laugh lines.

A good blush is always an asset in winter, and I fell for Ben Nye’s Fashion Rouge Palette ($50). The eight beautifully silky blushes might look ultra-bright in the kit, but they apply more like warm neutrals. Don’t don’t spend too much time layering the shades: you’ll get a monochromatic look (that was my mistake).

Another pro tool, the Japonesque Power Curl Eyelash Curler ($19) makes the grade for not pinching the skin. It doesn’t tug at lashes (with or without mascara) when you release, either, which is a crucial pain point for me. Another life-long perk? Free pad refills from the brand.

It’s entirely possible to lose an afternoon looking through the floor-to-wall assortment of interesting palettes and tools at Naimie’s. I know I did, and I’ll be back for more.