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The first floor of Neiman Marcus is on full tilt. Loud music blares as pouty Victoria Beckam-like models sit atop podiums in the shoe department, dangling stiletto Jimmy Choos from their slender feet, while A-list shoppers dine on finger food and sip from crystal flutes of champagne. The real show, however, is taking place in a small broom closet of a room near the cosmetics counter where iconic makeup artist, Sandy Linter, is giving private makeup lessons to the Dallas rich and famous. On tour complements of Neiman’s, to promote her new book, Makeup Wakeup, Sandy is fresh, fabulous and achingly beautiful, with nary a hint of her 63 years.
The first time I met Sandy Linter, we were both in our early twenties, and the memory of this angelic vision has stayed with me ever since. I remember she was dressed in a pale yellow chiffon, dropped-waist vintage dress, with chic short blonde hair. Even then, Sandy Linter was no ordinary makeup artist.
A couple of years ago Sandy, “Ambassador at Every Age” for Lancôme, helped me do a series of videos for BreastCancerSisterhood.com. I wanted to show women taking chemotherapy how to compensate for lack of eyebrows and eyelashes and how to give their skin a healthy glow. These videos turned out to be great makeup lessons for every woman, and have since become the most downloaded makeup lessons on the Internet. Today, however, I’m at Neiman’s to talk with Sandy, and co-author, Lois Joy Johnson, one of the founding editors and the former beauty and fashion director of MORE magazine, about their book, Makeup Wakeup. As we talk, Sandy can’t resist changing my lipstick. “It’s not quite the right shade,” she said, “But everything else you’ve done is perfect.”
BC: “One of the things I love about your book is that you and Lois have different styles and approaches to makeup. I think this gives women permission to find something that works for them and not follow a cookie cutter look.”
SL: “The book has two, different distinct flavors because Lois is a beauty and fashion expert, and I’m a makeup artist. I feel one way; she feels another, but we arrive at similar places.”
BC: “What made you and Lois decide to be so brutally honest about Botox, droopy skin and plastic surgery?”
SL: “I’m 63. All of the women I make up who are over 40, 50, and 60 have questions about eye surgery, lips and facelifts. They want to talk about surgery. Since this is a makeup book for women over 40, you can’t avoid talking about it. Lois and I wanted to write a beauty guide we’d read ourselves, one that solved the kinds of issues women face every day.”
BC: ”One of the reasons women are going to love this book is because you talk about yourself.”
SL: “I’m like you are with your readers. I tell it like it is. I’ve made mistakes, but I talk about Botox and surgery and what I did to make me feel better. It’s not for everybody.”
BC: “You’ve been doing little procedures all along. I’ve never done anything, not even Botox, so I’m afraid I’d windup with a drastic new look I wouldn’t like.”
SL: “You should be afraid of that, so you know what? You pick the one thing that bothers you most and do that first. Then you heal and live with it, and if you want, then you do the next thing that bothers you.”
BC: “What’s the most important thing women over 40 can do to take care of their skin?”
SL: “Sun protection. Women spend thousands of dollars on laser treatment to correct sun damage. Plus sun damage can cause cancer. In the book, Lois talks about her skin cancer. The entire tip of her nose had to be rebuilt because of it.”
BC: “What’s the worst mistake women over 40 make?”
SL: “The worst mistake is to give up and stop wearing makeup. Women say, ‘Oh, I have wrinkles, I can’t wear foundation,’ but there’s all kinds of new foundations with better texture, so keep up-to-date with your products. Don’t wear the same thing you’ve worn forever. Go to the makeup counter and try two or three colors on your jaw until you find the right one. Learn how to make the most of your eyes with eyeliner, mascara; get good brushes; learn the technique.”
BC: “As you know, I’m all about survivorship. What’s made you survive in an industry where so many come and go or succumb to drugs, ego and fame?”
SL: “When you first knew me, I was really involved in a rock ‘n roll lifestyle, and I wound up burnt-out. It’s a really weird feeling because you don’t know you’re burnt-out until maybe a year after you’re burnt-out. You just have to start all over again. I blocked out all the people around me and just zoned in on my own little career. I rebuilt it from the days when you knew me as a star (gesturing from high to low), then went to there and no one knew about me for years. Then little by little, I got back.”
BC: “What would people be surprised to learn about you?”
SL: (Sandy dissolves into gales of laughter.) “People would be surprised to learn a lot of things about me, but I won’t tell them!”
Makeup Wakeup is more than a “how-to” book. It is like dishing with girlfriends only these girlfriends have helped define and launch the anti-aging of beauty and fashion. The book’s forward is written by Bette Midler and features “before” and “afters” of familiar faces like models Carol Alt, Patti Hansen and Cheryl Tiegs, “Behind the Velvet Ropes” Lauren Ezersky, actress Sigourney Weaver and rock star Debbie Harry/Blondie. Chapters include “I’m Obsessed with My…” and “Should I Have Some Work Done? Yes, No, Maybe,” plus interviews with the world’s top dermatologists and plastic surgeons. One of my favorite parts of this 288 page book are the specific brands and colors Sandy and Lois recommend, not to mention a “before” and “after” of Sandy doing her own makeup.
If you’d like to win an autographed copy of Makeup Wakeup, just put a comment on my blog, using the words “Makeup Wakeup.” I will then make a list of everyone’s name on a separate Post It, fold them, put them in my wide-brimmed sun protection hat, close my eyes and draw a name. Once I’ve drawn a name, I’ll email you offline for your address, then send the book to you postage free. You have until next week’s BRENDA’S BLOG is posted, Sunday, April 24th, to enter, so get crackin’. For those of you who wish to purchase Makeup Wakeup at a special price, go to RETAIL THERAPY on BreastCancerSisterhood.com. Next week, I want to introduce you to Lois Joy Johnson. We’ll talk about her basal cell carcinoma and her fabulous career.