Welcome to beauty 101, with Andrea Pomerantz Lustig as the professor and her new book How To Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor's Secrets To Getting Gorgeous Without Breaking the Bank (Gotham, $25) as your textbook. When class is dismissed, you'll know the difference between primer and brightener in order to look like a million bucks, even on a dime-size budget.
This beauty bible is full of Lustig's encyclopedic knowledge of everything from celebrity hairstyles to DIY manicures. She opens her personal Rolodex of professional makeup artists, colorists and tanning specialists to give readers a crash course on how to look "classy, not trashy."
She spills tips that probably wouldn't grace the pages of your favorite magazine (like exactly how to get Angelina Jolie's haircut), and even gives detailed skin-care and makeup glossaries so readers are never left in the dust. Most beauty manuals give good advice, but Lustig's follows her advice by listing real products, both high and low (some of her favorites are available at Target!), so anyone can follow her tips with the right tools.
We chatted with Lustig recently to learn more about how to look expensive in these post-recessionary times.
Never miss a local story.
What are the most common "cheap" mistakes you see and their quick fixes?
One thing I'll say for sure: Trying too hard can be a big mistake, trying to look too done can instantly make you look cheap. A lot of people think that if they do spend money -- when they're getting their makeup done or ... getting a cut -- they want to be able to see where their money went, and that can be a big mistake because it makes you veer into an unnatural category, and that's a place where you don't want to go.
I was on the bus the other day and I saw this beautiful young woman and she had on so much makeup it was off-putting. She took her beautiful face and beautiful skin and made herself look cheap.
In the book you mention four ways to look luxe: Park Avenue Pretty, Hollywood Boho, Glam Globe-Trotter and Modern Movie Star. Which do you most closely self-identify with most of the time?
I'd say I'm a cross between Park Avenue Pretty and Hollywood Boho, because I like to look polished and tailored and classic with a twist, and I like to look individual and have something be a little bit off in terms of how it's expected -- that's what I call the Boho part of it. I've tried my hair so many ways, but I always come back to the Park Avenue Pretty -- the straight, sleek [look]. And when you get your hair cut, you want to feel confident and that's something I'm not going to lose, but I have a haircut that gives it a little bit of an edge that makes it more Boho or gives it a little bit more of the Glam Globe-Trotter.
If you only have five minutes in the morning, what are the most important steps to your beauty regimen that you'll never, ever skip?
I try not to spend more than five minutes, and I really have my makeup down to a system that can accommodate that. I probably pull my hair into a chignon or a French twist, put on a BB cream or a sunscreen or a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen -- something with anti-aging and sunscreen that can take the place of foundation.
On my eyes, I put a little bit of foundation with a shimmer shadow stick in a soft taupe-y, mauve-y color with an abbreviated version of the everyday expensive eye look [in the book] with a bronze pencil, a little mascara and the NARS Multiple in Orgasm for blush since I can't live without it.
On the lips, to be really quick, something I'm loving right now is a Neutrogena moisturizing colored lip balm.
You write a lot about liquid and tinted foundations, but what are your thoughts on mousse and whipped foundations and how they should be used?
I think that they're terrific and easier to use than a lot of liquid foundations. They go on softer and diffuse better into your skin -- I think they rub in a lot easier. Use a hard edge brush, not a soft foundation brush; Sonia Kashuk makes a great one at Target that would be perfect. It's a flat top, multipurpose duo fiber brush that's great for whipped creamy makeup.
What's the most important makeup item in your bag?
Definitely The NARS Multiple in Orgasm -- the stick, not the powder -- because I like all of my makeup in creams. It doesn't sit on top of the skin, it gives an internal glow [and] if you watch the Oscars or look at any paparazzi shots, there's that glow on the cheeks and it gives them that kind of rich, expensive look.
There's a version of it in the book that's just as good, the NYX Tango with Bronzing Stix in Merengue Flush -- it's $10 and it's the closest one to NARS.
The other is my bronze eyeliner; I think it works on any eye color, it gives you definition and that kind of candlelit eye look, and it never looks harsh. There's one from Sephora that I love and one from Target's Sonia Kashuk line.
A lot of stars are rocking fringe lately. What are your tips for getting bangs cut?
To be perfectly honest, I really think bangs are an easy way to look cheap. Not anyone can wear bangs, and when they grow out they can look awful, so I'm not a bangs believer. But if you do, wear longer bangs that can be pushed to both sides. Jessica Biel is looking amazing right now with her bangs.
Since nail art is such a big trend, what's the best way to try it out while still getting that "expensive" look?
I'd say go simple. I like the nail stickers, and they're an easy way to try it out. I wrote about a site in the back of my book, DollarNailArt.com, that's a good place to buy stickers to try it out for a dollar.
Have fun with it, but keep it classy. You can wear nail art, but I would stay away from rhinestones and stuff like that. Instead go for an interesting pattern -- the Burberry check or a polka dot print. Dollar Nails has these fun translucent foils that come in a lot of colors. Nails are an easy splurge.
You have all of the pros in the book spill their pet peeves. What are some of yours?
One of my biggest pet peeves that I mention in the book is eyeliner inside the eye. It just looks painful and not pretty and it's not a day look. Also, chipped nails -- I think there's nothing that can cheapen your look faster.
Eyebrows that are not groomed, especially groomed eyebrows that have grown out. I find looking in the car mirror is a great way to really see what's going on with your eyebrows; I think eyebrows are really, really important. I could go on ... and I actually wrote 50 or 60 other pages that didn't make it into the book!
Do you have a beauty icon, or a small handful of beauty icons that you look to for inspiration?
I'm nothing like Taylor Swift, but I find her beauty look breathtaking and inspiring.
Angelina Jolie always looks chic no matter what, although she has her bad days, too. I'm always looking and I'm not limited by who inspires me. I go to wireimage.com, it's a photo research website that has all of the celebrity photos with coverage for all events, so I look there for inspiration. I think what's important is don't try and be anybody else, be the best version of yourself. [Celebrities] are trying to look like the best version of themselves.