Major cosmetics company courts Latinas
San Antonian Diana Rodriguez Ruthben is in a makeup conundrum. She loves wearing colorful eye shadow but also craves the smoky-eye look. And then there are her lips. When should she wear a vibrant red – a favorite – instead of the spicy coral that has become her go-to lipstick?
As the newlywed sits in a chair at Dillard’s North Star Mall, Rodolfo Arciga and Honorina Sartena, top makeup artists for Estée Lauder, hover over the former nurse’s aide.
They dab on foundation, brush on blush and contour her cheeks with bronzer. Her eyelids are swathed in a bold blue-and-gray blend for a colorful, sexy look. On the lips, a neutral gloss. Eyebrows have been enhanced with waterproof mascara – the same mascara used to lengthen her eyelashes, which was wiped off a wand and brushed through the brows, adding thickness and definition.
Looking into a mirror, she exclaims, “I think it’s fantastic. I normally would go to a drugstore and pick out whatever’s on sale, whatever I find.”
Arciga, who is based in Mexico City, was on a Texas tour last week, checking in with Latinas in San Antonio, Laredo and McAllen, exploring Latina makeup concerns and special needs, from oily skin to over-tweezed eyebrows. “Being from Mexico, I understand the Latin culture and its women,” he said.
This is the first time that the makeup giant has reached out to the Latina customer with its “Fiesta de Color y Belleza” or “Ultimate Beauty Party.” On hand were bilingual makeup artists, signage in English and Spanish, even a play area for children.
The company has also hired its first Latina spokesmodel, Joan Smalls of Puerto Rico.
Arciga said Latinas, perhaps more than women of any other ethnicity, are more daring with colorful makeup because color is rooted in their lives. “Our culture loves color. It is in our food. We eat color. We wear color. We celebrate with color, which brings happiness to us at our celebrations with family,” Arciga said. “Frida Kahlo brought color to her look. Even Our Lady of Guadalupe is adorned with color.”
But the pitfall of colorful makeup is using too much, a problem among many Latinas.
He advises: “If the eyes are bold, the lips are neutral and vice versa. Try on the red lipstick, and if it is too much, you play with another. It’s all about finding balance.”
Ericka Perdue, an agent with Houston’s Page 713 Model and Talent Agency, agrees.
“Color is gorgeous, but we have to teach Latinas the line between wearing colorful makeup during the daytime and nighttime. Color is much more suited for evening and neutrals for daytime. But sometimes neutral for Latinas could be black or purple instead of pinks, tans and beiges.”
Houston model and mom of three, Anna Fuentes, 33, knows how to get noticed – or not.
With a recent weekend filled with four parties – three during the day and a nighttime birthday bash for adults, she kept her day look to natural eye shadow and lip gloss. But for her evening party, she pulled out the blue eye shadow, a pink blush and a light lipstick.
Rick DiCecca, a Lauder global makeup stylist who helps set the trends, said that Lauder isn’t looking at developing makeup specifically for Latinas because the company’s franchises have an arsenal of foundations, mascaras, eye shadows and lipsticks “that work for the spectrum of Latinas.”
“What we’re about right now is learning more from Latinas, gathering research as well as letting Latinas know that we are a resource for them. This is an infant project, and Texas is the catalyst.”