Applying a personal touch to cosmetics


In the world of makeup, there probably are as many lines out there as there are people. Designer lines, drugstore or mail-order lines, skin-care-shop-in-the-mall lines.

How do women find which line has the perfect colors and products just for them?

Most of the time they don't, says Giella Poblocki, creator of GIELLA Custom Blend Cosmetics, which specializes in mixing personalized makeup for individual clients, based on their hair, eye and skin color.

She was in town yesterday showing off her line and explaining why it's successful.

"Many women are really frustrated, with a drawer full of makeup and nothing really works," says Poblocki, a New York-based makeup artist. "We take all that guesswork out of it for you. So you're not constricted by what a company has to sell you."

Poblocki's three-year-old line - which she mixes and sells mainly out of the Henri Bendel department store on Fifth Avenue in New York - has made her somewhat of a celebrity. She's been seen in numerous fashion and beauty magazines and on television shows, including Ricki Lake's and the Style Network's Stripped.

Yesterday, she brought herself to About Faces Salon and Day Spa in Timonium, where she'll be until tomorrow demonstrating how custom cosmetics work.

Her technique is surprisingly simple. Poblocki and the artists she trains take a good, long look at a woman's skin tones and her hair and eye color. Trained to pick up subtleties of color - depth, undertones, intensity - they begin to mix and match various lipstick colorants and mica powders to make colors that work specifically for that woman.

The process works for many different kinds of cosmetics but is particularly successful in foundations - the basic skin-tone evener that many women struggle mightily to find that will match their complexion.

Many foundations make women look too orange or too gray. If a foundation is too dark, she'll get an unsightly line under her chin, or her face will be a different color from her neck. If it's too light, she'll look washed out or ashen.

Because GIELLA cosmetics are mixed on site, using the basic ingredients of makeup, not select premade colors, her artists hit the foundation jackpot nearly 100 percent of the time, Poblocki says.

The same is true for cheek colors, eye shadows, lipsticks, tinted moisturizers, bronzers and various other products, she says.

"We kind of follow the Starbucks philosophy," Poblocki says. "Their motto is 'Customize your cup.' Extra hot. No foam. Double it. You're in control. You take charge. That's kind of what we do at our counters. We'll create a set of colors that works for you. If you want a drop more of something in that lip gloss, we'll add it. It's a very intimate experience."

Clients' selections stay on file and can be re-ordered by phone or online. GIELLA can also mix replicas of other companies' discontinued colors - a major draw.

Although GIELLA consultant Lisa Bell mixes and sells the products in About Faces' Towson store year-round, this is only the fourth time Poblocki has come to Baltimore since About Faces has picked up her line to personally promote it. And each time she comes, women walk away ecstatic.

"Every woman is different," says Helga Surratt, president and co-owner of About Faces. "And they love the customization. [They say] 'I want what I need, not just what is dictated out there by somebody else.'"

Yesterday, Poblocki worked her cosmetic chemistry on Towson student Jennifer Pruitt, 28, who wanted to exchange her expensive designer makeup for something that made her look more natural. GIELLA prices run between $16 and $52.

Poblocki took one look at Pruitt - a naturally gorgeous woman with dark hair and hazel eyes - and determined that her face powder made her look too orange and her eye shadow played up the more boring brown in her eyes, not the prettier green.

So, like a mad scientist - albeit impeccably dressed in a miniskirt, chic boots and perfect makeup - she stood in front of a medical laboratory heater, cooking up a concoction of creams, powders, oils and sparkly things and got to work on Pruitt.

She made a combination moisturizer, sunscreen and foundation tinted to Pruitt's exact skin tone. She mixed her a concealer, three different eye shadows and a skin-brightening highlighter. She added a little plumper to Pruitt's lips and matched her gloss to her eye shadow.

When she was done, Pruitt was floored.

"That is amazing. You made me look so much prettier," she said, staring at her less-orange self in a hand mirror. "It feels more natural. It's more lightweight, not so cakey."

Pruitt liked it so much, she ordered almost everything created just for her - almost $200 worth of makeup.

"This is really getting exactly what you want in a short amount of time," Poblocki says. "It's easy. And it just makes sense."

Custom cosmetics

Meet artist and makeup creator Giella Poblocki, and get GIELLA Custom Blend Cosmetics made for you at are About Faces Salon and Day Spas:

When Today, from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Where: 1809 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville

Call: 410-602-0888

When: Tomorrow, from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Where: 894 Kenilworth Drive, Towson

Call: 410-828-8666. It is recommended that you call ahead to make an appointment.

Web site: www.giel or www.aboutfaces

An article in yesterday's Today section incorrectly stated where Giella Poblocki would demonstrate her cosmetics line. She will be at the Towson branch of About Faces Salon and Day Spa through today.
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