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Tips from Best Makeup Winner Opivu Cosmetics

Susanna Stroberg-Gora, the women behind Opivu’s expertly blended makeup, shares her trade secrets for achieving a flawless face.

All photos from Opivu Cosmetics

Susanna Stroberg-Gora is just cool. When I met her at Opivu, the Danville salon she runs, I immediately envied her laidback studded leather boots and flawless skin (I, on the other hand, came sans makeup, and thus very self-conscious). But Stroberg-Gora and her chic salon, with atom-inspired lights and plush detailing, immediately put me at ease. She launched into a quick makeup tutorial, focusing on feeling when demonstrating application techniques as she used my face as the canvas for her luxe yet affordable makeup line.

I left transformed, and significantly less weighed-down than I usually feel under my department store standbys. Use these tips from the Best of the East Bay winner to achieve a fresh, subtly enhanced look at home, for those days when you’re not lucky enough to have a professional dolling you up.

Opivu creates custom foundations ($58) for its customers, and keeps your info on file anytime you need a refill. Stroberg-Gora mixed four different yet complimentary shades and blended them together to make my perfect match. She utilized a color neutralizer, which she used all over my face to tone done redness.

“People usually add green to pink, thinking this will cut down on redness,” Stroberg-Gora says. “Instead, add violet.” She also recommends adding a pearly sheen to foundation, like she did with mine, to make skin luminescent.

Stroberg-Gora applied a coral blush ($27) to one cheek, and then gave me a mirror to check out the difference. Contouring my cheek seemed to lift my eye, and gave my cheekbones subtle definition. Stroberg-Gora suggests not going any farther than the center of the eye/iris when applying blush, and swept the color back toward my temple, never forward. Since Opivu utilizes a highly concentrated color, there was no need to cake on pigment.

When applying both blush and powder, Stroberg-Gora explained the danger of using cheap brushes. “Improper tools can aggravate rosacea. Instead, Opivu offers first cutting, sable-hair brushes.” The fine bristles don’t scratch, and the lightweight handle molds to the hand ($32–40).

She demonstrated the three ways Opivu’s jet-milled powder can be used: with a brush, dry sponge, or wet sponge. The brush evens out skin tone and gives light coverage, perfect if you’re used to powder formulas like I am. The dry sponge delivered more concentrated results–no need for lots of product. Those looking for more coverage and an airbrushed look should try spritzing the sponge lightly with water.

“It revitalizes your makeup and looks very natural and fine on the skin but with more coverage,” says Stroberg-Gora. “It doesn’t dry out your skin.”

Stroberg-Gora swept gold minx, a shimmery gold shadow ($27), into the crook of my eye, underneath the brow bone. She demonstrated the technique, which involved strong but steady sweeps right below the bone. Not all shadows work on every skin tone.

“Almost everyone could use different tones,” she says. “For a fair skinned person, I could go three different ways: gold, coral, or more peachy.”

“Most problems with browns are they’re too orange, so look for violet-based hues,” suggests Stroberg-Gora. When applying the eyeliner ($25), she showed me how to hold the pencil at an angle instead of going head on. It makes it easier to control the pressure and perfect a soft arc. Start with light pressure at the inner corner, she drew a soft line to the middle, increased the pressure over my iris, and finished with a light line stretching to my outer corner.

To darken my blonde brows, Stroberg-Gora used light, upward strokes (almost mimicking the hairs) on the inner sides of my brows, followed by long broad stroke over the arch, and lighter, shorter outward strokes at the outer edges. This gave a defined look without the use of pencil ($22.50) looking obvious.

With the Lashmere mascara ($36), my eyelashes felt long and separated, without the typical associated clumping. When picking a mascara, Stroberg-Gora recommends finding “a brush with a ton of bristles to formula goes on smooth and lifts.” Opivu’s Lashmere includes pounded cashmere, which adds buoyancy and bounce. Stroberg-Gora also shared a quick and easy tip: focus on applying mascara to the end of the hair shaft, which gives the illusion of fake lashes.

I fell in love with Opivu’s signature red, Torch ($25), which took seven years for Stroberg-Gora to perfect. She showed me how different the creamy red can look, depending on skin tone and whether you trend pinky or more olive. On Stroberg-Gora, Torch took on more of a pink hue, but on me it complemented my coral tones. She also showed me how you can change the way a lipstick looks with liner ($22.50). She applied Spice, a metallic, slightly golden liner, and Torch transformed into a robust, rich shade.

Dying to try it out yourself? You can pick up Opivu Cosmetics online at opivucosmetics.com, or call (925) 838-8482 to set up an appointment with Stroberg-Gora at the salon. I recommend meeting with her if you have the chance, so you can watch and feel the techniques she uses, and get her recommendations for colors that complement your skin tone. 111 Town and Country Dr., Danville, (925) 838-8482, opivu.com.

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