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Lia's Other Columns
Interview with Justin Lin

Interview with Ron Domingo

Flower Drum Song: Making of the Cast Album

Flower Drum Song: An American Story

The Romance of Magno Rubio

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2003

Documenting a Community on the Brink: New York Chinatown Post-September 11

The Notorious C.H.O. Part 2

A Look at Another Vietnam

The Notorious C.H.O.

Up Close and Personal with Margaret Cho

The APEX of the Times

MOCA Memories

Lia's Focus
The Renaissance of Shu Uemura

by Lia Chang
Arts & Entertainment Editor,

At Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in the Bryant Park Tents in New York, Shu Uemura makeup artists preview his Spring/Summer Mode collection Bonbon Fluos, a limited edition of whimsical pastels in Orange Bubble, Mint White, Iced Lime, Sugared Pink and Lolly Cherry.

Makeup artist Misumi applies them with a fan brush on my cheeks and eyes and the result is a sheer wash of color with a hint of opalescence.

After curling my lashes, she uses the new mascara primer Lash Repair to help nourish, moisturize and prevent lash breakage. She combines it with Drawing Mascara giving me thicker and longer lashes with no clumping. Her finishing touch is a moist new Lip Rouge in Sweet Framboise.

Chris Baran, head of artistic design at Redken sprays Traction with beeswax to coat and protect my hair before he flat irons it to perfection.

During Mercedes Benz Spring Fashion Week 2003 at the Bryant Park Tents in New York, AsianConnectionsí Editor Lia Chang, previewed make-up and hair styles for this season. Liaís hair by Redken, and make-up by one of her favorite lines Ė Shu Uemura.

Lia profiles Shu Uemura, the master make-up artist behind the empire.

I have been using Shu Uemuraís line for years. After having my makeup done by Misumi, an artist who trained under the master himself, I was curious to learn more about the man, the true pioneer and visionary behind the empire.

Charting new territory is par for the course for this internationally renowned makeup artist and cosmetologist. He was the first Japanese makeup artist to establish his own company under his own name- Shu Uemura Cosmetics, Inc in 1965. He paved the way for makeup artists like Bobbi Brown and Francoise Nars to develop their own ďsignatureĒ lines.

Beauty professionals, actors, models and savvy cosmetic consumers alike have embraced his cult skin care line that features a visually astounding palette of cosmetic colors packaged in minimalist clear plastic, a full line of scientific skin care, sleek compacts, makeup boxes, well crafted makeup brushes and tools. His easy to use range of skincare is a result of years of intensive research and is available in 200 locations around the world. At the Shu Uemura Beauty Boutique at 121 Greene Street in New York, you can schedule a complimentary 30-minute session with a makeup artist in the spacious art gallery-like atmosphere. (212-979-5500).

Mr. Uemuraís flair for the dramatic began early on in his native Japan. Born on June 19, 1928, as a student he immersed himself in art, painting, and music and appeared in stage plays. During WWII, he was enrolled at the prestigious Seijo School.

Making inroads on the Hollywood scene in 1957 when Universal was in Japan shooting Joe Butterfly, Shu Uemura made a name for himself working on Paramountís film My Geisha with Edward G. Robinson and Shirley MacLaine several years later. He transformed the vivacious redhead into a traditional looking Geisha complete with jet-black wig. Before becoming a makeup artist working with 1950ís Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra and others, he was a hairdresser.

The grand fantasy filled productions churned out in Hollywood at the time set the stage for the young Uemura to develop his own concept and avant-garde vision. He worked along side makeup masters Frank Westmore, Web Overlander, Ben Lain, Gordon Bau, and George Lane. In turn, as a result of working on the faces of starlets and screen idols who required heavy stage makeup; in 1960 he created his signature water-soluble Beauty Cleansing Oil -- a gentle cleanser for the skin which proved to be revolutionary.

A Visionary Ahead of the Curve

Returning to Tokyo in 1964, he established the Shu Uemura Makeup Institute, his professional makeup artist studio to share his Hollywood experience and expertise with other artists interested in learning about makeup techniques. In 1978, the Institute evolved to become the Shu Uemura Beauty College. Transformed in 1983 to Shu Uemura Makeup, Inc., over 400 budding cosmetologists and makeup artists graduate each year from Japanís largest student body of beauty education.

Realizing a life long dream when he opened his first Beauty Boutique in Tokyo in 1983, he continued to forge an international presence by introducing his beauty philosophies and products with the opening of boutiques in Hong Kong, Paris, West Hollywood, across Europe and the Middle East during the late 80ís and early 90ís.

Shu Uemura Boutique, NY
Photo Credit: All photos courtesy of Shu Uemura

Skincare and Science

Hydration is a key component in Shu Uemuraís beauty philosophy and in 1986, he launched a center to research and develop biotechnological cosmetics. Special ingredients like Cell Fusion A used in the Cleansing oil is derived from three wine yeasts- Japanese Sake (Kuyugo), German White wine (Geisenheim 1974), Japanese wine (Koshu). Cell Fusion A works to protect and stabilizes the skinís natural functions invaded by the effects of sunlight, pollution and stress.

Shu Uemura

At his Muroto Factory Museum open since 1999 at Japanís Muroto Cape in Kochi Prefecture, he explores the effective use of 100% pure deep sea water in cosmetics. This water travels around the world in the bottom layer of the ocean and only resurfaces in certain areas of the world-in Norway, Hawaii and at Japanís Muroto Cape. The deep sea water has 60 types of minerals in it, comes from the depths of the ocean off Japanís Cape Muroto and is pumped up right from the source and bottled as a series of hydrating deep-sea ocean water mineral sprays for the face, hair and the body.

Since November 2000, L'Oreal group (Biotherm, Lancome) has had a strategic alliance with Shu Uemura. Still vibrant at age 75, Mr. Uemura maintains an active role in the company he founded, continuing to research and develop new skin care products in addition to creating his Mode Collection lines of cosmetics for Spring and Fall.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Shu Uemura made his mark in cyberspace by becoming the first Asian to be awarded the Bronze Cyber Lion in the "Online Brand Advertising" category at the Festival International de Publicitť in Cannes for the design of his Shu Uemura website in September 2002. and

Shu Uemura Products I Canít Live Without

My makeup bag staples include the Nobara Cream Foundation #574, a perfect match for my skin tone, the water soluble Cleansing Oil Balancer, which removes my makeup like a dream and leaves no oily residue, the collagen based Absolute Moisture Cream, the Mint Depsea water spritzer, glow on blush peach #47, lip rouge in Mature Red, the famous eye lash curler and the UV SPF17 underbase.

Nobara Cream Foundation

This long-lasting water resistant cream foundation has a light satin-like finish and provides excellent coverage.

Absolute Moisture Cream
Mint Depsea Water
Glow On Blush Peach #47
Lip Rouge Mature Red

Eyelash Curler

With a wider lash curve, it doesn't pinch your eyes.

UV Underbase

The UV underbase SPF 17 is one of the most popular products on the line. It has a mousse foam texture that dries to a matte finish. The underbase blocks both UVA and UVB rays and can be worn alone instead of foundation to even out skin and provide sun protection.

Liaís new Spring Look!

Refreshed and revitalized courtesy of Misumi of Shu Uemura and Chris Baran of Redken, Iím off to an art gallery exhibition and a restaurant opening to party the night away!!!!!



AsianConnections Arts & Entertainment editor Lia Chang appears as Nurse Lia on As The World Turns and One Life to Live. Based in New York, she works as an actor, a photographer, a multi-media journalist and designs greeting cards. Contact Lia at Lia's website is

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