MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The ladies in the cosmetics department of the Marine Corps Exchange are not there to only present the latest wares in the world of glitz and glamour to the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune patrons.
They are teachers in the craft of beauty, witnesses to the lives in the military community and friends to all who drop by.
With powders of neutral and brightly colored hues, or with glossy or deep-matte shades of lipstick as their tools they can turn somebody’s day around, or give them the confidence to try something new.
“We have spouses who come in while their husband is deployed,” said Debi Vincent, the business manager of a cosmetics shop aboard the base. “Sometimes they are looking to look nice for their husbands; other times they feel down, and I can make them feel better.”
Vincent said she feels impacting self esteem in positive ways is the most important part of her job.
“I like making people feel good about themselves,” said Vincent. “I can have a teenager come in who is afraid to look up but by the time I’m through with her she’s ready to go to school.”
The makeup artists use skills garnered through their own experiences with makeup and their know-how in the world of art.
Vincent was an interior designer before entering the world of cosmetics, and she met her colleague Colette “CoCo” Klotz in a flower arrangement class.
“Whether you’re painting a face or painting a house, color is color,” said Vincent.
The makeup artists guide their patrons through whatever look they want, whether it’s an understated look for work, a vivacious look for after-five. Teaching techniques and tricks of the trade while they’re at it or how to transition between the two looks.
Susan King, a patron of the cosmetics department, came to learn new techniques to use for her son’s wedding.
“I came here before, and Debi does such a wonderful job,” said King. “She doesn’t apply makeup so heavily that I’m uncomfortable with it.”
King tried a bold color for the first time during her recent visit. A bright turquoise lined the rim of her lower eyelid, a color she matched to the dress she wanted to wear for his reception. It was a change from her usual muted look.
Another aspect of the visits King appreciates is the makeup artists’ honesty.
“Instead of pushing me to new products they show me how to use the products I already have,” said King.
But to the makeup artists it’s not about the bottles and powders lining their shelves. They are there to share in the community’s lives.
Klotz spent over a decade in the make-up business. She sees women come in to prepare for their weddings and later have children. She sees those children grow into teenagers. After 29 years as a military spouse, and as the mother of a sailor, she has a lot of experiences to help her relate to her clientele.
“It’s hard to be a military spouse, taking care of children while your spouse is in harm’s way,” said Klotz, who speaks with a French accent peppered with her adopted home’s southern twang. “I’ve been there, done that. I feel like I can help people and touch their lives. We are here for support. We are a family. We laugh together, we cry together.”
However, they are not just there for military spouses. They also cater to service members.
Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Christian, an administration instructor at Marine Corps Service Support Schools, visited the cosmetics department to explore new techniques and learn the latest in makeup trends. She visited before in her uniform and was there to try a more effervescent look to use when in civilian attire.
“I’ve always loved makeup,” said Christian. “You can emphasize different aspects of your face. Makeup can make you look entirely different.”
While in uniform she wears muted makeup and suggests her Marines do the same.
“You can still be beautiful (in uniform),” said Christian. “You can still be a lady. You just have to keep it neutral and within regulations.”
With endless possibilities available outside of work Christian suggested being open minded.
“Try the opposite of what you normally do,” said Christian. “If you typically wear something neutral try something bold.”
“Makeup is an adventure,” Klotz added. “It’s a lot of fun. If you don’t like it, we can always wash it off and try something else. It’s free and painless.”
Makeup artist are available from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays, and from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at the main exchange. For more information call 451-5030 extension 1051.