How Estee Lauder Glammed Up the Social-Media Me

Reporter Kunur Patel Gets Done Up With a Free Makeover Courtesy of Cosmetic Company's New Promotion

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- I've never used Estee Lauder makeup before, but today I'm coated with a healthy slathering of the cosmetic brand's products on my face -- and I have a branded digital headshot that'll soon be in front of countless social-network friends to prove it.

Kunur before
Kunur after
Before (top) and after (bottom) shots of your reporter's makeover.

With the brand offering a free glamour shot for social-media me, I popped over to the launch of Estee Lauder's social-media makeover promotion this morning. When I walked into New York's Bloomingdales on Lexington Avenue, I was hoping to update my LinkedIn profile pic. When I left about an hour later, I felt a little bit Match.com.

To link the brand to social media and women younger than its usual 35- to 55-year-old target, Estee is offering free makeovers and professional photographers at department-store makeup counters who will produce professional-quality profile pictures for any social network. As a member of the media-savvy demo the brand's after, I can say that the idea to produce profile pictures of a higher quality than those snapped on holidays, at weddings or on vacation is spot on. This is definitely something social-media women of all ages need.

But that same need means the makeover has to fall on the right side of the spectrum from dating-site sultry to understated professional. While the morning makeover was fun and had me considering Estee's pore cream, the result was far too glam for the professional headshot I was after. That said, sitting in the makeover chair, Estee Lauder the brand seemed a lot younger and more realistic to me. (Plus, if I ever do decide to pony up for pore cream, I know that Estee has what I need.)

The session started with snapping a "before" pic at the Estee Lauder cosmetics counter's newly installed computer kiosk, which salespeople tell me will stay around even after the promotion ends. Sitting in front of the kiosk, a webcam grabbed a picture of the not-yet-glamorous me, and a staff makeup specialist started to test out a range of shades on a pixilated palette version of my face. But instead of waiting for the Photoshop-esque makeover, I opted to scoot right over for the real thing. I sat down with an artist who started by rubbing some creams and gels into my cheeks. She very sweetly informed me I could use some hydration, and Estee had just the thing for me.

Big reveal
Layers of foundation, liners, shadows and powders later, I emerged a new woman. While I had asked for a toned-down, professional look, my new plum pout had me feeling more like a mobile upload to Facebook on Saturday night. Freshly done up, I headed over to the brand's photo-shoot station, where the face of Estee Lauder, model Hilary Rhoda, offered to teach me how to pose for the camera. My pink oxford paled in comparison to her magenta mini dress and stilettos, so I politely offered to brave the lights and photographer on my own. A couple of smiles and flashes later and I was ready to go.

Behind the scenes, a retoucher hid the blemishes the makeup artist couldn't, and by the time I got back to the office, my before-and-after pics were waiting in my inbox.

While Estee's social-media service could use more subtle dials to get at those looks between off-the-street and super-vamp, a makeover is a makeover. It was fun, and the whole experience was a lot more glamorous than my previous experience with the brand, which was a dull tube of mascara and neutral eyeshadow in my mom's bathroom cabinet. Though a couple other women getting makeovers were older than me, a good number of the salespeople weren't. They were young and made-up but classy -- a lot different than the rainbow, slightly gothic Mac Cosmetics people I usually buy eyeshadow from.

So, am I going to post my made-over pic to my LinkedIn profile? I would, if I were a news anchor. But I'm sure my Facebook friends will get a kick out of it, and I'm betting the Estee and Bloomie's branding in the background won't be lost on them.

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