F or this episode we are joined by an old friend, Claire Balest, owner of Claire Balest Hair + Makeup who has worked all over the world for her work! Her work has carried her from the Bahamas to Montana working in the wedding industry. At a pivotal “crossroads” in her career Claire decided to branch out into her own business, and her path has been a meteoric success since then.
In this episode, Claire talks about the nuances of starting her own business and how her go get it attitude drove her success. She also gives us some wisdom on how to build out a robust team of experts that translates to any field. Claire has made empowering her clients a central ethos for her business and a thoughtful refocusing of what beauty can me. The result is a stellar example of success in the industry!
Dr. Hall: Welcome to The Trillium Show, where we help you make the changes you want to see in your body, in your mind, and in your life. I'm your host, Dr. Jason Hall.
Dr. Hall: So, welcome back to The Trillium Show. Today I have the distinct honor of being joined by Claire Balest. Claire and I have known each other for a long time. She is the owner of Claire Balest Hair + Makeup.
She has been recognized by Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides magazine, all sorts of industry publications, for her work in the wedding field, in makeup. She has traveled around the world to do destination weddings at places where you would definitely recognize and is a fixture up at Blackberry Farm for their wedding events. So Claire, welcome to the show.
Claire: Thank you.
Dr. Hall: Now, you have been all over the world for work, and some of the places that we were talking about before we hit record, places like Aspen, the Yellowstone Club, the Bahamas. What's the coolest place you've been for work?
Claire: It's not really a fair question, but I could give you a top three, maybe. Yellowstone Club is amazing; Montana has my heart, but I have to say we just did an event in Aspen at Kevin Costner's ranch out west, and it might be my favorite, simply because I thought I would run into Rip out there, from Yellowstone. I was hoping it didn't happen, but there's always next time. And maybe he's going to hear this podcast, and… I don't know.
Dr. Hall: So Rip, if you're out there listening, an invitation is an order. So—
Claire: [laugh]. I'm just putting it out into the universe. I mean, my husband knows. He said he would be honored. I mean, Rip from Yellowstone. I can't. Anyway, Brush Creek Ranch was amazing. Aspen was definitely an incredible destination to have worked.
Dr. Hall: You have a background in the theater and have been working in film behind the camera after your theater career. And then I heard a story that you kind of had a pivotal turn, you know, one of these times in life where your life is headed in one direction, and a decision that may take you 30 seconds to make totally changes the course of your career. Tell me about that.
Claire: Right. Yeah, so it was one of those crossroads where, you know, I had a job and I had a choice to make. I had a phone call about production with a production company that I had been trying to work with for a long time. And I had to choose between continuing to do what I was doing with this other company, which I was grateful for, but it essentially meant that I was breaking off and going on my own. And I actually had a conversation with the person that I reported to at the time, and she was like, “I completely understand your decision, but we just can't—you're not going to be able to continue working, you know, with us.”
And so that was when I broke off and started working on my own. And that was it. I mean, it was truly one of those like, “Okay, I'm going this direction.” And it was just such an incredible decision. But it was truly a leap of faith, which any business owner understands. I mean, it is, like, a faith-based business, you trust that work is going to come to you and the right work is going to come to you, and it definitely has.
Dr. Hall: I would imagine if you're anything like any of the rest of us who have gone out on their own and started their own business, that there were a lot of sleepless nights in there. You didn't have a set schedule when you made that decision. It was a one-time thing.
Claire: Right. When I started doing that it was you know, I was freelance. So, you basically sit and wait for the phone to ring. But when you're good, you know, I always say talent is a given, but you have to really be present. You have to make an impression and show people who you are, which is to say, are you timely? Are you dependable? Are you always going to show up, no matter what? Are you looking out for other people on the team? And I am just inherently one of those people and that's just how I work, and so that kind of spread rapidly and people started passing my name around, and it grew from there.
Dr. Hall: That's a great answer and said with a lot of confidence that people starting out could look at and say, “Well, you know, of course. She's Claire Balest; she's successful now.” Did you feel that same way? A week after you made that decision?
Claire: Did I feel the same way?
Dr. Hall: Did you have that same level of confidence in yourself, a week after you made the decision to go out on your own?
Claire: I didn't have the perspective a week after I made the decision. I didn't even know that what I did, that who I was unique. Which is to say, you know, I'm at the stage in my life where I realize that most people aren't going to go above and beyond, right? They're going to do the job and they're going to leave. And I just—that's really not in my DNA.
I am a great wingman. I'm a great person to work with because I'm looking out for the people, not even on my team, but the people on the crew, or the—you know, how can I help? So, I didn't have the perspective to know that it was all going to be okay, that the brand was going to grow into a brand far bigger than I had ever expected, but it was just one of those, like, left foot, right foot, breathe. Keep doing the right thing, and, you know, hopefully, eventually magic happens.
Dr. Hall: I think it's obvious that it did. And one of the really interesting things that you just said in that answer was talking about the perspective that you've gained over time, and how important that taking care of the team was, but also how rare it is for people to actually show up and give 110%.
Dr. Hall: You've built a great team. How do you pick people that are going to give 110% like you do?
Claire: That is the magic question, isn't it? I mean, everyone's looking for these perfect employees. I have to say, there's not a perfect answer. I've had people come out of the woodwork, and find me, and pursue me. There's a difference in people saying, “Hey, you know, I really want to do hair. I want to be a makeup artist. Can I shadow you?” No, you have to touch 1000 faces a day, and grow, and make mistakes, and make good choices and bad choices, and then you come and work on the team. That's not how you become a makeup artist or hairstylist.
The people that have sought me out have just… there's something about, like, their email that just clicked with me that I thought this person understands. Like, the way that they're talking to me is unique, and so, you know, have a phone call with them and see how that goes. I always tell my team, like, people don't remember what you did to their hair, they don't remember the color lipstick you put on them, but they will always remember how you made them feel in the chair. So, the way that we work to make our clients feel is empowered, is special, is beautiful, is you know supported. And, you know, finding those people that ascribe to that same mentality is difficult, but somehow I've done it. They all kind of came to me differently.
Dr. Hall: That your business is principle-based, here in your answers, we're talking a lot about making people feel empowered, making your clients feel empowered, and basing what can be seen as very superficial business—much like cosmetic surgery [laugh]—
Dr. Hall: —but making that about making people feel better, I think is very unique. And how did you come to that? Or is that just you?
Claire: I think it is just me. But it grew over time to where I realized that one of my superpowers is to champion my clients. It's just something that I have grown to realize that they need and that I am able to do well, and it goes far beyond hair and makeup. There's so many women who sit in my chair and just start to tear themselves apart about, you know, “I need a facelift, I need injections, I need—oh my goodness, look at my skin.”
And it's just like, they can't sit down in peace. They're just tormented by maybe they think that I'm looking at them and criticizing because I'm in their personal space. Years of seeing women do that has caused me to completely reframe the way that I see myself and the way that I see other people. Because we don't need to do that. We don't need to do that to ourselves, we don't need to do it to each other.
This idea that we're not okay the way that we are and that there's something out there that we haven't gotten to yet, but if we just did that, then we would be okay is, you know, sad and endless. So, I see beauty in everyone that sits in my chair. I try to speak beauty to everyone that sits on my chair. When I start working on different areas of their face. I'll speak to it, “Your skin is amazing.” Or, “You have the longest lashes,” or, “Your eyes are the most incredible color.”
I think that it's important to speak it because it allows them to reframe the way that they see themselves. Because they're not looking for what's right about themselves; they're looking for what's wrong. So, part of my job is I feel like I should call out beauty. And so I do. Much to my—my husband is always like, “Can we just order dinner? Do you have to tell the server how beautiful her brows are?” “Yes, yes, I do. And then we'll order dinner.”
Dr. Hall: That is so refreshing because we both are in an industry where people come to us because they either want to improve something that is already there or because they are unhappy with a part of themselves. And realizing, recognizing, and pointing out people's natural beauty, I think goes a long way towards reframing a conversation about beauty, across the board. Because it's there in everybody. And one of my questions for you is, you do hair and makeup, and so you're probably more qualified—or here more than just about any therapist out there—
Dr. Hall: —about people's insecurities. How do you speak to that to your clients?
Claire: You know, it's part of a way that I get to know them. Let's say that we're speaking about one of my bridal clients, or someone that I'm going to work with more than just one time, it's going to be over the course of months, or four days. I am always studying my clients. When I talk to them—I'm sure you do this—when I talk to them, I am trying to glean as much information as I can about the way that they see themselves, what they like about themselves, what they dislike about themselves, what makes them feel beautiful, what doesn't make them feel beautiful. And I'm storing all that away and trying to figure out the best way to come alongside them and support them.
So, if I can become aware of their insecurities ahead of time, I'm going to be able to support them better over the course of, you know, our four days together at their destination event, better than if I was just picking out lipstick shades for them. All of it goes hand-in-hand and all of it goes towards their overall experience of what happens in the makeup chair. They don't know all the psychology that goes into it. They don't need to know all the psychology that goes into it. They need to walk away feeling like their hair and makeup team was their ride or die, and that we had their back until the very end. And we have developed these inexplicable bonds with our clients as a result of this. And so many of our clients tell us that their favorite part of the weekend was in hair and makeup. I don't think that's an accident.
Dr. Hall: That's awesome. I think that's testament to what you do and how you treat the clients that you work with. When you're interviewing a client or a client is interviewing you—and you can explain to me how that process works—are there people that you interview to work with—or that are interviewing you to work with that don't share those same feelings? And how do you deal with that situation?
Because that happens—and I'm asking that partly for myself because that happens in my office fairly frequently. People come to me with requests that are—while they may be physically possible, may not accomplish the goals that they don't even know that they have for themselves, yet. And so how do you deal with that situation?
Claire: You know, I think initially, I thought that I was supposed to book every client. Now, I have come to the place to realize that I shouldn't book every client. There is a great hair and makeup team for everyone; it's not necessarily always going to be us. And I think that you learn that through working with people who perhaps have a different—a very different aesthetic than you, and you feel like you're really not doing your best work and giving them what they want most because that's really not what you're known for. I am known for natural beauty, glowing skin, barely-there makeup.
We can definitely—you know we love to play around with more dramatic looks over the course of the weekend, depending on what the party is, but for the most part that is what we have come to the most sought after for. So, as a result, when people come to us and they want something completely different, yes, it can be done. But if the client just isn't the right fit, or if the aesthetic isn't the right fit, I don't have a problem directing them somewhere where I think that they would be happier.
Dr. Hall: I think that's a good way to answer the question. The right fit, though, really is something that I'm interested in learning myself because, like you, our practice has the same issues. And I'll be honest, I'm still looking for the best way to deliver that message. Because it's a hard message to deliver.
Claire: I think it's more coming from an angle of what's best for them. Not that, you know, you don't like what they're wanting—whether or not you do—and just being honest about what you do and what you do best, and empowering them to make the decision about maybe there's someone out there that does what you're looking for better than what I do. I mean, I'm certainly not attempting to advise you from a medical perspective.
But yeah, if I mean, if you can tell that it's not a good fit, then I like to hand people a solution and say, “Here's where I would go. I think this person would be a great fit for you. I want to make sure that you feel supported. I want to make sure that you get exactly what you're looking for.” But I will say that my team and I, for the most part, you know, I believe that like attracts like, and so many of our clients come to us because of what we really do best. And that situation is not the norm.
Dr. Hall: I'm sure you get clients that come in armed with YouTube and Pinterest and things. I've heard you say, in other places that—you liken YouTube and Pinterest, to the WebMD of the aesthetic industry, which I thought is hysterical—
Claire: It is.
Dr. Hall: —and true at the same time. [laugh].
Claire: It is exactly the same thing. It's way too much information for the general public. They're only going to hurt themselves with it. It leaves everyone confused. They're all diagnosing themselves with cancer. They're all trying to contour from some video that they watched on—I mean, it's too much we need to shut the platform down. Do you think we can do that together? Should we, like?
Dr. Hall: Maybe. I don't know—they may hear this and de-platform us, and we have to find something else.
Claire: We're about to be canceled right now.
Dr. Hall: Yeah. [laugh].
Claire: But yeah, it's too much information. I don't feel like our bridal clients, that doesn't so much come into play there. It's more when women are trying to learn how to do their makeup, they are so inundated with information that they can't figure out what they're supposed to do. I mean, we are so filled with information from the second we wake up to the second we go to bed, we don't know how to filter any of it, and we're going on and seeking more.
And it's just—you know, I try to be a voice in the beauty industry that uncomplicates things. I totally believe that the beauty industry is one of the most confusing places ever. It makes billions of dollars off of keeping women confused. There are some great brands out there, there are great products, but for the most part, we don't know how to navigate that space. And I like to, kind of, be a voice that will uncomplicate that very complicated industry, and simplify it, and just say, “Here are the things that you need.” It's very, very basic.
Which is how the beauty box came about, where I customize boxes for my clients, or for people who just want the basics, their every day, tell me a few products that I need that are just going to make the most difference. They don't need 20 products. They don't need 10 products. I think five products for everyone is—it's different; not everyone needs the same five products, but I have a way that I customize products for people, and it's kind of like a lesson and a box. And it's my way of, kind of, demystifying the industry to a place where you don't have to go into Sephora and try to navigate a store that has hundreds of thousands of products in it. Let me tell you what I would recommend.
Dr. Hall: The beauty industry is incredibly confusing, and makes a fortune every year keeping people confused because confusion leads to panic-buying, leads to filling your makeup cabinet, filling your bathroom with makeup and skincare products, and all sorts of things you don't need.
Dr. Hall: And that's one of the things that I'm trying to do with this show is educate because our industry, plastic surgery industry is very similar. And one of the earlier shows, talked about breast augmentation specifically because that is our equivalent in the surgical space because women will come in having been all over—probably from one end of the internet to the other—gathering research from who knows where, and come in and sit down in my office with a bunch of pictures and essentially, tell me how to do their surgery. And it's because Google has made everybody think they're an expert.
Claire: Right. Well, and there's no barrier to entry on the internet, right? There's no one screening. You can put anything up there, any pictures, any—you know. And that's research. I love that you said they've done their research and they come in. Well, who's doing the research on the research? It's all just unfiltered information out there that is, I think, doing more harm than good.
Dr. Hall: I totally agree. That being said, do you have clients use Pinterest, or YouTube, or Google to bring in photos of things that they like?
Claire: Absolutely. I think Pinterest, and Instagram, and image-driven platforms are wonderful tools for people to communicate what they like or what they don't like. I think it's very helpful to have inspiration images but to know that those can't really drive the engine. It's just inspiration; it's just a tool. Hire people who are going to give you the end result.
Don't give them a picture and say, “Do this.” Just say, you know, “This is something I gravitate towards. I'm really not sure what it is about it.” Because a lot of times, a client might bring in a picture of a model with a smokey eye and say, you know, “I love this. It's just so natural.”
Okay, perfect. Let's unpack that. What she's really talking about is the skin. Maybe it's like, beautiful lighting, and the model has on very natural lip and her skin is gorgeous. But she has a smokey eye. If I didn't ask more questions, my client is going to end up with a smokey eye. And I'm thinking, “Well, she thinks that's natural.”
It's all about the consultation. It's all about reading our clients' minds. And they don't have the verbiage; they don't have the context for understanding what it is that they want. They know what they don't want, but it's our job to interpret what they're bringing us, what they're thinking, what they're hoping to achieve, you know, we have to pull that out of them.
I can't blame her if she shows me a picture and I recreate that picture. That's not her fault. That's my fault. You know, I think the consultation is everything, talking to our clients is everything because we can really get to the heart of what it is that they're hoping for by asking more questions, instead of assuming that they're not the expert. We're the experts, so it's our job to really get to the heart of what they're wanting.
Dr. Hall: I couldn't agree with that more. I tell my own patients, when we start having these conversations in consultation, is that your result happens in the consult. The operating room, the makeup chair, that's time for execution, but the result is planning, it is consultation, it is all the boring stuff that happens before you actually sit down in a makeup chair—
Dr. Hall: —lay down on the operating table. That's the important part.
Claire: I mean, I have to say ours is slightly less permanent. We can change a lipstick color. [laugh].
Dr. Hall: [laugh].
Claire: But yeah, I see where you're going. Yeah, it's all about the consultation.
Dr. Hall: Yeah. And so taking the time and setting your client—your patient—up for success by having a beat getting into the psychology of what they're trying to accomplish and why is so important. So, let's shift gears, we've kind of gotten really deep, which is good.
Claire: [laugh]. Have we? [laugh].
Dr. Hall: I love it. I love it. Anytime you get a plastic surgeon and a makeup artist sitting here, talking about psychology—[laugh].
Claire: Right. We may need to take a break.
Dr. Hall: We may need to take a break. But I do want to shift gears and ask you about some aesthetic things because there are a lot of things that you take care of that I take care of as well. One is eyebrows. And women have been pulling eyebrow hairs out—
Claire: [laugh]. “Pulling out.”
Dr. Hall: —for—plucking—
Dr. Hall: The term.
Dr. Hall: Plucking is the—
Claire: I'm looking at you right now. You're not doing that. So—
Dr. Hall: No, no. I have bushy, like, Burt and Ernie eyebrows.
Dr. Hall: But what problems are you seeing that you are trying to correct with makeup?
Claire: We're mostly trying to create full brows these days. Most clients have overplucked their brows, and what we are doing is going in and filling them back in, trying to recreate a full brow, which is very on trend right now. And honestly, I hope it stays that way for forever. A child of the '90s, I overplucked my brows within an inch of their lives, and there's no hope for me; it's all makeup.
But this younger generation, they need to leave their brows alone. They don't need to be plucking. Full, feathered brows are what's beautiful, and truly, we can shape them a little bit, but a client's best look is what she's born with, and shaping those slightly. But the brows are everything, the brows frame the eyes, so it helps to kind of ground the whole look. I think that brows are one of the five products, I would say for sure that everyone needs, unless they just naturally have full brows. We all need to, like, play up our brows a little bit more so that everything else is balanced on the face.
Dr. Hall: How much does shape matter? Because from a surgical standpoint, what has happened with the brow fullness, unless we're talking about hair transplants—which is certainly an option—is kind of in the past. What we're looking at is position and shape. How important is it for you when you're doing a wedding when you're helping a client with makeup to get the shape right? And what shape are you going for?
Claire: It depends on what their face is. It's very different client to client. It would be like me asking you the same thing, right? I look at a client and it's a completely different canvas and I'm working with what they have, their features, and I'm creating shape around them. That being said, some people are so used to being overplucked that they can't handle if I were to give them a full brow. They couldn't handle the way that looks.
So, I do take into account clients' comfort levels with how full I'm going to take their brows. But full brows are it. I love a full brow. I want the full brows to stay. I hope that we never go back to the plucking. To the arched, overplucked brow.
Dr. Hall: I do too because those are—for us—are difficult to get right because there's not much there to shape and position. And in some ways, it gives the surgeon a little bit of a free pass because there's not much there to alter. You know, when we're talking about surgical brow reshaping, a lot of it is position-related and shape-related. And that's where you see a lot of these surgical misadventures where the people have these constant surprised—
Dr. Hall: —look on their face, from trying to overcorrect and exaggerate that arch. And really, I feel exactly the same way you do in terms of what is beautiful, what is pretty, is something subtle.
Dr. Hall: You want a little arch, but it doesn't need to be exaggerated. It doesn't need to be a look of constant surprise or shock.
Claire: Right. I think it's interesting. When people look to what's beautiful, they're looking at other images. They're rarely looking at themselves and thinking what is it I can play up about myself? What are the things I love about myself? What are the features I love about myself? What are ways that I can enhance those features?
They're looking to change their look entirely based on other images or other people that they see. So, for me, I love to celebrate the beauty within each client. I mean, forgive how cliche that sounds. But for example, when I have someone who's covered in freckles, right, a beautiful ginger who's covered in freckles, I am never going to try to cover her freckles. I want that to come out. I mean, that is a signature statement in and of itself. I want to give her beautiful skin. I don't want to try to mask or hide anything.
And you know, it'd be like for her to look at someone else and say, “Oh, but if my skin was”—you know, well, that's unrealistic. It's unattainable. I think that we need to be looking more at ourselves for inspiration on what beauty is and on how we can be our own unique beauty rather than trying to create it off of something we saw on Instagram.
Dr. Hall: That's so true. That is so true because what that ends up setting up is this endless cycle of chasing something else, of chasing some unattainable image of self, of whether it's eyebrows, or cheeks, or lips, or breasts, or stomachs or—because what I think what a lot of people don't realize is—and maybe I'm off base on this—is that a lot of stuff on social media is heavily edited.
Claire: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Hall: And so the images that people are bringing in, you know—certainly the things that I see—are airbrushed or Photoshopped to within an inch of their life, and there's no way to make that happen in real life.
Dr. Hall: And so part of my consult is actually being a photo critic.
Claire: Absolutely. And helping them unpack, like, what's actually happening in the image.
Dr. Hall: Mm-hm.
Dr. Hall: Yeah. How do you talk to people? Kind of, getting back to what I think is a very unique view of beauty and addressing each person individually, talk to me about the conversation that you have with somebody who is sitting in your chair and beating themselves up because they don't like their skin, they don't like the way their eyes are shaped, or their lips are too thin. Walk me through that conversation?
Claire: Like how I would start to do their makeup or—
Dr. Hall: No, how do you talk to them? How do you get those people, those clients of yours that are very hard on themselves? How do you get them to start to flip that script around and start to see the natural beauty in themselves, to allow you to be able to bring that out?
Dr. Hall: Because that speaks to the psychology of what we do and how do you have that conversation. Because I have very similar conversations in my office every day, and I'm interested in what conversations you have.
Claire: So, when a client sits in my chair, I can almost instantly feel their energy, how they feel about themselves, the way they present themselves, just from the way that they're sitting, or the way that they hold themselves; it's a whole vibe. And I will start asking questions, I will start talking about what we're trying to achieve. When I register that there is a client who is in the depths of self-dislike, I will start really trying to buoy her with affirming things that I see about her that I like. I will never just make things up, but there are always things, there is always beauty. And so when I see it, I'll speak it to her and try to just start building that up, build the trust level.
There are times where clients are so self-deprecating, that I will—I'm a very touchy person, I will put my hand on their leg and I will be like, “Not in my chair.” You know, you are not allowed to talk about yourself that way in my chair. Or we'll start—you know, I'm incapable of being too serious. I don't know if that's come across yet here, but I really tried to make them feel comfortable. I tried to disarm them.
You know, it is a very vulnerable thing to sit in someone's face and be in their 18 inches, and they're thinking I can see every aspect of what might be wrong with their skin, or their, you know, whatever it is going on that they don't like about themselves, so I instantly want to make them feel like I am on their side, that I am not criticizing whatever they feel is going on. And I just look for ways to support them. Because in a situation like that, it is not about the makeup. There is a lot more going on. I'm never going to be able to affect the way that they see themselves just from makeup alone. If I can affect it at all, but I can certainly try.
Dr. Hall: Yeah, like I said, there's another area where our careers and you know what we do in consultation really is very similar because I see the same types of things. And there are some people who you can do a wonderful job, get a wonderful outcome, but because of what's going on inside that patient's head or that patient's heart, it's not going to affect—
Claire: It's lost on them.
Dr. Hall: Yeah, it is.
Claire: They don't experience it the same way.
Dr. Hall: Right.
Claire: Well, and I think that's an interesting segue into, like, let's talk about perfectionism.
Dr. Hall: Mm-hm.
Claire: I told you before we started recording that there needs to be a divorce between the idea of perfectionism and what beauty is. Like, if you think about that long enough, your brain is going to start to melt. How did we ever marry those two ideas: Beauty and perfectionism? They're completely separate entities, and yet, we're all—in our culture anyway—our society celebrates this very unattainable idea of perfectionism.
It is very American and we don't celebrate individual beauty. So, I think the fact that we are the experts—so we get to, as business owners, as the experts within our respective fields, we get to kind of drive the narrative about what we see beauty is, and communicating that to our clients, to our patients, and creating our own movements.
Dr. Hall: The topic of perfectionism comes up daily. And around my office, it's the P-word. We don't talk about being perfect. Because perfect is, like you said, is an unattainable goal.
Claire: It's unattainable, and it's unidentifiable, and yet we all use that word all the time.
Dr. Hall: Mm-hm. You can't identify something that's perfect because it's a very subjective term.
Claire: It is very subjective. Perfect to me is very different than perfect to you.
Dr. Hall: Right. And we're beauty comes into that—you can nerd out on, you know, the golden portion, and all the measurements and all this other stuff, but at the end of the day, just like perfection isn't—beauty is subjective. And really, beauty for an individual has to do with their own feelings of themselves, not how their eyes look, not how big their breasts are, not you know, whether their jawline is nice and defined. You know, those are nice things to have, but they don't necessarily make beauty.
Claire: Right. And they aren't necessarily perfect. I feel like such a small voice in an abyss of this movement in our culture of perfectionism, so I realize that, like, I'm yelling into the void here, but I really believe that if we could spend all the time—at least women—if women could spend all the time on other things besides self-criticism and this sprint towards perfectionism, we could literally solve the world's problems. I mean, we spend so much energy chasing after things that are completely unattainable. I mean, you probably don't experience it because you're not a woman, but, like, women—all of the women out there listening, they know what I'm talking about. We spend so much useless time thinking about what we should change about ourselves instead of celebrating, celebrating things about ourselves. And regardless of what we all look like there's always things to celebrate.
Dr. Hall: Oh, absolutely. And I think before we pressed record, we were talking about the French, and they're this celebration of, really, of life is really what it boils down to—
Dr. Hall: —is celebrating life. You can go in the internet, research on the internet, the number of articles written about French women and their croissants, and their wine, and their cigarettes, and all the things that are taboo for us—
Dr. Hall: —you know, you're supposed to do that because you want to look good. You don't want to eat carbs. Cigarettes are bad for you—cigarettes are bad for you, though. I mean, I'm a doctor. Cigarettes are bad for you. But—
Claire: [laugh]. The French aren't going to get away with that one.
Dr. Hall: No, they're—
Claire: We're going to go ahead and shut that down.
Dr. Hall: No. But about how they enjoy their life, and they enjoy their life despite the fact—it's almost like despite the fact that they do all these terrible things, they still manage to enjoy themselves.
Dr. Hall: And that's a mindset that has nothing to do with what's in your glass of wine or—
Claire: It's so true.
Dr. Hall: —or what croissant you eat.
Claire: It's funny, Barbara Close, who was the owner and creator of Naturopathica, said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” I went on a retreat with her, and she said that and I thought, “That is so true.” And I think the French really embody that whole mentality of just everything in moderation, including moderation. You know, Americans are the opposite of that.
Not to hate on the Americans, but you know, we overcomplicate everything. Everything is overdone, overwrought. And you know, the thing that we are so obsessed about—at least I am so obsessed about with French beauty is the simplicity, the lack of perfection. It just seems effortless. Whereas American beauty is full of effort. Even that no-makeup makeup look is full of effort.
And the French have just kind of perfected that imperfectly perfect beauty routine, Joie de vivre. They've got it down and we're obsessed with it. And yet we continue on the train that we're on going the other direction. But we're very obsessed with—and I think it comes back to we need to simplify. I think during the pandemic, we all streamlined our beauty routines, we all rethought what's really important that I do.
Like, hmm, I think skincare might be more important than makeup, and so skincare sales are going through the roof because nobody's really wearing makeup because people are in masks and so people start taking care of their skin because they don't have makeup on. Which, by the way, is much more important than wearing makeup.
Dr. Hall: That's exactly where I was going to go with that is, unfortunately, the skincare industry has followed right along with the makeup industry in trying to make skincare absolutely as complicated and difficult as possible when it doesn't need to be.
Dr. Hall: I spend a great amount of time in my office, essentially talking people out of buying a hundred different skincare products, there's about three that most people need.
Claire: Right. You talked about it on your podcast last week, right?
Dr. Hall: Right. In the aging podcast an episode or two ago. You know, there are three things that people need, and then it's a matter of restoring youthful skin to a point where it can age naturally. And we're not—we're essentially undoing years of ultraviolet and environmental damage. So, you know, we're not giving somebody perfect skin. You know, to get back to what we were talking about—
Claire: Right. Doesn't exist.
Dr. Hall: —doesn't exist. What we're doing is we're making skin healthy again, so that God's design can kind of keep doing its thing.
Claire: Right. And for me as a makeup artist, I mean, you're thinking, of course, medically. I'm thinking, if a client sits down in my chair and they have done their job, which is to say they have taken care of their skin, I can do my job. But when they neglect their skin, and they sit down on my chair, I can't affect texture; there's nothing I can do. That happens long before they sit in my chair.
If they do their job and take care of all of the things that they need to do before the wedding weekend, for example, then I'm able to make their skin look like they have no makeup on. But if they haven't taken care of their skin, you're going to see the makeup. So, I think about it from a much more cosmetic standpoint. And for me, you know, good skin, it's not age-driven. Again, back to French beauty.
I love the idea of looking beautiful at every age. Your skin isn't suddenly not beautiful because you're 30, or 40, or 50 you know, I'm sorry, if Brad Pitt can be 60 now, like, what is 60.
Dr. Hall: Is he really sixty?
Claire: I think—isn't he 60? Is he 50? It doesn't matter. The point is, Brad Pitt—
Dr. Hall: He's been around for a while.
Claire: So, you know it's—age has been completely redefined. So, I don't think that beautiful skin is age-driven. I think that our goal should not be preserving our 20-year-old bodies or our 20-year-old skin; we need to look great at every age. Which again, is what French women have figured out. I think glowing skin, hydrated skin, those are, you know, the non-surgical ways.
Dr. Hall: I agree with—I think what you're—where you're going with that is healthy skin—
Dr. Hall: —is pretty skin—
Claire: Is pretty skin.
Dr. Hall: —no matter what age is.
Dr. Hall: I can't give somebody who is 60 the skin of a 20-year-old. If they've got genetics that keeps their 20-year-old skin through 60, that's awesome. But there's nothing that I can do that's going to turn back that clock. We can work towards making that 60-year-old skin really pretty, really naturally pretty.
And that's one of the things that you had just talked about, looking good, looking like you don't need makeup because of the texture—
Dr. Hall: And things like that. That's actually one of the things that I love seeing in my office is the women that come in with foundation caked on and complaining that there are makeup cracks around their eyes, right, because it's so heavy. And they just—you know, they're looking for Botox. And then six or eight months later, they come in wearing powder or tinted sunscreen because they don't need their makeup anymore—
Dr. Hall: —because we've been able to make their skin what it should be at that age.
Claire: Right. And it's counterintuitive. You know, like, so many people think like, “Oh, you know something doesn't look right, so they want to pile on more and more and more makeup.” The reality is, you need less makeup when your skin is looking great. The point of foundation is to even out discoloration in the skin; it's not to really affect texture change.
So, that happens with skincare. And then if you need a little extra coverage, you know, my favorite is a tinted moisturizer, especially for women, I generally don't speak to age because essentially, we all want the same thing when it comes to makeup, but I will say that the older our skin gets, we obviously have more texture to it and less is actually more. Like you said, you see these women, you know, you're not sure exactly how to speak to it, maybe but, like, you know that her foundation just was not right. She had too much foundation on. She's not fooling anyone; it looks like foundation. Nobody believes that it's actually her skin.
If your skin is looking great, you need less of everything. So, a tinted moisturizer is actually the best choice for women as we age. It's not going to sit in lines. It's going to give us just enough coverage to even out any excess redness or discoloration in the skin, but essentially, it's going to allow your skin to come through and to not sit on top of the skin.
Dr. Hall: I don't even know where to go with that.
Claire: [laugh]. Sorry.
Dr. Hall: Agree. Completely agree. I completely agree with all of that.
Claire: I concur.
Dr. Hall: I concur. So, other than a moisturizer, which you just talked about, what are things that every woman needs? Because I know people are going to look at the title of this, they're going to see your picture, and they're going to say, “I want to tips for makeup.” So, what are some things that most women are going to benefit from? Because if most women are like most women, they've got a makeup cabinet that full of junk that they've been sold when they walk through Sephora or Ulta—
Dr. Hall: —that they don't need.
Claire: Right. And they get home and they're like, “Wait. What was this for, again?” And then it just sits—
Dr. Hall: Why did I spend $300 on this?
Claire: Right. Right. Yeah. First of all, I want to empower everyone listening with the fact that you do not have to buy what you're being sold when you go to either a department store, or Sephora, or Ulta. I guess everyone's buying online now so maybe they're not being, you know, sucked into the sales pitches, but it is so hard to know what to buy when you feel like you're being sold. So, you don't have to buy anything.
So, the other thing, nine times out of ten, every woman needs a great under-eye concealer. There's always that one person who's blessed with great genetics and they just don't have any discoloration or darkness under the eyes, but for the most part we all could stand to be brightened a little bit under the eyes. So, a good under-eye concealer, and typically I like for those to be peach or pink-based, so that's going to cut any you know gray, green, blue under the eye. It's going to cut that discoloration and brighten and lift under the eye. And I like multi-use products, so like a lip and cheek, you can use the same blush color as a lipstick.
If you have a cream blush, and a little pot, you can put that on your cheeks and pop some on your lips, and two products in one. I think we all need a little brow help unless you naturally have full brows. A brow pencil, or even easier is a wand that you can deposit pigment on and brush through your brows to get just a little extra tint especially for blondes or gingers, they tend to need a little bit more color and their brows because they're so fair. And a mascara. But you know, if I could only pick two things, I would say an under-eye concealer and the lip and cheek product.
Adding color to the lips and cheeks. Gives that youthful—you know we all have more color when we're younger, right? And our lips and our cheeks, you want to look like you took an invigorating walk. So, all the color that, you know, the flush that comes to your cheek when you exercise, place that on the apple of your cheeks and put it on your lips, and it does a whole, whole lot, goes a long way.
Dr. Hall: It also serves to highlight those areas that tend to lose volume as we age.
Dr. Hall: So, in some ways, faking a little bit more cheek volume, which is very youthful.
Claire: Faking. You say faking; I say playing up.
Dr. Hall: You say playing up? See?
Claire: I can't—
Dr. Hall: You say 'po-taa-to,' I say 'po-tah-to.'
Claire: [laugh]. But you know another tip for aging skin. And again, generally don't speak to age, but anytime you put an illuminator or something that has a glow to it, or something that has pearlescence, or—God forbid—glitter in it, if you put that on your cheekbones and you're concerned with texture in your skin, what is that going to do? Highlights or draws attention to whatever area that you use it in. So, if you put it on a heavily textured area, then it's going to bring that area out.
So, I might recommend not using—you know, use something that has hydration to it, that's going to add a glow that looks like it's coming from within, but maybe don't use a pearlescent topical highlighter. Does that make sense to you?
Dr. Hall: It does. It does, yeah. Very well. Very well. So, I'm still thinking about this two-for-one product and I'm—
Claire: Your mind blown.
Dr. Hall: My mind is blown. I'm also—you've inspired me. I'm going to, on the way home today, I'm going to go buy one of those, like, shampoo-body wash combos.
Claire: [laugh]. It's the same idea.
Dr. Hall: Same—
Dr. Hall: Totally same idea.
Claire: See, women are masters at multitasking. So, we just continue to blow your mind about how we can multitask.
Dr. Hall: I think if most guys take any more shortcuts to their daily grooming routine, like, it would be a bad place to live.
Dr. Hall: Yeah.
Claire: It's over.
Dr. Hall: Yeah. Yeah. Because you live with three of them, so—
Claire: I do.
Dr. Hall: —you know how that goes.
Claire: I have two small boys and one large boy: My husband. And it's not pretty. It's not pretty in my house.
Dr. Hall: I joke around that I'm my wife's oldest child.
Claire: I say that same exact thing. But here's the problem. It's not a joke.
Dr. Hall: No.
Claire: It's the—it's the truth.
Dr. Hall: No it is very, very true. Very true. So, I very much want to be respectful of your time, so we can kind of wrap this up. Is there one message that you would like people to take away from our conversation today?
Claire: There are no industry secrets out there. They're all on the internet, right? We've talked about that. I think the secret is that it's not that complicated. I think that women need to not let the beauty industry overwhelm them and look for the simple ways that they can play up a few things that they like about themselves, and believe that is enough.
Choose a few things that you like about yourself—which means you have to stop and identify a few things that you like about yourself—this is actual homework—and find a way to play that up. If you have great lips, if you love the volume in your lips, lip, and cheek color. Instantly going to bring so much life and color to the face. If you have great brows, play them up. If you have great eyes, play them up.
But don't fall victim to the idea that you have to have all the things, that you have to be contouring, and highlighting, and wearing a smokey eye, and have these full brows, and have this—it's too much. All of it's too much. I think simplicity needs to be our goal, not perfection.
Dr. Hall: I think that's a very profound message and one that I think we could all learn from. So, where can people find more about you?
Claire: My website, clairebalest.com. My Instagram, clairebalest, pretty simple.
Dr. Hall: Pretty simple. We'll link all that stuff in the [show notes 00:53:02], so that if you're listening and want to learn more about Claire, you can go there. Do check out her beauty box. That is the one thing that my wife asked for Christmas was one of Claire's beauty boxes. So, check that out; they're super cool. And, again, simplistic and designed to, kind of, bring the best of you out. So Claire, thanks a bunch. We'll have to do this again.
Claire: Thank you.
Dr. Hall: Thanks for listening to The Trillium Show. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at jhallmd.com. Be sure to follow us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you want to connect with us on social media, you can find us at @jhallmd on Instagram and Twitter and @DrHallPlasticSurgery on Facebook. Remember, be the change you wish to see in the world.
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