|ABOVE: Nicole Paxson. BELOW: Before-and-after client photos.
|Photos courtesy of Nicole Paxson Cosmetics
Posted: Friday February 20, 2009
Nicole Paxson began experimenting with make-up at the age of 12, but not to play
dress-up—she had been diagnosed with lupus, a chronic autoimmune
disease that can produce blotchy, deep-red rashes all over the skin,
including the face. After years of trial and error, she has created and
launched Nicole Paxson Cosmetics, a line for people dealing with lupus
and other skin issues including acne, rosacea and birth marks.
spent much of my life trying to conceal rashes by mixing products,”
Paxson said. She tried theatrical make-ups ranging from Joe Blasco to
Dermablend, mixing them with Estēe Lauder and Shiseido, but the result
was always heavier than she wanted. “Growing up in south Florida, it
was awful. I was layering sunscreen with make-up, but it was so thick,
I’d go out in hot weather and feel like I was wearing a T-shirt on my
Though she wasn’t trained as a make-up artist per se—“I
attended Pepperdine and did theater make-up, but that was it”—she
approached some friends of the family (father Bud Paxson is a TV executive) who run a lab called Oxygen in Florida.
came in with a wish list and started creating the line with a chemist,”
she said. That list included the highest UVA/UVB protection possible in
a mild, unscented formula, since lupus can cause sensitivities to sun,
chemicals and fragrance. She was looking for serious coverage without a
cake-y feel: As she put it, “If I could stick a tissue to my face, I
didn’t want it.”
In the beginning, she was told that what she
wanted was impossible, or at least not easy. But through the process of
hands-on experimentation, Paxson and her collaborators produced a small
line featuring a maximum-coverage face and body make-up she dubbed
“pudding,” crème-to-powder foundation, concealer, powder, bronzer and
liquid foundation. The make-up comes in six shades and is water-based,
with lots of silicone; it appears to be water-resistant, Paxson said.
Make-up artist Julianne Kaye
founder of RevolutionBeauty.com, has tested the line on herself and
others; she found that its different components suit different needs,
not all of them medical. “I use it a lot on different clients of mine,”
she said. “It’s good for girls that have oily skin or will be on the
red carpet all night. It covers a gamut.” She has used the
crème-to-powder foundation to cover her own freckles, and on two recent
shoots for Harper’s Bazaar
where she found it photographed well. The pudding, which she has used
to cover acne and varicose veins, is heavier, but she believes
professional make-up artists can adapt it to suit their purposes.
“When I first got it, I thought it
was pretty intense, but have found a lot of ways to use it,” she said.
“You know when it’s too much and you can always take it down with
moisturizer. If you mix pudding with shimmery lotion, it looks like
pantyhose. That’s my magic trick.”
line retails online, and a percentage of the proceeds benefits research
on lupus and other skin disorders. Each product is named for a
different type of butterfly, a reference to the so-called butterfly
rashes associated with lupus. The butterfly packaging was part of
Paxson’s effort to keep the line approachable for the general public as
well as make-up artists.
“I didn’t want to do strictly medical,”
she said. “It’s also fashion. I really didn’t want girls to have
special, different or medicated make-up; I didn’t want them to go
through what I did.” She hopes to eventually expand into a skincare
line, but at the moment, she’s focusing on the make-up, the response to
which she has found gratifying. “I get a lot of before-and-after photos
and thank yous,” she said.