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August 29 2014

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Have Happy Hour at Rouge: A New Kind of Beauty Bar

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In New York City, where nail shops and hair salons are almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks, it was only a matter of time before someone stepped in to fill the obvious void in beauty services: makeup. That’s all about to change on Wednesday, when Rouge, a new makeup lounge in Soho, officially opens for business.

The space is the brainchild of makeup artist Rebecca Perkins and actress Stephanie March, who became close friends after they met on the set of Law & Order: SVU. (Perkins was the makeup department head and March played ADA Alex Cabot). The idea for Rouge came when Perkins realized that many of the women she knew would jump at the chance to have a makeup pro on speed dial, just like her celebrity clients. “Women would often tell me how much they wish they had their own makeup artist. High-end salons offer makeup, but the price is prohibitive. Also, the makeup artists aren’t always there. You have to make an appointment, and you don’t know anything about their experience and training,” Perkins says. Department stores aren’t ideal, either. The high-pressure sales techniques, hectic environment, and lack of privacy are all turnoffs. Rouge is the opposite of that. The intimate space has six stations outfitted with glamorous mirrors surrounded with the kind of big, bright bulbs you might find in a dressing room at a theater. The comfy, leather chairs, as March happily demonstrated, recline all the way back so that customers can lie down while they’re getting dolled up.

Although Rouge offers quick services such as individual lash application and eyebrow waxing, makeup is the focus. The menu of services includes three different options, ranging in cost from $50 for the natural “You…Only Better” look to $75 for the full-on glam “Total Polish” face. Products are for sale upon request (from brands such as Face Stockholm, Julie Hewett, and Yaby), but you won’t find tester units or shelves stocked with goods prominently displayed here. Clients are even allowed to bring in their own makeup if there is a particular shade of, say, foundation or lipstick they want to incorporate into their look. Not that you need to. I was impressed with the diverse range of colors Perkins pulled out to paint my face, and her work got rave reviews from the friends I met for dinner after my appointment (trust me, they wouldn’t lie).

Before I visited Rouge, I wondered if a makeup lounge would only feed the increasing pressure women feel to look perfect all the time because of celebrity obsession and social media, but I left with a different outlook. Sure, some might use the service as a crutch, but I imagine that the majority of the clientele will think of it as just another way to look their best before an important meeting or special occasion. After all, as March puts it: “Women have been rouging for years.” They’re just here to help.

130 Thompson Street, (212) 388-1717; www.rougeny.com for appointments.

Photo: Courtesy of Rouge

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