Immortal Cosmetics


A makeup man's makeup - Cranston pro creates his own Immortal line.

Cranston's Glen Badessa may well be the busiest man in makeup.

In his role as a makeup artist, he paints up models for photo sessions. He just did a CD cover shoot.

In his role as entrepreneur, he launched and oversees Immortal, his cosmetic line sold at salons. (He not only created the stuff, he's the distributor.)

Finally, as a local guy, he still makes up Rhody brides and their attendants for weddings. He did a wedding party of nine women last weekend.

"I do it because there is a need out there," he said.

From women stuck with their '60s faces to others who never learned to apply a lipstick, you know what he is talking about.

You also might find Badessa at a charity event with other local business owners or selling his line at New York trade shows with his colleagues, because he very much wants to be part of the local business scene.

Badessa started out as a hair stylist but saw the need for proper cosmetic artistry and jumped into that fray. He went to work for Sebastian as an educator for the beauty company's Northeast regional team in 1989. Working for Sebastian and the company's Trucco line, he got exposure to the fashion world and found himself doing the makeup artist thing for shows and shoots.

But success also posed a problem. How do you work 9 to 5 and be available for a three-day California photo session?

You don't. So Badessa left Sebastian for the bold world of freelance. His independence led to plenty of work and ultimately the creation of Immortal, his baby.

Working with women as a makeup artist meant he knew what they wanted and needed in a makeup line. You think Revlon's Ronald Perelman ever picked a blush for a bride? We don't think so. But Badessa knows how many tubes of lipstick a woman has in her junk drawer.

Badessa also didn't want things to be boring. So instead of naming his colors by their shades or cutesy concoctions like Badessa Red, he named them after women or their traits. Customers can chose from the likes of Vixen or Queen or Retro. Those with a sense of humor can select a red he named Puttana, the Italian word for a woman with questionable morals. Many an overmade up teenage girl might have been warned against such a look by her Nana.

"Women run up to me in restaurants and say 'Aren't you Glen Badessa? Look, I'm wearing Puttana!' And they'll put out their hand for me to see," he said. "They like the joke."

Serious Business

But the huge cosmetic business is no laughing matter. Department stores commit huge space to makeup, as do drugstores. That left Badessa looking for the proper niche for his line.

So just what is that?

The ingredients are all-natural and have staying power, he said.

Badessa established that he wanted a cosmetic line that wasn't just trendy but also classic. He saw the absurdity of a business where one season a sheer, no-makeup look domimates, and the next double eyeliner rules.

"In a salon, you have customers from 7 years to 70 years," he said. Imagine how small a group in that range wants to look like Helen Hunt in blue eye shadow at last year's Academy Awards.

His mantra is, "You have to keep things small, so they are not confusing to the customer."

"You can take 11 eye shadows and have 100 looks," he said. "You don' t need 100 eye shadows."

Brown shades are the most in demand for lipsticks, so he has those, but he also offers glosses that alter the look. His compacts are creams that go on as powders so a woman can use it as concealer and a foundation and then, because it is a powder, it sets the makeup without an extra step.

He also understood that he had to sell himself first, then the makeup.

"I'm not a businessperson first," he said. "I was a hairdresser. I was behind the chair."

That's why he did everything from designing the collection to trademarking the name Immortal. He has a cosmetic company producing the line.

Millennium Makeup

Badessa will introduce two collections a year, as the big companies do. He still tries to do some educating in salons, and he has two employees who compose the Immortal artistry team and do makeovers at salons. Lori Russo is at Stephen's Salon in Providence and Jan Simone travels among the others.

The makeup is also available on Badessa's Web site, but note that the prices are higher than in salons.

As to the subject of cost, Immortal seeks to have department-store quality with drug-store prices, said Badessa. Prices starts at $6 for some nail paints and go up to $20 to $25 for compacts. Lipsticks range from $8 to $15, and body shimmers for face and more are $10 to $18.

Badessa's line for the holiday is Millennium Madness. But in fact, he is trying to stop the madness with his small, customer-friendly line.

Immortal is sold at hair salons including Providence's Rosebuds, Salon F/X, Shear Pleasures , Silhouette Salon and Salon Milano; East Greenwich' s Salon Vogue; North Kingstown's Salon Mirage; Cranston's 2 Sisters Salon, Meme Frizzae and Nails Elite; and Warwick's Stephen's Salon. It is also sold at the Warwick boutique In Style.

For more information, call toll-free at 401-316-1040 or cruise the Web site at

GAIL CIAMPA, Fashion Editor
Lifebeat - Off The Rack
The Providence Journal
Section F, Page 1

©1999 The Providence Journal


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