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Shu Uemura

The Art of Beauty

Welcome to the world of beautiful makeup and beautiful skin at Shu Uemura. Now located on Fillmore Street, the second American retail store named after famed Japanese makeup artist Shu Uemura opened this May. Never heard of Shu Uemura? Like Max Factor before him, Uemura got his start in cosmetics in Hollywood for the entertainment industry before moving on to beautify the cognoscenti.

Long a cosmetics pioneer in Japan, Shu Uemura, which has stores in New York, as well as in Europe and Asia, comes full circle with a store in California. The shop is cool and modern, well lit and with plenty of room to wander. In contrast to the black and white interior is the large, colorful contemporary anime-meets-traditional-Japanese mural -- designed especially for the space by Japanese artist Ai Yamaguchi -- which graces the length of the boutique. Yamaguchi's designs can also be found on the some of the product packaging and the shopping bags.

Unlike department store cosmetic counters, Shu Uemura lets you try a rainbow of products without anyone hovering and making you uncomfortable or pressured. Dabble in the "Color Playground" that was designed to resemble Uemura's makeup table in his original studio. Each counter has all the accoutrements such as brushes and applicators that you could ever want, to play and experiment with. The chic staff garbed in sophisticated black are unobtrusive yet helpful, there to answer questions or leave you in peace as you like.

The products are amazingly good. Like the boutiques, the products follow the concept of simplicity and modernity with minimalist clear packaging. The silver and black accents hint at the professional quality inside. This summer try products from the Hikari collection, like the stick Water Blushers ($20) in pink, peach or mauve, that kiss your skin with a transparent glow of color. Cool and dewy, they are designed to be a breeze to apply, even without a mirror.

Some of the other products Shu Uemura is known for include its skin care line, notably cleansers. The line of High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oils (450 ml, $60) are oil-based facial cleaners that dissolve even the toughest makeup quickly, then emulsify with water and wash away with ease. If you are not sure about them, the staff is happy to give out samples for you to try at home.

Another popular attraction is eyelash beautification. Shu Uemura has created false eyelashes for the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Oprah and now it's your turn. Famous for their "eyes", the store includes a Tokyo Lash Bar where you can choose from 20 styles of false lashes, from au natural to wild custom mink. Prices start at $17.00 for lashes, adhesive and application. Shu Uemura seems to be single-handedly bringing back dramatic looks and not just with false lashes. Their line of mascara is legendary and bound to win you over. Signature products include the lengthening Fiber Xtension Mascara ($23) and the Lash Curler ($16.50), considered the best around by many makeup artists and chosen by several publications including InStyle and Town & Country magazines as one of their "Best Beauty Products" last year.