Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Guru Profiles: an interview with Dinair founders Dina Ousley and George Lampman

Today is one of the most exciting days of my beauty reporting career: I am sitting in Dinair's video studio in North Hollywood with the very founders of this history making brand, Dina Ousley and George Lampman.

Dina and George at Dinair Studios
Dina Ousley is a true innovator, an inspiration and a game changer for a whole industry. Together with her partner George Lampman she started the airbrush makeup revolution, developing this new medium and taking it out of the confines of the professional world and into thousands of homes across America and the world at large. No matter how remarkable her achievements, Dina never rested on her success, but maintained a steady and uncompromised commitment towards innovation and improvement that have made her product one of the best kept secrets in the makeup world. Working in a very tough industry, she also kept her sense of humour, her joyful creativity and her compassion, being directly involved in a variety of charitable initiatives in her community. Her life and business partner, Dinair CEO George Lampman is the man that made all of this possible. A former engineering student, George is the brain behind all the technical breakthrough brought forward by Dinair, from product formulation down to equipment design and devising the training.

Dina, you started your career as an actress in film and television series, and you were also a hairdresser and a licensed cosmetologist, When did you think about airbrushing for the first time?  
DINA: When HD started to happen, makeup started falling behind. It started to look obvious on camera, and people were starting to look better on camera without makeup than with traditional makeup. [On set] They would never give you enough time to do makeup anyway, they were always hurrying us up to the point where you would ask yourself if they really needed us. So I thought that airbrushing might help us keep our job, and it did. I had always been in love with airbrushing, but I wasn’t really an airbrush painter. Then one night we were talking about airbrushing and how it really works, and we knew that digital images were all made up of pixels, and my genius life partner George said: “when you spray color it works like pixels. I’ts basically dots, and we realized that that was IT! That was what made it so compatible. And the rest is history. We just fell in love with it... 
Dina doing her magic for the 64th Emmys Governor's Ball
How did you and George meet?  
DINA: We were country and western dance partners.

So you were already partners in life when airbrushing came into your lives you became business partners as well…  
DINA: Basically that’s it

George, you are the "technical brain" behind all the breakthroughs that Dina has brought forward with Dinair. We are all incredibly grateful to you, even people who are not aware of it. My first question for you would be what’s your background, how did you become involved with airbrushing?  
GEORGE: Well I never would have thought of airbrushing makeup personally. Dina was talking about some difficulties she was having with the chemistry aspect of the makeup, and I don’t know where it came from but I told her I could fix it. 
DINA: And I said do you want to get married? [laughs] He was a contractor and he always thought out of the box. We worked with many chemists (I did before I met George) and they couldn’t make it work. I was on jobs and my makeup would come and it wouldn’t work, it wouldn’t spray. That’s why when I met him and he said "I can fix this…" we stayed up nights and days fixing this problem…

Airbrushing had always been associated with special effects up until that point. Almost like it is now in Europe, where everybody watches Face Off but too few are aware of airbrushing as a viable or preferable option for beauty makeup. When you started offering airbrushing for corrective and beauty makeup you brought about a major breakthrough. Were your ideas met with excitement or did you experience a certain resistance from your peers?  
DINA: we did [experience resistance]. The union thought it was going to take people’s jobs. But really in the end it made jobs for people. And now it’s really mandatory to airbrush to stay on top of your game, and people from all over the world come to learn it. Airbrushing just addresses all the issues today: it’s more sanitary, it’s fast, it provides that flawless look… so yes we were met with opposition.  
Dina's make up on  Miss California
GEORGE: In 1989 Dina was doing a protest in the form of entering a hair and makeup competition in the Long Beach hair show. In those years that was THE big west coast hair show. Dina airbrushed a model, and won the competition. Marvin Westmore was judging the show, with Johnny Carson’s makeup man. Dina’s work was beautiful, but they made a decision that they weren’t going to allow airbrushing at the next show, because it wasn’t going to be fair. The unions were very alarmed at the time with what we were doing. When you break in new technology it’s just the nature of the thing. We didn’t know that then, but that’s how it is.

I'd like to touch a little more of a technical aspect now. There’s a big debate among people who use airbrush makeup weather to use water based formulas or silicone based formulas. Of course you produce water based formulas so I know where you stand. How would you explain the difference?  
DINA: I’ll just say one thing, then George can take over. Silicone wasn’t around when we started, it was just greasepaint and powder, so water based was a perfect solution for airbrushing because our makeup was not going to be wipe-on, but sprayable. 
GEORGE: People define it as water based versus silicone but it’s not really what it is. The question is do we want our makeup to be silicone based or carbon based? Our makeup is carbon based. And it’s carbon based with water, or possibly water with some alcohol for quicker dry. The idea is that our makeup is very eco friendly. A gazillion years ago we started ditching the preservatives because we realized they weren’t necessary. Our formula is so pure… we don’t really have things that would go bad in it, so we can minimize the amount of preservative and so we just kept making it more and more friendly. I found that the skin agrees with carbon based products better. We have more and more stories about people’s skin being less irritated… it’s a story we are going to tell in more detail in the future. For Spraying purposes I really believe in the carbon based approach. For rub-on and for some occasions I think there is still room for silicone, but I really don’t want silicone in my body. I am made of carbon. So we’re just in favour of carbon. We are in favour of recycling, and carbon recycles beautifully. 
DINA: And it’s long lasting. And doesn’t clog pores of collect in to the fine lines. It allows the skin to breathe... concealing while healing! And it doesn’t rub off… 
GEORGE: That’s one of the reasons why we like the idea of the makeup setting on contact. You spray it and it doesn’t move, so you don’t clog pores. We want it to be “touch-finish”. People wonder what looks you can achieve. They think you can get a dewier look with silicone, but then they just don’t know what we do. We are able to achieve any look from the most dewy to the most matte, we can teach you tricks to make you look android if you want. It’s all there.

Beauty Guru Kandee Johnson used Dinair for this Maddona inspired look on Glamour Magazine
Yes, I like to say that if you have a problem with airbrush makeup, it’s probably because you’re not doing it right... 
DINA: Yes, probably overspraying. We teach you not to overspray. 
GEORGE: …and how to combine the products in a unique way. If you have a goal or something you need to get done, call our customer service, they will tell you how to get there. You don’t have to figure it out alone. We share what we know, everything you need to know. There’s a lot to learn, but when you break it down in small steps no one needs to worry about it. I just think it’s beautiful, and if you go about it the right way it can be a really beautiful experience.

Which brings me to the next question. What do you thing is the most common misconception regarding airbrush makeup? 
DINA: They think it’s hard.

I totally agree. When I publish a video tutorial one of the most common comments is “Beautiful, but I would never be able to do it. I think you both can attest that yes, one would be able to do it with the right training.
GEORGE: If an artist feels a curiosity towards this they should follow it. It doesn’t mean they that they will have to just do airbrush from then on. The fact that we can do airbrush eyeliner doesn’t mean that everyone has to do it. Learn the foundation. Start somewhere where you’re comfortable and the progression will be natural. You will start with foundation, then blush, and work your way up at your pace. There is no rush.  
DINA: little baby steps.

However in your workshop you take all these baby steps very quickly. You learn to do eyes very quickly. I would say one of the biggest fear is how to do eyeshadow. They don’t realize it’s actually easier because the airbrush does the blending.  
DINA: That’s right. It does it for you. How could It be any easier?  
GEORGE: When people leave the workshop it’s not over. All the videos that we have on our channel will actually make more sense. The workshop is like a grounding experience after which people will be able to continue on their way.

3D Makeup with Dinair at IBS New York
You know I think it's amazing to come here on a Sunday and find you guys as excited and passionate about what you are doing as if you had just started last month, instead of over 30 years ago. The passion that you guys radiate is contagious!
DINA: That’s the feedback from all of our students.. they love it. [For us] it’s a love story. It’s passion. That’s what makes it not feel like work. 
GEORGE: well we feel like we help people, and thinking that we are helping people makes it easy to keep doing it.

Dina you have worked with many celebrities in your career, and of course you have use airbrushing on many of them…  
GEORGE: ALL of them! 
DINA: All of them, no traditional makeup, I was a terrible traditional makeup artist!
I’m sure you weren’t!
GEORGE: She was happy doing airbrushing and unhappy doing anything else. (laughs)

Out of all the celebrities that you have worked on, did you have any reactions from any of them that you remember most?  
DINA: Well I got hugs from Clint Eastwood, I don’t think it could get any better than that… They all loved it. Peggy Lee… Meryl Streep… everyone could see the difference.
So Meryl Streep… do you remember what movie?  
DINA: It wasn’t for a movie, it was for a political event. Cher, Bette Midler, everybody was there and they all came with their makeup artist, except Meryl Streep. She didn’t want to come in a limousine. She just wanted to come to the makeup tent and get made up, so I was there and I did it. I’ve done her makeup on a few other occasions, for interviews to promote movies and stuff…
And what did she say?  
DINA: She loves it! She thinks she looks real and natural, and I was fast! 

I think if we have Meryl Streep’s seal of approval, and talking about it here in Hollywood makes it even more real, we can rest assured about the advantages of airbrushing... Now you were mentioning Clint Eastwood, Airbrushing is an amazing tool for men. We’re not talking makeup as such here, we are talking correction of natural defects and camouflaging with ultra natural results. I don’t think there is a way to achieve the same natural effect.  
DINA: There isn’t. Dinair works under any kind of lighting, because your natural skin is showing around those little “pixels”, and dots are the ultimate camouflaging, and it’s beyond makeup.

Dina's whimsical hair creations and Makeup
One of the most amazing thing about Dinair is innovation. It’s the amazing pace at which you improve your product offering. Let's talk about the lines you have introduced in the last two years, like Colair Radiance, Hair Colair and Colair Extreme...  
DINA: Well Colair Radiance has no talc, no oils, long lasting and more moist, it’s more comfortable and longer lasting, more pigment. Colair Extreme has a lot more pigment, and doesn’t rub off. And I’m a hairdresser so we had to add some hair color right? The fact is there are so many colors and you can intermix anything to match any kind of trend, from purple hair to natural colors.

I just experienced Colair Extreme thanks to you last week and I was stunned by the resistance of the formula. The swatches you tried on my hand lasted for two days and didn’t come off until I decided to remove them, because they wouldn’t budge. I thought this is a major break through, because it can cover major skin issues with no need for color correcting. And all of this from a product that is still water based! Are there more colors planned for this line? 
 GEORGE: There are 14 colors available matching the most popular colors of our main line., you can mix them to get all of the mid tones. When you have 14 shades there are thousands of possibilities. Extreme is extreme, it can cover tattoos by itself. For someone with port wine we might recommend using half extreme and half Colair Radiance, because just Extreme would be overkill.

So even this formula can be mixed with the others right?  
Dina's Magic enjoyed by Meryl, Clint and... ME!
GEORGE: People can mix into our foundation shades some of our opalescent shades or shimmer shades to give a softer shimmer, and at a professional level these are all some very wonderful options.

This also looks like it could take care of the one objection that some artists seem to have in regards to water based lines, that is that water based finish is dry... 
DINA: yes. You can also take care of that by spraying moist and dewy over the makeup, instead of under. A touch of opalescent may also make it look more natural, more like your natural skin is showing through.

Stilll on the subject of innovation, what can we expect from Dinair in the near future?
GEORGE: We're going to be enhancing the online education, so that it will be easier for people to learn. Our news letter is being revitalized and will be coming out more frequently. Our online training is becoming more organized, and we are launching an internet forum where people will be able to exchange information interactively. As for everything else you can expect lots of new toys. The first in line to be released will be the new Dinair Pro Grip. I created it to help professionals spray better and beginners learn faster than they imagined possible. Pros and newbies will feel totally in control of the airbrush and will be able to really focus on the makeup, and learning more advanced looks will be easy and fun. Also it will fit all similarly shaped aibrushes!

Introducing Dinair's newest innovation: the Pro Grip

Now Dina and George, I want to thank you again for this opportunity to talk to you right here at Dinair’s head quarters in north Hollywood. Now is there any any dream, any goals you have set for your selves that you haven't achieved yet?  
DINA: We are still dreaming. We will never stop!
GEORGE: The game is on!

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