When I visited Ursula Augustine in her Rittenhouse studio, I patiently waited while she finished the makeup of a customer. As she was leaving, the woman warmly hugged Ursula and said, “See you on Saturday” before walking out of the door. Being that it was Thursday, I asked, “Is she a regular?” Ursula explained that the woman isn’t just a regular; she does her makeup 20 days out of every month. The moral of this story? Ursula Augustine has skills, and she takes care of her customers.
Ursula is a board-certified cosmetologist with an impressive career that spans over two decades. Earlier this year, she opened Philadelphia’s only makeup studio, About pHace – and since then, has been very busy, thanks to features in The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Magazine (she was voted Best of Philly 2007, Makeup Application). Ursula’s creative talent is no news to me, as we have been acquainted for years. So for my first Philadelphia Phocus, I decided to pay her a visit and find out how the new business is doing.
The first thing I noticed while touring Ursula’s studio was the organic tea bar; depending on the day, Ursula’s customers can choose blends such as Blueberry Echinacea or Exotic Chai. And while they sip tea, customers can leaf through some of the books in her library. Ursula prefers non-fiction, particularly biographies – from Marlon Brando to Chuck D, and everyone in between. Ursula’s space, is a calm retreat in the midst of bustling downtown Philadelphia; with its waterfall wall sconces and meditation area, it’s easy to understand why Ursula’s customers come back again and again. But, naturally, talent is her ace in the hole.
In addition to her makeup artistry, Ursula recently unveiled her own line of cosmetics and skin care products that blend natural products with beautiful packaging. Her makeup line is mineral based, but this is no Bare Minerals knockoff. The foundation is liquid powder – so it’s minerals without the mess. The foundations and powders come in a variety of shades to compliment every skin tone.
Ursula’s eye shadows and blushes are gorgeous, yet very wearable – and her lipsticks are available in three finishes: matte, lip shine, and micro-bubble (which release oxygen to the lips throughout the day, keeping them hydrated). The item that blew me away, however, was the Retexturizing Face Primer – which, literally, melts into skin and leaves an invisible layer of silk on the face. Amazing is the only word to describe it.
Ursula’s own line of skin care is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and natural preservatives. When asked to name her favorite product, she couldn’t decide. “It’s like picking your favorite child,” she complained. Finally, she narrowed it down to two – her Oolong Tea and Carrot Oil Eye Cream (which smells like she poured it straight out of the teapot into the jar) and the Pumpkin Apricot Walnut Facial Scrub that she kindly gave to me as a gift. The scrub, which Ursula created years ago with her Cuisinart, is unlike any I have ever tried. It uses ground walnuts (not walnut shells) because they are gentler on skin. And the product can be used without water – just apply and tissue off, which means that you can pamper your skin anywhere, anytime.
It gets better…Ursula offers “pHace Lift Parties” – so you and a group of your friends can enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres while taking a “Smoky Eye Class” or learning how to get that “J.Lo Glow”. She divulged that she’ll soon be adding karaoke to the menu!
Ursula’s About pHace Rittenhouse Makeup Studio is located at 1700 Sansom Street, Suite 201. For more information and to contact Ursula, visit her website.
Spoiled Pretty Tip: If you visit Ursula’s studio, ask her about the TGBIW brush. The acronym stands for “The Greatest Brush In the World”, which was shortened to fit on the brush’s handle. Created with a blend of sable, mink, and inner-thigh goat hair, the brush’s name doesn’t exaggerate.
Photos courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer.