Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Beauty Ideas for 2012

Pick and choose which ones work for you, but here are some suggestions for 2012. Resolutions, by the way, rarely work: They're often too ambitious and too spartan. Take these more as ideas to try incorporating into your routine.

1. I will not buy something because it's trendy: Trends drive many of us to buy things we don't need and won't use over the long run. They're often driven by PR machines or advertising dollars. Wait on the trend for at least a couple weeks and consider if the product really adds something to your beauty arsenal, or if it's just a bandwagon you'll be fine staying off. Most beauty and fashion trends I've jumped on I've later regretted.

2. I'll follow sensible routines: Skincare and haircare routines don't need to be expensive or complicated, despite what we're all told. Think in terms of prevention (sunscreen, not sunbathing), routine care (washing makeup off before bed), and prevention (using a topical cream with scientifically-backed ingredients: Retinol, peptides, alpha hydroxy, stabilized anti-oxidants). My current skincare routine costs less than $20 in product, and it honestly works as well as much more expensive products I've used. We're trained somewhat to think more expensive products are better: Often, these are high-end brands that spend a lot on fancy advertising with a celebrity spokesmodel endorsing their products. They recover their costs by passing them onto the consumer. Watch out for this and for smoke-in-mirrors promises: "A revolutionary product with a patented formula that will magically transform your skin...." This reminds me of the Jerry Seinfeld joke where he theorizes beautiful women are put in ads for men to confuse them into just buying the product.

3. My beauty spending will be cash-only: Why is this so important? Because our beauty spending is often emotional and impulsive. This adds up far more than any of us would think. Using cash-only forces us to think through our purchases and restricts impulse buying. I once talked to a woman who accrued over $30,000 in debt and declared bankruptcy. It wasn't big purchases that did her in; it was small, impulse buys that added up.

4. I'll focus my routine on enhancing what I like about myself and not what I'm trying to hide: We all have features we like and dislike about ourselves. I once saw a photo of Heidi Klum's face in which she marked the flaws she saw. The photo was covered with self-criticism in black ink. I thought, If a woman that beautiful can find that much fault in just her face, imagine what she'd do to a full-body image. A revolutionary approach to makeup came along somewhere in the 1990s, when the focus turned to accentuating what was right about ourselves, and not hiding what we saw as wrong. Whether it's lip service, the idea is absolutely worth embracing.

5. I'll be open to change. We're all changing, growing, and yes, aging. I've watched women break down into tears when someone tried to update a very dated makeup look or hairstyle that once worked for them. The reality is, grasping at once worked only holds us back and out of touch with the reality of what makes us beautiful today. Part of continuing to grow internally includes letting ourselves grow externally. That means change. Change is good.

6. I'll stick to supporting healthy role models: That means following people who encourage self-acceptance, tolerance of others, and sensible beauty advice. With the Internet, magazines, and television, we are inundated with choices, and everyone is calling him- or herself a "guru." Very few of them are actually experts, meaning that they weren't trained to have expertise in a particular area. That said, many of them can be helpful resources for beauty advice: Stick to supporting those who are supportive of others back, who are kind and appreciative, etc. I once liked a very popular "guru" who lashed out at me when I asked her a simple question. Anyone who can't handle feedback - no matter how constructive - needs to find another line of work.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Come Back to Me When You're Fine"

Demi Lovato (as shown in Glamour magazine) has publicly discussed her personal battle.

This is not a beauty or makeup post, so I'm putting this at the top to save time for anyone interested purely in beauty blogging.

Ironically, this post comes from reading Glamour's year-end beauty special edition. It features a pictorial of actress/singer Demi Lovato: Her makeup is gorgeous, largely because it represents a makeunder. Gone is the bright, almost garish, makeup she sported a few years ago as a Disney  actress. The makeup artist kept her face as bare as possible while adding a radiant, slightly bronzed look. The idea was to present her in a way that was naked and truthful.

In the article, Lovato talks about going through a mental breakdown and seeking treatment. The article heralds her for never trying to gloss over her hiatus. Lovato admitted that the honesty was both cathartic and painful: Being extremely truthful about your battles exposes you to all sorts of reactions. She also quickly learned who her friends are.

In 2010, I broke apart. Just writing this brings the memory to the present in painful detail. Numerous personal and professional traumas (and I mean traumas, but for legal reasons, I can't explain) turned into a perfect storm. In time, I didn't feel like I inhabited my own body anymore. Eventually, I sought professional help in the form of a week-long stay a facility that treats people who are battling social anxiety all the way to those who have eight personalities and a personal review of every mental health facility in the state.

Through the process, I lost a relationship that I'd once considered one of my closest. And the irony of it all is it's the very person who once advised me to seek help. I was recently told she considers me "too emotional" and has decided I don't belong in her life. In the thick of this, she told someone she'd deal with me when I was fine again, but not in the state I was in. To demonize someone who opts out of your life is easy: It is harder to try to understand that person is maybe fighting her own battles..

I also learned I have some amazing friends who are so kind and compassionate: I now know this with absolute certainty and in a way I never would have had I told them I was fine. They treated me like the person they'd always known - just a sadder version who needed them more. I love and appreciate them more than I ever would've had life stayed sunny. And I would turn my world upside down to be there for them in return.

When life gets hard - and it can for any of us in a breakneck moment - we have a choice about being honest, with ourselves and with others. Even for those who have no history of depression or anxiety, their emotions and mind can break down if enough trauma overloads them. In other words, it's a little like cancer and can strike anyone.

My honesty cut both ways, but in the end, it has been the very thing that helped me recover..

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Makeup Shopping Style: When Going High-End is Worth It

I was browsing a local discount store the other day and picked up so many makeup and beauty products in the $2-$3 range. Then I put them down. It's odd that price-point can sometimes sell itself: My actual logic, momentarily, was, "This is so cheap, I have to get it."

I didn't get anything. This is how it's trended for me more and more. It's not because I'm wealthy (I'm not) or a product snob (not that either) or a label whore (not that at all). After about two decades of buying makeup, my shopping style has gone through its own retail therapy: I've learned that sometimes holding off on spending on a lot of cheap items is worth it to save for the bigger ticket items.

My father's drug of choice was antique cars: Years ago, he'd buy them, fix them up, and sometimes sell them for a profit. Men have their own collector's items, of course, and the market was for quality. In every other area of his life, he was Depression-era frugal: We washed sandwich bags for reuse; he made my sister and I get out of the car and pick up beach towels off the side of the road; most of our household items were generic and hand-me-down.

But my father had a passion for antique model cars: He could pinpoint the year, make and model just by glancing at the hood. That was the area that quenched his soul, so he saved everywhere else to spend there. It was impractical to his everyday his life, but it enhanced his life. So it was worth the money.

My passion for makeup runs along those lines: I will scrimp and save on clothes, cut my own hair, do my own manicures, buy generic food items - all so that I can afford a few big-ticket makeup items that I truly love. I will go against the grain and say that every time I use an e.l.f. product, I can sense it's cheap by the way it looks and feels. I know many people love this brand for its affordability and think it's worth it, which I completely respect. I, however, will pass on a cheap brand that appears cheap to save up for a quality brand that performs.

In its studio line, e.l.f. has blushes meant to dupe the Nars blushes: I finally caved and bought an e.l.f. blush to see if I liked it. Within a week, the texture was bumpy and had pilled; the pigmentation was so poor, I had to repeatedly dip my blush brush back in to get any color payoff. Nars blushes are so finely milled and so pigmented, a quick tap into the product will deliver intense color payoff. This means the blushes last forever. Make Up For Ever blushes - though not as heralded - are equally high-quality and give a beautiful finish. If I stop using them for a while, then go back, I am startled by how much pigmentation they deliver.

There are certainly times when bargain brands deliver as well, if not better, than high-end brands. Wet n Wild, Milani, and Revlon are brands that put many of the most expensive lines to shame. In some cases, however, it's more rewarding to hold off on buying bargain products and to save for more expensive items. I research products a lot before I purchase them, read plenty of user reviews, then weigh whether it's a product that will add value to my makeup collection. In an odd twist of logic, I spend money less now on makeup than I ever have before.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: Mally Poreless Primer and Face Defender

Perfect Poreless Prep Face Primer
Evercolor Poreless Face Defender

I've long seen makeup artist Mally Roncal touted for giving celebrities like Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez a glowing, healthy look. As many celebrity makeup artists do, she's become a celebrity in her own right. A lot of it is driven by her own ambitions: She's created her own makeup line, Mally Beauty, which is sold on QVC and her website, Unlike some famous makeup artists, she's made herself highly accessible to her fans and customers.

Anyone who follows the increasingly popular beauty blogger/vlogger Emily Eddington (Emilynoel83) has become familiar with this brand. What first caught my eye was a video where Emily was showing products that I'd never heard of before: A powderless setting product, for example. She also featured a shadow that is three different consistencies in one. Mally Roncal seems to be trying to think ahead of the makeup curve and come up with inventive products that have a thought process behind them. Pink and girly doesn't necessarily mean fluff.

I began to watch Mally on my own and thought a few things quickly: What happy pill is she taking and where can I get some? She has the self-deprecating humor and charm to call herself things like a "drag queen." Something about her - saleswoman that she is - is sincere and infectious. Because her products aren't sold in stores, I'd never tried them before. When I finally decided to try a couple products for review, I went for two items: One is a makeup product I'm very skeptical of; the other is a makeup product that's rare.

I ended up choosing Mally's Poreless Face Primer and Face Defender (the powderless setting product). I chose primer because I was starting to think it's an unnecessary product and didn't do much for improving the wear or appearance of foundation. I chose the Face Defender because, honestly, it's just interesting that a gel-based product can mattify and smooth the skin without altering makeup at all.

The products were ordered off of, where incentives like free shipping and gift beauty items are offered to new customers. Considering the shipping was free, I expected the product to arrive more than a week from the order date. It showed up three business days later, came in a cute glittery pink makeup bag and included a guide on how to use the products.

The primer is one that Mally claims she created out of frustration: Before creating this product, she says she'd mix several primers together to get just so-so results. After using Mally Poreless Primer, I can honestly say it holds makeup better and improves its appearance better than any other primer I've used (and I've used plenty). It's a smooth, velvety consistency that blends easily onto the skin. Used alone, it improves skin's appearance, making it look more even-toned and brightened. After applying it, foundation blends onto the skin easier. When testing it, I deliberately used a foundation that doesn't wear well throughout the day: By the end of the work day, it truly looked as if I'd just applied it.

The Face Defender was a trickier product for me to use the first time: The texture is like a hard gel, so it's not easy to know how much product you're getting onto the sponge. Once I dabbed the sponge to my face, there was an instant mattifying that I could see as I went section by section. Will one application keep skin shine-free all day? If you have oily skin, probably not. But the product can be reapplied without altering makeup and without adding any cakiness that a setting powder can leave behind. The product also claims to hide pores and fine lines.

Disclaimer: Products were purchased with my own money, and I have no affiliation with Mally Beauty.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Real Beauty Tips

Some insights on traits that will make you automatically more beautiful to others and that no amount amount of outer beauty can replace:

1. Confidence: This is a sense of self beyond how others react to you or treat you. It's unshakable against other people's opinions. For most of us, it takes time to cultivate. A few are born with this beauty trait ingrained in them like their mother's nose or their father's hair color. Most of us have to work hard at it, sometimes daily.

2. A sense of humor: The ability to laugh at yourself is endearing and reflects your confidence. It also makes life 10 times more manageable.Your life is a tragedy or a comedy, largely depending on your outlook.

3. Compassion: Feeling a sense of genuine concern for others, interest in what they're going through, and the willingness to reach out and express this is a true beauty mark.

4. Intelligence: Take an interest in something far more enduring than your physicality. For all of us, this will fade with time - no matter how many creams we apply or procedures we undergo. Have a deep sense of knowledge about something that affects the world. It doesn't have to be solving the economic crisis, but be aware of the world around you, how your actions impact it, and what you can do to make it a better place.

5. Authenticity: Be who you truly are. For many of us, this is frightening, because there may be consequences: Someone won't approve. When we are honest with ourselves and others, we really live the life we're meant to live.

Hair Experiment: An Update

In early August, I embarked on an effort to improve my hair. What prompted it was looking at my work badge image and noticing my hair hadn't grown in about three months. I can't speak for everyone, but I know stress affects the rate of my hair growth. Hair and nails are dead cells: This means when the body is in any sort of duress, less resources and nutrients go to these areas.

I decided to make a few common-sense changes:

1. I switched to a sulfate-free shampoo and washed my hair every third day, as opposed to daily.

2. I drank more water, between six and eight glasses per day. I added more protein to my diet and focused on making it more balanced. Since this is the building block of hair, adequate protein intake is crucial for growth.

3. I started using a heat protectant whenever I flat-ironed my hair.

4. This sounds crazy, but it's always worked for me: I began doing scalp massages every few days. My theory is it stimulates the hair follicles and increases blood flow along the scalp area.

Then, in typical ADD-fashion, I saw the Glamour cover featuring Rihanna's red velvet hair. I became obsessed with having red hair, although not nearly as dramatic as hers. Over three months, I dyed it twice with at-home hair color. The second time, I used a brand made for dark hair. Neither time it took. Instead, I got a brassy and slightly lighter version of my natural color.

That phase aside, I kept to most of my new hair routine. It's grown roughly two inches in the last three months. The first image was taken in early August; the second image was taken in mid-November. My opinion on what worked the most was improving my nutrition. Since hair is dead cells. once it's on our head, products we apply to it can only do so much. The most impact we can have on it is what we ingest. While people talk about biotin and hair, skin, and nail vitamins, these remain controversial: The FDA doesn't regulate vitamins or claims about them. Even doctors aren't firm on whether they have an impact on our overall health.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mom Makeover

I did this quick, impromptu makeover on my mom while home for Thanksgiving. She has stayed firmly planted in her beauty routine from the early 80s: She still gets regular perms and bleaches her hair. I couldn't intervene on the hair today, but I tried to bring her look a little more into current-day. I'm not giving up: There will be a part 2 to this.

My mom is 67, so doing her makeup is a very different experience than doing makeup on someone in her 20s or 30s. She has held her age very well and battled cancer in the last year, so I thought she deserved some pampering and tips on updating her routine.

1. When applying foundation, even formulas known for being creamy or dewy can easily cake on older skin. I went in with moisturizer before and after applying foundation to help smooth it out. With more time and the right products, I would've prepped her skin with a moisturizing facial mask beforehand.

2. Skin tone can actually lighten and become more sallow as we age: I applied a foundation slightly darker than her natural skin color to warm her complexion.

3. She has amazing Susan Sarandon eyes, but one eye is hooded due to aging: This made makeup application  trickier. The application on her eyes actually was slightly different to make them appear more symmetrical. She seemed surprised to notice this for the first time. I explained to her that most people, myself included, don't have perfectly symmetrical eyes.

4. The camera muted it out a bit, but I applied a rosy cream blush (avoid powders as much as possible) to her cheeks and a matching rose color on her lips: I had her apply a lot of lip balm prior to application to help them plump a bit, and I deliberately went slightly outside her natural lip line. The blush was applied high on the cheekbones to give a lifting effect.

Actual comments:

Me: "Use heat protectant when you curl your hair."

Mom: "What's that? If I put a little conditioner in, is it the same thing?"

Me: "Stop bleaching and processing your hair for a while."

Mom: "I have a small face, so if I make my hair poofy, it makes me face look bigger."

Me: "It doesn't work that way."

Her reaction to the makeup: After some initial shock, she kept saying, "I feel like a different person."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Polished Holiday Makeup

Nicole is a dream makeup subject: She loves makeup, but she's relaxed about the whole process. The day these photos were taken, she'd spent all day studying for her master's and training for a 5K. Despite being exhausted, she showed up and let me subject her to makeup and all sorts of picture-taking. The pictures represent a persona: In real life, she is extremely down-to-earth, funny, and kind. She represents that beauty on the outside is best enhanced when there's beauty on the inside. We share a love of trash TV - "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" and "Hoarders" - and spent most of our makeup time discussing these shows.

For her face, I applied foundation and concealer, then set it with powder. I applied a pink cream blush to her cheeks, then dusted a powder blush in a similar shade over it. On her eyes, I applied a shimmery gold shadow, accented by teal shadow in the outer v. Her eyes were lined with brown liner, and a set of false lashes were applied. We alternated between nude and a berry shade on her lips. Face makeup and lipstick by Make Up For Ever; eye makeup by Lorac.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Favorite Foundations

Of all the makeup products, foundation is the one I'm most fascinated with. The reasons probably speak to some earlier trauma: Picture an Asian girl living a 95% white community and coming of age in the late 1980s. I had the double-curse of acne, which meant I had to try to find something to cover it. This meant I had a pink face for most of my adolescence and into my early 20s. Even my Caucasian friends sported lines of demarcation and blotchy foundation that oxidized throughout the day.

Of all the makeup products out there, foundation is the one that has come the farthest. It's also the product we expect a tremendous amount from and that can be the most polarizing (second only to mascara).

Foundation used to be like layering paint onto your skin: It was that thick, obvious, and unnatural in color and consistency. High-end or low-end, the options were extremely limited and underwhelming. Today, the types are so varied that we have the opposite problem of narrowing down our selection. It's important to remember that even a good foundation won't perform well on you if it's applied incorrectly, in the wrong shade, or not meant for your skin type.

For someone just starting out, I'd recommend getting a consultation at a makeup counter or Sephora. You'll have another person's eyes on your skin, identifying aspects of your skin and giving options you wouldn't have thought of. Many will allow you to take home a sample size to try before you buy. Even if you don't end up buying a department store foundation, you'll have a clearer idea of your skin's undertones and type.

Below are my favorite foundations:

Make Up For Ever's High Definition Foundation: For a woman whose skintone is hard to match, this brand likely has your exact match. It was extremely rewarding to go to Sephora and have the sales associate apply a shade that literally blended right into my skin. It only took about 30 years of my life to find this. This is a medium-coverage foundation that blends imperceptibly into skin and looks like a perfected version of your actual skin. The downside is it's not long-wearing, but the brand doesn't make that claim. I've mixed it with more long-wearing formulas and found a perfect hybrid.

Revlon Colorstay: This is one of the few drugstore foundations that has covered all the bases: It offers a variety of shades in varying undertones and even has formulas for both oily- and dry-skinned types. The finish is matte without appearing chalky or cakey. And, yes, I've worn it on a date and it truly didn't rub off on him. It's a great long-wearing formula that won't budge.

YSL Teint Resist: This is another long-wearing formula that offers full coverage without masking your face. The consistency is light and applies easily. The best part of this foundation - and what reminded me that sometimes paying up truly makes a difference - is it appears flawless even under harsh florescent lights.
It's easy for a foundation to appear nice under flattering lights, but one that still gives an airbrushed and true-to-life color under any light stands out.

Graftobian High-Def Glamour Cream Palette: These palettes come in a variety of undertones, making an exact match for any woman possible. The ability to mix the colors from the palette makes it something that can be used year-round, when you're tan or pale. It's also ideal for someone who does makeup on others and needs to customize shades. The foundations are creamy, blend easily, and have a beautiful finish on the skin.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Blogging and the Tricky Art of Self-Promotion

I recently re-Tweeted a video of a woman who is trying to win Physicians Formula's glowy skin contest. The woman has the username Howrouge on Youtube. She's everything that someone needs to be successful: natural on camera, a great product reviewer, and absolutely genuine and nice. She isn't followed more because she keeps a very low profile. She replied with a thank you and said she knows how I feel about self-promotion. I clarified that I don't mind self-promotion, but a lot of people have forgotten the fine line between that and essentially spamming.

What is spamming vs. self-promoting? It's when you put yourself everywhere: In comments sections, on pages of high-profile beauty bloggers, anywhere to drive traffic to your site or Youtube account or blog. This probably works somewhat, but I've always stayed firmly in this mindset: If you're truly good, people will find you. Or you can drive your traffic through your own efforts, rather than tying a rope to someone else's star. You don't need to post yourself everywhere to get noticed.

Think of it this way: What is the effect on you when an advertisement keeps replaying or a song comes on the radio too much? Your blog, no matter good it is, will have the same effect on others if you're spamming it.

When I started out, I promoted myself through advertising that I paid for: My reasoning was, I wanted anyone who followed my page to have opted in solely through my own efforts. I refused to go around and post on pages of more popular beauty bloggers or companies. In the end, I knew I would stick to who I was and what I was passionate about: If people liked that, great. If they didn't, that's the way it goes. No one is everything to everyone, and it's ok. I wasn't going to morph to whatever I thought would make me popular just to get popular.

The other thing that jumps into my head about spamming your work: It becomes a game of trying to drive up your numbers and not putting quality work out there. If you're in the game trying to get sponsored or make money and not because of a true passion, most people can sense this. Beauty vlogger Xsparkage said it best when she acknowledged there are tons of people in the beauty game, and it's becoming harder and harder to get noticed. Still, she maintains to avoid spamming your work to try to stand out. For someone looking for free product or sponsorship from companies, her advice is clear: "Don't go to them. They will find you."

A few tips for self-promotion:

1. When you post a link to your blog, limit it to once per day. Yes, that's it. You've put yourself out there. Also, add a comment on why you think the link would be useful to others. Posting random links with "please follow my blog" is grating on many people..

2. If you're posting on someone else's site, do what many don't do and be polite: Ask the admin first if it's OK. Many people are happy to help someone else out, but in this day and age, people feel free to welcome themselves onto other people's pages for self-promotion purposes. Just asking first will set you apart.

3. Keep posting relevant: If you've written something topical, adding it to a site that specifically addresses that subject will interest the readers. Again, keep your posting targeted. The more you do this, the less it appears to be spam.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Product Review: Dr. Jules Nabet Zen Lotion

This is the first item I've received to review as a blogger. It's taken me a long time to review because skincare takes a little time to show a difference, if any. This product, despite its name, is not a lotion texture at all. It's a spray that you apply to your bare face that's meant to balance skin (either from feeling too dry or too oily) and offer some anti-aging benefits.

Zen Lotion has a pleasant, fresh scent that dissipates quickly after spraying. There is no residue. I've waited until my skin felt dry to apply it, and it did add a moisturizing quality. Dr. Nabet touts "revitalization skincare" as the driving force behind his brand: The products have a mix of vitamins (namely vitamins C and E), hyaluronic acid, and plant extracts all intended to have an anti-aging benefit. He also adds an element of "native oxygen," but after extensive research, I couldn't find solid information about the skincare benefits of this ingredient.

Zen lotion feels refreshing upon application, but I can't claim it has made any difference in the appearance of my skin: I saw no visible brightening or plumping effect from it. Anyone who wants to add moisture without the weight of a cream may benefit most from this product.. Zen Lotion feels cool and refreshing and may be most beneficial in the summer.

Please visit for more information about his skincare line. Product supplied by Beauty All opinions expressed above are my own and do not reflect Beauty Stat.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Prince: The Man, The Music, The Makeup

      Apollonia starred as Prince's love interest in "Purple Rain" and epitomized his vision of beauty.

Anyone born before 1980 probably remembers Prince at the height of his career: Twenty seven years ago, in 1984, he released Purple Rain, an album which far eclipsed its movie version and still rightly tops many Best Albums of All Time lists. The music and videos were as much a visual feast as they were a study in musical genius: Prince broke all the rules back then. To this day, his music and the looks he championed push cultural comfort zones.

At the time of the album's release, I was still forming opinions about my looks, which were morphing constantly under growth spurts and impending puberty.: Images of Christie Brinkley were everywhere. Makeup contracts weren't yet signing models of color; it was considered an event when a magazine put one on its cover. 

Prince's vision of beauty was the opposite of its time: The women in his videos and  movie were all dark-skinned, dark-haired exotic beauties. Their ethnicities were something you couldn't quite put your finger on. There was something controversial about Prince's virtual harem of women (he'd take them under his wing, give them a stage name, and essentially become their Svengali): Vanity, Apollonia, Sheila E, Sheena Easton, and even Carmen Electra all had their images built under his influence. He even did a song Cindy C., dedicated to supermodel Cindy Crawford. She once said she understood that song wasn't about her, but about what he saw when he looked at her pictures.

Prince's music is still seared in my collective 80s memory. As time has gone on and no one has come along to duplicate him, I appreciate him more and more. Brilliance often teeters close to the edge of insanity: When he renamed himself as an unpronounceable symbol, people were officially diagnosing him with stuff (it was later revealed to be a protest of the practices of music labels). Aside from his musical talent, I appreciate that he went against the grain in his idea of beauty and pushed an image that pop culture wasn't promoting at the time. No, it's not the only standard of beauty, but it's another standard of beauty and helped one little girl know that it was out there.

As an artist, sometimes your purpose is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Prince did both in a way that was both brilliant and enduring.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Erica Carr: A Beautiful Mind

I first met Erica Carr in a closet, of all places.We were both working at the Make Up For Ever booth during The Makeup Show in New York City last Spring.

Sometimes, being composed and quiet is what makes you stand out the most. A closet has a great way of amplifying who we really are. Erica was a model of efficiency, hard work, and composure the entire time. She was also extremely pleasant and down to earth, no matter how stressful things became. Unlike some of the other volunteers, she understood this was a team effort and acted in a way that was supportive of everyone.

Many of us exchanged contact information or business cards after the weekend. One day I realized Erica had "liked" my makeup page on Facebook, and I friend requested her. That's when I realized she's a business owner, running a hair and makeup salon, Erica Carr Makeup and Hair Studio, in the San Francisco area. She is currently booked out until 2013 with work. Her success doing weddings in Hawaii is so big, she's now working on opening a second studio on location.

I was initially surprised that she owned her own business, because I'd pegged her for many years younger than she is. When I thought back to the makeup event, it really didn't surprise me: Someone who works that efficiently and that hard applies the same ethic to her life.

"I'm very organized; I have more binders than you can imagine," she said with a laugh.

Like many who've made it in a creative field, Erica's story is unconventional and a little convoluted, but it maintains a few common themes: She's followed her instincts throughout her life, when things seemed good and bad, and it's opened new opportunities for her. She creates her own opportunities by always thinking in new ways, acting upon ideas, and being persistent. To this day, she is always open to learning more about her craft, flying herself out to take hair and makeup courses, taking any opportunity to be around creative people and learning from them.  As much as her portfolio and status has grown in her 20-plus years in the business, she still doesn't hesitate to roll up her sleeves and do the grunt work.

"I've had people who want to work for me, then are put out when I ask them to wash brushes," Erica said. She is happy to help out others, but is frustrated when their interest lies more in bypassing the dues-paying portion of their careers.

Erica has paid her dues and then some. She's built a professional relationship and friendship with high-fashion makeup artist, James Vincent, who offered her a chance to work at New York Fashion Week, an opportunity she jumped at even though it scared her. Mainly, James just believes in her - enough so that when he couldn't cover a makeup job for a music video, he sent Erica in to replace him. Being in situations that scare her and pushing through has been the critical point of growth for her professionally.

Besides doing bridal and fashion work, Erica also runs classes out of her studio and does online tutorials for Beauty Bridge. For more information about her and to see her work, please visit

A few additional tips in her own words:

Fake it 'til you make it: "When I was doing Fashion Week, I was frightened. I was sure I was going to fail. I was working around big-name makeup artists who were represented by agencies. (I got through) by focusing on what I know and asking questions when I didn't know something."

Reach out to people; the worst that can happen is they say no. “A lot of hairdressers are big talkers and not so much sharers of my information. Hairdressers can be drama. Makeup artists are more nurturing because they get so excited about their art. If someone’s like, 'How did you do that?' they’re happy to talk about it. I've also met makeup artists and admired their work only to be turned away and be ignored."

Don't take things personally and focus on what a situation teaches you: “You always have to stay very positive and find what motivates you. Stick to being positive when it comes to any situation. If it’s a bridezilla you're dealing with, don’t take it personally. Take classes from quality people. Never think you know it all. People  told me that I was a horrible artist when I was in eighth grade. I was pulled into the principal’s office and told I shouldn’t pursue art. No matter what people say, ignore and move forward."

Stay close to what you love, no matter how risky it feels: "Always surround yourself with people in the field you want to work in. I walked away from benefits and guarantees (that come with a day job):  I knew if I had to go back, I had the skills to go back. Always trust your gut. It will never lie.”

A few examples of Erica's work below:

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Collective Letter to the Cosmetic Brands

1.) We don't ever use those cosmetic brushes you put in the palettes and blushes. No matter how great the product, these are always designed cheaply and as if we're putting makeup on a Barbie. I once read someone found a use for one as a keyboard brush. Otherwise, we literally never use them.

2.) Limited Edition is a nice psychological ploy to get consumers to think your products are special, rare, and soon to be extinct. The game has become so excessive that it's tiring the consumer. A makeup brand shouldn't throw out a Limited Edition collection more than a couple times a year, and the focus should be on truly creative products that are being market tested. To just see recycled shades or everyday shades is baffling and makes the brand seem out of good ideas.

3.) Relate to your consumer not as a beast you feed, but as the sounding board that feeds you. The smartest brands right now are communicating with the consumers as if chatting with a girlfriend: They're seeking feedback, listening to the good and the bad, and making changes as a result. Milani, for example, doesn't advertise - but they do frequent giveaways and have generated buzz the way a good makeup brand does: word of mouth. Your best advertisement is a satisfied customer. It is not a highly paid celebrity spokesperson or model.

4.) The marker of a successful cosmetic brand - in an ever tougher game - is one that keeps a groundwork of quality products but is always feeling the pulse of consumer tastes.Women's ideas about makeup are constantly changing; a brand needs to morph as much as it needs to stay the same. It's a hard line to walk, but it can be done. The crazes right now are high-definition, long-wearing, baked: These are all terms we never heard of 10 years ago, yet there is an increasing appetite for these products.

5.) Keep your prices in check: As drugstore brands up their game, the consumer has been tipped off that you don't need an expensive product to get a quality product. It truly didn't used to be this way. Then the line of demarcation between drugstore and department store became almost imperceptible. This won't eliminate high-end cosmetics, but it means they'll need to play harder to keep their prices justifiable. The high-end brands that will feel a bad economy the most are the ones who rest on their laurels.

6.) What high-end cosmetics are still getting that drugstore brands don't is foundation: Perhaps yellow undertones are harder to manufacture cheaply, but I'm amazed that their color selections and shade undertones are so limited still. Save two brands, Revlon and L'Oreal True Match, the remaining drugstore brands are still stuck somewhere in the mid-1990s.

7.) If there was a makeup version of fantasy football, here's who I'd want on my team: Milani and Inglot. I think these are two relatively unknowns that are about to explode in popularity. The reason boils down to product quality and price point. The brands have nailed it both ways. Something about the way Milani has conducted its public relations, its new launches, and its old standbys give every indication this brand just gets it. They get the consumer's mind and they respond to it.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the brands mentioned and didn't receive anything from them in exchange for endorsement. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Finding Use for a "Hated" Product

I bought Urban Decay's eyeshadow primer in Eden when it was touted as a primer and concealer in one. Riding high on many recent happy purchases, I assumed this one would fall in the same category.

The problem with Eden primer potion is your skin tone needs to be almost exactly the pale yellow shade of it for it to blend well: Otherwise, it makes your eyes look like they're coming down with jaundice.

This isn't a total fail for Urban Decay: I should've looked more at what the color is and tested it at Sephora. I kept the product, thinking it would work on lighter skinned people I'd do makeup on. When I tried it on a few different Caucasian skintones and they looked just as scary, I just decided it was a universal fail.

One day I had a thought: The product is opaque, yellow-based, and it's made to not crease and to last. Yep, I painted my walls with it. No, kidding aside, I tried it as an undereye concealer. It works beautifully under the eyes, when just a few degrees higher on the face, it's literally disturbing.

The lesson is if you have a product you hate that you can't return, consider some of its properties and if it could have another makeup use. For me, what I hated it on the eyelids I wanted on my undereye area: coverage and opacity.. At the very least, you won't feel like you wasted your money. At best, you may have a turnaround on your opinion of the product.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Embarking on a Makeup No-Buy: Why, What, and How

At the end of August, I decided to stop buying makeup and started what many know as a makeup no-buy. It's exactly as spartan as it sounds: You banish yourself from makeup counters or the makeup aisles of drugstores. Or you learn to window shop really well.

The timeframe I decided on: Six months. Yes, half a year. Why that long? I did an honest assessment of my makeup collection and estimated that's how long it will take to make a real dent in it. I don't own a lot of makeup by many people's standards, but I have enough to last me that long. I have eyeshadows in every shade imaginable; I have six (yes, six) foundations; I have lipsticks and lipstick palettes to carry me through the next two seasons. If I'm being really honest with myself, I don't need more for a long time.

My mindset had also hit a place where more just felt excessive: A lot of people are motivated to enter a no-buy as a last-ditch effort to curb their urge to spend. But I think it's important that your mind be in a place where you don't want more. I can watch collection videos, new releases, and cruise Sephora without feeling any twinge of deprivation.

Will I succeed or fail? I don't know for sure, and I'm not preoccupied with it. For me, the reality check is the coming-down feeling I usually have after I bought a product I didn't really need. When I feel the urge to spend on a hyped product, I'll channel that emotion and let the feeling pass. My mother is an example of the other extreme: She uses makeup long after the shelf life has expired. I'm still scarred by memories of a Mary Kay skincare collection that lasted through the whole Reagan era and a few years into the Clinton term. I'll take a little bit of her makeup modus operandi and use that to help me get through.

As for reviews, I have tons of items I can review that I've been meaning to get to. This no-buy is also motivated in part by forcing myself to focus on what I have and write the product reviews I've been long meaning to write.

This is not my normal mindset, so that's how I know I'm saturated. Makeup love isn't always expressed by continuing to buy and collect: It has a lot to do with appreciating what you have and really getting use out of it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Current Favorites

Favorite products probably won't be a regular part of my blog, but there are some items I continue to reach for lately and thought I'd give them a quick nod. As a disclaimer, I have no affiliation with any brand, so these are my unsolicited raves.

Make Up For Ever's Liquid Lift Foundation: This is a lesser known foundation by the brand, but once I tried it, I wondered why it doesn't get more attention. Don't be thrown off by the name (if you're young): The finish is simply radiant and undetectable, which is a desired effect no matter what your age.

Urban Decay's Naked Palette: Yes, this product gets a ton of kudos and hype, but I wanted to add that my love for it hasn't worn off in nearly the year that I've owned it. I've used it virtually every day and only recently hit pan on one shadow. The colors are imaginative, unique, and yet wearable. For anyone who still questions if it's worth the money, it truly is.

Milani Baked Blush is Luminoso: This is the most delicate baby pink that still shows up on your cheeks. The whole Milani blush line is fantastic and affordable. It deserves more recognition than it gets and is better quality than many high-end blushes I've used.

CeraVe facial moisturizing lotion: For $12, this product packs a considerable punch: SPF protection and a number of moisture binding qualities using hyaluronic acid and cermides. The ingredients both protect the moisture barrier of the skin and pull moisture from the air to the skin. The line is available at most drugstores.

Make Up For Ever's Aqua Smoky Lash: I've heard repeatedly that the waterproof version dries out quickly, but it hasn't on me. It's one high end mascara that has delivered: It grabs small lashes and adds considerable length and volume.

Coty Airspun loose face powder in Translucent: This is an oldie but goodie and brings me back to my teen years when I was first trying makeup. The powder works great at setting makeup and has a finely-milled texture that doesn't cake on skin or settle into fine lines.

NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in Natural: The whole Mega Shine collection is great, but this shade is the perfect nude and looks more high-end on the lips than it is. Its glossy finish is subtle enough to keep the look refined without being bland or flat.

Victoria's Secret perfume in Heavenly: My biggest pet peeve with fragrance is it's phased out seasonally, so a line that stays gains points for that alone. This fragrance smells on me exactly like it does straight from the bottle, meaning it doesn't morph with my body chemistry. It's elegant, slightly powdery, and ageless: A teenager or an older woman could wear it, and it would totally suit her. It smells much more expensive than it is.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

How I Contour and Highlight: A New Spin on the Old Technique

                                                The technique applied on myself

Contouring and highlighting are makeup's gift to women: Done well, it can give the face all the right definition. The trick isn't to try to redefine the face but to work with the natural bone structure and accentuate it. I don't personally like powder or matte bronzers for contouring; I don't think they give enough definition. What I use is a stick foundation in shades much darker and lighter than my natural complexion. My current product of choice Make Up For Ever's Pan Stick: The rich pigmention, creamy formula, and wide application work well for both contouring and highlighting.

I hit the places that many have seen in Kevyn Aucoin books or tutorials: The contour shade is run along the underside of the cheekbones, along the jawline, along the sides of the nose and at the tip in a V-shape, at the sides of the forehead, along the underside of the lower lip and under the base of the nose. The highlight shade is run along the tops of the cheekbones, along the top of the nose, along the area of the jaw between the jawline and under the cheekbones.

It sounds very tricky, but with practice, this technique takes no more than a couple minutes. Yes, by the time you're done, you'll truly look like you're preparing for war or a football game. But the finished product is well worth it.

The problem I had for a while was the common trick of blending out the shades with foundation: Foundation is meant to cover, so I often found it erased much of the shading and highlighting. What I started doing was applying foundation first, then contouring/highlighting and lightly blending out with a dampened makeup sponge or stippling brush without any makeup on it. This blends out the harsh lines without erasing the desired effect.

The photos above show Nicole before and after this technique was applied. Again, the effect is subtle but gives noticeable definition to the face.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

My Biggest Makeup Challenge

                                               The finished product (or part of it)

One of my first clients was someone I never pictured: A very masculine-looking man in his late 20s. He found my page on the Internet and reached out initially with an e-mail account using a female pseudonym.

Once I realized he was a man, my main concern had nothing to do with gender identity: It was with my own abilities. In all my years of practice with makeup, I'd never considered the techniques of how do makeup on a man.

There were added challenges: He didn't want to appear drag in any way. If you scan video tutorials, many male makeup looks are drag queen or essentially a look that's a parody of a woman. Nor did he want the Jared Leto guyliner look.

Ava (certain identifying details are changed) is someone who truly thinks he was born in the wrong body. He identifies with being female much more strongly than being male, but he's facing certain realities: Transgender surgery is extremely expensive, time-consuming, and painful. He's also approaching the age where his masculinity is becoming more pronounced: facial and body hair are becoming harder to tame; if he gains weight or muscle, it goes in all the traditionally "male places," such as the torso and shoulders. In other words, his testosterone is growing along with his desire to be a woman.

When I finally met Ava, I was overwhelmed at the task before me: His features and bone structure are a series of sharp angles and undeniably male. There was no unisex quality to his face or body. As a former high school athlete who continues to train, he's a handsome all-American jock. Even though he'd shaved a couple times that day, a strong outline of facial hair was apparent, as if taunting my plans.

As we spoke, I scanned his face, trying to figure out how to feminize each feature - the bushy brows, the pronounced jawline.. The other trick was Ava couldn't be altered in any way that would affect his everyday appearance, so I couldn't wax or pluck anything.

What I thought about the most in preparation and as I did his makeup was what makes a face feminine. Ironically, doing a man's makeup made me appreciate female beauty even more.

Here are the main components of a traditionally feminine face:

1. Our eyes and lips naturally have a stronger color contrast against the rest of our face than a man's do: This is perhaps why the smokey eye is so enduring in its popularity, as it plays on that contrast. This also explains our love for lipstick.

2. Our cheekbones are higher and more pronounced, which also explains our fascination with contouring and highlighting.

3. Our lips our generally fuller, which is due in part to estrogen levels: This is why full lips are often associated with youthful femininity. As we age, our lips naturally lose their fullness.

The longest part was covering his facial stubble: I've learned that taking an orange lipstick and brushing it along any dark areas will color correct this darkness. I actually broke a sweat while doing his makeup. Was I personally happy with my work? I wish I'd brought a kit to cover his brows and draw in more arched, slender ones. I wish I'd gone for broke on the eye makeup. His masculinity allowed for the excess I normally shy away from.

Most important was that Ava seemed happy with the final product. Despite the misnomers, I was reminded that makeup can sometimes bring out the truth and make us feel like more of ourselves.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Makeup Confessions

1. I have no idea what NC shade I am. I don't even know what that stands for.

2. I don't own a single Sigma or Mac makeup brush. I have no idea what all those numbers stand for.

3. I don't own a single MAC eyeshadow: When I watch beauty gurus, I feel like they've lapsed suddenly into another language.

4. Blush looks pink, peach, rose, etc. to me. I overload on the nuances and don't understand people who need 8 shades of pink. I think peachy-pink is overused and often inaccurate in color descriptions.

5. I wish the trends in makeup focused more on technique and less on product: Makeup can truly be an art and not just another vehicle for product consumption. The emphasis on product can be a little soul-sapping at times.

6. I love that Francois Nars himself admits the success of his blush is due in part to the sexually blatant naming conventions.

7. I love Nars' quote: "Relax, it's just makeup." It strips a lot of the mystique away and makes it seem like an accessible and fun pursuit. It's truly not rocket science, despite what some top makeup artists may say.

8. The first thing I notice about someone is how she wears her makeup. If she doesn't wear any, I imagine what I'd put on her. If she wears it "wrong," I mentally start fixing it.

9. I have Whoopi Goldberg brows (almost): They're pretty much an outline of brows. Fortunately, I was born with a perfectly arched outline, so I just fill in my own stencil each morning.

10. Makeup can make us more of ourselves; it's not diminishing if we approach it right. This is the wonder of it. It transforms how we see ourselves by unearthing who we can be.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Product Review: L'Oreal Voluminous False Lashes

It was probably inevitable that a L'Oreal would continue to expand the success of its Voluminous mascara line by adding a version called False Lashes. This version is so new, it's not even listed on the company website. However, it's available in some stores, including Ulta and Walgreens. This mascara is packaged in a sleek gold case and promises to build a false lash effect with fibers. I'm at a disadvantage, having never used a false fiber mascara: Typically, these fibers are made of nylon or silk and bind to the natural lashes to enhance length. False fiber mascaras are very popular in Asia, given Asian lashes are typically very short and grow straight (believe me, I know).

This mascara is truly a mixed bag: It actually adds visible length to your lashes, but the formula is so dry and clumpy that you need to use extra caution while applying. It's best built slowly, applying a coat and letting it dry before adding another. If you're someone who is already adept with false fiber mascaras or doesn't mind taking the extra step of using an eyelash comb to separate your lashes, you may like this. Most people will probably find the formula too high-maintenance.

The wand is long, thin and tapered, not the usual full brush that comes with most Voluminous formulas. The other thing to caution about is that that fibers can create fall-out: While applying it, I noticed a small amount of black specks under my eyes. My immediate thought was what would happen if I got caught in a rainstorm or broke a sweat. Also, if you accidentally rub or touch your eyes, expect some fibers left on your hand.

While L'Oreal says the mascara adds curl and volume, the only thing I noticed was added length. It retails for around $9.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What I've Been Up To

In August, I decided to go on a little hiatus. I'd been blogging regularly about beauty products for six months and had hit saturation. Bless those who can do it continuously for years on end, because I don't have the stamina or the wallet for it. The products I review I purchase myself, and I only purchase them if they truly intrigue me and I want to try them. I'll never start collecting makeup just to have new items to show. When I find a product I absolutely love, I'm excited to write about it and let others know my thoughts on it. When I think a product is overrated or not worth the money, I'll let people know about that, too.

I knew I'd hit burnout when I began to see makeup collections, haul videos, new products that all blurred together. I couldn't stomach the term "peachy-pink" without wanting to reach through the computer screen and strangle whoever coined it and everyone that defaults to it. There has to be a new, more creative term out there to describe our makeup shades.

So what I did was not buy and not write about makeup or beauty, despite this topic being one of my major loves. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. There's one thing I always want to impress upon women who follow a lot of blogs and Youtube beauty channels: We are so much more than what we look like, what products we own, etc. I'd recommend taking a beauty hiatus every so often. The cosmetic industry rakes in hundreds of billions of dollars per year and has fared well even in a bust economy. It'll still be there when you return.

It was refreshing to get engaged in other subjects and to focus on a job that is finance-based. This background has always been a little at odds with my makeup interests: In investments, we are taught about  assets vs. liabilities. Assets grow in value and provide a return to us; liabilities depreciate in value. Makeup, for all its amazing virtues, is ultimately a liability - just like a new car the moment it's driven off the lot. That's not to say we shouldn't buy it. I understand the amazing transformative powers of it: Not only does it change our outside, but it can do wonders for our outlook and self-image. It just needs to be approached with a discerning eye. As consumers, we have an incredible ability to speak volumes to the makeup and beauty industry. Be selective in your purchases, track your spending, and budget if you need to.

And every so often, feel free to take a break.

Product Review: Diorskin Nude Glow Healthy Glow Summer Powder

Fresh off the summer, many of us are probably in search of a product that will help maintain some of that bronze radiance. I rarely get excited about bronzers: They are either shimmer or matte and pretty much all look the same in the pan.

This product is interesting because it doesn't fall into either category: It is both shimmer and matte bronze tones woven together with highlight shades. The powder comes in two shades: Aurora (for fair complexions) and Sunset (for medium to deep skintones). What's ingenious is that the product imparts a radiance to the skin that isn't a bit frosty or muddy. The effect is an all over warming to the skin that mimics that first tan we get in the early days of summer. The powder contains four shades of bronze woven together; that variation is what gives the skin a more believable and dimensional glow.

It's best used like a beauty powder and brushed upon the high points of the face: It can be used for contouring, but because it isn't densely pigmented, I wouldn't recommend buying it for that. This is a limited edition item from Dior, but I was able to get it by asking a salesperson if they still had it in stock and they did. In a month or so, this may no longer be the case. The product retails for $44 and is .35 ounces.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

And the winner is...

Congrats, Maggie! Superb job at recreating the 80s in all its excessive glamour.

Thanks to everyone who entered: Your looks were all inspirational and so well done.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day to Night Summer Makeup

Nicole, before

Nicole, after: For daytime summer makeup, think "natural, fresh, glowing."

For nighttime summer makeup, intensify the look with dramatic false lashes and a bright lip to play up your tan.

Eye makeup: Urban Decay. Foundation, blush, lipstick: Make Up For Ever

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy 40th Birthday, Maybelline Great Lash! Now Please Go Away.

This is one makeup product that has a great PR machine behind it: Somehow it's survived 4 decades without package redesign or reformulation and still makes magazine editors' Best of lists year after year. This is what tipped me off to the real possibility that those lists are driven by top advertising and other politics.

The reality: The consumer doesn't like this mascara. I thought it was just me until I read reviews on consumer sites like MakeupAlley (which gives it an average rating of 2 out of 5 "lippies") and other beauty discussion boards. The overwhelming consensus is this product doesn't deliver: The formula is signature Maybelline wet, which means it doesn't hold curl and weighs your lashes down; the brush is too sparse and small, which means no volume or essentially weight-lifting the brush to get anything out of the product. What I hear is that Great Lash doesn't clump. The thing is, so many mascaras are sophisticated enough not to clump. This doesn't distinguish the product enough to keep it alive.

Maybelline, please let go.

The baffling thing is the company has launched some winners: Colossal Volume and One by One. As a brand, they've proven they can keep up with consumer tastes and put out a quality mascara. They also randomly discontinue ingenious products like their Dream Mousse Concealer. I try to get in these companies' heads sometimes on what constitutes a discontinue, because it doesn't always seem to be consumer demand and loyalty.

So why keep Great Lash, which is the paltry and anemic predecessor of Maybelline's newer launches? My only guess is nostalgia: It's that green and pink tube that lured many of us into trying the product but never repurchasing. Please put a better formula and brush into the green and pink tube and have a relaunch party, not a birthday party. Yes, Maybelline is celebrating Great Lash's 40th birthday with various artists putting signature designs on the tube. I'd be more impressed if there was some work put on the inside of this product - or holding a symbolic burial.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Artistry in Makeup Artistry

David Hernandez is an editorial/high fashion makeup artist who has been a pro-educator for Make Up For Ever for 15 years. He is perfectly suited to lead a seminar, The Artistic Advantage, focusing on the artistry in makeup: For one, David doesn't believe in rules, in makeup and in life. He also shows the beauty in taking technical perfection in makeup, then destroying it a bit, literally casting makeup paint haphazardly down a model's face during the session.

"When you put limitations on things, you stop being an artist," he said.

He is passionate about the art, but he's just as quick to be self-effacing and crack a joke about himself. As a high fashion makeup artist, he's learned to MacGyver many makeup techniques: At the backstage of a fashion show, there is no such thing as perfect time allotments and having every brush and product on hand. Models often rush in from other shows wearing makeup already, and David is expected to turn their look into something else entirely within minutes. Instead of viewing this as frustrating, he's learned to see the opportunity in time-crunched situations: At one photo shoot, he was suddenly expected to make rainbow colored eyelashes, and he didn't have the colors or the false eyelashes provided.

"It's nice when you're thrown into a situation and can accomplish it," he said. "You've always got to push the limit."

A few additional tips from David:

1. To determine if you're a warm or a cool (in skintone), apply silver and gold pigment to the skin. Whichever blends into the skin determines whether you're warm (gold) or cool (silver). If both blend in, you're neutral and can wear both tones equally well.

2. When applying moisturizer or primer to the face, use your hands and take the time to feel your bone structure. This helps you understand all the high points and recesses of your face. When applying makeup, you better understand which areas to highlight and which ones to contour.

3. Making it as a makeup artist isn't easy or quick, in most cases. In an era of instant gratification, it's something many people forget. "I had many, many doors slammed in my face before I got an opportunity. My attitude through it all was, I'm going to be a makeup artist," he said with a defiant tone. "It took me a long time to get established."

David used Make Up For Ever's Face and Body foundation, then used the Flash Color palette for the face paint design and on her eyes. (As a side note, certain colors from the palette are safe to use on the eyes and some are not. The back of the palette indicates which ones.)

The Face Behind Make Up For Ever
: Dany Sanz is the founder and creative director. As a professional painter who began doing theater makeup, she used her expertise with color to intensify existing shades and create new shades. Her background in painting is visible in much of her makeup work and guides the tone of Make Up For Ever as a highly creative brand. The company was bought by luxury apparel designer, LMVH, but Sanz retains creative control and remains the figurehead of Make Up For Ever. This means Sanz creates all the products and is the green light for any new launches.

Makeup by Dany Sanz