Showing posts from January, 2011

Makeup Basics: Tips for Beginners

So much of knowing makeup is knowing your own face. What will work on someone else won't necessarily work on you. A good technique if you're just starting out is to look at yourself barefaced in the mirror in as much of an objective manner as you can. It's easy to start picking apart what you see wrong, but try as much as you can to avoid this. Almost see it like looking at a bare room and figuring out placement, what would look good where, etc.

Observe your face's bone structure: Are you round faced, oval, heart shaped? What is your skin type: oily, dry, normal, both? These will all dictate how you approach makeup. And if you're starting out, I'd advise against trying to imitate a celebrity's look. I look at their images for ideas and inspiration, but I've never aspired to look like any of them. The beauty of makeup is enhancing what's interesting about yourself - not about imitating someone else.

The very basics for a beginner are th…

Upcoming Product Review: Exuviance Age Reverse Night Lift

I've been on a long quest for the right night cream. Overall, I'm happy with my skin, but my concerns are dullness and some decreased firmness, so I specifically look for products that promise to boost collagen. My latest test is Exuviance Age Reverse Night Lift. I bought it after a thorough online search and many favorable user reviews. I'll post a full review of the product in February, after using it for a month. I don't get freebies or paid to promote any products, so all my reviews are my honest take.

Valentine's Day Makeup Looks

I'll be doing two versions of Valentine's Day makeup: the classic romantic, and the sultry bombshell. These images will be posted in early February on this site and at With each, I'll include tips and techniques I used to help you recreate the looks. I hope you are inspired. If you're single, still embrace them as a way to celebrate your independence. I'm a complete advocate that this day shouldn't be enjoyed by just the coupled.

Review: Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Cream Blush

I got this as a sample at Sephora, and it is everything I would expect out of Make Up For Ever: the dense pigmentation is almost shocking, but the flush you get from it is sheer and beautiful. Because it is so strong, you need only a tiny pump to apply to both cheeks. Warm a little by rubbing your fingers together, then apply with a light hand. Add more as needed. The blush is long-lasting and creates the most beautiful flush.

Win $100 in MAC Cosmetics

R/T and repost MakeupbyELM Tweet between now and Feb. 15 to enter to win. The poster with the most repost Tweets will win. Visit this site or on 2/12/11 for the winner to be announced. Good luck!

Review: Nars Highlighting Blush in Albatross

This is a pearly white blush put out by Nars that is meant to highlight the face. Instead of it being applied like a regular blush, apply it on the high points of the face: the tops of the cheekbones, down the center of the nose, the chin, the forehead. In the package, the highlighter looks snow-white. Like any Nars product, the presentation isn't delicate. On the face, however, it's subtle and casts more of a candlelit glow to the face. It's sexy and romantic at the same time: A good product to use for a date or a night out.

Use it sparingly, as the product can cake. Overall a good recommendation.

The Great Beauties of Our Time

For those not familiar with them, Google them and get inspired. Not only are they beautiful, but many of them advocate good causes and have depth.

1. Christy Turlington: Like cashmere, will never go out of style. When I was a teen, I thought she looked a lot like a cat and couldn't quite tell her race. Her beauty has evolved into a more pared-down style, which I love. A heavy smoker for many years, she is now a strong anti-smoking advocate. Her father died of lung cancer, and she herself had a health scare several years ago.

2. Iman: Super-genes is all I can say. She is now in her 50s and has nary a wrinkle. With those eyes and that bone structure, she gets more gorgeous with time. Coming from an industry that worships youth, she advocates women of all ages supporting each other. I'm constantly inspired by her makeup: She knows how to highlight and contour so that the face just radiates.

3. Jaclyn Smith: A 70s and 80s icon, she remains a beautiful woman who has a…

Makeup: A Love Story

This past year has easily been the hardest of my life. I won't get  into the details, because many of us have had trials beyond measure  recently. Still, it tested me professionally, personally, physically,  and emotionally all at once.

This year, as my resources  were tapped out, I turned more and more to makeup. Why that, of all  things? For one, I've always been a very visual person: I've loved  studying the nuances and symmetry - even the quirks, the battle scars -  of each face.  Makeup has been an escape for me since I was about 13.  Escapes aren't healthy, right? Perhaps.

However, there  was a day that I can remember most vividly when my armor was a mess and I  thought sadness alone could be terminal. In that moment, I forced  myself to put on makeup. I don't know what drew me to it, but the act  alone helped restore something I thought I'd lost. It was acting as-if:  as-if I felt good about myself, as-if I still had that confidence, as-if  I still felt…

My Makeup Work


A Day at the Makeup Counter

Today was one of the coldest days on record in Boston, so cold that all sense of vanity went out the window. I had a morning meeting, then had a couple hours to kill before meeting someone else. Just staying indoors and relatively warm was my main objective.

To kill that time, I did something I never do: I went into Saks Fifth Avenue, the only department store in the area to carry MAC Cosmetics. I ended up in the chair of an Yves Saint Laurent salesperson named Lilly Alekel, someone so invisibly good at what she does, you quickly forget that she's a salesperson. It could be training, a natural ability, but most likely it's that magical combination of the two.

Saks has always intimidated me: It is so high-end and expensive, I've imagined the doors would instinctively lock upon my approach: "Too poor for us. Go away." They have valet, for pete's sake. Or if I was lucky enough to get in, I'd get a little posturing as they tried to send me back…

Creating a Good Canvas for Makeup

A lot of makeup artists will take steps to prep someone's face prior to applying makeup. The better the canvas (your skin), the better the makeup will look and the less you'll need.

Some basic tips to prep your skin:

Use a light physical (scrub) or chemical (alpha hydroxy, glycolic acid) exfoliant: This will remove dead skin and create a natural blush.

Depending on your skin type, apply a hydrating or oil reducing mask. A good trick for a moisturizing mask is to apply it and wear it in the shower: the steam will help the ingredients sink in. After the shower, apply a cream containing hyaluronic acid lotion to seal in moisture.

If you want to take the extra step, apply an eye mask to reduce puffiness. You can also freeze spoons and apply gently to your under eye area.

Drink a lot of water earlier in the day, stay away from heavy carbs, and eat lean protein.

Lesser known vitamins that are great to take for the skin: Alpha Lipoic Acid (a super antioxidant), Coenzyme Q1…

Creating the Dewy Makeup Look

There is a fine line between that coveted dewy, glowing look and a shiny face. Makeup trends go back and forth between matte and dewy, but the glowing look ultimately seems to be esteemed for radiating health. Here are some steps for achieving a glow to your skin that doesn't look oily.

If you have oily skin, start off with an oil-free moisturizer. Apply a mattifier to your T-zone, as it's never the desired effect to shine in these areas. Normal or dry complexions can get away with a richer moisturizer, even mixing it with a luminizer for an extra brightening effect.

Use a cream blush in flattering shades - soft pink or peach for light skin, tangerine or reddish tone for dark skin - and apply along the apples of the cheeks. Applying the blush before foundation gives a more natural flush, as if radiating from within.

Use a cream foundation only in areas where needed and keep your application light: the ultimate goal is to achieve the look of a bare face - just evene…

What Cosmetics Can't Accomplish

I read a quote once that at a point, one pretty woman seems as pretty as the other and the effect is numbing. There are millions of beautiful girls and women out there. Cosmetics promise to enhance what nature offered us and nature can take away. If you read any Buddhism, you will note their anti-physical beauty mantra: There is always another more beautiful face out there, so the attention you receive for it now won't last. The ego that seeks this attention will ultimately be disappointed.

Paradoxically, I love the idea of what cosmetics can accomplish: on a very surface level, they can eliminate perceived flaws, enhance interesting features, and just make us more visually appealing. But I also know this pursuit is fleeting: For anyone who lives into her 80s, about a quarter of your life will be spent epitomizing the youthful beauty our culture so admires.

I don't advocate endlessly chasing efforts to maintain that look, cosmetically or artificially or desperately. The chall…