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Showing posts from February, 2011

Minka Kelly-Inspired Summery Makeup

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Allison, before


Allison, after






Steps for creating Allison's look:

1.) I applied primer to her entire face to help the makeup go on smoothly. I used my current favorite by Mary Kay.

2.) I applied Urban Decay's Eye Shadow Primer Potion to her lids: This prevents feathering and makes the shadow last longer. I've found that there are cheaper versions that work just as well, or you can use concealer.

3.) Using a foundation brush, I applied a foundation two shades darker than her skin tone to deepen her complexion (Not recommended for everyday, but for pictures, it can work). I blended down into her neck so there was no sharp demarcation. Mixed into the foundation were a couple drops of Lorac's Oil-Free Luminizer in L2, which is a deep bronze.

4.) I used Cover Girl's Cheekers blush in Golden Pink along her cheekbones. To emphasize a tanned look, I applied NYC Smooth Skin Bronzing Powder in Sunny in a three-shape motion along her temples, cheekbones, and outer jawline. T…

I Don't Know What I'm Doing, But I Keep Doing It

I recently got a request for a makeup consultation. The overriding sentiment among the person was that she didn't feel sure about herself when applying makeup: "Sometimes I feel great when putting on makeup, and other times, I feel like I should never touch it again," she said.

She'd seen some of my work posted and guessed I may be coming from a place of more surety and could somehow tutor her towards that feeling. I told her flatly that I suffer the exact same inconsistent confidence about makeup. Not a great selling point, but I suffer from a case of honesty.

Truth is, it isn't just makeup. It's a lot of things in life that I've pursued. I've been a writer for as long as I can remember, but it's a fresh psychological experience every time I sit down in front of a keyboard. I never really know what's going to happen. Despite a journalism degree and nearly 10 years of professional writing, here's the thing: I still don't know what I&…

Product Review: Physicians Formula's CoverToxTen50

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This is a lesser-known product by Physicians Formula. Suffering from some bouts of insomnia lately, I'm on the hunt for any product that promises to make you look more awake and soften any appearance of fatigue (read: under eye circles and bags). On a whim, I decided to try the product (available at any drugstore where Physicians Formula is sold).

I applied it on a day when I felt particularly tired. The promise is that within 10 minutes of application, the appearance of wrinkles will be reduced by 50%. Ambitious, huh? The images on the package mimic women before and after a mini-face lift.

The product does actually reduce all appearances of fatigue and makes you look younger. Impressed, I contacted Physicians Formula to get more information on the product for a review. After several days, I learned the company isn't talking, so I had to do a little research on my own.

If you go on the Physicians Formula website, the product's efficacy is attributed to a trademarked comp…

Beauty Tips to Prepare for Spring

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It may not seem like it, but Spring is around the corner. After the long, cold winter we've had, many of you are probably experiencing problems with dryness, both in your skin and hair. The winter takes a toll on our looks with the extreme temperature changes (going from frigid cold to over-heated offices) and punishing elements like heavy wind.

With more temperate weather around the corner, we can begin to anticipate some changes to our beauty routines and makeup.

Here are some tips for preparing:

1. UVA rays (the damaging heat rays that cause skin cancer and wrinkles) jump in intensity in April: Consider upping your daily moisturizer's sun protection to SPF 30 in late March of each year. Remember to wear a minimum of SPF 15 year-round, as UVA and UVB rays exist even in the coldest winter months and cause cumulative skin damage.

2. You can probably eliminate the heavy-duty moisturizers you may be using at night and switch to lighter, more fluid formulas for day. As the weath…

Upcoming Review: Physicians Formula Cover ToxTen50

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This is a recent find in the drugstore that truly does make you look more awake and your skin refreshed. It softens fine lines and virtually erases undereye bags. As someone with insomnia lately, it was a wonderful find. The problem is, the miracle ingredients in this product are trademarked by Physicians and a little cloak-in-dagger, so I need to contact the company to get more information on how it works.

The full review will be posted early this week.

To Youtube or Not to Youtube: That is The Question

As I've tried to expand my makeup knowledge, I've gone deeper into the abyss that is Youtube. I've found a few makeup gurus - as they're called - that I've taken to and some that I've learned from on what not to do.

Youtube is an interesting leveling game: Anyone can post about virtually anything of interest. It doesn't matter if English is your first language and you still need subtitles or even if those subtitles would still explain nothing.

I've learned to watch it with a note-taking eye: what works really, really works and what doesn't really doesn't. About a month ago, I began following a newscaster who does beauty product reviews. Her Youtube name is Emilynoel83 (in the professional news realm she's Emily Eddington).

The first time I watched her, I was overcome by how much of a newscaster voice she projects even when dissecting lipstick colors with names like Cinnamon Buns and Sunset (which I still can't find, btw!). Her hair and m…

Waxing Beautiful Will Be Expanding

Over the next couple months, this blog will be expanded to include a separate page going beyond beauty reviews and makeup. The focus will be on women's issues, including health, workplace, personal care, family, and managing all factors against today's growing demands.


The goal is to create a blog that addresses various issues affecting today's women. I still want to maintain some central focus on beauty and makeup, as it's a personal passion. But the goal is to expand coverage to give women of all ages useful information to help them manage their daily lives. I love writing about makeup and beauty, but I do worry that women today can get easily too focused on this topic without addressing areas that have much more meaning to them. We are, after all, multidimensional and need to be to manage ourselves in today's world.


My professional background includes several years as a journalist, so this will be a welcome area to move into. I hope people will get something out…

Upcoming Product Reviews and Makeup Looks

Between now and end of March, I'll be reviewing the following products:


1. Chaz Dean's Wen shampoo and haircare products


2. Exuviance Age Reverse Night Lift


3. Mary Kay brand makeup and skincare products


4. Rimmel Lasting Finish foundation


I'll also be doing a 70s and 80s makeup retrospective using Make Up For Ever and a Minka Kelly inspired makeup look. Yes, we all get why Derek Jeter loves her.

Review: Xen Self-Tanner

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I was curious about this product after watching a Pixiwoo review on self-tanners, where this item was picked as the top brand. The makeup artists who comprise Pixiwoo, sisters Sam and Nic Chapman, are well-regarded for their talents. This exposure has also given them access to some of the top brands. (One disclaimer: The duo appear to have a contractual relationship with certain makeup brands, namely Chanel. They may also have relationships with other brands that drive which products they promote.)

Whatever the potential relationship, the review was a strong endorsement of the Xen tanning line. Sam Chapman, a fair-skinned British woman, describes herself as pretty deficient with self-tanners and really emphasized that this is an area where paying up gets you a better product (Xen tanning line runs $32-$56 per bottle). Her particular shortcoming is in blending, which leads to streaking issues among lesser quality self-tanning products.

Physically, I am the opposite of the Chapmans: I&…

A Note to the Young Women Out There

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After working on a few young woman in their early 20s, I've observed some consistent themes: They all want to be tan, almost Snooki-level tan. They want to have hair color that doesn't occur in nature.

They want to look like someone completely other than themselves.

First off, as someone who loves makeup, I love the game of dress-up and don't criticize that at all. I've experimented with myself tons. As I grow older, though, I realize increasingly just how beautiful people are in their natural state. That doesn't mean makeup-free, unwashed, unkempt: That means enhancing your natural coloring and not working against it.

If you are born with porcelain-white skin, it's such a beautiful trait to play up. Think of model Karen Elson, who borders on ghostly-pale. To maintain that look, she must live like a virtual vampire, wear SPF 100, and use makeup that possibly lightens her skin even further. It works beautifully on her. Best of all, she won't get premature w…

Valentine's Day Looks - Part 2

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Brooke is wearing makeup by L'Oreal: True Match liquid foundation in Nude Beige, Hip Studio Secrets professional shadow in Electrified 510, and a new product, Bare Naturale Gentle Lip Conditioner in Soft Spice. Thank you to L'Oreal for generously donating their new items to make this Valentine's look.

The True Match foundations are consistently rated very highly by beauty magazines and makeup artists, both for color shade range and for finish quality. If you are looking for a more affordable foundation option than the department store brands, this is a good product to look into. The Hip Studio Secrets line is also highly rated for its strong pigmentation. If you want a lot of bang for your buck, this product delivers: you will not need to keep reapplying to get a rich color effect.

Brooke is also wearing NARS powder blush in Sin. For a little extra illumination, I added a drop of Smashbox illuminator to her foundation. To prep her skin, I used Make Up For Ever primer, and…

A Disclaimer on Future Makeup Images

Going forward, any makeup imagery I'll be doing will be on myself. I wanted to avoid this, because I find it a little narcissistic. However, any grief I cause myself will be of my own doing. I'm personally spending a tremendous amount of energy and money trying to share what I've learned and give people inspiration for their own makeup looks. I'm not creating world peace by any means, but what I'm giving out lately has felt like a lot more than what I'm getting back for this effort.

Recently a few cosmetic companies have generously offered to share their products with me, and I truly appreciate this. Still, about 98% of this endeavor I pay for out of my own pocket. This is probably the dumbest business model, so I'm rethinking some things.

When I do makeup on others, I tell them upfront what I'll be doing, my ideas, my approach. I always aim to be very accommodating and respectful towards them. I don't charge them anything, not for my service or for…

$100 MAC Cosmetic Contest Winner: @Purplelaptop2

Congrats to Twitter account, Purplelaptop2, on her win! She played diligently from the beginning and must have RT'd about 500 times.

For those of you who played and didn't win, I'll be running another contest soon, so please keep an eye out for it. Thanks!

New Makeup Images: A Retrospective of Past Eras

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Within the next couple weeks, I'll be doing images from two decades, with an updated twist in the makeup. I'd love to hear back from people on which decades they'd most want to see. Please feel free to post a comment on this blog or write on the wall at facebook.com/makeupbyELM.


Next Makeover: Valentine's Day - Dramatic and Sexy

I'll be doing a second version of the Valentine's Day look. L'Oreal has graciously offered to provide me with some of their upcoming products to use in the photo story, so please keep a look out for the next set of images.

Valentine's Day Romantic Makeup: Before and After

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For those following Sarah (a.k.a LashGirlMe) and me last night on Twitter, here's the before and afters.






Steps to achieving this look:

1. Start with freshly washed and well moisturized skin. Make sure lips are moisturized.

2. With my fingers, I applied a couple drops of Make Up For Ever's HD Elixer, which moisturizes dry patches. Sarah, who suffers from dry skin, said, "That feels good!" as the product was applied.

3. Next, using a foundation brush, I applied a dime size amount of Make Up For Ever's HD Primer. I waited about 5 minutes for the product to fully dry, although the manufacturer says the primer dries in less time than other brands.

4. With a foundation brush, I applied Make Up For Ever's HD Foundation in #50 across Sarah's face, working from the center of the face and outward. Sarah said she wasn't aiming to cover the small pattern of freckles on her cheeks, but the foundation naturally did.

5. I applied Clarins Multi-Blush in Lichee to Sar…

Waxing Pioneering: Kevyn Aucoin

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The first time I read about Kevyn Aucoin was in the early 90s, when he was an established high fashion makeup artist and I was in my early teens and just discovering makeup. Once a starving aspiring artist, he was on his way to becoming the highest paid makeup artist of his time, on the heels of doing a series of Vogue covers in the mid- to late 1980s. He was also one of the first makeup artists to gain celebrity in their own right.

The thing that caught my attention the most: He had a different message than anyone I'd read about before. He called attention to highlighting our uniqueness with makeup, rather than trying to mask it. Today it's a fairly common message, but 20 years ago, it was revolutionary. No one else in the fashion or makeup industry was saying it or had said it before with such clarity.

Because I was exposed to Aucoin at a time when my own self-image was shaping, this had a huge impact on me and continues to in my approach to makeup.

He was also memorable ph…

Worth Their Weight in Gold

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Here are a few products that are very high end and expensive, but if you have the money to buy them, they work amazingly well. My sister and I once had a joke to not even tease ourselves by trying expensive products, because it's like exposing yourself to a desert island you can't really visit or live on. Well, I did on these products, and I remember them fondly.


Cle de Peau Concealer stick: I have undereye bags and darkness that pop up if I get a wink less than 7 hours sleep. This product is the only one that covers both with a small dab, blends seamlessly into the skin, and stays put. When I bought it, it was $60 (it's now $70). The product lasted a little over a year with daily use (never going bad). That results in $5/month, or $.16/day.

Creme de la Mer The Eye Concentrate: Got this as a sample and still mourning the loss. I don't know what magic potion the elusive wizards at La Mer put in this thing (notoriously referred to as a "miracle broth"), nor do…

A Few New Favorites

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L'Oreal Telescopic Mascara: When I first saw the spherical applicator, I was bewildered. This mascara is great for bottom lashes and the smaller lashes at the inner corner of the top lid. Because it's tiny, the application is very precise.

NARS The Multiple in Orgasm: I'm a bigger fan of this suggestively-named color in a cream stick formula than I am as a powder blush. One: It lasts forever. Two: It can be easily applied to the lips and eyes, as well. The effect is romantic and illuminating.

L'Oreal Studio Secrets color quad in Lavender Smokes: This is the deep plum shadow I've been searching for. This brand's shadows are highly pigmented and thoughtfully assembled. I love the gold flecks in the deep plum shade and the golden highlight colors. Combined together, the look is dramatic and smokey.

Cover Girl Cheekers Blush in Rose Gold: This is a deep rose color that fits almost any complexion. Apply with a light hand for a subtle effect, or layer on gradually t…