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Showing posts from March, 2011

A Moment of Pride

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Yesterday, I did makeup for a professional photographer for the first time. Today, I got a glimpse of one of her photos: The image's beauty just stopped me cold; my heart swelled. I felt equally proud of the photographer and the subject in the photos: Without all three of us working so well together, the results wouldn't have been so good.

Please indulge me as a savor a moment of pride. Anytime one pursues a creative field, there are dark moments when you doubt you will ever make it, that you're fooling yourself, that maybe you're just not any good.

I've pushed ahead anyway, facing a lot of rejection. I expect plenty more. But right now, just looking at this image, I'm just going to feel happy.

More information about the photographer, Rebecca Brown, is on my page at facebook.com/makeupbyELM. I highly recommend her.

Overrated Beauty Products

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These are products that have achieved cult followings or legendary status in some of the major beauty magazines. I've tried them, and I can say with all sincerity, save your money. They don't live up to the hype.

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation: This one is constantly named as the HG of high-end foundations. As the name implies, it's supposed to give you a luminous finish that's almost airbrushed in quality. The foundation is fine: It doesn't smell or cake, but it's not anything that stands out amongst the other foundations on the market. It doesn't give a luminous, glowing finish. In fact, the finish is fairly matte. At $59/bottle and with the prestige around it, this product should deliver more. I've also heard the ingredients are very similar to Maybelline's Dream Smooth line, which I'd believe.

YSL Touche Eclat: This is another cult favorite that's achieved a legendary status. It's a $40 highlighting pen. Does it work? Yes. …

Elizabeth Taylor's Beauty

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She was known for having classic Hollywood beauty, but in her later years, she showed her mettle as an activist: She championed HIV/AIDS awareness at a time when people were still hugely unaware and afraid of the disease. She came to the fierce defense of Michael Jackson when he was under fire for alleged child molestation. Whatever you believed at the time, her loyalty as a friend was fiery and touching at once. She lured countless men. She survived countless health challenges. She succumbed today.

Her beauty should be a great reminder of embracing and enhancing your most prominent features, even if they go against the grain. In her most stunning photos, she is the antithesis of the watered down, commercial beauty we see today and the bombshell blondes in old Hollywood: She was ivory-skinned, had thick brows, and kept her hair short and black. Keep this idea in mind when approaching your own sense of beauty and style: Embrace what makes you individual. It's the very thing that wi…

Contests

I got questioned today on the winner of the Urban Decay Naked Palette. The contest was held completely fair and square: I said it was based on two factors - the entry itself and the number of supporters the entry got. Someone miscounted and called me unfair and fake. Ironically, this person's profile pic is of Kim Kardashian.


At the end of the day, a contest is meant to be fun. Still, there are no guarantees you will win. I've entered many contests and not won them. It's life, and no one owes me.


I hold these contests to share items that I like and to give people a chance to participate. I purchase the winning items from my own pocket, so some discretion on the winner is fairly left up to me. If you cannot handle the chance that you won't win, you're a poor sport, or just plain rude and unclassy, please don't participate in these. Also, feel free to unlike my page.


To everyone else, I hope you enjoy and get something out of this page.

Mission: Find the Holy Grail of All Beauty Products

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I'm going to spend the next month researching and looking for the best item I can find in each category:

1. Facial moisturizer
2. Body moisturizer
3. Sunscreen
4. Deep conditioner/conditioner
5. Anti-aging product
6. Lipstick
7. Blush
8. Foundation
9. Eye shadow palette
10. Anti-acne product

Since I don't get paid by any company to promote their products, my finds won't be influenced by anything other than my opinion. I've started this project and think I may have already found the best sunscreen and anti-aging product. I've read these lists in magazines, but there's always a bit of skepticism on my part because I sense there's a relationship between the magazines and the brands. Feel free to disagree with me, but I hope the list helps you.

I'm also going to do something I've never done as much as I should: Research companies based on their ethics. Do they test on animals? Do they support charitable causes? Are they responsible with manufacturing …

I Went "Naked" to Work

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There are two trends on Twitter: Makeup Madness Monday and Make-Free Monday. Perhaps both are to perk people up a little at the start of the week: One is indulge in buying all the makeup you can; the other is skip it altogether and pretend it's still the casual weekend. The Make-free Monday tweets feature various celebrities and bloggers sporting bare faces (or almost bare faces, complemented with special lighting and good photography). To women who rarely wear makeup or to the men, this isn't noteworthy at all. For a woman who allots about 30 minutes per day wrestling with her facial armor, this will stop you dead in your tracks.

I wear makeup about 80 percent of the time, but I can't remember a single day in the 13 years I've been in the professional workforce that I skipped it entirely. There may have been a couple days when hit the snooze button too much and had to pull some MacGyver tricks to get a quick look together. But walking out the door completely bare-fa…

Contest: Be Your Own Makeup Artist

I want to give people a chance to show their own work on themselves and enter to win a prize. Between now and April 2, please post an image of yourself at www.facebook.com/makeupbyELM representing "fresh-faced makeup." Lately, I've been inspired by this idea. I'll leave the interpretation up to you. I'll select the winner based on makeup application and a sense of creativity and fun. The prize is a $50 gift certificate to e.l.f. Cosmetics.

Contest closes at 9 p.m. EST on 4/2/11. Have fun with this and good luck, everyone!

It's the Weekend! Emerge More Relaxed and More Beautiful

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The weekend is finally here, and whether you survived a tiring week at work or school, hopefully this is your downtime. Many of us reportedly don't feel more relaxed come Monday: This is largely because we don't "shut off" during the weekends. We either still think about work, or we stay plugged in electronically. The brain needs time to come down from all the day-to-day pressures, as well as the constant feed of media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, texting).

For this weekend, try unplugging completely for one day. Turn off your cell phone for several hours; don't check your e-mail; stay off Facebook. The world WILL survive with you incommunicado for one day. Notify your immediate family and close friends in case of an emergency, but the odds are, it won't happen.

Here are a few more suggestions that are simple but will help you feel and look more rested come Monday.

1. Your hands have likely taken a beating this winter. We often neglect our hands, but they rev…

When You're Young, Anti-Aging Products are a Waste of Money

I know of a Youtube beauty personality who's very popular among young women and teens and pushes a lot of expensive anti-aging products, claiming they will "prevent" wrinkles. They won't. The tendency to get wrinkles is a combination of genetics and lifestyle. For anyone under 20, putting a lot of thick anti-aging products on your face will likely only make it break out. You will literally be washing your money down the drain.

Many anti-aging products target two things: skin cell turnover and collagen production. Products like retinol and alpha hydroxy work by stimulating these in the skin. When you're in your teens and 20s, your skin is naturally very efficient at both cellular turnover and collagen production. Adding a product to artificially boost this process won't preemptively stop the natural aging process from occurring.

The biggest thing I emphasize for any teenager is broad spectrum sunscreen (a chemical blocker) or sublock (a physical blocker). Look…

What I Look for in Anti-Aging Products

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I'm not a dermatologist and don't claim to be an expert in the area. This is simply what I've learned that works best for me.

1. I focus on brands that have less hype and advertising around them: The brands that advertise a lot or put their products in fancy bottles will mark up their price to compensate for this. I focus on brands that seem self-sustaining without much advertising: Roc retinol products are a favorite. The retinol is high potency for over the counter, combined with ingredients that work in harmony with it, and is packaged in a way that protects the ingredients. I also recently tried a brand called Exuviance that I really like (and will review shortly).

2. I don't just look for words like "vitamins" in face creams; I look at the concentration level and the packaging. Vitamin C needs to be listed as stabilized, meaning it won't oxidize as quickly, and the potency needs to be at least 10%. Also, the packaging should be opaque to protect the…

Beauty Tips Courtesy of Makeup Artist Wayne Alan Goss

1. Contrary to what we've all been taught, don't apply blush to the apples of your cheeks while smiling: Once you stop smiling, the cheeks drop and the blush is lower on your face. This actually ages the appearance, according to Goss. While applying blush, don't smile and run the blush along the cheekbones, sweeping upwards. He calls it an "instant face lift."

2.) Match your foundation to your neck, not your face. The neck is typically a little darker than the skin tone of the face.

3.) People with oily skin don't ever need moisturizer. You have enough natural moisture in your skin.

4.) Anti-aging creams "don't work, or there would be no such thing as botox and face lifts." He recommends simply wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen religiously and using a vitamin A derivative product. As an aside, please always talk to your doctor about the safety of certain topical products while pregnant.

For more tips like these, you can find him at Gossmakeupa…

Product Review: Chaz Dean's Wen

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I first saw the infomercials for this product because I'm an early riser during the week and watch television while getting ready for work. The ads feature Chaz Dean, touted as a longtime celebrity hairstylist, talking about the product with actress Melissa Gilbert (or, in more recent ads, actress Alyssa Milano).

Wen is featured as the non-shampoo: It doesn't lather, but it reportedly cleans your hair as well as a traditional shampoo. Dean explains in the infomercials that lathering agents actually strip and damage hair. He likens the effect on hair to the fading you see after washing your clothes several times.

He claims to have formulated the product with "astringent and antibacterial properties" for cleansing, thereby replacing what he says is the main damaging ingredient, sodium laurel sulfate. The product has a number of natural agents, which are said to condition the hair.

I tend to judge a product based on the first five ingredients listed, which are usually …

Win a Free Makeover for an Upcoming Event

If you live in Massachusetts and would like a free makeover for prom, graduation portraits, your wedding, or any upcoming event in your life, please send me an e-mail at elm914@gmail.com and explain what look you'd like. I'll do a prep makeover prior to your event. If you like the look, we'll go for it for the actual event. No cost of services, but additional makeup expenses will be incurred by the winner.

Shared Tips for Prom, Graduation Portrait, and Wedding Makeup

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As we approach that time of the year when these three milestone events occur, it's good to think about your makeup approach. My biggest piece of advice for all three is to try to avoid a makeup look that will date you: In other words, you don't want to be like my generation and know that our prom occurred in the early 1990s just by looking at our hairstyles and makeup. Same goes for so many wedding and graduation pictures I've seen.

Think that you can't do makeup to reflect your time period? Think about Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn: Their makeup looks are still relevant and copied today.

When approaching your makeup for all three events, go for timeless and classic. For graduation and wedding makeup, think understated. For prom, you can be fun and out there, but it's often more flattering to have a look that doesn't compete with your dress or detract from it.

For prom:

1.) Don't be concerned with matching your makeup colors to your dress. It's too …

How to Budget Your Beauty Spending

I don't covet purses or shoes, but I lust for anything related to makeup or skincare. This is my kryptonite. Like many women, I've gotten myself into trouble with too much beauty spending, only to get a very unpleasant surprise when the credit card bill comes or I feel like I'm swimming in unused and disappointing beauty products. Beauty spending tends to be an emotional exercise: We use it to perk ourselves up or to reward ourselves. To a limited degree, this can be perfectly fine. But in excess, it's a distraction and will harm us financially in time.

We also tend to lose control at the cosmetics counter, as many purchases tend to be impulse buys, rather than well-researched and planned spending. I recently asked a group of women if they keep track of their beauty purchases: All of them said no. A few said they'd like to, but the majority said they'd find it "depressing" and would rather not.

Like anything related to money, we need to take ownershi…

Product Review: Urban Decay's Naked palette

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I originally saw this palette in Sephora several months ago, looked it over, and actually passed. Yes, passed. The colors looked a little muted to me. Also, I figured neutral palettes are a dime-a-dozen.

Well, after about 6 months and a buzz around this product so loud it's sparked eBay hikes like it's on the black market, I changed my tune. Slowly. At first, I began wondering what was so special about this palette. It's a mix of neutral shades, one dark, one blue-toned silver, some gold, and highlighting shades. That answers my own question: The composition of the palette is what's made it stand out in a market flooded with eyeshadow palettes. The assembly is smart; the packaging is eye-catching; the shadows themselves are beautiful (incandescent without being a bit sparkly) and can be mixed in a variety of ways to create both natural and dramatic looks.

I used the palette over the weekend while doing makeup on someone for pictures. What I loved was the versatility: I…

70s and 80s Makeup: A Flashback

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The 70s and 80s tend to get skipped over in makeup retrospectives. I'm oddly inspired by the decades' excess, extravagance, and all sorts of current-day rule breaking. My inspirations for these images were some of the late 70s/early 80s models: Gia Carangi, early Janice Dickinson. Their makeup was marked by dark earth tones, sculpted cheeks, and a lot of eyeshadow. For the 80s, I tried to do a fresh take on the baby blue eye makeup and frosty pink lipstick: I used navy blue to line Lauren's eyes and went with a more subdued nude color on her lips.

Lauren, 80s makeup










Allison, 70s makeup