Showing posts from July, 2011

My First Bridal Work

Michelle is an athletic woman who doesn't wear much makeup, if any, in her daily life. For her wedding, amidst all the details, makeup was one of the last things she wanted to think about. In came me, someone who loves to think about makeup. Had I gone very heavy on her makeup, she wouldn't have looked like herself. My goal was just to help enhance her natural beauty. I'm definitely of the school that a bride should look like her best self on her wedding day, not like someone else or an overly made up version that would shock her grandmother.

A natural look for a bride can still require a full face of makeup: One reason is there's going to be a lot of flash photography taken. This strips color from the face. I applied a full face of foundation, concealer under the eyes (to counteract a lot of pre-wedding parties and sleepless nights due to nerves), three shades of shadow (she wanted pink and purple tones), waterproof eyeliner, waterproof mascara, brow shaping, blush an…


Sometimes we all need a break from what we've been focusing on. I have some personal matters to attend to (nothing dramatic, just life stuff that needs attention).

I may blog a bit in the meantime, but I plan to take a break, enjoy the summer more (how is it almost August?!), and focus on some other things I find really important in life. Makeup is a passion, but it's only one of many I have. I was beginning to feel a little one-dimensional and too focused on the external. All of us have so much to ourselves, beyond our looks or job title or our personal titles (wife, daughter, sister, mother). I encourage everyone to take a little time once in a while to explore that a bit. It doesn't take a week-long retreat or deep meditation to figure it out: Sometimes it's just stepping back a bit.

In the meantime, I'll be working on some projects for when I'm back: Makeovers, a makeup seminar to cover, and more. I just want to take some time away from the computer (after…

The C Word

If you want to push a lot of people's fear buttons, tell them that a product will give them cancer. This is something that came up in a discussion about Philosophy's Purity cleanser (sparked by it being a sample product in the monthly Birchbox). Do I know if this cleanser's ingredients give you cancer or are dangerous? No, I don't. I'm not a chemist or a doctor, the only type of professionals really qualified to answer this.

However, a writer on another site took it upon herself to call the product harmful and say that its ingredients include carcinogens. Here are some things to keep in mind: Carcinogens exist everywhere in our environment. There is no way to completely shield yourself from them, and being exposed doesn't automatically put you in line for an early death. If that were the case, we'd all be gone. This writer didn't back her claims with a single medical journal finding, statistic, professional opinion, etc. But her article did so far to s…

How to Review a Beauty Product Review

The reality of a beauty product review is there are a lot of limitations, even for the most honest reviewer. One inherent problem is that many products work differently on different people. Always keep this in the back of your head when watching or reading a product review.

One makeup product that has a highly subjective quality is mascara. This is because mascaras perform differently on different types of eyelashes. People have all kinds: straight and sparse, thick and curly, long. The objective flaws in any mascara: easily clumps, dries out quickly, bleeds to the lids or under eye area. Comments about it being volumizing and lengthening need to be considered in the context of the reviewer and how her natural lashes compare to yours.

Fragrance is also a tricky product to review. This is because it smells differently on different people due to body chemistry. Objective qualities to review for fragrance are its lasting power, how strong or weak it smells when applied, and its notes (f…

Upcoming: "Swat Makeovers"

Allure magazine used to have a feature I loved called "Swat Makeovers," where they picked women off the street and gave them a makeover. Sometimes the changes were subtle, sometimes dramatic. There is one image from years ago that I still look at for inspiration: They took a naturally beautiful woman and transformed her look into something much more seductive.

This concept gave me inspiration for some upcoming makeup work. I'm working on a few of these towards the end of the month with some unlucky friends and acquaintances (unlucky in the sense that I'm working on them). I appreciate their willingness to depart from their everyday look into something more dramatic or very different from what they've known. That flexibility about our looks is what keeps us growing and inspired. Images will be up late July and early August.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance vs. Urban Decay Primer Potion

Which one do you choose? This has been a debate in the beauty community for a while. What continually would be the crux was the packaging, since they used to be so different. Too Faced's is a typical squeeze tube applicator, while Urban Decay's used to be that genie style with a doe-foot applicator.

Too Faced's typically won out: The application was much easier; you could get all of the product out without doing a de-potting. For anyone who does makeup on others, it's also much more sanitary.

Then Urban Decay did the obvious and changed its packaging to a squeeze tube. This leveled the playing field. The products are very similar in amount and price; they vary by $1 and a .02 ounces. So weighing how much you get for the price is moot.

Since I own both, I used both - one on each eye - for a week to see if I could find something discernible about the product performance. I've done this before with products that often get compared, and something about a side-by-side…

The Hair Experiment

I glanced down at my security badge for work recently and noticed something a little alarming: My hair was exactly the same length as it was three months earlier (without a single trim). Hair typically grows a quarter to half an inch a month, so at the very least, I should have seen close to an inch in length.

My hair has stopped growing before: Typically this occurs during times of stress. Without a medical degree, my only guess is that the body's resources go to more critical areas. Odd things have restarted growth, such as scalp massage. Reportedly this increases blood flow to the hair follicles, which stimulates growth.

I've made a few changes to my routine, and I'll report back each month for a few months on whether they worked or not. They include:

1.) Virtually eliminating heat styling and blow drying. For months, I used a flat iron daily. I'd just stopped thinking about the damage that accumulates. Now I'm so determined to not blow dry my hair that I've…

Review: Sephora Jumbo Liner 12 Hour Wear

Sephora's Jumbo Liner 12 Hour Wear, far left, and Make Up For Ever's shadow in Turquoise Shimmer.

Arguably, one of the worst brands in Sephora is its own makeup line: I got a waterproof mascara that barely tinted the lashes, much less lengthened or added volume to them. I tried a cheek stain that actually vanished when applied. Twice-burned, when I was doing a bride's makeup a couple month's back, I had so little faith in the waterproof liner that I grabbed a drugstore brand at the last minute.

This summer, my fascination is with turquoise: I was browsing Sephora and looking for that perfect eyeshadow or liner that was bright, bold, and of course, a Caribbean blue. I found it in Sephora Collection's makeup aisle. The liner was the Jumbo 12 Hour Wear. At $10 each, I was willing to take the risk and possibly be disappointed again.

Finally, I can say I'm not. This jumbo liner is creamy, richly pigmented, and truly lasts. I tried the rubbing technique after swatch…

What We're Now Putting on Our Skin and Why

Missha M BB Cream, one of the more well-known brands now marketed in the States

BB Cream: This is a buzz phrase you're probably hearing more and more. When I first heard it, I thought it was a brand. It's actually a new type of makeup, a hybrid of foundation, SPF, and treatments. It stands for "blemish balm" or "beauty balm" and originated in Germany. It became widely popular in Asia, where skin free of marks and blemishes is held in high regard, and is now gaining popularity in the States. Most BB creams are pricey, retailing for around $40. Do I think it sounds gimmicky? Yes. You can accomplish what a BB cream does by sticking to a common sense skincare routine, wearing SPF, and using a less expensive foundation.

Primer: We got through most of the last century without primers, and suddenly they're marketed as a critical step in makeup application. Primers are touted for performing all sorts of functions, from filling in fine lines to counteracting sk…

Tips for a Successful No-Buy

When it comes to makeup, there is such a thing as having too much. It may not seem that way, but if you're at the point where you can't use what you have before it goes bad, it's a good time to cut back. Other obvious reasons include having a tight budget or noticing you're beauty spending is becoming out of control.

A lot of people have tried this with mixed or little success, myself included. I'm currently on a form of a no-buy, referred to commonly as a Project 10 Pan, which emphasizes using what you already own before purchasing more.

A few tips for preparing and getting yourself through a no-buy, whether it's for a month or close to a year (yes, I know of a few people who've done this).

1. Don't think of it in extremes: Like a diet, if you swear off everything "bad," that's exactly what you'll crave and you'll go insane. Even during a makeup fast, allow yourself a small monthly budget. Deprivation is the key to failure, so do…

My Summer (And Year-Round) Fragrance

For anyone who loves vanilla notes in her fragrance, La Vanila will be a wonderful sensory overload. This is an organic fragrance free of any harsh chemicals and infused with 30 vitamins and minerals.

A longtime fan of vanilla fragrance, I've noticed it's easy to mess up: Buy cheap and you often get a syrupy sweet fragrance that smells like it's trying to imitate vanilla.

La Vanila smells like true vanilla: It's a comforting, warm and creamy scent that lasts all day. Despite the richness and strength, it's not overpowering. It won't enter a room before you do. It won't clear the sinuses of anyone around you.

The co-founders, two women with a background in everything from beauty to law, believe that synthetic fragrances are absorbed into the blood stream and can create irritation. They set out to create an all-natural perfume line.

My summer favorite is La Vanila Coconut, a fusion of two of my favorite scents that's perfect for this time of year. Besid…

And the Bombshell Contest Winner is...

Congratulations, Natalie Renee! The reason I chose her is because her makeup application is so well done, and she gave a very strong impression of what she thinks a bombshell looks like. When I look at the photo outside of the context of the page and contest, I know immediately what she's trying to convey. That's how I finally narrowed it down to one person (I was literally deliberating up until a half hour ago). It was extremely hard among so many strong photos.

Natalie will win a $200 gift certificate to Sephora as the prize. I really enjoyed this contest, and I hope everyone had fun with it, too. Thank you again!