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Showing posts from October, 2011

Prince: The Man, The Music, The Makeup

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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…

Erica Carr: A Beautiful Mind

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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…

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 see…

Finding Use for a "Hated" Product

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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 …

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

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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 import…

Current Favorites

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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 Luminos…

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

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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 t…

My Biggest Makeup Challenge

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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…