Showing posts from 2015

The Reality of Today's Workforce and the Lessons

I recruit for a company now: This is a job I never sought out or thought I'd have any interest in. I see three types of people: The young job seeker who has plenty of time to turn his or her life around; the older worker whose back is against the wall and is choking down his or her pride; and then there's the older worker who has been in dead-end employment all his or her life and doesn't do anything to get out of the trap. There are probably hundreds of stories behind their respective journeys to this job, stories I wonder about frequently.

I've seen more illiteracy than I ever knew existed in our country. If it looks depressing as a statistic, it's far harder to see in the form of a 58-year-old man whose expression has gelled into a permanent state of despondency. I've seen people who don't know where to start when they see a computer. I've seen people literally scraping for spare change, going hungry, living a hand-to-mouth existence. The irony is t…

Review: L'Oreal Visible Lift Blur foundation

After 25, there are definitely things you might want to "blur." This has become the new buzzword in the makeup industry: Optical illusion through makeup that takes down the appearance of things like fine lines and wrinkles through a "blurring" technique. Call it the reverse HD effect. The product retails for close to $15 (pricey for a drugstore foundation) and comes in a plastic squeeze tube.

This foundation looks great on the skin upon first application. I don't see a visible difference in things like fine lines, nor do I see any lifting effect, but it does create an airbrushed finish. As a cautionary, if you have combination to oily skin, the foundation wears down and separates very quickly. The initial result lasts a short amount of time.

I imagine this product lasts much better on someone with normal to dry skin. It has a moisturizing texture and isn't long-wear. I also don't know that I buy into the "blurring" effect of the product: I re…

Review: L'Oreal Voluminous Superstar mascara

Mascara is one of the hardest products to review, because everyone's lashes are different and take to mascaras differently. I rarely review mascaras because I have a very sad story: I have typical Asian lashes - short, straight, almost non-existent. They're a little like Whoopi Goldberg's eyebrows.

I'm envious when I watch the non-Asian reviewers applying mascara and it boosting what's already there. For me, finding a mascara that produces a visible result is a huge accomplishment. The first mascara that accomplished this for me was Cover Girl Professional mascara. A few years back, I discovered the L'Oreal Voluminous line. There have been so many offspring of this original version that I can't keep it straight: Some have worked for me; some haven't. L'Oreal's Full Definition performed so well on me, I kept repurchasing it. Then, as it happens, it got discontinued.

I tried L'Oreal Superstar mascara on the hunch that a primer would help the …

What It Means to be a Journalist

The job that intrigues people the most about me is that I was journalist. They think it sounds glamorous, maybe gutsy. When I try to explain the world of it, I am thrown back into a fascinating whirlwind of stories - other people's stories. To be a really good journalist is to be able to morph yourself into someone else's world and mind long enough to tell their story.

Here's how it started: I was a child who got put in the Blue Birds group for reading comprehension. The Blue Birds were the strongest readers and writers. When other children would struggle with a word, I'd get so frustrated that I'd want to get up and read it for them. I could remember how to spell a word just by seeing it once. My brain didn't work like that in other areas, but words landed in my mind like photographic images.

I would write prolifically as a child, spending hours I couldn't recall later roped into the world of the word. Something happens to a writer's brain during the w…

Makeup Work: Bronze Beach Beauty


Before & After Mom Makeover: Bringing Back a Little Wearable Glamour

Amy is my former high school classmate. She was one of the most popular girls. I was certainly not. Amy never treated me like it mattered. Back then and today she is kind, hilarious, open-hearted. She is a wonderful wife and mother who spends most of her time caring for her two young children. I thought she deserved a little time on herself and offered to do her makeup. Her children didn't like what I did to their mom ("You have two black eyes!"), but hopefully Amy did.

Newest Makeup Work: Before & After

Model: Sapphire Ng
Photographer: Rick T. White
MUA: Erica Mathews


Foundation: Graftobian
Eye Shadow: Urban Decay
Eyeliner/Mascara: L'Oreal
Blush: Nyx
Contour: Cielmiera
Highlight: Kevyn Aucoin Beauty
Lipstick: Make Up For Ever

Bruce Jenner's Transformation & The American Conscience

I was surprised at how raw the footage was from "About Bruce," even for the Kardashians. The TMI-style reality show is usually lighthearted and pieced together as a scripted antics comedy. This was seeing Jenner and the family completely unguarded.

I was too young to see Jenner win at the Olympics, but knew him from the Wheaties boxes and his legacy as an all-American athlete. He resonated in the collective conscience as a symbol of masculinity and wholesomeness. To know he'd been living with a big secret most of his life evokes sympathy and compassion.

What Jenner needs to do is understand that while his announcement is courageous and freeing, some in the family will be jarred by their understanding of him as a male figure and question their own lifetime memories. To them, it is a grieving process of saying goodbye to what they knew; to him, he will finally be arriving honestly in their lives.

When he told Khloe that his biggest concern was for his two youngest biologi…

Contour & Highlighting: Let's Explain What it Means

Ok, this concept has had a spike in popularity as meteoric as the Kardashians', but it's been used in makeup artistry for many decades. I'm not on Instagram, so I don't know how badly this concept is being abused as an attempt to take 10 pounds off the face or try to essentially redesign it.

It has inevitably spurred a backlash, as with any idea that's taken too far. You can blame the Youtubers that are looking like they're about to enter battle or go to a sports event where the team colors or brown and white.

The problem is the oversimplification of the concept: Some argue that it's revisionist, deceptive and even harmful to the psyche. The problem started when it was explained as simply as "put a dark color here, and put a light color here." Recede and highlight. If your mindset to doing it is to try to change your face, this is a harmful concept. Here's another take on it: Contour and highlighting simply enhances the bone structure that'…

Newest Makeup Work: Old-Hollywood Glamour

The makeup was about achieving an ethereal glow to the skin, doing dramatic eyes, and keeping the look clean and polished. Amanda is an overworked young woman: She holds a day job, goes to school, yet always shows up to modeling assignments professional and upbeat. I mixed a little vitamin E oil with my favorite moisturizer, CeraVe. Then I went to work on creating a polished, glowing canvas, using a BB cream with a bronzing effect and highlighter around her eyes, tops of the cheekbones, and bridge of the nose. I contoured lightly using my Cielmiera contour stick, emphasizing her cheekbones and working around the sides of her nose. Kiss brand (my current favorite) false lashes were applied to emphasize her gorgeous, translucent green eyes.

The Money Scam Using Vogue Magazine's Name

I was contacted a couple weeks ago by someone representing himself as James Patrick. He said he was a talent scout and that Vogue commissions what is termed as "emerging talent" as a corporate responsibility initiative. The initial e-mails sounded legitimate, but I kept my enthusiasm in check.

There were things about this person that didn't check out: He was using a gmail account and not one out of Condenast or Vogue. He could be professional and polite in one e-mail and condescending and demanding in the next.

As the correspondence went on, he said he would pay for the makeup I needed for the shoot, then the money would be redirected to someone who represented himself as Michael Flutie. I googled Michael Flutie, and he does come up as a legitimate talent agent. But anyone can create an e-mail account under someone's name.

The check came as promised, and I deposited it. James Patrick immediately pushed to get the money redirected to Michael Flutie. This set up anothe…

What Happens When You Design A Product That Blows Up in the Market

1. I am sooooo tired of saying "contouring and highlighting."

2. I want to timestamp my starting point to prove it was once an original idea.

3. I use pretentious words like "undertone" all the time.

4. I keep having to kick back the prototypes because the "undertone" isn't quite the perfect balance of shading I wanted.

5. I don't go on anymore, because every 2.3 seconds, another contour/highlighter has launched.

6. I still go on because I need to see the 1,800 contour/highlighters that have launched in the past six months.

7. I still love the concept of contouring and highlighting, but I hate the way it's become just a gimmick to ride the trend. Don't put a brown powder in a pan and push it for $40. It's truly harder than that.

8. I've had to think smarter/harder now that the market has been flooded. I both love and hate the challenge. When I bemoaned this challenge, a friend gave me this advice: "Tho…

Before & After: Cielmiera Contour & Highlighter

Makeup: Erica Mathews (Me)
Photography: Rick White
Model: Amanda C.

Contouring & Highlighting How-To: Cielmiera


Makeover: College Co-Ed to Glamour Girl

I have a problem: I see people, and I don't see how they look. I see what I would do to them, how I would do their makeup if life were my own makeup studio, how they could look. I do this constantly - on trains, in stores, everywhere. I have actually approached people and asked if I could do their makeup. The oddest thing is I'm shy, and even odder is that everyone so far has said yes (although women have told me if I were a man the question would creep them out).

Alyssa is a naturally beautiful 20-year-old woman; there isn't anything to "fix." But when I saw her photo of her own makeup, my mind did a mental transformation of her. In person, I saw a waifish girl with skin magazines herald as creamy and features so delicate they seemed almost invisible.