Another week, another MAC product review. What can I say? They make good makeup.
I’ve been using MAC Pro Longwear Fluidline in Blacktrack, a flat black gel eyeliner, for years, so I was surprised to find that I hadn’t done a post about it. It’s a pro makeup artist fave and every MUA I know has it in their kit.
The Fluidline liners come in a little glass jar with a black top. A word to the wise with any gel eyeliners or cream shadows that come in similar packaging–once air gets into the jar for too long, the product will dry out and become useless. So make sure you close the lid tightly after using, unless you like to be wasteful. A tiny bit of gel liner goes a long way, so this little jar should last you a while if you keep the lid closed tightly.
The most hygienic way to use a gel liner is to scrape some out with a clean spatula, put it on a palette and use a fine liner brush to apply it. That’s the way I do it 100% of the time for clients, absolutely no exceptions. But most non-pro’s will dip directly into the jar with a brush, load the brush up with liner then apply. This will not only usually give you more product than you need (and good luck coming back from a too-thick line of gel liner), but unless your brush is always sanitized and you don’t double dip, it means you are transferring the bacteria from your lid into the product. And guess what happens when you securely close the lid, as you have been taught, after that? I’m not saying anything bad about bacteria molecules’ lifestyles, as they can be with whoever they want, but these gals and guys get down, and they multiply in that dark, enclosed environment. So if you double dip and/or use a dirty eyeliner brush, the next time you use your gel liner, say hello to their (millions) of little friends, who are now going to live on your eyelids and lash roots.
But let’s pretend you are applying your gel liner correctly. Fluidline liners are great because they can give you a very defined look or a soft focus look, depending on how you apply. You can get a graphic, liquid liner type of look if you apply it perfectly then let it set (dry). Or you can apply a thin line then pull it up with angled brush before it sets, diffusing it but still keeping definition. That is my favorite way to use Blacktrack, as soft focus is generally more appropriate for the type of makeup I do. I then usually top the liner with black eyeshadow to give it more intensity with the blackness without making it too harsh.
Blacktrack is definitely black, but it’s a soft black, which I like. I’d rather have the option to make it more black with shadow than have it look too harsh, which is how an intense black liner can look on those with lighter coloring.
Some gel eyeliners (honestly, usually the cheap ones) are not very pigmented, so not only will you have to apply a few layers to get the color payoff you want, but you’ll see a kind of watered down or patchy looking line if you draw it on thick. Blacktrack won’t do you like that. The pigment is there and you’ll get a consistent line as long as your brush is properly coated.
Fluidline in Blacktrack is one of the staples in my kit, and I think it has a place in everyone’s kit or personal makeup bag. But what do I know? I’ve only been doing this for over a decade…
I’ve been using MAC eyeshadows since the beginning of my career as a makeup artist. Especially with an eye primer underneath, I’ve found these shadows to be the longest lasting, most pigmented powder shadows in the game. But if you’re at a MAC store or counter or on their website, the sheer selection of colors (currently 108 of them) can be daunting.
So allow me to present my go-to’s and thoughts on who I’ve found they work best on. I’ll include the shade descriptions MAC gives for each, but I won’t be shy in voicing my opinion if I see them differently.
All That Glitters. Beige with gold pearl. To me, this looks more rose gold than beige gold on most people. I think it works best on light and medium skintones. It’s pretty shimmery, so stay away if you’re a Matte Girl.
Antiqued. Ash brown with bronze. This is gorgeous on deeper skintones with any eye color.
Brown Script. Warm chestnut brown. Works especially well on medium and deeper skintones, either on the lid or in the crease. It’s matte, so it can work for either. (I stay away from shimmer in the crease, as it defeats the purpose of making an area look recessed.)
Brule. Soft creamy beige. One of my matte go-to lid colors for fair, light and light-medium skin.
Brun. Muted blackish brown. I use this cool, matte shade as a liner on light and medium skintones, any eye color. I also use it to fill in brunette brows.
Carbon. Intense black. Everyone should have a good black eyeshadow, and this is my favorite. I mostly use it at the lashlines, as it’s pretty rare for me to use black on the lid or in the crease unless it’s for an editorial look.
Charcoal Brown. Muted taupe brown. I use this a lot at the lower lashline on light and medium skintones. It provides soft definition. It also works as a neutral matte lid color on deeper skintones.
Club. Red brown with green pearl. Club is a really unique shade. Depending on the skintone and the lighting in a room, it can look green, silver, gray or brown.
Coquette. Muted grayish taupe. I like this as a lower lash liner on green or hazel eyes, as it brings out the green.
Cork. Muted golden brown. Another lower lash liner choice for light to medium skintones.
Embark. Intense reddish brown. Really pretty on deeper skintones and on green eyes (green and red are complimentary colors, so the red undertones makes green looker greener).
Era. Soft golden beige with shimmer. Works well as a lid color on medium and deeper skintones.
Espresso. Muted golden brown. I use this warm brown a lot as a crease color on deeper skintones, or an outer V color on light and medium skintones.
Goldmine. Intense gold with shimmer. It’s a very yellow gold, so I tend to use it over other golds (from different lines, sorry) or over a darker shimmery color that I want to lighten. I find it usually pulls too yellow to wear alone.
Mulch. Red brown with bronze pearl. Gorgeous on green eyes, but it can be too dark on fair and some light skintones.
Naked Lunch. Minimal pink with shimmer. Pretty on fair and light skintones with any eye color. Can look frosty on medium and deeper skintones.
Nylon. Pale gold with icy shimmer. This one can get intense, so I mainly use it for inner corner highlight or as part of the look for a shimmery gold lid. It’s pretty in small doses.
Omega. Soft muted beige taupe. I mainly use this for brow fill-in for blonde brows, but have also used it on medium and deeper skintones on both the lid and the crease.
Phloof. Frosted off white. Similar to Nylon in my application of it. I also use it with a light hand on the lid for Flower Girls.
Ricepaper. Peachy gold with shimmer. This works on light skintones, but is especially pretty on medium and deeper skintones. It’s what I reach for when a client shows me an inspiration photo with a very shimmery lid.
Satin Taupe. Taupe with silver shimmer. Great for light and medium skintones. It can get a little ashy (due to the silver) on some deeper skintones. Especially flattering on brown eyes.
Scene. Muted blue gray. I work this into gray smokey eyes, as it tends to look more gray than blue when blended into other grays. Works with all eye colors.
Soba. Gold brown with gold shimmer. Really pretty in a subtle way on medium and deeper skintones.
Soft Brown. Soft golden peachy brown. This is gorgeous on those with blue eyes, as it’s got an orange undertone and orange and blue are complimentary. It can pull too orange on fair skintones though. Also pretty on deeper skintones.
Wedge. Soft muted beige taupe. This is my go-to crease color for fair, light and medium skintones. If this one ever gets discontinued, MAC and I will have a problem.
Woodwinked. Warm antique gold. Perfection on medium and deeper skintones. Can pull orange on light and medium skintones. Flattering on green eyes.
Yogurt. Soft pale pink. Very pretty on fair and light skintones with blue eyes.
MAC has discontinued some other shades I use and have backups of so I’m good for a bit, but I won’t tell you how great those ones are since you won’t be able to buy them. I mean, I’m not a jerk!
If you have any MAC shadow faves, I’d love to hear. Comment away.
Some makeup products become instant classics, and Charlotte Tilbury’s nude pink lipliner, Pillow Talk, is one of them. The color is gorgeous on many different skintones, and if you don’t believe me, check out the “See it on your skintone” section of this page.
Something about the smooth-but-not-slippery and waxy-but-not-overly-so formulation allows this lipliner to glide over the lips perfectly. For whatever reason, that consistency also allows you to (slightly, please) overdraw the lips without being as obvious as other lipliners. It’s also waterproof and long-lasting, because who wants to worry about touchups?
My favorite way to wear it is as a lipstick. I line and fill in my lips with it, then top it with some clear lip balm. I like the color of Pillow Talk so much that I’d rather not hide it under a lipstick. I do realize Charlotte makes a Pillow Talk lipstick, but I’ve seen it and it looks different than the liner, so I’m sticking with my liner.
The nude pink shade works well with a lot of lipstick colors, so it’s a versatile liner if your lipsticks range from nude pink to pinky nude (aka all of your lipsticks are basically the same shade). It also works great under mid-tone pinks, and if you have a nude that is too brown or beige, if you layer Pillow Talk under it, it will warm up the lipstick.
I always think of Pillow Talk Lip Cheat as the makeup equivalent of that simple but perfect casual outfit that everyone has. The one that isn’t necessarily a show stopper but looks great every time. For me, that’s skinny jeans, a plain white tank top and neon pink Old Navy sandals in the summer, and black skinny jeans, a fitted white t-shirt, a tan long cardigan and black wedge boots in the cold months. (Of course I have two.) Both Pillow Talk and my favorite casual outfits make me feel pretty, but not too done up.
It’s $22, which might seem like a lot when compared to some other lipliners, but it is really good. And it will last you a long time, so that’s worth something too. It’s vegan, paraben-free, sulfate-free and not tested on animals, so nothing to feel bad or be concerned about! If you’re looking for a new liner that will work well with a variety of lipsticks as well as on its own, consider Pillow Talk.
You know what time (of year) it is. If you are still working on your holiday shopping–I know I am–and you have someone in your life who is into skincare and/or makeup, I’ve got some suggestions for you. (Or maybe you want to add these to your own holiday wish list!)
In no particular order, I present the strongest players in the beauty game.
Genetics are a funny thing, aren’t they? I got my dark, thick, naturally curly hair and giant deep set eyes from my 100% Italian father’s side. (I also got the Sicilian temper, which does not serve me well in traffic.) I’ve got the same build as many of the women in my father’s family, as well as some of the characteristics of my 100% Italian maternal grandmother. Three quarters of my DNA is Italian, and I think that’s pretty obvious when you look at me or notice my absolute inability to talk without my hands flying around.
But then there’s my skin color. That’s where my 25% Irish side comes in. I have light skin with freckles. I’m not the lightest of the foundation shades, but no one is calling my skintone “medium.” I can (and have) tanned to a solid Medium before, but my time in Esthetics school combined with having some biopsies and pre-cancerous moles removed over the past eight years made me put an end to my beach days. (I also know that sun damage is the number one way to speed visible signs of aging on the skin, so vanity plays a part in my decision.)
The problem is that I love the look of a tan on me. I feel like with my very dark brown hair, almost-black eyebrows and hazel eyes, I should have darker skin. I think I was meant to have a darker skintone, but there was a glitch. With my hair, brow and eye coloring and the fact that people who look like me often have medium skintones, it only seems right that my skintone is bumped up a few levels.
And oh, how I have tried to get there. I’ve used self tanning lotions, sprays, gels, mousses, gradual tanners and towelettes. I’ve done spray tans, both the airbrush and machine kinds. I’ve been orange, I’ve been streaky, I’ve been patchy and I’ve smelled like I bathed in DHA. I’ve gotten good results from airbrush spray tans, but I hate the way they look when they start wearing off. Until recently, I’ve relied on Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizers (one for the body, one for the face). I’ve been using the face one in particular regularly for years, as my arms get a little color when I’m out for a run or walking around, but I keep my face sunscreened up at all times, so I need to make it match my body. Anyway, I recently realized that Natural Glow seems to be making my face break out, so I started the search for something new. (No breakouts from the Jergens Natural Glow body moisturizer, but I was open to trying a new one there too.)
I checked with my friends at the Newport Sephora, and they directed me to the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops. You add these drops into your regular face and/or body moisturizers and they tan you up. They come in Light, Medium and Dark shades. I went with Medium, because that’s the skintone I was meant to have, remember? I’m no fool, so I asked for a sample before committing.
I did a patch test of the product behind my left earlobe that same night. (I specifically always patch test there because I normally wear my hair parted on the right side and swept over my left shoulder, so my hair covers my left ear.) I checked the next morning and saw that a) the color had developed into a nice, brown (not orange) tan and b) I had no breakouts or irritation.
While I was patching, I read through Sephora reviews of these self tanning drops in Medium. I had a bad reaction to the popular self St. Tropez self tanner a couple years ago (after I neglected to patch), and I had the recent breakout from Jergens Natural Glow Face Moisturizer, so I was specifically looking to see if any of the reviews mentioned allergic reactions or breakouts. I figured if I found several reviews mentioning either of those things, I would proceed with caution, but I didn’t see any with that specific negative feedback.
Still, I waited 24 hours after patching to make sure I didn’t have a reaction. I didn’t, so on Night 1, I added one drop of the product to my Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturizer and applied it to my face, neck and ears. I noticed a slight smell, but it wasn’t horrible and didn’t linger. It did feel sticky on my skin, but it was also a humid night so that may have had something to do with it.
When I woke up the next morning, I was tan. Not orange and not streaky, and a good shade for my skin. I didn’t put face makeup on that day, because I wanted to have plenty of opportunities to inspect it and see if the color developed more (and I think it did, a little).
On Night 2, I went with two drops mixed into the same moisturizer and applied it to my face, neck, ears and chest. It deepened my color, but still felt a little sticky. The next time I used it on the same areas, I mixed it in with my SPF35 version of the Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturizer, and then my skin felt only the tiniest bit sticky after. So the moisturizer you mix with the drops definitely impacts the sticky-ness factor.
Before I continue, let me explain the drops thing. My Sephora sample came in one of the mini-spray bottles that they use for perfume samples. The Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops are a serum consistency, so don’t try to spray them out if you get a sample in the same packaging. If you are trying them as a sample–and you really should–and you get them in that bottle, you’ll have to unscrew the top of the packaging and dispense the drops directly from bottle. This method will dispense bigger drops than you get using the dropper that comes with the actual product, so that’s something to keep in mind. When dispensing from the perfume sampler bottle, I recommend you pour it slowly into your moisturizer.
I got four uses out of my sample, and I was sold. I went back to Sephora and bought the full size bottle. As far as packaging goes, A+. I like the design, the top stays on securely and the dropper works. No complaints there.
Once I had the full size bottle, I began applying the tanner to the rest of my body. I’ve mixed it in with my Palmers Cocoa Butter and my Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Butter in Vanilla Apricot, which are the two body moisturizers in my current rotation. Both have their own scent, so that masks any self tanner scent. Again, I haven’t noticed much of a scent anytime I’ve used the drops, but I’ve been self tanning for years, so maybe I don’t smell DHA anymore unless it’s crazy strong. But that’s another reason for you sample it yourself.
The Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops instructions say to add between 1 – 12 drops to your moisturizer. That’s a huge range! My suggestion is to start with one drop, see how it develops, then add two the next time, three after, and so on until you find your perfect mix. I am currently using four drops to every pump and a half of face moisturizer (which is the normal amount of moisturizer I apply to my face, neck and ears. For my body, I first dispense enough of that moisturizer to cover one arm. Then I add six drops of the product to my moisturizer, mix it together and apply. I match the amount for my other arm. Then do the same amount of moisturizer and five drops of the product to apply to my stomach and back. For my legs, I dispense the amount of moisturizer I would normally use for one leg and foot and add six drops of product. Then I repeat on the other leg.
A few suggestions I have for you after you patch test:
Exfoliate First. If exfoliation is not contraindicated with any skincare you are using, a good exfoliation before you apply the self tanner will help it look more even as it develops, as it won’t catch on any dry patches or dead skin.
Start Small. Again, start with the minimum amount of drops and add more each day until you achieve the color you want. It’s important to start with the minimum, as the few bad reviews I read seemed to be because the reviewers jumped right in with five or six drops and it sounds like they also didn’t use enough moisturizer.
Keep It Up. To maintain the color, I would alternate days of your moisturizer alone with the same amount of drops and moisturizer you used to get the tan. The moisturizer alone with help keep the skin hydrated so the tan doesn’t get patchy as you shed dead skin cells, and the every-other-day application of the self tanner and moisturizer will keep your shade of tan as is so it won’t fade.
Mix It Up. You need to realllyyyyy mix the self tanner drops into your moisturizer. If you don’t do that, you will get an uneven tan. After the moisturizer and drops are in the palm of your hand, stir them together with your other hand or rub your hands together for about 15 seconds to ensure they’ve melded into one product.
Don’t Be Stingy. Once you have your self tanner moisturizer cocktail ready, make sure you apply a generous amount everywhere. The best way to get streaky is to use only the little that’s left on your hands to apply to an area. When you can feel it dragging as you apply, you are making the streaks happen. I know better, and I still did that one night while using these drops. I dispensed a little less moisturizer then I meant to, so although I evenly covered my face, I didn’t get enough on my neck (and my neck is notoriously bad with self tanner to begin with). I woke up to some patchy areas on my neck where I hadn’t applied enough moisturizer. Did the same thing on one arm too. I think with any type of self tanning lotion, it’s best to use a little more than you think you need to ensure that it gets everywhere.
Take Your Time. Spend some time rubbing the cocktail in. I haven’t noticed any transfer on my sheets, even though I usually tan right before bed, and I think that’s because I spend a lot of time rubbing in the product so it really absorbs into my skin. I massage it in until I can’t feel anything on my skin, which usually takes several minutes. But I think it is a key factor in getting an even self tan.
The Easiest Part. Wash your hands after applying. This stuff will stain your palms if you don’t.
As far as color, the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops give me the same type of color I have when I used to get real tans. Not orange, not olive, not red. Just 24 Year Old Allison tan. I don’t know if the drops react with your body chemistry and give you the type of tan you normally get, or if the color they give happens to be the same color I tan, but they work perfectly on me. I do want to add that I have a very yellow undertone to my skin, which could impact the color. If you are concerned about the color, you could try a bigger swatch of color on your stomach or somewhere that isn’t visible when you have on your everyday clothes to see how the color develops on you. (I realize this can be a tough one for those of you who participate in bathing suit season.) My point is, I can only give you my experience with this color, and that may be impacted by my undertone and the way my skin looks when it really tans. But judged off the many reviews I’ve read and pictures I’ve seen, the Medium shade in particular seems to work on a lot of people.
The Medium drops have a green tint, which they claim is color correcting, as green cancels out redness. I don’t typically have any redness in my skin and I’m not convinced you can get color correction from a self tanner, but I can’t say for sure since I didn’t have any redness to start with. So jury is out on the color correction.
I really don’t have anything bad to say about this product! As long as I apply it correctly, it gives me exactly the type of tan I want. I am loving the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops and may end up crowning them my Favorite Product of Summer 2018. You can get them at Sephora for a cool $29.
Are you regularly using a face oil? If not, you should really re-think that. Unless you have truly acneic skin (active breakouts covering the majority of your face), face oil should be a part of your skincare routine. It is the ultimate moisturizer and the best product to use for facial massage. It’s also perfect for using on top of prescription retinol to help prevent any peeling. And if you do get peeling for any reason, a good face oil will heal that up with the quickness.
I’ve tried many face oils over the years, but Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil is my favorite. I buy the 1.7 oz bottle, which lasts me several months. I only use about half a drop over my retinol every other night. I use maybe four drops when I do my facial massage once or twice a week, and when I wear it under my makeup in the winter or spring, that’s a two drop job. My point is, you don’t need to use a lot of product for any of these applications, so a bottle lasts a while.
Argan Oil is rich in Vitamin E and essential fatty acids, so it’s got two of the strongest healing and moisturizing ingredients out there. Most moisturizers seal moisture into the skin with wax ingredients, but oils are able to really penetrate and supply that moisture (aka oil) that our skin needs. Organic and natural face oils like this one won’t clog pores, so you don’t have to worry about it causing blemishes.
Who is this stuff good for, you ask? Great question. It’s an obvious choice for those with dry skin, as dry skin lacks oil. Especially if you have dry patches or flaking, this Argan Oil will make a major difference. I would start by applying it at night, over any creams or serums, as once oil is on the skin, any skincare product you layer on top of that will not penetrate as well. If you are still feeling/looking dry, you can also use it in the morning as a moisturizer (just make sure to apply SPF or a moisturizer with SPF over it).
Got some fine lines–or “tic tac toe lines,” as my father calls his–on your face? Argan Oil will help plump up the skin by moisturizing the skin cells, and that will make lines less noticeable. Dry skin and visible signs of aging often (but not always) go hand in hand, so I may have already had you when I explained the benefits for dry skin.
If you’re thinking “My skin is already oily! I shouldn’t put more oil on it!,” that’s not really true. People with oily skin often use oil free products and products geared towards oily skin, and those products end up completely stripping the skin of all oil. Know what happens when you strip your skin of all oil? Your sebaceous glands go “Oh shit, the dermis is dry! Produce more oil!” So the oil deprivation plan backfires. But if you allow some oil into your skincare life, your sebaceous glands will chill. If you’re really hesitant about this, Josie Maran also makes an 100% Pure Argan Oil Light version, which is lightweight and leaves more of a matte finish on the skin.
If dull looking skin is a concern, facial massage with this Argan Oil will rock your world. Lisa Eldrige explains and demonstrates facial massage best. She uses a cleansing balm in this video, but I do the same thing with the Argan Oil after cleansing. I put something good on Netflix and spend 10-15 minutes doing this once or twice a week. It makes a big difference in how glowy the skin looks. Some people think glow comes from makeup, but it actually comes from a good skincare routine, including facial massage.
Trying to think of other reasons not to use it? It’s cruelty free, vegan, gluten free, paraben free, phthalate free, synthetic fragrance free, mineral oil free, formaldehyde free, GMO free and PEG free. Now what?!?!
With any skincare product, you gotsta always do a patch test 24 – 48 hours before using on your whole face to make sure you don’t have a reaction. I’ve never heard of anyone having a reaction to this product, but better safe than sorry. I do my patches, as I affectionately call them, on my neck on the part of skin that gets hidden by my earlobe so if I do have a reaction, it’s pretty hidden. Hashtag genius.
I wouldn’t recommend face oil for acneic skin, only because my experience as a licensed esthetician and makeup artist tells me that the less product you put on and the less you touch truly acneic skin, the better. But if you are not dealing with acne, you should at least consider Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil or Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light. You’d be hard pressed to find a better moisturizer.
Some things I read really stick with me. I once read an article about a woman who had a disease that made her eyeballs slowly protrude out of her sockets, and now I check my peepers on a daily basis for signs that they are moving. That article terrified me. There are a lot of other examples of articles that have fed into my hypochondriac tendencies, but better I keep those to myself.
Professionally, the articles or posts I’ve read that have stuck with me most are those from makeup artists who traveled to jobs and had their luggage–including their pro kits–lost along the way. They then had to scramble and do a job based off what they had in their purse and could find at local stores. That’s always made me think, What are my absolute essentials? My pro kit is stocked up and so heavy that I sprained both wrists last summer lugging it around, but what do I really need?
I have a few essentials, but the first one that came to mind is MAC Pro Longwear Concealer. This matte fluid concealer is pigmented enough to provide serious coverage, and if you work in thin layers–which you should–it won’t cake up. Because it is so pigmented, you only need a small amount. Two pumps can just about cover an entire face, which is not what concealer is for, but you need some kind of standard of measurement, right? I use one shade for under eyes and a different shade on the rest of the face on most people, and I’ve found that half a pump of each shade is often enough for many of my clients. If I need to add more, I do, because this stuff is buildable.
With some concealers, I’ve found they are either too thick to use under the eyes or not pigmented enough for the face. But the Pro Longwear Concealer works on both areas. It comes in range of colors, and I’ve never had a problem getting a color match on anyone.
My only issue with this concealer is the packaging. It comes in a tiny glass bottle with a pump, but like with most pumps, you can’t get to all of the product with the pump. And the the pump mechanism doesn’t twist off and allow you to get in there. From what I understand, you have to use pliers to get the pump off if you want to reach the several-applications-worth of product often left after the pump stops pumping. So I have a whole bunch of these almost-goners at my parents’ house, waiting for my father to finally bring home the pliers has says he has. (Could I buy my own pliers and try doing it myself? Sure. But will I? Nope.)
Other than the packaging, MAC Pro Longwear Concealers are perfect. They are an essential both in my pro kit and my personal makeup bag. If you are looking for a good fluid concealer, give this a try. Available at MAC stores, counters and online for $24.
It’s been a minute since I’ve told you what I have in my personal makeup bag, so I think it’s time. Most of these products are in my pro kit too, with a few exceptions. You want a little look into what this makeup artist uses on the daily? I got you, Nosy.
Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture SPF35. This has been my go-to moisturizer for years. It’s not too thick, it doesn’t feel drying or sticky, and it interacts well with both foundation and undereye concealer. It’s not heavily fragranced, which is essential for me (and the reason I couldn’t stick with an Aveeno moisturizer I tried recently). It’s got the all important SPF too, which means one less product to layer on. I do not use this on clients who will be photographed, as the SPF can cause flashback (making the skin look lighter than it is), but I recommend it for everyday use for anyone with combination skin.
MAC Oil Control Lotion. Since I have combination skin, I only use this during the warmer months when my skin gets more oily. It’s mattifies like nobody’s business, which is why it’s also a staple in my pro kit. If they ever discontinue this product, I’m going straight to the MAC headquarters to protest.
MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation. This foundation might be my soulmate. I have used it for years, both on myself and on many of my clients, and it never disappoints. It’s a sheer coverage foundation that turns into medium coverage the more you work it into the skin. It absorbs beautifully and leaves a little glow. It feels lightweight, looks natural, and if you use a primer under it, it lasts all day.
Benefit POREfessional. I’m lucky enough to have both large pores and fine lines, but POREfessional helps me keep that a secret. It temporarily fills in my lines and pores, preventing my foundation and powder from settling into those areas and highlighting them. I also use this on almost all of my clients. It’s a real gem.
Too Faced Shadow Insurance. Eye primer is a game changer, and this player is the MVP. (Now accepting props for that accurate sports analogy.) If you wear eyeshadow or eyeliner, you must prime so your eye makeup can last. I’ve tried a million other eye primers, but in an eye-to-eye comparison challenge, Shadow Insurance always wins.
MAC Pro Longwear Concealer. I’ve got deep set eyes, Italian genes and light skin, so of course my undereyes are going to look dark. My circles (usually) aren’t dark enough to require a color corrector first, so this thin but pigmented concealer covers them right up. It stays on well and doesn’t cake up like cream undereye concealers do. It’s pretty much perfect.
MAC Eyeshadow in Brule. This shadow is a few shades lighter than my skin, so it’s a great lid color for a contoured eye. It has a satin finish, so it’s easier to blend than other similar colors in matte formulations (I’m looking at you, Blanc Type.) Like all MAC shadows, it’s pigmented so you don’t need to apply 12 layers for color payoff. It’s a good basic shade for those with fair to light skin.
MAC Eyeshadow in Wedge. This soft, matte light brown is my go-to crease color. It blends well, which is key for any crease color, and gives light definition when applied to the bottom lashline. I also sometime use it all over my lid for the base of a brown smokey eye. It works on fair, light and medium skintones.
MAC Eyeshadow in Brun. I use this muted blackish brown for lining my upper lashline and to fill in my eyebrows. Brun + an angled brush = a perfect duo.
MAC Eyeshadow in Carbon. This matte black shadow is makeup artist favorite. I use it on a thin eyeliner brush to get real close to the lashline. Because it’s highly pigmented–unlike a lot of matte black eyeshadows–I’ll also use it to draw a full winged eyeliner, and it looks like a pencil or crayon liner in terms of intensity.
MAC Eyeshadow in Espresso. This muted warm golden brown is perfect for my brown smokey eye. I also use it to add definition to my bottom lashline. Espresso can also be used as a crease color on dark skintones, so it has a place in every makeup bag.
MAC Eyeshadow in Embark. This reddish brown shade brings out the green in my hazel eyes, so I use it as a liner or on the whole lid when I want to do a darker brown smokey eye. This a great shade for hazel and green eyes.
MAC Eyeshadow in Scene. When I want to do a light gray smokey eye–also a great color choice for hazel eyes–I reach for this muted blue-gray shade.
Rimmel Stay Matte Powder. I use the Transparent 001 shade to set my foundation and undereye concealer and to absorb oil. It is lightweight and doesn’t cake up. I use a different, more pigmented powder on clients but I like a more lightweight one myself for every day makeup.
MAC Powder Blush in Pink Swoon. This soft coral peach powder blush is highly pigmented and blends well. It’s the perfect pop of color on my skin and really helps me look more awake. This works on any light to medium skin, although it’s a little too pink for those with roseacea.
MAC Prolongwear Fluidline in Blacktrack. I use black gel liner when I want to make my eyes more dramatic and defined. This liner can be smudged before it sets, but once it’s set, it doesn’t budge. Some gel liners have a thin consistency so you have to apply several layers to achieve a strong black color, but with Blacktrack, you get the color payoff right away. This liner works on all skintone and eye colors.
Dior Diorshow Mascara. If I were to rap a song to this mascara–and don’t put it past me–it would be “You Make Me Better” by Fabolous. I’ve tried dozens of mascaras in my decade as a makeup artist and when it comes to volume, Diorshow one always wins out.
Clinique High Impact Mascara. For inky black color and length, I use this mascara on top of Diorshow. I also apply it to my bottom lashes because I find it stays on the bottom lashes better than Diorshow (which stays on fine on my top lashes).
MAC Eye Kohl in Smoulder. I use this intense black pencil in my lower waterline if I want to make my eye makeup more dramatic without adding shadow. Black eyeliner on the waterline intensifies eye color, as it’s a contrast to every eye color, but it does make eyes look smaller so I stay away from it if I’m going to be photographed. (In which case, I’ll use an off-white liner in the waterline.)
I can’t tell you about my contour powder because it’s been discontinued, as have the ones I have stockpiled in my kit. But I sometimes use Benefit Hoola for soft sculpting, as long as I have some color (aka self tanner) on. It can look a little orange on very fair skin and not dark enough on dark skin, so it’s not a universal shade.
I’ve been using some of these products for year, but it’s not that I don’t try others. It’s just that there are certain products that I find can’t be beat. I will forever try new products and I will change things up if I find something better, but I’ll never change to a lesser quality product solely because it’s trendy or other people I know like it. I hold my ground, man.
I have my lip products their own makeup bag (unnecessary), but I’ll discuss those in a separate post. My favorite brushes will go in another post too. Oh, the suspense…
Would love to hear some of your tried and true products, as well as anything new you are loving. Comment away.
I love trying new products. Who doesn’t? And it’s just as fun for me to try them as it is to tell you what I think. Because if I recommend a quality product for you–or save you money by not buying an ineffective one–I feel like I’m doing my part as a conscientious pro makeup artist.
I tried the Radiant shade of the Per-fekt Skin Perfection Gel a few years ago, and loved it. Don’t believe me? Here’s my proof.
Even though I loved it, it for some reason took me this long to try it again. It’s been on my list of Things to Buy for Myself for a while, but that list always gets pushed aside for Things To Buy for My Business. So I did what I do every November: I emailed my Things To Buy for Myself list to my mother, with the subject line “Christmas List.” I don’t expect her and my father to get me everything on the list for Christmas, but I figure it’s a good resource if they don’t know what to get me. (But don’t worry, my father always gets me some kind of “safety” gift. Flashlights, survival kits, other things I can’t remember because I lost them, etc.).
I know I sent my mother the correct link, but it looks like the Radiant shade became out of stock after I emailed her, so I ended up with the Translucent version. I specifically wanted the one that adds color to the face, so I was bummed when I realized this a few days after Christmas. (Not your fault, Mom!)
The Translucent Skin Perfection Gel can be worn alone or under makeup and claims to even skintone, minimize pores, control shine, reduce redness, smooth, prime and per-fekt. I’ll go ahead and give you my take on how well I think it does all of those things.
Skintone Evening. Negative. Evening out the skintone requires pigment that will either blur or conceal imperfections. This product has no pigment, so I don’t know how they can make that claim!
Pore Minimizing. This does minimize the appearance of pores, but I don’t think it works as well as my favorite, Benefit POREfessional.
Shine Control. I did notice that my t-zone shine was minimized when I used this. I think MAC Oil Lotion is a better mattifyer with those who get really oily, but this product is good for the moderately oily folks.
Redness Reduction. I don’t have much redness in my skin, but I sometimes get a little red around my nose. I tried this on that area on a day I noticed redness and saw no improvement. Products that reduce redness contain a green color correcting ingredient, so I’m skeptical of any clear product that claims to color correct.
Smoothing. It’s a gel that has almost a silicone feel to it so yes, it feels smooth after you pat it on and for a little bit after. But I didn’t find it to have the same smoothing effect as a good moisturizer, hydrating mask or serum.
Priming. This does work as a primer in the way that foundation applies nicely over it. It also seems to make my face makeup last longer, which is the other important job a good primer will do. I’ll test this again when my combo skin is more in its oily stage to see how well it works as a primer that extends face makeup longevity.
Perfekting. Huh? Nonsense talk.
As you can tell, I’m not into this product. It doesn’t do everything it claims to, and I wasn’t blown away by how well it did the few things it does do. The blue and white packing is nice and it doesn’t have a strong or unappealing scent, so there’s that.
My overall take is that this product doesn’t do too much. I would rather use Benefit POREfessional and MAC Oil Control Lotion to minimize pores, control shine and prime. And if redness is an issue for you, I recommend Make Up For Ever Camouflage Cream in Green or Algenist Green Color Correcting Drops. Smoothing is best done with skincare products likes exfoliators, hydrating products and moisturizers.
I much prefer to write positive reviews, so I’ll be back with one of those soon.
I have lot of jokes about the name of this product, but I’ll let you think up your own. I will, however, tell you that the Salt-n-Pepa classic “Let’s Talk About Sex” has been in my head since I decided to write this review. (And now it’s in your’s, if you’re between 35 – 45.)
Y’all know I love my Dior Diorshow Mascara, but my local Sephora (when I was in RI) was out of it the last two times I went. I was not happy. But I needed a new tube and didn’t want to order one online because I was about to leave for my temporary winter home, with a couple stops for family stuff in between. So I asked the Sephora rep which mascara was closest to Diorshow, and she mentioned Too Faced Better Than Sex and a Marc Jacobs one. I’ve had several clients tell me they liked Better Than Sex, so I figured that was the way to go.
First, packaging. It comes in a heavy, pink chrome tube that reminds me of a nail polish color from Sally Hansen’s Chrome nail polishes that were popular in the 90s. (If you know “Let’s Talk About Sex,” you probably remember that nail polish too.) It’s probably the heaviest mascara tube I’ve ever come across. Surprisingly, I feel neutral about that. The cap stays on really well, so no issues with the product drying out due to sub-par packaging.
The wand is on the bigger side, which I like, and is standard wand material–none of that spiky, rubber crap. Too Faced claims the bristles are extra thick, and I suppose they are compared to other bristles I’ve encountered, but I’m not sold on that making a big difference. Maybe it does though, because I like the mascara and a good mascara is usually due to both product and wand. The wand is hourglass shaped and “inspired by a woman’s body.” I don’t get how that shape would make any difference in the application, and I find that dip in the middle kind of pointless.
But, the product is good. I wasn’t sold on it the first day, but I think that was because I wasn’t putting on as many coats as I usually do of Diorshow. Better Than Sex layers really well, and provides both volume and length. It’s also inky black, which I love. Like any thickening mascara, it clumps up a little when you apply it. But ladies–comb through your lashes! I do that with every mascara, and I know a lot of other pros do the same.
I did an Instagram post about Better Than Sex the day I bought it, and a few people said they found it very smudgy. I haven’t experienced any smudging when I’ve worn it on my top lashes only. I’ve worn it on my bottom lashes a few times too (I normally use another mascara for that) and yes, I saw minimal smudging on those days. But I get that from most non-beauty tubes or non-waterproof mascaras I wear on my bottom lashes. I’m talking tiny little smudges four or five hours later that I can gently wipe off with my finger, not Courtney Love style.
I wonder if some of the smudging people have experienced comes from not using an eye primer or not applying powder to their undereye area after concealer. Eye primer (on the top lid) and powder (over undereye concealer) create barriers between the natural oils in the skin and mascara, because when oil and mascara meet, it gets messy.
Better Than Sex Mascara is not waterproof, but I found that I have to use an oil precleanse or oil cleanser to fully remove it. When oil dissolves the product, it does tend to come off in flaky way, almost like a fiber mascara (but the flakes are much smaller). If you pack on mascara like I do, I think you’ll have trouble getting it off with a cream cleanser or makeup wipe (neither of which I recommend for makeup removal anyway).
I have to say, I really like the Better Than Sex Mascara. It has more positive than negative attributes, at least in my book. Am I still going to get Diorshow the next time I go to Sephora? (Hopefully my local store in SC has it in stock.) Yes. But will I alternate between the two? I do believe so.
If you like inky black, lengthening, volumizing mascaras and you want to get a workout every time you pick up the tube, Better Than Sex Mascara may be worth a try.