Light It Up: Too Faced Shadow Insurance in Candlelight Review

The original Too Faced Shadow Insurance has been a staple in my pro kit and my personal makeup bag for years. I have yet to find another eye primer that works as well. Shadow Insurance helps eye makeup stay on longer and crease less, which makes it something I use on almost every client. The only time I don’t use my Holy Grail of eye primers is when I do several eye makeup looks that I need to change (typically for a photoshoot), because I don’t need the eye makeup to last long.

Because I love the original formula, I decided to give their Candlelight version a go. Candlelight is supposed to give a “soft focus effect and subtle golden metallic sheen,” while reducing shadow creasing and helping eye makeup last longer. You only need about half of a rice grain-sized amount of product–that’s a legit measurement, right?–for each eye. Apply and blend it with your ring finger for best results. (Because the ring finger is the weakest, it is least likely to pull on the delicate eye area skin.)

The “golden metallic” description is right on, as are the longevity and anti-creasing claims. This eye primer is pretty enough to be worn on its own too. It’s a sheer metallic wash–like the lite version of a cream eyeshadow. It catches the light in a flattering way, much like candlelight. So yeah, good call on the product name, Too Faced Shadow Insurance.

When worn under a shimmery shadow, the Candlelight primer ups the shimmer factor. But my favorite use for this primer is under a matte shadow. It turns the matte eyeshadow into a shimmery or satin version of itself. The less pigmented the eyeshadow, the more shimmery. More pigmented shadows get a slight but noticeable satin finish.

Candlelight is great on its own, as a shimmery shadow intensifier or as a matte shadow transformer. You gotta love a product that has multiple uses! I think this would be an awesome gift for a young girl/teen who is starting to wear makeup. Worn on its own, it’s like a subtle cream eyeshadow that’s definitely age appropriate.

Sephora, Ulta and Naimie’s all carry this primer.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

It’s a Crime Not to Prime

Too Faced Shadow Insurance, eye primer, eyeshadow primer
A kit essential.


It’s no secret that I love eye primer (specifically Too Faced Shadow Insurance). Eye primer gives you a good base, keeps your eyeshadow and eyeliner on longer and minimizes creasing. Unless I am going to change someone’s eye makeup soon after (like for a photo or sometimes film shoot), I put this ish on everyone.

Like with any product, how you do it is as important as the product itself. The eye priming routine will take you roughly 10 seconds, but let me break it down so you get the best results.

1) Dispense enough product for both eyes. An amount the size of about a grain of rice is plenty.

2) Use your ring finger to apply and blend it in. The ring finger is the weakest, and the skin around the eye is some of thinnest on the body. Using a gentle touch–pat it, so don’t go at it like you are trying to remove an ink stain–will prevent tugging. Repeated tugging on that gentle skin can cause premature wrinkles.

3) Concentrate the primer on your lids, but carry it into the crease and onto the browbone too. Even if you are not going to put shadow on those areas, it will even out your skintone (especially important if you are fair-skinned and can see veins or discoloration on your eyelids).

4) Let your primer dry completely before applying your eye makeup. This is a very important step. If you do not wait until the primer has dried (absorbed into your skin), you will be wiping it off as you apply your eye makeup, canceling out any effect. And if you apply eyeshadow before the primer has dried, the shadow will stick to the product and look patchy. That is why eye primer is always my first step in my makeup routine. I apply that, then face moisturizer and lip balm. The time it takes to apply the moisturizer and lip balm is the amount of time needed for the eye primer to absorb.


5) As a final step to make sure you primer has dried, run your finger, a makeup sponge or a fluffy eyeshadow brush lightly over it. This will smooth it down and wipe off any excess that may be hanging around, which could actually backfire and cause creasing.

That’s it! Easy, right? Using a primer and applying it correctly will make a big difference in your makeup routine.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

A Good Base: bareMinerals Prime Time Review

I review a lot of eye primers because a) I find eye primers to be essential and b) I seem to get a lot of eye primer samples. My most recent eye primer sample was the Prime Time Eyelid Primer by bareMinerals. I have to admit, I am not a huge bareMinerals fan, so I had low expectations. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but if I can’t be honest on my own beauty blog, where can I be?

To test this primer’s effectiveness, I tested it against my control primer, Too Faced Shadow Insurance. Shadow Insurance has long been my Holy Grail of eye primers, but I am always open to trying something new. What kind of makeup artist would I be if I wasn’t? So for a few days, I wore Prime Time on one eye, and Shadow Insurance on the other, with a variety of eyeshadows and liners applied over.

And what did I find? Well, first off, Prime Time is an excellent wear-alone primer for those with pale skin. If you’re light like I am, this primer would be considered flesh tone. I have light skin and visible veins on my eyelids (I feel gross just typing that) and this primer covers them up without making it look like I have eye makeup on. In this wear-alone situation, it beats out Shadow Insurance. I think it has something to do with the heavier consistency, although it’s not so heavy that it looks cakey.

As far as the longevity factor, it is equal to Shadow Insurance. The eyeshadows and liners I used stayed on just as well on both eyes.

Eye primers are supposed to intensify the colors applied over them, and Prime Time does an excellent job with this. Every time, my eye makeup on the Prime Time eye was slightly more intense after several hours.

But when it comes to avoiding creasing, Shadow Insurance wins. The Prime Time eye was not completely ruined by creasing, but at the end of the day each time, there was creasing there, but not on the other eye. Some people like creasing, so this may not be a negative for everyone.

Overall, this is great eye primer and I would recommend it for sure. You can buy it at Sephora or wherever bareMinerals products are sold. It’s $18, and one tube will probably last you 2-3 months.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The Case of Shadow Insurance vs. Smudge Proof Shadow Base

Unless I’m doing a photoshoot or film that requires an eyeshadow change, my first step in the makeup application process is eye primer. A quality eye primer will create a base, help eyeshadow stay on longer, prevent creasing and intensify color. Eye primer is one of my favorite “inventions” of the last ten years. I find the iPhone to be considerably less impressive.

My go-to eye primer for the last few years has been the defendant, Shadow Insurance by Too Faced (the original formula in the blue tube). It’s a creamy product, and it currently comes in one color. I’m not going to say flesh-toned, because that presumes we all have the same color skin, so I will say it is a color comparable to a light skintone. However, it blends into all skintones without a problem. You only need, as Too Faced says, a “raindrop-sized” amount of product to cover the entire lid. It comes in a squeeze tube (great for makeup artists, and for keeping your product sanitized) and has no discernible scent. It absorbs easily, doesn’t feel heavy or sticky, and does all the things a quality primer should do.

As much as I love Shadow Insurance–and this is probably why I wouldn’t make a good girlfriend–I have to see what else is out there. What if there’s something better? As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a makeup artist if I only used certain products and never tried anything new. So when I had the chance to try the Smudge Proof Shadow Base by NARS (one of my favorite companies), I went for it.

The Smudge Proof Shadow Base comes in a chic black and white tube. It has a doe foot applicator (the classic lipgloss type applicator), which I don’t love. As a makeup artist, I find it much easier to squeeze product out of a tube than grab a minute amount with a doe foot applicator, swipe on my palette and repeat several times. The product itself is white and I did notice that when first applied, it paled out the skin a tiny bit. It has a very faint plastic scent, but nothing I found off-putting. It absorbs quickly and feels very lightweight and there is no stickyness factor.

Now, how do the two compare? On a few different days, I wore one primer on each eye, then did my eye makeup as usual. I put each primer on my right eye one day, my left the next, and used the same eyeshadows to be as fair as possible. And the verdict is–Shadow Insurance is the bomb. Order in the court! The shadow intensity levels were close, although there was only slightly less fading with the Shadow Insurance. What did it for me was the creasing. The Smudge Proof Shadow Base definitely didn’t do as good of a job preventing creasing. There was no creasing with the Shadow Insurance, but I can’t say the same for the Smudge Proof Shadow Base.

I love NARS, but this is not a product I can recommend. But I am happy to tell you that the Shadow Insurance is cheaper ($19) than the Smudge Proof Shadow Base ($24). So I’ll pretend I’m doing some kind of public service here…

You can get Too Faced products at Sephora or

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Whaddya Mean, Tightlining?

No matter what industry you work in, there’s technical talk.  Teachers speak of IEPs, real estate agents discuss easements, carpenters talk about risers and treads, etc. Us makeup artists have our own language too…and it just happens to be the prettiest one.

Sometimes I refer to things forgetting that I’m speaking in makeupese and some people might not know what the hell I’m talking about. So I’m going to do for you what Big L did for street slang–I’m gonna school you.

Airbrush Makeup: A liquefied form of makeup applied with a device that sprays out product. Can give skin a flawless look, depending on the product and application technique. Tends to be very long lasting.

Brush Roll: The pouch used to hold makeup brushes.

Cat Eye: A dramatic eyeliner look that’s thickest and angled at the outer corners.

Color Wash: Using one shade of eyeshadow for both eyelid and crease.

Contour: Using a dark color to make something recede. Used to minimize the width or length of a feature.

Crease: The space above the eyelid and under the browbone. Hooded eyes and monolids don’t have a visible crease when the eyes are open.

Cupid’s Bow: The double curve above the center of the top lip. Highlighting the skin above it makes lips look slightly fuller.

Fallout: Usually used in reference to eyeshadow. It’s any shadow that falls under the eye or onto the face.  It’s the reason why makeup artists like me do the eyes first!

Flare Lashes: Also known as clusters or individuals, these false lashes come in groups of 6-8 lashes instead of strips that are the length of the lashline.  They come in different lengths and thicknesses and can be built up.

Highlight: Using a light color to draw attention to a feature or area of the face.  Commonly used on cheekbones, browbones, inner corners of eyes and above the Cupid’s Bow.

Illuminating: Products that are “illuminating” contain some kind of light reflecting particles.  Great for places you want to highlight.  Stay away from illuminating products if you have oily skin, because they can make the skin look more oily.

Kit: A makeup artist’s supply of tools and products.

Matte: Products with absolutely no shimmer or shine.

MUA: Stands for “Make Up Artist.”

Non-comedogenic: Means that the product (supposedly) will not clog pores.

Outer V: Used in reference to the section of the eye from the outer end of the crease to the outer end of the lashline.  Drawing a little “v” here (with the point going towards the hairline) works well with a lot of eye makeup looks.

Primer: A face, eye or lip product put on prior to foundation, eye makeup or lip color to help the products stay on longer. They also give a good base and help provide a smoother, more even surface for the products.

Tightlining: Lining the upper inside eyelid with a pencil eyeliner, usually in a black shade. This can help make top lashes look fuller.

Transfer: When a mascara or eyeliner smudges onto the eyelid, crease, or browbone before it has dried.

Sheer: Minimal coverage products that have a hint of color, so that you can still see through to the skin.

Waterline: The inside lower eyelid. Lining here with a dark color makes the look more dramatic and makes the eyes look smaller. An off-white liner here will open up the eyes.

Winged Liner: Eyeliner that extends past the end of the eye on the upper lashline and is angled upwards, giving the illusion of a lifted and elongated shape.

Hope I’ve decoded some of the mystery for you.  Please let me know if I’ve missed anything!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

A Five Minute, Five Step Face

I rarely go out in public with absolutely no makeup on.  But I also don’t always have enough time to really do my makeup (a full face for me, the way I like to do it, can take up to 45 minutes). So I often rock my “No Makeup Makeup.” It gives me a very natural, polished look, requires no brushes and takes about five minutes.

Here’s what I do:

Step 1:  Apply Too Faced Shadow Insurance eye primer to the lids, using my ring finger, to cover any discoloration and tiny little eye veins.

Step 2:  Using my hands, I apply Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer to my entire face, blending under the jawline and down onto the neck.

Step 3:  Again using my ring finger, I apply MAC Select Coverup under my eyes.  I also put some around my nose, where many of us have redness, with my index finger. If I have any blemishes, I dab it on them with my pinky finger.

Step 4:  Two coats of Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash Mascara on the top lashes, just a little at the roots of the bottom lashes.

Step 5:  Sheer lip balm/gloss/Vaseline/whatever on the lips.

Finito! How easy is that?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Wedding Makeup Do’s & Don’ts

If you live in New England and would rather just hire a pro for the job, AB Beauty is here for you. Photo: Snap! Photography
Makeup: Allison Barbera

Congratulations! The love of your life has popped the question. You’ve got a lot of things to decide once you start the wedding planning process, and whether or not you want to hire a makeup artist is one of them. Of course, I recommend hiring a professional who understands colors, skin types, lighting, photography, etc., but I understand that’s not always in the budget. So here are some Dos and Don’ts to help you if you decide to go it alone.

Do practice a good skincare routine, especially during the six months before your wedding. Healthy, clear skin will photograph better and will mean you don’t need as much makeup.

Don’t get a facial or have any waxing done the week of your wedding. Even if you’re not prone to breakouts or reactions, this could be the one time it happens. Red, puffy or burned skin is tough to cover, so why chance it?

Do practice your wedding makeup look several times. I suggest writing down the products/colors you use. There’s a good chance you’ll be nervous on the big day, so a written list will help take some pressure off.

Don’t underestimate the time you need to do your makeup. If you’re rushed, you’re more likely to mess something up and get frustrated because you don’t have enough time to fix it.

Do use foundation. Unless you have perfect skin, you need something to even out your skintone. A lightweight foundation like MAC Face & Body lets your skin show through while giving an even finish.

Don’t use products with SPF. There’s a debate about this amongst makeup artists, but many products with SPF contain zinc oxide, which can give a white cast to the skin in photographs.

Do use primers on your eyes and your skin. Primers help keep the makeup on, so you won’t have to worry as much about face and eye touchups. For an eye primer, I prefer Too Faced Shadow Insurance. For the skin, I like Laura Mercier Foundation Primer.

Don’t even consider using a non-waterproof mascara. Even if you think the Father/Daughter dance or your Maid of Honor’s toast won’t affect you, you could surprise yourself. Mascara streaks cut right through makeup, so why risk it? I use this Revlon waterproof mascara on all of my wedding clients.

Do carry oil blotting papers with you. The camera picks up shine, but oil blotting papers will get rid of it. Powder will cut shine too, but it can get cakey if you touch up too often.

Don’t go on shimmer overload. Every bride wants to look glowing, but shimmery products can translate as shine in photographs. It’s okay to put a little bit on the cheekbones, but do so with a light touch.

Do consider fake lashes. I use these flare lashes (bunches of 6-8 lashes, aka individuals) from Ardell and even five flares makes a difference. They really open up the eyes and add something special to the look. Try them before the wedding day though, or have a bridesmaid put them on for you. They can be tricky.

Hope all of you brides out there found this post helpful.

Have a beautiful day 🙂