So you’ve identified your face shape, know where to sculpt if desired and have learned how to minimize features you don’t love. Now it is essential that you choose the correct products and tools so no one knows what you’ve been up to. Obvious contour and highlight is about as flattering as harem pants.
The Products: Contour
Contouring products come in powder, cream and liquid formulations. You can use whatever best suits your skin type or layer them (but use restraint, please). As previously discussed, contouring makes areas recede, sometimes giving the illusion of a shadow. Because actual shadows are gray and cool-toned, you want to make sure your contour product(s) are also on the cool side. Anything too warm–think orange-y bronzers–will look off. Bronzers are for bronzing, which is different than contouring. And definitely stay away from any contour products with shimmer, as that defeats the purpose. Shimmer brings light to an area, which will make it look larger–the opposite of what contouring is supposed to do. Using a shimmery bronzer to contour can also make your skin look muddy, aka streaky, aka dirty, aka not a good look.
So, what should you use? For powder contour, I swear by Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit. It includes a matte contour and a matte highlight and comes in different shades for different skin colors. This bad boy has been my go-to for years.
If you like cream products (typically good for normal to dry skin) and have light skin, check out Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow. It is taupe with gray undertones, so it doesn’t look obvious on fair skin. Jen, one of the AB Beauty makeup artists, uses this and swears by it.
For medium to dark skin, I use MAC Matchmaster Concealer. I know it’s not technically a cream contour, but it’s a stick concealer and works just as well. The shades I use tend to be a little more warm than I would normally go for, but there is a reason the rule can be bent. The kind of face sculpting I do is not as aggressive as current day contouring, so using something slightly warm-toned on medium to dark skin (it would be too obvious on light skin) works as long as it is blended well.
For very dark skin–like the gorgeous blue black skin that some people have–you can skip the contour. To shape your face, you would apply highlight on the areas you want to bring out and the contrast of the natural skin color against the highlight will create a sculpting effect.
The Products: Highlight
Highlight–particularly of the shimmer variety–is crazy hyped up right now. If I can see your cheekbones, Cupid’s Bow and tip of nose (remember–don’t do that!) glowing from across the room then sweetheart, you’ve done too much. Subtle highlight, whether shimmer or matte, is infinitely more flattering. You can believe me, or you can regret it when your Facebook memory selfies come up in five years.
For cream and liquid highlighters with some shimmer, I like Benefit Watts Up (stick highlighter) and Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Skincare Primer (liquid). Yes, Wonderglow is meant to be a primer, but I think it works beautifully as a highlighter. (I’m having a hell of a time trying to insert photos of those products into this post but Google images will hook you up.)
For powder highlight, I typically reach for the highlight powder from the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Duo. I apply it with a very light hand, as a little goes a long way.
You for sure want to avoid placing shimmery highlight on skin with fine lines or visible pores. If you want to highlight those areas, use a matte highlight. The highlight powders from the Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kits are great if you prefer a powder formulation. For a matte cream highlight, you can really use any concealer that is lighter than your skin. I prefer ones with a thinner consistency, like MAC Select Moisturecover Concealer.
You can also highlight and contour using foundation. For this technique, you would use your regular foundation around the edges of your face and on any areas you would want to contour. Then a lighter foundation with the same undertone in the same formulation would be used on the areas you want to highlight (but use concealer–not foundation–under the eyes). If you’re someone whose skin color changes throughout the year, this is a great way to use your “winter” foundation during the summer.
The type of product you are using should dictate the tools you choose. I always use a brush for powder products. For creams and liquids, I apply with my hands so my body heat–of which I have none of lately in New England, even though it is MARCH–breaks down the product. When it is broken down (melted a bit) that allows it to apply more evenly. I then blend it with a buffing brush if needed. My go to buffing brush is the one from the Real Techniques Core Collection.
Any contouring and highlighting you do should be blended well. That’s such a huge thing with highlight and especially contour. A foundation buffing brush is great for blending larger areas, and a fluffy-but-not-too-soft eyeshadow brush like the MAC 217 is perfect for blending highlight or contour on the eyes and nose. A sponge of your choice can also be helpful for blending out larger areas of contour.
If you want to see some pro highliingghting and contour in action, check out these tutorials. (By the way, I miss the days when WordPress would let me hyperlink.)
It’s been a while since I’ve told you what I have in my personal makeup bag, so I’m sure you’ve been patiently waiting for this post. I’ve done a few of these posts over the years, and some of the products in my bag have never left me (except to be replaced by new, full versions of themselves). Others are new to the crew and may or may not make the cut.
Here’s what we’ve got.
Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture SPF 15. This moisturizer is affordable, gentle and great for normal to oily skin in the warmer months. I usually switch to a richer moisturizer for the fall and winter when my skin gets dry and flaky, but I don’t know if I’ll need to do that now that I use face oil. Time will tell. Until then, I’m sticking with this tried and true product.
MAC Face & Body Foundations in C2 & C5. I use a mixture of shades C2 and C5, depending on how much self tanner I have on. I absolutely love this sheer foundation (which can be built up to medium coverage by simply rubbing it into the skin for longer). I also sometimes use the darker C5 on my ghostly legs because I don’t feel the need to make people aware that I’m 25% Irish. My freckles and propensity to Irish goodbye a party take care of that.
Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. This is still the best primer I’ve ever tried. I use this when I know the makeup I put on at 6:00am needs to stay strong into the evening. Laura Mercier also makes hydrating and oil-free versions of this primer for dry and oily skin. If you want your makeup to last all day, you have to use a primer. There is no way around that. I think it’s actually a law in most states.
Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit in Shade 2. Shade 2 of this powder highlight and contour duo suits my light (but not super fair) skin. I’m not big on highlighting my own face, so the contour powder gets more love. I don’t like a strong contour, but I was in the wrong line for “good bone structure” when features were being given out, so I can use a little help. (I did, however, accidentally get in line twice for “tiny feet” and “thick hair.”)
MAC Powder Blush in Pink Swoon. This matte, soft candy pink powder blush really brightens up my face. I use this particular shade on a lot of clients too. If you are tired, sick or hungover, an even skintone and a pop of pink blush will make a world of difference. So unless you are a teetotaler who always gets eight hours of sleep and never even catches a cold, you should have good pink blush in your makeup bag.
Benefit the POREfessional. This pore minimizer is a must for She of the Large Cheek Pores. I also use it to blur the slight forehead lines that have developed in the past few years (from wisdom, obviously.) I have been buying this product since it came out and I don’t intend to stop. If you have no visible pores or lines on your face, you probably don’t need POREfessional. Also, we can’t be friends.
Clarins Multi-Active Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 20. I don’t use this every day, but if I’m going for a walk or run during the day in the summer, I apply it first. It doesn’t leave a white cast (my sunscreen pet peeve) or break me out like many others. But it does smell similar to the Raid I once used to kill a bee from 10 feet away (I’m allergic and it was in my house! Not sorry), so I get a little flashback anxiety when I put it on.
Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in 001 Transparent. This pressed powder has been with me since AB Beauty makeup artist, Jen, recommended it to me. It does a good job of setting my foundation and eliminating shine without caking. I would like it even more if I didn’t consistently drop and break the cover within two weeks of buying it. That’s not Rimmel’s fault though. That’s on me, rushing around in the morning and knocking things over with my butt (apparently I got in line for that twice as well).
MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NW20. My undereye coverage godsend. This stuff masks my dark circles, lasts for hours and doesn’t cake. I use this concealer on clients as well for those reasons. It’s not thick or dry and as long as you prep the undereye with a little moisturizer first, it applies smoothly. It’s a real winner.
Charlotte Tilbury Mini Miracle Eye Wand. I usually use the MAC Pro Longwear Concealer for undereye coverage, but this two-sided pen–moisturizer to prep the area, concealer to do its thing–saves me about 10 seconds because it’s an all in one. I sometimes I feel like that will make a difference in my day. You either know exactly how I feel or think I’m crazy for saying that, but either way, I’m doing it.
Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Marine Boosting Mist. Someone gave me a sample of this spray which is supposed to be a primer, setting spray, hydrating mist and skin refresher. That’s too multi-use for me to believe, so I use it as a skin refresher. That means I spray it on if I think my foundation is looking cakey (not Face & Body, but sometimes when I try a new one). It helps dilute the foundation so it doesn’t catch on dry patches. I won’t buy a new one when it runs out, but it’s nice to have until then.
Too Faced Shadow Insurance. My Holy Grail of eye primers. Without this, my eyeshadow fades and creases within hours. (One more thing I got in line for–oily eyelids.) Whenever I do my eye makeup without applying this first, I regret it.
MAC Eyeshadow Quad. I bought a MAC empty quad duo and filled it with Brun, Espresso, Wedge and Brule (all matte formulations). Brun is a muted blackish brown I use for shadow liner and to fill in my brows; Espresso is a muted golden brown I use for the lid, outer V or as a shadow liner; the soft beige taupe Wedge is my crease go-to color but also sometimes my all-over lid color and Brule is a light creamy beige shadow I use on my lids. These four shades work well with my brown eyes, which I like to pretend are hazel.
MAC Eye Kohl in Costa Riche. This dark brown shade of pencil liner has red undertones, which help bring out the green in my eyes. (The other thing that somehow makes them look more green is crying, but that’s not as pretty.) I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect brown pencil eyeliner since Topshop discontinued my beloved Sable, and Costa Riche is my latest attempt. It goes on smoothly–no tugging on the lid–and is easy to blend out, as a kohl liner should be. Plus, I love that it brings out my green like Sable did (it had tiny reddish glitter flecks which did the job). I haven’t experienced any undereye smudging or crease transfer and the color payoff is great, as is the case with most MAC products. I wish it was maybe a tiny bit darker, but that’s a preference thing, not a product downside.
Dior Diorshow Mascara. This is my true homegirl of makeup products. Maybe we don’t talk for a bit (aka I try a new mascara) but we always reunite. She is simply the best. And I know Diorshow is a She because a He mascara would be much more flaky and wouldn’t stay around as long.
Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume Mascara. This is my current top layer and bottom lash mascara. I like how black and inky it is, but it does sometimes smudge a tiny bit under my eyes. I generally really like Clinique mascaras for my top layer and bottom lashes, so I’ll try a different one next.
Ardency Inn Punk Eyeliner. I’m not usually a liquid eyeliner gal, but someone gave this to me so I’ve been using it. It’s a liquid liner pen with a hard tip. It’s more of a gray black than an inky black, which I don’t care for. It doesn’t move once it’s dry, but it also fades quickly. Once I’m through with this one, we’ll part ways. (Also how I approach dating.)
Topshop Waterproof Eyeliner in Ebony. “Blackest black pencil eyeliner and waterline best friend.” That would be this eyeliner’s epithet. If I’m being honest, the liner splits its time between my makeup bag and my handbag, because waterline eyeliner is something that needs to be touched up. It’s waterproof and sets quickly so I don’t like it for lashline liner (I like something I can smudge a little), but for the waterline, it’s bomb.
MAC Chromographic Pencil in NC15/NW20. It’s technically an eyeliner pencil, but I’m also technically in my mid 30s and have blue streaks in my hair, so I’m not really one for doing things the way you’re supposed to. I use this off-white color on the waterline to make my eyes look bigger or more awake. True white is too obvious, but off-white gives the desired effect in a natural way.
Too Faced Lip Injection. I have very little top lip to speak of. So when I want to temporarily make my lips fuller and am in the mood to endure five minutes of stinging, I apply this plumping gloss. Say what you will, but this ish works. It has a rosy tint to it, which I don’t love because straight rosy tones don’t look great on me, but I apply the color I want after the Lip Injection has absorbed.
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillowtalk. There is something about this pinky-peachy nude lipliner that allows me to slightly overdraw my lips without looking cray cray. The shade and velvety texture work better on me than any other lipliner I’ve tried. It’s a keeper or, as Charlotte herself would say, it’s “divine.”
NYX Soft Matte Lip Creme in Istanbul. This was an impulse buy at CVS. You know, when you go in for contact solution then you see what looks like the petal pink lip color you’ve been after for years. It turns out it wasn’t the exact color I thought it would be once it was on my lips, but it’s still decent. I find it to be a little too drying and slightly sticky, so I mix in a tiny bit of Glossier balmdotcom to make it more comfortable to wear.
Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Heftiest Hibiscus. I had a client who was looking for a specific lip color for her wedding day, but it needed to be in a moisturizing formulation because her lips get dry easily. I knew Chubby Sticks had a good reputation for being comfortable to wear and I saw one in the color she loved so I grabbed it. I also grabbed one in Heftiest Hibiscus, a pinky red, for myself. I don’t operate on a one-for-you-one-for-me philosophy–I would have never turned a profit as a freelance artist if I did that!–but I needed to make sure the formulation was comfortable to wear. So I tested mine out for a couple weeks and it passed the test. I really love this product and will definitely re-purchase it when I run out.
Revlon Colorburst Lip Stain in 040 Rendezvous. This is one of my summer go-to colors. It’s on the orange side of coral, so I use it when I want to brighten up my look. Crayons are easily to apply, and this formulation is comfortable to wear. No complaints here.
Korres Lip Crayon in Delight. And then sometimes, I want a light pink shade. This one delivers on that desire, and I do wish it hadn’t been discontinued. Life can be so disappointing…
Lipstick Queen Rouge Sinner. This baby is my go-to fall red. (My summer red, MAC Lady Danger, is still in my purse, because I’m holding on to the last days of summer.) It’s what I call a vintage red. It’s got a slight rose tone to it, but in a muted way. If it was 1948, this color would be sold out everywhere. Every LQ lipstick I’ve ever tried is long-lasting, pigmented, non-drying and has beautiful packaging. Owner Poppy King truly knows lipstick.
Tom Ford Lipcolor Sheer in 10 Rose Soleil. My cousin, Saint Maria, gave me this beautiful rose pink that’s shot through with shimmer. It’s the perfect every day polished-but-not-high-maintenance lipstick. I love how it looks layered over the Pillowtalk lip liner (as I mentioned, pure rose doesn’t look great on me but works when it has other tones mixed in). And I want to live inside that white with gold-trimmed packaging.
That’s it (for now). I realize I have more products than the average person, but what did you expect? If this post only included a tube of Maybelline Great Lash Mascara and a Clinique lipstick I bought in college, my clients would be in trouble. Part of being a good makeup artist is trying new products. The ones that pass the test get purchased (brand new, of course) and introduced to a million new friends in my pro kit. The ones that don’t pass the test get tossed in the trash, never to be spoken of again.
Maybe this post will help you if you are looking for new products for your own makeup bag or will inspire you to take a good hard look at what you currently have. Or maybe it will help you kill time waiting at the dentist’s office. Either way, thanks for reading.
“I just want to look natural.” While it sounds simple, the true Natural Look is one of the hardest to do. Why? Because it is about perfecting the skin. When my clients request the Natural Look, 9 times out of 10, they want glowy, flawless skin–but in a way that will make people think they are born with it. If you are 10 years old or a model (and trust me, not all models have perfect skin), then I take it back–this is an easy look. If not, read on!
In other looks, the focus may be on the eyes, lips, cheeks, lashes, etc., so the skin does not have to look so flawless. But for a truly natural look, the skin needs to appear clear, contoured (but not in an obvious Kim K. way), even, smooth and glowing. It’s a tall order, but it can be done.
Your first step is to get your skin in good shape (ideally this is done consistently, not just for this look). The better your skin is, the easier this look will be to do and the better it will look. I wouldn’t attempt this look if you are in the middle of a huge breakout. In fact, if you are currently dealing with acne, hold off on this. It will take a lot of time and product, and probably frustration. If you are currently not dealing with breakouts, starting by cleansing and exfoliating your face. And if you were out last night, make sure you finish removing that eye makeup that you were just too tired to get to…
First, apply an eye primer, like Too Faced Shadow Insurance. You will be applying eye makeup and you want it to last, so an eye primer is key.
Then, apply a moisturizer with luminizing properties. A tinted moisturizer, like Jouer Moisturzing Tint or even Jergens Natural Glow for Face mixed with a little of your regular moisturizer, will work well. Really massage the moisturizer in. This is going to rev up the circulation to the skin which will help give you some glow.
Next, apply a matte eyeshadow in a color as close to your skin as possible. This should go on your lids and into the crease if you have deepset or hooded lids. If not, keep it on just the lids.
Apply a matte shadow that is a shade or two darker than your skin to the crease of your eyes (skip if you have deepset or hooded eyes).
If you have large pores, apply a pore minimizer to those areas.
Take an angled eyeshadow brush and the same crease matte shadow and apply it as close to your eyelashes (both top and bottom) as possible. The point is to give subtle definition to your eyes, not to make it look like you have eyeliner on.
Now, take a matte eyeshadow that is a shade or two lighter than your skin and apply a small amount under your browbone. If you have deepset eyes, skip this step.
Apply face primer if you have oily skin and/or will be wearing the makeup for a while.
Apply a couple of thin coats of mascara to your top eyelashes. This is one of the few times I will say go ahead and use brown mascara if your lashes are blonde. If not, black mascara is good. Just don’t load it on. Comb through it to remove any clumps. If you are staying true to this look, it’s not about the lashes.
If you have redness, apply some green color corrector to cancel it out.
Add an off-white liner to your lower waterline. Make sure it is off-white and not pure white, because that will be too obvious. The off-white covers any red, pink, or brown tones on your waterline, making you look well rested.
Apply a sheer foundation, like MAC Face & Body or Make Up For Ever Face & Body, using your hands. After you have applied it, take a few seconds to press it into your skin with your palms. This will give you a really natural finish.
If necessary, fill in your eyebrows with a brow powder. If they are full will no sparseness, you can skip this step and just give them a brush through.
Apply concealer to under the eyes and any areas you may need it.
Add a cream blush to your cheeks, using fingers. I like a peachy pink for light to medium skintones, and something slightly orange for darker skin. No matter what you choose, it should be muted. Nothing too bright or shimmery. Ideally you want it to mimic what you look like when you are naturally flushed. MAC, Make Up For Ever and Sonia Kashuk make great cream blushes.
Use a cream highlighter sparingly on the tops of cheekbones. You don’t want something super shimmery, but a tiny bit of shimmer is okay. If your collarbone is showing, add some highlighter there too. Blend well.
Apply a thin layer of loose powder to set your face makeup and undereye concealer. Unless you are oily all over, you can apply the powder just on the t-zone and undereye area if you prefer.
Apply a small amount of mascara to lower lashes, concentrating it at the lash roots. You don’t want much here. Again, it’s just about defining the eyes.
Use a contour brush to lightly shape your face with contour powder (this will vary depending on your face shape). Make Up For Ever Sculpting kits are great for this. If you prefer a cream contour, do this step after highlighter.
If your skin is oily or you prefer a bit more of a flushed cheek, apply some powder blush in the same shade as the cream blush you already have on.
Line and fill in your lips with a liner that is the same color as your lips. Pat in the liner with your finger.
Top with a lip balm. Don’t use a gloss if you want to stay true to this look. At their best, lips are smooth and even colored, but nobody’s lips are naturally glossy.
Now, look at yourself. THAT is natural makeup. This can be a beautiful look, but if you are someone who is used to wearing a lot of makeup, you may feel naked. And I wouldn’t recommend this for a special event or night out. It can be gorgeous in photoshoots and during the day, but it might look a little off if you are wearing a cocktail dress or going to a holiday party.
But, at the same time, if this is your look, and you love it, rock it. Rock it with pride. I’m all for wearing what makes you feel good, and if the Natural Look does it, then by all means, go for it! I just wanted to give the disclaimer because I think many people think the Natural Look is Jessica Alba on the Cover of Allure. It won’t turn you into her anymore than wearing heels will make me 5’6″ for real. I hope this blog post will help you if you do want to try this look. And if you like the look after that, then even better!
One of my favorite Biggie songs is “Ten Crack Commandments.” I don’t personally have any experience in that area, although I feel like I do, thanks to Frank White. But there is an area I think I am qualified to create commandments for. (Actually, there are two areas– but I’m afraid Orange Leaf will blacklist me if I publicize my Ten Soft Serve Commandments.)
So let’s get this thing started. It’s time for a beauty pop quiz. Are you ready?
Skincare: Good makeup as
a) Telescopes: Banking
b) Spam: Cupcakes
c) Water: Gardening
d) Logic: A Real Housewife cast member
If you guessed “C,”–always guess “C,” you must know that–you are correct! Skincare is an essential part of good makeup. You can use all the high quality makeup products on the market, but if you don’t take care of your skin, your makeup can only look so good.
(Extra credit to anyone who can find all of my hip hop references in this post. There are several of them, so if something sounds a little off to you or you don’t get it, study up on your 90s and early 2000s hip hop.)
As someone who often gets complimented on their skin (I’m talking about when I have no face makeup on), I feel I can drop some knowledge here. In honor of The Notorious B.I.G, below are my Ten Skin Commandments.
1) Find a cleanser that works for your skin type and use it every night. If you think you can get away with always using makeup remover wipes, or you (gasp!) regularly go to bed with makeup on, you’re dead wrong. Don’t be a Lazy Lucy. It takes under five minutes to wash your face–you can find the time. Oh, you got no time for face cleansing? But you just beat a level on Candy Crush? Busted.
2) Use an oil-based makeup remover followed by a cleanser, or use an oil-based cleanser. Especially if you wear face makeup, I really think you need an oil-based makeup remover or oil-based cleanser to fully remove your makeup. No, oil-based products won’t automatically make you break out or cause your face to go from normal to oil slick. I have oily skin and I use an oil-based cleanser every night, and my skin has actually gotten less oily since I started using it. But if you are hesitant to do that, at least use an oil-based makeup remover before your normal cleanser. Good skin is clear, right? And can we agree that sleeping in your makeup or not fully removing it causes breakouts? Then please please please take this oil-based makeup remover/cleanser idea into consideration. My favorite oil-based makeup remover is Dermalogica Precleanse, and my absolute favorite cleanser for all skin types is Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil.
*Note* I do not recommend using oil-based makeup removers or cleansers to remove eye makeup. Your best bet there is a gentle makeup remover, like Bioderma Sensibio H20.
4) Rule number four, I know you heard this before: exercise regularly. It gets the circulation going, which immediately makes your skin look more alive. If you are the type who gets very flushed after a workout, you may disagree with me, but Coolio down first, then re-evaluate. When I miss a bunch of workouts in a row, my skin looks blah. As soon as I get back to it–I’m talking the first workout back–I can see an obvious difference.
5) Use an SPF moisturizer every day. It’s common knowledge that the sun causes signs of aging (wrinkles, pigmentation, uneven skin tone) to accelerate, so you’ve got to be shithouse crazy (or 730, if you prefer) to ignore every knowledgeable makeup artist, esthetician and dermatologist out there who says to wear sunscreen on the daily. (Let’s not forget about the very real risk of skin cancer, too.)
6) Don’t just slap on your moisturizer. Take a few extra seconds to really massage the product in and you will see instant results. When I was in Esthetics school, we spent what felt like 1 million hours on facial massage techniques. There really is something to be said for massage and how it increases the circulation. To massage your moisturizer in, use the pads of your four fingers (stay back, Thumbkin) and make small circles around your face. It really works!
7) Get glow, get glow. I use Jergens Natural Glow for Face year-round. In the summer, it gives my skin enough color for people to believe that I live in a beach town (I use the body one during the warm weather months too). In the winter, when I can turn translucent if not careful, it gives me a slightly sun-kissed look so I don’t resemble, as my cousin Jack would say, “one of them day-time vampires.” It comes in formulations for fair to medium and medium to tan skin tones. I don’t want to call it shimmer, because that may make you think of a disco ball or a stripper, depending on your frame of reference. So I’ll just say it contains something that gives glow and radiance to the skin. It’s subtle, but it makes a difference. I feel like I look healthy when I’ve been using this for a few days. Not like a day-time vampire at all, whatever the hell that means…
8) Don’t eat bad shit. For me, bad shit is the stuff that my stomach is sensitive to. I started eating clean a few years ago for health reasons and my skin has had remarkably few breakouts since. SO MANY cases of chronic acne are actually due to food allergies/sensitivities. I’m no doctor, so do what you need to do figure it out. But as someone with an extremely sensitive system, I do suggest trying to listen to your body. If your body does not like something you are eating, it’s going to tell you. It might be in the form of stomach irritation, migraines, eczema, or breakouts, but it will find some way to give you the message. So listen up, it’s got a story to tell.
9) Number 9 shoulda been number 1 to me: don’t skimp on your beauty sleep. There is a huge difference in my skin when I get enough sleep, and I know I’m not the only one effected by sleepless nights. When I walk into a room to do wedding makeup, I can immediately tell if the bride slept like a baby or tossed and turned between nightmares of table assignments gone wrong. Yes, you can see tiredness on many people when you look at their eyes (dark circles or puffiness), but I’m referring to the skin. If you are rested, your skin looks bright and smooth. If you are tired, it looks dull and uneven. I personally notice it on myself after a nap. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up from a nap, looked in the mirror and thought “What amazing product did I use today?” 9 out of 10 times, I realize I don’t have any face makeup on. I know cell turnover and repair happens during a full night’s sleep, but I swear even a 30 minute nap does something magical to my skin. I am convinced that lack of sleep wreaks havoc on the skin. Sorry, new moms, please don’t hate me for this one.
10) When your skin needs an extra boost, try one of these miracle products. (These work considerably better if you’re following the other commandments.) The Radiant Serum by La Mer hydrates and adds radiance to the skin. It’s pricey, but I’m not in charge of your budget. Beauty Flash Balm by Clarins gives a temporary brightening and tightening effect (no lie, you can feel it happening) and creates a smooth base that allows foundation to apply beautifully. If you’re tired because, say, you have been going out like a 21 year old recently (guilty), meet your new best friend. It’s great for mature skin–I use this on most of the mothers and grandmothers of the bride who I work with–and it can be used as a mask as well. I wouldn’t use any of these miracle workers every day because I do think the skin gets used to them, but when your dermis needs a pick me up, they are there to help.
I could add some other commandments, like “Thou Shalt Not Pick at Blemishes,” and “Stress Less” (or “Just Break Up With Him Already”), but I’m sticking to the tried and true TEN Commandments format. It seems like a lot when it’s all written out like this, but I promise you it is very do-able. And I’m a big believer in the 80% rule. If you follow a good skincare regimen 80% of the time, your skin will probably look pretty fantastic. Supplement as needed with specific products to target any problem areas (i.e. rosacea, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, acne scarring, etc.) but I think these commandments will give you a really good base to start off with.
I’m talking about my purse-bag, not my makeup-bag. (And definitely not my pro makeup kit–that would take wayyyyy too long.)
I have my Go-To products, and although I change them up, below is a list of the products I have been keeping with me lately.
MAC Blot Powder in Light. A pressed powder that is perfect for touchups. It eliminates shine without adding cakey-ness.
Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 40+. It’s a travel size one, and the product feels and smells great. I like wearing a higher SPF moisturizer during the summer and early fall because I have pigmentation on my face, and I would prefer to keep that to a minimum.
I keep several eyeliners with me because they are such an easy way to change up a look.
MAC Eye Pencil in Pale Yellow. This color has been discontinued, but any off-white pencil eyeliner will work. I use this to rim my lower waterline when I want my eyes to look bigger or more awake.
Topshop Kohl Liner in Coal. When I want to quickly make an eye makeup more dramatic, I apply some of this to the waterline. Or I add it to the top lashline for more definition..or rim my eyes for a sexy, smudgy look. I even used it to touch up the facepaint on a friend’s daughter the other day, so it’s versatile!
Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes in 7L. This turquoise liner is my go-to when I’m bored with my eye makeup. I reached for it a lot over the summer, but it doesn’t feel quite as right for the fall.
MAC Eye Kohl in Minted. Here’s one I use more in the fall and winter. It’s a change from black or off-white on the waterline, and it works well with my hazel eyes. I don’t usually use it on the top lashline because I like a darker color there, but I think it’s great way to add a pop of color at the bottom lashline.
Nivea A Kiss of Smoothness Hydrating Lip Care. I have tried what feels like a million lip balms/moisturizers over the year, and I truly like this one the most. Many of them feel great when I first put them on but eventually dry my lips out. Or they work for the first few days, then stop. I have been using this one for about two months and it is good people. And it’s got SPF 10, which is a huge plus. No overpowering scent of any kind, and I believe it only comes in the colorless shade.
Rimmel London Stay Glossy in Non-Stop Glamour. It’s a peachy pink gloss with gold flecks. It’s shiny, somewhat moisturizing and lasts surprisingly long for a lip gloss in that price range. It’s a bit sticky (which I think helps glosses stay on longer), but not unbearably so. The shimmer is pretty, and doesn’t veer into frosty territory.
MAC Lipstick in Lady Danger. It’s a classic. Matte orange red perfection. I love a red lip–it instantly dresses up a look–so I keep this little gem with me at all times.
ELF Retractable Lip Brush. When I put on a red lip, I usually use a lip brush. I think it looks more polished that way. This ELF brush is great because it is retractable, so it doesn’t leave red stains everywhere when I put it back in my bag. And take a look at their website–so cheap!
I change up the products in my purse occasionally, but many of these have been with me for a while. I like to have options, but I don’t want my already heavy purse to really weigh me down. What’s in your bag?
Want that “glow from within” look? Then you, my friend, should consider cream blush.
Cream blush, especially when layered between liquid foundation and powder, gives your cheeks a gorgeous, soft focus glow. I can’t think of anyone this wouldn’t be flattering on. Cream blush is great for dry or mature skin, and it also works on oily skin (as long as you set it with a powder blush).
Here’s how I do it:
After most of eye makeup is done, I put on a primer on my skin (if you aren’t oily and/or don’t have a problem with face makeup fading, you can skip this step). While the primer is setting in, I do my mascara. Foundation goes on next. I either use a sheer foundation, like a MAC or Make Up For Ever Face & Body foundation, or I use a medium coverage foundation, like Make Up For Ever HD Foundation. Sometimes I use a medium-heavy coverage foundation, like NARS Sheer Glow, and cut it with some Face & Body. Whatever you choose, as long as it is liquid, you’ll get the desired “glowing” result. I use my hands to apply the foundation, then I buff it into the skin. My absolute favorite brush for that is the Real Techniques Buffing Brush.
Next, I apply cream blush to the apples of my cheeks, using my fingers and blending slightly upward onto the cheekbones. I love Sonia Kashuk Creme Blushes, MAC Cremeblend Blushes and Make Up For Ever HD blushes.
If I have used a Face & Body only, I then go over the entire face with Benefit Hello Flawless powder foundation. I use my Buffing Brush to press the Hello Flawless onto the skin. I avoid buffing it at this point, especially over the cheeks, because I don’t want to move the cream blush. Cream blush is a slippery little fella, that’s just the nature of the product.
If I have used a fuller coverage foundation, I do the same step, but I use a powder instead of Hello Flawless. My current favorite powders are Make Up For Ever Super Matte Loose Powder , MAC Blot Powder and Rimmel Stay Matte Powder.
After that, I apply my contour (usually Benefit Hoola or NARS Laguna). Then comes the powder blush. I most often reach for Make Up For Ever Sculpting Blush, NARS Blush or MAC Powder Blush in a peach or pink shade. Adding that layer of powder blush amps up the cream blush and kind of seals it into place. I have oily skin, and I find that my cheek color really stays on when I do this. Not to mention, people always seem to compliment my “glowing” skin when I do this look.
Cream blush is ideal for dry winter skin, and a pretty, glowing look is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Give it a try!
As much as I love makeup, there are some (okay, many) days when I don’t have the time to do a “full” look. But I also want my skin to have a little bit of coverage, so I reach for either a tinted moisturizer, or one of my Face & Body foundations.
Face & Body foundations can be used on the face and body (duh), so they are sheer and buildable. Since they are made for the body, they usually don’t transfer on to clothing. They are water based, and therefore very liquid-y (much different consistency than most regular face foundations).
The two Face & Body foundations I have are MAC Face & Body and Make Up For Ever Face & Body. Just like we all learned in elementary school, let’s compare and contrast.
1) With one layer, both are very sheer. If you don’t need much coverage, but like something that evens out the skin tone a little, these are great. I think the MUFE F&B is slightly more sheer.
2) They feel very lightweight. You truly can not feel these on the skin once they dry.
3) Neither have SPF. This is good for photography, not so good for everyday wear (but you can always apply an SPF underneath).
4) They both give a dewy finish. If you have dry skin, you’ll love the feel and finish of these foundations. They do not cake up or catch on dry spots. I would say the MAC F&B gives a dewier finish though.
5) They need a good shake before applying. The formulas do sometimes separate and can be a bit clumpy if you don’t shake the bottle first, so just make sure to do that before application.
6) Both are buildable, but they don’t look visibly thicker as you build.
1) The packaging–MAC F&B comes in a plastic bottle, MUFE F&B comes in a glass bottle.
2) The color range–MAC F&B foundations are categorized by Cool (C) or Neutral (N) shades, MUFE shades are categorized by undertones in the skin (Pink, Yellow, Beige, and Olive).
3) The size–MAC F&B is 4 oz, MUFE F&B is 1.69 oz.
4) The price–MAC F&B is $33, MUFE F&B is $38.
5) The way that you build coverage is different. With the MUFE F&B, you apply a layer, let it dry, then apply another layer to get more coverage. With the MAC F&B, you apply one layer and the more you work it into your skin, the more coverage it gives. It’s really quite unique for a foundation to do this.
They are overall both great products. I think the MUFE F&B may be more suitable for someone with combination skin, as the finish of the product is not overly dewy. On a combo or oily skin, the MAC F&B can be quite shiny if not set with powder. Once it’s set though, it is fine, and I have used it without a problem in both film and photography.
I think the best part about the MAC F&B is that you pretty much get two foundations in one (generously sized) bottle. To get a sheer application, apply with a brush or lightly with fingers, and blend lightly with a brush or sponge. To get a heavier coverage, apply with fingers and rub into the skin (or buff in with a brush). If you use your fingers, you’ll actually feel the foundation getting thicker as you work it into the skin.
I like both of these products and will continue to use and recommend them. I think Face & Body foundations are great if you don’t want to wear a traditional foundation, but want something with a little bit of coverage. They are even more sheer than some tinted moisturizers on the market, so I think they are the perfect choice for foundation-phobes. I hope I have helped you get a general idea of what these products are like.
I’ve found that a lot of women, especially those in their 20s, prefer lipgloss over lipstick. I don’t know if it’s because glosses are generally easier to apply, they don’t like much pigment to their lip color, or they associate lipstick with feeling “heavy.” But I recently tried a lipstick even the anti-lipstick contingency might like.
It’s the newest lipstick from one of my favorite companies, Make Up For Ever, and it’s called Rouge Artist Natural. The lipsticks in this line are meant to be sheer and moisturizing. (Their Rouge Artist Intense line, which came out first, is a heavily pigmented line of lipsticks.)
I tried two of these new lipsticks, in N35, Iridescent Orange Pink and N50, Aubergine. N35 is the perfect summer color–I got excited for frozen drinks and beach days just looking at it! And N50 is absolutely gorgeous. This is the the perfect aubergine color. Sometimes lipsticks that try to be aubergine are a little too purple or brown, but Make Up For Ever got this one just right. Makeup artists, take note!
The packaging is simple but eye-catching. Black with silver, one word written on each side of the tube (“MAKE UP FOR EVER”). The caps snap into place and stay on, which those of you who have ever had to deal with rebellious lipstick caps in your purse will appreciate. These lipsticks have the traditional lipstick scent, which product purists will love 🙂 And I appreciate this little detail–for the lipstick shades with iridescence (shimmer) to them, there is a subtle shimmer printed on the shade sticker on the bottom of the tube. So if you’re sorting through the selection, trying to figure out which ones have shimmer, just look at the little sticker. Smart.
So this is all good, right? But does the Rouge Artist Natural lipstick actually deliver? The answer is…yes! The lipsticks are sheer, but not so sheer that you think “Did I actually pay money for this?” MUFE has mastered the balance between translucent and noticeable, which is a tough thing to do. And as far as the moisturizing factor, they are right on. My lips are chapped right now from being dehydrated (damn stomach flu) but these lipsticks feel great. They are definitely not drying, and I daresay they moisturize better than some lip balms I’ve tried.
The shine factor is there, but unlike many glosses, it doesn’t come with the sticky-ness factor too. I only tried those two colors, but my guess is the shimmery colors have a little more shine and slide to them. But out of the two I tried, the more matte one was just as comfortable and moisturizing.
Sheer lipsticks have a tendency to wear off quickly, but the Rouge Artist Natural lipsticks have great staying power. And since they are sheer, they are easily to reapply when you do need a touchup. You can apply straight from the tube, no brush needed. You can use a lipliner if you want, but for everyday use, I think these look best on their own. They also work well as a lip stain–apply from the tube, then pat the color in with your finger.
The Rouge Artist Natural lipsticks have the ease, shine, and natural look that many people seem to seek in a lip gloss. But these have longevity, absolutely no sticky-ness, and a wide range of colors. The lipsticks are $19 each, and the tubes will last a while. If you’re sick of trying to find the perfect gloss, or if you just want a low maintenance version of a lipstick color you love, check these out!
You can get Make Up Forever products at Sephora, Sephora.com, the Make Up Forever studio at 8 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003 and the Make Up Forever studio at 132 South Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048.
I think too much. Often times when I call someone for business or personal reasons, I am already having the conversation in my head before they’ve picked up. On our way into a restaurant with my friend recently, I was talking through my possible drink choices and the pros and cons to each one before we were even in the door. And it’s common for me to spend a whole cardio workout thinking of what I will do when I win the lottery some day, right down to what color I want the walls in my third guest room in my beach house to be. (As you can imagine, falling asleep can be quite difficult–my brain does not want to shut up!)
So when I can do something without really thinking, it’s amazing. This often happens when I’m doing my own basic day look makeup, which I call my Go To Look (GTL). This changes due to the time of year, what my skin is doing, my mood, etc., but I tend to use the same products for a month or two at a time, letting the makeup part of my brain run on autopilot.
My GTL lately has been:
1) Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream. Usually, my skin starts-a-peeling at the first mention of winter, but this cream has saved me. It is thick, but doesn’t feel heavy on my skin. It absorbs almost immediately and doesn’t leave a residue or any sticky-ness. Love.
2) Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eye Primer. Even if I don’t plan on wearing any eyeshadow or liner, I use this because it does a little camo action on the tiny veins you can see through my fair skin. And if I do wear other eye makeup, I know it will stay on longer and not crease with the Shadow Insurance underneath.
3) Dior Diorshow Mascara in Black. Still the best volumizing mascara I’ve ever used. I use this first, on top lashes only, because I find it tends to smudge on my bottom lashes (but never the top–so weird).
4) Clinique High Lengths Mascara in 01 Black. It took a little while to get used to the semi-circle comb-like applicator, but I’m cool with it now. The black, inky-ness of this mascara rivals Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash, and it is a phenomenal volumizer and lengthener. My two mascara combo has caused more than one person to ask “Are your lashes real?”
5) MAC Select Coverup. This is the only concealer I’ve ever liked for under my eyes. It’s a liquid that dries to a powder but it sets quickly, so you can’t be dillydallying around while you apply it. Once it’s on, the coverage is amazing and it doesn’t cake as long as you prep the area with a tiny bit of moisturizer first.
6) Make Up For Ever HD Foundation + Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. I mix my two shades together for a slightly less heavy coverage than the HD foundation. I mainly do this because in the winter, it’s the only way for me to get my perfect shade, but any extra moisturizing on my dry winter skin is a good thing.
7) Make Up For Ever HD Powder. In the summer, I reach for the MUFE Super Loose Matte Powder to control shine, but this time of year, the HD Powder is where it’s at.
8) Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit #2. I use the darker color to contour and it really makes my bone structure look so much better. It’s not too orangey or too dark, even on my light skin.
9) NARS Blush in Orgasm, MAC Powder Blush in Peaches, or Sonia Kashuk Beautifying Blush in Flamingo. My blush changes depending on what colors I’m using on my lips and cheeks, but these have been the three I reach for most.
10) Lipstick Queen lipglosses from the Peacock Alley collection. The ones I have are sheer with a hint of color and some glitter, so just enough for me to feel polished without doing a lipstick or more intense color.
11) MAC Eyeshadow in Brun to fill in my brows. It matches my coloring and I love the MAC eyeshadows for filling in brows.
That’s about it for my most basic makeup look. Now when I say basic, I don’t mean I wear this to go for a run, or to walk to the mailbox down the street. But if I have to head over to CVS, or the bank, or the library (oh, do I love the library!), I’m usually wearing my Go To Look. It makes me feel polished and put together. I just feel better when I have makeup on, like I’m being true to myself. (Some people feel the opposite way, in which case I say, rock on!) Some people drink coffee–I can’t, gives me the heart palpies–but my Go To Look is what I need to really start my day.
I sometimes go back later in the day to add on some eyes or lips and night makeup is a whole different ballgame. But during the day, if I don’t have a lot of time or am feeling lazy, I turn to the Go To Look. And now I need to Go To bed. Can’t wait to hear what my brain wants to talk about tonight…
It would be great to have normal, always clear, flawless skin, but I haven’t been blessed with skin perfection. I have combination skin, which gets pretty t-zone oily in the summer and dried-out-peeling in the winter. But like most things in life, I’ve tried to find a way to use my skin type to my advantage. Having this combo skin allows me to, at different points in the year, test out products and techniques for oily, dry, and acne-prone skin.
Where I live (in New England) summer is over. But the memories of what I have to do in the warmer months to fake balanced skin are still fresh in my mind. So if you have oily skin year-round, or just seasonally, read on!
1) The first step in most of my makeup applications is eye primer. If you have oily skin on your face, chances are your eyelids are oily too. Since that’s part of the reason eyeshadows can crease and fade (other culprits may be creamy formulas and cheapo shadows in general), an eye primer can make a huge difference in how your eye makeup wears during the day. Unless your eyelids are very dry, I recommend an eye primer. I use Too Faced Shadow Insurance, sometimes topped with a MAC Paint Pot if someone has especially oily lids.
2) If I have a long day coming up and always for wedding clients with oily skin, I use two skin primers. One is the De-Slick Oil Control Makeup Setting Spray by Urban Decay (I use this as a primer, and then at the end to set makeup). I also use a second one, usually Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer. One of the big problems with oily skin is that the oils from the skin break down products, causing them to wear off more quickly than they would on a normal or dry skin. Using a primer first puts an extra layer between the skin and the foundation. The ingredients in that primer layer are meant to absorb some of the oils and keep them from going through the foundation, which causes it to wear off.
3) I use liquid foundation, mainly because I don’t like powder foundation as a base and the foundation I use works on oily skin. I usually use the Make Up For Ever HD foundation, but if you’re looking for a different liquid foundation, something matte or medium-full coverage is your best bet. You want to stay away from anything with light-reflecting particles, as they can just add shine to your skin.
4) To powder oily skin, I love using Make Up For Ever Super Matte Loose Powder on oily areas. Powders sets the makeup and cuts shine, so it’s a must for oily skin.
5) To touch up during the day, you can go with oil blotting sheets (I’ve found them all to be the same, so I just buy the cheapest) if your skin is seasonally or slightly oily. For a very oily skin, you might want to try using a powder foundation as your touchup during the day. Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay In Place Powder is a good option, as is MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation. Using a powder foundation in areas where your foundation has faded will cover the fading and even your skin out.
So, those are the makeup techniques I’ve found to be the most helpful. It’s also really important to take good care of your skin (no matter what your skin type is). If you have oily skin, you’ll want to look for a cleanser made for oily skin, and use a lotion as opposed to a cream for your moisturizer. For night time, you’re better off using a serum than a cream. Exfoliation is important because it will help remove some of the surface oils and a mask that contains clay can help absorb the oils.
If you’ve got oily skin and have any tips, please share!