Thursday, August 13, 2015

What's the Number One Thing You Should Look For When Choosing Cosmetics?

Whenever I do makeup for headshots, weddings or a group or private lessons, clients are always shocked at how LIGHT the makeup feels when I'm done, and how long it lasts.  They want to know what it is that I'm doing to get such great results that look and feel so different from results they get when they do their own makeup at home.  Well, here is my #1 trick.....
Highly pigmented products are a MUST for bridal makeup!

The products I use....expensive, drugstore and pro brand....have all been chosen with one thing in mind...they are all highly pigmented!

So what the heck does THAT mean?

Think about this...have you ever applied a cheap, drugstore eyeshadow or blush that looked pretty in the package, but when you applied it....the color just wasn't there, or you had to really pack it on to see anything?  Or you applied lipstick just to have it fade into oblivion a few hours later?  You might have figured out that those cosmetics weren't the best quality, but what exactly is the problem? Too much filler versus pigment...plain and simple.  A high ratio of filler ingredients will dilute the intensity of pigment and create a  dry, chalky texture.... that means you have to really work to get any color payoff, the colors aren't true and it won't last. In regard to eye shadow, it can also result in major in color all over your cheeks instead of on your eyelids...a beating when you're trying to get ready, but also a waste of time and product.
Photo Credit: Aphrodite Attitude

Higher quality formulas apply true color smoothly, and in one swipe....that's the golden ticket!  You can keep it light with a soft wash of color, or build to major intensity....if a product has more pigment, the option is up to you.  When your shadow, blush and lipstick are properly pigmented, there's no need to pack it on and it'll blend seamlessly with your skin.

Pigmented shadows - Photo credit: Makeup Geek
How do you know if you've got a highly pigmented product?                                
I'll save you plenty of time right off the bat....I've yet to find ANY...and I do mean any, drugstore brand powder formula eye shadow that had enough pigment for me.  I'm a fan of several drugstore brands for other products, but in eye no.  Skip straight to higher end brands like Lorac (my current fave), Urban Decay (watch out for overly sparkly shades), Mac, IT Cosmetics (super smooth and blendable matte shades) and Charlotte Tilbury.  Look for an almost buttery smooth texture and intense color, and minimal fall out...

There are more options with blush...there are several brands at every price point that have enough pigmentation to provide the healthy flush you're looking for.  Look for soft, micro-milled formulas that provide enough color with a subtle application....if it requires several swipes, move on to another
Highly pigmented gel blush from Butter London
brand. Also look into gel or cream versions...they often carry more pigment, and eliminate the chalky texture issues that can come with powder blush.  Brands I like include Nars (powders and "the Multiple" cream sticks), Milani powder blush (a cheapie insider fave), MAC Blush (especially the Mineralize Finish ones), Butter London gel fomulas (super intense! See example on left) and Maybelline cream blush sticks.

You'll have even better luck with lipsticks! I've found several across the board that carry the
Example of pigmented lipstick swatches
pigmented intensity I seek.  Look for matte formulas that provide good color payoff in one can sheer it out with gloss, or apply straight from the tube for the full effect. A few of my current go to lipsticks include Kat Von D (intense, matte and long lasting), Smashbox, L'Oreal (half the price and very comparable to higher end versions), Revlon (classic and affordable shades) and Lipstick Queen.

Highly pigmented products mean better color payoff, a long lasting look AND you can use less product! Also, the more pigmented your products are, the more versatile they are...
Use a light touch and blend well when you want subtle looks, apply full force when you're ready to be bold...the same products can do both, if you've chosen well.

What cosmetics do you own that pass the pigment test?  What do you have that doesn't?  Share in the comments!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Top 4 Ways To Take Your Look From Day to Night

When fab beauty resource blog SheKnows reached out wanting a few tips on how to transform daytime makeup into a nighttime ready look, I was more happy to share!  (They shared just one of my tips, but here's the entire article for ya!) I often have VERY long days, and find myself working all day with clients and then heading off to a networking cocktail party or industry event with just a few minutes to spare....I definitely use these tips in my own routine too!

Here are my 4 quick ways to take your look from Day to Night:

Start with a Classic Bold Lip - One of the oldest tricks in the book for a works! Stash an ultra glamorous lip color to take an otherwise neutral look into cocktail party territory. This works especially well if a strong lip is NOT your usual look! It's a bold shift that signals "sexy and special".... perfect for a night out! A shade that works on nearly everyone is a deep berry, but a classic crimson or a winter-perfect burgundy are elegant picks too. 

A few of my fave evening ready bold lip colors are "Hellbent" by Kat Von D, "Snow White" by NYX, "Shame" by Urban Decay and "Rebel" by MAC)

Highlight the Positive - A shimmery highlighter dusted on cheekbones and brow bones instantly gives your face a lift, and picks up candle light beautifully!  Add a bit down the bridge of your nose and on cupid's bow for a fresh look perfect for nighttime. Highlighters to try - Kevyn Aucoin's "the Celestial", Mac "Silver Dusk" Powder and IT Cosmetics in "Hello Light".

Photo Credit Stephen Moleski
Get in Line - an inky black liner instantly adds an air of sexiness to an otherwise subdued daytime face. Choose a pencil...easier than liquid, and doesn't require a brush like gel liners. Line water lines (bottom...and top if you can swing it) then smudge with a q-tip, the whole process takes seconds and is really hard to screw up!
Choose a soft, highly pigmented pencil for a sultry effect.
My fave black liner pick for a no-brush-needed application?  Urban Decay 24-7 Pencil in Perversion ---it's pretty much the pinnacle of smoky black eye pencil! 

Grab Your Falsies - False LASHES, that is! They're not just for black tie
anymore...nothing gives your eyes fluttery impact like popping on a pair of false lashes. And when applied properly, they really aren't too over the top...promise.  Practice at home to get technique down so you can do it quickly when trying to get out the door to after work cocktails. Bonus tip - stash a small tube of dark tone glue! The white glue will eventually dry clear, but the dark tone glue is immediately invisible, perfect if you're pressed for time. Try Eylure Lashes in "Volume" and Duo Dark Tone Glue, both available at drugstores.

Add a bold necklace or earrings, switch out flats for pumps and lastly, ditch your big work bag and tuck necessities into a cute and colorful clutch...done! You just went from all business daytime meh to sultry evening A-mazing! What are YOUR fave day to night tips and products?!?
Photo Credit Express

Want to check out the SheKnows article with tips from celebrity makeup artists and other beauty pros like me?  Click here....

(PS, If you weren't already aware, SheKnows is a great resource for anything you want to know on beauty and'll get addicted!)

Monday, June 8, 2015

How to Cover a Hickey WITHOUT Wearing a Turtleneck - BUSTLE.COM Feature

Photo Credit:
If you've been following me for a while, you may have noticed that in addition to being a pro makeup artist, I'm also a writer...mostly helpful hints in regard to makeup, beauty, weddings and sometimes other topics like marketing and social know, useful stuff! I've written pieces on everything from wedding timelines, how to create the perfect red lip, and how to make sure marketing language doesn't create liability...and everything in between.  (Check out the "As Seen in " Page for some examples!)

So....I got a call from one of my editors recently asking for tips on how to cover a hickey.  I think that DEFINITELY qualifies as a helpful hint! Particularly if you're a grown up who doesn't want to look like a hormonal 9th grader..... and a turtleneck isn't an option.
Want to know the inside scoop?  Read the full article here on fun and sassy (clearly!) beauty and lifestyle blog BUSTLE.COM with tips from me and other experts on what to do in case you find yourself having post-makeout session hickey regrets.  Follow these tips, and no one will ever know! Feature - How to Cover a Hickey

Thanks for including me in this feature and a special shout out to Aly Walansky!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Flash Lesson By Request - Beauty Blender 101!

Beauty Blenders....they are a staple for me.  I purchased my first one years ago when they were an obscure novelty, but now I can't imagine applying cream products without one!  When I'm doing
bridal makeup or teaching lessons, so many girls ask "what IS that?" I LOVE these little babies, so I always recommend them to clients.  After the 10th person told me "it doesn't really do it for me" or " I didn't work as well as it did when you used it"....I realized that a lot of people simply didn't know the RIGHT way to use this little gem!  So...after getting request after you go, a little Flash lesson on how to use and care for this magical little makeup tool....your Beauty Blender!
(note- not sponsored by BB in any way, just my own thoughts as an avid user, pro artist and beauty expert.  If they wanted to send me some, I'd gladly accept though! Just sayin'...)

Here's what they look like in the package....
They come in pink, white and black....I like the black ones because they don't get as "worn" looking....mainly because I'm using pro level, highly pigmented formulas that tend to make the pink ones look dingy.  The white ones are dye-free, and are great for applying serums and face creams.  Note that Beauty Blenders are
Left one is dry, right one is wet...see the difference?
smaller and harder when they are totally dry, and double in size when they've absorbed water?  The way it looks straight out of the package is NOT how it should look when you're about to use it...but we'll get there in a minute.....

Does it really matter if a I get a REAL Beauty Blender?
YES.  It does.  There are tons of fakes out there that look the same, but they just aren't.  Look, I'm all about a great dupe...a less expensive product that works just as well as the more popular, expensive version.  Why not? We all like to save a where we can, so I've TRIED several similar sponges.  The Beauty Blender is the only one I've found with the texture, performance and longevity I'm looking for, so it's worth the money. The end. The fakes are hard as a rock or rip after just a few uses and that's not even talking about the fact that they just flat out don't apply foundation half as smoothly....who's got time for that?  And...what did you really save if you wind up tossing a cheap one after 1 or 2 uses?  A real Beauty Blender that has been properly cared for can last up to a year.  For reals.  Just pony up the $'s worth it.

Do I use it wet or dry?
Neither!  For best results, it should be slightly damp.  I've been shocked to find out how many people aren't getting good results from their BB, because they've been using it totally dry!  I just assumed everyone knew that a sponge should be slightly damp.....use it totally dry and it's just dragging that
foundation across your face, plus it's soaking up a ton of your product and that's expensive.  Too wet and it's just sliding foundation around instead of incorporating into the skin.  Perfectly damp?'s just that... perfect. It won't soak up too much product OR slide it around, it'll apply a sheer layer beautifully, without any edges or lines.  In the immortal words of Goldilocks, it's "just right!"

Hold it under running water and let it absorb as much water as it can, then squeeze out excess.  As a final step, I usually blot it with a paper towel just to ensure it's not too wet.  It should look like the photo at bottom left....
Ready to go!

Is there a right way or wrong way to use a BB to apply creamy products?
Yes, there most definitely is!  You can either apply your foundation to the BB, or dot on your face and then blend...your choice, whichever works best for you. I like to apply product to the face and then blend...this avoids using too much.  Now it's time to blend, and here's one of the most important things to know for great're aiming for a "bouncing" motion, NOT a wiping motion!  The bouncing (similar to stippling) motion ensures a smooth application and feels like a facial massage to boot!  Flawless makeup AND a relaxed face?  Count me IN.  Check out the image below for a demo...

Gif credit - NYMag

How Often should I wash my Beauty Blender?
Ideally, after every use so it's clean and ready to go for next time.  Use liquid antibacterial soap, bar soap, or BB's own solid cleanser or liquid cleanser.  Their Beauty Blender branded cleansers are expensive but I'm not gonna lie...they really do break down the oils and get your little egg clean!  If you don't wash it out every day, at least every few days.  I've had multiple clients tell me
Time to let it go and get a new one!
that they never wash theirs out....yikes.  Even if you're not a germaphobe, you've got to realize that's a lot of bacteria....or at minimum, a lot of old product and dead skin cells creating a muddy look when you apply.  Keep it clean for best results!  Oh and when it starts getting raggedy like's time to toss and reorder.

PS...a little BONUS tip....look for great deals and you can often find a Beauty Blender WITH cleanser at the same price as a Blender alone!  Check Amazon for the best bargains...: )

OK, OK....I washed it out, it's nice and, how do I store it?
A Beauty Blender needs to BREATHE...otherwise it'll get mildew-y, and start to break down. But if you store it out in the open, it could get dusty, dirty or could roll off the counter and become your dog's new fave chew toy.  Hmmm....tricky.  I've found a GREAT solution...keep it in a breathable mesh bag like this one from whatever size you need depending on how many BB's you have (I have 9, so I got a bigger bag!).  Be sure you get breathable mesh!

Put your clean Beauty Blender in the mesh bag after washing to keep it clean while still allowing for air flow so it can dry properly.  Easy! I have a bunch of Beauty Blenders and I'd often lose them when I kept them loose in my big case. Now with my mesh storage bag, I always know where they are, plus they're clean and dry.

And there you have it, Beauty Blender 101!  If you don't already have one, get'll love it.  Follow the steps I've outlined, and it'll truly become one of your favorite little beauty secrets to a flawless face.  Now let's BOUNCE!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

"What Your Makeup Artist Wants you to Know" - SheKnows Feature

I was thinking the other day....exactly how many weddings have I done over the course of my career?  Well, I didn't keep a good count in the early days, but by conservative estimation, the total is getting close to 1000! That's a lot of weddings and a lot of brides....

But if you're going to be a bride?  This is your ONLY wedding....your once chance to have your very own fairytale.  Nothing will screw up that fairytale faster than not looking and feeling your best on your big day.  When it comes to wedding day beauty, there are a lot of little things that you might not have thought of... but not to worry!  Your first step is to hire a pro who specializes in weddings...we HAVE thought of all of those things....big and small. Everything from how to prepare for a bridal trial, to how to prep your skin, to deciding on a color palette that is perfect for you.....everything you need to know to make the beauty part of your wedding easy and stress free.  Our goal is to for you to look exactly as gorgeous as you've always dreamed you would on your big day, and understanding the process helps make that dream a reality. 

 SO....when fab beauty resource SheKnows reached out and asked me to contribute some tips to an article on things your makeup artist wants you to know, I was more than happy to!  I sent them several tidbits and other makeup and beauty pros did as well....check out the full article here for just a few of them.

Still have questions?  Ask me directly at lipservicemakeup@gmail.comYou might see YOUR question highlighted in a future blog topic....