Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Product Review:
Smooth Away

I don't usually go in for "as seen on TV" products. As a matter of fact, when I first saw Smooth Away I thought it was about the silliest thing I'd ever seen; an over sized nail file that was supposed to magically and painlessly buff away hair. I wouldn't have given it a single thought, but when it began making the beauty mag editorial rounds, it was garnering some surprisingly decent reviews. When I found a $2.00 off coupon in my Sunday paper, I decided that I'd try it.

I purchased Smooth Away at my local Walgreens. After my coupon, I paid $7.99 plus tax for one large and one small applicator, 5 "flex-crystal" replacement pads of each size, and a travel case. The Smooth Away system consists of a flexible plastic oval shaped mitt that you stick the hair removal pads to. The pads feel and look like an old-school blackboard and kind of gave me the willies when I handled them. The self adhesive pads are fairly easy to apply, just peel and place. The adhesive is pretty heavy duty, so I had to take a second to make sure I was placing it correctly on the applicator. The package also states that it's important to make sure there are no air bubbles under the pad, which was easier said than done.

Being the instant gratification person that I am, I ignored the package directions that stated that skin should be thoroughly cleansed and dry before using the Smooth Away. After all, I figured: "The major benefit of this product is that it can be used anytime, anywhere. If I have to shower right before I use it, why not just use a razor while I'm in there?" The directions also state that hair should be no more than 1/4" long. Sorry if this is TMI, but I failed on this directive as well. Was I supposed to shave, then wait another 3 days before I tried my new toy? I think not.

After prepping my Smooth Away and practicing the suggested buffing pattern (3 rotations clockwise, then 3 counter clockwise) I went to town on my lower leg. As I buffed, I noticed that the fine regrowth on my leg was actually disappearing! Though the circular buffing pattern did feel awkward at first, I noticed no discomfort as my hair was being removed, and no redness afterward. I had read Smooth Away reviews that listed the amount of time it takes as a con, and I have to say, I agree- it took much more time to use this product than it would to shave, not to mention the physical exertion of the wax on/wax off buffing method. My second issue arose just minutes later, as I realized that the pad seemed to have stopped working- one large pad only removed hair from about half of my lower leg. Of course, it occurred to me that the pad's short life could have something to do with my failure to follow directions, so I decided to try again another time.

After seeing that the Smooth Away did indeed remove some hair without any apparent irritation, I decided to take a chance and use the small applicator on my upper lip. I followed directions to the letter, cleansing my skin, pulling it taught and gently buffing the area. The package insert states that it is normal to notice a bit of redness after hair removal, so I didn't think much when my lip began to look rosy- there was still hair to be removed, so I continued. When my skin began to burn (with plenty of hair left) I decided that this was not for me, and stopped. That's when I noticed a little spot of red seeping out from the corner of my lip-I had actually drawn blood!

Anyone who follows me on twitter may remember the post "Smooth Away? More like abrade away". This pretty much sums it up for me- though I had no ill effects on my legs, the product left me with a severe friction burn on my lip- the skin actually formed a scab (yuck, sorry, but you should know, right?) and remained dry and broken out for over 3 weeks (it's still not back to normal!) To literally add insult to injury, the hair in the area wasn't even gone! I did try the large pads on my legs several more times, this time closely following the package directions. I ended up with the same results no matter how I used it- while the hair was removed from a small area, the removal was not as close or as uniform as shaving- I was always left with errant hairs, and it would have taken me around 5 pads and probably 2 hours to do both legs. Refill pads cost $9.99 for 12 large and 6 small- about 2 or 3 uses. A refill pack of my Venus razors are also $9.99, but since one razor lasts me several weeks, they are definitely the more economical option.

I give Smooth Away a 1/2 out of 10. If you have infinite time to buff away at your legs and don't mind having to change pads every 3 minutes, go for it. For $8 I'm not going to complain about wasting my money- though the Smooth Away may be destined for the yard sale basket, at least I get to save you all from spending your hard earned cash- skip the Smooth Away and put the ten spot in your rainy day jar!

- Really, none. This is a hair removal device that barely removes hair. It does exfoliate somewhat, how's that?

- Limited availability
- buffing method is awkward and does not uniformly remove hair
- caused extreme irritation on my face
- pads have a very limited usage life-you'll need several to do both legs.
- very time consuming- each area needs to be buffed repeatedly to remove all hair.

HauteLook Update

It looks like Jonathan Product is off of the HauteLook menu on July 2nd. Taking it's place will be eco-beauty line Exuberance on July 3rd. The largely organic face and body care line is free of parabens, sulfates, artificial fragrances and petrochemicals and does not conduct tests on animals. If you're looking to green up your beauty ritual, this line may be for you!

Monday, June 29, 2009

120 Palette Inspiration:
Taco Bell at 3AM

A few weeks ago, I finally gave into my curiosity and purchased the 120 palette on Ebay. I figured, for $15 what did I have to lose? Friday, my palette arrived from Hong Kong and despite seeing warning after warning that they usually come with at least a few broken pans, mine had not a single chip. I couldn't wait to play, but with so many colors, where does one begin? So I asked my tweeps for some inspiration. My pseudo brother-in-law replied thusly:

"Makeup Inspiration Suggestion: taco bell at 3AM after a drunken rager of a party. AND GO!"

So, for those of you that don't follow me on twitter, here it is:

Though this is obviously not a look you're going to wear to the grocery store, without the bled-out mascara, it's actually quite wearable. In case you didn't pick up on it, the colors on my lid- yellow, fuchsia and purplish-blue are the colors of Taco Bell's logo. The bleeding mascara, well, that's the 3AM after a drunken rager part...

I enjoyed playing with the palette; give me a few weeks to play and evaluate and I promise a more comprehensive review. I should mention, the photos are not the greatest (it was getting ready to storm outside, so I just couldn't find good light!) The colors look a bit washed out- they were much brighter in person.

I primed my lid and applied a white cream shadow to the inner third of my eye, just up to the crease. Then, using a small, dense brush I applied a vivid, matte yellow to my lid over the white, again, just to the inner third of the eye. Using my pencil brush, I layered a lighter, slightly shimmery yellow over the matte shade in the very inner corner of my eye, extending it down onto my tear duct and slightly under the inner corner of my lower lash line.

Next I took a bright, matte fuchsia and patted it on the outer two-thirds of my eye, being careful to just blend the edge of the yellow with the fuchsia. Switching to a domed shader brush, I took a deep purple and applied it to my crease, extending the line into a soft V shape to connect it to my upper lash line. Using a pencil brush, I added in a bit of cobalt blue over the purple and slightly into the fuchsia, just to blend the colors.

After cleaning off my domed shader, I applied a matte white to highlight my brow bone and fade out the purple. I added a bit more purple along my upper and lower lashes, stopping short where the yellow was applied (yellow+purple= mud).

If you've never purposely smudged your mascara, here's how I did it: I applied regular black mascara to my bottom lashes only. Then I put a drop of Visine in each eye, and blinked my eyes shut rather tightly. This gives a bit of smudge to start with, for added drama I took a fan brush and lightly dragged it through the wet mascara. Now that you know how to do this, promise you'll only use your knowledge for good, OK?

Product List:

Base: Urban Decay Primer Potion
Eye Lids: 120 Palette (the one with the row of marbled shades)
For a view of the 120 palette with the specific shades I used outlined, CLICK HERE.
Brows: Automatic Brow Pencil Duo in Soft Brown (Estee Lauder)
Mascara: L'Oreal Voluminous in Carbon Black

MAC 239 (small dense eyeshadow)
MAC 219 (pencil brush)
MAC 222 (fluffy, domed shader)
Fan brush (mine is a discontinued Estee Lauder brush)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

This Week's Sale Invites:
Napoloeon Perdis, Jonathan Product, Oscar Blandi and More!

It's a beauty heavy week over at HauteLook! The site starts out on Monday June 29th with Clean, a soap-inspired fragrance line for body, hair and home. On June 30th they'll host a 2 day engagement with Hollywood makeup artist Napoleon Perdis' eponymous line. Then beginning July 1st, D.L.& Co offers an opulent collection of home and personal fragrance, in scents ranging from citrine to rhubarb. Rounding out the week, catch Jonathan Product on July 2nd. All sales begin at 11AM EDT.

Over at Gilt Groupe, Oscar Blandi haircare will be on sale starting June 30th at 11AM.

Both sites are members only- If you haven't signed up for a free account yet, CLICK HERE for a personal invite from me and have fun shopping!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Beauty Buzz Word: Prestige

The word "prestige" is the industry term used to describe makeup, skincare, haircare and fragrance brands sold exclusively at department stores (like Macy's, Saks, Dillards, etc...) salons and specialty boutiques (Sephora, Ulta).

Too Faced Sale

Too many sales, too little time! Here's another one for you. Now through Sunday go to Too Faced Cosmetics to score some of their legendary Too Faced Shadow Insurance. If you're all set on eyeshadow primer, check out the chocolate scented bronzer or pinpoint mascara. No matter what you order, you'll get 20%. As if that weren't enough, you also get a free gift with any purchase of $35 or more. Just enter the code SIZZLE when you check out

Monday, June 22, 2009

Product Review:
Bumble and Bumble Hair Powder

Influenced by Bumble and Bumble's auspicious reputation amongst beauty editors, I finally decided to pony up the cash for what I was sure was going to be my holy grail hair care product: Bumble and Bumble Hair Powder. I have long, fine, color treated hair- washing it daily is simply not an option if I want to keep the hair on my head, well....on my head. Hair Powder is Bumble and Bumble's answer to dry shampoo- it is designed to be an alternative to daily wet shampooing, I was intrigued by the fact that unlike any other brand I know of, Bumble's powder is colored. It also comes in a spray form, which I looked forward to since I tend to be a bit messy.

I purchased the powder when I went to my salon for a cut and a blow-out, and I have to tell you, I've never wished for dirty hair so much in my life. When I finally got around to using it a couple of days later, I couldn't suppress the feeling that I'd used something like this before. I've tried baby powder and cornstarch on the occasional "alarm didn't ring" morning. They do work in a pinch but can leave you looking looking like one of our founding fathers if you're not careful (powdered wig, anyone?) Finally, I realized where my
déjà vu was coming from: my $35 can of designer haircare suspiciously reminded me of the temporary hair color spray we all used to buy for Halloween. The spray we used to pay $3.00 for.

I can say that this spray "powder" did what was advertised. The product absorbed oil, and added some texture and lift to my lank roots. Unfortunately, that's really the most positive thing I can say about it.

The first thing I noticed was the color. My hair is vibrant true red (I do add a touch of red-violet just to keep it from looking brassy.) Despite this, I still found the red powder a bit too bright. It only blended well on my hair if it was freshly colored- once my dark blond roots started to grow out, it looked as if I had a blotchy, botched dye job. The powder also made my hair incredibly dull looking, which I'm not sure is any better than having unwashed hair. It was easy to apply, but required a once-over to remove the errant specks of red from my face.

While overall it wasn't horrible product, it definitely was not worth the price for me. I purchased the large 4 oz can for $35 and barely got 10 applications out of it. The only way I could be persuaded to buy this again is if the price went down about $25. Somehow, I don't see that happening, so for now I'm keeping my eyes open for another option on lazy days.

I'd give this product a 3.5 out of 10. It's workable and has it's uses, but is not widely available and hardly justifies it's steep price. Not something I'd suggest searching out.

- absorbs excess oil from the scalp to help prolong time in between washes.
- gives hair a bit of grip or texture to make styling easier.
- has a root lifting effect, adding volume to the hair.
- could be used as a root touch up if you can find a matching shade.
- 5 shades available: white, blonde, red, brown and black.

- powder color is very opaque, making it difficult to match
- makes hair appear dull
- limited availability
- small amount of product for the cost (the can looks almost as big as my 10oz hairspray, but only holds 4oz of product. Go figure.)
- can be messy, product creates a mist that will land on skin, countertops, etc...

This Week's Sales:
My Favorite Cleanser and More!

If you missed it last time, DDF Skincare pops up again this Thursday, this time on Gilt Groupe. The sale starts at Noon EDT. Legendary makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin's eponymous beauty line will be available on HauteLook starting at 11Am EDT on 6/26. Both of these sales are invitation only. As always, CLICK HERE for a personal invite from me.

Not to be missed, Philosophy will be having their online friends and family event June 22-28th. Though their sweet-scented body products will have you drooling, it's their Purity Made Simple Cleanser that tops my list of must haves! Use the code SHARETHELOVE at the checkout to get 20% off of all of your goodies.

Finally, for all true addicts, Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale begins soon. Snag exclusive, limited edition sets from your favorite brands like MAC, Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier- just to name a few! Check out the website where you can see the sets and reserve yours now. Products will ship beginning July 17th.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bad Service Rant

A little background:
I worked retail for over a decade; I totally understand what it's like to have an irrational, ill-informed, or just confused client. It is very common for customers to come in looking for a product without any regard to whether it's the right product for their skin or concern. Maybe they'd heard about it in a magazine, or perhaps a friend suggested it. It was my job to help meet the client's needs; to offer the customer information in a way that is informative but not adversarial.

I also know what it's like to be on the other side of that equation; to have a sales person who only wants to sell me the newest product or her favorite shade. I've been serviced (notice I don't say "helped") by makeup artists that seem to think that the best way to sell something is to insult me into submission. For anyone that has read my bio, I refer to myself as an "anti-diva" and this is why.

The other day, I stopped at my local Sephora to get samples of a couple of foundations that I'm considering. I am not a sample whore; I would never ask for something that I didn't have full intention of purchasing. I spend literally hundreds of dollars a year on foundations alone. I'm pale, dry and sensitive; with these factors as considerations, few products make the cut. If a company has a generous sampling policy, I have decided that I should take advantage of it. I know I will buy if I like it, so why should I feel embarrassed to ask, right?

If you are a regular follower you'll know, I took a short cruise to the Bahamas in April. I was as vigilant as ever with my facial sunscreen. Not so much with my body. Consequently, my body is a good 3-4 shades darker than my face. When I asked the associate for a sample, I requested the lightest shade available- I have NEVER, EVER, in almost 20 (yikes!) years of wearing makeup, tried a shade that was too pale- I always wear the lightest shade, and most aren't light enough.

When the associate went to pull the samples, she discovered that one of the formulas that I requested was sold out in the fairest shade, and offered me the next deepest choice. I told her not to worry about it, because I knew it wouldn't work and I didn't want to waste the sample.

She said:
"Really? Because right now your face is way lighter than your body. I mean, it looks like you have white paint on it."

Nice. Professional.

I let her know that I realized that my body was darker, since I had allowed my body to tan (stupid anyway!) but had protected my face. Now, I have been doing makeup professionally for longer than this girl has been out of Elementary School. Personally, I would never suggest using foundation to deepen skin tone, that's what bronzer is for!

Though I had just been insulted, I still didn't want to come across as nasty, so instead of saying "Listen, I do makeup for magazine covers for a living, and you work part-time at Sephora" I just explained that I choose not to wear a darker foundation- that even if you blend perfectly, it will become blotchy and uneven looking as it wears throughout the day.

This made her launch into a lecture about the importance of good skin care (which I actually pay very much attention to, thankyouverymuch!) She mentioned that people with oily skin often use products that are too harsh. This strips the skin, which in turn leads to more oil production; that, according to her, was what was making my makeup fade. All true, but totally irrelevant since I actually have dry skin. She may have known this had she asked me a single question about my routine or preferences. When I informed her that I am actually quite dry she did a total 360 and told me that the makeup I was testing was not formulated for dry skin (which she was wrong about, BTW) and that the dryness of my skin would cause my makeup to fade. Then she started in about a primer, which, of course, I already use.

At this point, she rather abruptly apologized for her bluntness, explaining that it was the end of the night and that she didn't really have time to beat around the bush. She semi-jokingly mentioned that in the morning she could afford to spend an hour trying to talk someone into what she thought was the right product. Highly annoyed and ready to leave, I told her not to worry about her rush. "I'm actually a professional makeup artist, so I would have known anyway..." I thanked her and left, rolling my eyes.

Does it seem to anyone else that the makeup artist population boasts more than it's fair share of know-it-all divas? One of the primary reasons I do makeup for a living is because I like to make people feel better about themselves. We live in a vain society and, love it or hate it, the way we feel is hugely influenced by how we look (or at least, how we perceive that we look.)

I have been on the other side of the counter, so to speak. I have had many a client that made choices that I felt were flat-out wrong. I've helped Ivory women that insist on buying Ebony foundation, and more than one great-granny who still wears the same exact bright frosty coral lipstick from when she started wearing makeup- in 1952! Of course, as a professional, I would always make suggestions and try to steer them in the right direction. Many times it went well- the client would look in the mirror and say "I love it- you really know what you're talking about!" Sometimes it didn't take though, and I'd just have to accept it, and take comfort knowing that at least my client was happy.

I am not so full of myself that I would rule out the idea that the associate that helped me could have seen something that I, looking at myself day in and out, may have missed. I simply don't know why so many makeup artists have gotten the impression that insulting their client is the best way of asserting knowledge. Honestly, it's a shame- the associate that helped me had most of her facts straight, but since she took no time to get to know my concerns or preferences, most of what she told me was irrelevant. I can promise all of my readers two things:

1) Even if I don't buy the foundations I sampled (which I very well may), I will be back to that Sephora to shop in the near future.

2) If that particular associate offers help me, my answer will always be "just looking". There are helpful, friendly associates that I will seek out, but frankly, if she's my only choice, I would rather the cashier get credit for my sale.

I share this story partly to rant- but also to let you know that this happens to everyone. The next time you're at a makeup counter and the associate starts playing holier-than-thou, remember my plight and take heart.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Sale: Bare Escentuals

Wow, had I known what I was getting into when I started sharing sales with y'all! It seems like in this economy, cosmetic companies are pulling out all of the stops to get your business!

Tomorrow, Bare Escentuals will start their weekend long friends and family discount. You'll have until Sunday to check out the sale, either online or at any Bare Escentuals Boutique. In case you're wondering, the discount is not valid at Sephora, Ulta or any of Bare Escentuals' other retail partners.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

MAC Friends & Family

I would be remiss as a beauty blogger if I didn't mention this, though I'm pretty sure you all know about it already. I wouldn't be surprised if CNN reported it. For any of you that need product suggestions, click the MAC link on the right!

Beauty Buzz Word: Fallout

In a makeup context, the word fallout refers to the little specks of loose shadow that fall onto the under-eye and cheek area, usually during eyeshadow application. Though fallout can occur with almost any brand or type of powdered shadow, it is more common with loose pigments, glitters and very soft eyeshadows.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tarte, Fusion and Laura Mercier On Sale!

This week's sales include:

HauteLook will feature Tarte on June 15th and Fusion Beauty on the 16th. HauteLook's sales begin at 11 AM (EST) and end the following evening at 2 AM. I'll be looking for some cheek stains at Tarte. I've been waffling about "A Perfect Whirled" for months. If you simply can't wait for your Tarte fix, enter the code WATER20 at their website and receive 20% off of waterproof summer goodies.

Fusion Beauty is probably best know for their lip plumpers, but I'll be on the lookout for their LiftFusion line, a Good Housekeeping award winner for reducing lines and wrinkles. For all of you greenies, Fusion also just released a semi-organic line called PureFusion that boasts no sulfates, parabens, phtlalates or silicones.

Over on Gilt, makeup artist fav Laura Mercier will be the hot attraction on June 18th. The sale begins at noon. Most sales at Gilt last 36 hours, or when supplies run out. Laura is known for creating a flawless face, mostly through the use of her Secret Camouflage concealers.

As always, these sales are for members only. If you haven't signed up yet, CLICK HERE for a personal invite from me.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ask OutInAPout:
How do I Become a Makeup Artist?

Recently one of my readers, Lissa, asked me a question that I thought justified more than a simple comment back. She said:

"i've been thinking about working towards becoming a makeup artist, but i don't even know the first step... do you have any words of encouragement for someone like me?"

Well, of course I do. I have to say, Lissa has actually taken the first step, possibly without even realizing it. Asking questions of makeup professionals, both online via blogs and YouTube channels, as well as of those that work the stores and salons in your own area, is one of the best ways to start getting your feet wet.

Your first step in becoming a professional makeup artist is to consider what your ultimate goal is. If you love to teach, you may want to be a trainer for a major cosmetics brand, or maybe an instructor at a school of cosmetology. If you love the hands-on aspect, you can specialize in bridal techniques, high fashion work (also referred to as "editorial"), or makeup for stage and screen. The way you start should be influenced by where you want to end up.

Many makeup artists, myself included, began by working for a cosmetic retailer. Options include counters at department stores, free standing stores like MAC or Bare Escentuals, or beauty mega-marts like Ulta and Sephora. Working retail will help you develop your people skills and gain knowledge while you acquire practical experience. While each line trains differently, you should expect the bulk of your training to be hands-on at work. Your manager will most likely be the person you train with the most, though you may be visited by the company's trainer or even your manager's supervisor. Most cosmetic lines also provide periodic "off-site" training; both beginner's classes to teach basic knowledge and techniques, as well as seasonal seminars that are designed to update you on the latest trends.

Getting a job in cosmetics retail may be more or less competitive depending on where you live, but don't assume that lack of experience will automatically rule you out. Some of the best makeup artists I ever trained came to me with no experience. Having said that, if it's your intent to go the retail route, don't limit your prospects by only applying to your favorite lines. Yes, it is easier to sell something you love, but remember: your goal here is to learn and gain experience. Keep an eye out for new retailers and lines opening in your area; often the staffing requirements for a new store opening are so high that managers tend to be more open to training someone who may have little or no experience. Other good times to apply are a month or two before peak business periods; typically Christmas time and right before the line's free gift (usually twice a year). The need for employees goes up dramatically during these periods, so it's a great time to get your foot in the door. Though peak times aren't ideal for training, if you prove yourself dependable and eager to learn, it's likely you'll get to stick around and be trained in the months to come.

If you want to work in a spa or salon, taking classes at an accredited school of esthetics or cosmetology is a must. Licensing requirements for makeup artists vary from state to state, so check with your state's Board of Cosmetology find out what the requirements are for your area. Cosmetology programs focus on hair, but provide a general source of study that also includes nails and skincare. Estheticians, on the other hand, specialize in skincare and beauty treatments only. Though both programs touch on makeup application, it is not the focus of either, so unless you are interested in the other areas of study, beauty school is not necessarily going to help in your endeavor to become a makeup artist. I should mention that many states require even freelance makeup artists to be licensed in one of these areas, so again, check your local regulations.

If you feel that a lifetime of practice has equipped you with the skills you need to go out on your own as a makeup artist and you have no desire for further education, your first step is to develop a professional portfolio. If your talent as a photographer rivals your talent as a makeup artist, you may consider taking your own photos, though I highly recommend working with a professional photographer. Some may even be willing to work in trade- you donate your services to him/her in exchange for proofs of the photographs. Make sure the photographer's work is appropriate for showcasing your talents- if your photographer is unable or unwilling to get close-up, detailed shots of your work, the pictures are of no benefit to you.

Your portfolio should showcase your skill and be as wide-ranging as possible. It's OK to focus on the type of looks that define your style and speak to your desired clientele, but of course, the wider your range, the more appeal you will have. The point of a portfolio is to exhibit your flexibility and creativity, so it's vital to include men and women of different nationalities, as well as a range of looks from soft and natural to avant-garde.

Take your portfolio to advertising agencies, bridal magazines or local photographers- anyone who will agree to look at it. In my opinion, when you're first starting out, the more exposure the better. You may even approach local working makeup artists about assisting them- this is a great way to see how the business works from the inside and learn as you go. Don't expect to start booking and making money right away- this is a competitive field where other artists are often protective of their "territory". Be tenacious and passionate and above all, never stop learning and developing your skills.

Good Luck!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What all of that fine, pretty print says is: go to Kiehls.com from Friday June 12th to Tuesday the 16th and get yourself some goodies 25% off! If you're lucky enough to live near a freestanding Kiehl's store (go to the website for locations) you can print this baby out and get your discount there too!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Invitation Only Sales!

You have until 2 AM (Eastern time) tomorrow to get your fanny over to HauteLook.com for 50% off on select DDF skincare products- I picked up a 4 piece Deceleration skin care set for just $37.50!

Also, don't miss GoSmile starting tomorrow, June 10th and Rescue Beauty Lounge on Thursday, June 11th. Both sales begin at 11 AM (remember, Eastern time) and end the following night at 2 AM.

On June 10th at noon Gilt Group will be featuring the beautifully packaged, apothecary inspired Austrailian import, MOR Cosmetics.

Both sites are members only and specialize in limited time only designer sales. CLICK HERE for a personal invite from me and have fun shopping!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Know Your Options: Eyeliners

Today while I was on one of my favorite makeup forums someone asked what the difference was between a few common types of eye liners. Here's the answer!

Pencils are generally the easiest to control for most people. They offer an almost unlimited range of shades, and are widely available at any price point. Depending on how you apply pencil, you can expect a moderate to thick line. Pencil can give a bold definition but also works well if you want a softer, smoky look. Just apply the pencil and then use a brush, q-tip or your finger to smudge it a bit. How long a pencil stays on will vary by brand and your own skin. If you have an issue with fading or smudging, you may want to try a waterproof pencil.

Liquid and Gel liners are often interchangeable; they create bold, crisp lines which can range from extremely thin to dramatically thick or even artistic. Liquids are applied with a brush which is usually built into the product's cap. Several lines also make liquid liner "pens" that have a felt-tipped applicator; I find these are easier for most people who are newcomers to liquid. Gels, both those that come in pots and those in compacts, are applied similarly to liquids. The color ranges for most gel and liquid liners are more limited than that of pencil liners, though there is an increasing variety becoming available. In my experience, most liquids offer very good wear (though they will smudge easily until they dry). Gels seem to be more varied, depending on the brand. Some I've used smear easily and instantly transfer to my upper lid; I actually stayed away from them for a long time because of this. If you want to try a gel, I like MAC Fluidline, which I has exceptionally long wear and sets to a smudge free finish.

Loose Kohl is a time-honored (as in Ancient Egyptian) way of getting a dramatic, smokey eye. Kohl is usually applied with a stylus (just like the one from your Palm Pilot) thought some brands employ a brush or sponge-tipped wand. Kohl is traditionally applied to the waterline by placing the wand on the inner rim of the eye, closing the eye on top of the wand, and pulling it toward the outer corner of the eye while it is still closed. This method results in a rimmed, smoky eye that lines both the top and bottom waterlines simultaniously. While pencils can be used in the waterline as well, the traditional "eastern" method of applying kohl results in a line that melds from your lower waterline onto the skin just beneath the lashes. Since kohl is designed to be placed on the waterline, it offers superior wear as compared to pencils, though the method of application can be a bit trickier and messier at first. If you're interested in trying kohl, be aware that some of those sold in other countries may contain unsafe ingredients such as lead. I'd recommend Guerlain's Terracotta Loose Powder Kohl Liner, it truly is the standard by which all other kohl are measured.

Using eyeshadow as liner is a great trick- it gives you endless color options and can be used over other liners to alter their color. I always apply a bit of shadow over my pencil liner; it helps to keep the liner on longer and gives the pencil a softer look. Shadow applied alone as a liner tends to look soft and much more natural than other forms of lining. If you want a more dramatic line, many brands can be used wet to produce a look that mimics a gel or liquid liner. Applying shadow alone as a liner typically does not wear as well as other forms of liner, especially if it is applied dry. I generally reserve this technique for layering over another type liner, though it is a good option for the bottom lash line, which should be lined less dramatically than the top to keep the eye looking wide and open!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bobbi Brown Sale!

The graphic says it all! Starting this Tuesday June 9th, skip over to Bobbi Brown and stock up on all of your summer favorites. Bobbi is donating $10,000 of the proceeds to Dress for Success, a non-profit that works with disadvantaged women to help them succeed in work and life by providing professional attire- so you can feel good about your splurge!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Lime Crime Look:
The Phoenix

This incendiary look is an update of an old signature look of mine that came to be known as fire eyes. When I first created this look, you simply couldn't find red eyeshadow; I used blush and lip liner to create the flame's vivid red. Now, in honor of Xenia and the launch of her fantastical Lime Crime Makeup, I've been inspired to revive fire eyes. From the ashes of old arose- the Phoenix!

I created this look with eye colors exclusively from Lime Crime Makeup, using only 2 shadows and a glitter for the entire look! Read on for all of the details, and make sure to click here to read my complete review of Lime Crime Makeup.

As always, I started by priming my lids from the upper lash line up to the eye brows. Using a small eyeshadow brush, I applied bright yellow Circus Girl to my lid, starting at the inner corner of my eyes and extending it just up to (but not in) the crease, leaving the outer third of my lid blank. I was very careful not to take the yellow into the crease or outer "V" of the eye, since I wanted the red to be as pure as possible.

Placing my pencil brush in the crease at the outer corner of my eye, I worked Siren (a warm, satiny red) along the crease, extending it just past the center of my lid, blending it slightly into the yellow shadow. Switching to a fluffy, domed shading brush, I used the brush clean first to blend the red crease shade lightly into the yellow, being careful to leave the inner corner pure yellow and the outer corner pure red. Then I applied the smallest bit of red pigment to the brush and applied it lightly it to the center of the lid and out. As you can see in the closeup, the result was a gorgeous coppery orange tone.

As an update to my old look, I added a bold blue "flame" along my lower lash line with sapphire blue glitter. I moistened a flat, angled eyeliner brush with a mixture of glycerin and water, dipped it into the glitter and placed the sparkles just underneath my bottom lashes, thinning and winging the line up slightly at the outside corners. Then, I used a moist smudger brush to apply a bit more glitter to my tear duct, extending it up slightly onto the inner corner of my lids. I applied a deep blue liner to my waterline, and finished the look with black mascara, false half-lashes, and a thin line of black gel liner to disguise the lash band.

Since this look is more editorial than daily wear, I chose to match the boldness of my eyes with a bold red lip. I applied a cherry red shade to my lips, patting a bit of Circus Girl pigment on top before applying clear gloss. When I ventured out on a shopping trip later in the day, I did switch to a more toned down lip, filling my lips with a nude liner before topping it with a bit of Circus Girl mixed into clear gloss.

Product List:

Base: Urban Decay Primer Potion
Inner Lid: Circus Girl Magic Dust (Lime Crime Makeup)
Outer Lid & Crease: Siren Magic Dust (Lime Crime Makeup)
Lower Lash Line, Tear Duct, and Inner Corner: Unicorn Glitter (Lime Crime Makeup)
Top Lash Line: Blacktrack Fluidline (MAC)
Waterline: Blue Jay Duo Eye Pencil (Vincent Longo)
Mascara: Chanel Inimitable in Black
Brows: Automatic Brow Pencil Duo in Soft Brown (Estee Lauder)
Eyebrow Mascara in Auburn (Bourjois)
Lashes: Andrea Accents #305 in Black

Fusion Soft Lights in Dusk (Smashbox)

Pro Longwear Lipcolor in Lasting Lust (MAC)
Circus Girl Magic Dust (Lime Crime Makeup)

MAC 239 (small dense eyeshadow)
MAC 219 (pencil brush)
MAC 222 (fluffy, domed shader)
Estee Lauder 7E (flat, angled eyeliner)
Lancome #10 (small smudger)

Product Review:
Lime Crime Makeup

One late, late night years ago, while searching for inspiration, I stumbled across a website called Lime Crime. Run by a color-loving slashie (musician/model/makeup artist) named Xenia, I found looks after my own heart: original, bold use of colors in a "there are no rules" kind of way. This was back in the day when MAC artists were busy perfecting the glam-goth look and if you wanted red eye shadow, you used blush.

Lime Crime was a savior to me when I felt like no other makeup artists were leaning my way. One day, I went to check in on Xenia and she was gone. Crestfallen, yes, but I knew I had to move on. Deep inside though, I always knew that such a vivid soul couldn't be underground for long, and thankfully, I was right! One day I Googled "Lime Crime" and there she was. She wasn't alone though, she had brought friends. Vivid, shimmering pots of glee, as she would call them. Ladies (and gentlemen?) I'd like to introduce you to Lime Crime Makeup.

As a professional makeup artist, I couldn't wait to get my hands on some Lime Crime. When I contacted Xenia to welcome her back, she generously offered to send me a few colors to try out. Knowing that bold is her forte, I chose 2 of her Magic Dusts: Circus Girl (a shimmery bright lemon yellow) and Siren (an intense, slightly warm red shimmer). I also couldn't resist trying one of her glitters; I got Unicorn, an ultra-fine sapphire blue .

In my trials, I've come across some pigments that pack an amazing color punch, but are so opaque that blending is almost impossible. Lime Crime's pigments have amazing color payoff and supreme blending ability. The shadows apply evenly with very little fallout, and are extremely long wearing. I applied mine over Urban Decay Primer Potion and it stayed on for- no joke- almost 24 hours! (Yes, this does mean I slept in them- you can slap my hand the next time you see me!) Not only did the color stay on forever, it didn't seem to fade a bit. I actually took a trip to Sephora and MAC during hour 12 and got numerous compliments from both makeup artists and customers.

I should tell you, I rarely use eye glitters. I even shy away from sparkly shadows and eyeliners because of the inevitable migration that takes place- though I may have only applied glitter to my lash line, 10 minutes after application, everyone in the house looks like a disco ball! I experimented applying Unicorn glitter over liquid and pencil eye liner, black creme shadow, as well as with a mixture of water and glycerin. To my delight, I found that Lime Crime's glitters were so fine and gave such good coverage that adding a liner underneath was an extra step I didn't need- I simply sprayed my brush with glycerin solution and patted on the glitter. Incredible! Though I can't say there was no fall out from the glitter, there was little enough that a pat of de-tackified painter's tape was enough to lift the errant flecks away.

I had high expectations for Lime Crime Makeup, and I will say that when evaluating Lime Crime as stand alone products, I was not disappointed. Yes, you can find cheaper dupes out there, but if you love the Lime Crime ethos and don't mind spending more money to support an independent brand, then why worry? I should also mention that some of the product swatches on the website seem to be pretty far from the mark. The rust-red Siren is pictured on the company's website as a vibrant, true red. It was still a nice shade and I certainly can't fault it for looking different on my skin. In fact, one of the benefits of Lime Crime Makeup's website is the fact that each of her 25 Magic Dusts and 10 glitters are shown applied on a real human (I assume) eyelid. I should also mention, my favorite part of the site: the wonderful fairytale descriptions of each color, which give not only a literal description but also give a feel for the spirit of the color. You can truly tell that Xenia has put her heart and soul into Lime Crime- these are HER products and it shows!

I'd give these products a 7 out of 10. The pigments are very bright and opaque, and they apply evenly and blend well. I honestly appreciate the fact that Lime Crime shades aren't loaded with glitter and different shades of interference. I often find that complex shades like that can be a pain to blend without muddying, and even with a professional eye, can take some work to coordinate. I did, as a matter of good conscience, have to take off a few points for the plain fact that the shades are so easily dupable, but aside from buying wholesale, Lime Crime pigments are a better value for the price than most indie companies.

Unfortunately, since this review was first published, Lime Crime has discontinued their glitters. They have since launched a super-cute new range of lipsticks which includes 10 shades.

- Highly pigmented powders give great color-payoff
- Pigments are extremely easy to blend without losing depth or vibrancy of color.
- Extremely long wearing and smudge-proof
- Did not cause any sensitivity, itchiness or watering on my eyes (many pigments I've used do.)
- Pigments are multi-use and can be blended into lip gloss, hair products, etc...
- Reasonably priced, fast shipping.
- Lime Crime's website features step-by-step video tutorials by unaffiliated makeup aficionados as well as inspiration from Xenia herself.

- Shaker-style sifter jars can be messy (especially the glitter)
- Limited availability- SpaceNK locations in the US and Canadian Urban Outfitters carry the lipstick line, Magic Dusts remain available only via website
- Because of the reflective quality of some of the pigments and glitters, the web site's photographs may not represent colors with 100% accuracy (though this is an issue with all makeup websites, certainly not just Lime Crime)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Speaking of Followers...

I promise it doesn't make any of you sheep, but are you following me yet? All you have to do is click that little button on the top of the screen. Help me out by letting me know who I'm writing for!

Nars Giveaway!

To celebrate her 100th follower, fellow blogger Chrystina of Whimsical Rose is doing an awesome giveaway that includes 3 items from the 2009 Nars summer collection. Visit her blog for more details!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Beauty Buzz Word: Waterline

Waterline is the term makeup artists commonly use to describe the inner rim of the bottom eye lid, the area between your eye lashes and your actual eye ball. Caution should be used when applying cosmetics to this area. Since the waterline comes into direct contact with your eye and your tear duct, applying product here can leave eyes more prone to trauma and infection. Constant use of liner in the waterline can also lead to clogged tear ducts, so it is very important to ensure all of the product is removed from this area daily.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Smashbox Cosmetics on HauteLook!

Beginning today at 8 AM (Pacific Standard Time), HauteLook.com will be featuring Smashbox cosmetics. For those of you that have never visited the site, HauteLook is a member's only club that organizes 1-2 day sales of premium brands; savings typically range from 50-75% off of retail prices.

Membership is free with no obligations- what do you have to lose (except a significant portion of your paycheck)? I will tell you that it's worth setting your alarm for these sales. Since the site only has access to limited quantities, the good stuff tends to go fast! Also, do your research before you buy, since the site often doesn't allow returns.

The Smashbox sale ends on June 3rd at 11 PM. Happy shopping!

Do It Yourself: Sheer Foundation

As the mercury rises, you may be tempted to pick up a new bottle of sheer makeup and trade in your fuller coverage winter stand-by. Instead, create your own custom formulation by mixing your favorite foundation with one of your other makeup bag regulars.

To create the perfect shade of tinted moisturizer, simply mix your favorite liquid makeup with your daily moisturizer. Since you're doing the mixing yourself, you get to control the level of coverage; the more moisturizer, the sheerer your coverage will be. Keep in mind, even if your foundation contains sunscreen, you'll want to choose a moisturizer that has an equal or higher SPF, otherwise you will dilute the sunscreen and reduce the protection.

For those that have oily skin, mix your makeup with a bit of silicone based makeup primer. You'll still get the shine-reducing, pore minimizing benefits of the primer, with an added bit of color and coverage.
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