Monday, February 28, 2011

Product Review; "413 Bleecker Pure Matte Lipstick"

Named after the newly opened boutique of the same name, 413 Bleecker is part of the newly launched line of lip colors dubbed Pure Matte Lipsticks.

I like a matte lipstick, ya'll should know that by now. And I think I'm going to have to add NARS as one of my go-to brands alongside other favorites and long trusted stand-bys. The color range of the new collection offers up some great neutrals and basic reds with a definite dry finish, dense color and FULL coverage guaranteed not to travel outside the lip line. Though there is a bit of a drying sensation that I feel and see, when lips are prepped with balm, that sensation goes away. Or you could top it with lip gloss and still get maximum coverage and all day hold.

413 Bleecker stands out from the rest as being a rich earth-tone color that reads as being a bit on the plum-red/terracotta side. It's got the ability to look neutral on deeper skin tones and vivid on lighter ones. It kind of reminds me of the early 90's deep lip trend you saw on 90210. But there's definitely a softer aspect to it that works without looking too severe. It's almost stately and kind of bohemian just like the neighborhood that houses it as an exclusive.

That's right. Unlike the remainder of the Pure Matte Lipstick range, 413 Bleecker is, unfortunately for those outside NYC, only available at 413 Bleecker.

413 Bleecker Pure Matte Lipstick; $25.00

Product Review; "Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick"

I never thought I'd say this, but I don't agree with Bobbi Brown. On the company website, they have Foundation Stick listed as being;

"...designed for portability and adjustable coverage. Easy to apply and blend all over the face or just where you need it. For all skin types, except very oily."

Why not very oily? The formula rolls up dense and holds it's shape when moved around the face creating a smooth finish that is adjustable in coverage. The waxy base melts and forms to skin without caking or cracking then dries down to a satin finish with little or no need to be set with powder. If you do set it with powder, it becomes more matte and the coverage increases slightly but still without gaining much density. I've found that, even with oily skin types, there's little to no need to touch up with powder to control shine as it maintains throughout the day without moving.

Sorry Bobbi, this foundation works for pretty much every complexion. Even oily ones.

Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick; $40.00

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Working the Poll; "Awards Season Behaviour"

And the award goes to... the person with the most insults thrown at them apparently.

In the entertainment industry, there are constant reminders of how the way we look can be far more important than the performance given as stars appearing on Red Carpets continuously get lifted up or torn down for the fashion choices they make. And while an actor attending the 83rd Annual Academy Awards this year may have struggled, fought and sacrificed in a bid to win Oscar gold, being a bit shiny on the forehead or choosing the wrong shade of red lipstick can send audiences at home into a fury of remarks, insults and downright snarkiness.

And women aren't the only ones taking the brunt of the abuse or overwhelming self-conciousness. When accepting his Oscar for the short film "God of Love", actor and director Luke Matheny remarked as he approached the microphone, "I should have cut my hair".

Whether you were at home surrounded by friends, updating your status on Facebook or trying to follow all the live tweets, there was bound to be someone who didn't have anything nice to say. And, unfortunately, they were the ones garnering all the "likes", "reposts" and "retweets". And as clever a turn of phrase it may have been, is it good karma to hash out judgments unless you've been in that particular situation? Or even if you have? Let's try to remember, that's someones work you're commenting on.

Teams of makeup artists, hairstylists, groomers, publicists, actors, singers, agents and dozens of other industry insiders are already fearful of what the cast of The Fashion Police are going to be saying.

Personally, I like to stay positive when it comes to my colleagues and their work and offer advice on improvements only when solicitted. It's better to be constructive and polite to let a client know that you can indeed be trusted not only for your craft but for your profesionalism as well. I'd hate it if someday I did makeup for an Oscar winner only to see my work be trashed by the populace.

Kinda ruins the award, doesn't it?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Field Trip; "MAC Greenwich Village".

In 1984 MAC Cosmetics launched to critical acclaim and cult status to makeup artists all over the Toronto area. As word spread, the industry became inundated with requests for Studio Fix and the iconic Spice Lip Pencil. As the masses were introduced, demand increased even further prompting the owners to expand into department stores and in 1991 the first freestanding boutique at 14 Christopher Street. As the brand continued to build momentum, they outgrew their West Village location and moved to outlets all over Manhattan including a Times Square location and duty free posts around the world.

Having conquered global expansion, MAC triumphantly returned to the Village in December 2010 with a brand new location at 353 Bleecker Street. While all locations are built to suit the needs of it's clients, MAC Greenwich Village stands out from the rest as holding the title of "smallest MAC store in the world".

The exact dimensions escape me, but when I walked in the door, I distinctly remember thinking I better not move too swiftly for fear of knocking something over. But, even a bull such as I couldn't do much damage as all the fixtures are afixed to the ceiling securely with levels of product in clear view and easily accessible. All the usual suspects were available including the vast variety of eyeshadows, foundations for face and body as well as the perfect eye brush.

Indeed there was quite a bit of planning that went into this location's layout when you think about the extensive product list in MAC's arsenal. The only drawback could be when the store gets a bit too busy to handle demand like the holiday season or possibly Halloween? I couldn't be sure whether I'd like to return on a day when it's likely to be busy but the staff seemed very comfortable in their surroundings and were amicable acknowledging the locations limitations.

In the 15-20 minutes I was in the store, I saw quite a few customers come and go leaving with bags full of goodies and not one complaining about being in anyone elses way. Of course, most were residents of the area and did little to no browsing. Rather, they made quick eye contact with an artist and requested exactly what they needed. Comforting to know that service isn't taking a hit when it comes to providing for clients and sales don't show any signs of stopping.

So I guess it's no big deal being the "smallest MAC store in the world". With the kind of demand I witnessed, I'd say "size doesn't matter".

Field Trip; "NARS Flagship Boutique NYC"

Generally found at various outlets like SpaceNK or Sephora, the inimitable NARS Cosmetics has maintained it's grasp on the fashionable set with it's dense pigments and iconic products that seem to leap off of editorial pages. After it's initial launch of 12 lipsticks at Barney's New York the brand has finally found it's very own home after nearly 16 years of voluminous sales.

Where you once had to rely on sales people who presided over multiple counters, at the new NARS boutique located at 413 Bleecker Street, you have access to unlimitted knowledge about the brand including it's inception, inspiration and even product launches before they reach any other counter. During it's design, Francois Nars even went as far as to include an outlet for the sale of his most inspirational books and movies to gain further insight into the brand and it's legacy. You could possibly find your own copy of the aptly named "La Dolce Vita" that inspired the cult classic lipcolour of the same title. And while you're there, try not to blush when you catch a glimpse of the infamous Madonna book before requesting a refill of your Orgasm cheek colour.

The shelving units are much more expansive than you may see at department store counters and spread out to accommodate multiple customers to prevent any overcrowding. Featured vignettes at the center of the store showcase the latest collections and looks to keep you up to date with trends while the official NARS artists are available to assist in choosing, matching and recommending colours with a no-pressure approach. Destined to be popular with NARS enthusiasts around the world, 413 Bleecker is sure to continue (if not promote) the steady rise in sales.

Here's to another 16 years!

NARS Flagship Boutique
413 Bleecker Street
New York, NY. 10014

Monday, February 21, 2011

Product Review; "FACE Stockholm Matte Lipstick"

In my search for some neutral lipstick shades, I decided to head out to the corner beauty supply store to see what I could find in a pinch. While I was determined not to break the bank, I did leave with some impulse purchases. But still my bill remained well under $50... not too shabby. But, alas, I hadn't found all that I was looking for and knew exactly where I would find it.

FACE Stockholm offers a wide range of products from top knotch unisex skin care to bold nail colors and densely pigmented eye shadows. But one of the main products I head in for are their range of Matte Lipsticks. Popular with everyone including burlesque star Dita Von Teese, these rich colors come in a spectrum from bold reds to sophisticated neutrals in a formula that looks, but never feels, dry. Made with emollients to keep lips from flaking, each tube glides on easily and provides maximum coverage. You're unlikely to see your actual lip color show through.

However, the colors in the neutral palette are so complimentary and warm to skin tones, they're ideal for hiding discrepancies and looking completely seemless. For fairer skin tones, colors like "Dawn" and "Natural" are perfect for creating that nude lip to go with a bolder eye makeup and they pair easily with gloss or balm without compromising texture. The only real drawback is the price-point ($22) which isn't really so bad when you compare it to other decadent brands. Though these lipsticks are well worth the price when it comes to performance, I know I'll never leave their store for under $50.

FACE Stockholm Matte Lipstick; $22.00

Product Review; "NYX Powder Blush"

Choosing lipstick colors at my local beauty supply store was the main point of my shopping trip late last week, but obviously I couldn't stop there. Alongside the multiple lip shades was a new schematic of products from the makeup firm NYX Cosmetics that boasted a huge array of colors at very agreeable price points.

I decided to play a little with the few testers available and found a product that was sheer in texture, lightweight and pretty densely pigmented. NYX Powder Blush is a formula that, although rich in color, read as looking more like a highlighter on skin. All the tones, depending on your interpretation, are either shimmery or pearlized but offer a good amount of, yet refined, "glow" to the skin. Ideal if you want your skin to look bright without chunks of glitter drawing too much attention.

I liked the array of color choices because it seemed as though each one had multiple shades blended together to create a kind of dimensional effect. I found that most of the gold tones serve well on deeper skin tones without looking "ashy" and seemlessly blend with other powder products like foundation or other blushes. Some colors I thought were a bit too bright, but I got a little excited to play with them and opted to buy them anyway. But, no remorse here, you can't really go wrong with $6 a piece.

NYX Powder Blush; $6

Friday, February 18, 2011

Working the Poll; "Is bald beautiful?"

"Noted" fashion photographer, Nigel Barker was spotted in the front rows of New York Fashion Week sporting a hairstyle... an actual hairstyle.

Nigel is best known not for his expansive career shooting models and celebrities or even as his long held position as a judge on "America's Next Top Model", but for being bald. Clean shaven, sexily bald. But with fringy hair atop his chiseled face, he's got the ladies at Allure losing interest.

When a man is going bald, it can look silly and kind of sad (?) but when he's fully shorn, it's almost stately and distinguished. True, it won't effect how he takes pictures or comments on the talents of aspiring models, but will his receding hairline keep him from being taken seriously?

Working the Poll; "Cheap Makeup".

Tonight I have a shoot and as I prepare my kit, I'm looking at my lipstick palettes and thinking I should gather up a few more neutral colors. But as I look through my closet (product archive) I realize that I don't have as many options as I thought I once did.

Probably because I've been clearing out excess items that I've accumulated. But I always hang on to things I know I'll be getting use out of so they probably weren't there to begin with. Rather than head over to Saks and drop a lot of dough on expensive (but worth it) tubes, I feel like I just need a good smathering of colors that can be tossed aside if need be. Plus, I quite like the beauty supply store on the corner with all the little known brands. And price isn't really that huge a concern when it comes to finding products that work since expensive doesn't necessarily translate to effective. Who really needs to pay for fancy packaging and fragrances anyway?

Granted, sometimes there are things that are completely worth the price, but I'm willing to take a chance on brands that don't reach the masses. And even if I've got the money to spend, does that mean I should?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Beauty Breakdown; "Rochambeau FW11"

Rochambeau is one of the more creative menswear brands that offers intriguing designs that easily translate from the runway to the sidewalks. The latest collection boasts pieces from tailcoats and hoodies to knit shirts and skinny pants all in an enviable color palette of subdued neon-tones and classic primaries with a vintage, distressed yet classy and finished feel. For last nights presentation the hair and makeup teams took the same cue when it came to grooming. The inspiration was a daredevil who never does what he's supposed to do... including wearing sunblock.

Ironically enough, Nadine Luke, Senior Artist at MAC Cosmetics started these boys off with Prep+Prime Protect that boasts SPF 50 then slapped a pair of sunglasses on them and surrounding the exposed areas with Laid Back Blushcreme using a large powder brush to recreate that "well-groomed sunburn". Using a bit of foundation over the lips and a matte highlighting powder around the eyes, the skin looked freshly baked under the sun before it turned cracked and dried out. Truly a man who knows how to get roughed up and look good doing it.

For hair, we turned to Leonardo Manetti, co-founder of ION Studio NYC, one of the most prestigious salons in all of Manhattan. His interpretation included the use of two new products from the naturally based hair-care line; Davines. #14 Sea Salt Primer was used to make a rough, dry texture and then #13 Mat Forming Ground to style and keep the hair looking strategically disheveled. To finish, he reached for Hair Powder by Lulu Organics which created a heady dusty cast over the top as if it were tussled by the sands and wind of a days worth of adventures. And since none of these products have Beeswax, Petrolatum or other dense compounds, all the products came clean away with just regular water.

To stay up to date with Rochambeau, visit their blog here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Product Review; "Yves Saint Laurent Teint Radiance Foundation"

Most well known for it's trademark concealer the luxury cosmetics brand YSL Beaute has more to offer than just the Touche Eclat.

While the Touche Eclat offers brightening coverage for under-eyes, it's even better paired with Teint Radiance; a medium coverage foundation that creates a smooth finish. The formula also stays demi-matte with a light-weight sheen to reflect light and create the illusion of a more flawless complexion. Using a foundation brush or clean fingertips, one pump of fluid from the gold-topped glass bottle will cover half of face before it's even sheered away. The slightest amount is necessary to make skin glow preternaturally without looking heavy but still offer necessary coverage.

If you decide you do want more coverage you can add just the slightest bit more without building density. Although, intitially I did find the formula to have a moist sensation so it's best to let it dry down before layering more product. While "wet" to the touch at first, that's just the benefits of hydrating Hyaluronic Acid that absorbs into skin after only a second or two. Added to the mix is UV ray filtering SPF 20 to keep skin staying bright even after makeup removal.

Yves Saint Laurent Tent Radiance Foundation; $48.00

Product Review; "Benefit Cosmetics Bene-tint"

Originally developed to make an exotic dancers nipples look pinker and more inviting, this lightweight almost water-like formula does triple duty as a lip and cheek stain.

Benetint stain comes in a glass bottle with a nail-polish like applicator wand that applies to pretty much any part of the face you want to seem more flush and alive. The most comon areas being the lips, cheeks and nipples (?), I decided to get a little adventurous and do a dab above eyebrows and even mix with a bit of moisturizer for duller complexions. If you've got the ingenuity, this product can become very versatile as it's chemistry is incredibly maleable and has almost no density on skin. Applied and blended quickly on moisturized skin looks like a pinch of color and wears all day without fading.

Since Benefit Cosmetics offers the product specifically for staining, it's perfect under a sheer foundation or lipstick as it creates a bit more depth and dimension. Used almost like a primer, this product gives the illusion of having warm, bright, enticing skin. Use anywhere you want to invite attention.

Benefit Cosmetics Benetint; $28.00

Friday, February 11, 2011

Working the Poll; Man-locks

I used to have really long hair, but that was just because I had never had it before. But once my roommate moved back to California, I didn't have a professional to take care of it anymore so I shaved it right off. Now it's nothing but short cropped styles for me!

Generally I'm not a big fan of long hair on men, but when I look at Clay Matthews and the magnificent golden locks atop his now proud head, I started thinking, "Hey, maybe I should grow mine out again?". If those strands could help the Green Bay Packers OLB achieve greatness at Super Bowl XLV, there must be something to that long flowing mane of his.

Apparently Suave for Men thinks so, since they have now insured his hair and signed him to a one year contract for promoting their products in upcoming advertisements.

Shoot, I could use the money too. Get Unilever on the phone, I'm gonna start growing my hair again starting NOW!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Skin take a beating?

So you say you're a man's man do ya? Spend your days hunting your dinner with your bare hands? Don't have time for no sissy skin care? Well step up Mr. Mucho-Macho, even the big boys need some maintanence from time to time. Not that every man is as likely to incur the kind of beating MMA fighter Josh Koscheck did via George St. Pierre, but from day to day activity, you're sure to inflict some minor, albeit noticable, damage to your skin from the elements around you. But don't put up your dukes just yet; first let's size up the competition before heading into the ring.

Cleansing tends to be the one thing most men take for granted. Not that there's anything wrong with the traditional soap and water, but there's nothing right with stripping skin along with the grime. Traditional soaps are composed of detergents and solvents designed to remove surface dirt from body and hands where skin is tough, rough and can take a pounding. Your face prefers a lighter touch and emollients that soothe and calm irritation. Try Cetaphil Antibacterial Bar Soap's fatty base of emollients that glide over skin grabbing dirt along the way and leaving behind a soft surface that is squeaky clean. Available at any drug store the formula also comes in a liquid, but this bar is ideal for face and body. Hey, just like traditional soap! $4.00

At times you may feel more rugged than others and your face can do with a little aggression. But rather than bust out the Brillo pad, just call on the boys at Anthony Logistics for a good sparring session. Their Facial Scrub has got small spherical beads that, when rubbed over skin, loosen dead skin cells that can cause congestion and rough patches. Best used once to three times a week, this formula even alleviates irritation caused from shaving. Used before reaching for the razor, you'll make all those ingrown hairs come out from hiding ready for the weed-whacking of a lifetime. Infused with essential oils like Mandarin, Grapefruit and Chamomile, this gentle scrubber soothes, calms and even dimishes signs of scarring and stretchmarks. $10.00

Protection really is key to any good bout with the elements and whether you realize it or not, hydration is the best defense. And as I've learned from any good Nordic man, it don't hurt to have one fancy tub in your medicine cabinet. Face Stockholm is known for it's brilliant lipsticks and eyeshadows, but the brand offers tip-top UNISEX skincare that is strong enough to brave even the harshest winters. Orange Cream has a thick base of Shea Butter and Macadamia Nut Oil to saturate parched skin, Portulaca Olecera extract to soothe irritation and calm redness and Nano-Tech delivery method that makes sure every last drop goes right into skin leaving no residue behind. Hydrating skin with an arsenal of botanical and science derived elements, you'll be guarded against any and all free radical damage. $54.00

But maybe you like looking scruffy and skin isn't so much a big deal as those bags under your eyes. For a quick lift you can sneak into MAC Cosmetics while your girlfriend replenishes her Studio Fix and ask the counter rep for a tube of Fast Response Eye Cream. In a discreet white tube this highly caffeinated formula recedes puffiness and adds moisture to relieve tension. Darkness will start to fade as skin begins softening keeping you from looking like you went a few rounds... and lost. $30.00

More often than not, men don't care to seem like they keep a watchful eye on how they look. But it's no secret that coupled with training and preparation, having the right tools in your corner can make your win appear all that much more effortless.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Quest for Oil

Washing your face is a part of wearing makeup and incurs the perfect opportunity to clear skin of free radicals like smoke, pollution or debris. The best way to maintain a glowing complexion is to wash properly, removing all factors that can lead to deterioration without causing any further damage. Ideally a cleansing oil will both get in deep to remove toxins and leave skin hydrated without irritation. Generally, people shy away from oils thinking they're too "greasy", "heavy" or "messy" to be dealt with and will cause skin to break out or get oilier than it already is. Truth be told, their fears aren't completely unfounded. However, with proper techniques for use and matching formulas that favor your skin, you'll find that you may never have had a better cohort than the once dreaded oil.

Australian Scent is a truly organic brand offering up Cleansing Stream for removing enviornmental toxins. With it's generous grouping of jojoba, evening primrose and lavandula oils, this dense, yet soft, tonic is capable of removing even the toughest makeup including lipgloss and waterproof mascara. Take a slightly dampened cotton pad and apply a few drops then glide over skin to release makeup and grime with no need for rinsing. The natural ingredients leave skin feeling a bit slick at first but then are absorbed in to treat skin with a heaping dose of Vitamin E leaving no visible residue or heavy feeling. $38.00

If botanical ingredients aren't enough Sulwhasoo has integrated science into it's skincare making it's Deep Cleansing Oil an interesting blend of essential oils and synthetic fillers that turn to cream when mixed with water. Ideal for use over eyes and lips, this slightly dry oil feels more like a cleansing lotion but grabs up every bit of makeup and grime and rinses clean away. Infused with white birch extract, this unique cleansing oil induces cell turnover encouraging skin to firm and tighten with each use. Massage into skin with dry fingers in a soft circular motion to remove even the stubbornist of makeup then rinse clean away with lukewarm water. $36.00

But for ladies who don't play when it comes to the "beat", nothing short of an industrial strength cleanser will do. And while MAC Cosmetics is known for some strong colors, it's Cleanse Off Oil is surprisingly gentle. Made with heavy foundation formulas in mind, this mild but rich blend boasts olive fruit oils for their soothing properties and linseed oil for it's ability to break up even the toughest bases. Also using jojoba oil to keep skin moisturized, this no-frills cleanser can even banish body paint without much rubbing. Just continue to move hands over for a few moments and watch them break up before your eyes then rinse clean away without excessive rubbing. All this minus petrolatum based ingredients like mineral oil to keep irritation at bay. $24.00

So fear not when it comes to oils your skin is most compatible with. With proper use, you'll find your face (or body) will feel refreshed, hydrated and soothed... and not the slightest bit greasy.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Friend or Foe?; "Tween Makeup"

Young girls wearing makeup conjures up images of pageant queens and spoiled debutants whose "fame" is debatable. But on some occasions like school dances, Halloween or bat mitzvahs I've been known to (trepidantly)oblige. Once or twice, I've accomodated but always with ground rules; the acknowledgment that this is a special occasion and the recommendation that the look be as clean, simple and suitable to age as possible. But most importantly, no one under the age of 13. Ever. I am not interested in perpetuating the idea that makeup is appropriate for everyday use for anyone who isn't even old enough to pay rent.

While most cosmetics lines are marketed specifically to women old enough to want skin to look younger, a new brand is set to launch specifically geared towards the already very young. geoGiRL will be sold exclusively at Wal-Mart stores and includes a line of color and skin care products in cutesy pastel packaging and product names inspired by text messaging jargon.

The retailing giant has inspired contraversy in the past when it locked it's employees in overnight, punished them for missing work after making them sick and destroyed local wildlife to build it's supercenter. But now it seems, the big-box has some childwatch groups on it's back focusing not only on the questionability of it's "natural" makeup, but that it exists to begin with. And while some press releases praise the incoming flux of product including it's kitschy marketing, many beauty insiders question, how young is TOO young to wear makeup?

When I began learning makeup, a section in Kevyn Aucoin's book "Making Faces" on teen beauty always struck me as appropriate when he remarks that;

"...once an adolescent hits puberty, rebellion and self expression are as inevitable as pimples and hormonal mood swings."

There's not much you can do to prevent the desire for a bit of makeup, but it's up to parents to guide or disway them. And while a little clear lipgloss and a touch of blush won't do much harm, how often are teenagers known to limit themselves? No longer are they reaching for mom's night cream and lipstick, now they have an entire line of products and color pallettes to choose from with packaging and intrigue geared specifically to their demographic. A demographic that reaches even younger than puberty.

Although Wal-Mart isn't the first (or only) brand to market cosmetics to young consumers, does there really need to be another opportunity to sexualize children? In the book "The Lolita Effect" by Dr. M. Gigi Durham, the exploration of media influences on young girls (and boys) shows how kids as old as 7 are preoccupying themselves with whether or not they are percieved as "hot". Not only that concern weighs in, but also how they can assume "hottness". Generally it seems the only answer to that predicament is to modify speech, behaviour, public interests and wardrobe, including the use of makeup.

I have nieces.

Time and again, when asked about makeup, I always respond the same way, "you're too young". My personal regards are to stave away any type of cosmetic use until they're old enough to make those decisions for themselves. Their mothers (my sisters) have reiterated that point but understand that it may not be long before they'll opt into makeup and by then, the desire may have grown exponentially. With price points of cosmetics as low as $4 to $6 in the geoGiRL line,that even my 10 year old niece can afford, how long will "you're too young" be an effective deterrent?

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