Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beauty Breakdown; "Nickelodeon World Wide Day of Play"

Teenagers... gotta love em'.

Okay, so maybe the last week I spent in Washington DC with the casts of mutiple Nickelodeon shows was a bit overkill, I have to admit, being in the presence of such vibrant talent was pretty amazing. The impromptu musical interludes, the boisterous laughter, the practical jokes... didn't care much for those, but you get the idea.

Fortunately most of that time was spent one-on-one with Liz Gillies who plays "Jade West" on the hit show "Victorious". Liz's character is pretty dark and gloomy but in person, she's kind, witty and prefers her makeup simple and easy with just a hint of drama. Being 18 years old, I preferred to keep her makeup to a minimum and highlight her glowing skin and flirty lashes.

Skin was first prepped with Australian Scent Balm of Gilead for lasting hydration, I then used Guerlain Light Diffusing Perfecting Primer to create a secure base that would hold makeup while she engaged in any outdoor activities. Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation then went over areas that needed a bit of attention and highlighted with MAC Cosmetics Creme Colour Base in Pearl and brushed with FACE Stockholm Creme Blush in Athens for a hint of warmth.

For eyes, I dusted FACE Stockholm Matte Eyeshadow in Chiffon all over then used MAC Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Kid on the outer corners for shape. With a small angular brush, I then lined lids with FACE Stockholm Matte Eyeshadow in Russian Caviar. Just to fill in sparse areas, a few Duralash Individual Lashes were placed here and there for a bit of drama.

Lips, we preferred to keep nude yet defined by first lining and filling in with FACE Stockholm Var Lip Pencil for a bit of coral undertone and finished with FACE Stockholm Matte Lipstick in Natural for a pout that would last through frequent water breaks.

The makeup was kept basic enough to play second fiddle to Liz's glowing personality and strong enough to last through any remaining practical jokes.

Product Review; "Birchbox"

The brainchild of Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox is a direct mail service that brings samples of new and intriguing beauty items to your door every month.

For $10 a month, a small brown box will appear on your doorstep loaded full of new releases from beauty companies as well as familiar pieces that may exist in your cosmetics wardrobe. With contributing companies like Benefit, Jouer and NARS every package will contain a surprise smathering of products that can be purchased from the Birchbox website. Each purchase of a full size item will automatically incur points that can be later redeemed for discounts on future purchases.

Plus, each box delivered will be custom tailored to specifications on your very own profile to ensure that those you recieve are relevant to your needs. So if you're a color junkie, expect the latest shadow, mascara and foundation samples. But if you prefer skin care, expect hand creams, facial spritzes or exfoliators.

Applying online is an easy process and should you be interested you can also recieve updates and alerts on future company partnerships. And, always open to critique, contacting the company directly will impact the quality of treats you recieve every month.

Birchbox Membership; $10.00

Product Review; "Shiseido Shimmering Rouge"

Popular with cosmetic enthusiasts, Shiseido products are created with incredible care to comfort. Maintaining that ethos, Shimmering Rouge is a blend of luxurious ingredients that feel decadent on lips.

These tubes of sheer color are available in a range from vibrant pinks, shimmering neutrals and bold reds that look extravagant at first glance but swipe on skin with a subtlety that's wearable for day or night. The formula is composed of mostly Macademia Nut Oil to retain moisture, Candelilla Wax for a soft firmness that binds to lips and Distilled Water for a light-weight feel. Though dense enough to drench lips in rich moisture, there's no obvious texture that can run, budge or even transfer without distinct intention.

Only available in sheer tones, each color sparkles and shines in one swipe of the tube but can be parred down with blotting or layered on top of pencil for more dramatic effect. Another great option would be to apply in the center of lips over a matte lipstick to create dimension the same way you would a lip gloss.

But, in comparison to gloss, you'll get full shine without the worry of sticking to hair or clothing. Plus, it wears as easily as lip balm, keeping lips full, bright and soft enough to the touch.

Shiseido Shimmering Rouge; $25.00

Product Review; "Bumble and Bumble Grooming Creme"

"Good lord, your hair is thick."

I nodded in agreement. What else was I gonna do, argue with the obvious? I had asked the hairstylist I was booked with to "blow it out" during our down-time but I didn't expect her to throw an apron over my shoulders and begin sharpening her scissors. A pleasant surprise to say the least.

"You know what you should use? It's from Bumble and Bumble in that light blue bottle..." as she began digging through her kit, she pulled out the squeeze tube full of Grooming Creme that would "...be perfect for just adding a bit of texture to your hair so it's more 'piece-y' and you wouldn't have to use so much gel to keep it under control. But only if you have a better haircut."

And with that, the snipping was imminent. I had been struggling with trying to grow out my hair but the density is so overbearing, it was looking less full and more blustering. Complete with cow-licks going every which way and errand strands standing right up while others lay frizzed in the wrong direction.

Of course, it didn't hurt to have a master wielding my strands into place, but the dense lotion she rubbed over my follicles soon smoothed out portions that were slightly unmanageable and created the look of hair "2 days after washing". Loaded with Avacado Oil, Almond Oil and Jojoba extract, this creamy base has a tendency to feel a bit rich at first but once worked into dampened hair disperses equally and dries with little to no slick feel. The slight hydration factor is nice for those dealing with split ends or frizz and even keeps hair gels, hair sprays and other styling products from drying out hair that can be unruly to begin with.

It's kind of a nice base to start styling from or, in my case, pre-empts any other products once you've got a decent haircut.

Bumble and Bumble Grooming Creme; $26.00

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Breaking News; "Dita Von Teese Fragrance"

Already an international style icon and the epitomy of seduction, Dita Von Teese will soon lend her smoldering sexuality to a fragrance.

"I wanted it to be a perfume that smelled exactly how I imagined it... I wanted it to be perfect, and threw out many previous compositions and refined them."

With exceptional attention to detail, the resulting formula boasts notes of sensuous aromas whose names tease at a scent destined to become synonomous with class, elegance and sexuality itself;

"... a head note of fresh peonies, fizzy bergamot, and slightly spicy Bourbon pepper. The heart of the perfume beguiles the senses with a full and at the same time pure bouquet of Bulgarian rose, Tahitian Tiaré petals, and fresh jasmine. And in the base note, the mystical and warm scents of patchouli, musk, and smoky Gaiac wood and sandalwood captivate all who smell it."

Completely burlesque, full of glamour, and every bit Dita Von Teese – the neck of every bottle is adorned with a silk cord with a nail polish-red pearl, which flows into a long black silk tassel."

Available late October 2011

Product Review; "L'Oreal Pencil Perfect Self Advancing Eyeliner"

Smudging isn't really that much of a big deal. And I say that because it's almost better to have softened defined lines than obvious sharp edges. And I hate to argue with the L'Oreal marketing team, but their Pencil Perfect Self Advancing Eyeliner does smudge... and that ain't all that bad.

The convenience of a wind-up eyeliner is that it diminishes the need for a pencil sharpener though I have found that some formulas will tend to dry-out much faster when not encased in balsa wood. This particular formula has a base of Mineral Oil and Beeswax that holds the shape in tube but glides on easily to lids and lashlines. Though perfect for smooth application, this concoction makes for tricky, yet achievable, staying power.

Once the pencil goes thinly over skin, it stays slightly moist but maintains a soft-to-the-touch feel. Ideally, you would take an eyeshadow brush to buff product upwards or into lash-lines creating a subtle smokey effect that keeps it from moving any further. Or you could even blend with eyeshadow to intensify the effect. Full of pigment, the soft formula holds onto skin well without budging once it's set with a bit of powder. Even transluscent powder is ideal if you only want a touch of color. Or, for a quick fix, use the tip of your finger to press it in and blend ever so slightly with no additional product. It ends up becoming a bit of a stain that then becomes transfer and water resistant.

Ironically, smudging actually keeps it from moving any further. Someone get marketing on the phone.

L'Oreal Pencil Perfect Self Advancing Eyeliner; $8.49

Product Review; "MAC Mineralized Blush"

Though generally released to Limited Edition Collections, MAC Cosmetics has lined up some permanent shades of their Mineralized Blush to go with the entire mineralized line of products.

While the foundations and powders in the collection offer very specific kinds of coverage that is maleable, Mineralized Blush seems to have mainly one star characteristic; create a flawless finish.

Regardless of the tone you choose, the baked method of preparation leaves each and every domed powder with an inherent glaze that softens color with a slight pearlized quality. Easily fading away into any foundation product, the inherent luminescence also does away with the need for a highlighter.

Available in shades from light beige to deep plum, use neutral tones to contour cheekbones without creating sharp depth or warm up sun kissed skin by dusting over highpoints and collarbones. Use the richer pinks and plums to round out perky cheeks or do a swift dusting over eyelids before shadow to create all over perky complections reflect subtle nuances of light.

Regardless of the shade you choose, fortunately you no longer have to wait between seasons to get soft, luminous looking skin.

MAC Mineralized Blush; $23.00

Product Review; "Australian Scent Intensive Wrinkle Therapy"

When I get to work with athletes, it's like being in the presence of mythological gods. Their talent is so remarkable, you almost forget they can have concerns just as human as the rest of us.

Recently on a shoot with global soccer stars, before I had a chance to look her in the eye, one of the talent voiced a concern over her dry skin. After finishing a cycle of acne medication, she was left with flakiness that threatened to disrupt her upcoming wedding plans not to mention the photo shoot we were now prepping for. Immediately I thought about my buddies at Australian Scent who designed their star product "Balm of Gilead" to soothe the founders eczema. Though, as luck would have it, I recently acquired, and added to my kit, their Intensive Wrinkle Therapy.

Armed with all the botanical essential oils that you would come to expect like Shea Butter and Almond Oil this amped up concoction has a heaping dose of omega rich fatty acids that absorbs immediately into troubled skin mellowing out irritation and making trouble spots more supple to touch.

Taking a liberal dollop of the potent formula (half the size of a dime) onto a foundation brush, I smoothed it over her skin in the most troublesome areas then blended out over high-points and around the jawline. Then I asked her to go to hair and come back when done. Quizzically, she complied. Minutes later when she returned, the mirror gave clear explanation of my reasoning.

The standard amount of product needed is about the tip of your finger, but by using a larger dose and letting it sit for a while, the blend absorbed mostly into skin and released flakes from clinging while improving overall tone. With the same brush, I then massaged the skin to induce circulation and absorb any residual into rough patches then lightly applied foundation and concealer like normal.

The small amount of prep created a softer canvas and with extended use, the decadent ingedients like Frankinscense, Green Tea, and Evening Primrose will soften lines, reverse detrimental conditions and protect from further enviornmental foes. Knowing her big day was coming up soon, I offered her the decadent gold jar, curing any further woes about her skin condition.

Consider it an offering to the gods.

Australian Scent Intensive Wrinkle Therapy; $58.00

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Friend or Foe?; "Perspectives"

A colleague asked me once; "What colors should I wear? No one likes it when I wear makeup."

So...? One of my favorite quotes from drag superstar Rupaul has always been;

"What other people think of me, is none of my business."

But when asked by clients what they should wear, my opinion on the matter tends to shift. If only slightly to suit the very different circumstances. For instance, when called on for red carpet functions where pictures are going to be taken to be devoured by the tabloid press and the tabloid purchasing public, my answer to "what should I wear?" is the reason I have a job.

Though, we're talking about a collaboration with a hairstylist, a fashion stylist, a publicist, a manager, and the talent. We look at dresses, we talk location, then logistics. All to create that one perfect moment that can be captured for posterity. But regardless of the tremendous amount of prep that goes into the final look, someone, somewhere will... not... like... it.

It doesn't matter how perfectly lined lips are, how immaculately blended eyes smoke, or how high profile the event may be, there's gonna be some journalist (or blogger) destined to hate it. HATE it. Most of the time, it's nothing more than a personal attack. But sometimes, I don't like to admit it, they can be a little bit on point.

There have been times when I'll be asked to mimic certain looks. Ones torn out of a beauty magazine or even freeze-framed on a television screen. Sometimes, I think, "yea, that could totally work". And sometimes I'm not so affirmative. Personally, I have an aesthetic that I like to stick to, but in the end, I'm here to make clients happy. So on occasion, I've applied bigger than average lashes, slightly too dark bronzers and overly frosted lipgloss.

Though these may not be my favored methods, does it really matter in the end? Sure, I may not be too enthused, but the client digs it. And if she's digging it, she's feeling it which makes her work it. And that kind of confidence is what really sells the overal look.

Even if someone decides to diss it, does it really matter? It could be the start of a new trend. Remember when teased hair held it's place as the epitomy of style and elegance? I bet most of ya'll who rocked that style look back and laugh.

But nothing has really changed aside from the general viewpoint on such styles. They still exist and are easily brushed aside. So, if you're heading the supermarket and you feel like rocking a shocking blue eyeliner winged out to your temples, I say do it. It shouldn't matter if anyone likes it, as long as you do.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Product Review; "Sephora Highlighting Compact Powder"

I was NOT looking for this product on my last trip to Sephora. And yet, I continued to pass them over... 3 or 4 times.

It wasn't until I asked one of the sales girls, "can I borrow your face" and dusted a bit of Sephora Highlighting Compact Powder over her highpoints with a fluffy brush that I realized that they would come in handy after all. The texture of these powders is very fine and has just the right amount of shimmer that bounces soft light without looking glittery. In fact, they blend so well, I've gone as far as dusting lids before doing eyeshadow to create a soft base that will smooth out sharp edges.

Composed mainly of Talc (it has a noticeable baby powder smell to it) I found that it's a bit drying over time so obviously it's best when topped over a liquid foundation or primer. Though "dry" is definitely not how it finishes. A good amount of Mica gives massive glow without looking oily and is optimal for flaring out for full bright cheekbones.

Though the tones are not terribly forgiving for everyone. Dore is a light gold shimmer shade that's best suited for medium to dark skin tones as a highlighter but can look kind of orange-ish on fair tones if applied too liberally. However, dusting it with a fan brush under bronzer did create softer hints of color. Rose is a soft pink shimmer that's great for very fair to medium-dark tones everywhere you want brilliance but has a tendency to appear ghostly white on anyone darker. But for really sharp highlights, it's perfect when applied with a denser shadow brush to lips and eyebrow highlights.

Looking at the row of newly highlighted Sephora sales girls before me, I realized I'd make pretty good use of both these colors even if I wasn't originally searching for them. Better to purchase them now rather then pass them by 3 or 4 more times.

Sephora Highlighting Compact Powder; $15.00

Product Review; "Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs"

First impression; Medium Glow is far too orange for me. I began thinking, "another failure of a self tanner". Not a fair assumption, I'll admit it.

Besides, Sally Hansen products have always been among some of my mainstays. So I sat around with it then ran some errands in the neighborhood. No one seemed to notice and soon I became embroiled with my tasks and forgot I had it on myself. It wasn't until I was swatching some lipsticks on the back of my hand that I realized the colors weren't looking like I expected them to. Obviously because there was a thin layer of Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs beneath them.

Ideally for legs, this colorful mist is appropriate on all body parts (save for face) but can apply kind of thick if you use it any less than 8 inches from skin. However, it covers impeccably and provides luminosity with very little transfer and is a favorite among dancers and other stage performers. After applying, you can either let it sit or use hands to rub it in until it dries down to a stain that holds even against wet weather conditions.

On set, I found that it photographed really well giving the camera a chance to capture long highlighted lines without glaring shine. And fortunately for me, there are 3 other colors to choose from for when I get models of varying skin tones. Light Glow would be ideal for adding hints of coverage to medium-fair to medium skin tones, while Tan Glow is great for medium-deep to deep skin tones. But I found that the golden undertones as well as red undertones of very-deep complexions works really well with Deep Glow even if it does add a bit of darkness to the overall look. Especially if, instead of coverage, I just want a bit of a highlight... ya know what, now that I think about it, I don't think Medium Glow would be too orange for them.

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs; $13.99

Product Review; "Covergirl Outlast Lipstain"

"Well, that's exactly what I thought a marker would feel like on my lips".

I laughed a bit at my model who sat with her hair up in curlers as she fiddled around with her Blackberry trying to stroke her boyfriend's ego via text-message. Having had her makeup done dozens of times before, I imagine she had been introduced to multiple Covergirl products but low and behold, Outlast Lipstain had eluded her pout until now.

Though the delivery system is a bit unconventional, this product certainly does last. By the time the curlers came out, the boyfriend was soothed and the camera started clicking, the color was still vivid without needing even the slightest bit of touch-up. Applied the same way you would a lipstick or gloss, the texture of the felt tip is a bit bizarre though highly effective at delivering the right amount of color. Available in multiple shades, I found that some show brilliantly, others very bold, and one or two incredibly sheer however, being a stain, don't feather out around liplines.

The stain property dries down into lips while a dose of Hyaluronic Acid retains moisture and Glycerin locks it in. Though not a moisturizing product, I anticipated some drying effect but found none. Most effective over previously moisturized lips and maybe tapped with a bit of gloss, on it's own it won't dry lips out, nor did it make them moist. It simply adds color that holds all day long until removed with a makeup wipe.

Though, the only issue I may have with it is that I tend to transfer lipstick and gloss to a disposable brush to ensure no cross-contamination but it's a bit difficult with this delivery system. So rather than risk reaching for the same tube on another shoot, at the end of the (10 hour) day, I just gave my model the tube. Incredulously, she thanked me then immediately put her Blackberry to her ear;

"The makeup guy just gave me a lip marker!"

Covergirl Outlast Lipstain; $7.99

Product Review; "Neova DNA Damage Control Silc Sheer SPF 45"

Tinted moisturizer is the kind of product you reach for when you want sheer coverage. Meaning, reducing flaws ever so slightly. But, protection is how you keep those flaws from appearing in the first place.

Neova's main goal seems to be caring for skin's issues, and in some cases reversing existing damage. By protecting top layers with a mind-blowing SPF 45, DNA Damage Control Silc Sheer at first seems like it will be thick and blazingly white, but boasting antioxidant ingredients Green Tea, Rosemary Extract and Lutein you get a moist blend that glides onto skin and absorbs after moments. With a helping of Aloe Vera Extract to retain that moisture, the formula still utilizes a heavy dose of Titanium Dioxide and Octinoxate to block both UVA and UVB rays while a sheer wash of color minimizes any expected whitish overcast that you would usually get from a sunscreen.

Though not entirely devoid of color, I do find that there is a bit of hue that stays over complexion that can be either complimentary or hindering. It has a peach-like quality that is incredibly sheer but after a minute or two, dissolves into skin tones from fair to medium without any residual color aside from muting redness and evening slight discoloration. If applied with hands, be sure to go over ears and top of decollatege' if exposed.

Even if the color isn't quite right, what stands out most is the Photolysomes and Endosomes delivery systems that permeate deep into the skin's surface to undo cellular damage and prevent early cell death caused from UV exposure. Why cover flaws when you can irradicate them entirely?

Neova DNA Damage Control Silc Sheer SPF 45; $39.00

Product Review; "Sensai Bronzing Gel SPF 6"

Though my Hispanic skin easily takes color, being covered from head-to-toe for the upcoming Winter months will forbid even the most remote opportunity to receive a bit of natural light. And while I’m not inclined to head for the tanning beds to resuscitate that bronze tone, the next best thing would be a bit of a disguise while my pasty flesh acclimates to the now retreating sunny weather.

Bronzing the body (arms, neck and legs) is difficult as this skin doesn’t really respond to makeup too well, but Sensai has formulated a bronzer that wears lightly without transferring to any amount of layers I'll be wearing when the snow starts falling. Sensai Bronzing Gel contains ingredients like 70% Distilled Water and Macademia Nut Oil that permeates the top layers of skin for color that shows like your own complexion, and won’t rub off on clothing.

Take a small dollop of product into the palm of your hand, apply directly to moisturized skin and watch it dissipate away leaving no shine or shimmer behind – just hydrated, warmly tinted flesh ready for exposure. Any residue on palms would be great for patting over cheeks, forehead and neck to create continuous color and uniformity. The tone and texture are also so light they are easily blended into foundation or even tinted moisturizer if you feel like having the slightest bit of color perk.

Even if you’re not going to be stripping down to a tiny bikini come Springtime, you should still treat newly exposed skin to a bit of color. Besides, who wouldn’t prefer a summer-sun-kissed glow to the shock of winter-white?

Sensai Bronzing Gel; $40.00

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