Monthly Archives: July 2010

Urban Decay gets Naked

Urban Decay was the first brand of makeup that I fell for in a big way. I suspect it was their image. I was a high school proto-goth (although, admittedly, I didn’t wear ANY makeup back then with the exception of chipped black nail polish), and UD’s edgy colors, packaging and product names spoke to me in a way the ladylike Revlons and Mary Kays of the world never would. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that their products are cruelty-free (and many are vegan as well). I still have some of the discontinued nail polishes, and one of my happiest makeup maven moments was when a friend who had worked at Urban Outfitters back when UD was sold there passed along her sample kit to me. (The liquid liners and glosses all had to be tossed, but the kit included a big pile of untouched, and in some cases discontinued, eye shadows! It was a happy holiday indeed.)

Nowadays I have many UD eye shadow colors in my kit – I love how soft and blendable they are, although admittedly I stay away from the ones with lots of gritty silver glitter. I’m also a big fan of their super-soft, waterproof 24/7 pencil liners (but again, I wish they’d come out with some shimmer- and glitter-free pencils!) Since I prefer to have lots of shades in one place, I also have one of their gift palettes, the Deluxe Shadow Box:

Here are some back-of-the-hand swatches for ya:

I liked that this palette had soft, bright colors sans silver glitter. But it’s hardly the kind of thing I’d recommend to a client for everyday use, and most of their kits are still a bit too edgy, sparkly and/or colorful.

Well, UD must have read my mind, because they are coming out with the Naked palette, and it looks just luscious:

Beauty blogger & product swatcher extraordinaire Temptalia has an entry showing the colors in action, and they are quite appealing – neutrals with a kick! Sure, I’d have liked a few more matte/satin shades (UD’s always a little heavy on the sparkle), but these are lovely and I think they’d make a great go-to palette for almost anyone. It even comes with a double-ended liner and a mini version of their famous Primer Potion (which minimizes creasing and increases longevity). I must admit, I don’t need this at ALL but I am tempted! If you’re in the market to amp up your everyday eye looks, I’d definitely suggest checking this one out.

Now if UD would just get us a pro artist discount already, I’d be adding a lot more of their stuff to my kit!

Posted in Color choice, Products I dig

Academic beauty: Makeup for author headshots and beyond

This is one of those blog entries that’s been in the hopper for far too long – it’s been months already since I had this gig! But, better late than never…

This past Spring (yeah, I know!) I had the opportunity to do makeup for an author’s book jacket photo, and really wanted to write about my experience and the makeup considerations for shoots like this. My subject: Margaret Price, an Assistant Professor at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. (She spent many years working in MA and hired me for her headshots during a trip to a local academic conference, hence our timely crossing of paths.) Margaret has an upbeat and fun-loving personality that keeps her students laughing as they learn, but was understandably nervous and self-conscious about modeling for her headshot.

She really shouldn’t have worried. Maybe it was photographer Lesley Arak’s superior professionalism, maybe it was Margaret’s natural flamboyance, or maybe (just maybe!) it was the fact that she absolutely loved the makeup I did – but she was a natural in front of the lens.

Here’s the look I came up with – polished, natural beauty all the way! – and you can tell from her genuine smile that she was actually having a good time in front of the camera:

I particularly love how relaxed, natural, uncontrived, and HAPPY she looks – and who wouldn’t be happy when they were fulfilling the “publish” part of “publish or perish”? Given her neat-but-casual wardrobe, loosely styled hair and natural smile, she also looks down-to-earth and FRIENDLY. Approachability is not an expected trait in academics, which is a shame considering most of them actually ARE approachable (they have to be; they teach 19-year-olds!) It’s all too easy to seem aloof when you’re actually nervous, so Margaret’s unexpected ease was a joy to behold.

Professors, authors, actors, CEOs… professionals in many industries benefit from having a good, professional photo, and makeup is a big part of making the end result outstanding. Whether you do your own face or hire a pro, here are a few principles to keep in mind:

  • As with ANY photo shoot, be sure to avoid makeup that is photoreflective (read: sparkly). If you have too much mica all over your face you risk looking greasy, washed out, sweaty, or all of the above once the flash hits you. Stick with a natural matte or satin finish and restrict the shimmer to the places you want to highlight (such as eyes, cheekbones, or lips – and not all three at once!)
  • Remember that photography is a 2-dimensional medium, and your face is not. Makeup serves to bring out your features and gives you the opportunity to subtly emphasize your eyes, cheekbones, and lips – anything that would be too monochromatic or muted if left bare in a photo. While few people highlight and contour their faces in everyday life, photography – especially black & white photography – is the ideal time to make sure that your features retain their shape. (But err on the side of subtlety – too much contour or bad blending lands you straight in 1980s territory! Hey, I never said this stuff was EASY.)
  • A headshot is, at its simplest, you as yourself. Actor headshots, for example, need to accurately depict the person who is showing up for the casting, but there is an “effortless” polish to them. The look should be about your face, not the makeup you’re wearing. My look for Margaret served to unify and brighten her complexion and emphasize her eyes, but she still looks like Margaret.

When in doubt, hire a professional – and that goes double for the photography! Headshots are deceptively simple-looking, but ask any pro photographer – they are among the hardest to shoot. Not only are the subjects frequently “regular folks” (i.e., not camera-savvy models and actors), but wrapping up someone’s looks and personality and professionalism in a single image, sans distractions, with minimal editing, is no simple task. Find a photographer who shoots the kind of photos you need, and find a makeup artist who won’t make you look like someone else!

Posted in Advice, Clients, Foundation, Photoshoots

Surprise swag!

This just arrived in the mail today from Cover Girl’s PR agency:

A new LashBlast (how did they know I was a fan?? Gotta love the brush on this sucker), liner pencils in six different colors, a makeup primer, and three lip stains. Can’t wait to try them out!

Posted in Products I dig

Camping it up

A few weekends ago I went camping: honest-to-goodness, no-running-water (just a squeaky old cold water pump), no-flush-toilets, sleeping-on-the-ground (well, in a tent, but FLAT ON THE GROUND) camping. It was woodsy, buggy, and the weather was unpredictable. And we (and our dog) had a great time. (Although the older – and, admittedly, fatter – I get, the less happy I am sleeping on the ground… I think we need to invest in an air mattress next time!)

BUT… (here’s the important part/point of this post)… for the first time in many years, I went several days without wearing any makeup at all. OK, I’m not bragging, really – it’s just unusual for me. I don’t wear much, but I wear makeup every day that involves leaving the house (which is most days). But camping, under those circumstances? It wouldn’t have made sense to wear ANY, since I was too busy reapplying sunscreen and bugspray and, oh yeah, I couldn’t properly wash my face. Mild baby wipes are handy for these situations, but I wasn’t going to trust them to take my mascara off at night.

If you can’t properly wash your face, do your skin a favor and let it breathe. You don’t want to go to bed with leftover makeup on your face or in your eyes, as you’ll risk a breakout or an eye infection. (Not to mention those nasty-looking black globs that collect in your tear duct. That is mucus pigmented by your eye makeup, ladies! Hot stuff, eh?)

Now, I HAVE been camping and have also worn makeup – at parks where there is a working bathroom where I can wash my face. If you’re planning a similar type of summer outing and you’re normally a makeup wearer, but don’t want to overpack, what should you bring?

Well, the last time I camped at a running-water type of place, I snapped a photo of what was contained in the bag I schlepped back and forth to the campground bathroom:

So, these would be Liz’s bare minimum essentials: sunscreen (but of course!), moisturizer (I believe that was a recycled bottle filled with Lush Skin Sin), deodorant (trust me… not optional when you camp!), a hairbrush and a (pink, sparkly, very me – hehe) hair tie. As for makeup, I see a drugstore brow powder kit, a sample jar of tinted moisturizer, a tinted lip conditioner with SPF, a nail clipper and emery board, a concealer stick, a brown eyeliner pencil, and mascara in black and clear (the latter for brow-taming).

(Not pictured: soap, bugspray, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss. I bring floss everywhere – my dentist loves me.)

This is definitely pared down for camping simplicity, but it’s also fairly illustrative of what I consider to be my basic, everyday face: just enough tint to even out my skin tone, a liner and mascara to define my eyes, nicely shaped brows, and some tint on my lips. I get fancier, sure, but the above combo will get me out the door feeling adequately put-together and confident. It’s not shown above, but another useful product for weekends away would be anything multipurpose, such as a tint that can be used on both cheeks and lips. (I have a few Stila Convertible Colors that would do nicely on a camping trip, provided they didn’t melt!)

When I work with new clients, I like to ask what their daily, basic-makeup routine looks like, because it says a lot about how they present themselves and how much time they want to spend on their faces. For many, it’s sunscreen (good!) and no makeup at all (which is also good – there’s certainly no rule saying you have to glam out every day), but a lot of people have a few basic things they do, like mascara, lip gloss, undereye concealer. And others wear a full face every day, no exceptions! Whether or not you like to drive into the middle of the woods and sleep on the ground (oof – AIR MATTRESS NEXT TIME!), it’s worth thinking about what your fundamentals are, and whether there are things you want to try, or what you might like to do differently. I’m a big fan of finding the bare minimum and making it as easy and accessible as possible!

Posted in Products I dig, Skincare

Another backstage glimpse

What did we ever do before Facebook?!? I saw some photos surface from a just-for-fun shoot I did awhile back with some friends of mine, and I thought it would make a nice post because I think I like the behind-the scenes images from that shoot best of all:

That’s Onawa on the left and Kimberly on the right. If I remember correctly, the white necklace that Onawa is wearing ended up on Kim more than once throughout the day. I’m pretty sure I snapped the second photo, but I don’t know who took the first one.

(Amusingly, that was not the first time I took pictures of Onawa. At least this time the ACTUAL photographer was indeed present, but the first time – very early on in my portfolio-building efforts – I booked a test shoot with a fauxtographer in Holyoke who didn’t show up AND didn’t answer her phone! So I ended up taking photos myself, including one that I still use:)

Posted in Behind the scenes, Collaborators, Photoshoots