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Category Archives: Products I dig
If not, now’s the time – I am giving away extra unused products that are taking up space in my already oversized stash! Tomorrow, May 26th at noon I will randomly draw ten names from my Facebook followers, who will get to choose from these products:
More info is available here – see you on Facebook!
I just received a few images from a commercial shoot I did in June with women’s sleepwear etailer Serene Comfort and photographer Larry Stein. It was especially fun because I’d worked previously with two of the (Maggie Inc.-represented) models, Carly & Lealyn. Here’s a shot of Lealyn posing adorably in some super-comfy sleepwear:
The makeup was fresh and natural all the way (after all, who wears makeup to bed at night??) I focused on perfecting the three models’ already beautiful skin, added some contour and a touch of tint and shine to the lips.
I also covered the small tattoo Lealyn has on one arm with my CoverFX cream foundation and loose powder. This set was definitely one of the best things I picked up at the Makeup Show (although I do agree with my makeup artist friend Karrie that the set would benefit from a few warmer shades). I also used CoverFX on the underwater shoot I posted about previously – this stuff really stays put! Most days I prefer very sheer coverage (except where needed), but I’m glad to have added a full coverage cream to my kit for occasions like this.
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!
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!
Like many artists, I’m skeptical of mineral makeup, especially for photography. When many of us hear “mineral makeup,” we think mainstream consumer brands like Bare Essentuals. And we also think about photoreflectivity, which equals shiny, washed-out faces. Buffing sparkly powder into your face may look flattering in person, but it’s a nightmare on camera. And as a dry-skinned person, I’m just not a big powder makeup fan. I’ve tried wearing loose powders before and I felt positively parched, and the extreme matte finish was very aging on my skin. Healthy skin is supposed to appear supple and satin-y, but a dead giveaway that someone’s wearing a lot of makeup is a dry, powdery face.
So, long story short, I’ve never been a fan. But like anything else in the makeup world, mineral powders have their uses – you just have to pick the right ones for the job. My friend Karrie Welch has studied the industry and product formulations exhaustively in order to create her own line of camera-ready mineral makeup. And, I must admit, she’s made a believer out of me. So much so that I routinely wear a bit of her mineral powder foundation myself (it has great coverage and, over a good moisturizer, doesn’t dry me out at all), and I’m starting to incorporate more of her cosmetics into my kit.
Karrie is much better than I am at describing the differences between the products she uses and what is commonly thought of as mineral makeup, but the bottom line is: the foundation powder isn’t sparkly, and it looks like skin – both on and off camera. She manages to retain the pros of mineral makeup and discard the cons. And she has developed an extensive line of colors to suit almost any skin tone (unlike the mainstream companies that expect you to fall into three or four vague categories that end looking especially ashy and horrible on women of color). I strongly urge you to check out her website to view the line.
I had the opportunity to join Karrie one evening recently to see how her makeup is made. Look out, consumer brands – Karrie’s attitude is “why buy it when I can make it myself?” She has successfully reverse-engineered Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics’ popular pigmented liquid lipsticks (Lip Tars) AND made them dye-free. Just for fun, I got to make a few colors with her, watching her painstakingly mix emollients with pigments until the texture and opacity was just right. It was fun to walk away with a sneak peek, and I finally have a bright summery orange shade in my kit. I loved it so much that I used on a recent photoshoot with Carly Marciano (aka Miss Boston 2009):
Isn’t that a hot shade? You’d be amazed how hard it is to find a color like that with a nice texture. I love it, and can’t wait to see what else Karrie comes up with!
I’ve been wanting to test some of Smashbox‘s products for a long time, and a holiday gift certificate to Sephora provided the perfect opportunity to do so. I purchased the Smashbox Master’s Class Complexion Perfection volume 3 kit in Fair (also available in Light, Medium, and Dark), and have been wearing the products now for several weeks in order to determine whether I would recommend this all-in-one complexion kit to clients. (Vol. 3 must be a relatively new offering because it’s either not yet posted on either Sephora or Smashbox’s websites, or is sold out. I found it in-store.)
My impressions? Overall, this is a fairly good value for people seeking light coverage face makeup. You get a primer, full-sized foundation and concealer, powder duo, brushes, luminizer, and a how-to DVD for $59. Like any kit, though, there are some hits and misses. Let’s take it product by product:
1. HD Foundation: This is a very natural-looking satin-finish foundation that does not provide heavy coverage. (The level of coverage I achieved was on par with a good tinted moisturizer, though this is more buildable. It has less coverage than Makeup Forever HD liquid.) I liked this – I didn’t look heavily made up, which is my preference. It wore well. However, the shade included in the Fair kit (Light L1 – why the eff wouldn’t the Fair kit include one of the Fair shades??) was a touch too dark for me; I looked slightly bronzed, and had to apply to my neck and chest as well. But since it’s pretty sheer, I can definitely get away with it in the summer (I’ll admit it was surprisingly flattering; I don’t usually like a tanned effect on my skin!) If you’re very much on the pale-porcelain end of the spectrum, this probably wouldn’t be an ideal color match. The bottle includes a pump dispenser that worked nicely, but I’ll admit that a squeeze tube is always my favorite way to dispense a liquid. (It’s much easier to get product out of a tube when your supply dwindles!)
2. Hybrid 2-in-1 Luminizing Primer: This is essentially a mix of Smashbox’s popular Photo Finish primer and their Artificial Light luminizer in Flash, which has a pink glow to it. But they aren’t actually mixed, and instead squirt out simultaneously via two separate openings in the tube, and you then mix them. Which would be fine if I could get a better balance of primer vs. luminizer. No matter how I squeezed I ended up with a huge glop of primer, far more than I needed (you do not want to overapply silicon primers or they can ball up on you), and just a touch of the Artificial Light. Trying to get more of the latter just yielded a bigger pile of the former. Irritating. The Artificial Light is nice enough but mixing it with primer doesn’t make intuitive sense to me, because I generally don’t want to be glowy all over (although once you put the foundation and powder on top it takes the glow down considerably). I wish they’d separated these products instead of clumsily packaging them together and requiring me to cover up one half with my finger while dispensing.
3. Camera Ready Full Coverage Concealer: This is very creamy and blends down nicely, but I wouldn’t call it “full coverage.” I like a lightweight finish but I want my concealer to do a better job on blemishes and redness. This was more suited to just adding a touch more coverage in areas where needed, but not enough to effectively cover a zit. The positive trade off is it didn’t get cakey on me – it’s very creamy (which also meant it would crease if not set well). Pressure upon application also causes the stick to wind back down into the tube relatively easily. (Can you tell I’m a stickler about user-friendly packaging? No wonder I have all my kit stuff in tubes and palettes!)
4. Photo Op Under Eye Brightener: Also offers a very subtle effect – luminous, not frosty or overly shimmery. (Smashbox does liquid luminizers well, I’ll give ’em that!) I honestly preferred this under my browbone and on my cheekbones, rather than directly under my eyes (where it was more likely to crease).
5. Pressed Powder/Bronze Lights Duo: This compact is definitely something I’d travel with. The powder felt silky and did an overall nice job setting the foundation without making it look “dusty” or dry. The bronzer (which I used for contouring, because it would be too dark on the high points of my face) ran a bit warm on me but not to the point of being orange.
6. Travel-sized kabuki (“baby buki”) and foundation brush: Nothing to write home about, as kit brushes rarely are. The buki was small enough to make contouring below my cheekbones easy (I used a larger brush to apply the powder), and the small foundation brush did a good job blending out the concealer (less so with the foundation – it’s just too small and stiff), but I prefer the brushes I already have.
7. Instructional DVD: It’s about 4 minutes long and shows the products in use; I think it’s nice that some companies are starting to include instructional media with their makeup. You won’t learn any wild tricks, but it’s useful for a beginner. The funniest part to me was when they showed the initial look (using just the kit products) versus the final look the model sports for the photo shoot at the very end (wearing a crap-ton more products, and not just eye and lip stuff either – she was SUPER glowy).
Overall I think this is a good value for $59, but definitely get color-matched before you buy the kit, get better brushes, be prepared to mix product and tinker with the packaging, and don’t rely on these products for heavy, matte coverage (Chances are, you don’t need as much coverage as you think you do, anyway!)
I’ll be in New York for an arts marketing conference (day job!) Friday-Tuesday, staying with good friends in Brooklyn. Yay, I love going to New York, even if this time I’ll spend most of it in conference rooms at NYU. But the days I travel to and from the city leave me a little bit of time for exploring, taking in the sights… and, of course, shopping.
I don’t have any major shopping plans, actually, but I may take the opportunity to restock a few makeup kit basics and poke my nose into some of the more tempting professional lines. Why not, right?
Here are a few potential stops on my list:
- Alcone – I love their makeup removing wipes! They work well and are non-drying, unlike baby wipes and other cosmetic wipes I’ve tried, and don’t require rinsing, so I tend to go through them like lightning (especially at shoots where I do multiple makeup looks). I’m all for price breaks, so I usually buy a bunch at a time. I also love the Jao hand sanitizer, because it actually smells good and (again) is non-drying. Can you tell I like things that don’t dry out my skin?? I’m such a princess about that, seriously. Alcone’s non-latex sponges are also nice, although I’m not usually a sponge-application girl. Alcone also stocks several brands I dig like Kryolan, Eve Pearl, Ben Nye, Three Custom Color, etc. but I’m probably going to wait until the Makeup Show to actually shop for color cosmetics. (Or at least, I’ll make a valiant attempt to do so.) So, this will mostly be a disposables run, though I’m happily already set with mascara wands (thanks, Karrie)!
- Makeup Forever – They’ll no doubt be at the Makeup Show but I want some peaceful browsing. There are a couple matte eyeshadows I have my eyes on in particular – their shadows are incredible. Need? Well, no. Want? You know it!
- Inglot – I gaped through the window of this store the last time I was in Times Square, but they weren’t open yet so I didn’t have a chance to play. I hear mixed reviews of their customer service, honestly, and since I’m not really in the market for color cosmetics (nor do I tend to want to spend a lot of time in Times Square), I may just wait until the Makeup Show to check them out.
- MAC Pro – I need to take a quick inventory of my kit and see what, if anything, needs restocking. The Pro store has a better selection, too. Of course, the last time I was there all I did was trade in some empty containers for new lipsticks in nice nude shades – I didn’t even need my Pro card for that! I’ve become so boring. Well, it’s always worth a visit.
Bet you anything I only end up hitting one or two out of this list. Alcone’s a must (even though I could always mail order), the rest are just gravy.
Check out my friend Karrie’s contest – she’s the maker of the best boutique mineral makeup on the market, and I have to get off my hiney and write a review because I’m a believer – long story short, her stuff has all of the pluses of minerals and none of the minuses, and it photographs amazingly!
So, check out her blog and website, comment, and drop my name so I have a shot at freebies too – what, you thought this was a completely selfless exercise on my part? You should know me better than that. Good luck!