Halloween: The one day you can dress up as anything or anyone you want without getting strange glances. It’s also a day when many people have their makeup done by someone else. This should be a great and fun experience but sometimes things can get in the way. Here are some of my favorite tips for helping things run smoothly any time you are having someone else do your makeup, Halloween or not.

1. Have an idea of what you are looking for and bring examples (color swatches from fabric, photos, or anything that inspires you). If you aren’t certain of what you want, brainstorm with the artist to help come up with some ideas.

2. If you bring a photo of what you want, remember that may not be the exact look you get. A good makeup artist will try to work with your own unique features to replicate the look, but sometimes our faces are different then our inspiration model’s and things might have to be tweaked. For example: You may have a more delicate eye area then the model in your inspiration photo, and doing the same dramatic smokey eye in exactly the same way might make you look like someone punched you in the eye.

3. Relax! When your body is relaxed, we are able to work more efficiently. It’s hard to apply eyeshadow on someone who is closing their eyes tightly and it’s harder to enhance the brows of someone who is moving their face. Relax your face and follow the directions of the artist of when to open, close, and look up.

4. Know that there will usually be a fee to have your makeup done. Freelance artists (individuals that do not work at a counter or store) will usually discuss a fee up front when you book your appointment. The going rate of most artists start around $60 and can go as high as $150 or more depending on what you want, the experience of the artist, and sometimes location if your artist is traveling to you.  If a full makeup application at a counter or store is “free” you are expected to purchase at the end of your makeover session. Having worked cosmetics retail myself, I can tell you that it is very rude to get your face done and simply walk away. The associate/artist is spending valuable company time with you. Most counters and stores nowadays charge a fee up front to ensure their time is not wasted. If yours doesn’t, it’s because the company has good faith that you will purchase something. If you just want your makeup done without buying anything, be upfront. Yes, they might make you wait while an artist free’s up or book an appt. in advance, but if you are genuine in trying a new look or products, they will want to give you great service so that you will make a purchase the next time.

5. Do not think that it’s okay to bring a friend to your appointment and expect to have their makeup done. Always call ahead. If it’s a busy season (prom, wedding) your artist might be booked solid that day. If going to a counter or store, most companies assign someone to do your face and will not often have the time to accomodate an extra face, especially on a busy day. If you plan to bring someone with you who also wants an application, call before hand and see if you can book an appointment for them after yours. Also please note that said friend will also have a fee for her face as well. Very rarely do artist give a 2 for 1, if ever. I will sometimes with large wedding parties do the bride’s mother for free.

6. If you do not like the direction your makeup is going, please speak up. We want you to be happy, so please let us know how we can better help you. There’s nothing worse than having a client proclaim they love what you’ve done only to find out later that they didn’t like it.  Things you can say if your wishes aren’t being met include, “I was hoping we could try it another way,” “I thought I’d like that color/look/method/etc. but it may not be for me after all. Can we try something else?” Just be honest, and be polite. It’s much easier to fix something as it’s being done then at the very end. Please do not be demanding or rude.

7. And the most important: BE ON TIME (yes, I am yelling). It seems like people these days have either A.) No sense of time.  B.) Respect enough for themselves (it’s YOU that looks bad when you show up late) and the other person to be on time.  C.) Some other reason, which is still no excuse for tardiness. If you will be late, please telephone to let your artist know. Often times there is only a certain amount of time alloted for your appointment and your time will be cut short by being late. Give yourself enough time for travel, finding the location (if you have never been there before), and time for parking and walking to your destination. Also, give yourself at least 15 extra minutes, just in case there is unforseen traffic or other circumstances.

Beauty: Save vs Spend

September 9, 2009



In an ideal world where money is not an issue, I wouldn’t mind all of my beauty products to be the creme de la creme of their category. In the real world, I am more prone to spending a lot on some items, while others make no sense for me to drop a small fortune on. Here are some of my suggestions on when to shell out the big bucks and when to be thrifty.

Invest in:

  • Quality brushes: Trust me, quality makes all the difference. “Quality” by the way, does not necessarily equal pricy. I have a $15 blending brush by brand A and the same one by brand B that was $25. I like brand A the best and it’s $10 less!
  • Foundation: Go to a counter or beauty store and get matched for color. Some places will even offer you a sample to try first so you can see how it will look on you. If they don’t do samples, see if they will apply it for you so you can see how it looks.
  • Fragrance: Even this little luxury can brighten the gloomiest of days. If you can’t afford the whole bottle a lot of lines now offer less expensive travel sizes or rollerballs for much less. It you love the scent and want the best value, look for gift sets because they offer a lotion (and/or shower gel) along with the fragrance. Tip: Sometimes places like TJ Maxx or Costco will have the same fragrances at a lower price.
  • Skin Care: Spring for acne or anti aging products.
  • Sun protection for your face with both UVA & UVB protection (or broad spectrum).
  • Brow, face, or body waxing: You usually get what you pay for in this category.
  • Clothing staples: Investment pieces that are timeless, high quality, and go with everything.
  • Handbag/Purse: Choose a style that is durable and has structure. Neutral colors are best. Or buy designer at a lower price from stores like TJ Maxx or from websites like Hautelook (membership is required and is free).

Save on:

  • Sun protection for the body: Drug store is just fine. Still look for UVA & UVB protection (or broad spectrum).
  • Lipstick: This age old mood enhancer is very cheap for companies to manufacture. A lot of drug store colors and textures are very similar to higher end lines.
  • Brush Cleaner: Make sure to purchase brush cleaner to protect your investment. Most brush cleaner is fragrance and alcohol, so I say why spend $20 on a bottle when a $10 bottle has the same ingredients?
  • Body lotion: Look for hydrating butters (shea, coco, etc.) and essential oils on the label.
  • Shave gel, lotion, or cream: There isn’t a huge difference in expensive vs cheap.
  • Clothing trends: Why spend $200 on a piece that will be out next year?
  • Handbag/Purses that are trendy: Target usually has a good selection of trendy bags.
  • Manicures (if not getting faux nails): Basic mani’s are done the same way at pricy salons and budget friendly salons.

Skin Care Expiration

August 31, 2009



Have you ever been using your favorite skin care or body product and think, “So when does this expire, anyway?”

Some products do have expiration dates, though those are few and far between. Many brands have an expiration suggestion printed on the back of the bottle, jar, ot tube. It looks like a jar with the lid open and has a number printed inside. This number indicates the number of months after opening the product that it should be good for. Conditions such as contamination (IE dipping unwashed hands into a jar) or forgetting to put the lid back on the product can shorten that amount of time.

In the above photo, one of my products is optimal to use until six months of opening, while another is good for 24 months. The amount of time will vary from product to product depending on factors such as ingredients (essential oils, plant or fruit extracts, parabins aka preservatives, and etc.).

if you are using a skin care product as directed, it should not last longer then the expiration suggestion. Some products (body items, for example) may last longer then the suggested amount of time. In these cases, it’s best to monitor the texture, color, and scent for any changes which can indicate it has spoiled.

Don’t remember when you first opened a product? I always try to mark the bottom or somewhere inconspicuous with the month and year, just so I don’t forget. This is also a good idea if your product doesn’t suggest any time frame of expiration so you will know how long it’s been around.

Bargain Beauty

August 16, 2009


Love high end cosmetics and can’t shell out the dough right now? Many cosmetics companies carry discontinued colors and products on their websites at discounted prices. Don’t expect to find these reduced $$ goods at the stores or counters; many are found online only.

  • tartecosmetics.com: Memory Lane is the place to find DC’d goodies like the perma-pout lip stain and gloss duo, sin city glitter liners, candles, single eyeshadow compacts, and powder blush.
  • smashbox.com: Browse the curtain call section to find lipsticks, eye shadows, limited edition value sets, foundations, and beauty tools.
  • sephora.com: Even beauty giant Sephora has a sale  section packed with pretty goodies at even prettier prices from your favorite brands.
  • loraccosmetics.com: The VIP Discount section (aka “last call”) is the place to be! Some items, like the lip polish lip glosses are on sale for $5, marked down from $18. My pick would be the Maui Wowie palette, which I purchased a few years ago and adore. The cost? A mere $8, a steal from its original $38!
  • toofaced.com: Check out the Vintage section for products that are on their way out. The prices aren’t as discounted as other brands, though you will save a little and every little counts!

Don’t see your fave brand listed here? Check out their website to see if they have a sale section. While many brands continue to sell through their discontinued merchandise online, others don’t. Also, scour your local TJ Maxx/Marshall’s stores because every now and then an amazing find pops up. Who could forget all of the Urban Decay lipglosses at TJ Maxx back in 2005? That was a good lip gloss year for yours truly.


Next to a flawless glowing complexion, one of the most requested looks I get is the smokey eye. I love when I have an appointment with clients who want the smokey look and clip the most dramatic smokey eye from a magazine and say, “I want to look exactly like this!” In reality they don’t usually want that exact look, they want a soft, smudgy look. And that’s what a smokey eye should be: soft, smudgy, and blended. A smokey eye should not extend too far beyond your crease or utilize too much black shadow because it will make you look like someone punched you in they eye. The goal of the smokey eye is to have the color darkest near your lashes and fade softly into your crease. This is exactly what smoke looks like: darkest near the fire, lighter as it floats into the sky.

You can certainly clip smokey looks from magazines for inspiration, and keep in mind that while the intensity, colors, and shape of shadow looks great on the model, you may not share the same eye or face shape and it might not look the same on you or flatter your face. The goal of makeup is to flatter your features and express yourself.

One of my fave smokey eye tips is to keep a clean, fluffy blending brush close at hand. It’s much easier to blend a mistake with a clean brush then it is to blend with a brush that has product on it. Keep the products you use simple. Limit yourself to no more then three shadow colors and one liner. After you apply your eye shadow base/primer, I like using a soft, waterproof pencil liner (like Urban Decay 24/7 Pencils) or a gel/cream liner (Smashbox Jet Set, Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes Cream Liner) first to define the eye. Blend and smudge this line up (easier to do with cream liners) to soften and the set stage for your eyeshadow. Pick any eyeshadow colors you want. A smokey eye can also be colorful. My fave shade is bronze. Pat your darkest shade lightly on your lid. It’s best to start with a little product and add more as needed then to pack the eyeshadow on right away. Blend color upwards and into the crease. If you’d like to use a medium color in the crease, add just a touch and blend downwards into your lid color. To blur any harsh lines (there shouldn’t be any) you can use your clean shadow brush or a flesh tone eyeshadow, which acts like a highlight.

  • If you have smaller eyes and want to make them look larger, go easy on the bottom liner and don’t line the entire lower rim. Stop the line around the iris of the eyes, blend, and apply a highlight color from the liner to your tear duct.
  • For deep set eyes, concentrate color on your lid and blend.
  • For any eye: go easy on the liner. It’s much more flattering to have a slight smudge of color on the bottom lash line then a thick, dark, rim of liner. For a softer look, try using your shadow as liner with an angled liner brush.
  • After every step, stand back and look at yourself in the mirror: is everything even? Too dark? Too light? Keep cotton swabs and gentle eye makeup remover handy to fix mistakes.
  • When wearing a smokey eye, one must make sure the complexion is perfected. The dark colors can enhance under eye circles and uneven skin tone so make sure not to skip concealer if you need it. Tip: using a lighter coverage foundation or tinted moisturizer and concealing just where you need it will make your complexion more natural then using a full coverage foundation and full coverage concealer. Hello, cakey-ness!
  • Do eyes first so that if you get any fall out, you don’t have to touch up complexion products. If you’ve already done your makeup, dust translucent powder under your eye area to catch any shadow and dust away with a fluffy brush when finished.
  • Keep the rest of your look balanced by using sheer flesh tone or pink lip colors and a light application of a natural blush (my fave with smokey eyes are soft pinks and pinky-peach).

Three of the photos above are of my fave examples of smokey looks and one is of my least favorite. Can you tell which is which? I think 1 through 3 all are balanced (dark eyes and neutral lip/cheek colors) and are soft, feminine, and have perfect gradient (darker to lighter). Number 4 is my least fave. Why? Because it’s not flattering on most people. Dark, thick, liner around the entire eye can create the illusion of a smaller eye, even if you have large, gorgeous peepers.

Secret Breakout Causes

July 22, 2009



Arg! I’m breaking out randomly on my face and chest! I haven’t broken out on my chest since I was 14 and it’s annoying. Not much in my skin care routine has changed, except for last week I ran out of my MD Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel Pads and I used a different sunscreen then usual. Those two could be the culprits, or it could also be something below. I’m banking on it being a little of everything.

  • Did you know that not washing your pillow slips (or pillow cases…which ever you prefer to call them) regularly can cause or worsen acne? That’s because bacteria and oil from your skin and scalp can collect on them causing more breakouts. I usually wash mine twice a week but I kind of skipped a week. Icky, I know, I just got lazy. I made sure to toss them in the wash today.
  • Leaning or resting your face on your hands can cause breakouts on your chin from oils in your skin. I try not to do this but sometimes it happens. I’m not breaking out around my jaw so I can nix this as one of my current acne causes.
  • Not washing your makeup brushes regularly can be a big acne-causing culprit. I keep my makeup brushes super clean and I just washed every single brush I own last night (close to 90) for added insurance that none of my brushes are causing it. BTW: I keep seperate brushes for clients and seperate brushes for myself.
  • I own a Clarisonic and absolutely adore it. Best thing ever! You are supposed to change the brush head every three months and wash it weekly with an anti-bacterial soap. Yeah, I kinda sorta forgot last week so I did it today.
  • Picking and “popping” acne can also lead to more acne in surrounding areas. Bacteria can spread via your fingers, so if you must pick (please don’t-it could possibly leave behind a scar), always do it on a clean face with your fingers wrapped in tissue. I like to take a steaming hot towel to the area and leave it there for a minute or two. If it “pops” then yay! If not, I leave it alone because it’s not ready to go.



If you use makeup brushes, they should be washed about once a week to help keep them clean, in good condition, and bacteria-free. Making sure your brushes are well cared for will help them to last longer. It doesn’t matter what brush cleaner you choose, the important thing is that you are washing them. Personally, I like using Sephora Purifying Brush Shampoo ($6 for 2 oz or $14 for 6. 75 oz) or Philosophy Purity Made Simple Facial Cleanser ($10-40 for sizes ranging from 3 oz to 24 oz), which is gentle enough to use on brushes. I highly recommend investing in a good brush cleanser (drug store vs high end is a personal preference) since they are meant specifically for brushes. In a pinch (say, you run out of brush cleaner) you can also use a mild facial cleanser.

To clean your brushes, you’ll need a sink with running lukewarm water, paper towels or a small clean towel (optional), a small bowl (optional) and your brush cleaner of choice. Rinse your brush with lukewarm water, then apply a small amount of brush cleaner in your bowl or in the palm of your hand. Gently massage brush cleaner through bristles and rinse. You’ll know your brush is clean when the water runs clear. I like using a small bowl (glass or stainless) so that I don’t get super crinkly hands (I have a lot of brushes). Gently wipe away excess water with a paper towel or clean towl and lay flat to dry.

***ALWAYS, always, always lay your brushes flat to dry on a counter or flat surface!Drying them bristle side up in a cup or brush holder will allow water to seep into the ferrule (the part of the brush that joins the bristles with the handle. This is usually made out of a metal) and can destroy your brush if it is glued. I like to lay mine on a paper towel or small clean towel to catch any extra water as my brushes dry. I also advise NOT to dry your brush upside down (bristles towards the ground, handle facing up) as this can cause your brush to dry in a funky shape.

If you have brushes with white bristles, you can do a few things to help ensure they don’t stain. If you have time after using them, use a spray on brush cleaner to help remove some of the color. Spray cleanser on a paper towel and wipe the brush until color is removed. You may have repeat this step a few times. Later on when you have time, follow the instructions above for weekly cleaning ASAP. You can, if your brush is synthetic (meaning the bristles are man-made and not from an animal), use Dawn Dish Soap to clean your brush (remember: this is only for synthetic brushes! This method may be too harsh on natural brushes). I’d advise to skip buying white brushes altogether as they are very much a pain to keep white. I own a few and try to only use them with light colored powders to avoid staining.

Be sure to store them in a place where the bristles won’t bend and will hold their shape. I like to use my brush belts and a brush roll to store them. Brush rolls are fantastic because they have individual slots to help keep your brushes separate from each other and organized. You can find decent priced brush rolls on etsy in cute patterns by doing a search. If you are keeping your brushes in an overstuffed makeup bag, the bristles may get bent. If this happens, reshape them after washing before laying them flat to dry.

The Faux Tan Files #2

May 20, 2009


What: Bliss’ A Tan for All Seasons, $36. It sprays out purple to neutralize orange (genius) and gives a hint of tint instantly so you can see where you put it. The nozzle sprays 360 degrees so you’ll never miss a spot.

Rating: 5! I like this better then VS Bare Bronze. It dries super quickly (somewhere between instantly and 3 minutes) and doesn’t feel like anything once it’s rubbed. It’s also very easy to use.

The smell: Not bad at all. There wasn’t really a scent right off the bat. Once it had been on my skin for a few hours I started to smell a little self tanner scent but it was faint.

The color: No orange! It’s a natural looking shade on my fair skin. I actually have color that doesn’t scream, “My tan is from a can!”

Verdict: I love it. If you check Sephora.com the ratings are all very good, too.

Tip: When scrubbing or removing excess self tanner from hands or body, always apply scrub or soap to the area before adding water. Using water first will lock in the self tanner. I wish this tip was of my own genius, but it’s from a super smart Bliss employee.

Tip #2: Before using self tanner be sure to exfoliate! I like Bliss scrubs, like the Lemon and Sage scrub featured above. It also helps to remove tanner from your hands post faux tan session.

PS: I got Bliss’ Fat Girl Slim anti-cellulite treatment today. I will report my results on a later date as this is a product that needs to be used consistently and as directed. Using one time would not make for an accurate review. Also, to anyone thinking of using this product, a little goes a long way. You don’t want to use it like a regular body moisturizer.

The Faux Tan Files #1

May 18, 2009


What: Victoria’s Secret Bare Bronze Collection, $32 (free for me thanks to a bday gift card). This set features a full size 5.3 oz bronzing spray for instant color over the course of a few hours, 3.2 oz gradual tan firming body lotion for tanning maintenance, and a 3.4 oz sand and surf body polish to buff away dead skin and provide a smooth surface for self tanner application.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I completely adore the sand and surf body polish. It feels luxurious and is one of the best body scrubs I’ve tried. The bronzing spray was fairly decent. The first time I used it, I was very light handed and didn’t get much color. The second time I it gave me more of a glow and enhanced my skin tone by about 4-5 shades. The gradual firming body lotion was nice but not memorable.

The smell: VS described the scent as “a sweet, creamy Brazil nut scent,” and I would agree. It’s pleasant at first, then the self tanner scent settles in and is covered by the Brazil nut scent. The scent wasn’t as offensive as most self tanners on the market and it also wasn’t the best, either.

The color: Surprisingly not orange. It was a very subtle golden shade. I’m pretty fair so for a self tanner to not instantly turn orange on me was a nice surprise. It did look slightly yellow around my elbow and more exfoliation followed by a bit of regular body lotion would have fixed that issue.

Verdict: Not bad at all. If you are looking for more color, do add more product. I’m always conservative with the amount of products I use because I believe that it’s best to start with less and build up gradually from there. It’s easier to add product then to remove excess.

Tip: So I don’t get tell-tale self tanner hands and help to avoid streaks, I blend with a kabuki brush instead of my hands. The kit is a good way to try the products. I probably would not have purchased the scrub because I have so many, but this one is pretty nice and is possibly worth a repurchase.

The New Anastasia Brow Kit

February 22, 2009



Anastasia, the brow guru of the 90210 zip code, has come out with yet another brow product I adore. This one’s packed with three brow powders and three highlighters. The Highlighting Eyebrow Kit is $32 and also includes a mini clear eyebrow gel.

The brow powder is designed to be used like this: brush one of the lighter hues on the inner brow and finish the end (or “tail”) of the brow with a darker one, making sure to also accentuate the arch. This method creates a multidimensional natural looking brow by using a few shades when most people use one, resulting in a harsh, unnatural brow. Go easy on the powder! A little goes a long way so load up your brush with just a bit first and brush on more powder if needed.

The shimmery highlighter trio is baked for smooth application. You can use these for the intended purpose of highlighting your brow bone (the area under directly under your eyebrow) or as eyeshadow. You can also do a smokey eye by using the darker brow powder as shadow, brushing it on your lid and into your crease, then taking your favorite highlight color and blending upwards, creating a smokey effect.

The set also includes a mini clear eyebrow gel that can be used after brow powder or alone to keep your brow hairs in place. As a quick fix, sometimes I use mine to keep flyway hairs on my mane tame if I don’t have hair gel or hairspray handy.