Makeup Monday: Removers

Summer means different things to everyone. Lazy days in the sand on your favorite beach, sneaking a smooch from your man on the ferris wheel, and BBQ's with your best friends. Floaty little dresses, pretty pedicured toes, and no fuss hair styles. It also means makeup that won't smudge when splashing around under the sun. 

In the coming weeks we will talk about some great waterproof & long-wearing products. Today I want to share some of my favorite removers with you. I am sure some of you have products you never wear because of how tough they can be to remove. Or maybe there are products you've been reluctant to purchase because the term "waterproof" is intimidating. What if you can't get it off? Or worse, what if you mess up when applying it?

Here are some of my favorite removers for wiping waterproof looks clean at the end of those sexy summer days. 

MUFE Sens'Eyes - $23

I cannot get enough of this. It is one of only two removers I carry in my kit anymore, and I keep a second one for myself at home. I first discovered it while at the Sephora boutique in Las Vegas. The artist who showed it to me said it's all he uses backstage. I thought, if it works for the long wearing makeup of the desert heat and shimmering looks of sensational showgirls, I knew I needed it. The Make Up For Ever website describes it as a "mineral oil-free gel" to gently and effectively remove eye & lip makeup. This blue beauty takes off even the most hard to remove waterproof makeup, and is lightweight enough for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers. I just massage a tiny amount over the area I want to remove makeup from, and wipe clean with a cotton pad. 

Neutrogena Make-up Remover Cleansing Towlettes $4.49

The second remover I always have in my kit is a package of makeup wipes. I'm not incredibly loyal to one brand, as I am always on the hunt for the most economical choice for professional use. I do always look for something unscented that will be great on all skin types. My current personal favorite are these from Neutrogena. One towelette is sufficient to wipe your whole face clean, and gentle enough to use around the eyes to get off stubborn, water-resistant mascara and liner. I'm sure you are all in the good habit of washing your face at night, but for those summer nights where you are too tired to go clean up, a pack of makeup wipes in your nightstand can save you from the consequences of sleeping in your makeup. They are a great option for travel as well, since they are easy to pack and won't get you in trouble with the TSA.

MAC Cosmetics Cleansing Tips

While compiling this post, I knew I had to include the Cleansing Tips from MAC. I always have these tucked in with my brushes, one or two in my purse, and I love giving them to my brides. However, I went to the MAC site to get the specifics to include here, and they are no longer listed. WHAT? Are they discontinued? I want to cry. It's a simple product. Cotton swabs pre-soaked in a gentle, yet extremely effective makeup remover, individually wrapped for ease-of-use-on-the-go. The quintessential product for fixing minor goofs when applying perfect waterproof winged liner! Great for so many things, I can't imagine they are gone. I thought maybe I shouldn't include them here, since they are no longer available for purchase. But I trust you are all super savvy and creative, and can use your favorite remover in such a way to clean up those gorgeous summer makeup looks you will be rocking. And if you happen to find something similar out there, I'll be waiting patiently to hear all about it!

What are some of your favorite makeup removers?


Product Review: CoverGirl NatureLuxe

As a professional makeup artist, I always love learning about and trying all types of products. Not only can I make informed choices about what I use on my clients, but I can also stay on top of trends and know what's out there for the consumer. 

I recently received a couple of products from BzzAgent I'd like to share with you from the new NatureLuxe line from CoverGirl: The Silk Foundation and the Gloss Balm. 

Foundation Shade #330 and Gloss Balm in "Anemone"

CoverGirl describes these as "luxury touched by nature." Do I agree? Sure. The product feels luxurious, with added natural ingredients, for a drugstore price point. I personally tend to shop boutique and department stores for my personal makeup, saving the drugstores for the occasional trendy nail polish shade and my trusty L'Oreal Voluminous mascara. The CoverGirl Liquid Silk Foundation retails at $11.99, while the Gloss Balm is $6.49. Not bad for something that I would give a thumbs up to if you were looking for an inexpensive, every day makeup. Let's talk about them individually.

The Silk Foundation contains cucumber water, jojoba, and rosehip extracts. These all help to create the silky luxurious feel of the makeup. It is labeled as oil-free, has an SPF of 10, and is dermatologically tested. It comes in 14 shades. Not the most extensive range, but I think it covers a decent variety of skin tones. The shade I received is much too dark for me, as I am normally in the lightest shades with pink undertones, so I don't have a photo to share of me wearing it. Luckily I had an airbrush tan when I first got this in the mail, and it was actually perfect at the time. A rich neutral comparable to an an NC30 or NW25, or a Medium/MediumPlus in MAC foundations. 

A few effortless coats of NatureLuxe Gloss Balm in "Anemone"

The Gloss Balm is sheer in color and really smooth like a slick lip balm. It has the shine of a mellow gloss, without the tackiness or thick feel. It is an incredibly hydrating blend of mango and shea butter that left my lips soft during and after wear. It boasts an SPF 15, which is pretty standard for lip products with sun protection. The shade I tried, "Anemone," was the perfect sheer pinky red. The above photo shows a few swipes on bare lips. No liner or other products with it. I was impressed with the color payoff, as most tinted lip balms fall short in the pigmentation. One coat seems more like a flushed watermelon color, while a few layers leaves a shiny summery red like pictured above. Gloss Balm is available in 16 shades, ranging from neutral to bold for a variety of skin tones.

So what do I think? While I won't be carrying these products in my kit for professional use, I would definitely recommend them to the average consumer. CoverGirl has always been geared for every woman, at every age. And I feel confident suggesting these to my clients who are looking for makeup that feels like a luxury brand, but fits a smaller budget. The Silk Foundation covered really well, and looked natural. However, I'm more of a powder foundation girl myself. It would take a miracle to make me love a liquid or cream foundation. The Gloss Balm is something I am actually really excited about. I love lipstick! Bright, matte, fun lipsticks. But most days I stick to a clear lip balm with SPF, as I tend to burn easily and just want protection. I normally would not have purchased something like this. If I want color, I want color. All or nothing! Until now. I could see this being a great addition to your summer makeup bag. What an effortless and comfortable pop of color to wear to the beach or a BBQ. And for women who usually shy away from lip color altogether, this is a great product to ease into color without feeling overwhelmed. 

I leave you with a quick behind-the-scenes look at the making of CoverGirl NatureLuxe ads with spokeswoman, Taylor Swift. Because we know how much I love behind-the-scenes and making-of features. And we know how much you love Taylor Swift (because really, who doesn't love Taylor Swift?).

Photos: Me
Shop/Learn More: CoverGirl


Behind the Boardwalk

I am a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad blogger. Ok that's a little harsh, but where the heck have I been for the last week and a half? 
No where. That's where. Ever since leaving my job in February, I have, thankfully, been quite busy. Be it with freelance makeup work, travel with my family or boyfriend, friends weddings, and creative photo shoots with like minded professionals, I have just been going and going. Energizer bunny style!
So after getting back from a weekend in Joshua Tree for a stylized wedding shoot (oh you just wait for this one!), I just needed to decompress. And I'm back. Wednesday means I want to share with you what I'm watching. While I have certainly been wearing out my Netflix queue, I want to show you something I actually saw last year.

I knew I would be hooked when I saw the initial previews for HBO's Boardwalk Empire, and it reeled me in with the first episode. Set in 1920 in Atlantic City at the dawn of prohibition, the show takes you through the lives of good guys and bad guys (and gals) of the empire surrounding the Atlantic City boardwalk. The show weaves a tangled web of crime, passion, loyalty and deceit, all in the most fantastic costumes this side of the 20th century. If you have yet to watch the show, you'll have an easy time catching up before the Season 2 Premiere, likely to be this fall.

Nucky & Lucy 

I am such a sucker for behind the scenes photos and videos. If a DVD or BluRay includes making-of features, it is really hard for me to not watch those before the actual movie or TV show. But alas, I love the magic of cinema and truly enjoy losing myself in the world of film. And then I love seeing it all torn apart and being shown all the smoke and mirrors.

The boardwalk.

Hosing down for a "rainy" shot.

Seeing all the people that are behind the scenes, and witnessing just how much goes into something a few hours long at most just does something for me. I totally geek out when it comes to behind the scenes clips. So when I stumbled upon this four minute gem revealing the secrets of Boardwalk Empire, I knew my initial love for this show could only be magnified by it's movie magic.

Pretty amazing, right? I knew they had built sets in New York to film the show, but I truly was in awe of how they demonstrate the shots composited with real actors/sets and visual effects. So in tracking down this video again to share here, I came across more videos on HBO's website offering sneak peaks into the making of the show, actor interviews, and more. If you are a fan of the show, or just a fan of this sort of thing in general, I highly recommend  heading to the HBO: Boardwalk Empire: Inside site and checking it all out.
And for those of you eagerly anticipating what's to come, here's an invitation to the set of Boardwalk Empire's sophomore season.

Photos/Video: HBO, NY Mag


What I'm Watching Wednesday

Wednesday. It's the work week's version of the glass half full/empty depending on your perspective. It's only Wednesday. Or, yes! It's already Wednesday, weekend here I come! Talk about a day with a mixed up identity. I'd like to make this day around here a fun one, with a focus on what I'm watching. I'm talking visual inspiration in film, TV, and music.

I have so much I'll be sharing on the Wednesdays to come. We constantly draw inspiration from movies, TV shows, music videos and singers. Just look at how much a show like Mad Men has reinvented those classic styles to be relevant and popular for modern day fashion trends. I really do think music itself can be such a huge influence in people's lives. Not to mention how much these artist's style can inspire new fashion trends, or recycle old ones. 

In honor of Mother's Day having just been this past Sunday, I would like to give my mother full credit for setting me up with a love for music from birth. First I must clarify, we are not musically inclined. Aside from my mom's unique singing in the car or around the house, and my brief stint as a saxophone player in the sixth grade, our talents lie elsewhere. But I grew up with a mom who loved great bands & singers, and a huge variety of them at that. To this day, we love a lot of the same music, and some not so much. But I thank her for giving me the love of it all right from the start. Though I am still waiting to see a photo of the glittery platforms she claims to have worn to a KISS concert.

Let's get to it, shall we? I'd like to start off with an artist I found out about only a month ago through Saturday Night Live. I was all geared up for a night of Zach Galifianakis, but was distracted by the thought of "Who the heck is Jessie J?"

I've since learned, up until her debut album released this February, she has been writing songs for a lot of todays pop stars. She's got a huge following in the UK, and if SNL thought she was worthy, I figured I should give her a chance. She took the stage, and I won't lie to you, judgements came flying through my mind. She looked packaged, polished, and ready to sell. Though I was totally feeling the futuristic Betty Boop look she had going on, I couldn't figure out what to think. And then she opened her mouth. The girl had some pipes! But as I watched her perform, all I could think about was the fact that her makeup was flawless. Who is the lucky makeup artist that gets to go wild with this girl?

Through a little bit of research, that talented artist appears to be Andrew Gallimore. Though I am not sure if he was there for her SNL debut, he is credited for some of her music videos, her album cover, and public appearances. Which leads me to the following. In my mad Google search to figure out who this girl with big vocals and great style is, I came upon this video. I encourage you to enlarge it, and watch the whole way through. This is what I would consider pornography for makeup artists and stylists. Enjoy.

If I said I would love to work on a video like this, it wouldn't even come close to describing how I feel. Even aside from the makeup (which is to die for in every shot), the wardrobe & hair are fantastic! My makeup adventures have led me down many roads, and I must say working on music videos is one of my favorite things. So much packed into such a short time frame, all centered around bringing a song to life. With my love of music, and my passion for makeup, it's no wonder I can't help but dissect the music videos I see. Jessie J's video for "Nobody's Perfect" is like a dream to me. I've taken some screen captures to point out a couple of the looks in the video that left me picking my jaw up off the floor.

After checking out interviews with Jessie J, and impromptu subway performances of hers, I must admit this girl has some serious style on her own. And to have that enhanced by a talented makeup artist and styling team is just the tip of the iceberg. Jessie J is not afraid to step out of the box with her makeup choices in her daily life, and there is no reason for you to fear fun makeup either. Think of it as an accessory. You're not scared of gold bangles or a cool pair of earrings are you? Don't be afraid of makeup!

Here are some products I really love, that can help you bring a little bit of Jessie J's flavor to your own makeup wardrobe.

MAC Lipstick - Ruby Woo $14.50

Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes $17

OCC Lip Tar - Hoochie $13

Make Up For Ever Eyelashes - $15

What are some of your favorite fun makeup products or looks? Do you have any singers or bands you look to for style inspiration? We've got a nice discussion going over on my Facebook page, share your favorites there or in the comments below!



The Value of DIY: A Pre-Wedding Week in Phoenix

Friday the 22nd of April, I packed my bags and hit the road to Arizona. Phoenix to be exact. It's a drive I have made many times in the past couple of years. One of my very best friends moved there with her fiance, and I have been out to visit frequently in the years since. This drive however, was different. This one would lead to their wedding!

Why was I going out a week early? Because I could. I left my "day job" back in early February in order to pursue freelance makeup full time. I just wrapped a shoot earlier in April, and didn't have anything else booked until after this event. My days were open, and so I went, makeup kit in tow for the bride's big day, and able body and hands for the DIY week ahead.

See the rest of their engagement session here.

You see, Leanne and Nathan, the newlyweds-to-be, have been planning and DIY-ing every aspect of their nuptials. Leanne has incredible style and tastes, as does Nate, who happens to be a graphic designer. So it would be a near shame to not have their own hands in the design of their big day. As someone who follows wedding and design blogs, I have a big appetite for all things DIY. Folders of inspiration images, bookmarks of projects to one day tackle. Though I am not yet engaged, I have always just assumed I would want to do everything myself when the time came. And after spending the week with these two, lending my hands, mind, and sometimes blood and tears (thank you, glue gun), I am all the more sure of the value of DIY when it comes to your wedding.

Let's be totally honest, weddings are expensive! According to The Knot, the average wedding in 2010 cost close to $30,000! I work in the industry myself, and have been a part of many weddings over the years. I will be the first to tell you quality comes at a certain price. However, I think most couples can lose sight of what is really important. It is the love between two people who have decided to spend their lives together. And throw a party in honor of that love! But a $30,000 party? Hmm... 

Priorities can easily get lost in the shuffle, but I think deciding early on what your big ticket item(s) will be can save you a lot in the long run. Is it your dress? Is it the photographer? Is it the venue? Pick! Doing some things yourself, or delegating tasks to family members and friends with certain talents can go far. Everyone knows someone. You just have to get creative. This is not to say a wedding planner or event coordinator is not worth your money. Maybe that is your big priority. Great! Decide on that, and give them a budget to work with. DIY might not appeal to everyone, and frankly maybe some people just don't have the time or energy (it's not easy). But being honest about your expectations, and what you can afford, will make the whole process more enjoyable, doing it yourself or not. 

Leanne found her gorgeous vintage dress on Etsy, and had a friend alter and personalize it. The couple happened to know friends with a home nearby with an incredible backyard that became the perfect venue. It was complete with hanging twinkle lights, big leafy trees, and multiple gardens most people only dream about. Plus the most darling birds nest, found the morning of the wedding, above the arch where Leanne and Nate would soon be married.

An abundance of gorgeous flowers were ordered from a wholesale florist, ready for the bride and her ladies to arrange in centerpieces the morning of. Another friend made the most beautiful cake, complete with details only someone who knows you well could really accomplish. It just makes sense. Get your hands dirty, and ask your friends to do the same. It will not only become an incredible labor of love to celebrate love itself, but it will bring you all so much closer in the process.

And I think for me, as a close friend, getting to be a part of their day in such a special way really made the event that much more magical. I know not everyone has the time, but even as friends and family got into town throughout the week, everyone pitched in. It was beautiful. It was perfect. It was love.

What? You didn't want to see the rehearsal? But Leanne's Betsey Johnson dress was divine! Oooh, you wanted to see the actual wedding? That, you will have to wait patiently for. I really am eager to share that with you, but I think the work of Noa of Feather Love Photography will be worth the wait. Those of us lucky enough to be there can assure you, it was truly fantastic. It was a DIY dream.

All photos by me, unless otherwise specified, and may not be used without permission.


Meet Me in St. Louis

Happy May to you all! The month of April was filled with a 2 week film shoot coming to a wrap, a trip to Missouri to visit family, and a trip to Phoenix for a close friends' wedding. Plus trying to keep up with emails from brides via my trusty iPhone. So I have been MIA since my last post, but I have so very much to share in the coming weeks to make up for it! 

My time spent in Missouri started in St. Louis and ended in Springfield. I'm not sure what I was expecting when headed there, but I was quite taken by the beauty of the region. I also know I was still a few weeks early for the real blooms and greenery to take over the land. Still, St. Louis was blanketed in sweet smelling cherry blossom & dogwood trees. Staying just a walk across the street from the St. Louis Arch afforded great views of the area and all it had to offer. In Springfield, I encountered the most intense thunder and lightning storm, only to wake the next day to beautiful dogwood trees overflowing with bright blossoms. On a drive through more rural areas to see where my great grandparents grew up, bright green grass & dairy cows covered every inch of land in all directions. 

As a San Diego native, wildlife doesn't exactly land in my backyard. Sea gulls are about the extent of my bird watching experience. You can imagine my joy to be sitting in my aunt's backyard only to see cardinals, blue jays, robins, squirrels and many other critters enjoying the warm weather and lush plant life brought by the storms. I even spotted a few wild turkeys. I will be driving through the area later in the year, and can't wait to see the seasonal changes in scenery. But for now, Spring in Missouri had so much to offer!

All photos by me, and may not be used without permission.