Archive for the ‘Friday talk: makeup mistakes’ Category

I will recommence with brushes in a future post, but someone specifically asked about fancy-schmancy evening looks, and with all the upcoming weddings and graduations, I thought I’d get on this puppy now. So let’s get down to business on night looks.

First of all, most of the daytime rules for makeup STILL APPLY! You still choose one feature to highlight, generally eyes or lips. You still choose colors that work for you, albeit generally more intense colors. You still don’t wear colors that match your clothes just because they match your clothes, although if those are colors that work for you, go for it.

So say you’ve got a fete coming up and you want to feature your eyes. Great choice! First, consider what you’re wearing. For an upcoming wedding, I’m wearing a turquoise dress. Now, with my coloring I can wear turquoise shadow, and I’m considering it. I’m also considering going with gold shadows and accessories. It’s best to choose a contrasting color for the feature you’re choosing, so you with something that contrasts your clothing in a shade that works for you. If you’re fair, go with a wash of color. If you’re dark, go intense. If you’re afraid of a lot of color, go with an intense liner or eye color used as a liner. I plan to wear a color like this Electric.

You want to do the smoky eye, eh? Ok, first of all, don’t automatically think black and dark grey. Just go with smoky shades of colors that look good on you. Brown or hazel eyes? Try this or this. Blue eyes? This is lovely, or this. Greens, I like this for you.

And please be sure to slap on several coats of mascara after, and only after, you curl those lashes. I know the thing looks like a medieval torture device, but at least your lashes will look amazing. Recently I’ve fallen in love with the Cover Girl Lash Blast. Good length, passable volume, and super cheap. If you want to try your hand at false lashes, a few tips: first, use lashes that are just two
or three stuck together, not a full strip. Curl your lashes, apply mascara, stick the lashes on the outside of the eyes (they look
more natural this way), then cover the line with liquid eye liner. This process is not for the faint
of heart.

Oh, you chose lips instead? No prob. First, refer to my previous post about lipstick mistakes. Remember the sloughing, the clear liner, the lip brush. For evening, you can punch up the intensity of your lip color, just remember to go in shades. It’s like a paint chip, you normally don’t want to go with the darkest or lightest colors except when you’re looking to make a splash.

As I said before, if you’re going with red, watch your skin tone. Porcelain skin? Blue undertone? Go with a blue-red. Yellow or olive? Go with a warmer, orangier red. Remember that the more blue red a lipstick, the whiter it makes your teeth look during that grand gala. You’ll want to make a REALLY clean line with reds.

That’s not to say that red is your only choice, or even your best one. Experiment with pinks, berries, bronzes, brown-based hues (carefully, carefully). See again my previous post about lipstick mistakes. Generally, brown is one of them.

Good evening makeup marries perfection and a little something that’s off-center. A perfect face is boring, as is the expected, so I’d love to see what you do with your mug for your fancy events, so let me see them!

Fussy tends to like a little more natural look than yours truly, so go check out what she has to say about the whole makeup shebang!

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Today’s makeup mistakes will be in two parts, because I cannot possibly cover all you need to know about brushes in one post. Yes, it’s THAT much, and I’ll attempt do dive into the depths of this hideously complex subject in a mere blog post.

First of all, let’s talk about what brushes are NOT. They are NOT (did we get it, NOT) those foam applicator things that come with your eyeshadow. They are NOT those anemic 1″ scratchy things that come with your blush. They are NOT the foam rounds that come with powder. Those are life support for your cosmetics. They are the 911 call and and an emergency tracheotomy. Perhaps I watch too much Gray’s Anatomy, but I’m serious about this thing. Don’t be a babbitt, break free from convention and invest in some brushes.

As for brands, seriously pretty much anything you buy will be a good choice (except that set, you know the one, the one that’s $4 at CVS for a “set” or comes free as a GWP when you buy your mascara). I will suggest a few in particular, but know that I tend toward the department store end.

If you’re a Target-obsessed gal, the Sonia Kashuk line is totally serviceable, as are the Essence of Beauty brushes at CVS. I’ve never tried the brushes at Ulta, but I’ve heard excellent things about them. Be warned that these shed some with the first several uses, but tend to stop after that.

Today we’re going to talk about the essential brushes: foundation, powder, blush, and eye shadow. You can do just about everything you need to do with these four. Next week we’ll talk about specialty brushes, and what you might want to add to your basic four to achieve your personal makeup style.

Foundation brush: Many people have never heard of a foundation brush. It’s a synthetic bristle brush that you use to (of course) apply foundation. It gives you a significantly smoother application, and has the added benefit of requiring around half the foundation you’d use on a sponge. And please don’t ask what happens if you use your fingers. You just shouldn’t. Period.

Start in the center of your face and work outward. You’re doing this because most people, if they have some redness, it’s in the center. You need more coverage in the center and less toward your ears. Go OUT and DOWN. You need to brush down so as to not ruffle the tiny hairs on your face, down will give you a much smoother application. I like Lancome’s foundation brush, because the bristles taper slightly at the end, allowing you to get in the nooks and crannies.

My caution with the foundation brush. Use less than you think you should. You can always add more later. After you’ve applied your base, you can grab a sponge and lightly blot away any excess.

Next we come to a powder brush. This one isn’t too complicated, just choose something big and fluffy. A powder brush feels like your biggest luxury, it’s poofy and girly. Firefox’s built-in browser spell check tells me “girly” is not a word. I beg to differ, Firefox. I use Lancome’s, but I really love Chanel’s. Ask ElleBee if you’d like a review of that particular one, I know she owns it.

On to blush. This one can be a bit tough because there are shape options. My personal favorite for a blush brush is a flat top. That’s because it allows you to do a little sculpting when you have not-so-prominent cheekbones as I have. It’s great becuse it gives you a broad swath but also precision and good blendability due to the increased contact area. You can also do a brush that’s like a mini-powder brush, and that’s fine. Here I have both the Lancome and the Everyday Minerals. At first these flat-top brushes feel really tight, so you’ll have to be somewhat careful not to look like you’ve been hit with paint balls on your cheeks. Remember, tap and swirl. Tap the brush lightly onto your cheek, then swirl it onto the surrounding area.

Finally for today, let’s talk eye shadow. For your basic eye shadow brush, go with something that’s a medium width, and not angled. Those brushes can be difficult to use and aren’t super practical in my experience. I generally use the one in the Mary Kay brush set (not a bad overall choice and totally affordable, though I don’t like an angled cheek brush). OK, let me say here and now that I’m all about natural hair brushes except for foundation and concealer (and one for cream shadows, but that’s later). It’s really hard for synthetic brushes to hold onto pressed cake powder shadows, though they do ok with loose shadows. While it’s all a personal preference, I’ll suggest any newbies try the natural hair brushes. They’re shaved, so the animal was not harmed. I’m all about cruelty-free (was a vegetarian for 13 years) and want to feel good about the products I use.

Now that that’s settled, please be sure to PAT on your eyeshadow instead of sweeping wildly from side to side. You’ll get a much better color saturation and you won’t get the dreaded raccoon eyes from the powder falling underneath. It takes some practice, but you’ll get it soon enough. And when the powder DOES fall, just roll a Q-tip under your eyes to collect the excess.

Finally for today, be sure to clean your tools. You use your brushes every day, and they need to be cleaned weekly (ideally), but not less than once a month. You can wash them with a brush cleanser (diluted with water at a 1-to-1 ratio) or with whatever you use for your face. Try not to get the casings wet because we don’t want the hairs to stay wet and rot and break off. Seriously. Just blot them onto a paper towel until no more color comes off, then lay flat to dry on a towel overnight.

OK, now that you’ve got your face on and are presentable, so go see Fussypants. She’s about to have a baby and could use the company!

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“If I had to teach someone just one thing about lip color it would be this: Find a lipstick that looks good on your face when you are wearing absolutely no makeup.” — Bobbi Brown, “Beauty”

You know, we expect a lot from our lips. They help us speak, help shovel food into our wide-open traps, kiss scraped knees, get bitten so to look innocent and alluring at the same time. That’s a lot to ask!

I’m slightly self-conscious of my lips. Most people wouldn’t notice until I say something, but I have a puffy scar on the right hand side of my lower lip. When I was about nine, I was enjoying a can of Hawaiian Punch after a soccer game. This was in a time where, to paraphrase Dave Chapelle, kids drank things with ingredient lists such as “water, sugar, and red”. I vividly remember the day, sunny, mid-morning, on the soccer field closest to the concession stand. I typically enjoyed my drink with a big ol’ dill pickle. Yum, yeah? Anyhow, I digress. As I was taking a big head-tilted swig, I felt something rumbling around in my mouth. Huh? To make a ridiculously long anecdote shorter, I got a bee sting. Which swelled to proportions like these:

Anyhow, so ever since, I’ve been particularly self-conscious of my lips. Here are some BAD things to do with your lips (regarding color people, get your minds out of the gutter):

1. Dark lip liner and metallic bronze lipstick. I’m guessing that you already know this. But please, PLEASE do not do this. I’ll beg if I have to.

2. Matte, spackle-like lipstick. C’mon. Do you really want to use a trowel to smooth a beauty product? Do you want your lipstick to be able to patch holes?

3. Lips so shiny that they look like a slip ‘n slide. I am so not ready to consider the thought of swimwear on these pasty thighs and 8 weeks postpartum tum. Please don’t make me think about it when I look at your lips; that’s just cruel.

So what’s pretty on lips? Well first of all, let’s talk balance. We need to pick up one feature to, well, feature. Eyes, lips, or cheeks. If you pick lips, you can do looooots of good stuff.

Like this:

Note the flawless brows, too.

If you’re more into the natural look, check this out:

So what should YOU wear? First of all, I’d suggest that everyone wear SOMETHING. I typically choose a gloss on running-to-the-market days. Probably my all-time favorite is Chanel Glossimer in Unity. My first one was given to me as a gift for my wedding, and I flashed that thing all over Las Vegas during my honeymoon.

If you want to step it up a bit but still keep it natural, I have a secret for you. Nude lipsticks are almost impossible (but I do love Sugar Daddy). Go for a great lip liner, soften the edges with a lip brush, and dot on some clear gloss. It typically looks much more natural than lipstick, and has the staying power of liner.

For those nights that you need to go all out glam, you have some work to put in. First, be s-u-r-e to slough the dead skin off those lips. There are some good products out there, I like Mary Kay Satin Lips Lip Mask if you want a product. If you’re a bargain hunter, an old toothbrush, wet and rubbed gently over your smackers will do just fine. Now you’ve prepped, let’s prime.

A clear lip liner is a great secret weapon. It keeps color on your lips without smearing outside the lines. It’s like a Magic Eraser for your lips, and this one’s pretty good if you want drugstore, and the Benefit is great if you want to splurge a bit.

Now let’s get to coloring. If you want to go with red, be sure to pick a red that matches your skin tone. If you’re a cool tone (and most people aren’t), you can wear the fire-engine, blue-based reds. If you’re a warm, choose an orangier red. Probably my all time favorite is Sangria, and Estee Lauder says their lipsticks have a “delightful fig scent”. How cute is that?

So here are my final tips to steer you toward the right shade:

Fair skin: Go with apricot shades (you know by now how much I love apricot, right? Believe me, it can be totally luminescent), or peachy-pinks. Avoid browns, they’ll wash you out. Badly. If it sounds delicate or fresh, it’s for you.

Medium skin: Roses, berries, mauves. Pretty much if it sounds rich or sumptuous, give it a try.

Dark skin: Deep plums, chocolates, wines. Basically, if it’s something you should enjoy in moderation, rock it proudly.

So get out there and grab a new lipstick. It can make an amazing change in your appearance, it’s relatively cheap, and heck, it’s spring!

Go on over and check out Fussy and the other Fabulous Frump Fighters. I totally think we need capes or something to denote our fabulosity in the frump fighting arena!

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Blush is the red-headed stepchild of the makeup world. Everyone seems to either W-A-Y overemphasize it or ignore it altogether. How would that make you feel if you were blush? I’m going with bipolar. One day you’re a make your wearer look like a zebra, a stark stripe angled severely down both cheeks, the next day you’re not even a glint in a non-wearer’s eye.

I started out not wearing makeup at all really, except the occasional foundation when I looked super blah. One day, the cosmetic manager asked me if I wanted some samples of blush. Having a natural flush to my cheeks, I said no. She said that everyone needs a little blush, so I said, “What color is it?”. Another manager (we all shared an office) said, “Who cares, anything will work”, and the two of them laughed. Presumably at my ignorance. While I was all of 21, I refused to believe that ANY blush would work on ANY woman.

Not wanting to seem ungrateful, I took what was offered. I still have this blush, as a reminder. It was a deep, deep rose cream blush that had been part of a Clinique GWP (gift with purchase). If you’re new to blush, cream is a hard place to start, especially when said cream is old and not as creamy as cakey. Anyhow, I digress.

Here are some suggestions for blush. First, you should generally use two colors. I know, I know. What a pain. But it makes a huge difference. Really. Most people in the fair to medium category should go with an apricot shade and a SUPER DUPER BRIGHT PINK that goes on really sheer.

Apricot and pink shares are typically chosen because they look youthful. Generally the best idea is to do the apricot shade all over your cheek, in a C-curve up to your temple. Why? Because when you blush naturally, the flush creeps up to your temples. We’re just trying to enhance the just-went-for-a-run-then-got-an-amazing-kiss-before-having-a-
small-glass-of-wine look.

For apricots, I mean anything in that range. I’m currently using Elizabeth’s Arden’s blush in Apricot (complicated, eh?) which has been discontinued, but I also love Lancome’s Miel Glace for people who are quite fair, and Sheer Peach Organza for fair to medium tones. And if there’s one blush that’s as amazing as its name, it’s Nars Orgasm, a cult favorite.

For the pinks, I’m talking shades that are flamingo-esque, kabuki-theater like, 80’s neon t-shirt. All of the above. Since you’re supposed to write what you know, I’ll suggest Lancome’s Shimmer Pink Pool. Nars Angelika is great, too. It’s sort of hard to believe, but these uber-brights are really wearable, sheer shades in disguise. Don’t be afraid, blush has come a long was since the aforementioned 80’s. These you wear just on the apples of your cheeks, and blend into the c-curve a bit. Don’t make yourself look like a clown by adding just one thwap of blush on your apple without blending. And if you do, don’t say you learned to use blush from me.

For my darker toned ladies, I love love love Lancome’s Shimmer Coral Sunset on your apples. It really reminds me of the islands, it reeks of calypso music, sarongs, the sea. It’s just that beautiful. As for the base color, I really like yet ANOTHER Lancome color (they make really good blush), and that’s Shimmer Mocha Havana. The rules are slightly different for you, since only the darkest of ladies tend to have red undertones. I can address you all privately, that can get complex (just shoot me an email if you have questions, that goes for everyone).

I’ll go into cream and gel blushes and cheek stains later on, those are typically for the more advanced user.

In summary, use two colors. Apricot-ish shades on the whole c-curve, and pink just on the apples. Oh, and then apply last week’s lesson, bronzer, over the top before you skip merrily out the door.

Go see Fussypants, or die trying. We all need that much laughter in our lives!

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Bronzer, bronzer, bronzer. Who uses it? Why?

OK, first of all I’m of the opinion that everyone should use bronzer, and in every season. In the summer, it enhances any color you get from the sun and gives you a little sparkle. In the winter, it livens up blah skin and makes you look and feel healthier. If you have issues with your face looking lighter than your neck and are sure you’re wearing the right foundation color, bronzer can bring your coloring more in line. If you’re fair year-round like I am, it’ll help you look less washed out. If you’re already tanned, the light reflectors disperse light evenly making you look even-toned and radiant.

So here’s the HOW. I know people are afraid of the stuff. It’s ok, really. I”m here to help. 🙂

First, I’ll recommend a mixed fiber brush like this one. It’ll help even if you’re a little heavy-handed.

Second, you’ll need to find a good color. Most bronzers are pretty good these days, just try to stay away from any that are a single tone. Even drugstore brands are pretty good, and I’m personally using Physician’s Formula Solar Powder Light Bronzer right now.

Finally, the process: Start by swirling your brush so that you get some of each color on the palette. Start with the areas of the face that would be naturally sunkissed first. That is usually the bridge of the nose, the forehead, and the chin. Then you can use a little on the rest of the face, just using what’s left on the brush.

If you go a touch overboard, you can go over your face with a little of your regular powder to take the punch out of the bronzer, but generally a light hand and a good brush make this process pretty easy.

And for the love of Pete, please don’t use a bronzer instead of a blush. They’re generally too reddish-brown to make a natural flush (unless you’re quite dark complected), and that’s what we’re going for anyhow.

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Oh yes people, I’m going there. I know, I know. Most of you love your brown eye shadow, believe me I know. It was the bane of my freaking existence when I worked at the counter. Women would come in, dark hair, brown eyes, medium complexion and tell me they wear “browns” when they sat in my chair. I converted most of them, I’m happy to say, to SOMETHING else.

Now, if you’re among the 8% of the world’s population that has blue eyes, I want you to wear your brown eye shadow proudly (but please change it up sometimes, too). If you’re from Iceland, stop reading now. Something like 90% of you have blue eyes, and you clearly can wear every shade of brown your little Scandanavian hearts desire.

OK, down to business. If I’m taking away your brown, I should at least give you another option or two. My favorites are:

Brown eyes: purples if you prefer contrasting colors, golds if you want complimentary, and blues if you’re really bold. Oh yes, I said blue.

Hazel eyes: Mauves are great on you. You can totally wear the purples, too. If you like teal, it’ll bring out the gold tones.

Thanks, Lindy, for telling me I forgot the green-eyed beauties out there. Forgive me!
Green eyes: green eyes look amazing with soft violets, and peach is an unexpected but gorgeous shade for you. They’re hard to find, but Elizabeth Arden makes a great one, I think it’s called Fizz.

If you’re REALLY interested in knowing what’ll look great on you, go to a craft supply store and get an artist’s color wheel. See what’s opposite your eye color, then experiment away. I actually own red and yellow shadows; you’d be amazed at what they can do! Let me know what you try!

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I’ve decided that Friday will be the day to fix makeup mistakes found ’round the world. OK, not so much, but as I was putting on my face to go to small group last night, I thought about some of the biggest problems I used to see. If you have any suggestions for problems you’d like help with, feel free to leave a comment.

I have one makeup crusade, and that is eyebrows. Ask anyone who knows me now and didn’t four years ago (besides my husband and children), and they’ll tell you they’ve never seen me without them properly filled in. Once on a retreat, I took them off to show my friends Jen and Karen what I look like without them, so they were privy to a sight that no one has seen from that day on. Heck, I wore makeup to the hospital to have the Look Alike, then put it right back on after washing my face the next morning. I’m hardcore, I guess. 🙂

So today’s Mistake to Avoid is neglected brows. There’s a reason I feel this way about brows, and it’s slightly embarrassing. The week that I started at Lancome, I got a fresh hair cut and color. Remember, I was in the same store where a week before I’d been a Big (Headed) Manager who Everyone Respected (or Pretended to Respect). The people I worked with at the counter, whether they liked me or not, still didn’t consider me to be “one of them”, and who could blame them? So you can see why it would be a little intimidating for one of them to critique me, even though I knew nothing about makeup. I didn’t even WEAR makeup before I started at the counter. So Nikia, kind soul that she is, said loudly in front of God and everyone, “Your hair looks good. Now what are you going to do about those eyebrows?”.


My brows were perfectly shaped and waxed the day before. Who knew I was supposed to do something ELSE with them? I asked Nikia what I should be doing with them, and she sat me down in the chair, whipped out a brow pencil, and got to work. After several minutes of intense focus on her part, she handed me a mirror.

I was shocked. My eyes stood out. When they say brows frame your face, they mean it! I mean heck, check how good my brows look in my profile picture (and please ignore the rest of my face, especially the hormone-wracked complexion). I was a believer from that day on.

My tips for dealing with brows:
1. If you’ve never had them professionally shaped, go get a waxing or a threading or hit a makeup counter and have them show you the best shape for your face.

2. If you color your hair, make sure your brows match that color. Generally the rule is to go one shade darker than hair color for blondes, one shade lighter for everyone else. I like Lancome’s Le Crayon Poudre

3. Invest in a good pair of tweezers, and make use of clear brow gel or mascara. My favorite is Anastasia Clear Brow Gel. A good mirror will also help you catch stragglers before they get too crazy.

4. Experiment! Draw the line a little longer than you’re used to. Thicken up the line, try the arch in a slightly different place. You’d be surprised what a tiny change can make in the look of your whole face.

I think that’s it for brows today, but I’d love to hear what changes you make to yours!

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