Monday, December 7, 2009

In the beginning...there was Smashbox Masterclass

I have so many recent photo shoot picture I would love to post, but I think it would be fun to pay homage to the reason I became so passionate about working behind the scenes.

In 2006, I had a great opportunity with my company to fly down to Smashbox Studios to participate in a photoshoot and learn the ins and outs of what happens behind the scene. If you are not familiar with Smashbox cosmetics, or smashbox studios; Smashbox studios is a wherehouse if you will of studio space that Dean and Davis factor began (the grandsons of Max Factor…not the creeper grandson). Almost any major fashion magazine cover you pick up or music video you see was filmed at Smashbox Studios, as well as major runway events including LA fashion week. So as you can imagine, this was a great oppiortunity to learn from the best.

We were all introduced to the designer, Jennifer Grossman, and what her line was all about. We then were taken through a lesson on what goes on back stage, expectations at shoots, as well as best practices for hauling our vastly huge makeup kit around with us the most effectively. We (I think there were about 8-10 of us) were then paired up with a model and sent away to start makeup. When our model was up, we got to be behind the scenes as they shot. Looking at the monitor the camera was tethered to, we could see how our work was transposing onto film and given the opportunity to make adjustments. It was an absolute blast! (and I even met one of my dearest friends that day)

Sadly after three and ½ years, I don’t remember my models name, (or have many pics left) but she was an absolute doll! We discovered she was attending FIDM, my alma matter, and we dished about it the whole day.

Here is a few of the pics I managed to salvage from the shoot that I have left!

The designer is Jennifer Grossman with Ankh apparel and you can find her clothing at

And if you have never looked at smashbox cosmetics, you have to check them out!

Come into Sephora and play or visit either or

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What makes me blush!

Did you know that the first powder blush was created by Alexandre Napoleon Bourjois, a theatrical makeup artist at the Moulin Rouge in 1863? He noticed that the greasecake blushers that were used in stage were thick and messy, so he created ‘Pastel Joues’, the first dry powder blush. Baked into a little leather compact, and fragranced with a hint of rose; the color is actually still in circulation today!
We have come along way from the days of pinching our cheeks and rubbing berries on our apples; blush, blusher, rouge; whatever you prefer to call it…blush breathes life into a dull, lackluster complexion and I have narrowed down some of my favorite blushes. Eye shadow colors and lip-gloss preferences are fickle, but I never stray from my tried and true flushed favorites.

Ahhh…Monsieur Cherie, Francois Nars, no man can make a woman blush as beautifully and fashionably as he can! I swear to you Orgasm blush is the number one selling blush in the world. That must explain why three of his blushes have made it onto my list! The one blush magazines instruct everyone should own as well as the little gem consumers prophesy it will change your life, this cult classic color is the perfect combination of a peachy gold color against a soft warm pink that is flattering for all colors. Everyone has to try it once. ;)

And it doesn’t end there. When I am asked for recommendations for blushes, Nars is the first place I turn. Here are my other FAVS:

Gina: For fair skin (like my Casper complexion) this tangerine/coral matte color is dreamy on milky skin. It brings out a beautiful natural warm glow. I love to wear Gina when I am wearing cool colors on my eyes; purples, pinks, teals, and greens.

From the fairest of the fair to the most chocolate complexion, Exhibit A offers a beautiful brilliant flush that looks FIERCE on everyone! Be forewarned…It will startle you at first glance, but you have to trust me and countless others that, when applied with a light touch, will look radiant!

Okay I will move on past Nars and into another Blushing Beauty I can’t live without is Tarte’s cheek stain in Blushing Bride. The product itself is formulated beautifully. containing 5 natural occurring superfruits that make this product very high in antioxidant-rich nutrients and vitamins, it’s antiaging, reefing, and restorative for the skin. Okay so we know why its good for us, but why does it look so fabulous ON us? Its all about the glow! Your skin looks absolutely radiant and dewy when sporting this sheer deep plum (smells like plums too!) kiss of color. One thing I know for sure is how beautiful my dear friend, Suzanne, looked on her wedding day after she fell in love with this color! Blushing Bride? in point.

I actually had a list of 10 blushes I came up with that I couldn’t afford to have vacant from my makeup case, so keeping this brief is near-impossible, but I will conclude with one final product; Stila illuminating finishing powder in bronze. No, it’s not technically considered a blush, but I consider it GLORIOUS! It is a highly reflective bronze shimmer that is baked onto a clay pan. It gives a beautiful warm glow that makes the skin shine! The beautiful Lola is wearing this very color on her glowing gorgeous cheeks!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Compromising with your wallet…part deux

My previous saga details the reasons why I was inspired to discuss the differences between drugstore quality and department/specialty store quality of cosmetics, so I’ll spare the introductory details and jump right into it. Last week I spoke generally about skincare and this week I’ll dive into the cosmetic cosmos of color!

Eyes are the window to the soul (<-- insert cliché beauty idiom here) so let’s focus there!

Mascara: Let’s face it…there are some FANTASTIC options out there in drugstore land for mascara. If you have to save some pennies, save some here. These are my top two favorites HANDS DOWN: Maybelline Full n’ Soft; great for volume building and the lashes are left feeling soft and pliable, rather than stiff or flakey. This is the mascara I lived and died by before I was converted to my all time favorite: Dior Show. My other favorite drugstore mascara is Cover Girl Lash Blast Volume Blasting Mascara. This little guy’s brush is comprised of stiffer rubber bristles to build and build long luscious lashes. It took a few coats to get the ‘full’ effect, but I definitely got full plump lashes. I was pretty darn impressed with this little man. I will say (my disclaimer) to bear in mind that mascara works differently for everyone. One person may LOVE a certain mascara and the next person may try it and it doesn’t perform the same at all. Everyone has different lashes and different preferences.

Pencil Eye Liner: ahhh…I am remember the good ole days when I had to hold my eye liner over my lighter to melt the wax, giving me about 15 seconds of pliable soft liner to work with before it hardened up to its original crust. If you want a soft, workable, smudgeable eye liner that won’t drag your eyelid skin half way across your temple when you put it on, go with a specialty/department store brand. But no worries!! You don’t HAVE to drop $20 on an eyeliner…c

heck out the Sephora brand nano liners. They are soft, blendable, adequately pigmented, come in 20 conservative colors, and are (ready for it?) only $5!! My other favorite eye liners are Stila Kajal pencil, too faced lava gloss liner, and Urban Decay 24/7 glide pencil (waterproof!!)

Eye shadow: Like eyeliner, a great eye shadow needs to be soft and full of pigment. There is really only one drugstore brand shadow that I would classify in that category. If you haven’t tried out L’Oreal HIP pigments, I would encourage you to give it a whirl. Beyond that brand,

stick with the higher end brand shadows. To get the most value, look for palettes; they always give you way more for your money. My FAV palette for the moment is the Kat Von Dee Ludwig Palette at Sephora. It is only $35 and you get 8 great sized, full pigmented, super soft, sultry, shadows. That breaks down to less than $4.50 per shadow a deal

you can’t find at the drugstore! I promise, you’ll LOVE them! If you are looking for single shadows, there are too many amazing ones to count. (I will tell you that I can’t live without my Make Up Forever matte shadows.)

Eye Shadow Primer: There is really no point in putting on eye shadow if you don’t have a great silicone base primer underneath. Those of us who are allegiant to this product cannot live without it. I won’t even bother putting eye shadow on myself without this magical marvel underneath; it truly makes that big of difference. Would you paint your fence without priming it first? Sure, the paint would show up, but the paint would not perform as well as it could, having to contend with the color and texture underneath. So prep those peepers with a great primer! It keeps your shadow on ALL day, keeps your shadow from creeping around, creasing up your lid, AND you don’t use as much shadow by giving your shadow a surface to adhere to. There are a lot of options out there and us primer prissies are so particular about our primer preferences (I couldn’t help myself ); here are the top picks: Urban Decay primer potion, Too Faced Shadow insurance (lasts a really really long time), Paula Dorf eye primer (my 1st love), and Smashbox photo finish lid primer. Using a primer will make all your wildest dreams come true. That’s how exciting this product is; and that’s a promise!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Compromising with your Wallet...Part I


immersed in the ‘prestige’ world of cosmetics since the very day I became a ‘consumer’ (with my own hard earned birthday money), its often assumed that I have an innate bias toward high end cosmetics in my attempt to stay reputable. I, as well as most people, have a pretty realistically tight budget, and dread the day when I no longer work where I work and I’ll actually have pay for all my skincare! Through these uneasy times, we are all being forced to reevaluate our spending and seek other alternatives for our previously profligate expenditures; thus, in lies, the art of compromising over our choice of relative ‘necessities’, including our cosmetic items. We have to wonder, Is there a difference between high end cosmetics and skincare that you would typically find at a department or specialty store and your local drugstore?

The day before I started my fancy new job in cosmetics, I was asked that very same question by a skeptical friend of a friend of the family who was clearly not impressed by the ‘over-priced’ nuances of the high end market. I knew the answer was ‘yes’ but I was so unqualified to offer a logical explanation, my meager half-hearted ‘yes, but I don’t know why’, only reinforced her dubious opinion.

After absorbing an erudite 6 years of this industry, I still frequently recall that disappointing conversation that I wish I could go back to redeem myself in. Since I can’t go back in time (yet) I can attempt to redeem myself now.

In the world of cosmetics, you absolutely get what you pay for, but what do you need to pay for?

Cleansers- You can get some amazing cleansers at the department store loaded with so many different ingredients to do many things; lightening, exfoliating, softening, brightening, help fight acne, etc. but if you’re simply looking for a cleanser that will remove your makeup and all the dirt and grime from the day, you can definitely skip the department $$ and go for a good basic cleanser at the drug store. Many dermatologists recommend Neutrogena or cetaphill as a basic daily cleanser.

Serums: Sorry guys, you can’t scrimp on your serious skincare. Unfortunately, through a lot of advertising, some drug store brands lead consumers to believe that they same ingredients can be found in their lower priced items and try to make higher end brands seem like they hike up their prices. The reality is, it is all about ingredients, both in QUANTITY & QUALITY. A drugstore brand may have a fantastic ingredient, but what they don’t tell you is how MUCH is actually in the product vs. fillers, as well as the quality of the ingredient. This is a situation where you DEFINITELY get what you pay for.

Moisturizers/eye creams: I’m going to have to say the same thing as I did with serums. These products are your serious skincare items. Bear in mind, you don’t have to spend $100 on a good moisturizer. There are a lot of options out there. Philosophy is a great brand to invest in for your money. Their ‘hope in a jar’ moisturizer is only $35 and it’s a great product with a huge cult following. If you are a fan of natural products, the Boscia oil-free daily hydration moisturizer runs you from $12 - $27.

Sunscreen: I don’t care where you get it, the abc store, Sephora, Walgreens, Neiman’s, or safeway..just buy some (at least an SPF 15) and wear it EVERYDAY. For the rest of your life. There are no excuses to not incorporate this simple small step to preserve your health and the vitality of your skin. People ask me all the time, what is the best thing they can put on their skin to prevent aging and the simple answer is sun protection. Like cleansers, there are a lot of additional benefits to investing in higher end sunscreens, but it is not one of those products that someone can just 'skip' because they can't afford it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Its Business Time

In attempt to escape from the monotony of my retail life I’ve subsisted in for the last 10 years, (somehow, it took typing that fact into existence for me to realize the legitimacy of that reality...yikes!!) I have finally cuddled up next the concept of, and effort needed to delve into the local networking scene I should have embraced years ago! The networking website I have been submissively logging into at the frequency I log into my FB account has allowed me to befriend a handful of photographers, models, and other makeup artists in a very short amount of time. It’s so eye opening to see what kind of work my ‘competition’ is producing, as well as what other photographers/stylists have to work with around this crazy town. Already having gotten business out of my societal endeavor, I’ve learned it’s a small world up in this little northwest corner of the industry, where everyone knows everyone and every username. I’ve had a handful of opportunities to go out and work with strangers, which I quite enjoyed because I could be assured that the feedback I received was raw and objective.

After working with several photographers/designers/stylists over the last few months, I’ve taken away a valuable equation to ensure repeat business, a great reputation, and a happy client (I like to refer to this desired variable as ‘X’); rooted in common sense, my mathematical approach to achieving my desired outcome is ‘Be on time + Be professional + Deliver quality work + LISTEN to their vision + Be polite = X. Next to the Pythagorean Theorem, this is unequivocally the most valuable equation to live my professional life by! I’m excited to be delving into diversifying my range of pictures to put in my shoebox of work I am bound to refer to as my portfolio.