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  • 7 Brushes You NEED!

    7 Brushes You NEED!

    Two of the most frequent questions I am asked are "What brand of brushes do you use?" and "Which ones do you recommend?" I use all MAC brushes and Ive made a collage (in the above photo) of my top choices. I have at least 2 of each in my personal Makeup collection. In my working kit, I have multiples of each, along with some other ones not listed. For the ones I use most, such as the #217, I can have as many as 15 when I go on location for work. After working cosmetic retail in the past, I've tried some of the top brands of brushes. There are some amazing ones out there but the quality and price point for MAC brushes is incomparable to me. I've used them since I first started doing my own makeup in highscool and have since been the only brushes I will purchase.

    There are a few reasons I personally love them. First of all, I learned to do my makeup and professional makeup with my MAC brushes. Some of those brushes I bought from my very first purchase 13 years ago, are still in my kit today. In fact, my oldest brushes are my favorite and most used still today. As long as you take propper care of them (see previous post on how to clean your brushes), not only will they last for years, but they will get better with time. Mine have gotten softer and fluffier throughout the years. Before I was a professional makeup artist, I bought them only based off of the results I got from using them. After getting hired at MAC and learning all the details of how they are made and why they work so well, I became a loyal user for life. 

    MAC brushes are professional quality, handmade from the highest quality of materials. When taken care of, the bristles don't shed on your skin or get left behind in your makeup. There are more bristles per brush than any drugstore brand. One of my personal favorites, is they are cruelty free and don't test products on animals. This is important because who would want a makeup brush from an animal that was harmed or killed? 

    Im going to list the brushes in my collage from left to right, with a brief description of each. 

    1. #187 Duo Fibre Face Brush. "A large full circular brush used for lightweight application and blending of face powder or pigments. Used to create soft layers or add textures. Made from a soft blend of goat and synthetic fibres." 

    2.#188 Small Duo Fibre Face Brush. This is basically a smaller version of the #187. I have tons of these and use them for all cream or liquid products on the face, as well as some powder products. 

    3. #168 Large Angled Contour Brush. "For expert application of cheek contour." I use this for applying bronzer and blush. The super soft bristles make it easy to apply without placing too much product on the skin. 

    4. #252 Large Shader Brush. "Soft but firm bristles for shading with eyeshadow or emollient based products." I use this one for applying cream products on the eye the majority of the time. Mostly used for applying eyeshadow base (my favorite is MAC Paint or MAC Paintpot). 

    5. #217 Blending Brush. "For shading or blending of colour or creamy products. This brush has fine, densley packed fibres arranged in an oval shape." I think I own at least 20 of these. I use it for applying eyeshadow, blending eyeshadow, applying concealer, highlighting the skin... It's my favorite brush of all time.

    6. #224 Tapered Blending Brush. "For controlled eyeshadow application. This brush has soft fibres which taper to form a medium size dome shape." I have just as many of these as the #217. Typically I keep these in hand to blend out each color of eyeshadow as they are placed. This is essentially like the #217 its just a touch bigger and fluffier. I dont use to this to apply eyeshadow but I do use it for blending the shadow and sometimes with concealer. 

    7. #266 Small Angle Brush. "For creating sharp, precise lines." This one if perfect for applying eyeliner or filling in brows.  

    I know brushes can seem pricey and it can be tempting to just go with the cheaper drug store brand, but just consider all the benefits of purchasing professional quality brushes. Yes, you may save half the money on a dupe, but that dupe will definitely have to be replaced in no time. Purchasing a cheaper version multiple times over the course of 10 years will definitely add up to cost more than just going with the better quality brush from the start. I can gurantee you will 100% see and feel the difference of using the better quality. Your skin will thank you when its not itching from low quality bristles that have shed onto your face. 

  • Make Love, Not Dinner

    Make Love, Not Dinner

    Just imagine it... cooking a quiet romantic dinner at home, exchanging cards with your spouse, a big bouquet of red roses in the center of the table, ended with a heart shaped box of chocolates. Mmmmmm! That does sound nice, BUT what if you did something different with your husband for Valentines this year? Maybe something unexpected? Instead of the usual sweet and romantic gestures, surprise him by spicing it up! We make dinner all the time, so ladies, as Agent Provocateur is suggesting this year, lets "Make Love, Not Dinner."

    Ive created a board for inspiration and will also include a list of useful sources for creative ideas. Maybe one suggestion could be buying some risque lingerie that you may not usually wear. If you always choose black silk, pick something in a nude lace this time. Choose something that would put you a little outside your comfort zone. An "alter-ego" in a sense. Instead of waiting until you get home, you could throw it on under your dress for dinner out. Even though your husband may not know you have it on, its guaranteed to make you feel sexier. Maybe you could even give him a sneak peak in the car so he has something to look forward to after dinner! If you have a "trademark" fragrance you wear, try something new! (I suggest Flower Bomb). Make reservations at your favorite little spot, then head back home or book a room at a hotel for some adventure. Have some items that you haven't tried before waiting when you get there. There are tons of easy options out there that can make it fun and new for both of you! Here are some suggestions:

    1. Massage Oil Candle (Shown Above) Light it, pour it, massage!

    http://www.liberty.co.uk/fcp/product/Liberty/Deeply-Massage-Candle/85450

    2. Eye Masks

    http://www.agentprovocateur.com/us-main-nav/accessories.html

    3. Bedroom Furniture

    http://www.liberator.com/black-label.html

    4. Milk Chocolate Body Paint (See! you still get chocolates!)

    http://www.liberator.com/kama-sutra-milk-chocolate-body-paint.html

    5. Role Play.. I dont think this calls for a webpage, just use your imagination!

    These are all just suggestions of course, but the idea is that whatever you do every year, do something different this year! It can still be romantic! Being playful and adding new elements into your relationship is a great way to keep it fun and fresh! Why not start with Valentines? 

    (Photo Images: Lingerie top & bottoms, Agent Provocatuer. Shoes, Saint Laurent. Massage Oil Candle, Maria Lux. Perfume, Viktor & Rolf "Flowerbomb", Eye mask unknown.)

  • The "No Makeup, Makeup": Guide to achieving skin that looks bare.

    The "No Makeup, Makeup": Guide to achieving skin that looks bare.

    Have you been trying to achieve that "Summer Glow" for years and still havent quite grasped it? How about changing up your skincare routine... better yet, your whole makeup routine? How you treat your skin is just as effective as what you put on it. "No Makeup, Makeup", is in and very well should be. Isn't the purpose of makeup to enhance yourself? Makeup shouldnt be used for the everyday person, to create a whole new layer of "skin". Why would you want something on that actually looks like makeup, rather than giving the appearance that its just your natural skin? The trick to the "No Makeup, Makeup", is to keep a light hand when applying products, and get your skin on a routine that reflects your ideal look. 

    I've created a collage of products I personally use and have found that not only did it give me the glowy look I was going for, but it also began to transform my bare skin over time. Ill name each product below with a brief description of its benefits to you. 

    I hope you're cleansing your face every single night. Sleeping in makeup, or leaving dirt and oils on your skin from the day, can not only dehydrate your skin but will start to age it over time. Makeup and dirt clog your pores, preventing it from breathing. Your skin needs plenty of oxygen if you want it to glow! I know it feels good...really good...to wash your face with a foaming cleanser. The issue with this squeaky clean option, is that most foaming cleansers are stripping of all the natural oils that you need to keep everything balanced. Your skin will either dry out, leaving it looking dull, or it will go into overtime producing as much oil as it can to make up for the loss of moisture. This leads me to my first product: Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil. I already know what 99% of you are thinking, especially if you have oily skin. Trust me and just do some reasearch on the benefits of using this in place of your regular face wash. Even oily skins can use this. They offer different ones for different skin types. "The beauty of cleansing oil is that it is the most effective to remove all impurities, and it creates the best skin condition." - Shu Uemura

    La Mer can be pricey but well worth it if its within your budget. Im a little dryer so I like to use Creme De La Mer Ultrarich Cream, paired with La Mer Eye Concentrate. The face cream is a basically magic. It really does transform your skin in a short amount of time. Its super rich, but turns a little more emollient and clear once its warmed in your hands before applying. Ask for a sample of a few types before committing to purchase. The Eye Concentrate is just that, a concentrated formula of minerls to condition, smooth and hydrate the eye area. 

    My new found love, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. "A perfect blend of skincare and makeup that hydrates skin and soften fine lines with a sheer hint of colour for a healthy, dewy glow." This product is said to enhance the skin without hiding it, and that it does! I fell hard and fast for this gem. 

    Following my new found love, is my old flame. Ive forever been loyal to this product since the day it hit counters. MAC Prep + Prime Loose Powder. Its completely invisable and sets your makeup without altering the color of the foundation. I use this directly on top of my tinted moisturizer, only in areas where i tend to be extra oily. I avoid areas where I would want a glow, such as cheek bones, center of my forehead and chin. It minimizes the look of pores, fine lines and imperfections. I like to cal it my eraser. It makes everything look smooth. The best part is any skintone can use this powder!

    Of course it wouldnt be as effective wthouth a nice bronzer to bring back some color into your skin, and  highlighter to give it life. NARS Casino Bronzer is a top pick in my opinion. It doesnt leave you looking orangy and doesnt have that glittery effect. It leaves a subtle glow. Place your bronzer on areas of your face where the sunlight usually hits most: Forehead, cheeks, nose and whatever is left over on the brush can hit the chin and neck areas. Top it off with your highlighter MAC Extra Dimension Highlighter Powder. Ths is the best highlighter Ive ever come across in my 10 years of experience. It looks like your skin is barely wet, rather than frosty. 

    My last product is optional. If you tend to be a little more dry or dehydrated, MAC Fix+ Spray is a great way to just wake your skin back up after a few hours of going about your day. Mist it on for an instant glow and drink of water for your skin. 

    Enjoy! And feel free to Email me for customized recommendations! 

  • HOW TO DO SMOKEY EYES LIKE A VICTORIAS SECRET ANGEL

    HOW TO DO SMOKEY EYES LIKE A VICTORIAS SECRET ANGEL

    What girl hasn't wanted to have perfect makeup like the Victorias Secret Angels. Makeup not only enhances your features when done right, but it literally boosts your inner confidence. The bronze smokey eye and nude lip is my go-to makeup on almost a daily basis. The everyday woman isnt likely to wear a look like this daily, or even weekly, but its perfect for any special occasion. Its surprisingly one of the easiest eyes to wear, it suits almost any eye shape and can be customized slightly to suit any skin tone. Im going to fill you in on a recipe achieving the eye and lip shown above on the AMAZING Adriana Lima. All Products listed will be MAC Cosmetics. 

    INGREDIENTS: (EYES)

    *Painterly Paint Pot, brush 252
    *Shroom Eyeshadow (1), brush 239
    *All That Glitters Eyeshadow (2), brush 219
    *Bronze Eyeshadow (3), brush 217 & 219
    *Carbon Eyeshadow (4), brush 217
    *Smolder Pencil
    *Mascara of your choice, I prefer Zoomlash.

    INGREDIENTS: (LIPS)

    *Subculture Lip Pencil
    *Creme De Nude Lipstick

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Start by applying painterly paint pot , lightly over each lid. Ive numbered the shadows in the image to help you visually see where they go. Start by highlighting the browbone with "Shroom". Use "All That Glitters" to brighten the tear duct area. "Bronze" will be blended all over the lower lid, starting from the lashline and blending up into the crease. "Bronze" will also be used under the eye for smoking out the liner. "Carbon" is the last shadow and will be applied directly on top of bronze, only on the outter corners of the eyes, top and bottom. Think of applying it in a sideways "V", fading it into the "Bronze" toward the center of the eye. The last 2 finishing touches will be lining the waterline with "Smolder" pencil, and topping it off with mascara. (PERSONAL TIP: I always keep a clean #224 brush on hand, and after every color I apply, I use my 224 to blend out around the edges. Blending is the KEY to a successful smokey eye! Each color should melt into the next and there should be no visible hard lines. Im known for doing things backward with makeup, but there is definitely a method to my madness! Start with your eye makeup first! Most people do foundation first, but you will save yourself tons of time if you switch it up! Doing your eyes first allows you to just do a quick fallout cleanup with a wipe, then you can add fresh and clean foundation.)

    Polish off this sexy look with a nude lip! Again, I do it a little backward but try applying your lipstick first, then cleaning up the lines with your liner! The liner will look so much softer when you have a lipstick base to blend it into. 

    Have fun with this look, its meant to bring out your inner "Angel". 

  • FAVORITE FALL MAKEUP TREND: WINE STAINED LIPS

    FAVORITE FALL MAKEUP TREND: WINE STAINED LIPS

    I'm borderline obsessed with one of this falls makeup trends, the red wine stained lip. There are a few ways to rock it, my favorite being with a nude eye/black liquid winged liner. Flip through any current high fashion magazines and you will find this look spilling over the pages. There is something about this type of makeup that seems romantic and haunting at the same time. A perfect combo in my opinion. 

    There are a few ways to achieve this lip, as well as some options to get the look without going too bold. Im going to call the bold lip a "Cabernet" and the softer lip a "Pinot Noir." They are similar but the Cabernet is just a little deeper in color with a touch of purple or burgundy, while the Pinot Noir is a bit lighter with a splash of cherry red coloring in the center. 

    THE LOOKS AND WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

    1. CABERNET- Bold would be a look similar to the photos shown above. A dark vampy lip close to Cabernet wine in color with a matte or semi-matte finish. I would choose MAC pro lipstick in "Sin", paired with "Currant" lip pencil. 

    2. PINOT NOIR- Cherry red in the center, deepened around the edges with a darker pencil. I like to use MAC lipstick in "Russian Red" with "Vino" lip pencil. This is the perfect pair for those of you who like an ombre effect. I would skip the gloss for this lip as well and go for more of a matte or semi-matte finish. 

    (photo credit unknown)

  • BE A PRO AT CLEANING YOUR BRUSHES!

    BE A PRO AT CLEANING YOUR BRUSHES!

    Although cleaning your brushes is the least fun of doing Makeup, its the most important part!

    WHAT YOU WILL NEED

    *Good quality brush cleanser
    *Warm Water
    *Glass Jar
    *Paper towels 

    There are two techniques to cleaning your brushes. Spot Cleaning or Deep Cleaning. 

    1. SPOT CLEANING: This is the route you can take in between uses for your personal brushes or when you are on set and need a brush quickly. You will need your paper towels and brush cleanser. All you need to do is squirt a small amount of brush cleanser directly on a folded paper towel and gently swipe your brush back and forth over the cleanser. Make sure to wipe the brush side to side rather than digging the brush into the towel. Once you see the brush is fully clear of product, lay your brush out to dry for a minute or so. Wa-la! 

    2. DEEP CLEANSING: For your personal brushes, deep cleaning should be happening at least once a week. Your professional brushes should be cleaned after every single job. Start by putting a small amount of brush cleanser in a glass jar. Fill the jar with equal parts of warm water. Both liquids together should be just enough to cover the bristles of the brush and never as high as the neck of the brush.  Drop your brushes into the cleaner/water solution with the brush head down and let them soak for 5 minutes. After they've soaked, take them out one by one, swirling them into the palm of your hand to loosen up all the dirt and product. Rinse under warm water until all the soap and product is gone. If you squeeze the brush and there is still some soapy residue, rinse again until the water squeezed out is clear. After squeezing out the excess water, lay your brushes down with the brush head over the side of the counter, spaced out enough so they arent against each other. This is extremely important so the air can ciculate through the bristles. If you leave brushes sitting up in a jar, or laying on their side without putting the brush head over the side of the counter, water will travel into the neck of the brush, loosening the glue and leading to shedding. Leave your brushes overnight to dry and they will be like new by morning!

    BRUSHES AND CLEANSER RECOMMENDATIONS

    My recommended cleanser for both techniques is MAC brush cleanser. Its a great price for the quality of the product and will last a long time when used properly. I love this product because not only does it sanitize thoroughly, but it also conditions your brushes. This is very important because although other popular items, such as baby shampoo, wash the color and product out and leave the brushes soft, it doesnt kill the germs. Its extremely important as a working artist to make sure the brushes are completely sanitized. Any germs left behind could be a huge problem in contaminating your kit products, not to mention how risky it is to use on a clients skin. It's also tempting to choose brush cleansers that are less expensive but please read the ingredient list and reviews to enure it has great quality. The majority of brush cleansers are overdone with alcohol, leaving your brushes dry, leading to shedding. If you're investing in professional quality Makeup brushes, you want to make sure they last as long as possible. I choose to use MAC brushes. I have some brushes that I purchased over 12 years ago that are still some of my favorites in my kit. The longer you have them and care for them the correct way, the softer and more functional they will be.