Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lip Linah!

I say, lip liner = crime against humanity.

Lip liner can be done. It can look natural and serve its purpose, that is, to give lipstick or gloss a bit more oomph and staying power. However there's always a fine line (literally!) between looking pulled together and looking like Dame Edna.

Here's an example of lipliner trying to look natural, but not quite hitting the mark. Then again, Aguilera wasn't exactly going for that 'au natural' look to begin with...

The easiest and most fool-proof way to use lipliner is to follow these guidelines:

- find a brand that goes on smooth and creamy, not waxy.
- no matter what colour of gloss or lipstick you plan on wearing, use a nude colour of lip liner.
- never match the liner to the lipstick. Oh mah gawd! It'll leave you with a ring around your mouth. This applies to red lips too, even more so, because when the lipstick fades the liner tends to stay put, creating that "Laquisha Bonifa" (madTV character) look.

- To find the right shade of 'nude', draw tester lines on the back of your hand, and try to match as closely as possible to your natural lip colour. Don't worry if the colour ends up being more purply or pink than you'd think your natural lip colour would be, just steer clear of muddy or too white/bright nudes.

- before applying lip liner make sure lips are moisterized with a good lip balm. Avoid greasy products like Vaseline (although great for an overnight moisterizing treatment) because the colour will just slide off. Using a waxier product, like Bert's Bee Wax lip balm or Chapstick, is perfect for pre-makeup application.

- line right on top of where your natural lip line is. Resist the urge to over-draw your lips, this technique should really only be used for the theatre. No matter how subtle or blended you think the line is, it never is.
- apply gloss or lipstick with a makeup brush or your finger overtop of a lipbalm & lip liner prepped lip.
- neaten up the outside of your mouth with a Q-tip dipped in some concealer. Blend really well!
Obvious tip # 43, Don't get lip liner tattooed:

I'm thinking this is what the $150,000 went towards?

Friday, October 10, 2008

The "it" List of Tools

Get the right tools for the job. Although it may seem like a lot of just general stuff is necessary to get your makeup done - looking at my bathroom and the number of makeup accessories in there, you'd think a team of 6 did my makeup every day - having tools dedicated to certain jobs keeps the makeup application time to a minimum, and keeps everything cleaner too. A good tip is to divide your makeup products from your makeup brushes; keep the brushes in a jar or in one drawer, and your makeup in a separate bag or drawer. This way your brushes don't get dents or dirty, and you'll always be able to find the right brush:

A big, fluffy, soft powder brush dedicated to face powder

An angled blush/bronzer brush, allows you to control where colour goes and define cheekbones (if you're using cream blush, use a synthetic brush suited to foundation, or use your fingers or a makeup sponge)

A concealer brush allows you to get concealer into small spaces, like blemishes and around the nose. A synthetic brush is perfect because it's easy to clean.

A soft, medium sized eyeshadow brush is perfect for sweeping colour on eyelids. It's big enough that it can be used to blend, and small enough to control where colour is applied.

A stiff angled eyeliner brush is key for softening eyeliner, or applying cream or liquid eyeliner. This is the tool for creating that wing cat-eye look, or for applying eyeshadow on the lower lid for a soft look.

Get one of these thingers to brush out eyebrows, then set with eyebrow gel. Use the comb for creating seperation in eyelashes after applying a couple of coats of mascara.

Some people might think this either a) looks like a death trap, or b) is overrated. Let me clarify, an eyelash curler is neither. If you've never used one before the best way to learn is to see it done, so ask a makeup consultant to show you, either at Shoppers, Sephora, the Bay, etc. The curler lifts eyelashes and presses them into place, giving you that Bambi eyelash look.

Invest in a proper pair of tweezers made for eyebrows (don't use tweezers that have a point or blunt edge, ie. tweezers made for extracting wood from skin)

You might not think it, but get a proper eyeliner pencil sharpener with two sized sharpeners, those cheap ones ruin eyeliner and the two different sizes allow you to buy whatever sized pencil you prefer.

Another way to get all the tools you'll need for easy makeup application is to buy a brush set. This is a great way to start off and a lot of these sets come at price points equivalent to buying just one luxary brand brush. This one here is from Sephora for around $40. Although the brushes are smaller in these kits, it's a great bang for your buck.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The "it" List

Inspiration for an everyday, simple makeup look,
makeup by Bobbie Brown: * those cheekbones look like they could hurt someone
After seeing one too many women re-applying their old, cakey foundation with a dirty-a$$ sponge on the subway or in a restaurant washroom; I've decided it's time to take a crack at de-mystifying the makeup bag and what to put in it.

Feel free to post questions or comments because it's impossible for generalized tips to apply to everyone!


Makeup goes on best when applied to a smooth, clean surface. No need to be all JLo or anything (who apparently bathes in Evian water), but using appropriate facial cleansers and moisturizers for your skin type is key. Some good brands for most skin types are: Cetaphil, Neutrogena, Clearasil, ProActiv, Murad, & Clinique.

A tip to get foundation to go on super smoothly (and last longer) is to make sure to exfoliate skin - at least weekly - to get glowing results. Avoid exfoliators that include descriptors like "beads" "scrub" & "nut shells" on the label, these lead to redness and irritation and will make you want to exfoliate less. (side note: hate to say it, but St. Ives Apricot Scrub is the worst thing you can put on your skin. Sorry Switzerland) Although it involves dialing up an info-mercial or going to one of those carts in the mall to get your hands on this stuff, I find the ProActiv Renewing cleanser is the best exfoliator because it is a finely milled exfoliant with some salicylic acid. The ingredients are suitable for people with serious acne, or for those who get mild flare-ups and everyone in-between. For the more fortunate pimple-free skin type(s), try Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub -- ignore that it says scrub, it's a gentler exfolation than 'scrub' suggests -- this can be used weekly, instead of daily for more sensitive skin types.
Primer is a relatively new phenomenon on the market. It comes in different price points, but they basically all do the same thing. A primer's duty is to fill fine lines and pores, and create a smooth service for makeup to adhere to. It can replace moisterizers if your skin-type is oily or combination. When used correctly (like regularly exfoliating), it's the difference between wool and cashmere. Try Smashbox's PhotoFinish Primer at the high end, or Revlon Smoothing Primer at the more reasonable end.

Not everyone needs foundation, however the selection and quality of foundation has improved so much from past pancakey formulations that even the most natural face could wear a foundation and be happy. Foundation provides the best ughgh..foundation! for the rest of your makeup because it smooths and evens skin tone and texture. If you can feel and see your foundation, it's time to change it up! Foundation is supposed to be a better version of your natural skin.

Tip: apply foundation over freshly applied face moisterizer for a dewey, lighter look. Use a pea size dot of face moisterizer for every dollup of foundation...how's that for science! In other words, don't slather on the moisterizer or else the foundation will slide off.

Higher End: Clinique Perfectly Real Foundation uses "micro-mirrored technology" -- basically creates a really smooth, flawless look without feeling heavy. Blends well. (around $20)


Drugstore: Almay Nearly Naked Liquid Foundation is a light formula with enough coverage to even things out. Feels good on the skin with the added bonus of spf 15 (around $10)

Try mineral foundations if you feel that liquid foundations are too heavy for your skin. Mineral foundations do not offer the same coverage or lasting ability as liquid, but they can be used along with a good concealer to get that flawless look. They often contain a luminosity (or light reflecting quality) which can work on some skin types, but also tends to highlight issues like acne or oily skin.

Higher End: Bare Escentuals BareMinerals Powder Foundation is an ultra-light foundation that evens out skin tone but is not meant for skin that needs coverage (ie. acne, redness). It has luminosity, so it's not great for oily skin. It's recommended that you buy their Mineral Veil too, which acts like a finishing powder but could be used as a powder foundation for those who want a really light look. ($25-$30)

Drugstore: Maybelline Mineral Power Natural Perfecting Powder Foundation is a more cost-efficient way of trying mineral foundations as you don't need to buy the add ons like 'finishing powder' and the brush (it comes with a cute little one). It blends and builds really easily to get more coverage, but this isn't a foundation that will last for the whole day. Try it if you're curious about mineral foundations! (around $10)


Unlike foundation, EVERYONE needs concealer! It is the great unifier of women, because I don't care what you say, everyone has a shadow, blemish or hangover that needs concealing! Trust me, you need this in your makeup bag. Apply it under eyes, at corners of nose and on blemishes. Blend, blend, blend!

High End: Time Balm Concealer is the best concealer I've ever used. It comes with a little sponge, but is best applied with a brush or fingers. It covers all atrocities and because of the balm like texture, it lasts all day too. This little pot lasts forever, don't let the size fool you. (around $20)

Drugstore: Have yet to find one that competes with time balm.


Everyone needs a little colour on their cheeks, and especially if you've primed with foundation, you'll need the added zing. I'm a big fan of anything cream based in the blush family, so experiment with any brand you like. Apply to the apples of your cheeks and blend outward.

MAC blushcreme is luxurious and it lasts. It pumps up cheeks with a sort of glossy texture, very flattering and a la mode. It can be built up for more colour, or put on with a light touch, build it up gradually with thin layers to acheive depth. I use "Brit Wit" because I already have a lot of ruddiness in my complexion, the plum/cool colour neutralizes unwanted redness and leaves a subtle pink hue. This photo is deceptive, you get a large pan of cream blush at a reasonable price. (around $20)


Powder is definitely optional in a makeup bag, but highly recommended. Powder can serve a functional purpose, by setting foundation and making eye shadow and concealer last. But it can also serve a cosmetic purpose by brightening the complexion, depending on the brand you choose. I've found one that does double-duty, however it might not work for all skin-types because it also acts as a mattefier -- some may find this redundant if their skin is on the drier side.

Laura Geller Balance 'N Brighten adds some luminosity to the skin, but I find that it also sets foundation and concealer and keeps them in place for longer than if I didn't use it. It adds a nice warmth to skin too. But it's a bit pricey and may not be necessary depending on the foundation you choose..give it a test drive at Sephora on the back of your hand to see for yourself. (around $30...huge pan tho!)


Eyes are the most fun and expressive part of the face, it's a shame that so many people are either afraid to try playing up their eyes a bit more, or they do it all wrong (first image that pops into my mind is when eyes are only lined on the bottom lid, yes, just the bottom. with no mascara. just eye liner. on the bottom. what's that about??) The best day-to-day eye look involves only a couple of steps, but prep is key so make sure foundation is applied on entire lid, and a bit of concealer is applied under the eye and in the inner corners closest to the nose. Then set with some powder before doing a thing.

What you'll need for an 'everyday eye':
- either one eye shadow or a pallette (in warm, earthy colours like cocoa, pink, soft grey, copper)
- a highlighting stick, or a highlighting eyeshadow
- a smudgeable eyeliner (in grey, blue, black or brown)
- q-tips
- eye-lash curler
- eye shadow brush (don't use those sponge tip applicator thingies, they're garbage for creating a subtle look)
- mascara (!!)

What to do:
1. Apply light layer of eyeshadow over entire lid (just lid, not to brow bone)
2. Apply a second layer of the same colour eye shadow but focus on the outer corner
3. Blend
4. Apply eyeshadow to lower lash line
5. line upper lash line with eyeliner, stop 3/4 of the way in towards inner eye
6. smudge liner with q-tip or brush to soften the edgeiness
7. curl lashes (not just at the base of the lashes, curl as you move the curler to ends of lashes. ie release, then move curler, curl, release, move curler, curl, etc.)
8. apply two coats of mascara
9. apply highlight to brow bone, blend

Go to MaryKay for a decent tutorial on how to apply subtle eye makeup

Body Shop Shimmer Cubes in Palette 6 are gorgeous, blend well, can be layered or applied wet for a dramatic look. They have some shimmer which makes them slightly transparent and therefore appropriate for day-time, but can be built up for night looks (not to be confused with glitter. we're not miley cyrus here)

So important! Tend to be overlooked. They are the cherry on top, literally. Get 'em waxed professionally to get you on the right track, then maintain with light tweezing and trim with tiny scissors (like manicure scissors) to prevent the wilderbeast look.

Use eyelash/eyebrow gel to keep them in place. If sparse brows are an issue, get Revlon Brow Fantasy and fill in sparse areas, set with the gel it comes with. (around $10)

Now, the final quick step, lips. Apply a sweep of your favorite lip gloss or neutral lipstick and you're done. Simplicity is best when it comes to lips, I'd say skip the liner as this can be an aged look. A trick to get lips smooth and soft is to apply a mixture of sugar and olive oil, or sea salt and olive oil, and rub lightly over lips to get rid of dead skin. Rinse.

Shopping List:
  • Face wash, moisterizer, exfoliator
  • Primer
  • Foundation
  • Concealer
  • Powder/Bronzer/Illuminator
  • Blush
  • Eye shadow(s) w/ appropriate brush
  • Eyelash curler
  • Eyeliner
  • Mascara
  • Lip gloss
  • Q-tips

C'est fini! Now complete the beauty binge with a cute and functional makeup bag, ditch that ziploc!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Chosen One(s)

Behold! The Holy Grail of Mascaras! Here are the mascaras that I find work the best. Word of caution, my ideal mascara creates the kind of volume some people might reserve for night-time only. I'm talking the "are you wearing false eyelashes??" kind of look. Keep in mind that one less coat of any of the following mascaras creates a much more subtle eye effect...
psh! subtle!

#1 Revlon Carbon Black Voluminous Mascara

why I love it...
  • creates length, volume, definition with few clumps
  • best consistency of formulation...not too thick/dry, not too runny/wet
  • lasts at least 8 hrs, if not more
  • good brush
  • lashes stay flexible, not crispy (which means more mascara can be coated on later on the day if necessary)
  • drugstore find!

#2 Physicians Formula Plump Potion
Why I love it...
  • length, volume, it's got it all
  • the bent brush allows for precise application and helps to hold curl
  • formula lasts at least 8 hrs, or more
  • doesn't dry out lashes, might even condition them..
  • drug-store find!
#3 fresh Supernova Mascara
Why I love it...

  • creates glossy, clean, voluminous look
  • conditions lashes
  • good staying power
  • find it at Sephora, unfortunately it's pricey at $25
  • fun packaging!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Masquerading as Mascara

We've all done it! ..Succumbed to the hype around the latest and greatest mascaras being hawked by celebs and models. Big, fat, feathery eye lashes seducing us to run out (for the 15th time) and try it for ourselves. Let's just turn a blind eye - pun intended - to the visible eye lash glue holding that sucker onto Drew Barrymore's lid.

Sarcasm only highlights the frustration I feel after I do actually run out and buy a new tube of what is supposed be a religious experience for my eye lashes, but always falls short. This post is dedicated to all those shitey little mascaras masquerading around drug stores and make up counters, thinkin' they're the new hot shot. But really aren't any better than if I smeared shoe-polish all over my lashes. Please do not attempt.

A selection of the mascaras that owe me a pension fund!

CoverGirl Lash Blast Mascara: Drew, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Lash Blast did not, in fact, blast my lashes with volume and length. It felt like it sandblasted them, actually. Lash Blast left my lashes crunchy and stiff, and there wasn't any more volume than the usual more natural mascara on the market. Also, I don't appreciate feeling like I'm using a combersum toothbrush to apply mascara. Could that handle and brush be any bigger?

Lash Blast does have some redeeming qualities: I appreciate the bright coloured packaging, made it really easy to find in a makeup bag. Also, clumps were never really an issue because of the rubberized bristles and clean formula.

Verdict: Not recommended, especially for those who are uncomfortable with the whole "sticking a huge fisher-price toy near my iris" thing.

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara: This is the mafia of mascaras. Every top fashion and beauty magazine has dubbed this as the go-to mascara at one point in time, despite it's less than stellar results. It's got a monopoly on the mascara biz!

Great Lash claims to condition and build lashes with its "lash-doubling formula". In my opinion, it does not do this. The formula is soupy, far too runny to create any significant volume or depth. The watery consistency also makes it difficult to acheive length. The result is hardened, squat lashes. Also, the brush is far too oval to get any substantial traction on the lashes. This might sound contradictory, seeing as the shape of the eye is oval. However, the rounded ends make it difficult to get into the outer and inner corners of the eye.

Verdict: I don't want to wake up with a horse head in my bed, but I have to say it, Great Lash is not great. In fact, it sucks.

Lash Fantasy Total Definition Primer and Mascara: My issue isn't necessarily with this specific brand of mascara, but with the idea of priming and then painting lashes.

The idea behind using a primer before applying mascara is similar to the idea of priming a wall before applying paint - create a neutral foundation to allow the true colour to have the spotlight. I think the problem with this concept applied to eyelashes is that, well, my eyelashes aren't flat like a wall nor can they support 5 layers of mascara.

Whenever I've used a primer it's made my eyelashes goopy, and after layering on the second stage of mascara it took just as much time to try and cover the white primer as it did to brush out the clumps.

Verdict: If the extra time applying this 2 stage mascara worked and gave me long volumnious eyelashes, I'd definitely see a point in using it. But unfortunately it's a gimicky mascara that makes the process of application overly complicated and lacks 'fantastical' results. No fantasy here, sister.