- Leanne on Cynthia’s Christmas Wedding in Holyoke, MA
- rachellisamua on What’s the deal with airbrush, anyway?
- Liz Washer on Crystal & Matthew’s Smith College Winter Wedding
- Tammy Thompson on Crystal & Matthew’s Smith College Winter Wedding
- lisa johnson on Beauty Resolutions: Keeping Things Clean in 2013!
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Category Archives: Products
Read part 1 here
Talk about good fortune: I was the lucky recipient of a complimentary tooth whitening session by local dentist (and former client of mine), Dr. Jyotika Dhawan from 1st Advantage Dental on King Street in Northampton. Dr. Dhawan uses the innovative Venus products (which she described as being much gentler than Zoom and similar whitening systems), and she wanted me to experience a whitening session for myself. I was game, so we set the appointment (somewhat miraculous, considering our respective crazy schedules!)
Let me start by saying that I am two things:
1. A total wuss about pain, especially dental pain (and I have wickedly sensitive teeth – I couldn’t even tolerate more than a few days of Crest White Strips!)
2. Insecure about many things, sure… but not so much about my teeth, as my natural tooth color has never really bothered me. (Dr. Dhawan confirmed that my teeth were already on the lighter end of the spectrum.)
Accordingly, I am a very odd candidate for cosmetic tooth bleaching. But when she suggested that I try it out in case a client ever asked me about it, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity!
I spent two surprisingly short appointments with Dr. Dhawan – first, to get my teeth fitted for trays (which hold the soothing gel that you use after a session to reduce any remaining sensitivity), and then for the actual whitening session itself. On both days, I was so impressed with her “chairside” manner – she explained everything she was doing and has a definite talent for relaxing her clients (and I am rarely relaxed at the dentist – I still pine for the days of nitrous oxide!) Even with an oral speculum in place, I was quite comfortable as she applied a protective barrier to my gums, kept my mouth very dry (no small task!), and proceeded to dab on the whitening compound. No UV lights are used for the Venus system; you just sit comfortably for about 15 minutes while it works its magic on your enamel.
I didn’t feel a thing until the last minute or so. And honestly, what I felt couldn’t even be described as pain – more like a twinge, a minor nerve annoyance (Dr. Dhawan called them “zingers”). But since it’s an unusual feeling, I was too anxious to continue – I had an early commercial shoot the next morning and was afraid I’d be too distracted by my sensitized teeth to concentrate on my work. (Such a wuss!) So we stopped after one round, and Dr. Dhawan applied the soothing gel to my tooth trays and I bit down on them, which was very satisfying and immediately alleviated the minor discomfort. I kept the trays in place for about half an hour afterwards, and once I removed them, I ate a bowl a soup with no trouble at all. And then I promptly forgot about the trays and gel, because I no longer needed them – within a few hours after my session, I was fully recovered!
Dr. Dhawan provided me with everything I needed in a gift bag: comfort gel, whitening toothpaste (including an innovative new brand designed to reduce sensitivity), and two bottles of clear mouthwash (much better for freshly bleached teeth than green!) She followed up with me afterwards to make sure everything was comfortable and to see whether I had any questions about maintenance. I was so impressed with her professionalism and follow-through.
Because I only did a single 15-minute round of bleaching before the minor twinges made me too nervous to continue, the results are very subtle (normally clients would do between 3 and 4 applications) – but I still saw a result, especially on my front teeth, which I attempted to capture below. Thanks to the maintenance products she provided, the effect has lasted, even as I sit here cluelessly drinking coffee and probably staining them anew.
In hindsight, I wish I’d toughed it out for at least one more round – I had no idea the twinges would go away within an hour of my appointment, and I could have tolerated many more “zingers” than I did. But hopefully this gives you an idea of what’s possible:
So if you’re self-conscious about your tooth color and haven’t had luck with at-home/over-the-counter systems, I would absolutely recommend seeing a professional like Dr. Dhawan for a whitening session – it was nowhere near as uncomfortable as I thought it would be, and anything that makes people more willing to smile is OK by me!
I’m so grateful to Leanne from Skin Catering for providing me with a sample of her new product, Flour Power facial scrub. (She gave me an option of which product I wanted to try, and I decided my dry, flaky winter skin needed a serious recharge!)
Leanne sticks to all-natural ingredients in all of her handmade skincare products – here’s the full list:
Aqua (water), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (aloe juice), Cocos Lucifer (coconut oil), Oryza Sativa (rice flour), Butyrospermum Parkii (shea butter), Xanthan gum, Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda), Glycerin (vegetable), Silver Citrate and Citric Acid, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (lavender) oil, and Mealeuca Alternifolia (tea tree) oil
I cannot get enough of the smell! This is the most yummy, fresh, summer-cocktail-by-the-pool smelling scrub I’ve ever stuck my nose in. Let’s just say, I was sorely tempted to taste it. I definitely pick up on the coconut and citrus (orange & lime) notes, and a touch of the tea tree too. The lavender doesn’t dominate (which for me is good, since I’ve never been a fan of most florals).
The texture feels wonderful – the cream base is smooth and there are plenty of scrubby bits too, but the rice flour lends itself to a gentler exfoliation than many others I’ve tried (walnut shells can be scratchy!) The natural oils in the product do leave a bit of residue on the skin even after rinsing, but they are wonderfully hydrating and I had no problems when I left them to soak in. (If you prefer your face to feel dry to the touch after scrubbing, a gentle soap or cleanser will easily remove any remaining oils.)
I have been using it consistently for two weeks now and I notice a definite reduction in the amount of dry skin flakes, especially on my forehead and nose where I’m most prone to chapping. It won’t unclog all of your pores (few scrubs can – that’s what facials are for!) but it does a nice job of smoothing the surface – which leads to nicer looking makeup!
Really my only issue was that the paper label quickly became saturated and illegible, but to me, performance beats packaging any day of the week.
Overall, I’m delighted – I was in need of a good scrub and I think I’ve found my skin’s new BFF!
False lashes don’t have to be applied in a full strip – as I suggested in Part 2, you can cut them up and apply them any way that’s comfortable for you. But if you don’t feel like hacking a strip to bits and just want a little added “oomph,” individual cluster lashes might be perfect for you. And while they take a little practice and finessing to apply correctly, it’s well worth the effort!
Individual cluster lashes come in different lengths, and it’s best to err on the shorter side of things when you’re starting out so they blend in seamlessly with your natural lashes (in some cases, I’ve even trimmed them a bit). My preference is for knot-free flares (no visible “bulb” at the base of each cluster, which can be very noticeable) – I get the most mileage out of Ardell Duralash Naturals in short and medium, which I reviewed here. (You can also watch me applying them on live TV here!) You can get them in brown, if you have lighter hair and/or want a subtler, “no mascara” effect.
Here’s how to get those tiny little suckers on:
- Curl your natural lashes and apply a coat or two of mascara.
- Gently free the lash cluster from the packaging (I like to use tweezers) and pluck away any excess glue.
- Dip the very end of the lash into a drop of the lash glue. You only need a TINY amount! (I use the same glue that I use with strips for one-day wear, but Ardell also makes a product called LashTite which is for wearing lash clusters up to a week or more, and requires a special remover. )
- Look down into a mirror to help with accurate placement.
- Apply the cluster directly into the natural lash root, focusing on any gaps or areas that you want to thicken (I usually emphasize the outer corner and center of the eye). Try not to apply them above the lash line, where they’ll be noticeable.
- Use tweezers or your fingertips to gently pinch the cluster against the natural lash, to ensure that they lie at the same angle.
- You can apply them where needed, or layer them – but be sure to check occasionally to make sure that they are not sticking out at odd angles. Be sure to use shorter flares, or trimmed flares, as you work inward.
- One the glue is dry, gently add a light coat of mascara to marry the clusters with the natural lashes.
So you’ve made the most of what you already have… ready to up your batting average even further? Here’s what you need to know to apply false lashes like a pro:
1. You have a variety of styles to choose from! Check out your local drugstore or beauty supply shop to see what’s available (I like the selection at Sally Beauty, and am partial to Ardell line). To keep the look natural, look for slim, clear, flexible bands (nothing too thick or too dark, unless you plan to wear heavy eyeliner), wispy styles (the less “uniform” the lash, the more believable it looks), and realistic lengths (especially if you wear glasses). Or go all out and get your glam on!
2. If you’ve never applied a strip lash before, start with a half or “demi” length that fits easily on the outer half or third of your eye. These are much easier to apply. You can also trim a full lash to a demi length – some people even find it easier to cut lashes in half or thirds and applying piece by piece, rather than all at once. Your choice!
3. Start by gently removing the lash from its container and placing it against your eye to see how the band fits – very often, they’re too long to wear comfortably. Trim the band from outside in so it fits your eye shape properly – removing the longest lashes will keep the nicely tapered shorter fibers to blend with your natural lashes. You can always keep the piece you trimmed away and stack it on top of the lash band at the outer corner of your eye for extra flair!
4. Bend and flex the lash band to help it shape itself to your eye (I sometimes wrap them around a brush handle to achieve that nice curve) – this will help prevent the ends from lifting up.
5. Apply thin strip of glue (I swear by Duo waterproof adhesive in Clear, and black is available as well), with a little extra on the corners. You want a solid stripe of glue but not so thick that it starts seeping down and gumming up the lashes.
6. Let the glue set for 30-45 seconds before application (I usually give them a little wave in the meantime) – you want the glue to be sticky enough that you won’t be struggling to hold them in place while they dry.
7. Place the strip on top of your lashes in the center, & then adhere the corners (using tweezers if you find it helpful). Press the band as close to the natural lash line as possible; you don’t want a visible gap. I tend to sit them right on top of the natural lashes and then tuck them into place. Looking down into a mirror can help with placement.
8. Once the glue has set, “pinch” the false lash together with your natural lashes. You can also gently add a bit of mascara to marry the two sets together.
9. Touch up the strip with eyeliner as needed (sometimes the dried glue looks a bit shiny, so you can matte it down again with eyeliner if desired).
10. Peel off gently from the outside in when removing your makeup. I don’t recommend sleeping in your makeup, and that includes false lashes!
11. Never share false lashes (or mascara) with others. You may be able to get a few wears out of your own falsies if you keep them neat, but don’t mix and match with friends. Think of false eyelashes like underwear!
12. Practice, practice, practice! Don’t get too frustrated too soon, this isn’t easy the first few times you do it, but it’s rather addictive once you do!
As a professional makeup artist, I get a lot of questions about how to enhance eyelashes. Before I get into the details of applying false ones, though, I’d like to give you the tips and tricks you need to enhance what you already have:
1. Use eyeliner right at the root of the lashes to make them appear thicker – I like a gel eyeliner on a flat-tipped brush, but pencil also works well. If you prefer a softer look and like to wear a brown or auburn mascara to coordinate with your hair color, use a similar shade of eyeliner to make the base of the lashes look nice and thick.
2. Make friends with that scary torture device known as a lash curler! You can find them in many different shapes and sizes; the Shu Uemura curler is my favorite. Squeeze gently but firmly at the base of the lash (taking care not to catch your skin) and then pinch your way towards the tip to achieve a nice, soft upward curl.
3. You have many choices when it comes to mascara – thickening, lengthening, waterproof or regular, etc. – and many different styles of applicator wands; I’m partial to CoverGirl LashBlast Fusion, but it’s really about what works best for you. Just remember that mascara ads are misleading (the models’ lashes are usually fake and enhanced digitally!), so don’t expect the formula alone to get the results.
4. When you apply mascara, first wipe any excess globs off the wand so you don’t make a mess. Apply by wiggling the wand gently at the base of your lashes to coat them thoroughly, and continue to wiggle the wand up the length of the lashes, which will help add thickness and length. You can add as many coats as you’d like, but stop before you get stiff, clumpy lashes (unless you’re aiming for the Twiggy look!)
5. Use a lash comb (I like metal-toothed combs; Tweezerman makes a nice one) to separate any clumps and keep the lashes wispy. You can also use a clean, disposable mascara wand to comb them.
Originally published on HowToBeARedhead.com
The most common questions I get from clients have to do with their perceived “flaws,” and fine lines/crow’s feet rank high on that list. What’s worse, many clients have already had a bad experience:
“I have very fine lines (crow’s feet) and the last makeover I had accentuated them. I’m sure there is something to do to not have fine lines show up like that?”
There sure is! Read on…
1. Moisturize & (GENTLY) exfoliate. Fine lines can be accentuated by products that are too dry or inflexible – the skin around the eyes moves a lot as we speak, smile, and emote in general, so the products have to be able to move with the skin without cracking. And the better moisturized the skin, the better the makeup will apply. As for dry skin that’s gotten flaky, you can very, very gently exfoliate with a cotton swab (I like to soften my skin first with Vaseline and then gently wipe it off in the shower, followed by moisturizer). Better yet, make sure you’re not using any harsh soaps or makeup removers in this delicate area, as that can contribute to dryness.
Liz’s product picks: Embryolisse Eye Contour Cream, Murad Ultimate Moisture for Eyes
2. Start Smooth. The bride quoted above noticed her fine lines were more noticeable after an unsuccessful airbrush makeup trial with another artist. Fine lines will be accentuated by concealer (particularly airbrush) if the subject tightens her face during application, preventing the color from reaching all parts of the skin. I usually suggest that clients close their eyes lightly (no squinting) and raise their eyebrows to smooth the skin, or I do it myself by gently stretching the skin flat with my fingers. Whether you’re doing your own makeup or seeing a pro, be sure the skin around your eyes is smoothed out so that you don’t leave any “gaps.”
3. Proper texture. The undereye area calls for a product that is flexible enough to move with your skin, and neither too dry to be flexible nor too slippery to stay put. You’ll almost certainly need to set the product with a light loose powder to make it last and minimize creasing over time – dust it on lightly with a very soft brush.
Liz’s product picks: Eve Pearl Salmon Concealer, Temptu S/B Neutralizer Wheel, Graftobian HD Glamour Crème, Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder
4. Lighten Up. Got a line on your face that just won’t quit? Experiment with using a slightly lighter shade in the crease to “lift” it a bit. Don’t go drawing white lines all over your face, though – keep it subtle.
Liz’s product picks: Three Custom Color clarifying pencils
5. Embrace Your Face. While proper makeup application techniques and products can greatly reduce the appearance of fine lines, it will not disguise them fully or “fill them in” in a lasting way (and you can guarantee that the lineless, poreless skin you see in magazines has been digitally retouched!) Do what I do: call them “smile lines” and embrace a life lived with plenty of laughter!
(I dare you to look at these photos without getting that Warrant song stuck in your head!)
When lifestyle photographer Lynne Graves told me about her vintage-kitsch stock photo shoot idea featuring bright colors and a yummy cherry pie, I was immediately on board. She found the perfect model, too – professional food and event photographer Lena Teveris who also happens to be a gorgeous redhead and a natural in front of the camera. Lynne baked the perfect cherry pie for the occasion and supplied the vintage cherry-print apron; I brought my makeup kit and a handful of bobby pins to create a loose side chignon, and I painted her nails red, too.
For the vintage-inspired makeup, I let the softer colors in the apron influence my choice for Lena’s lips. So instead of giving her a fire-engine red pout, I opted for a softer coral-red that worked beautifully with her warm complexion (I used a coral pencil by Three Custom Color and a LipSurgence tint by Tarte called “Lust”).
This shoot was so playful and fun, and definitely activated my sweet tooth! (Not that it takes much to activate my sweet tooth.) I can’t wait to see the framed prints posted in Lynne’s studio.
Originally published on HowToBeARedhead.com
Lavender primer? GREEN concealer?!?
The array of weird colors on the market is understandably baffling to most consumers, but as a pro makeup artist, I use the principles of color theory every time I apply makeup, and you can too – especially if you have a stubborn blemish that just doesn’t look good with a thick pile of concealer on top. When it comes to covering the tough stuff, color correctors work wonders – and you can get away with using less foundation as a result.
Here’s how they work:
Discoloration on the face has an undertone to it – for example, undereye circles are often blue, grey or violet; pimples are pink; hyperpigmentation is brown. You can cancel out the unwanted pigmentation by using a concealer in a complementary color – i.e., the color opposite on the color wheel – and then blend your natural skin color (foundation) on top as needed with a little powder to set. You end up needing less coverage because the colors are doing the work for you!
This method is preferable to using only a “nude” concealer because most aren’t opaque enough to do the job themselves: a light shade over a dark shade will create an unattractive a greyish cast. Neutralizing the discoloration with a soft wash of a complementary color saves you from having to use a thick, heavy concealer that’s just going to appear ashy and grey.
Here are the corrective formulas:
1. For blue-toned undereye circles, try a peach concealer to warm up the skin and brighten the eyes.
2. Grey tones in the skin can be adjusted with pink.
3. For rosacea and acne blemishes, use a yellow or green (be sure to use green very sparingly and sheerly, as it can drain all the pink from your skin, making you look a bit grey).
4. For sun damage and hyperpigmentation, use orange to neutralize the brown – the darker the skin, the deeper your concealer should be. Orange is the most magical concealer color when serious coverage is needed – I can even use a wash of orange to soften a multicolored tattoo that needs to be concealed.
5. Enliven sallow skin with a sheer wash of lavender.
6. Add a drop of blue to cool down a foundation that is too warm for your skin, or to tone down an overly orange spray tan! Go sparingly: like green, blue tends to OVER adjust.
Liz’s product picks: Temptu S/B Neutralizer Wheel & S/B Adjuster Set, Graftobian HD Glamour Crème Corrector palette, Make Up For Ever Camouflage Cream & HD Microperfecting Primer
Who hasn’t overslept (accidentally or on purpose – hey, that Snooze button isn’t going to push itself!) and then found themselves in a mad dash to get out the door? If you need to look polished but FAST, just mix and match from the tips below – you’ll look like you made an effort even if you were stuffing a muffin in your mouth and pulling on your pants at the same time!
1. Skincare: If you skip everything else, just do skincare: moisturize & apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen. After all, UVA and UVB rays don’t take pity on those of us who are running late! Stash a small bottle in your bag if you need to apply on the go. (But not while driving, though. Please.)
Liz’s product picks: Aveeno Continuous Protection, Embryolisse lait crème concentré
2. Tinted Moisturizer: Find your “holy grail” complexion product that is easy and fast to apply – a tinted moisturizer (great for dry skin) can be applied with your fingertips, or a mineral foundation (for oily/combo skin) can be brushed on in no time at all.
Liz’s product picks: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, Fortunate Face Mineral Foundation
3. Spot Coverage: Think spot coverage, not full foundation – pat concealer only where needed. Only powder if & where you need to (you can always touch up later!)
Liz’s product picks: MAC Select Moisturecover, Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer
4. Concealer: A brightening concealer under your eyes and a bit of luminosity in the inner corners will wake them right up, and it only takes seconds!
Liz’s product picks: YSL Touche Éclat, Benefit Eye Bright pencil
5. Curl your lashes: You can even skip mascara if you’re in a rush, but a little curl will make your eyes look much more open.
Liz’s product picks: Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler
6. Maintain Brows: Grooming your brows will go a long way to making you look finished – if they’re sparse, use a pencil or powder to give them more shape, or you can simply brush them into place using a clear or tinted brow gel.
Liz’s product picks: Satin-finish eyeshadows in neutral taupe shades (any brand), Lorac Creamy Brow Pencil
7. Double-The-Wonderful: You can use certain products on both lips & cheeks to instantly look pulled together (and as though you put more thought into your makeup than you did!) Some lipsticks can even double as blush, but steer clear of any formulas that are glittery or glossy.
Liz’s product picks: Stila Convertible Color, NARS The Multiple
8. Lipstick: If all else fails, slap on some red lipstick – it looks instantly chic!
Liz’s product picks: MAC Russian Red, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in NSFW or Stalker
Originally published on HowtobeaRedhead
Guess what inspired today’s post? (groan) I don’t know what it is but some nights I just cannot fall asleep – and stay asleep – to save my life. And there’s something about a poor night’s sleep that just makes my skin look drawn and my eyes tiny and dull. Fortunately, this is an easily correctable condition.
1. Using a color corrector will help to neutralize undereye discoloration and prevent that unattractive grayish cast that happens when you pile a light color over dark circles. Reduce the appearance of undereye darkness with a creamy peach-toned concealer for bluish dark circles, or pink for greyish circles. Simply pat on a light layer and blend foundation on top to match your skin, and then set with a light dusting of loose translucent powder.
Liz’s product picks: Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder, Eve Pearl Salmon Concealer
2. Brighten the inner corner of the eye with a soft peach or champagne eyeshadow or pencil – a little touch of shimmer here will light up your eyes and make them look brighter and more open. (Curling your lashes goes a long way, too!
Liz’s product picks: MAC Shroom eyeshadow, Benefit Eye Bright pencil
3. Clarify: When you’re tired, heavy dark eyeliner all around your eyes will just shrink them further. Instead, use a clarifying pencil on the rim of your lower lashline to counteract redness – this will also open up your eyes and make them look larger. Clarifying pencils come in a variety of skin shades and appear less stark than a pure white pencil – they’re also great for quick blemish concealing!
Liz’s product picks: Three Custom Color light clarifier, Laura Geller Brightening Eye Pencil Duo
4. Blush: Don’t pack on the powder when you’re feeling dull & drawn – think sheen! A cream blush on the apples of the cheeks, blended well toward the temple, will add life and freshness to your skin, while a cream bronzer on the high points of your face will add needed warmth.
Liz’s product picks: Stila Convertible Color, NARS The Multiple
5. Eyebrow Maintenance: Fill in any eyebrow gaps with a pencil or powder – groomed brows frame your face and make you look more alert and well-rested.
Liz’s product picks: MAC eyeshadows, Vanitymark ultra-brow pencils