Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tarte Smooth Operator Illuminating Serum

Being a professional makeup artist sure has its perks.  First, I get a tax write off on all the makeup I buy as business supplies, so it gives me the opportunity to try out all sorts of new stuff.  Second, with as much makeup as I have to buy to simply replace the makeup in my kit I use on shoots and weddings, I rack up a lot of membership points at Sephora and Ulta.  Sephora has a program called V.I.B., Very Important Beauty (Insider).  I get exclusive emails with discounts and promotions, and every year on my (Free) renewal date, I get a coupon for 10% off.  With this year's discount, I bought a set of "Sephora's Favorites- Glizt & Glam Collection" and in it got a lot of great kit-sized products to test out.  I tried a few of them out this weekend at a wedding and was super impressed by Tarte's Smooth Operator Illuminating Serum, an new product that's only available right now as a part of the set or as a part of Tarte's Radiant & Rested Luminous Complexion Collection.  It's so smooth and silky feeling, and it has a bit of a tint to it,so it really helps to even out skin tone either alone or under foundation.  It says there's a bit of a glow to it, but I didn't really see much pearly glow as an evening of the skin.  I think it's best for clients with fair skin, as on darker skins it might look chalky.  But it made a super amazing base for a client with a large red cluster birthmark on her right cheekbone above her eye.  It helped grip the concealor and added a bit of coverage on it's own. Then with the airbrush over the top, you couldn't even see it any more.  I just ordered the R&R complexion set with my Sephora Friends and Family discount code (Available from now until Nov 3, use promo code FF2010 for 20% off!) for the full size product.  I'm also excited to try the EmphasEYES eye brightener for the inner rim that comes in the set, too.

Tarte Smooth Operator Illuminating Serum
Copyright Tarte Cosmetics.  Photo from the Sephora website.

Another product from the Sephora Glitz & Glam collection that I fell in love with is the Lorac Perfectly Lit in Spotlight.  It's a tan bronzer like product that has a bit of shimmer to it that adds a beautiful glow for sculpting the cheekbones on fair skins.  I brushed it on the back of the cheekbones and up to the temples and then used a very sheer bright pink on the apples of the cheeks to help them "pop".  It was a beautiful combination that gave them a gorgeous glow without looking like they were wearing a ton of blush. 

Since I'm going on and on about the great stuff I got from Sephora recently (and that I tried out at the wedding this Saturday) I'll also let you know about Tarte's Good As Gold Lipgloss Collection (for only $29!!!!!).  It is absolutely going to become a staple in my kit.  The glosses are the perfect size, the price is amazing, and the colors are to die for.  I used some of the brighter pinks on the lips blended over a brownish nude lipliner, and it was the perfect compliment to the bronze/pink cheeks of the bridesmaids.  Paired with shimmery nude and chocolate colored eyeshadow and glitzy copper liner, it was a soft romantic effect that went perfectly with the deep chocolate colored bridesmaids dresses.

I ordered a few more collections from Sephora with my discount today, and I can't wait to get them in and tell you all about the awesome products inside!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Take time for you!

I've had a weekly tradition for nearly the past ten years on Sunday nights.  It's a weekly date with me, the bathtub, and my basket of skin care goodies.  I grab a glass of water (feel free to indulge in some wine if that's your taste!) and a good magazine or book and let my cares slip away while I take time out for myself and help to bring balance back to my skin.  I cleanse with an exfoliating cleanser (I love Neutrogena Pore Refining Cleanser 200ml/6.7oz) then apply a mask suited to my skin's needs.  If it's oily, I use a clay mask (try Queen Helene The Original Mint Julep Masque Facial Masks).  If it's dry, I use a hydrating mask (I love Origins "Drink Up" Mask.  They have a "Drink Up Intensive" that I'm going to try this winter, too!).  Then I slather on a thick layer of night cream and finish relaxing.  The heat from the water helps the cream penetrate deeper.  When it's time to get out, I just wipe off any excess left on the surface of my face so that it doesn't clog my pores and get all over my pillow.

I takes an hour of my time each week, but it preps my skin for the coming days ahead, and it's a nice way to purify my face after a weekend of wearing makeup for 16+ hours a day doing back to back weddings and appointments.  By doing this for yourself once a week, you can save yourself tons of money going to spas and dermatologists for monthly facials and have your skin looking beautiful and radiant for your wedding day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Be Kind to Your Eyes

Did you know that the first place you show signs of aging is your eye area?  Do you also know how to combat that premature aging?  Most women that I work with don't use an SPF every day, let alone an eye cream, yet both are essential for maintaining good skin health in the eye area.  Fine lines can be caused by a multitude of things, but dehydrating is one of the most common and a simple issue to fix.  In addition to drinking 8 glasses of water a day (or the equivalent through fruits and veggies), using an eye cream will help lock in moisture and plump up fine lines.  You don't have any oil glands under your eyes, so there is no barrier to prevent moisture from evaporating, and eventually the skin begins to sag and become creased.  Also, without proper hydration, the elastic fibers of the skin become weakened and are more prone to damage by stress and irritation (like being too harsh when cleaning off your makeup or rubbing your eyes.)
Copyright Benefit Cosmetics

What to look for in an eye cream?:  If you can tolerate the SPF (the eye area is more sensitive than the rest of the face/body), use and eye cream with an SPF in it.  The skin is thinnest around your eyes and absorbs higher amounts of sun damage, especially if you don't always wear sunglasses when outdoors.  Also, if you are prone to puffiness and/or dark circles, caffeine is a great ingredient seen more and more in eye creams these days.  It helps to promote circulation and flush out excess fluid in the eye area.  (As we get older, our capillary walls weaken and over time leak small amounts of blood.  Since it is leaking from the veins, it is unoxygenated blood, therefore blue, lending the bluish tint of dark circles.)  Other great ingredients include chamonmile extracts or derivitives and Vitamin C to sooth and brighten.  Some even contain light reflecting particles that instantly brighten the eye area, too.

How to apply eye cream?:  Using your ring finger, gently pat the eye cream onto the orbital bone below your eye. (The bone of the socket.)  Don't get it too close to your lasheline, as it will get into your eyes and cause irritation and swelling, the opposite effect from what you want to acheive.  Don't put any on your eyelid.  It won't do much good up there and will just work it's way into your eye.

How to remove your eye makeup?:  Take a cotton round (those round cotton pads sold in tubes at the drugstore) and soak it lightly with eyemakeup remover.  (Look for one that you have to shake to combine.  It's a little more oily, but the formula is usually better at breaking down even tough makeup and the oils will temporarily hydrate the skin, too.)  Place the pad against your closed eyelid and let it sit for about 10-15 seconds.  Then, gently wipe down the eyelid to remove makeup.  Never rub the eye, and try not to wipe out to the sides, as this can cause the eye tissue to stretch and weaken.  Your skin is like a rubber band or rubber balloon.  It's nice and tight when we are young (new) and when we strech it out, it nevers goes back to exactly the same shape again.  Over time your skin will resemble that deflated balloon if you don't treat it kindly.

Friday, October 1, 2010

HD Foundation Product Review

With all the talk about HD television and the amazing details it shows, many cosmetic companies are developing lines of makeup designed to provide flawless results under such high scrutiny.  Unlike previous years, loading on tons of makeup and hoping the camera blurred or washed out the masklike texture is no longer an option.  Viewers at home see makeup as if they were there in person, and the technology of makeup needs to keep up.

HD foundations claim to even your skin tone and minimize the appearance of large pores and fine lines while remaining fresh and natural to the naked eye.  They come in a variety of textures and finishes to suit the wide range of personal taste in today's market, while many off more shades in multiple undertones to accomodate the skin tones of today's consumer.  Here I've taken three of the most highly recommended HD foundations on the market by professional makeup artists and given you the pros and cons of each so you can decide which one is right for you.

Graftobian HD Cream Foundation:
Formula- Cream
Number of Shades- 53
Application Method- Foundation brush or dampened cosmetic wedge; removed from package first to prevent bacterial contamination
Available At-,
Double Duty- Doubles as a concealor
Price- $11.50-$11.99 1/2 oz
Pros- This creamy foundation has a lot of pigment, so a little goes a LONG way.  The formula has lots of slip, which means it glieds across the skin beautifully, and it blends seamlessly.  Huge range of shades.  Sold individually or as palettes for those who like to mix colors. 
Cons- It can feel al ittle heavy on the skin vs the lighter weight of liquids, and a foundation brush or dampened sponge may not be the preferred way to apply for some.  It's also not available in stores, so finding the perfect shade can be a hit or miss. sells samples sizes so you can get a few and try them out first.
Bonus Tip:  Prefer powder foundation?  This brand offers a powder version, too.  But it only comes in a very limited number of colors and can be hard to match to skin.

Smashbox High Definition Healthy FX Foundation:
Formula- Liquid
Number of Shades- 13
Application Method- Foundation brush, cosmetic sponge, fingertips
Double Duty- Has SPF 15 and time released anti-oxidants and moisturizers
Price- $38 /oz
Available At:, Sephora, Ulta
Pros- With its pump, there's no risk of contaminating the rest of the makeup, and it gives you a premeasured amount so you don't use too much product.  It's very silky feeling and lightweight and goes on sheer for buildable coverage. Plus, it does have SPF and the skin benefits.
Cons- The coverage is very sheer, and for those with skin tone issues, the amount of product needed to get the results they want may not be comfortable for them.  The consistency is also an issue.  It's a love it or hate it kind of situation.  I highly recommend trying it out first before purchasing it.  Not a wide range of shades.
Bonus Tip:  Buying anything from Smashbox?  Try it out in person from Sephora or Ulta first (visit or for locations near you) and then purchase the products online from Smashbox's website.  They offer free shipping on all purchases, 3 jumbo samples with every order, a rewards program, and a fabulous program called "let's do lunch". (LDL- purchase between the hours of 9 am and 2 pm on Tues or Thurs and receive a free full sized product. Different products offered each Tues/Thurs valid only on that day.)  Seriously, what other company rewards you that much for buying from them?  Is it any wonder that half my kit is Smashbox? ha ha

Makeup Forever HD Invisible Cover Foundation:
Formula- Liquid
Number of Shades- 26
Application Method- Foundation brush, cosmetic sponge, fingertips
Double Duty- higly pigmented, so you usually only need the tiniest bit of concealor for heavy coverage areas
Price- $40/ oz
Available at: Sephora stores and online at
Pros- Liquid makes this the most versatile product in therms of application method and it's very comfortable on the skin.  Its silicone-based formula is also very long wearing and oil-absorbing, making it great for oily skin and brides.  (It's oil-free, too.)  It's extremely pigmented, so a little goes a long way, and like the Smashbox liquid, it comes in a pump so 1-2 pumps is enough for an entire face.  The colors are very true to life in multiple undertones (golden, pink, and neutral), and there are a lot to choose from.
Cons- Priceist brand and available only at Sephora or their boutique store in NYC.

Copyright Makeup Forever.  Image from the Sephora website.

While makeup companies want you to believe that their lines of HIGH DEFINITION products are better than traditional lines for everyday use, I personally don't agree.  They do have some great shades and formulas that make it easier than ever to get foundation that looks like actual skin while still giving you the coverage you want or need, but the chances of you appearing on HD tv are probably small.  If you have a foundation that works for you, dont' rush out to buy the newest invention just because marketing hype tells you it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.  On the opposite hand, if you are leary of foundations in general, or don't like the finish of your current brand, these formulas can give you a renewed sense of satisfaction in the way your skin looks, television appearances notwithstanding.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

When Bad Tans Happen to Good People

I had a bride last week who came to me for a spray tan the Thursday before her Saturday wedding.  She said she's mentioned to her bridesmaids that she was coming in for a tan and did they want to come to?  Well, one of them said she was going to go to an all-night tanning salon that night late after work, around 11.  My bride joked about the kind of person she was likely to run into doing the tanning at that time, and wouldn't you know it was some skeezy old guy.  So at my appointment with the bride I handed her my "When Bad Tans Happen to Good People" handout, a handout I printed out from the supplier of the tanning solution I use (and which I plan to turn into a good article here some time soon!).  She took it home and gave it to her friend who ended up seriously needing it.  Where's the lesson in all of this?  Just because a company has a franchise storefront and flashy ads and "convenient" all night hours doesn't mean that you are going to get quality either.  How many times have you loved a last minute haircut from a Quickie Cuts place?  With some places you pay for quality, some places you pay for convenience.  With my spray tanning, you pay for both.  But in a good way. 

Special offer for my blog readers!  Buy a 5 or 10 tan package and get a FREE "Tanning Day" tote and towel, a $35 value.  Offer expires July 31, 2010.

Check back often for more great deals and steals!  Email me at to book your appointment today or visit my new website for more information on my mobile sunless tanning services.
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