Friday, December 31, 2010

Never Sleep in Your Makeup Again!

Of course we all know how terrible it is to go to bed without washing your face and fall asleep still wearing makeup.  And yet many women I know make a habit of this.  Truthfully, I've probably been one of the worst offenders.  But no more!  I keep Neutrogena's Makeup Removing Cleansing Towelettes on my nightstand so I'm no longer tempted to fall asleep wearing makeup.  These amazingly simple cleansing cloths even remove waterproof mascara!  They come in a few varieties, but I'm partial to the "Night Calming" version.  They're also widely available at nearly every drugstore.  Best of all, I can really tell a difference in my skin now that I've committed to taking off my makeup every single night, regardless of how tired I am.  With these cleansing towelettes, it's almost too easy!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

NARS Orgasm

NARS Orgasm
What began as a blush has spun off into lipgloss, nail polish, illuminator, multi-purpose shimmer, and a legendary following among makeup junkies the world over.  All these products feature the popular and scandalously named color that made NARS cosmetics a staple of nearly every woman's makeup bag: Orgasm.  This golden pink-peach shimmer is one of the few shades that is really and truly flattering on every skintone.  It's like magic! 

Now you can wear the gorgeous color on your lips and nails.  It's also sold in tandem with a bronzer for easy contouring.  There's even an illuminator version of Orgasm to provide a radiant glow anywhere you may need it.  For those so inclined, Super Orgasm blush and lipgloss offers up even more shimmer with glittery bits of gold.

I finally picked up my very own Orgasm blush this week and, like so many others, I'm enamored with this beautiful shade.  I want to apply it everywhere, and luckily, I can!  Next purchase is lipgloss for sure.  Hello obsession, my name is Laura...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Interview with the Makeup Artists of Black Swan

I came across this press release interview with genius makeup artists Judy Chin and Margie Durand, who were the creative forces behind the makeup for the new film Black Swan.  Pictured below is the makeup for one of Natalie Portman's final scenes; the look is almost as dramatic as the plot!  Read on to learn the products they used, what it's like to work as a makeup artist on a movie set, and how to adapt this intense look for yourself!

Q: How does a makeup artist prepare to work on a film? Do you receive guidance from the director or collaborate with the costume designer/art director/key hair stylist on the makeup look?

: When I begin working on a film I speak to the director and all of the creative team if possible. The directors inspiration and vision really drives the process and I try to deliver that vision in makeup.

Judy: As I read the script, I try to envision the characters, taking into account their background (age, personal history, affluence, profession). As I see the plot develop in the story, I make note of how these events might affect their appearance. When I’m designing the looks for a film, it’s very important to consider the director’s visual style and tastes. Occasionally, I get to collaborate with the costume or production designers. I always try to find out how the actors will be dressed, as that can have a significant influence on the makeup look. While our designs are often created independently at first, I find that the hair stylist and I work very closely to be sure that our looks fit together and bring the characters to life.

Q: How long does it typically take for you to prepare to start working on a movie like Black Swan?

: I spend a lot of time drawing and doing practical makeup tests. Depending on actor availability and camera tests, it could take three to four weeks of preparation.

Q: How does a makeup design contribute to building a movie character?

: What I’ve always loved about makeup design is its contribution to the actor’s performance. Makeup helps to create the character visually. I feel that I’ve done my job well when an actor can walk onto the set feeling like the embodiment of the character that he or he is portraying.

Q: Can you give a step by step explanation as to how the Black Swan look was created as well as the products that were used?

Margie: We applied a pale ivory foundation with a white cream highlight on the forehead and cheekbones. To create the swan eyes, we used M•A•C Chromaline in Black Black. Using M•A•C Pigment in Silver combined with Mixing Medium, we applied feathery brushstrokes over the Black Swan’s eyes. The lips were lined with M•A•C Lip Pencil in Vino and topped with M•A•C lipstick in Dubonnet. We then lined the under eye with a thin line using M•A•C Chromaline in Red.

Please let us know if you would like more detail on the products used to create this look.

Q: Does the makeup have any relation to the makeup in the traditional version of the Swan Lake ballet?

Not really. The ensemble dancers wear what might be considered a traditional theatrical eye makeup, but our rendition is more dramatic. It’s practically an opera makeup. Besides that, the only other relation might be that we did portray the Black Swan as a sinister dark foil to the more angelic and innocent Swan Queen.

Q: The ballerinas’ performance makeup in the movie is especially dramatic and visually arresting. What inspired the dark romantic makeup look?

Judy: The look was inspired by the story, and by the director, Darren Aronofsky I felt that he was looking for something dramatic and visually striking, so all of the intensity was focused in the eyes. Margie Durand realized that there were elements of our beautiful set design that should play a role in our makeup. Thus, the delicate silver branches that played across the swan’s faces came to be. The ensemble swans and the Swan Queen are delicate and romantic with a soft pink lip color, whereas the Black Swan is dark, sharp, and, angular.

Q: A ballerina has an incredibly active job, and in Black Swan, the characters wear both body and face makeup. What products did you use in the film that you were certain would hold up to the lights, movement and perspiration?

: We used pancake makeup with a spray sealant to ensure that it wouldn’t rub off on the costumes. We also used M•A•C Paint Pots, M•A•C Powerpoint Eye Pencils, and M•A•C Pigments. In addition, we applied some alcohol based pigments that are virtually water proof and rub proof.

Q: What challenges did you face when designing and applying the makeup?

: It was a challenge to makeup the Black Swan as the White Swan and then switch back to Black Swan during the long filming days. Both makeups had to be retouched because of the strenuous dancing for the close-up shots.

Judy: It would have been a huge problem if any of the makeup rubbed off onto the costumes, so we had to do many tests before we came up with the right combination of products – especially for the hands. The only other challenge was conveying to our team the application techniques, as it really was an operatic style of makeup. The shaping of the eyes and painting the whole eye in cake makeup is unusual for modern makeup artists. Most people are a bit intimidated by pancake makeup and they dismiss it as “old fashioned,” but it can be really beautiful if done properly. In the end, the whole team worked really hard and did a stunning job.

Q: Did you use any products in a non-traditional way?
Judy: We mixed the M•A•C Pigment in Silver with a sealant to create a waterproof liquid. We then used this metallic liquid to paint our delicate silver branches across the little swan faces.

Q: Black Swan makeup tutorials have popped up all over the Internet. Why do you think makeup fans are fascinated with this look, even before the film’s release?
Judy: What’s not to be fascinated with? The look is intense, alluring, and sexy with a bit of danger mixed in. Frankly, I’m flattered and pleased that there has been this much interest in the Black Swan makeup.

Q: How can the everyday woman translate the dramatic Black Swan makeup into an evening look?
Judy: There are a lot of aspects to this makeup that are standard elements for a classic beauty makeup. The highlights and contours along the cheekbones, nose, jaw line, and the pout of the mouth can all be adapted to a contemporary makeup. I also think one could incorporate the dramatic eyeliner – the angles and the intensity – into a very seductive, catlike smoky eye.

Margie: Think 1920’s vamp makeup: create the smoky Black Swan eyes with slender, silver eye liner applied under black wingtip liner and add thin wisps of silver liner over the eyelid, too. Rim the waterline with black liner and top it off with full, feathery false eyelashes. Apply a very matte foundation with contoured cheekbones and a hint of shimmery blush on apple of cheeks. Lips can be matte or glossy in dark eggplant, wine and even black colours!

Check out the rest of the interview over at Beauty Banter!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Lipstick 101: Which Shade is for You? Part Two

Part one was all about the different types of lipstick formulas.  Now here's part two, how to choose the perfect color! 
Source: Wiscombe Art
The Basics
The easiest trick of all is to simply choose a color that's about two shades darker than the natural color of your lips.  According to Bobbie Brown, these are the most natural and flattering shades.  Head to a makeup counter where you can test out lipsticks, apply the color to one lip only, and compare.  If it's a shade or two deeper than your bare lip, you've found a great color!  Even if you plan to find a great lipstick at the drugstore or somewhere else you can't try them out, I'd recommend doing this first.  You'll know what shades to look for. 

Simple, right?  If you want to try other colors like red (which, trust me, nearly anyone can pull off red lipstick), different shades flatter different skintones. 

Fair Skin
If you're fair skinned, look for pink, berry, and red shades that have some blue-ish undertones.  If you want to wear a neutral, try to find a peach color with a pink undertone.  Loud pink shades should be avoided.

Medium Skin
If you have a medium skintone, shades with yellow undertones will look better.  You can wear deep reds in addition to pinks with brownish undertones.  For neutrals, you can even wear warm brown shades.  Just make sure to avoid super pale browns. 

Dark Skin
Those with dark skin look good in deep reds with blue undertones and dark plum or even purple shades.  Again, pale beige colors should be avoided.     

One more thing: 
Also keep in mind the season; sometimes shades that look absolutely ridiculous in fall or winter will look gorgeous in the summertime, and vice versa.  For example, I have a coral red that just looks silly this time of year.  But I can't wait to wear it this summer! 

Look for part three of Lipstick 101 to learn about how to get rid of annoying lipstick stains, coming soon! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hair Products You Need to Try Right Now

I've had several requests for a post about amazing hair products.  Here are my top three essentials.  My hair has never looked better!

This is THE most popular hair treatment right now.  It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when this trend began, but chances are you've heard numerous celebrities mention their devotion to MoroccanOil.  What's marketed as MoroccanOil is really called argan oil, and a few other companies like Josie Maran sell it too.  Until a few months ago I was horrified at the thought of using oil of any kind on my hair, but the hype is to be believed!  I never understood what having "manageable" hair meant until I tried MoroccanOil for myself.  My hair is smooth, shiny, and healthy; this product somehow perfectly separates my long layers in exactly the right places and even looks like I've taken the time to style it.  All it takes is an evenly distributed dime sized amount on towel dried hair.  Avoid your scalp, though; oil still doesn't belong on your roots. 

Static Guard
While another perk of MoroccanOil is that it seriously cuts down on the staticky flyaways that plague my fine hair during winter, I still need a little extra static protection between shampoos.  Static Guard is another miracle product.  Two or three quick sprays on your hairbrush is all you need to eliminate static!  This product is multipurpose, too.  Just try to use it sparingly, as the fumes can get a little overwhelming if you spray too much. 

Dry Shampoo
This is quite possibly one of the best inventions ever.  On mornings when I sleep too late and don't have time to wash my hair, a few sprays of dry shampoo makes my hair look instantly clean and full of volume.  Really!  I make sure I always have at least two cans, I use it so often (I sleep late a little too much...).  There are many, many brands out there to choose from, but Tresemme's Fresh Start is one of the cheapest and easiest to find.  It's just about everywhere and only $3.99 per can!  It does leave a sort of powdery residue behind that brushes out with no problems, but my hair is also blonde so the residue is less noticeable for me anyway.  Dark haired lovelies might want to tread a bit more carefully with this brand.  Luckily, I hear Bumble and Bumble makes excellent dry shampoos to coordinate with any hair color!        

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Nail Polish That Makes Everything Instantly Better

I try to update my blog every 2-3 days and usually write entries about a week in advance.  However, this schedule has been derailed due to illness and a few other upheavals as of late.  Luckily, I'm feeling well enough to tell you about the amazing manicure I got a few hours before I came down with the worst virus of my life (also luckily, the two events were unrelated).  I may be sick, but my nails look like a party!

This probably won't surprise anyone, but I'm partial to red nail polish and rarely wear anything else.  I was at the nail salon and all ready to request OPI's I'm Not Really a Waitress, but then another bottle caught my eye.  It was a sparkly, orange-y pink duo-chrome shade from OPI called The Show Must Go On and inspired by the new movie Burlesque (which you HAVE to go see).  I haven't worn glitter on my nails since I was eleven, but this was way too festive and fun to resist.  It's probably the most gorgeous and unique color I've ever tried, and I fully plan to purchase my very own bottle to use whenever I want.  Unfortunately, my camera isn't doing the color justice so I'm borrowing this one from clever polish blog Nailin' It

If you're in the Birmingham area and are in need of a manicure, try the new Canterbury Nails in Cahaba Village.  The salon is beautifully decorated and the staff is excellent.          

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lipstick 101: Which Type is for You? Part One

Lipstick can be intimidating to purchase, especially since so many women are used to relying on lip gloss or not wearing lip color at all.  It can be tricky to figure out what shade and formula works best for you, but being informed will definitely take out some of the guesswork!  Here's part one of what you need to know:

First, not all lipsticks are created equal.  There are a lot of different formulas depending on the kind of finish you want, but most fall into one of the categories listed below.

Matte lipsticks have a "flat" finish; there is no shine or gloss, just thick opaque color.  They last longer than other formulas and are great if you want a retro or more serious look, but beware: matte lipsticks can be extremely drying.  Layer it over a lip primer (I've found lip balm also works well) and make sure your lips are exfoliated. 

Moisturizing is the opposite of matte.  These lipsticks contain extra vitamins and moisturizing properties to add shine and keep your lips hydrated.  They're much less drying due to less wax in the formula, but the color can fade quickly so you'll need to reapply more often.

Cream lipsticks are the best of both and kind of an in-between.  The color isn't as flat or pigmented as a matte lipstick, but it's not as shiny as a gloss or moisturizing lipstick.  It doesn't last as long as matte, but doesn't wear off as quickly as moisturizing.  Most lipsticks will fall into this category.

Other Types
Long wearing lipsticks are designed to last much longer than regular lipsticks.  They are the most drying of all and usually come with a primer or gloss to help seal in the color and keep lips moisturized.  Frost lipsticks are a little more shimmery and typically come in pale colors.  If you insist, use extra caution with these to avoid looking like you're stuck in the 1980s.  If you want shine, go with gloss.

Now that you know the different types, it's time to pick a color!  Part Two of Lipstick Buying 101 will tell you all about how to choose a shade that looks best on you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Easiest Retro Eyeliner Trick Ever

I can't tell you how many times I've tried to master Brigitte Bardot-esque winged eyeliner.  So chic, so sexy, so difficult!  Occasionally it will look okay enough to satisfy my perfectionist self, but more often than not I end up late for a very important date as a result of several time consuming erase-and-attempt-again cycles.

But guess what?  Ever since I discovered this nifty little trick, I've achieved a flawless cat eye every time.  Take your credit card (or driver's license, rewards card, what have you) and line it up with the corner of your eye at about a forty-five degree angle.  Use it as a straight-edge to extend your eyeliner upwards past your lash line just a little, and voilĂ !  Instant winged eyeliner, perfectly even on both sides!  Experiment with the angle and placement of the card for a little variety.

This look obviously calls for liquid black eyeliner.  My favorite has an utterly ridiculous name, but is super cheap and even easier to use.  InColor FabuLiner is $2 at the drugstore and looks like a tiny Sharpie.  It's perfect for drawing on a thin, precise line but you can also make thick lines for more dramatic definition.  Bonus: it never, ever smudges.  If black is too harsh for you, try CoverGirl's Perfect Point Plus eyeliner in charcoal.  It isn't liquid, but grey eyeliner is softer, equally chic, and a little more modern.  Ms. Bardot would be so proud.           

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Complaint: Dry Skin

Baby, it's cold outside!
Winter is pretty full of extremes.  One minute you're walking outside, icy wind whipping at your face; the next minute you're rushing indoors and being blasted with overly enthusiastic central heating.  Not surprisingly, this can leave your skin dull and dehydrated.  You should already be using a moisturizer (and you are, riiight?), but sometimes in winter your skin needs a little extra protection and hydration. 

During the colder months, I switch from my regular moisturizer to Philosophy's When Hope is Not Enough replenishing cream at night.  It's similar to Hope in a Jar, but is more emollient and even more hydrating.  It's full of extra vitamins and keeps skin smooth and protected. 

Foundation tends to look cake-y when your skin is dry, which is pretty common in winter.  For daytime, I switch from my regular Bare Minerals foundation to a tinted moisturizer a few times a week.  My skin feels so much better!  The coverage is lighter so you might want to use a little extra concealer.  I also apply powder to set it and avoid looking too greasy.  Tinted moisturizers are pretty widely available; you can pick one up from just about anywhere that sells makeup.  If you've already got a great liquid foundation, get experimental and try mixing it with a little bit of your regular moisturizer, which works just as well.

It's super easy to keep your skin healthy and hydrated during the harshness of winter by simply switching out products you're already using for those that are extra moisturizing!  What other switches do you make to your winter makeup and skincare routines?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Steal! Too Faced "Glamour to Go Sexy in Seconds" Palette

The picture doesn't do the colors justice, really.  I would buy Too Faced Glamour to Go: Sexy in Seconds palette just for the blush alone.  And since it's priced at just $20, that's completely reasonable!  The blush is a near perfect dupe of NARS's legendary Orgasm blush, which I've had my eye on and is $26 a pop.  For a single blush!  And even a single Too Faced blush is regularly $20, so a whole palette for the same price is definitely a steal.  The eyeshadows are gorgeous too, and I really want to start experimenting with lighter lip colors (so 1960s chic!).  The only disadvantage is that the palette doesn't come with any applicators or brushes.  And as far as I can tell, Sexy in Seconds is only available for a limited time at Dillard's.  Or online, of course. 

What do you think?  What are some of your favorite makeup palettes?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

If It's Good Enough for Madonna...

My skin has been freaking out lately.  I'm talking worse than it ever did in high school.  I'm simultaneously dealing with acne and fine lines, plus way more redness than usual.  I was desperate enough to commit to drinking an apple cider vinegar concoction, but luckily I started reading about these miracle oxygen-containing beauty products first.

Madonna gets regular oxygen facials and insists they are the reason her skin looks so amazing.  Kate Middleton swears by her oxygen-infused cream.  These are just two of the celebrities who have been raving about the skin healing properties of oxygen as a beauty product of late.  Developed by a Nobel prize winning scientist and perfected by the spa geniuses at Bliss, oxygen facials quickly became one of the most popular spa services across the country.  The theory is that oxygen delivers nutrients to your skin that replenish cells and leave your skin healthy and rejuvenated.  Stress, aging, the environment, lack of sleep, and diet all slow down the oxygenating process.  Products that contain oxygen act to detox your skin and speed up the process, stat! 

The best part?  Now you don't even need to head to a spa to experience the amazing properties of oxygen facials for yourself.  While Bliss naturally makes the Holy Grail of at-home oxygen facials, I found the $84 price tag a little limiting and began scouting for others.  Once I discovered Ulta sells a $20 oxygen product system, I immediately brought it home to see if this could work miracles for my own skin.

C. Booth's Oxygen Infusion Cell Rejuvenation Peel System is quite possibly the best $20 I've ever spent.  For the first step, you apply a mask of "glycoprotein rejuvenation crystals" to clear away dead skin cells and prime your skin for maximum oxygen uptake.  It looks like a cream, but feels weirdly like a gel.  The second step is a "super oxide activation spray."  It acts to strengthen your skin, process oxygen quicker, and protect itself from harsh environmental elements.  You spray it directly over the crystals and leave it on about three minutes.  I wanted to avoid the comparison, but this mask felt incredibly refreshing, like drinking a glass of cool water or deeply breathing fresh air.  It tingled and felt clean and pure.  

The results were better than I could have expected.  My complexion is radiant.  An hour after rinsing off the mask, the aforementioned redness is drastically diminished and my blemishes have also decreased.  It even reduced the scarily deep forehead wrinkle I mentioned in my anti-aging post.  My skin looks clear enough to actually skip foundation tomorrow.  Did I mention this was after one application?!  Yes!  I could go on and on about this oxygen system with infomercial-caliber enthusiasm.  Seriously, go try it.  You won't be disappointed.         

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Is Nothing New? Holiday Looks, 1955 vs. 2010

Check out these extreme instructions circa 1955 on how to get the popular geisha-inspired holiday look of the year.  Step one made me positively cringe: "Pluck away your entire eyebrow from the highest point of the arch to the outer corner," it suggests!  I'm curious how many women actually tried the look at home.  Eyebrows aside, I think she looks gorgeous.

It seems the Asian influenced look is now popular again for the 2010 holiday season.  NARS has released a set of extremely limited edition Kabuki-inspired lipsticks in an elegant handmade bento box container, complete with a unique kabuki lip brush.  The set is gorgeous, expensive, and nearly impossible to attain; each is priced at $125 and only one thousand sets were created for sale in the U.S.  But take a look at how pretty they are!  I can't believe these are lipsticks!

Once again, François Nars picked Daphne Guinness to be the face of his innovative new product.  Anyone else notice the striking similarity to the look of the woman in the first photo?

What's more perfect than red lipstick and black eyeliner?  This classic trend that was hot in 1955 is back!  It's an especially great look for New Year's Eve parties.  Depending on the shade and intensity of your lipstick and how thickly you apply the eyeliner, it can be as subtle or dramatic as you want.  But please, it goes without saying: leave your eyebrows alone!