Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mascara's, Wands and Keeping Sanitized

In a recent Twitter post, I posted that I didn't understand the concept of buying super expensive mascara.  What's the point?  After 3 months it's got to go into the garbage anyways.  That's right...In case you weren't aware, whether you used it once or 50 times, 3 months from that date it needs to be disposed of.  Why?  From the time that you open your mascara, it's already started to harbor germs.  And as we all know, germs love to live in warm humid places (another reason why sharing mascara is gross).  Not disposing of your mascara after 3 months can bring on some serious damage.  In my years in the business. I've seen everything from pink eye to corneal infections caused by old mascara and sharing of mascara.  So, buying $50 mascara's don't really make any sense to me.  I much rather get a pair of shoes for $50 and have them last a year (or more - given how I take care of my shoes, they'll last a life time ha!)

But Yisell, I usually keep my mascara's more than 3 months and I'm fine.  While that might be so, how many times are you willing to play Russian Roulette with your mascara?  Till you get an infection and learn the hard way?

I've gone ahead and listed my top 5 favorite mascara's which I use both in my kit and for personal use that wont run your wallet into the ground.  Now we all know that when getting a mascara it's all about the wand.  The formula sort of matters too but not as much.  The wand is what gives you the volume and the length that we all women crave.  And in this case, size does matter.

1. Covergirl Lash Blast Length - I'm in love with the skinny wand that comes with this mascara.  It's especially wonderful if you have small lashes.  If the wand is too big, it's a bit harder to get into the base of the lash and create length.

2. Covergirl Lash Blast - Huge wand!  But that's great if you already have long lashes but lack volume (such as myself).  I don't recommend this to anyone with short lashes.

3. Maybelline Define-A-Lash - I really like the rubber wand that comes with this.  It contours and bends to your lashes so it really gets in there.  Also, because the "bristles" are small, the wand doesn't pick up a ton of product so less clumping which is a total plus.

4. Maybelline Great Lash - Let me start by saying that this is a classic.  I actually used this in my kit for a very long time before exploring other options.  It's still a staple in many makeup artists kits and it's the most basic mascara I've ever encountered.  There isn't really anything special about the wand.  In fact, I find the wand to be too small and not enough fluff to give volume.  The packaging though, always give me a sense of nostalgia from when I was a kid.  My sister used to have this mascara back in the 80's (we're 11 years apart so when she was 18, I was 7) and I'd just sit there in awe and watch her do her makeup ever so carefully.  Perhaps this is why I kept it in my kit for so long.

5. L'Oreal Voluminous Original - I've left this one for last because I have to honest.  It's my favorite personally and professionally.  I love the wand, not too big, not too small.  Great for length and really amazing for volume.  I can get into the inner corner of my eye (we all know how hard it is to get in there without poking your eye out) and I can still get the volume I need on the outer corners of the eye while still separating the lashes and it leaving no clumps!  WIN!

All in all, get what works best for you.  Sometimes you won't know unless you do trial and error but at least you didn't spend $50 on a mascara that probably wont work for you.

As a makeup artist, when mascara goes in my kit, it doesn't matter what kind of wand it has because I never use the wand anyways.  A professional and clean makeup artist should always have an arsenal of disposable mascara wands in their kit.  Using the same wand on multiple people and double dipping is an absolute NO NO!  Now, you can use the wand only and ONLY if you're keeping and washing/disinfecting the wands between use.  I used to do this for years because I was tired of constantly purchasing mascara wands.  But, that got old and I realized that I was just creating more things to clean (and I don't have to explain the joys of brush washing).  I eventually went back to using disposables and saved myself the task of cleaning one more thing.  I guess this is why the Maybelline Great Lash is such a staple, because the wand doesn't matter.  It's functional and gets the job done.  Though, I do have to say that the L'Oreal still takes the cake and I carry that in my kit instead.  In the end, use what you feel most comfortable with.  Every artist is different and has different work methods.  If you're the kind that likes to carry around more than one type of disposable mascara wand (or would like to explore and try different wands), Qosmedix has quite the selection.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Building Your Kit

Building your kit when you're starting out could be quite time consuming, hard work and a lot of money coming out of your pocket.  But in this business, in order to be a professional and have a kit that is functional (and clean) for jobs and not be considered amateur, you need to put in the time, work and money.  But you don't have to completely break the bank.  I can help you build your kit the right way without over spending and getting things that you just don't need (coughglittershimmerfeatherscough).  You can add the rest of the fluff later after you've gotten the basics and what you need.

NOTE:  Please be aware that anything listed below are suggestions that I like and that I carry in my kit.

Skin Care
Skin care is something that should always be in your kit.  You cannot skimp on this.  If you don't prep the skin properly then anything else you do beyond this will be pointless.  Personally I like to carry no more than 2 Moisturizers in my kit.  Let's be honest here, I'm a makeup artist, not a dermatologist.  I just can't carry a skincare product for every single type of skin out there.  So I carry what I feel I use and need the most.  Also, all of the products I carry are for sensitive skin because you just never know.
  • Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisturizer - I like this because not only does it reduce redness but it calms irritated skin (especially in the winter). 
  • Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre (24 Hour Miracle Cream) - This is by far the best moisturizer I have ever encountered.  It just leaves the skin super soft.  And it serves as a makeup remover!
  • Keihls Ultra Facial Toner - It's milky, doesn't contain alcohol and it doesn't strip the skin of any oils leaving the skin supple, not dry.
  • Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream - I call this the "everything cream" because it really does serve as everything.  I've used it as moisturizer on super dry skin, lip balm, hand cream and even "mascara" when I don't want to use actual mascara for kids and men (to give some definition).
Note: For oily skin I either skip the moisturizer or use very little.

This is where it gets tricky because there are just so many types of foundations out there that are absolutely beautiful and I wish I can own them all but really there is no point.  Find the foundation that you love the most for your kit.  I personally like to have one that gives a dewy, youthful glow (mostly used for print & bridal), and one that's a bit more matte without leaving the skin looking like it's screaming for moisture (mostly used to TV/Film HD).  I also generally like liquids that have good cover.  If I need to make them sheer I can always use a foundation thinner or moisturizer to do so.  No need to buy sheer foundations when you can thin them out yourself.  I carry:
  • FACEatelier Ultra Pro - This is my 'go to' foundation and the one that I use the most.  I'd say in about 95% of my work I've used this foundation.  It's like liquid gold.  Covers, leaves the skin looking flawless, dewy and youthful and a little goes a long way.  Oh and they're travel friendly!  Always a plus when you're traveling for work.
  • Make Up For Ever (MUFE) HD - I love this foundation for TV/Film work.  It goes on like second skin and just so light.  It's the must have for HD and anyone who has super oily skin.  It's matte without sucking the life from your skin.  Sometimes there even isn't a need to powder.  Any time I get to skip a step, is a happy day for me.
  • *Optional*Graftobian Hi-Def Glamour Creme - I love, love, love this foundation the best for women of color.  Not to say that the other ones on this list aren't great for darker women, I just personally prefer to work with creams when it comes to women of color.  A little goes a long way so be careful, it's smooth and buttery amazingness can turn against you. 
Eye Shadows
Another tricky one.  There's so many brands out there and some artists prefer one brand over the other and that's completely fine.  Again, get what you feel most comfortable working with.  But one thing that without question should always be in your kit...matte neutrals.  I can't tell you how having matte neutrals in your kit is super important.  Real paying jobs (you know, the type that you can live off and pay your bills) will 90% of the time want something clean and beautiful.  That's not to say you can't own any shimmers.  There are some beautiful shimmers out there that I use for my catalog work all the time - they're on the list, don't worry.
  • Viseart 12 Color Eyeshadow Palette - Where do I even begin to describe this palette.  Every pro that I know has this palette and just absolutely swears by it.  In fact, it's so beautiful that most of the time it's sold out everywhere!  It's the first matte eyeshadow that I've encountered that aren't chalky and blend beautiful (second is the FACEatelier individual matte neutrals)
  • Urban Decay Naked Palette - Great palette with a beautiful range of neutrals and it's got both mattes and shimmers.  They blend beautifully and I find that I use them a lot for bridal and/or special occasions for that extra glam factor.
  • Yaby Best of Both Worlds Palette - What can I say about Yaby except you can't EVER go wrong with their eyeshadows.  This palette contains both neutrals (in matte and shimmers) along with some color shadows.  Some colors that you'll use a lot, some that you wont use as much.  But at least they're in the palette for those "just in case" moments when a client suddenly wants a purple smokey eye.
You should always have a good assortment of lipsticks in your kit.  Whether you want to buy them in a palette or buy them individually and make your own lipstick palette, is completely up to you.  I like to buy them individually only because most palettes contain colors that you won't other wise find as an individual.  Last thing I want to do is re-buy a whole entire palette for just one color because I love it, now I've become attached, use it often, run out of the color and then I can't buy just that one color because its palette exclusive.  Defeats the point of saving money doesn't it?  Plus, that's a total bummer.  All of  my lipsticks that I use the most are from different companies depotted into a Z Palette.  I always suggest getting an assortment of various pinks, reds, burgandys, plums, corals and nude/neutrals.  Brands that I love and use often are FACEatelier, YSL, Shiseido, Yaby, Revlon & Maybelline.

Again, get this in palette form.  It's just easier and efficient and you get to cover all ranges of skin tones.
  • La Femme 12 Color Blush Palette - The pigmentation of this palette is insane!  You'll have this for a very long time as you'll use such little product to get the effect you need.
  • NARS Bronzing Powder "Laguna" - I know I've said that palettes are key but when it comes to contouring, I use one color on pretty much everyone from fair to medium/olive toned.  This color is just so gorgeous and I'm completely in love (and attached) to it.  It's got these tiny gold flecks that, when applied, read as a healthy glow and not as a shimmer.
  • MAC Bronzing Powder "Matte Bronze" - Another individual (and its MAC! - notice how I don't use anything MAC except for this powder).  I carry this bronzer for one purpose and one purpose only.  Men!  That's right, I use it only when I'm doing male grooming.  Why?  Because men need matte.  I can't exactly go around putting Laguna on their face now can I?
  • Yaby Powder Foundation Palette "The Darks" - So you may have the occasional really dark model/client and "Laguna" just isn't going to cut it.  That's where this palette steps in.  Don't let the "powder foundation" name throw you off.  You can absolutely use this as bronzer.
The Little Things
  • Mascara - Get a regular drugstore brand.  Whichever you like the most.  Don't go expensive on mascara because no matter how many times you've used it, once you've opened it, it officially has a life span of 3 months before you need to dispose of it and get another one.  Mascara's harbor germs so always remember, 3 months and it's got to go.  
  • Pencil Liners - Get one in Black and Brown.  I like the Urban Decay 24/7.
  • Liquid/Gel Liners - Same as above, 1 black, 1 brown.  I like the Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Liners (in the pot).  I've recommended this liner to friends and some stated to have gone swimming and this liner just doesn't budge.
  • Tweezers - I happen to love the Tweezerman brand.  I've had one of their tweezers for years now (I carry 2).  The other I keep replacing because either I keep losing it or others love it as much as I do and it happens to "walk" off set.
  • Eyelash Curler - I carry 2 as well.  I have the Shu Uemura one and the Yaby Heated Lash Curler.  Both the best of their kind.  I've had the Shu one for almost 6 years now (maybe more) and the Yaby heated for 2 years.  Why a heated lash curler?  Because sometimes you'll get those straight eyelashes that are just impossible to curl and I promise you this heater curler will save your day and make your lash curling way easier.
  • Sponges
  • Mascara Wands
  • Q-Tips
  • Cotton Balls/Pads
  • Powder Puffs
  • Makeup Wipes
  • Tissues
The brushes you use are completely and totally up to you.  There are so many different brands.  Every artist that I've encountered likes different types of brushes for all sorts of reasons.  Their softness, the handle, the colors, the multi-functionality.  In the end you should use what feels right in your hands.  I only want to state one little thing.  Your brushes are how you "paint".  These are your tools, an extension of you.  Go too cheap and you'll end up replacing that brush in no time.  But that doesn't mean that you have to go crazy expensive either (unless you want).  I like functional brushes but they also have to do their job and be pretty.  My most used brushes in my roll are by Bdellium Tools and Royal & Langnickel Silk Collection.  Some are even Sephora brand.  Just know that whatever you choose as your tools, should work for you!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Highlighting and Contouring, the Basics

Highlighting & Contouring...that lovely thing we all do to give dimension to the face.  It's also that lovely thing that people always have a hard time with.  Whether it's applying it on yourself or applying it on others, highlighting & contouring can be tricky and if done wrong, can look like a disaster.  And trust me, I've seen some pretty bad H&C out there.

Now, I'm not going to teach you, give you a tutorial or show you step by step on how to do it.  Why?  Because highlighting and contouring isn't something that can be taught.  It is something that needs to be learned with practice and patience.  You know how I  always say to practice, practice, practice?  Well, this is one of those times.  But, there are a few things that I did (and still do to this day) that helped me learn how to highlight and contour correctly.  Remember, every face is different.  You will never highlight and contour the same for everyone.

All Makeup by Me

Whether you're doing a soft or hard application, the way that I found worked best for me (and that has worked well for others that have assisted me) is to "get to know the face".  What I mean by that is just that!  While your model / client is sitting in that chair waiting for you to make magic, take that time to look at their face.  Take a mental note of where all the high points of the face are (highlight), take note of where the hollows are (contour).  Now that you have a visual it's time to feel the skin.  That's right, take those lovely little feelers and touch their face.  I love to do so while I'm moisturizing.  I have and will always moisturize with my fingers.  This lets me feel the facial muscles & bones and gives me a better sense of the kind of skin  texture that I will be working with.

A great way to practice is on yourself (or a friend).  Grab a friend and massage his / her face with a little moisturizer.  Close your eyes and mentally envision the bones and muscles you're feeling all the while mentally taking notes.  Feel the cheekbones, feel the bridge of the nose, feel the temple and forehead  Now that you have an idea of what's under the skin, you can now highlight and contour to your liking.

Of course there is way more to this method such as the kind of lighting your working with, the kind of look you're going for, product you're using, blending properly etc., but once you have the basics down and "get to know the face", then you can move forward.  You can't expect to run before walking.  Without learning the basics, how do you expect to fully grasp the rest that's involved?

Now go forth, practice like crazy and be awesome!