Before & After: Just the Basics

Liz, a  bride with an upcoming wedding I got to work with last week has pretty much the ideal face; big eyes, full cheeks, and pouty lips.  I can see why she isn’t a fan of the overly made-up look since she really doesn’t need to wear much day-to-day, so I created a timeless look that she (thankfully) loved using the basics that I reach for over and again in my kit.

What I used:

Face:

Primer: Hourglass no 28
Foundation: Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation
Concealer: Smashbox High Definition
Setting Spray: Caudalîe Beauty Elixir
Powder: Koh gen Do Maifanshi Face Powder

Eyes:

Primer: Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Makeup Color Base Lavender Pink
Eye Shadow: Urban Decay Naked 2
Liner: NYX Super Skinny Eye Maker
Mascara: NYX Doll Eye
Lashes: Ardell #110
Brows: Anastasia Brow Duo

Cheeks:

Smashbox Blush Rush

Lips:

Liner: Philosophy The Supernaural (discontinued)
Gloss: NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss 104 Sweet Heart

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A few things:

I’m finding that my go-to concealer these days is Smashbox High Definition. It’s creamy and covers everything so well but also blends into the skin with minimal creasing.

I start with the face first, once you get the skin right the color is easy. I spray the Caudalîe Beauty Elixir on the skin as I blend the foundation which helps it to melt into the face leaving the foundation looking invisible.

Koh Gen Do has pretty much the best everything when it comes to primers, foundations, and powder. I buy it, I use it on myself and in my kit, I love it. Seriously, this line is hard to beat. Yes, it’s pricey but it’s worth it because of how it conceals while leaving the skin so natural and almost dewey looking. Their products do what’s promised.

Everyone in the world should own that NYX gloss. It’s the prettiest shimmery nude ever.

Makeup Before and After: Liner and Lips

How adorable is this ‘girl next door’ bridesmaid whose makeup I got to do recently for a wedding? On girls like this who are so naturally beautiful to begin with, I really like to do a more casual, unstructured look that flatters without looking heavy. Could you imagine if I drew a big swoopy cat eye on her? Or did something really smokey? It just wouldn’t work. Filling in her brows, evening out her skin out, and adding some bronzer made a big difference, but her sparkly blue eyes and full lips were definitely the focal point.. Here’s what I used to make them front and center.

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My pencil liners have been getting a lot more use than the gel ones I’ve always carried in my kit because of the unstructured look they give. Laura Mercier’s long wearing pencils glide on so smoothly and wear as long as any gel. Typically a pencil this soft is the first to smudge, but this formula is as close to perfect as it gets. For this look, I used Noir (black) on her top lash line and Slate (charcoal) to line below. Using grey to line under her eyes looks less harsh than using just black all the way around.  Try it using a violet, blue, or ivy liner- just use a black liner on your top lid, then any color along the bottom. It’s a modern and easy way to wear colored eye liners and a fun departure from ho-hum black.

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Laura Mercier longwear crème eye pencils

Since she didn’t like the heavy look of lipstick, I lined her lips in a neutral pink and used Jouer Lip Sheer SPF 15 in Santorini over top. It’s a perfect, universally flattering pink that’s lightweight and moisturizing. You can use them solo (as I typically do since I use mine all the time in place of lip balm) or with a liner to deepen the color if you’d like. Either way, you’ll love how soothing they are, and their casual color that works for any occasion or no occasion at all.

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Jouer Lip Sheer SPF 15

Makeup Before and After: How to Use Yellow Primer

I was dying to try Koh Gen Do’s Yellow Primer ever since I saw this now infamous photo of it slathered all over Kim Kardashian’s face. Though my technique isn’t the same as her MUA Mary’s, I use it all the time and am addicted to the gorgeous highlight it gives the skin. How did I ever live without it? Pre-foundation I apply a good amount of it under the eyes- all the way across like a half moon and down to the tops of cheeks, I also use it down the bridge of the nose, the center of the forehead, and also on the chin. There are many ways to highlight the skin, but this is how I use this product and get great results.  Because it’s a primer and not a foundation or concealer, the yellow pigment isn’t too dense which can make the skin look sallow.

I used Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation over the primer which has been a staple in my kit for years. As you can see the coverage is perfection and it’s undetectable so it doesn’t look at all heavy. It’s a staple for so many Makeup Artists, but you can use it as a daily foundation too.

After highlighting the skin, I needed to put some depth back in so I used a ton of Jouer’s Mattifying Bronzer aroud her hairline, cheeks, and even down her neck and decloté to give her a bit more color and ensure that her face would match up with her neck. I don’t like bronzers that have shimmer in them which I think give a really tacky Jersey Shore sort of look. Jouer’s are shimmer-free and give a subtle, natural looking glow which is why they’ve become the most used in my kit. This new formula mops up shine by keeping the skin matte, an unusual bonus for a bronzer.

One of my very favorite things I’ve tried this summer is Laura Mercier’s Kohl Liner Extreme,. The black is so rich and deep that a little goes a long way, but it’s the ease of application that I love best. The slightly creamy formula comes to a dull tip that’s a bit wider than a traditional pencil so it’s easy to draw a line on the lid or smudge it into your waterline. If you feel like you can never get your liner on right, you have to try this one out. It will make your liner application 10x easier.

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NYX Wonder Pencil: Swatches and Review

A flesh colored pencil is something I think every woman should have. It’s multi-purpose, inexpensive, and beyond helpful as an easy pick-me-up for tired looking eyes. I use mine daily to rim my lower lash line to make my eyes look brighter, but did you know you can also use it as a concealer? NYX’s new Wonder Pencil is especially perfect for this because they understand (finally) that ‘nude’ doesn’t mean the same thing for every skintone which is why they offer light, medium, and dark shades. I took a quick pick (with the baby on my lap) of one of my favorite uses for it, drawing a highlight under the brows. I’m not a fan of a too-white looking highlight on the brow bone so these flesh toned pencils work perfectly to create a stronger brow arch (it can conceal stray hairs pretty well), and give some contrast as well. I also have it rimmed in my waterline too so you can see how it adds brightness. Another great use for it- reverse lining your lips. Use it on the outside of your lips (where the lip technically stops and your skin begins) to help keep lipstick from bleeding and to make your pout look more pronounced.

It’s a good $5 investment and something I think you’ll be surprised how much you will actually end up using.

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Milani Cosmetics

I’m not on Facebook that often anymore, when I can’t sleep my obsession turns to all things Instagram. I float from stranger to stranger usually starting with a celebrity makeup artist, then bouncing around to all of their friends to see what products they use so I know how closely my kit matches up to theirs. Typically I’d say we’re all using pretty much the same thing, but when I found one artist who posted a huge table loaded with Milani cosmetics boasting about how it’s the only drugstore brand in his kit I was totally stumped. What’s Milani?

Apparently it’s a family owned business focused on producing high quality cosmetics at drugstore prices (I didn’t see anything over $10 online.) They’re rumored to be pigment-rich and long wearing, it’s an under-the-radar cult fave that I’ve somehow missed.

Noted from the artist in the photo was their shadows, including their long-wearing shadow crayon called Shadow Eyes 12 He Wear and their Liquid Eye Liquid-Like which is an eyeliner that gives the look of a liquid but with the ease of using a pencil.

I hear they’re at Sears and Walgreens, but most people just buy online which is what I’ll probably do, then I’ll report back of course and let you know my thoughts.

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milani eyes

Makeup Before and After: Shimmery Beautiful Bridesmaid

I have my mainstays in my kit, yes, but I also carry rotate out makeup that companies send my way so I can put them to the ultimate test and see how they perform for a professional makeup application. A few weeks back, I gave some Pixi stuff a whirl. I was already sure that I’d like it all because Pixi’s whimsical look with serious product reminds me a bit like Stila in its heyday. It feels like that play makeup I’d tote around as a kid, but don’t let the fun packaging fool you- its girly-chic line hasn’t disappointed me yet. Here’s the before and after:


Before… Gorgeous Kate wanted to amp it up for her friend’s wedding.


…And after. A little smoky with some shimmering touches.

Fairy Dust ($14). Cute name, great product. I used it on Kate’s brow bone and inner corner of her eye for a hint of brightness to offset the depth. The sponge tipped applicator gets the pearl shimmer right where you want it, but you can also sprinkle a little out of the container if you’d like to sweep it on your cheekbones with a loose brush for even more glow.

I’m picky about eye pencils and I can’t use anything that smudges so I carry the best of the best in my kit. I tried Pixi’s beforehand and realized that it stays put as well as my others. Their Endless Eye Pen ($15) is the one I used on Kate, a rich brown with a splash of khaki and a kick of shimmer built right in. It’s a fun way to add drama to the eye when you’re bored of using a flat liner.