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.

Get the Cheaper Stuff: When to to Buy Discount Beauty

Now that you know where to spend a little extra money, let’s talk about where not to. The divide in quality between drugstore and department store brands isn’t so wide anymore (hello, Olay Pro-X!), so save where you can in these few key categories where I’ve found that it really doesn’t matter.

Mascara: CoverGirl LashBlast

I’ve always been a fan of drugstore mascara – it’s what you’d find both in my professional kit and in my bathroom. While the Maybelline pink and green might be a fav of some, I stick with CoverGirl for all things mascara. LashBlast’s fat tubes are all the rage for a reason – they’re great formulas that wear so well you don’t need to get those impossible-to-scrub-off waterproof formulas that should be a measure of last resort purchase. The one in the orange tube is fine, but I like the purple one – Fusion as it’s called – for a really long, defined look that I can layer on over and over without clumping. For around $9 or so, it’s a third of what some department stores mascaras are and every bit as good. If CoverGirl doesn’t light your fire, check out what Maybelline, Revlon, and others have to offer, you’ll find a $10 formula you love guaranteed.

Long Wear Lipstick: L’Oreal Infallible

Brides are always surprised when I tell them to grab a drugstore brand lipstick for touching-up on their big day. L’Oreal Infallible is one of the best long-wearing lip formulas out there. It stays put a crazy long time without fading, feathering, or getting all globby. It isn’t bulletproof, but I’d say only one touch-up during the day is all you need after your first morning application. Not bad for $12.

Eye Liner: NYX

Love M.A.C’s Liquidlast? Grab NYX Studio Liquid Liner for $4 – a big savings over M.A.C’s $17.50 especially because they both stay as long and have vast color selections. A powder shadow is perfect for those who can never seem to draw on a decent liner shape because it’s so simple to use, Smashbox has one for $22, as does NYX for $6. Same packaging, same applicator, and the same great result. NYX has a liner selection that I adore, most priced less than $10 and all stack up big time against higher priced counterparts.

Brow Powder: Any Line Will Do

Right now I’m using a light taupe mineral shadow for my brows just because I have it laying around. Before that it was this $4 Ardell Brow Defining Powder, but it really doesn’t matter. Yes, a brow-specific color is the best bet since color correctness is key, but as long as you get the shade right you can use any powder you have on hand to get the job done.

Laura Mercier Holiday 2011

When it comes to color, Laura Mercier is hard to beat especially if you’re like me and revel in great quality makeup. Their holiday collection is still available and really worth a look. Just a few new shades and techniques can make for a new updated look for 2012.

Their Baked Eye Colour Palette $48 was probably my favorite offering from all of last year’s holiday collections. Now it’s back with 5 new shades, a double ended brush, and the same rich formula that’s easy to wear and blend.

If a smaller palette is more your speed, check out their Petite Eye Colour Trio $25 in Smoky Neutrals and Smoky Taupes – which is the one I have. It’s a mauve, plum, and neutral pink that compliments most skin tones and gives some fresh options for those who want to escape the ho-hum brown rut we so easily get sucked into.

Their best deal of the bunch, I think, is the Kohl Pencil Set $45 with 5 eyeliners in Stormy Grey, Black Violet, Brown Copper, Black Gold and Black Navy that end up being just $9 a pop. Their creamy formula is so easy to apply because it doesn’t drag on the skin so you can even lay a coat of it down on your lids before you apply shadow for extra dimension to a smokey eye.

And while you’re at it grab a Caviar Stick Eye Colour $24, a creamy liner/shadow hybrid of intense color. They’re pretty unique and way cool for a smudgy, imperfect look which is my favorite for totally sexy morning-after eyes.

All but the Caviar stick (thankfully) are limited, so once they’re gone they’re gone.

Makeup Before and After; It’s all About the Liner

There aren’t too many of us who wear a full face of makeup every day. In fact, I meet mostly mascara only girls when I’m beautifying brides and their maids for weddings. This particular girl was one such case from a wedding several weeks ago who wasn’t comfortable in a lot of makeup which I’ve learned translates to ‘don’t put a lot of eye shadow on me.’ No problem.

Bringing out the eyes doesn’t require a lot of shadow anyway, it’s icing on the cake once you get a good contrast going by using a rich liner and some lashes. Here’s how it went down;


Before: great skin and a cute smile, she’s already looking good!


After: Some rich black liner all the way around the eyes and a few coats of mascara on a false lash are really all it takes to get the relaxed look she wanted.


A close up of the liner kept neatly in her water line on the bottom. A smudgy look would’ve felt too heavy for a girl who typically keeps it pretty natural.


I used NYX Retractible Eye Liner in Black, a deep black that holds its depth even in the waterline.


She loved Hourglass Extreme Sheen Gloss in Fortune, just enough color and shine.

If you’ve never gotten into shadow (or just don’t understand how to apply it), ditch it altogether and focus on liner and lashes. Getting that combo down will give beautiful contrast and make all the difference.

Chantecaille Gel Liner Pencil

Not that I need another eye liner at all actually, but the Gel Liner Pencil from Chantecaille will probably have me stopping by to check it out buy it. It’s a revolutionary gel within a pencil formula with a 6 hour water-resistent wear time. It’s along the same lines as the gel liners that come in a pot which are great when they don’t dry out and once you get the hang out applying them. This pencil makes for neater application and not it won’t dry out before you can use it up.

Makeup Before and After: Bronzy Bridesmaid

Another day, another makeup transformation. I took these over the weekend at a wedding I worked at the Brown Palace here in Denver. It’s the brides sister (and maid of honor), who requested a punched up version of her usual look with some bronzy highlights that would photograph well. Here’s the before and after along with a few things that made the look possible.

My Hero Products for the Look:

Estée Lauder: Bronze Goddess Soft Duo Bronzer

Finding a bronzer that looks good in the office is one thing, but finding one that photographs well and lasts all day is another. Lauder has gotten good at bronzing and their one-shade-works-for-most duo is a go-to for a lot of makeup artists because of its instant tanning affect that’s perfect in any light. Keep in mind that bronzer isn’t meant to be used all over the face, just the top of the forehead, chin, and under the cheek bones gives a dynamic look. A little bit of brozner is pretty and youthful, bronzer all over is Jersey Shore.

Tarte: emphasEYES Amazonian Clay Waterproof Liner in Black

emphasEYES is as good as any gel liner out there (better than Bobbi for precision because it isn’t as slippery) but with mineral-derived pigments and a natural formula.I used it on her upper lash line with the pointy side of the brush (shown below), then I did a smudgy application under her lower lash line with the diffusing side of the brush. I’ve seen girls literally cry over this liner without it moving. Liner is important to a look and this is one I trust.

L’Oreal: Double Extend Eye Illuminator in Black Quartz

I’m still using Double Extend in my kit – I’ve never had a problem with smudging or moving and these are brides and bridesmaids who are basically sweating and crying all day long. Double Extend Eye Illuminator offers the same great formula on one side in black, but replaces the primer side with a shimmering formula and a round tipped brush meant to highlight the lashes. I don’t know how much the glimmer actually brings a highlight to the lash, but I love the shape of the brush to work mascara into the outer part of the lashes where they’re the longest and need some extra bulk.

KohGenDo: Maifanshi Moisture Foundation in Shades 2 and 3 blended together

I’ve blogged about KohGenDo Foundation before, it’s a well-loved pick for Makeup Artists who forgo airbrushing for a more controlled (and safer) application. It enhances skin and gives a good amount of coverage without making it look like you’re wearing a mask. You can see in these pics that some of her freckles are still showing (I outright refuse to cover freckles beyond what the foundation does because I think they’re so cute), but the bulk of her discoloration is gone and her skin is still showing through and glowing. No need to powder over top either, the formula itself contains 10% powder so it’s self-setting.