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.

Post-Baby Skin Care: What I’ll Be Using to Get Rid of My Melasma (Round 2)

Well here we are, today is the day I’m giving birth to my daughter (Note: of course I’m not writing this in the delivery room, it’s actually the night before) and I’m once again planning my new skincare routine to banish the melasma that reared its ugly head from pretty much day 1 of this pregnancy. I actually think it never went away from the first pregnancy and just kept on building throughout this one. Either way, I’m ready to attack. I’ve done a ton of research and have come up with what I think is the best of the best as far as attacking pigment and restoring my skin without using hydroquinone or Botox.

Cleanser:

I was thinking about getting this Pigment Bar from PCA Skin, a medical line that I really like but I nixed the idea and will stick with my cleanser that I love. I’m just not sure how much help a cleanser is in fading dark spotting since it’s only on the skin for a few seconds and the ingredients are washed away. If you’re curious though, check it out- it’s a cool concept and people seem to really like it.

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Toner:

Hands down, one of the most effective things I’ve ever used on my skin has been Mandelic acid from Vivant, a line sold through skin pros and doctors that is really picking up steam in the industry for its skin-changing ways. Mandelic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid extracted from bitter almonds, so it’s a safe alternative to hydroquinone (a skin lightener that really works well, but has safety concerns.) This 9% solution will help to lighten while also making my skin soft enough to allow the serums and creams to penetrate and work that much better.

vivant toner

Serum:

I was a little on the fence about this one so I ordered two and then canceled one. I wanted to get Skinceuticals Phyto + which I ordered from Amazon (before canceling) because of its botanical formula and kojic acid, a known skin lightener. In the end the shaky reviews mixed with the fact that I know Mandelic will definitely work were what swayed my decision to stick with a more potent formula. So I ordered Vivant’s Mandelic 3-in-1 Serum 15% which combines Mandelic with Lactic Acid, a combination that will lighten and brighten my skin without question.

vivant mandelic serum

Retinol:

Can I use a retinol while nursing? My derm thought so and she recommended Afirm, a Retin-A alternitive (sidebar: Terntinoin and Retin-A both break me out because they put the vitamin a into a cheap cream that’s all greasy terrible so I can’t use it anyway) that’s easily absorbed into the skin and gives the same results as a prescription retinoid at a fraction of the cost. A good retinol will diminish wrinkles, fade discoloration, and give better clarity and tone to the skin. Another interesting fact: Retinoids are the only FDA approved treatments for wrinkles. I bought the 3X, formula which amounts to a 0.6% retinol which is their strongest treatment. Again, I’m getting the higher percentage treatments for all of the formulations just because my skin is used to really active stuff.. Start with the 1% just a few times a week if you’re just venturing into the world of retinol, but really if you have wrinkles or discoloration to get rid of this is a really good place to start.

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Antioxidant:

I always use an antioxidant serum during the day to combat further damage (and you should too), so I’ll use Vivant’s Spin Trap serum with vitamins C&E. I’ve used this one in the past and for some reason it seems to keep longer than others, it doesn’t turn that dull color vitamin serums turn after just a few months which means its potency is also in tact.

vivant spin trap

Moisturizer:

I went out on a limb for this one. I’ve never used Nia 24 but I see it everywhere and am fascinated by it since it’s the only niacin-based product I know of. There’s a bunch of research they have on their site (independent from them) showing how niacin heals sun damaged skin and can even play a role in skin cancer prevention. Their signature treatment cream is this Intensive Recovery Complex, pricey at $118 but something I’ve literally looked at buying for years. Because it’s meant specifically for hyperpigment issues, I thought it would fit in perfectly with my whole skin-lightening regimen.

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SPF:

Good SPF is key when you’re using an active bunch of products like this. Even in the winter when you don’t think you’re getting sun exposure, you are. I’ve been using Coola SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint as a daily primer and skin perfector. The look and feel is just like a slightly tinted primer that helps to even out skintone pre-foundation. I love Coola’s sunscreens, it’s an organic line that only does suncare so they do it really well. It’s basically a really good SPF disguised as a great makeup primer that will help even out my skin on days when I won’t be wearing foundation (which will be quite often in the coming weeks.)

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Oh- and I’ll be using my Dermaroller to get super maximum penetration and faster results. Read HERE and HERE to catch up on the magical wonders of Dermarolling (aka microneedling) if you missed my past posts on the subject, and keep an eye on Hautelook (get the app) because they often feature them for just $20 or $30.

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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Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre 24 Hour Miracle Cream

Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre 24 Hour Miracle Cream is nothing short of a cult favorite among Makeup Artists and celebs alike. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out.

Lait-Crème Concentrè

I first saw it in action backstage at Fashion Week at every show – see the squished up tube behind the Rosewater spray (which I also went out and bought shortly after.)

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And here again, next to Eve Pearl, one of my favorite foundations at a different show. Every artist it seemed was carrying it.

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Even Gwyneth Paltrow gave it some Goop love a few years back touting its big time Makeup Artist following. But why is it a staple in most pro’s kits? Because I’ve yet to find a skin type it doesn’t work on. Oily, acne-prone, dry, and even clients with skin so sensitive they bring their own moisturizer because they’re afraid that whatever I’m using might trigger a reaction. But it never has. On the contrary- it calms, softens, and evens out the skin in a subtle but complete way. I’ve been using fewer silicone-based primers these days because this primes the skin so well that I don’t need the added step. At Fashion Week, I also saw it used as a makeup remover for the girls who came in full makeup from other shows. Without sinks and water, the artists were able to get the girl’s faces totally clean using this cream and tissues alone.

A 1oz tube is just $16, but I get the larger 2.6oz since it’s only $28. Yup, it’s a French drugstore line so not only is it free of nasty chemicals (Europe bans most of the ones we still use here), but it’s also cheap!

Makeup Before and After: Glam Mom

Recently I got to work with Nicole, a busy mom who (like the rest of us) rarely has a reason to get all out glam. I made her up for a shoot she did last week and the before and afters were so great I couldn’t wait to post them! I can’t wait to see her final images from her photos which I know will be amazing. Check out what I used below to get her look.

Click all images to enlarge:

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Her eyes: Copper is such a perfect way to add tons to depth to any look- even for everyday. Her dropped liner on the bottom was Pixi’s Copper Glow smudged out for a more dramatic look. I used Neutrogena’s cream shadow all over under her powder shadow to prevent creasing and to really give the shadow something to stick to. Stila’s Ebony and Kitten were her two main shades, which gave the perfect amount on contrast and pop.

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Her face: A silicone primer sometimes isn’t enough moisture (often the case here in Colorado), so I used Miracle Skin Transformer’s Heal Everything Balm which absorbs quickly but leaves the skin hydrated and primed so blending foundation is easy and it sits beautifully on the skin. I mixed together shades 1 and 2 in Koh Gen Do’s Maifanshi Foundation which as you can see gives a ton of great coverage without looking heavy. I buffed in Dermablend’s Mineral Powder on top to chase away any shine without a hint of a dull or powdery look.

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Her lips: These lips are the kind most women pay for- big and full and just begging for color. I mixed together two nude shades over a pinky liner and skipped the gloss. The sheen was enough and without the gloss her color would wear longer.

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Too Faced Primed and Poreless Bronze

I’m so pale lately. Ok, I’m always pale. I don’t tan and wear SPF every single day of the year but I dunno, I’m just feeling a little lackluster like my skin needs a boost. I see photos of myself and I’m all ‘What’s up Casper?’ See, here I am with Harper chillin on the floor the other day. Maybe I’m not crazy ghost face, but a little color wouldn’t hurt.

carissa

The problem though is that when I use a bronzer it sometimes looks way too obvious because of the difference in my light skin and the bronzing powder. Too Faced has a bronzing primer that I haven’t tried, but they’re known for their bronzers so I might give it a shot. Since I’m not using foundation every day anyway, a little boost of bronze in a primer shouldn’t be too heavy so it might be all I need to wake up my skin and give it some glow. Just keep in mind if you’re going to try a liquid bronzer that you might need to also use a little on your neck to keep the look consistent.

too faced primed and poreless