Wednesday, March 12, 2014

eyebrows, part one: general rules

the importance of eyebrows to the general makeup wearing world has recently increased a lot. i don't know where the sudden attention to eyebrows has come from, but they are an extremely important part of a look. this is a pretty big subject to cover, so it will be in two parts: one (general rules) and two (tutorials and products used).

i started filling my eyebrows in lightly when i started wearing makeup seriously, which was when i was around 15 or 16. if you don't know me well, my eyebrows are literally bleach blonde. they are about the same color as models who bleach their brows for fashion shows. my hair is strawberry blonde, so my brows can feasibly be a bit darker without looking off. i asked my mom for help, and she got me a set of two auburn revlon pencils, one light and one dark, as i had red tones in my hair. 'just draw light strokes, nothing too heavy,' she advised me. 'you want them to still look natural.'
that has stuck with me throughout my life- you want your eyebrows to look natural. much of my makeup look is based on looking natural, and so my eyebrows are no exception.

my mom was instrumental in teaching me what good brows should look like:
1. clean/shaped- you should pluck stray hairs.
2. not overplucked- after a while, they don't grow back. keep it natural. clean them up, but don't make them super thin.
3. any filling in/shading should look natural. i will discuss this in detail later on.

even though my brows are very light, i have found that shaping them really aids in their visibility. if i have a bunch of scattered hairs, it is hard to make out a nice brow shape. when they are streamlined, the shape is easier to discern.

there are many different shapes a person can choose for her brows. i chose a fuller, more natural shape. i really like the eyebrows that the olsen twins and lauren conrad have. lauren actually has a tutorial on how to get brows like hers here. she is an example of someone who used to overtweeze, but now has a much nicer brow shape. i personally like this tutorial by kevyn aucoin. my brow shape is closest to what he demonstrates in his book, 'making faces':

(i put his explanation of brow shapes next to the tutorial. if you ever want a fantastic makeup book, pick up 'making faces' or 'face forward.')

i think by now you get the idea that overtweezing is a bad thing, but you have to be careful of going in the opposite direction as well. there is a difference between full, natural brows and huge, overfilled brows. choosing the right colors for your brows and blending is very important, as is making sure the brow looks cleaned up at the end.

so what should you watch out for, in particular?
1. make sure you pick a flattering shape. yes, brows should generally be thicker towards the nose and taper as they move outward, but do NOT just have a weird large square area and then a tail.
2. fill your brows in lightly and comb through a lot with a mascara spoolie/wand (either a clean one or one with clear brow gel). mimic hair as you fill in, with small, thin strokes. do not just fill them in huge and bold.
3. pick a good color for your eyebrows. if your hair doesn't have red in it, be careful what kind of brown you choose. hair color is a science in itself, so if you have any questions about this, ask what color would suit you at a makeup counter.
4. make sure your brows look even and cleaned up. when you fill them in, they should have about the same amount of color all over. make sure it doesn't bleed on to the skin. it doesn't look good or natural if your eyebrows fade into the skin. the divide should be crisp; some people use concealer to help define this area, other people use a pencil meant for highlighting under the brow.

so why am i so harsh on overfilled brows? because they look out of place on a person who isn't overdone. if you are a make up artist and wearing an intense look on your eyelids, topped with crazy false lashes, by all means, fill your brows in a lot. think about eyebrows as a frame. an ornate painting would get an ornate frame. if you weren't doing a whole lot to your face, or your makeup is understated, you don't want your brows to be crazy. would you wear just false eyelashes and nothing else? no. so why make your brows stand out so much?

i think this is a good general overview of 'eyebrow rules,' so check back in a day or so for a short tutorial on how i do my eyebrows and what i use to do them.
stay tuned! :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

blush basics

my friend teri asked me to write about blush, because she has a lot of trouble choosing the right color. blush wasn't something i ever really had an interest in wearing. my primary concerns when i started wearing makeup were make my eyebrows and eyelashes visible and correct any redness on my fair skin. i felt like wearing blush was unnecessary because i was trying to cover redness, not add more. i was always kind of afraid of looking like a clown!

i actually received benefit dandelion (the really light pink blush) as a type of 'free gift with purchase.' i was impressed when i put it on because it is not super noticeable, but it really brightens my complexion. it makes me look more alive, rather than monochromatic.

nars orgasm does a similar job to dandelion. it is a pink blush as well, but it looks almost coral-y because it has a slight gold shimmer to it. it isn't 'glittery'- the shimmer gives it a nice 'lit from within' kind of glow. i like it because i feel like it adds dimension to the face. it is universally flattering- everyone i know who has tried this blush has really liked it. both nars blushes are actually a lot more sheer than the way they look on my arm. i built them up so that you could see the color.

out of all of the blushes below, those two are my definite favorites. i use them almost exclusively. 
but why?
what both dandelion and orgasm have in common is that they are colors that do not look out of place on my face. aside from the shimmer, they appear very natural on my face and don't distract or detract from the way i look. 
my #1 rule while choosing a blush is to pick something that looks natural and flatters you. you don't want people to say 'your blush looks nice!'- you just want your skin to look like it is glowing and have a little 'more' to it. there are different shades, of course- you aren't strictly limited to one shade, but if you don't have naturally occurring magenta or bubblegum pink pigment in your face, that color blush will look unnatural. AGAIN- i am writing this from the standpoint of a person who likes to appear (fairly) natural. if i do play with color, it will be either a bright lip color (i am actually wearing a bright color below) or some kind of eyeliner.

i am not going to write in detail about the other blushes, but they are all very nice. dandelion may not show up if you aren't extremely fair; many other bloggers complain about that. coralista and dallas are both very popular, and both nars blushes are 'best sellers' as well. i actually received the duo in a 'best of sephora set,' which definitely backs that up. the other blush is by tarina tarantino. it is a beautiful, bright corally pink. if i apply it VERY lightly, it looks nice on me, but it definitely borders on clown-y if i'm not careful, so sadly it doesn't get a lot of wear. it is definitely worth checking out if your skin tone is at all darker than mine, though, as a lot of things look too bold on me.

in the picture below, i am wearing no blush on the left, then dandelion on the right. i am making a silly face, but the color is just barely noticeable.

blush application is something that can make or break the way your blush looks as well. i don't highlight and contour, which is a way of using bronzer and a highlighting powder in addition to blush in order to give a more sculpted look (think kim kardashian's cheekbones). i find that to be extremely time consuming, and i don't like the finished result; i feel like i am wearing too much makeup.
a lot of people go by the rule that the 'apples of the cheeks' is where you should apply blush. however, if you were to actually flush, it wouldn't only be on the parts of your cheeks that stick out when you smile. what i do is sweep the blush along my cheekbone, almost to my temple (see the yellow area outlined below).  if the lines look too harsh, take the brush (this time without any blush on it) and go over the area again. this will help blend the blush in and remove any excess.

so remember, if you want your blush to be subtle try to pick something that looks natural for you. go to a makeup counter or sephora and check out a few you have your eye on. if you're really unsure, ask someone for help! and don't just decide you like or dislike it based upon what it looks like in the pan. try the blush on and check it out in different lights- go outside, go in the bathroom, wear the blush around before making a decision. sometimes what looks good inside the mall is super dark or strange in daylight, so it is always important to see face makeup in both indoor and artificial light.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

bb creams - overview and swatches

one of the biggest issues i have with makeup is finding the right shade of foundation. my complexion is so light that most usually come out orange on my face. when i do luck out and find something that matches, the formula isn't always the best.
why did i start using bb cream?
as most people have noticed, bb creams became really really big in the past few years. bb creams are wildly popular in korea, and america began embracing them about 3 years ago. they are touted as 'all in one' products that prime, protect with spf, moisturize, correct, and cover. the first one i tried was dr. jart's waterfuse bb cream. dr. jart is a korean company that is now sold at sephora. i am under the impression that the american formulations are different from the korean ones, but i really liked the formula of the cream. it was unlike anything i'd tried before; it felt wet on my face, and made my skin look natural and dewy. sadly, it was just a little too dark for me.
i started doing more research and ended up trying another bb cream, this time actually taking the plunge and ordering it from korea. this bb cream is missha perfect cover, which comes in a few different shades (dr jart waterfuse only came in one). i chose the lightest one, #13, described as 'bright beige' or 'milky beige.' i have been using it faithfully since i started about a year and a half ago. the finish is dewy for this cream as well, but i usually dust a finishing powder over it.
of course, i am never happy with just one option, so i needed to try a few more korean bb creams. the last time i ordered the missha cream, it came with two samples of skin79 bb cream- orange bottle and pink bottle. both of them had a little more coverage than the missha, but had more of a satiny finish. they still felt natural on my skin, like a lotion. unfortunately, both were too dark. i did a little research and found skin79 had come out with a very light toned bb cream in a green bottle. i tried to find a comparison to missha #13 online, but i couldn't find anything that showed the two next to each other. 

swatches and purchasing information
so, to make research a little easier for other people, here are swatches in natural light of all of the bb creams that i have. i will post in depth reviews of each at some point later. all american bbs are available at sephora. i purchased my korean bbs from ebay. i would recommend bellogirl and rubyrubyshop, as they are reputable sellers and their products are authentic (but remember, anything you order will take 2-5 weeks to arrive).

wrist to elbow: 1. brtc jasmine water (korean), 2. missha perfect cover in #13 (korean), 3. skin79 (green bottle)(korean), 4. dr. jart detox (black bottle) (american), 5. dr. jart waterfuse (teal bottle) (american), 6. tarte bb primer in 'fair' (american).
squeezed out

slightly rubbed in
rubbed in and sheered out

please let me know if you have any questions about these, or if you'd like a more detailed opinion on any before you purchase them.
quick takes
1. brtc jasmine water (korean)- very nice, basic bb cream. slightly dewy, but less than most. covers well/evens skin. almost no smell, perhaps a faint jasmine(?) smell. glides on, a little thicker than missha.
 2. missha perfect cover in #13 (korean) - dewy, covers well/evens skin.  floral smell. glides on.
 3. skin79 (green bottle)(korean)- more matte finish. a little scent, but nothing noticeable. comes in a few different shades, but each have slightly different properties.
4. dr. jart detox (black bottle) (american). heavier than most. i haven't used this much as it is very dark.
5. dr. jart waterfuse (teal bottle) (american)- dewy finish. smells a bit like sunscreen (pleasant).
6. tarte bb primer in 'fair' (american) - this feels more like a primer (comparable to smashbox primer). comes in 4 shades. this would be best under make or just as for 'pore blurring perfecting' if your skin is almost perfect.

i STRONGLY advise you to do your research on ebay sellers before buying any cosmetic items, not just bb cream. there are MANY ebay sellers who counterfeit perfume, urban decay, mac, benefit cosmetics, and many other companies. if a deal seems too good to be true, it is, and if the seller has ANY negatives that question the authenticity of a product, do NOT purchase from them.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

glamglow - worth it?

by no means is my skin perfect. it is probably not as bad as i think it is, as i am the type of person who tends to focus on detail. however, i am well into my twenties at this point, and i still get breakouts from stress and hormones. i love using masks, and i'd like to share my experience with the 3 glamglow masks, including which ended up being my favorite.

about a year ago (perhaps a year ago exactly), i received a sample of the glamglow masks from sephora. there were two - a white mask in a black container (the sample was in a packet), and a black mask in a white container. the black container, 'youthmud,' was for all skin types and was supposed to refine and perfect. the white container, 'supermud,' was meant to help clear acne.

i didn't notice much of an impact after the perfecting mask (which, if i recall, had a finer texture and was more exfoliating), but the acne mask intrigued me. i felt like it definitely drew a lot out of my pores and definitely softened my skin. i liked the sample enough that i considered purchasing it. i went to sephora's website, noted that the price was $69 for 1.2 ounces, and promptly closed the browser. i wanted to try the mask again, but... not for THAT price.

sephora is very generous with samples. they never give out samples of products that are so-so; they tend to give out high ticket items that really work well, so that you are impressed by them after a few uses and want to purchase them in the end. sometimes i can justify paying a little more for something that works really well, or contributes to my overall skin health... but ~$70 was pushing it. beyond pushing it, honestly. it was already pushed.

i considered trying to find a discounted one somewhere, but amazon marketplace and ebay are rife with counterfeit cosmetic items, so i quickly abandoned that idea. i picked up a sample again before my wedding in october, but just decided to wait until some opportunity to either buy a smaller amount or something came along.

in december, sephora introduced a skin cleanse set which included the glamglow supermud mask, as well as many other skin care items i wanted to try or had already tried. it retails for $45, which i COULD justify, as it came with a variety of different things. 

this is the size that is included in the set. i am quite pleased with it. as you can see, the dry mask turns a bluish gray after a few minutes on the skin. the area over the pores is still dark, almost black. the smell reminds me of licorice for some reason, and the mask has bits of something that resembles tiny sticks. it definitely feels like it works on blackheads. i would recommend using it only once or twice every week. i was a tad overzealous when i got the mask again, and combination of overusing the mask and the subzero temperatures and wind really dried my skin out.

i really do love this mask. at this point, i have tried samples all three of the glamglow masks: the supermud, youthmud, and thirstymud, which is a new hydrating glamglow treatment released earlier this year. to be honest, i was really only impressed with supermud. youthmud was absolutely nothing special. i tried thirstymud with high expectations, as i was so impressed with supermud, but it definitely fell flat. the sample provided enough for a few uses, so i tried it overnight as recommended, and once as just a mask. the results were eh. i expected a mask, but it was more of a very thick lotion. it had the texture of a thinner pudding. it actually irritated my skin a bit because it was a little dry, and didn't do anything that any other moisturizer would do. one plus was that it smelled really nice, but it reminded me of some other lotion that i had at one point.

i can't speak to the effectiveness of the glamglow eyemask, as i haven't tried them, but as someone with fair, sensitive, and oily skin- supermud is the one worth trying. perhaps if you have mature skin or skin that generally has a drier texture you'll like the other masks, but they weren't for me.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

favorites, part I: eye products

as someone with blonde eyebrows and eyelashes, i have always paid a lot of attention to that area of my face. i really like my eyes and my eyelashes. my eyelashes are very long, but you can't really see them because they are so light (almost clear). the first makeup i really started wearing was mascara and everything else came later.

i decided before jumping into any in depth reviews or swatches, my inaugural post should include some of my beauty favorites. i'd rather not dedicate an entire post to THIS IS WHO I AM, but a post detailing what i like should give some sort of an outline of what i look for in beauty products.

so, naturally, i wanted to start with eye products.

urban decay eye shadow in 'sin' ($18) and the 'naked basics' palette ($27).

sinnaked basics
for starters, the formulation of these shadows is fantastic. they are the softest, most pigmented shadows i have ever used. they blend well and last a long time on the lid. 'sin' is by far the best color i have ever used. it is a very flattering champagne-pink shimmer, a 'my lids by better' look. the color makes my blue eyes stand out more without screaming I AM WEARING EYESHADOW. when i was 15, MAC came out with an eyeshadow named 'goldbit.' it was the first eyeshadow that really worked on my eyes, but it was limited edition and i was never able to purchase it again. luckily, sin is similar to what i can remember goldbit looking like, but slightly more natural and with a far superior formulation to the MAC lustre shadow i had in 2004. 'naked basics' is a small palette (in comparison to other UD palettes), but i think it is the most essential. i love all of the UD naked palettes, but they are $52 apiece and contain very few matte shades. 'basics' has all mattes (with the exception of 'venus,' which is a shimmery white highlight color), and the palette is versatile for many different looks. you can do something light and natural looking, something dramatic and smoky, or (depending upon your eyebrow color) use it to fill in your brows. the prices are certainly steep, but you will get your money's worth with the 'basics' palette. 'sin' is also available in the original 'naked' palette, so keep that in mind if you plan on purchasing it.

stila stay all day waterproof liquid liner in black ($20)
i am a big fan of liquid liner. i was inspired to try it out years ago after looking at a 60's inspired ad, and i have incorporated it into my day to day makeup. i think it makes me look less tired, as it draws the focus to the top of the eye as opposed to the bottom, where dark circles form. a simple flick is also great for pairing with a bold lip, because it is simple and monochromatic. it flatters eyes without taking away from the lip. i have tried quite a few different types of liquid liners: make up forever's waterproof liner (great once you get used to if, tube broke for me, also just too expensive), l'oreal's lineur intense (great, but no staying power), kat von d's tattoo line (too light), almay's liquid liner (okay), e.l.f's eyeliner pen (dry/terrible). the stila liner came in a set, and it is the best kind i have tried. not only is the wear time excellent, but the pen is very easy to control. it is fairly expensive (the mufe one was even more, $25 i believe!) but sometimes it is included in sets. shop around! this is worth the splurge, though.

maybelline the colossal mascara (waterproof) ~$7

i have blonde eyelashes, so if i was in a rush and only had time for one cosmetic, mascara would be it. i usually layer mascaras, with a base or a not waterproof mascara underneath, and then a few coats of this waterproof one over top. i like this one because the formula is thinner, so it coats the lashes and existing mascara easily.

what are your favorite eye products?