Makeup For A Night Out- My Friend Meg

It’s been way too long since I’ve done someone’s makeup for a special occasion; my last real client was before our move out here!  The only thing that’s come close is when I had the pleasure of doing a trial run for a beautiful girl attending her senior prom here in Illinois, but her plans fell through at the last minute.  So, since July of last year, it’s really just been me tending to my own face (which begets way too many selfies, let me tell ya).

So you can imagine my excitement when my friend Meg, whom I’d gotten to know through church, asked me to help her with both makeup and hair!  I admit I was a little nervous because it had been so long, but I was too excited to work with someone again to let the nerves bother me.  Meg was attending a benefit event for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and the cocktail attire dress code provided the perfect excuse to play around.

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I prepped Meg’s skin with Glossier’s Super Bounce serum, which perhaps turned out to be her favorite product we used that day.  Luckily, even though I’d brought my own kit with me, Meg had an amazing arsenal of her own with plenty of great stuff to choose from.  We primed her skin with Laura Mercier Radiance Foundation Primer, and then I used a Beauty Blender to evenly apply Bobbi Brown’s Skin Foundation Stick in Beige all over.  After a dusting of BareMineral Original Foundation in Light to set it, I used Meg’s two Cle de Peau concealers to the undereye area as well as around the nose and lips.  If I can name one area on the face that always gets overlooked when it comes to concealer, it’s the nose area.  The skin around your nostrils and at the bottom of your nose almost always suffers from discoloration; a good concealer on these spots has a real lifting and brightening effect.  To set the undereye concealer, I used Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder.

For Meg’s eyes, I stuck with some of my most trusted friends- MAC eyeshadows in Shroom and Cork, and my Dior 5-Couleurs Eyeshadow palette in Earth Reflection.  I used the two brown shades in the Dior palette, along with the pearly-white one for the brow bone and inner corners of the eyes.  The hardest part of makeup for me, to this very day, is properly blending multiple eyeshadows.  I really try to get a look at the eyes from all angles and in both natural and artificial light; I tried to take my time getting this just right because unblended eyeshadow is truly painful to behold (and here’s a tip- shimmery shadows are much more forgiving than matte ones when it comes to blending).  I lined Meg’s eyes with my BFF- Christian Siriano for Victoria’s Secret eyeshadow in Royal- and I don’t know what I’ll do when it finally runs out because I’ve yet to find anything quite like it.  For lashes, we used multiple layers of Meg’s Bobbi Brown Eye Opening Mascara.

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I did a bit of contouring with Kat Von D’s Shade and Light Palette, and used Chanel’s blush in In Love for cheeks.  I added a bit of highlighting using MAC’s Mineralize SkinFinish on the top of the cheekbones, and a touch of a pearly NARS cream shadow to the cupid’s bow.

Finally, for lips, Meg prepped them with MAC’s Prep + Prime.  We then used Laura Mercier’s lipliner in Natural Lips topped with NARS Velvet Satin Lip Pencil in Bahama- this is the perfect dusty brick-rose with just enough color to be a “statement lip” without needing to be fire-engine red or something.  We had her pack a clear gloss with her along with the pencils, just for extra moisture.  To set everything and give the whole look a diffused effect, I dusted Meg’s face all over with Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light.

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As for hair, I’d known for a while that I basically wanted to take inspiration from Ahn Co Tran and go for waves with lived-in texture.  This is my favorite look, and frankly, it’s one that I know I can replicate fairly well on others.  Meg has a midlength bob so I knew this texture would be perfect for her cut.

I used my tried-and-true technique of wrapping one-inch sections of hair around a 1.25-inch curling iron, without using the clamp and always leaving the ends out.  If you try this, try to wrap sections loosely so you don’t get a wave or curl that is too tight.  As I progressed through her hair (and I did it in three layers, working from the bottom up), I’d separate any waves that were too big or tight and finish with a generous mist of Bumble and Bumble’s Dryspun Texture Finish- better than Oribe!  I also sprayed Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist into my hands and worked it into Meg’s hair, too; the Texture Mist provides bouncy hold and sort of acts like a spray-gel, but better.

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I kept laughing because Meg kept saying how I understand “the bend”- no one wants their hair truly curled these days, we all just want it to have that awesome “bend” that looks chic and lived in!  It’s the best!

One adorable Majè jumpsuit later and Meg was ready!

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I had such an awesome time playing around with this sweet mama- she looked amazing and I was so happy with how much she enjoyed the whole process!  I can tell you that it’s so much more fun with the client is interested and curious about what you’re doing, from the skin prep to the final touches.  And I was truly happy to finally lend someone a beautifying hand on the North Shore- it’s about time!  xo, MR

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Five (Truly) Small Christmas Gift Ideas

I absolutely love shopping for gifts.  I love finding practical things, or things that remind me of the recipient, or items that might be trendy and push the receiver’s boundaries a little, even if they decide to take it back.

In general, I really enjoy the gift-buying process.  However, in years past, my spending has easily snowballed because of how much I tend to find or wanting to match the value of everyone’s gifts.  That can’t happen this year, though.  The gifts need to be much smaller, and yet I’d still like to have some fun putting them together.  So, what I have here is a list of five different, very small gift ideas you can give to the beauty or bath enthusiast you know that will provide them with a luxurious experience.  And the best part?  They’re all under twenty bucks (not including tax).

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Your own version of a “beauty sampler” or “beauty emergency kit”

Stores like Sephora like to sell their own beauty “emergency” kits, but they can still cost quite a few bucks even for the value they might have.  Beauty box subscriptions can also be really fun, but they certainly cost more than a flat rate of twenty bucks.  If I were to create my own version of sampler for a friend, I might think of it as a “day to night” kit and include the following: a pair of false lashes, a perfume sample, a pack of blotting sheets, a travel-size dry shampoo, and maybe a mini version of some kind of lip color I like.

The fun thing about this idea is that you can really make it your own.  And it may sound incredibly cheap, but if you’ve acquired a lot of beauty samples over the past year, perhaps you can select a few of them based on what you know your friend enjoys, package them nicely, and there you go! Done.  This is an idea that could potentially cost you under five dollars.

Three of your favorite drugstore mascaras

Come on, what girl doesn’t love opening a new, fresh tube of drugstore mascara?  Now, if you go to Target, the prices on cosmetics will be cheaper so I’d suggest shopping there (or Wal-Mart, if you can manage the chaos).  Maybe you could determine your gift recipient’s favorite kind of mascara first and include that within the three.  What I’d probably do is choose one kind I know they like, one kind I know I like, and maybe a “wildcard”, like a new kind that perhaps neither of you have tried.  If you play it right and shop around enough, you can still come out under $20.

For instance, if I swing by Wal-Mart and purchase a tube of Cover Girl’s The Super Sizer by LashBlast ($5.94), Maybelline Lash Sensational ($6.94), and Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies ($5.94), I’m at a total of $18.82.  Easy.

A couple Korean sheet masks

Korean sheet masks are super trendy these days, but what’s fun about giving them is that you can choose a couple different kinds for different skin needs.  For instance, Tony Moly (sold at Sephora, along with a myriad of other brands) sells sheet masks in packs of two and there is huge variety to choose from within this line alone.  They have masks for radiance, clarity, hydration, pore care, and many others.  One pack of two costs $7.50, bringing your total to just fifteen bucks if you choose to give two packs.

A sheet mask is a nice little end-of-the-day thing to enjoy with a glass of wine and Netflix, or a soothing treatment to use on a plane ride that can prevent dryness.  And, the fact that many of your friends may not have tried them makes them a fun novelty that beats another bottle of lotion.

A couple bath bombs or beautiful soaps

Now, I know that not everyone takes baths so you may want to investigate your friend’s bathing habits first, but bath bombs are my current fave form of entertainment that doesn’t involve Cheetos or spending more money (although I guess you can always eat Cheetos while taking a bath- I’m not quite there yet).  Lush Cosmetics makes fantastic, completely natural bath bombs that turn sitting in a tub into a fizzy, whimsical, almost chic experience.  They all smell amazing in their own way, leave your skin feeling great, and have their own unique qualities that makes choosing just one such a difficult ordeal.  Bath bombs, I might add, are also very Instagram-able once they hit water.  None of Lush’s bath bombs cost over $7; you could choose one of the bigger ones as a single gift or two smaller ones.

Another similar idea is to give a couple lovely soaps.  I know that Cost Plus World Market carries a huge variety of beautifully-packaged soaps for around five or six bucks each, and I personally love displaying them in their pretty packaging or on a cute soapdish to use.  Whole Foods carries a nice variety of ethically-made and ethically-traded soaps too for around the same prices.

A single, awesome candle

You can find great candles – and even better, soy candles – everywhere, for a whole range of prices.  My favorite thing for candles is to find a small business that carries a few different kinds to choose from.  The city I used to live in had an amazing old town area where you could find lots of unique ones; I’d suggest digging within your area for the small businesses and see what they have first.  However, you can always go to Target and choose a big soy candle with great packaging that your recipient will enjoy displaying.

Nowadays I get all my candles from Target (as I haven’t explored too many small businesses yet), and they’re the easiest way to make your home feel just a bit more luxurious.  Even if I don’t actually like the scent of a candle I receive, I can still burn it outside on my patio or in the bathroom when guests are over.  They are always useful, no matter what.

Let me know of any reasonably-priced gift ideas you’ve had for the beauty addicts in your life.  A great beauty gift doesn’t always have to be the latest Naked palette or a full-size bottle of perfume.  If you offer beauty services yourself, you can even gift a free blowout to a friend, a free mini makeover, or whatever you feel suited to give.  I mean, this is always an option:

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Merry Christmas!  xo, MR

My Grateful Bride, Kristin

My last couple weeks before moving from California to Illinois were pretty hard.  There were goodbye parties, a few last weeks at a job and with coworkers I enjoyed, overwhelming amounts of packing for one little apartment, and fun but truly bittersweet time spent with family and loved ones just before departing.

However, there were also weddings.
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Being part of two weddings in the final weeks leading up to our departure was, to my heart, a sign and a reminder of promise.  Weddings are a sign that this is just the beginning, that the best is yet to come, and that despite the work and the stress and the unknown in front of you, the kingdom and the power and the glory lie ahead of us.  Weddings serve as a reminder of this for all of us who witness them, whether we are married or not, whether one ever does marry or not.  To be reminded of these things as I prepared to leave California was no small gift.

I played a part in two weddings before I left for Illinois.  In one, for my beautiful coworker Natalie that I miss dearly, I served as a witness.  For the other, I served as a makeup artist to the gorgeous Kristin.

I had worked at a school with Kristin, who teaches second grade, for the past two years.  We’d interacted with the same families, the same children, the same staff.  I watched her handle the stresses and challenges of guiding seven and eight-year-olds through a year of rigorous learning with grace, responsibility, and a meticulous, tireless work ethic.  All of this, coupled with planning a wedding and trying to find a place to live, is a job meant only for someone as conscientious as Kristin.

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I also had the opportunity to hear Kristin share her amazing story journey with me as we went through a makeup trial together, and I have to say, this wedding had been a wonderfully long time coming (and I say that in the most joyous, worth-every-second-of-the-journey kind of way).  As I worked on her makeup the morning of the wedding, Kristin began crying as she listened to one particular song; she needlessly apologized and whispered, “I … I’m just so grateful.”  I am always so moved when I work with brides that have so clearly counted the cost and sacrifice of marriage before they have even entered into it.  This was no mere culmination of a few months on Pinterest; this was no “milestone life event” to be checked off on that great Milestone Life Event Checklist that God is apparently carrying around on a clipboard, disdainfully waiting for us to “complete” (as if marriage makes one person better than their non-married counterpart).

No, Kristin seemed to know that the wedding ahead was much more than these things.  This was Kristin seeing heaven joyously ripping into Earth’s atmosphere through her vows, knowing that this was only the beginning, and that the best is yet to come.  Even in the darkness and utter shame and horror of the days this world has just recently experienced, the promise still stands- the best is yet to come, and we can push forward for truth and justice because of the victory that has already been won.  And with that victory comes healing, restoration, and new life- and how wonderfully appropriate is that considering that Kristin and her husband are now expecting their first child!

Kristin’s thankfulness encouraged me to enjoy what I was doing in the moment.  It can be very easy for a bride to make a makeup artist feel like a cog in the Big Fat Pinterest Wedding machine, with expectations of a Kiley Jenner-type transformation but without any meaning or consciousness of what is happening.  Such was not the case here- I was here to serve, and Kristin’s gratefulness for the circumstances that had brought her to this moment gave me rest, and allowed me to just enjoy what I love.

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Kristin had really clear ideas about what she wanted for her makeup, and I so appreciated that because it takes the guesswork out of the process. She knew she wanted to use pink makeup tones on her eyes, lips, and cheeks that she felt would work well with the retro feel of her tea-length bridal dress. We used an excellent foundation that Kristin favored- Estee Lauder’s DoubleWear Foundation- and I used Hourglass’s primer as a light base layer beneath it and NARS Creamy Radiance concealer beneath the eyes for concealing and some basic highlighting. For some light contouring, I used the bronzer and highlighter from Urban Decay’s Naked Flushed palette.

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To bring out some of Kristin’s features, I used my favorite technique of applying a creamy, pearly eyeshadow to the very top of the cheekbones, the area between the eyebrows, the cupid’s bow, the very center of their chin, and just above the center of the eyebrows with NARS Duo Cream shadow in Thebes.  Once the whole look was finished, I dusted Kristin’s whole face with Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light, which creates such a flattering glow without looking too golden or bronze.

For Kristin’s eyes, I applied Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion and then Bobbi Brown’s eyeshadow in Rose Gold and MAC’s Shroom all over her lids. We used a shade or two from Urban Decay’s Naked 3 palette to add extra sparkle and dimension in the creases. Bobbi Brown’s LongWear Gel Liner in black was used as topliner, and I applied just accent lashes to the outer corners of her eyes. I used one of Kristin’s own mascaras because her eyes were sensitive to many products. We used a blush of her own that she loved; it was very similar to NARS’ blush in Orgasm. Kristin’s lip color was Bobbi Brown Lipstick in Sandwash Pink with clear gloss on top.  All very pink, and all very glowy!  She is just so beautiful to begin with; it certainly wasn’t a challenge to work with her!

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I am finding that MAC, Urban Decay, Bobbi Brown, NARS, and Hourglass are my favorite heavy-hitting brands for bridal makeup. Sometimes you have just so much going on in your kit that you can’t determine what brands you really trust the most, but after scrolling through all my photos in my phone, it seems that these names make the most frequent appearances (along with Dior thanks to their shadow palettes).  If you need any recommendations on products, don’t hesitate to ask!

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Kristin, I took such pleasure in serving you on your wedding day and I thank you for being a source of encouragement to me (even when you may not have known it).  You looked absolutely breathtaking, and I love this very photo for its tangible anticipation and excitement.  To the promise of healing, restoration, and new life!  xo, MR

My Most Bubbly Bride Ever, Julia!

You know those bright, cheerful, effervescent people that you love to be around?  Those folks that remind you of puppies and weekends, with whom you’d picture yourself watching a really juicy episode of Real Housewives with a glass of rose’ in hand?

This is Julia.

Julia is joyful.  Julia is effervescent.  Julia is bubbly, like champagne kinds of bubbly.  She has an easy laugh, thinks of others often, speaks her mind, and sees no shame in enjoying things that others would judge you for and label as “guilty pleasures”, things like a deep love for Lauren Conrad, the best undereye concealer, and the Bachelor.  Julia is fun.  And she married her man in uniform, Roy, on a beautiful day in May at the church that my husband had worked at for over four years by that time.

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Julia was a college student when my husband and I were first welcomed to Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Santa Ana, California.  She was part of the first round of students that we worked with, and there was never a doubt that whenever she was present, you would hear Julia’s giggle fill the room.  Everyone knows that giggle!  She is an unmistakably happy woman.

Julia is also beautiful.

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One thing that I especially loved about doing Julia’s makeup for her wedding was that she had such deep product knowledge. She’s tried this, she loves that. She had clear ideas for what she wanted and so it was easy to get right to work.  She knew she wanted a purple somewhat-smoky eye with nice, defined eyebrows and a relatively nude lip.  I used a combination of MAC eyeshadows such as Sketch and Shroom along with Dior’s 5-Coleur Palette in Stylish Move to create a smoky plum look.  We used Urban Decay’s Naked Flushed palette in Native for bronzer and blush.  I loved this blush on Julia.  We tried a couple things for her lips but for her pictures she went with a classic- MAC lipstick in Blankety.

The foundation we used also turned out to be one of the best I’d ever tried on a client- Tarte Amazonian Clay foundation.  It’s great for a matte, full coverage look and it has awesome staying power.

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I also had the privilege of doing four out of five bridesmaids’ makeup as well, and once again teamed up with the WonderWoman of wedding hair, Laura Licata.  It was definitely a marathon day, but my favorite part of the bridesmaid portion was spending time on Marlene, the girl on the far right.  She hadn’t really gotten “glammed” up this much before and wow- she looked stunning, especially with that gorgeous red hair!  It was great to start the day with her, and everyone wound up looking just lovely.

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A military uniform like Roy’s always looks fantastic in photos like these, and my goodness, Julia looks incredible!  Is anyone getting Will and Kate flashbacks from this picture?!  Sheesh!

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Julia, you looked breathtaking and were an absolute delight to work with. I can only hope that any brides I work with in the future will be as happy, hilarious, and easygoing as you were. It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as a witness to you and Roy’s vows, and you make a truly stunning couple!  xo, MR

All image (except for the last) are credited to the award-winning Eric Slay of Paperwhite Photography.  For more of his awesome work, check out http://www.paperwhitephotography.com.

With Love From Chicagoland- My Bride Erin

So, it’s not like a lot hasn’t been happening in my life, but I admit that I am very late in posting my weddings from this past year.  Very late.  However, it is a sweet and beautiful thing to be able to sit down here in Illinois, after all this transition, and look back at an amazing day in California that was only four months ago.

I had the pleasure and the honor of making up my dear friend Erin on her wedding day.  This day was a marathon because the party was an all-day affair, literally.  We hit the ground in the early morning and things didn’t stop until late in the evening, and there might have even been a happy hour stop during an hour or so of downtime.  There were a lot of tears, a lot of tacos, plenty of wine, and an abundance of good, good people.

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I remember when a friend of mine suggested I meet Erin because he was convinced that we were sort of the same person.  No two people are ever quite alike, but some of my most authentic, messy conversations have been with this woman.  I have felt safe to be my unfiltered self around Erin, and I have received nothing but grace, edification, and laughter (loud, soul-empowering laughter) in return.  There’s no conversation too frightening and no drink too strong for this girl, and I am thankful to be called her friend.

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When Erin and I talked about what she wanted for her makeup, she immediately mentioned Princess Kate.  Inspiration like the Duchess of Cambridge fits well within my philosophy of “natural-but-enhanced”, with glowing skin and a bit of extra drama for the eyes.  I even managed to pick up the exact lipstick used by Kate on her wedding day- Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Sandwash Pink.  Nothing crazy; a perfect bridal neutral-pink.  I also did some research and managed to use one of the eye colors from Kate’s wedding day- Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow in Taupe.  I love this color.  It’s not brown, it’s not grey.  It’s perfectly in between the two and extremely flattering.  You can wear it everyday as a liner or build it to create a slightly smokey eye as I did for Erin.  I blended this shade with my trusty MAC Shroom, maybe a shade or two from Dior’s Earth Reflection palette, and Christian Siriano for VS Makeup in Royal (yes, I’ve had this shadow for YEARS and I’m not sure what I’ll do when it runs out because I’ve yet to find a perfect match). I used Bobbie Brown’s Long-Wear Gel Liner in Black to line Erin’s upper lids.

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For Erin’s skin, we used her BareMinerals Original SPF15 Foundation after applying Hourglass’ Veil Mineral Primer.  I used Urban Decay’s Naked Flushed palette in Native for some light bronzer-based contouring and blush, along with MAC’s Mineralize SkinFinish in Soft and Gentle for highlighting.  Once I’ve applied everything (including lips), I tend to finish off the face with an all-over dusting of Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light and a couple sprays of setting spray.

We also put a lot of focus on Erin’s brows (never a problem with me, as you know) using a powder eyeshadow of her choice and a gel to set.  We used accent half-strip lashes instead of full strips because we agreed (after some discussion) that while full strips work nicely for photos, they just didn’t quite fit the look we were going for.  Moreover, Erin already has long, beautiful eyelashes that really don’t need much help.

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I don’t know why but for some reason I’m obsessed with this shot displaying the finished product (minus the dress).  It might be the fact that I would wear Erin’s shirt and sweatpants out to dinner, but it might also be that I am just really, really happy with how she turned out and I love shots of the bride looking down.

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Seriously, would you check out those eyes?!  She looked stunning.

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And in case you’re dying of curiosity, here’s a shot of the dress, which was like nothing that I had ever seen before …

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What a great day this was.  I wish all weddings could be like this one, with this much laughter and this much open display of emotion and the sense that you have been invited into a marriage as a witness and an encourager.  Love you so much, Erin, and oceans of love to you and Carp.  I’ll be seeing you soon.  xo, MR

All photography (except still shot of makeup) credited to the fabulous John and Michelle Klewer, who turned out to be a special find amongst the beautiful chaos of the day.  If you like what you see, be sure to check out more of John’s work here.

An Afternoon With Lover.ly: Three Gowns, Three Makeup Looks

I first have to say that I am so, so happy to be blogging in this weather.  It just feels … right.  Autumn isn’t always a thing in California, and so this cloud cover today actually feels like a warm blanket, perfectly paired with my soy chai latte with one yummy pump of gingerbread. File that under “things white girls love”.

Now, on to the good stuff!

We’re coming up on December, and something we always seem to encounter during the holiday season is a slew of engagements.  Whether it’s on Christmas morning in front of the whole family or just the two of you on New Year’s Eve, December seems to bring with it the anticipation of wedding fever.  And we all tend to know that planning for one’s wedding basically begins the moment you write the date on the calendar (and for many I’ve known, it starts even earlier than that!).

Planning for weddings can be one of the most daunting tasks simply because there are so many details we feel obligated to cover.  Sharing sites like Pinterest create even more anxiety because of the comparison that ensues between friends and acquaintances, and the constant revelation of newer, more innovative ideas that we’ve never seen before.  That super creative photo op that your photographer didn’t think of!  The rare tropical flower from the heart of Congo that suddenly everyone has to have in their bouquets!  The ten billion invitation fonts!  The handmade EVERYTHING (and OF COURSE you have to DIY because this means your guests will look at your wedding details 2.5 seconds longer than non-DIY wedding details before they just want their food, like at every other wedding)!  I didn’t even have a Pinterest account when I was engaged and I have to confess, this reality probably saved me a lot of frustration (but not all of it, apparently)!

However, the convenience of sharing and planning sites are pretty undeniable, and I’ve had the privilege of being contacted by a newer wedding planning site called Lover.ly, the wedding planning binder that lives in the Cloud.  The site is pretty incredible for it’s one-stop quality for weddings- you can “save your favorite wedding ideas and inspiration to bundles to stay organized”, you can “shop over 200,000 big day must-haves from invitations to your wedding dress”, and you can “plan your wedding with [their] expert advice, trend reports, DIYs, and celebrity scoop”.  If you wanted to, you could honestly knock out all of your wedding planning just through this one site, especially with use of their amazing wedding planning page.  Oh, and Lover.ly also features an app and you can follow them on Instagram and Twitter!

So anyhow, I was contacted by Lover.ly with a fun challenge for a blog post- Choose three favorite wedding gowns from their huge selection and create a makeup look inspired by each gown.  Um, nooooo prob.  And I figured why leave the whole task to myself just to create three makeup looks only for me?  And so, I enlisted the help of two good friends to lend a hand, and here’s what we ended up with:

Valerie – Sophisticated and Trendy

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Surprise!  The first one isn’t even a dress!  I absolutely love that Valerie chose a jumpsuit for her wedding look.  Valerie selected this halter crepe and lace jumpsuit from DB Studio.  It’s a piece that I could really picture her in, and I personally am all about jumpsuits these days.  For those who aren’t too attached to the idea of a dress and who are more interested in making a statement rather than sticking to tradition, this is for you.  I decided to keep the makeup modern and minimal for Val, focusing on bringing out the brown in her eyes with deep purple and some lining of the waterline with brown pencil.  I didn’t want too much beyond this though, because it is still a bridal look and anything too much makeup-wise would read more club than wedding.  Some nude gloss and loose waves keep in step with the playfulness of the jumpsuit.  And in my opinion, I wouldn’t go for any stuffy updos here.  Clearly this would be a look for a bride that wants to just have a good time!

Stephanie – Feminine and Romantic

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I love that this second look is the antithesis of the first.  Stephanie selected the Faye gown from Anthropologie’s BHLDN line, with beautiful raw-edge layers of tulle and a lace-paneled deep v-neck.  The frothy, lighter-than-air feel of the dress was a perfect match for Stephanie’s curled red hair, and the dress’s bohemian princess vibe had me thinking pink.  I focused on glowy cheeks and rosy lips, while enhancing Stephanie’s blue eyes with sparkly brown shadow, black tightliner, and loads of mascara.  Unlike the last look, I would suggest keeping the hair up in a romantic, loose updo for this gown to show off the gorgeous neckline and to keep the whole aesthetic from going too far in the Disney princess direction (and a little bit is fine, but be careful).  A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is to not go with the first instinct for either hair or makeup, one of the two.  If the dress screams formal or very structured, I like to counter it with casual hair, and vice versa.  This keeps things interesting and sort of takes a look to the next level.  But really, this is just me blabbing.  If you want to get married in jeans with purple hippie braids, you do you.

McKenna – Elegant and Fashion-Forward

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Lastly, we have the look of my choice!  I selected what is listed as “Look 26” on Lover.ly brought to us by the late, great Oscar de la Renta.  This stunner features a corded chantilly lace sweetheart bodice with an off white silk faille cascading draped skirt.  With such an ornate and architectural silhouette, I wanted to keep the makeup very simple and yet still add some kind of punch.  I opted for an even, slightly bronzed complexion with deep, merlot lips by layering two shades.  I capped off the look with bold brows.  My eyelids are bare save for a bit of undereye concealer and a wash of champagne shadow. In contrast to what I’d normally choose for myself, I’d go with a very sleek and simple knot for a hairstyle to accompany this gown.  The dress has such a variety of shapes going on that I felt inclined to stick with clean, modern lines when it came to styling.  I often feel that with ornate garments, you should dial back your makeup- it puts the garment on full display and yet also creates a statement that says you are wearing this, not the other way around.

Wedding planning can be stressful, but the stress should never get in the way of the fun parts like choosing your makeup.  Contact me if you ever need a sounding board, and for any and every other bit of inspiration, get started on Lover.ly!  You’ll find all three of these looks, along with basically every other detail you could possibly imagine.  xo, MR

In need of new makeup brushes? I got you covered.

So, I currently live in a town that I really love.  And I love that I feel comfortable calling it a “town”.  There’s even a part of this town that’s actually referred to as “Old Towne Orange”.  Yes.  With the “e” at the end of “towne” and everything.  It’s cute and trendy and beautiful and all Leslie Knope-y, small business-y, Main Street U.S.A-ish.  And that part about the small business- I’m really not kidding.

Amazing local fare in restaurants with two hour waits (lookin’ at you, Gabbi’s!), antique malls that you can get lost in (I see you, It’s About Time Antiques!), and sweet, delicate apparel shops (hey-yo, Laurenly!) are just some of the places I love to wander in on a Saturday morning in Old Towne.  I know that I will look back on these years and think so affectionately of all the time I spent at Provisions, or LinX, or Haven Gastropub, or even the Starbucks that I spent hours developing my Master’s thesis at.  And you should know- my salon is here, too!  Yes, the ever-famous (well, in my head at least) Salon 9 is in Old Towne Orange, along with the ever-famous Justin Kamm who’s been doing my hair fooorrrr-ehhhh-verrrrr.  It should be clear that this is just a good place.

Another sweet and wonderful addition to this area is The Dizzy Daisy floral shop, located at 262 S. Tustin Street.  I’ve been lucky enough to have been contacted by the folks at Dizzy Daisy to share about a line of new, beautiful makeup brushes that they are carrying exclusively- BreLuxe Beauty Fluffs.  Now, as we all know by this point, makeup brushes are tantamount to quality makeup application, and I won’t vouch for just any cheap brush!  Watch the brief video below for a run-down on what brushes are offered in this line that’s only sold locally at The Dizzy Daisy, and if you’re in the area, be sure to stop by to pick up a new set of brushes and some flowers for your mama because you love her!  Cheers!

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xo, MR

A High School Reunion With My Gorgeous Bride Mindy!

Okay, okay- I’m back!  It’s been a crazy month of too much stress at work, too much good food, too little vacation, too many special occasions, not enough blogging, and a lot more working out than usual.  I barely know who I am these days!  But anyhow, what better way to bring things back than with my first wedding of the season?

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I’ve known my friend Mindy since high school, and I truly can’t tell you what joy and honor it brought to my heart when she contacted me to do her wedding makeup.  I’d considered Mindy one of my favorite buddies during our senior year; I couldn’t have done AP art history or government without her!  I hadn’t seen her much since our high school glory days (which looked something like fusing together Phantom of the Opera with the North American Free Trade Alliance to create a mini-musical to perform for our classmates … super glorious).  There’s honestly no occasion I’d rather reconnect with an old friend over than her beautiful wedding.  And it was also great to be back at the fantastic Red Horse Barn!

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My day with Mindy started out in the hotel room she’d been sharing with her bridesmaids at the Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach.  All the chaos of a bunch of girls getting ready together is one of my favorite things.  The twenty different curling irons out, the makeup kits spread across literally ever surface, and the music … you never know what you’ll get with a group of girls on a wedding day.  It could be Backstreet Boys, the Grease soundtrack, or Jason Derulo.  You really never know, but it’s always a good time.

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For Mindy, I’d chosen what could basically be identified as a smokey eye, but I wanted to keep it within shades of bronze and brown to bring out her gorgeous blue eyes.  The Stila Eye Shadow trio in Gold Glow (pictured in the first image) worked its magic for me.  Mindy wanted to keep her look very natural, but it wasn’t hard to make her features stand out.  NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna and a little NARS blush in Orgasm on her cheeks basically sealed the deal, along with a light dab of Dior’s Addict Lipstick in Tulle.  She really is beautiful, isn’t she?!

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I so wish I could’ve been around for the bridal portraits; I admit that I love being the stalker makeup artist that lurks around insisting on touch-ups in between every shot!  It’s probably quite the nuisance for the photographers though, and Mindy clearly doesn’t need any help looking amazing.

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I loved this next shot because her eyes just pop so much, and her beautiful cheekbones too.  Major props to Tyler Branch Photo!

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I also had the opportunity to do makeup for one of Mindy’s awesome bridesmaids named Crystal.  She, too, had an incredible face and personality to match.  I only managed to get a close-up shot of Crystal on my own, and I’m sure glad I did because I was so pleased with how her look turned out!  I used one of my trusted Dior palettes – Earth Reflection – to create a classic look that focused on highlighting and a somewhat silvery finish.  For Crystal’s lips I used NARS’ Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien, a vibrant rosy pink.

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Like I’ve said in times before- with gorgeous faces like these, it’s hard to make ’em look bad.  The day just went so swimmingly between myself, the two girls, and the incredible team surrounding Mindy on her day.  I left Mindy as she was waiting patiently for guests to be seated so she could go out and meet her groom, and I felt a rush of energy as I left the room for the last time from all the thick anticipation in the air.  With a feeling like that, you know it’s been a good day.  xo, MR

On Not Getting Bored With My Long Hair: Braids and Blowouts

For as long as I’ve lived, I’ve never, ever been able to produce an adequate French braid on myself or anyone else.  Standard braids are easy enough, and I’ve been able to turn out a single standard one on myself with fair results.  However, anything beyond this has been literally impossible.  I’ve practiced on my own hair and on others dozens of times, and I always end up feeling like I need three hands.  And of course, braids are so the thing these days that I’m all the more envious of those that can turn out those delicate little plaits just across the top of the head, or those gorgeous, messy fishtail looks a’la Blake Lively .

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So anyhow, last night I found myself in a, um, creative mood, and I happened to have a friend over at that moment with lots and lots of beautiful red hair.  I broke out my curling rod and got to waving her hair into medium-sized ringlets with beachy texture, but apparently I wasn’t quite satisfied with that, because I suddenly found myself grabbing pieces of her hair on both sides of her hair and almost haphazardly weaving them in and out of each other.  I know with French braids you’re supposed to grab a new strand to weave into the braid as you continue it, but I honestly had very little grid for what I was doing.  There was nearly no method.  I kept pulling out and weaving in new pieces, but sometimes I’d use the same strands over again.  I’d created two fishtail-like braids on each side of Stephanie’s head, and then I got to work trying to weave together everything into one.  The end result was something I never thought I’d be able to do without instruction:

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Not terribly shabby, eh??  I love how it seemed to take on a magical Elsa quality with almost no effort!  I couldn’t believe it.  It actually looked like a braid.

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I’ll work on neatening it later, but for now I’d love to keep practicing this on nearly anyone I can get my hands on.  I like the messier, more pulled apart look so I’m not too worried about attaining perfection.  I used Oribe’s Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray for extra texture, but Stephanie’s hair really didn’t need it that much.  I need almost no excuse to use it, though.  That stuff is the best, and it smells amazing.  I sometimes skip perfume when wearing it.

Finding some ways to mix up my own look lately has been a real necessity for me, because I’ve been dealing with a slight itch to chop it all off after finally growing it out to the length that I’ve wanted for years.  If I can start reaping the benefits of long hair with things like fishtail braids, I figure that’ll keep me from making the idiot move of getting rid of all my hard work in one moment of insanity and dissatisfaction.  In addition to adding things like braids and long, unkempt ponytails to my repertoire, I’ve been going for all kinds of texture when I wear it down: straight and smooth, round-brushed with volume, or waved and matted.

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I’ve made so little use of hairbrushes in the past few years, but the look on the left was a result of using a boar-bristled flat brush to smooth out and lengthen the bottom layers, and a ceramic round brush for volume and bend on the top layers.  My own blowout lasted a good four days, and a bit of dry shampoo on the crown added some extra mileage.  I covered my hair in Frederic Fekkai’s Coiff Controle Ironless Straightening Balm, and that stuff gives hair such good stretch and elasticity; I’ve long touted it as the best straightening product I’ve ever used.

The look on the right is my most frequent style.  I wrap random sections around a one-and-a-quarter inch iron (without using the clamp, ever) and I leave the ends free, sometimes finishing things off by straightening them just a bit.  I tend to spray a look like this all over with the Apres Beach, or these days I’ll use Bumble and Bumble’s CitySwept Finish for extra “chunk”, as Kristen Stewart calls it.  And of course, mussing it up as much as you can with your own hands before stepping out the door is a must.

Once I manage to get my own hair into some sort of dignified French braid, I’ll have to do a post on it.  But for now, a braid on a friend and a really good blowout on myself is about all we can ask for.  xo, MR