When More Is More: Kardashian-Inspired Makeup

I used to think I really loved makeup.  Well, I mean, I do love makeup.  A lot.  I always thought I loved it more than most people.  However, within the past couple years or so, makeup as we know it has changed forever in some radical ways.  And in light of this, I have to say that my love for makeup as we know it now has become more of a journey than a certainty.  Let me provide a little background.

The rise of the Youtube video blogger in the 2000’s transformed the world of makeup through the power of shared knowledge.  Suddenly, everyday women all over the world were able learn and practice difficult and elaborate techniques thanks to thousands of tutorials posted by other everyday women all over the world.  Some video bloggers have reached mega-celebrity status like Michelle Phan and Jaclyn Hill, with their worth now in the millions.  Instagram offered another avenue for sharing makeup knowledge, along with its glow-giving filters and other fancy apps with capabilities of blurring and retouching our complexions.

Then came the variable with the most impact- Kim K and her Kontouring Kingdom.  Suddenly the world of makeup was launched into the stratospheric heights of what once seemed impossible.  Social media took quick notice, and now you can’t scroll through your feed once without noticing a woman showing off that signature Kardashian-Jenner look: contoured cheekbones, a contoured forehead and chin, golden-yellow highlighting thanks to some type of banana powder, shimmery, pearlescent highlighting across the forehead and cheeks, a contoured and highlighted nose, immaculate eyebrows, full, voluminous lips sporting a matte, liquid lipstick, layered eyeshadow with a flawless cut crease, thick, perfectly-drawn winged eyeliner, and dramatic false lashes.  Throw on a couple filters and there isn’t a flaw in sight.  It doesn’t exactly look natural either, but in this new phase of makeup artistry for every woman, more is more.

I’m not consistently drawn to this maximalist kind of makeup as most know; I find myself more inspired by the work of celebrity makeup artists as opposed to what I see on Instagram (with folks like Mario Dedivanovic and Joyce Bonelli excepted).  However, it is fun to think about all the possibilities in your train case after watching a tutorial on the most elaborate smokey eye you’ve ever seen.  Even if something isn’t quite for you, it can still be inspiring.

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And so, I decided to have a little fun last night and just go for more.  And man, did I not feel like myself.  This was no single wash of eyeshadow topped with a bit of kohl liner and mascara like I usually do for a night out or something.  I followed the formulas of multiple Youtube bloggers that I’ve watched and went through every step in what felt like a game of human paint-by-numbers: mattifying primer, liquid foundation, powder, concealer, contouring, banana powder, illuminating powder, blush, shadow primer, layered eyeshadow (four shades), eyeliner, mascara, false lashes, lipliner, and liquid lipstick.  Everything I used is pictured above, except for the false lashes (which were just accent lashes by Ardell).

And none of the following photos have any filter on them.  I’m simply standing in front of a soft lamp for the ones featuring the finished look.

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BAM.  Crazy!  The difference is almost laughable, isn’t it?  It probably would’ve helped to give a bit more of a smile in the photo on the left, but hey, for dramatic purposes we’ll leave it as it is.  Not hiding the bangs under a beanie helps as well, but when it’s -2 outside and you’ve just arrived at work after battling the oppressive elements, you’re probably going to put your bangs in a beanie too.

But it didn’t turn out too bad, did it?!  I have to say that I liked how I looked in most every picture I took, which isn’t typical for me at all.  That is one thing that this kind of makeup can do well- photos are suddenly not so intimidating.  You just have to find your favorite angles that show off the makeup best.

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Also, understand that to many women (and men too, from what I’ve seen on Insta), this is still total amateur hour. I did not take things anywhere near as far as some Youtubers or bloggers take them, and a lot of people would probably still consider this a soft, natural look. I don’t, but it starts to become a matter of relativity.  Many people have had countless hours of practice with Kardashian level, “extreme” makeup, and they can do much, much more than me in terms of talent and technique.  This is just one of my first takes on it.

I’m convinced that the one detail that really takes things to the next level is the highlighting on the nose.  It’s what kind of gives you that ethereal, almost plastic look.  The Kat Von D Shade and Light contouring palette is also key- I really, really like that palette.  I’ve watched several Youtube videos on how to get the most out of it, and it’s amazing what you can do to the shape of your face with six simple shades.  I tried to do the exaggerated lipliner for that crazy Kylie Jenner effect too, but the fact of the matter is she gets lip injections.  There are complicated contouring and highlighting techniques that can give the illusion of much larger lips, but that tends to require a couple shades of creamy concealer and I only have my match shade.  I just tried things with nude liner and liquid lipstick.

The liquid lipstick I used on my lips was also hard to work with outside of the natural lip line because once it sets on your skin, it dries within seconds and doesn’t budge.  You can’t make any adjustments or changes.  It’s seriously high quality stuff, but you do not wear it for comfort or ease of application.  I used Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Patina.  You might be able to tell that the lip lines got a little smudgy because I tried to rub the lipstick off in some spots, but it didn’t work.  I basically had to go to bed with this stuff on and it is so unbelievably drying.  Not exactly the comforting, moisturizing formula you’d use in weather with a wind chill factor of -15 degrees.

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No filters here, I promise!  Just in front of a lamp (especially because it was night and there was no natural light to be found).  I’m under a bright light on the left side too, though.

I have to say, the transformative power of Youtube-inspired makeup is undeniable.  It works, especially in terms of making you feel glamorous and photo-ready.  However, it’s not a realistic everyday look for me and my life.  Now that I know I can do it though, maybe I’ll take a stab at it more than once a year.  I just wouldn’t want this to ever feel like the norm because that can take the fun and novelty out of it.  For now I’ll just be sure to keep washing my face and taking good care of my eyebrows.  xo, MR

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Average Makeup For Average People!

If you know me, you know I’m a huge fan of trends.  I always look forward to what’s coming out next season, and I’m the first one to jump aboard the bandwagon when everyone starts wearing their hair a certain way (hellooooo, ombre for life).  And I love it!  Trends are a fun way to keep my look dynamic, and I find myself trying things I wouldn’t normally try once something pops up on the trend radar.

However, when it comes to the beauty trends I’ve seen floating around Instagram these days, I’m not as keen. You’ve heard me say these things before- Kardashian-style contouring, so-called strobing (which is just a trend word for highlighting, which has been around forever), exaggerated lipliner, and the bright red cream blush that is suddenly being applied to everyone’s undereye area because it apparently cancels out green undertones … why?  I will admit that all of these tricks can be exciting when it comes to the transformative power of makeup, but it’s become popular to go through these complex makeup routines for everyday life.  The Kardashian-Jenner women look fully made up and one hundred percent camera ready every single day, and by sharing all of this with their followers, they have caused millions of other women to aspire for the same.

However, this is not a very realistic thing for most folks to aspire to.  Wearing the kind of makeup each day that is meant for HD cameras is not only a lot of look for many people, but it is also difficult to put into practice.  It can be time consuming and expensive to apply a full routine of makeup each day like what we see on Instagram, and many would find it uncomfortable to wear that much to work or just out running errands.

So what might a full (keep in mind, full) makeup routine look like for the more average person?  One that still ups your typical makeup game, but doesn’t require any red undereye concealer or even false lashes?  We can get to all of that, but let’s start with something basic.  It is presumptuous of me to believe that I have any answers, but here’s my stab at it:

  1.  Start by prepping your skin.  Got a good moisturizer?  Slather it on.  Or a sunscreen?  Serum?  Whatever it is, put it on to get your skin moist and ready to receive product.
  2. .Take either your liquid or powder foundation and use a brush (fluffy or foundation, depending on whether you’re using liquid or powder) to apply a light layer.  Be certain that there is no line of demarcation on your jawline.  In other words, blend, blend, blend so there is no visible line where the makeup begins or ends.  Check your hairline, the smaller areas around lips, and your nose!
  3. Use an eyebrow pencil no more than two shades darker than your natural brows to lightly sketch in any gaps or anywhere that you’d like more definition.  Use a brow brush to brush them up, and then use a brow gel to set them.
  4. Take a blush or powder that’s just a shade or two darker than your skintone and, using a blush brush, make light, consistent strokes just beneath your cheekbones (and I used MAC’s blush in Buff, pictured below).  This will create some light definition.  I typically like to limit my contouring to this.  You can also use bronzer for this step.  Just be sure to blend well.
  5. Next, apply a cream concealer to the couple darkened spots on your face such as the undereye area and beneath your nostrils.  I like NARS Creamy Radiance Concealer, Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer, and Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Eclat, which all work as both concealers and highlighters.
    1. Here’s where I add a bit of highlighting- Along with the darkened places of your face, apply small dots of concealer to areas where light hits your face naturally.  See my picture below for a reference.  I’ve actually mimicked Chrissy Teigen’s methods here and I’ve found that these little spots work nicely.  I also added some around the lips.
    2. Then, use a concealer brush (or your finger, which will work) to blend in the concealer.  Try your best to find natural light when blending so you can see clearly.  It is hard to blend accurately and thoroughly in a poorly-lit bathroom.  Your face should appear to have some nice dimension and should appear highlighted, even glowing.  Obviously, the picture below is pre-blending.

IMG_08646.  To add some extra shimmer (or “champagne pop” as some have called it), take any shimmery highlighter such as MAC’s Mineralize SkinFinish in Soft And Gentle and apply it to the apples of your cheeks, your forehead, and a bit on your chin.

7.  For your eyes, I like to choose a neutral but flattering eyeshadow such as Burberry’s Pale Barley and blend it all over my lids, stopping at the browbone.  For just a little extra drama, I line my eyes with a darker, matte shadow like the bottom-left shade you see in the Dior Grege palette you see below.  Line the upper lid, line the lower lid.  Add some brown eyeliner to the waterline.  I’ve used the same CoverGirl one for a couple years.

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8.  The one thing I’ll go overboard on is mascara.  I take as much time as I want on this.  However many coats, however many different kinds.  Everything else is so neutral and light that I like to add that small dose of glamour with a ton of thick lashes.

9.  And finally, for lips, I just add a gloss!  No lipstick, no liner, just gloss.  Pick any flattering gloss you like.  I’ve been using Marc Jacobs Enamoured Hi-Shine Lip Lacquer in Love Buzz.

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Give all this a shot.  There’s no filter here, so this is how it turned out in natural light in front of a window.  I’d say the steps that make this a little more difficult for those who’d call themselves “beginners” are those involving the concealer as highlighter.  You can always skip those steps and just start with concealing the darkened areas or problems spots (like zits), and add some shimmery highlighting powder to your cheeks.  Play around with it, and let me know what works.  xo, MR

An Autobiographical Top Shelf

This post is done in the style of Into The Gloss’s Top Shelf feature, which I’ve been obsessed with for about five years now.  So basically, I’m pretending I’m being interviewed by Emily Weiss on all the products I love, in my own home, complete with “professional” photos/selfies.  Fake it ’till you make it, right?

My routine is hard to explain briefly.  I’ll say this, though- I am not low maintenance when I don’t have to be.  There’s no shame in that.  I’m addicted to haircare, skincare, makeup, all that, but I really don’t afford myself much time to enjoy it on a daily basis.  I either want to spend an hour getting ready just the way I like, or I want to be out the door in five minutes.  All or nothing.  It’s part of how I appreciate beauty- I hate doing any of it halfheartedly.  One of my least favorite things is when I try to quickly wiggle on some mascara in the morning on the way to work and then it turns out all sloppy and incomplete by my standards.  It’s not worth it.  I’d rather bite the bullet and go bare.

SKINCARE

So, what I do depends on the day.  If I have time, I start from the bottom layer and work up, though I try to make the skincare thing happen every day.  I typically begin with a serum, and I’ve decided Caudalie’s S.O.S Thirst Quenching Serum is the best.  I tried Shiseido’s Ultimune, but I like Caudalie’s better for the money.  It feels so fresh on my skin, sometimes I forget to put on moisturizer afterwards.  It’s been hard to pin down a great moisturizer for me because I’m always looking for something natural, but effective and with SPF that doesn’t leave a weird residue.  I’ve been using Origins A Perfect World Moisturizer these past couple months.  It smells amazing and has SPF 25.  I’ve also like Desert Essence’s Daily Essential Defense Moisturizer from Sprout’s or Whole Foods, but it wouldn’t absorb well when it was hot out so I continued my hunt.  When I checked out Origins, the lady helping me gave me a quick facial and she talked me into the toner from the same line.  I haven’t used toner in forever because I feel it’s unnecessary and drying, but this stuff felt tingly and actually left my skin moisturized.  There’s a lot of white tea in it.  We’ll see if I keep it up.

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For face wash, I alternate between Origins and Desert Essence, which is entirely made of oils and some castile soap.  It sounds basic, but there’s a ton of random stuff in it like bladderwrack extract and goldenseal root extract that I hadn’t even heard of before using it.  For a night cream, I’ve been using Acure’s for a couple years and it’s really rich with lavender and chamomile.  It’s very calming.  I think they sell it at Target now, but it’s been at Whole Foods forever.  For zits, I’m pretty faithful to Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion.  My husband loves it too.  I try to just leave zits alone for the most part these days; I find that doing anything to try and “heal” them just aggravates them or doesn’t quicken their disappearance.  Sometimes I’ll do a mask if I’m just watching Netflix late at night.  I’ll use Lancome’s Hydra Intense Masque.  It’s super cooling and smells amazing; I love putting on some I Love Lucy and having a late-night snack when I do a mask.  Best ritual ever!  I’ll also use Origins’ Clear Improvement charcoal mask for porous areas; the lady who gave me the facial at Origins gave it to me for free!  I like face wipes too, and my favorite are the Yes To Cucumbers kind.  I can’t tell you how many packs of those my mom has jammed into my Christmas stocking over the years.  I buy them in bulk at Target.

The one thing that’s still sort of a mystery to me is eye cream.  I like ones that are cooling and depuffing, and I like rollerball kinds best because they’re more sanitary than dabbing your finger into a jar of cream and then putting it on your eye.  Simple Skincare makes a good one, as does First Aid Beauty, but I don’t know.  I’m just not there yet.

HAIR

My hair stylist knows I’m a major product addict.  The funniest thing has been when I’ve asked him about products from lines that he uses before they’re even out yet or before he’s heard about them!  I read about hair stuff in magazines and then I want to go out and try it.  New hair products are what I get most excited about, so I’ve tried a lot but I can finally say I have favorites.  I wash my hair every three or four days, and I alternate between two shampoos.  I’ve been using Rahua’s shampoo for over three years now, and it’s pricey but I feel absolutely no guilt using or purchasing it because it’s so natural.  There’s really no soap in it.  It’s another product made up mostly of oils.  I’ll use another shampoo every other wash, typically an Aveda one like their Color Conserve or Dry Remedy.  I’ll try anything for conditioner.  I’ve been obsessed with conditioners since my late teens because I was always trying to find ones that would make my hair grow or repair it, but I don’t really believe conditioner does that anymore.  I’ve used one from Davines for a long time called Momo; I love it.  I’ll also ask for Kerastase samples from my friend who works at a L’Oreal salon because I can’t afford Kerastase, but their deep conditioners have the craziest reputations so I’m always desperate to try them.  I also like Alterna, mostly their treatments from their Caviar line.  They’re good for when I want to grow my hair out.  I use Unite’s 7 Seconds Leave-In Conditioner to detangle with a wide-tooth comb after I wash, but I think I like Bumble and Bumble’s Prep spray better for this.  I’ll go back to it after I run out of the Unite.  The Prep spray has hops and rosemary, the latter of which is good for lice prevention.  I work around kids, and lice is one of those things that you can’t really avoid if you’re in that environment.  It’s part of life, so you just have to do what you can.  Tea tree oil works well for this too, by the way.

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For styling, I’m a sucker for anything to do with texture.  Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist is great for giving that pliable “chunk” feel that I love for hair, and I also like Bumble And Bumble’s stylers like their Dryspun Finish and Cityswept Finish.  If it mattifies, gives texture, or extends a blowout, I’ll try it.  Anything for the second- or third-day hair look.  I like Oribe’s Apres Beach Wave And Shine Hairspray too, though my hair does “beachy” really well on it’s own.  I love Oribe’s products for their scent.  And the best dry shampoo in the world is Klorane’s, hands down.  The non-aerosol kind has stretched out so much time between washes for me.  It can make your scalp itchy if you put too much on and don’t brush it out, but it’s still the best.  The drugstore kinds suck.  If I want a smooth or blown-out look I’ll use R&Co’s Jackpot Styling Creme.  The scent is intense but it stretches out my hair beautifully, and the effect lasts around three days.

I got into the R&Co stuff because my salon started carrying it.  I go to Salon 9 in Orange, and I’ve been going to Justin Kamm for nearly ten years!  He’s a genius.  He teaches workshops and is part of the cutting team for Davines.  We finally, FINALLY cut my hair past my shoulders just this weekend.  I’ve always had my hair long or mid-length, because I love long hair and I love playing with it.  I miss topknots and ponytails and long waves, but the bob that Justin gave me feels so right.  It’s good to do at least once, and I’m surprised at how comfortable I feel with it.  I feel reeeeeally French.  And the best part is, all those texture products work so well with this cut.  I still put a bit of wave in it with my Hot Tools iron, but roughing it up with some kind of product gives it that grit that I’m always after.

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MAKEUP

Makeup is tricky.  I’ve tried a ton, but over the years I’ve come to find that I’m actually really picky and haven’t tried quite as much as other people (which is encouraging).  Makeup is expensive, and I take forever to run out of anything so buying too much is a really wasteful choice for me.  I don’t use primer much, but I like BeneFit’s The Porefessional when I do makeup for brides.  It feels silky.  I like to use Clarins’ Beauty Flash Balm on myself and then immediately put on powder or foundation once it absorbs.  I prefer this to primer.  It sort of gives skin a brightening effect.  For foundation, I love Bare Minerals’ Original SPF Foundation because it still leaves a glow.  I don’t like a matte skin finish; I’m all about dewy skin and mattified hair.  The opposite feels too Vegas or Miss America for me.  If I want a liquid foundation, Lancome’s Teint Miracle is nice but I still haven’t landed on a favorite.  I just don’t think I like liquid foundation.  I even have a BB Cream that I like but I just don’t use it too often.  You can’t escape the feeling of liquid makeup on your face, which I hate.  I immediately want to take it off.  Concealer is nearly always Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Eclat in Luminous Vanilla.  I used to hate it, and I’m not sure why.  It’s the most lightweight formula I can find that still gives coverage.  However, I’m not too concerned anymore with getting rid of dark circles anymore because for some reason, I like them now.  They seem to give a touch of character.  A heavy concealer under the eyes looks too finished for me.  You need that bit of wear in your face.

NARS Bronzer in Laguna is pretty standard, and I’ll try almost any blush.  NARS has the best ones.  I’ve liked their creme formula in Lokoum for a long time but I think it’s discontinued.  Their other powder shades are bonkers; I love Exhibit A and Liberte.  MAC has a gorgeous one from their Mineralize line called Warm Soul.  It super pretty for everyday, but mineral blush on top of mineral powder it can make your skin look funny.  I like it on bare skin.  MAC’s Plum Foolery is also good; I wore it for my wedding day and my mom wears it, too.  I have a couple Chanel blushes too, but I hate to admit that I bought them because they were honestly just too expensive and frankly, MAC and NARS make better ones.  The Chanel ones have perfume in them.  You feel glamorous putting them on, but they’re a murderous, stupid splurge.  Spend that kind of money on groceries or not at all, for God’s sake.

Eye makeup is a journey for me.  I take forever to decide what I’m going to do with my eyes.  Eyeshadow feels like such a commitment, which is probably why I wear it the least out of anything.  It’s takes me a lot of time and concentration, and I always need to put shadow primer on if I’m going to do it because it makes such an undeniable difference.  I think I like purple shadows on myself best.  It’s just enough of an interesting color to feel special, and it does wonders for brown eyes.  MAC’s Sketch and Embark are good.  I bought the Embark because it’s the closest thing I could find that matches this special edition Victoria’s Secret eyeshadow I have.  Christian Siriano from Project Runway did a collection for them a long time ago and it included this eyeshadow that is literally perfect.  It’s matte, smooth, has amazing concentration, and is this deep purple-brown shade called Royalty that, of course, ended with the collection.  I’m going through it really slowly, but I love using it for smokey eyes.  A lot of that stuff with a ton of MAC’s kohl liner in Feline, and boosh- I feel like Catwoman.  If I’m really going for it I’ll use Urban Decay’s eye pencil in Vice, too, and smudge it out.  The best is when a smokey eye looks sweaty and sparkly, like a hazy night at Studio 54 in 1978. This pencil does that.  Oh and my mascara is pretty much exclusively CoverGirl.  I swear, theirs are the best.

Lips are simple.  I do very little, unless it’s something like a red lip.  I like lip colors that look like just a bit of something, because I usually like to focus on my eyes.  A lot of times it’s just a few swipes of Burt’s Bees.  Everything I like tends to be pinky-nude.  I’ve liked Dior’s Addict lipstick in Tulle, L’Oreal’s Colour Riche Balm in Nourishing Nude, and Yves Saint Laurent’s Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain in Nude Provocateur.  I guess I gravitate toward balm stains, or gloss balms, or all those hybrid formulas we see these days.  Nothing too lipstick-y.  An exception would be NARS’ lip pencils.  Those are brilliant.

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Oh!  I almost forgot about brows.  I use one thing- CK One’s Brow Pencil and Gel Duo in Crafty Raven.  I like thick, groomed eyebrows, but I hate how many rules and standards there are with them these days.  They have to be perfectly shaped, tapered, filled in, not too thin, all that.  I’m not into it, and same goes for the contouring craze.  It’s just too much, too Kim with all the banana powder and shading and all that.  I’m not into tricks that transform your face into another face, though it’s cool that it can be done.  I like to look like myself, but with a bit of a wink I guess.  That’s the best for me, at least.  xo, MR