Summer Makeup Essentials

I’m not exactly sure when summer begins on the calendar, but out here in the MidWest, it unofficially-but-very-unquestionably began yesterday.  The temps were in the mid nineties all day, and after a quick little walk to grab some iced coffee my shirt was sticking to me and my cowlick was in full lick mode.  And my toes were swollen.

Changes in season tend to demand a new strategy when it comes to things like what we wear, what our skincare routine looks like, if maybe we’ll just drive to get our iced coffee instead of walk, and what makeup we use.  You could stick to the same song and dance all year, but why not make it easier on yourself?  Go ahead and drive to grab that iced coffee, and stick to items like these:

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Tinted Moisturizer – I don’t know about you, but something about powder foundation in hot weather feels so dusty and yucky.  Images of Dorothy on the tornado-ridden plains of Kansas come to mind.  And yet a regular ole’ liquid foundation in hot weather feels like I’ve willingly modge podged myself.  Something like BareMinerals Complexion Rescue is perfect for higher temps.  Decent coverage, a cooling, gel-like effect, and SPF all make for that perfect summer glow trifecta.  And the finish on a tinted moisturizer doesn’t have to be sheer or glowing!  There are other options, too: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, Black Up Mattifying Tinted Moisturizer, NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint, and Boscia’s BB Cream all have excellent reputations and a range of finishes.

Cream blush – How I feel about foundation in the summer applies to blush, too.  Powder blush on sweaty skin can look ruddy, do strange things to pores, and be difficult to blend well.  A nice cream formula, whether liquid or in a stick, can be a great solution for adding color to the cheeks without the heavy effect of a powder.  AND you only need your fingers!  Cream blushes also tend to look more natural, as if the pigment is coming from the inside out as opposed to sitting on top of your skin.  I love Glossier’s Cloud Paints as well as Stila’s Convertible Color, which doubles as lip color.

Self tanner – So, during the hotter months (or maybe year-round for some of us), I have a tendency to use a lot of bronzer.  On my cheeks, around my jawline- something about the season just beckons for its use.  But I often encounter the problem of my body not matching my bronzed face thanks to the months of being covered from head to toe in a wearable sleeping bag.  And because we’re not about frying in the sun (naughty!), I’m here to sing the praises of self-tanner.  Or specifically, Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer.  It’s subtle, the way I like my jokes.  And if I find myself in a swimsuit, the stuff actually manages to make me look even and – dare I say it – somewhat toned?  The heat must be getting to me.

A moisturizing lip stain – Unless it’s during the cool hours of the evening and I’m sipping a refreshing cocktail on a breezy rooftop bar, wearing lipstick during peak hours in the summertime can make me feel like a dog with peanut butter on its lips.  And yet burning, cracked lips without any moisture are the epitome of too-long-on-the-lake-and-now-you-look-like-a-burnt-Cheezit.  Look to something like one of Revlon’s Ultra HD Gel Lipcolors for hydrating and lightweight color, or one of BeneFit’s many lip and cheek stains like Posietint or Benetint so you can just stain your lips for the day and then only worry about reapplying SPF balm.

Something bright! – Come on!  It’s summer!  Teal eyeliner?  Coral lips?  The pink eyeshadow trend that was literally everywhere at the Met Ball?  Try something celebratory and colorful at the next party or wedding or happy hour you find yourself attending.  And there are a gazillion options out there.  Marc Jacobs’s Highliner Gel Eye Crayon alone comes in thirty three shades.  Hung Vanngo used the bright pink shade called (Pop)ular all around Selena Gomez’s eyes for the Met Ball, and I would love, love, LOVE to see someone wear the powder blue Deja Blue shade- just a line across the upper eyelid.

Tell me what you use, tag me in your pics, and enjoy the newfound heat!  xo, MR

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Daytime Makeup- Simple, But Significant

It’s been two weeks since my last post, and I guess I’ll claim the excuse of having my birthday as a valid reason for not writing.  But seriously!  There’s been plenty going on.  And to complicate things just a bit more, my husband and I now use an HDMI cable connected to my laptop when we want to watch TV.  So, if we’re watching something, I can’t write.  That may sound like a silly problem to you, but I am actually most comfortable with writing if I have a program on in the background.  Yes, I blog and watch TV at the same time.  My modus operandi usually involves one of my I Love Lucy DVDs playing in the background while I pound furiously at my keyboard.  Or my Doug DVDs.  Did I just admit I own Doug DVDs?

Anyways, I’m kind of just giving a variation on a theme here today- another simple, everyday makeup look.  I don’t have a ton of unique inspiration at the moment so I figured I’d just share the easy stuff I’ve done lately.  And frankly, this is my favorite stuff to do on myself or anyone.  Easy peasy.

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Again, we see that even though this look is “no makeup” inspired, there is actually plenty of makeup that goes into it (relatively speaking).  I’ll start from the beginning:  I cleansed my face and then gave my face a couple spritzes of Lush’s Eau Roma toner water.  I then applied a beautiful essence from May Coop.  Other skincare products layered on top of this just seem to make your face glow brighter than a comet.  Because it was already near evening by this point I chose not to use any other serum or moisturizer with sunscreen.  Instead, I applied Clarins Beauty Flash Balm.  This stuff is a little hard to define because it’s not exactly skincare, but it’s not really makeup either.  It’s this fun little enigma of a product that makes getting ready feel a bit more glamorous, though!  I use it as a primer; I applied a thin layer all over my face and then proceed with makeup right away.  It creates a dewy canvas for makeup, and it brightens and blurs the appearance of pores and imperfections.  It also feels cooling, and it smells fresh and floral.

After that, I went for the natural-looking BareMinerals Complexion Rescue in Buttercream and undereye concealer from NARS (and can I just say that I love my shade names- Buttercream for BareMinerals, Custard for NARS).  On my undereye area, I used my new Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder for the first time.  I had asked a friend a couple months ago what she used for her undereye area because whenever I see her, there’s always this faint, flattering shimmer around her eyes that seems to mask dark circles and give the area just the right touch.  She directed me to this powder, and it really is lovely.  I also love that it sets your undereye concealer; I’ve needed something for so long to stop my undereye concealer from creasing.  It also seems to prevent mascara from smudging down there, too.  I wore Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara (yes, I know *eyeroll*) and while this stuff is amazing at building your lashes, it smears on to my lower lid pretty often.  That didn’t happen with the Laura Mercier!  It didn’t happen the next day either, when I tried it again.  My eyeliner is courtesy of the classics: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Liner in Black, and Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner.  I use a very thin angle brush when applying the Bobbi Brown, and I use it to essentially draw my wing, too.  The Stila blackens it, sharpens it, and fills it in.  Here’s a look with my hair back (with both of the following pics sans filter).

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One thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve gotten so pale out here that most of my makeup is now just a teeny bit too dark.  If you see my face compared to my neck area, you can kind of tell.  Oi.  It is just too dang dark out here, and it’s May!

I chose to use some of the lighter shades in the Kat Von D Shade And Light palette, to help with the color of the Complexion Rescue.  This product is beautiful in that the shades can be very helpful and the textures are super creamy and yummy.  However, you really don’t need a contouring palette, in my opinion.  I’ve had a lot of fun with this one and it’s been worth it to watch a couple YouTube videos to see what others do so I can get the most out of it, but I think you can get away with just bronzer and a shimmery highlighter to get the same basic effect.  One thing I don’t like about using the lighter shades in a contour palette is the fact that they mattify things.  You know I like a glowing finish, and using the lighter shades in the Kat Von D took all the shine of the Clarins and Complexion Rescue away (and to be specific, I used the yellowish banana powder one on the middle-top).  You then need to reapply highlighter on top of that if you still want shimmer, so it can create a redundant process.  I prefer the darker shades meant for contouring.

For blush, I dusted NARS blush in Liberte all over my cheeks.  I used my trusty-and-now-discontinued CK One brow duo for my eyebrows.  I still am not sure what I’m going to use as a replacement for this, but I’ll probably just sell out and go the Anastasia route.  And lastly, for my lips, I just used my longtime favorite- MAC Cremesheen Glass in Strictly Plutonic.  It’s a peachy-pink neutral, and the formula is so much less sticky than the classic Lipglass.  I love it so much, but of course it’s from a limited edition collection so never again!

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This is kind of the makeup I do on a more regular basis.  I’ll switch out the type of foundation, or change the shade of blush, or perhaps play around with eyeshadow (that’s getting serious), but this is a pretty straightforward look for me.  I do give myself props for continuing to improve my cateye, but in the future I’ll continue working on making things pop a bit more.  I mean, I like simple things, so simple makeup really is my jam.  In the words of Don Draper, I like to keep it simple, but significant.  xo, MR

My Three Very Favorite Makeup Brands

I’m not known for being loyal to one brand in beauty.  This goes for the haircare variety, skincare, makeup, perfume, whatever.  I will try anything, from any brand, whether it costs five dollars or five hundred (and no, I’ve yet to try any five-hundred-dollar products yet because cash money).  But if you look in my train case, you’ll see the Revlon mixed with the Dior and I like it that way.  I’ve used drugstore products on brides and they have worked.  I’ve also invested in a couple pricy eyeshadow quads that nearly every one of my brides has worn as well.  I’m game for nearly anything in makeup, and my brand allegiance goes about as deep as that of the sweet ladies that Chris Brown likes to sing about.  And I don’t plan on changing.

This is also one of the reasons why I never intend to become an associate for any direct sales cosmetic or skincare line- I could make all the money in the world and I know I still won’t be loyal.  I don’t want to be tied down to or obligated to rep any one name.  That is, unless I create a line of my own one day …

But every so often, I am asked to name my very favorite makeup brands.  That’s honestly a hard thing for me to nail down, but I’ve got a few.  You’ve probably got items from each of these brands in your own makeup bag because they’re so popular, but they’re popular for a reason, and you don’t make a bajillion dollars from bad product.  Each of these companies is over twenty years old, and all of them possess a single, brilliant founder that inspires me with both their creativity and entrepreneurial savvy.

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Bobbi Brown– This makeup brand is responsible for allowing me to have peace with my own aesthetic as an artist.

When I’ve done brides (or myself, anyone really), I’ve always felt a little less-than for not wanting to go all out with the theatrical, transformative kinds of makeup that is so popular these days. It’s true that I simply do not possess some of the skills for really dramatic makeup, but honestly, I don’t really like that kind of makeup and I don’t know if I’d use those skills much even if I had them! At times, this has left me feeling a little incapable and “uncool” in the world of contouring, baking, YouTubing, color correcting, strobing, spackling, and champagne-popping.

However, in 1991, Bobbi Brown apparently felt the same way. “To be honest,” she says, “I wasn’t really a great makeup artist—I wasn’t one of these makeup artists who could transform a face. I just always had shortcuts to make things work because I loved it so much.” That year she debuted a line of ten natural lipstick shades as the very first part of her mission to create “a great collection of edited, natural-looking makeup”. The rest is history that you can see at Nordstrom, Sephora, or Bloomingdale’s the next time you happen to wander in. The brand that Bobbi Brown single-handedly founded is very much what I’m about in life and in beauty- perfected basics. Nothing crazy, nothing fancy, no circus tricks- just really beautiful, classic makeup. Her eyeshadows share nowhere near the same range as say, MAC, but they are just what you need (and yes, her “Taupe” shade really is the perfect taupe!). Her lip shades are flawless, her concealers (in cream or stick form) are legendary, and her Long-Wear Gel Liner is not to be matched. And let’s face it- when Kate Middleton decides to do her entire face in Bobbi Brown for her own wedding day, you know it’s legit. Bobbi is a huge inspiration to me as a female entrepreneur, and she has made me feel like there’s room for me in the beauty world.

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NARS – And now for a favorite brand that is near polar opposite of the aforementioned.

The packaging for NARS is sleek and modern, but their color offerings are even more so.  NARS has the absolute best range of blushes I’ve ever seen, and no other brand I’ve tried seems to match the innovativeness and quality of their shades.  Their basics such as the Creamy Radiance Concealer, Bronzing Powder in Laguna, and All Day Luminous Foundation are amazing, but they’ll go for the shocking color makeup, too: a shadow duo featuring lime green paired with cobalt (“Rated R”), a matte purple-black lip pencil (“Train Bleu”), and a vermillion red blush that looks like it belongs on a clown (and that very blush, called “Exhibit A”, was the inspiration for this blog’s title).  However, it’s not as if NARS is cranking out any and every eyeshadow shade you can imagine; you can tell there’s still a thoughtful editing process behind the collection.  In the end, you sort of feel like Rihanna when wearing NARS- really, really pretty, very fashion-forward, and kinda naughty.

Founder Francois Nars continues to be one of my major inspirations in makeup.  You can definitely sense the fashion influence in his brand; Nars’ personal eye for photography and his background in fashion make his line feel sexy and provocative.  His collaborations with more controversial artists like Steven Klein and Andy Warhol give the line an unmistakable edge, and yet as an artist Francois Nars has always seemed very grounded.  I have one of his more famous quotes pinned to my inspiration board at home: “Do not be too serious.  It’s only makeup!”

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bareMinerals– Every time I think I’m going to graduate from this brand, I get sucked back in.  I can’t help it.

A couple months ago, I was speaking to an associate at Sephora about bareMinerals.  She stated that she felt the brand was sort of for beginners, for those that are just starting to get into makeup, but that it wasn’t something you stick with forever.  I was contemplating a new foundation, and I considered moving on to something else besides the SPF 15 Original Foundation of theirs that I’d used for SO long. This loose-powder mineral foundation saw a miraculous kind of overnight success when bareMinerals founder Leslie Blodgett was given a spot on QVC to pitch it back in 1997.  I was sort of sad at the thought of quitting this beloved brand’s foundation because it’s also one of the most high quality natural lines you will find (seriously, the foundation has just five mineral ingredients), but I figured it was time to be an adult and move on!

However, I randomly popped into a bareMinerals flagship store the other day and had one of the employees go crazy on me, just for fun.  It turned out that the foundation shade I’d been using was now too dark (thank you, Illinois), and she matched me with my correct shade tested it on my face.  And there it was, the reason that I’d loved bareMinerals for so long- my skin looked perfect.  The associate had cleansed my face using their new skincare line (a gorgeous oil cleanser that I’d totally consider for myself, by the way), applied primer, then applied the makeup, and my adoration for the brand was suddenly renewed.  After some decent skin prep, this line’s original foundation just makes your skin look so unbelievably fantastic that I cannot stop singing its praises even at 28.  Their blushes possess the same qualities, their primer receives remarkable ratings, their concealers are all over Instagram, and their variations on foundation are unique and great for all skin types (and I personally love their Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel for warmer weather).  Whether the brand is actually for “beginners” or not, I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

And there you have it.  Like I said earlier, I honestly have no loyalties, but if I had to choose three, these would be the three.  At first I thought it was funny that my favorite brands are a bunch that seemed to have absolutely nothing in common with one another, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that they all share a significant, common thread- they all place a strong emphasis on good skincare.  Bobbi Brown, NARS, and bareMinerals all feature their own beautiful skincare lines, and each brand very much emphasizes the importance of a canvas that is well taken care of.  Bobbi’s luxurious creams and oils have been around for a long time, bareMinerals has always been about makeup that is good for the skin even though they only just debuted a full-range skincare line of their own, and Francois NARS himself said, “If the skin looks beautiful, everything else will look great.  Skin is the most important part of makeup.”

There are some really great makeup brands out there that turn out incredible color product, but the skin isn’t made to be the priority.  Kat Von D, Urban Decay, TooFaced, and Stila all are incredible makeup brands, but they’re not about the skin and they don’t feature skincare.  My personal makeup philosophy has always been about putting the skin first, and so I’m rather pleased to see that my most favorite brands come from a similar line of thinking.  I would probably include Glossier on this list as well, but they only have skincare at this point (except for BoyBrow) and have yet to debut their color makeup.  Well, I mean, they are debuting color makeup this Monday, so this list may grow a lot sooner than later.

Let me know if you concur, what your favorites are, and what you’re trying these days!  Have fun!  xo, MR

Laying The Foundation

I’ve been really into liquid foundation lately.  I know that may seem like a no-brainer for a makeup junkie, but it’s taken me a long time to come around to it.  I’ve only just begun to truly appreciate it.  I remember the first bottle of nice-ish foundation I ever purchased was from The Body Shop, and I wore it for my wedding day underneath my favored BareMinerals Original powder foundation.  Beyond a special occasion like that, I’ve rarely worn it until just recently.

Foundation didn’t have a lot of appeal to me when I was first getting into makeup.  I think I grew up watching a lot of girls cover their faces in MAC StudioFix or something like that old CoverGirl AquaSmooth compact foundation, and then they’d reapply throughout the day with the same sponge that they’d been using for a couple months.  Holy bacteria Batman.  I remember my high school geometry teacher calling out a girl in class once when she had her makeup out for reapplication.  The funny thing, however, was that she didn’t give her a hard time for having makeup out in class- she gave her a hard time for reusing that dirty old sponge that was in the compact, rather than a fluffy brush that you can clean regularly.  I remember seeing a couple powder brushes make their appearance in geometry after that.

The formulas couldn’t have helped either.  So many foundation formulas have been loaded with cheap petrochemicals that essentially clog your pores, disabling them from releasing oil and sealing them to a fate of breakouts (though foundation may certainly not be the only cause of one’s acne).  And you hardly knew better as an eighteen-year-old!  Growing up, the range of formula types was limited, even within the high-end brands.  It seemed that every kind of foundation was meant only for full-coverage. That ever-popular MAC StudioFix among high schoolers?  Oh man.  The number one ingredient in that stuff is talc, which means that you’re basically caking baby powder on to your face with the help of a bunch of slippery silicones.  The only truly inventive type of foundation that I remember noticing were those with salicylic acid in them, meant to help clear acne.  Beyond that, the textures were all the same- a dense, creamy substance with little to no dimension.  Which makes sense of why so many of our faces in high school looked like they were covered in pancake batter.

However, the foundation formulas we’re seeing today are more innovative than ever.  The line between skincare and makeup is continuing to be blurred, and the ingredients are thankfully increasing in quality.  Those formulated to cast a beautiful, pearly glow all over your skin thanks to light-giving pigments, those meant to provide “high definition” coverage that looks flawless on camera, those fused with skin-healing serum to moisturize and make you shine, those formulated with all kinds of exciting natural ingredients, and those meant to be virtually undetectable- there are so many incredible options now.

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I feel like two things have been responsible for this revolution- the first being the advent of high-definition television, and the second being the rise of BareMinerals.  Regarding the latter, it seemed like BareMinerals taught us all of sudden that we could have really amazing makeup without all the extra petro crap in it, along with our fresh pressed watermelon juice and free range eggs.  The former set all kinds of celebrities and makeup artists to the drawing board, in desperate need of makeup that concealed the flaws now being exposed on HD TV in reality shows and on the news.  And so from there, we gained two great innovations- mineral makeup and high definition makeup.

The creativity surrounding foundation these days seems to be limitless.  I see new formulas showing up on Instagram, in magazines, and on blogs constantly.  Some particular standouts seem to be the following: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Foundation, Too Faced Born This Way Foundation, Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Foundation, Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation, Yves Saint Laurent Fusion Ink Foundation, Glossier Skin Perfecting Tint, and MakeUpForEver Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation.  Many of these unique, high-end formulas have been immediately followed up with drugstore versions, such as Maybelline Dream Wonder Fluid-Touch Foundation as an answer to the Armani, and Revlon PhotoReady Airbrush Effect Makeup as an affordable response to the MakeUpForEver HD formula.  The trends are undeniable.

A few personal favorites that I’ve tried on brides or myself and have loved include the aforementioned MakeUpForEver (my current favorite for my own face, and the first I ever used on a bride), Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Foundation, Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H Foundation, the aforementioned Tarte, and Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Eclat Illuminating Foundation (the ideal for my own face, but currently too expensive and no reason to buy yet).  I like Lancome’s Teint Miracle too, but the shade I own it in is now officially too light.  Looks like I’m going to have to wait until the dead of winter to wear it, or mix it with something else.

I’ve always loved using BareMinerals Original, but I’ve begun to notice that it’s doing something a little funny to the texture of my skin.  It’s now seeping into my pores and fine lines, and I’m finding that some liquid foundation formulas these days give more of a healthy look to my face.  The original powder formula formula is making me look and feel a tad dry even with a primer, and that’s not something I need in a Chicago winter.  I prefer the brand’s Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream now, and I’m enjoying experimenting with the liquid formulas I have (which only amounts to three, honestly).

Any formulas you particularly love?  Or hate?  I’m so impressed by the excellent variety of foundations out there these days, I’d try them all if I could!  xo, MR