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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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

The Best of 2013!!!

How does one introduce a post like this?  I have a theory that you really shouldn’t even try, so I’ll just go with this- the following consists of my favorite and most significant beauty moments of 2013.  Some involve me, some don’t.  But this is what made the year fun, exciting, and especially peaceful when it came to beauty and all that it involves.  Enioy!

 

#1  Hitting my hair stride.

Last year, as regular readers know, I cut my hair into a blunt long-ish bob and colored it a deep, ashier shade of brown.  I did it as an inaugural celebration of autumn, but the problem is  … autumn ends.  And having dark, ashy hair during winter just did not suit my mood.  In fact, I’m not entirely sure when it will suit me.  I came to the conclusion in 2013 that I am a brunette with spackles of light, and my hair, at this point in my life, is meant to be long.

Growing it out has been a fun, exciting exercise in patience.  There has been many a “good hair selfie” (at least according to my taste), but it’s just been too fun documenting the growth of it.  I’ve used my favorite hydrating and restorative conditioners by Davines and Sachajuan along with my trusty Rahua shampoo just twice a week for extra health insurance.  Little scalp massages, just enough protein, and plenty of moisture have allowed me to avoid the dreaded in-between phase of uncertainty, accompanied by a desperation to just cut it.  It’s been a long journey, and I’m gunning for one to two more inches, but whew … I think we’re just about there.  And you have to understand, I know the hair fixation has probably been a bit much for you readers, but this has been a long process of really choosing to like my own hair.  I’ve always been okay with my skin, and I’m decently handy when it comes to makeup, but when it has come to hair, I had always wanted anyone’s but my own.  I feel that within the past year or so, I can finally say that’s no longer the case (even if I’m crazy about everyone else’s hair, still).

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#2  This person existing

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I don’t know where this person came from, what she was doing before 2013, or how she managed to fly under the radar for this long, but Lupita Nyong’O is Thee. New. Thing.  Her role in Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years A Slave managed to catapult her into the spotlight literally overnight, and once I laid eyes on her, all I could say was OHHHH MYYY GAWWWDDDD THE MAKEUPZZZZZZ!!!  Whatever makeup artist that took hold of this girl before her first appearance (or who knows … maybe she did it all on her own?) seriously put their foot down and must’ve said, “GO BRIGHT OR GO HOME.”    Lupita’s makeup has been nothing short of showstopping in nearly every picture I’ve seen of her (and I seriously pee my pants just thinking about awards season).  You know those ridiculously obnoxious, acidic shades of NARS eyeshadow or MakeUpForEver lipsticks or Illamasqua blush that have made you wonder who could wear this and why is this here?  Lupita Nyong’O, ladies and gentlemen.  That’s who, and that’s why.

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#3  Finally making peace with this haircut

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You may recall that last year, I was somewhat traumatized by the amount of hair-choppage that had been occurring among celebrities.  I felt frustration over seeing girls with long locks deciding to go the way of the pixie.  Of course, this had much to do with the fact that I felt I could no longer identify with them, as I so strongly identify with longer hair.  However, this year presented me with a few challenges involving liking and enjoying people that aren’t like me.  What a bloody novel idea, right?  So anyhow, the lessons and growth within these challenges trickled down to even the most seemingly meaningless things, like the acceptance of short haircuts on celebrities.  So when Jennifer Lawrence chopped her locks this past November, I made the conscious decision to like it.  Get over the fact that you’ll probably never do it yourself; a damned haircut on someone else doesn’t have anything to do with you.  Lessening one’s focus on oneself enables you to actually enjoy others, to actually be happy for them.  And so this is why I like Jennifer’s haircut.  Because honestly, it looks good and I just need to shut up.

 

#4  Going luxe with these babies

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This year was a year in which I chose to invest.  It probably wasn’t always necessary, but Sephora gift cards and some celebrity makeup inspiration will do that to you.  And honestly … I just love makeup.  It’s fun.  I’ll save on clothes, use the same laptop that I’ve had since 2007, but when it comes to beauty, I’m a sucker.  So what’ll happen is this- I’m an introvert in the sense that I tend to recharge with alone time.  On an afternoon where I’ll be feeling especially antsy, I’ll head off to Bloomingdale’s or some place like that and I’ll just wander through the beauty department (NK Space is particularly dangerous for me).  I’ll mess around with the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, play around with the Kevyn Aucoin, put some Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Foundation at the YSL counter, and try on the most expensive moisturizer I can find.  The SK-II “Try me” jars are especially exciting (at $250 per jar of “everyday” moisturizer).  Of course, I buy very, very little of it, but sometimes I’ll splurge.  These Dior 5-Couleurs Palettes are a couple of those splurges.  For the record, “Earth Reflection” is my favorite.  And they’re all seriously more fun than a box of kittens.  And if you know me, you know how I feel about boxes of kittens.

 

#5  Discovering this picture

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With all things being said about the acceptance of others’ hair, it’s still an admittedly good thing to find some true inspiration for your own.  For the longest time, all I could think about in terms of hair was Olivia Palermo, Olivia Palermo, and more Olivia Palermo.  Something about her hair seemed so wholly unattainable though, almost surreal.  I imagine that she gets blowouts every week, as many New York socialites do, and that kind of thing is just discouraging to us layfolk.  Comparing oneself with the privileged (or anyone, for that matter) can truly wreak havoc on your appreciation for what you have.  And so, I tried for a good while to give  up my Palermo obsession.  I had to really fight to love my own hair, you know?  And while on the road to recovery, I discovered this shot of Italian-French-Egyptian actress and model Elisa Sednaoui.  What struck me was the fact that I didn’t want her hair, but instead I felt that I sort of already had it.  Hers was just a little longer, but the texture, color, and thickness of it just seemed right on the spot.  Suddenly, I didn’t want someone else’s hair, but instead I was even more excited for my own.  Instead of comparison, this felt more like encouragement.

 

#6  Finally finding a home for my Hobbit feet

Fact: Mani-pedis give me anxiety.  I’m not kidding.  I can’t say I understand fully why, but there’s this- I have a fear of language barriers.  Real talk.  I get anxious when I fear that I won’t be able to understand someone, that the aesthetician won’t understand me, and that we’ll ultimately just have a shared, awkward experience full of silence and clinched teeth.  This has happened before during a nail service experience (or at least, it’s what I perceived to be happening, but it may just have been in my head which is so frequently the case).  When it comes to beauty services, be it massages, pedicures, or blowouts, I want the professional and I to feel comfortable.  Coming from the service industry, I get that the most fun, worthwhile interactions with customers are ones where you feel like you’re both human.  So consequently, I’ve avoided mani-pedis for fear of the awkward and for fear of looking like an idiot.

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The problem, however, is that my feet get kind of, um, janky.  See those remnants of polish?  This photo was taken in December, and that polish is from … the beginning of August.  Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh.  And I know I could take care of it myself, but honestly, I let it get to the point where my feet literally need to be left to the hands of trained professionals.  It’s bad.  And that right big toenail is really as jagged as it looks.  Like, Matterhorn kinds of jagged.  I mean, it’s easy to let your feet go in the autumn seasons because you’re wearing close-toed shoes and all, but sometimes, around late November, I worry that I’ll take my boots off and my feet will have sprouted bushes or something.  But the only place I’ve ever gone to have my nails taken care of is the place out by my parents’ home, just out of sheer fear of trying a new place.  However, on the day I took this photo, I decided something needed to happen now.

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So where did I take my little Hobbit feet?  Oh, just the place right outside my apartment complex that’s literally steps away from my front door and that has awesome Yelp reviews.  Hi-Tek Nails, folks.  If I could slap a sticker on that place’s window that says “THE BRIGHT BLUSH SEAL OF APPROVAL!”, I would!  But that sticker would probably look more like a piece of masking tape with my writing on it.  Anyhow, the pro that helped me out that day is Christy (not sure how she spells it, so we’ll go with this).  She was amazing.  She was a human.  And I acted like a human.  We talked.  We laughed.  Like humans do.  I saw so many regulars coming in and out of the place with Christmas gifts for all the ladies working there; you can tell Hi-Tek has a loyal clientele.  And they were playing The Andy Griffith Show and Flipper on their TV!  I mean, can you imagine watching an episode of The Twilight Zone and getting a pedicure at the same time?!  That’s like, my heaven.

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Thanks, Hi-Tek!  I’ll be back, now that my Hobbit feet are out of their hole and on off on an extremely unexpected journey in some Birkenstocks.  And properly painted a glittery black.

 

#7  Teal eyeliner EVERYWHERE

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Talk about a fast and easy way to change up your look.  I don’t know about you, but I saw teal eyeliner in every magazine, of seemingly every month, on almost every celebrity this past year.  We were adding it to our upper lids, our lower lids, or all around our eyes.  We were wearing it on more formal occasions, and on casual Saturdays.  We wore it as an edgy statement, or as a haphazard, last-minute add-on to spice up an everyday look.  And I loved it.

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I especially love that this shade seems to work well on everyone.  It’s so flattering, and it’s so unexpected.  There’s a girl that I work with who wears teal eyeliner almost every day, and I love that it’s the first thing I notice about her.  It’s like this extra little punch of personality in your look that feels so free-spirited.

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Even just the slightest touch of a darker shade of blue can work magic.  I love that the teal eyeliner is almost unnoticeable on Marion here, until you get a closeup look.  It’s like a hidden secret that just adds that extra half-inch to the whole package.  I can’t encourage you enough to give it a try, especially the next time you’re about to step out the door but still feeling blah.

 

#8  Reaching the end of my face makeup journey

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This is it.  This is the stuff.  I don’t really care about finding anything else.  I don’t wear all of this at once (obvi), and sometimes I only wear that little guy over there to the left (sunscreen/moisturizer), but mostly, I’m just happy with what you see here.  When I want to go the extra mile and give myself a little brightening mask, I reach for Clarins Beauty Flash Balm for a tightening and cooling effect.  I then immediately apply my loose BareMinerals if I’m going out and need a bit of coverage.  Sometimes, if I’m feeling a bit dry or want an extra glow-y look, I’ll mix Weleda’s Skin Food with Boscia’s B.B. Cream and forget the Aubrey moisturizer altogether (as the B.B. has SPF in it).  And typically I’ll apply my NARS Creamy Radiant concealer because my dark circles are pretty much Mordor kinds of dark (inherited from my dad’s side), but if I want something lighter in coverage and consistency I’ll go for the Yves Saint Laurent Touche’ Eclat, which I’ve also used as a highlighter.

And that’s it.  I don’t want any more searching.  I’m good.  My only skincare goal for 2014 is to add a serum into my regimen so I can start taking those first baby steps into the world of aging prevention and damage recovery (which for me comes in the form of dark spots and scars from years of picking zits).  But other than this, I’m done!  Achievement unlocked.

 

#9  Remember this person?  Yup.  She showed up to the Cannes Film Festival this year.  And you wanted to be her.

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This, ladies and gents, is Aishwarya Rai.  She’s an Indian Bollywood queen with a huge fan-base, a former Miss World, and once cited by 60 Minutes as the “world’s most beautiful woman”.  Unless you’re a weirdo that’s only attracted to goldfish, it isn’t hard to see why.  The buzz about Miss Rai seemed to reach a peak in the mid-2000’s (from what I remember in the States).  But she then decided to go off and do the stupid, dum-dum thing called getting married and having a kid.  Ugh.  So not modern.  And then she stated that she wanted to take some time off from work so she could “simply enjoy motherhood”.  Um, excuse me?  What tomfoolery is THIS?!  You can’t take time off and ENJOY motherhood!!  That is giving away your independence!  You are MISS WORLD!!!  You get yo’ butt back to WEEERRRRK, Miss WORLD!!  No dumb baby should stop Miss WORLD from being Miss WORLD!!!!!

If you don’t sense the sarcasm here, I can’t help you with life.  And I mean it.

So anyhow, post-baby Aishwayra chose to take some time off from Bollywood, and in the process of pregnancy and enjoying motherhood, proceeded to gain some weight.  Like most child-bearing humans.  But what happened then wasn’t so human- she received widespread criticism from her fans and the media for not losing her baby weight immediately and getting back to WERK.    A commenter on the Daily Mail claimed, “She is a Bollywood actress, and it is her duty to look good and fit.”  Another said, “She needs to learn from people like Victoria Beckham who are back to a size zero weeks after their delivery.”

Yup.  That happened.

So fast forward to the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, a couple years later.  Aishwayra had been invited to appear at the glitzed-out affair of international cinema royalty, and the pressure to show up in her former supermodel form was ON.  So how would she look?!   Like the skinny actress she was just BORN to be?!  Would that baby weight be totally gone?!

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Nope.  Oh sure, the baby weight wasn’t gone, but instead, she showed up looking like a FREAKING GODDESS WITH A TOTALLY NORMAL PERSON’S BODY.  BOOM.

See, this is what I’m talkin’ about.  She isn’t nearly as thin as in her earlier days, but can you seriously even argue that it matters?  I’ve never been so stunned by Ash as when I saw some of these photos of her at Cannes.  She’s glowing; she’s regal.  Her face, body, and hair are full, and it just looks divine.  And I’m sorry, but that face is just unbelievable.  I’m not comfortable with the word ‘exotic’ to describe a particular look, mostly because we can’t truly seem to define what exactly it means other than ‘you are a desirable, tan object hailing from the tropics’, and so to describe Ash’s beauty, I tend to favor the word ‘global’.  She’s full Indian, but her features appear as if to be a mix of all kinds of ethnicity.  She’s got that all-over-the-world look that’s so interesting and different.  Pretty fitting for Miss World, no?

Aishwarya-Rai-Rocks-Cannes-Film-Festival-2013-In-Elie-Saab2

Yeah, that right there is seriously your quintessential HATERS GONNA HATE face.  Eat your heart out, critics.  And you enjoy that baby, Miss Ash.  Treat yo’self 2013!

 

#10  Making peace with no makeup on weekdays.

I have no image for this because the last thing any of us needs is another selfie #nomakeup.  So I’ll just use my words for this one.  I used to whine and complain about not being able to get my fanny in gear to the point where I could put on a full face of makeup for work every morning.  But I’ve finally arrived at the point where I’m okay with saying that that’s just me.  Makeup is for weekends or when I have the time.  Makeup is for when I can enjoy it.  Makeup is not a necessity (though the concealer, eyebrows, and lip balm can’t really be compromised).  Makeup doesn’t have to happen everyday, and that’s what makes it special.  Nice, freshly-washed hair isn’t a necessity either.  Sometimes a topknot and sunscreen is all you can ask of a Monday.  Or Tuesday.  Or Wednesday.  Or Thursday.  Or Friday before 5:00PM.  And that’s okay.  Just enjoy it for what it is, and don’t be a slave to it.

And these, my friends, are my favorite moments in beauty for 2013.  It’s been a good, challenging year of acceptance and learning to enjoy the routines I have rather than ache and yearn for ones I don’t.  I’m not even compiling a “worst of” list this year because there’s wasn’t anything that got me too irked anyhow!  It’s been a great year, and let’s keep in up in the one to come.  xo, MR

P.S.  Oh, and a total bonus #11- Thanks to new editor in chief Eva Chen, Lucky Magazine is totally on the comeback trail.  Remember how last year I wrote an entire post about how terrible it had become?  A year-and-a-half later and I’m thinking just the opposite.  Can’t wait to resubscribe and see Zoe Saldana on the February cover!  Woohoo!

When Snow White got married. Or, my bride Ali!

Oh, where to begin?  I have been looking forward to this wedding for a long, long time.  Mike and Ali have been dating for as long as I’ve known each of them (since they were seniors in high school), and my husband and I have spent so much time around them both as individuals and as a couple that when their wedding weekend was finally upon us, it just felt like some kind of surreal.  And I’d had a feeling that Ali would be giving me the honor of doing her makeup for her wedding day, but having me as her bridesmaid?  Too much.  Too much joy.  Ali is all at once lively and calm, silly and subdued.  She’s at first glance an introvert, but you then come to realize that she’s an adorable rabbit waiting to pop out of the magician’s hat.  Ali is wise, thoughtful, mature, and unwavering in her convictions.  She’s a gem, and I’ve barely seen her since the wedding day and it’s killing me!  Just a few more days, Ali!

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Now, back to business.  What’s great about doing a friend’s makeup for their wedding is the fact that you’ll probably get to do multiple trial-runs on them, editing and choosing different things as you go along.  Ali and I got to do exactly this, as I did her makeup for her engagement shoot (which I blabbed about here), for fun several times, and for two of her bridal showers.  Now, I’d given Ali a smokey eye for her engagement shots and I’d say it turned out pretty well.  It was sultry, exciting, but not quite … I don’t know … Ali?  If you know her, you get it.  It was ridiculously fun at the time, but as the months passed I was still uncertain as to what I was going to do for the big day, and I knew it wouldn’t be a smokey eye.  So for her first bridal shower, I decided to have a little fun and go with a hot pink lip.  It was a hit.  I absolutely loved it.   It worked with her fair skin and dark hair, and it took the drama down a necessary notch while still having impact.  And then the wedding inspiration came: a berry lip.  I dreamed of something along the lines of Snow White, and the vision began to come together.

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I began collecting the tools necessary for my vision, and l once again lucked out by owning a foundation shade that matched my bride perfectly (MakeUpForEver HD Foundation, uh-gain).  I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve built such a kit that I don’t have too much of a need for new product.  However, I chose to invest in Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light, mostly because I wanted a great finishing powder that A) wasn’t loose (like MakeUpForEver’s HD Finish Powder) and B) didn’t leave any possible ghostly white traces (like MakeUpForEver’s HD Finish Powder).  Hourglass did the trick perfectly.

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There I am at work!  We’re just about ready to walk down the aisle, so I’m just doing touch-ups here.  For myself, I had my hair blown out by the fabulous Dani of Salon reBelle in Orange, and I went with a deep side-part just to add some drama and show off the lovely highlights that Justin of Salon 9 had given me some time ago.  I chose a smokey eye for myself, which I tend to favor when it’s time to dress up.  I wasn’t completely happy with the combination of shades I chose … a bit too grey for my taste, which is oddly my least favorite shade on my own eyes … but it was fun anyhow.  Any time I *need*  false eyelashes is a fun time.

closeup

Here’s a shot of mi’lady I took once I was completely finished with her makeup.  I had to have my dear friend Laura (who was responsible for hair, by the way) help me apply Ali’s eyelashes because by that point my hands were so shaky from caffeine and small finger movements.  But nonetheless, everything turned out exactly the way I’d hoped.  Oh, and speaking of things being exactly what I’d hoped for: Ali snapped up my out-of-this-world talented friend Bethany for her own wedding photography.  I’ve raved about Bethany in my post on Ali’s engagement shoot, but also in this post here when she envisioned an old-world romantic desert wedding using my husband and I as models.    I really can’t explain how ethereal Bethany’s photography is to me.  Everything she sees is romance.  There’s a special character to her eye that I just can’t describe, and so I just have to let her work explain for itself.  Below, the perfect kind of shot I was hoping for once Laura and I were finished with Ali’s hair and makeup.  This particular shot is nothing special, and yet, it totally is.

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Things just kept getting better once Ali put on her dress.  And oh, THAT DRESS.  Ali had tried on a number of dresses, and while they all looked stunning on her, this one both looked stunning and perfectly captured her personality.  Again, if you know Ali, you just get it (not to get all insider on my readers, but some things are just difficult to explain without knowing a person).  This dress was something out of Downton Abbey, it was!  And it doesn’t hurt that Ali has always reminded me somewhat of Michelle Dockery.

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I remember how I kept constantly saying, “YOU LOOK LIKE SNOW WHITE” allllllllll day long.  But I meant it!  If there were ever an illustrated bridal interpretation done of that princess, this is what it would look like.  I just couldn’t get over it.

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I happily reapplied Laura Mercier’s Lip Stain in Mulberry on top of Stila’s Lip Stain in Cherry Crush frequently throughout the day.  The former can be a tad drying, so Ali’s sister offered up some of her own gloss later in the day for the reception, which worked out nicely.  For Ali’s cheeks, I only stuck with some contouring (no blush, technically) by using MAC’s blush in Buff.  I absolutely love that shade for contouring on fair-to-medium skin, as using bronzer for contouring just doesn’t work on everyone.

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Isn’t she something straight out of a fairy tale?!  I kept waiting for bluebirds and chipmunks to start following her and carrying her train!

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And at last, the beautiful couple.  I couldn’t have imagined a more glorious bride for this day.  And this day in it’s entirety was, in fact, wonderful.  I got to play bridesmaid duty for an incredible friend, one of my own bridesmaids did the magnificent photography work, and my husband performed the wedding ceremony!  I was in heaven.  But that’s what weddings are, aren’t they: the slightest, sheerest picture of a heaven that we’ve yet to see.  Love you so much, Michael and Alison! xo, MR

All of the photography featured in this post (save for the fourth picture) is credited to Bethany Carlson Photography.  For more of Bethany’s beautiful work, you can visit her website at www.bethanycarlson.com.