Bridal & Beyond: The Past Four Years


No “What I’m Using” feature this month; just awards season and THIS exciting little post. I realize in the past four years I’ve not shared basically anything about what makeup I’ve been doing for others (though some of it gets shared on IG). When we moved to Illinois, I sort of lost out on any potential bridal makeup clientele as most folks in our circles there were already married. However, there were a few opportunities – both there and back home in CA – to do what I love. Doing makeup for others is such a treat. I love planning out the look and taking my time with the client to slowly work our way into the final result.

**Hey! If I have done your makeup in the last four years and you HAVE NOT sent me pictures, please do! I can’t brag if I don’t have photos. ūüôā

So, here’s a smattering of what the last four years have featured in terms of makeup, both bridal and beyond:



Bridal for Chelsea Weeldreyer

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Oof. I love love loooove me a very natural bride- no false lashes, just as simple as it can get. It was a steamy August morning the day of Chelsea’s wedding but it added this soft glow to everything- the photos, the skin, all of it. I stuck to basic stalwarts so her makeup would be foolproof: MAC Woodwinked on eyes, NARS Orgasm on cheeks, Bobbi Brown Sandwash Pink on lips. Photo credit of above shot to Alexandra Burt Photography.

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Maternity shoot for Jennifer Clark

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Beautiful Jen even gave me the opportunity to do her hair for this, and that actually ended up being my favorite part (so shiny)! I used the Too Faced Natural Eyes palette and simple, natural tones to let her dress stand out. So pretty! Photo credit to Kristen Cloyd Photography.


Bridal for Molly Maxwell

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Molly literally flew me out to CA to glam her up for her wedding. For her lip she chose a Too Faced shade in Pink Chocolate and I first used their Natural Eyes palette on her (it really is the best for looks like this). You can see how much things tone down over time and in photos when you compare the intensity of the makeup in the second picture (right ¬†above), versus the first one with Paul. It doesn’t hurt to make it extra on the big day! ¬†Photo credits to Amy Buchanan.



Headshots for Katie Ernst


Describing Katie’s talent as a jazz musician in the Chicago and Great Lakes area is kind of impossible. She’s a jazz instructor at Wheaton, leads and writes original worship music at Grace Presbyterian in the North Shore area, and writes and records her own original music in both group and solo projects. She also tours, among other things. It’s a lot, and a lot of talent to justify it.

Katie’s headshot photographer – Celeste Maren – does these cool filters and overlays on her photos so I knew the makeup was going to look different than it did in “real time”. I used Bite Beauty in Beetroot and kept everything else simple.

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Bridal for Stephanie Poblenz

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What can I say? Got to play makeup artist, bridesmaid, and preacher’s wife for this round and it was an epic day. Couldn’t have been better. It was one of those weddings where I’d actually do the whole thing all over again if I could.

Stephanie had me use Fenty Beauty’s Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored for her cherry red lip, and of course … I used the Too Faced Natural Eyes for her eyes. I was especially proud of her cheek, though (unfiltered pic below)- a little KVD contour, BareMineral GenNude blush in Beige For Days, and MAC Mineralize SkinFinish in Soft and Gentle.

Photo credits to Native Heart Photography (except closeup directly below).


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Oh and hey, that’s us (thanks, Native Heart)!

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xo, MR


What I’m Using: November 2018

Hi, hello! It’s been a minute.

When it comes to beauty, I’m most passionate about sharing what products I use and love; I enjoy learning about what others are using as well. And so¬†I’ve decided, after taking some serious time off from this blog, that I’m going to return to it with the vision of focusing specifically on what products I’m currently using with a monthly post. These posts may be punctuated with the red carpet season craziness that we all know and love, but the primary intent with this writing project is to simply share what I’m using, once a month.

And so, here we are! November. And snow will very soon arrive to put the, um, “no” in November. Temperatures are steadily dropping, dryness abounds, and hair begins to get that oily-on-top-but-parched-on-the-ends awkwardness. But these are merely seasonal woes. There are other, more peculiar long-term challenges that I’m interested in tackling: namely, the creases on my forehead. Expression lines, as I like to call them- makes me sound so elegant! Scroll down for my current products in rotation.


The retin-something: Ole Henriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Créme

At age 28, I got my first pair of glasses. I also found my first grey hair. I also noticed for the first time the faint creases cropping up on my forehead. I wasn’t alarmed, exactly; I was more just interested in seeing if the decades of anti-wrinkle research I’d been reading and hearing about all my life was actually going to pay off in the form of a truly effective treatment other than an injectable. I mean, think about how long¬†our scientists have been going after fine lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet, whatever. Defying the symptoms of impending death (you bristled …… am I wrong?) is the very raison d’√™tre for the skincare industry and they’ve been working at it forever. And¬†now, the options are just about as endless as a Dostoyevsky novel. So what’s one to do other than do a little research, pick something that seems right for you, and dive forehead-first into the vast waters known as the anti-aging industry?

Retinol- a topical derivative of vitamin A- has long been regarded as the “breakthrough” ingredient to returning a youthful look to the skin by stimulating collagen production and cellular renewal, but there are so many options that it’s hard to know where to begin. Retinol is far best suited for night and so I wanted something that I’d only be tempted to use at night, like a cream. I tried a retinol suspended in oil for a while, but it really was too oily and nonabsorbent to be comfortable at night. I also am only using this about twice a week as retinol can have a sensitizing effect on your skin; you have to give it time to see how your skin reacts and adjusts. Ole Henriksen’s Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Cr√©me seemed like a new formula that was worth a shot. It features bakuchiol, a plant-based ingredient that supposedly works as a retinol alternative (so maybe not as sensitizing?). It smells lovely, absorbs well, and the texture and dullness of my skin is noticeably improved overnight. The fine lines? Still there, but slightly more faint. I’ll have to get through the whole jar and see where we’re at by then.

The second-in-command: MAC Upward Lash

Why second in command? So the way I work with mascara is this: I always have a CoverGirl LashBlast formula on hand. Always. I feel like they are THEE best. But, I always need a second formula to sort of give my lashes that final “bump”. The CoverGirl ones are amazing but I can’t ever seem to work on one formula alone. And so, things get really exciting when I play around with different “second-in-command” mascaras as I like to call them. I usually choose something with an inkier consistency and a smaller, more precise brush. MAC’s Upward Lash does the job expertly.

The old fave: Glossier Super Bounce serum

Seriously amazing for dry skin. I don’t reach for Super Bounce much from about May through September because my skin seems to rebalance, but wow- as soon as the chill starts up again I’m going through about two bottles in six months or less. I love it right after toner and essence, but before moisturizer. It really does give my skin that bit of plump and coolness when I feel tight and awful after I’ve eaten too much cheddar popcorn the night before. I also love it for makeup prep and find it does a beautiful job at soothing redness.

The (very) intense conditioner: Davines Melu conditioner

I think if I had to select one product I weirdly hoard or am always tempted to buy more of, it’s hair conditioner. I promise, every time I step into Target you will find me wandering down the haircare aisle opening up those tubs of thick, buttermilk-textured conditioner that smell like all kinds of delectable desserts or yummy bubble tea (don’t you think?!?). I’m not particularly inclined to eat the Davines Melu conditioner, but I will tell you that it is rich. Meant to hydrate dry ends and prevent breakage so long hair can sustain itself, it feels more like a hair mask than anything and it makes my hair so soft. The fragrance is more floral and sophisticated, which is a nice thing because let’s face it- our noses must graduate from the fruit cocktail explosions of Bath and Body Works at some point.

Bonus! The espionage read: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Wow. Right? I feel like every other person I’ve mentioned this book to has read it. And I can’t believe I didn’t know it’s being brought to film (the news broke last April- I feel like I should’ve known this already but apparently I don’t follow enough fun people on Twitter)! And if you’re unfamiliar with this work, you should jump on the train before it magically turns into a bandwagon and your mom and your brother and your cat are all there, saying how much they love it too. I will only reveal what IMDb reveals about the storyline: “A former spy is called up out of retirement to assist in an unusual investigation.” Seriously. It is GOOD.

Let’s Talk (More) About Glossier

A little over a month ago, a skincare and makeup brand named Glossier asked me to join their rep program. And if you know me, you know that this was very, very exciting. I figured it might be worth doing a full post to give you the low-down on what exactly this means (and what it doesn’t).

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Let’s start with a brief word about the brand. ¬†Glossier is the beauty brand born out of long-favorited blog IntoTheGloss. ¬†Glossier’s goal is to “lay the foundation for a beauty movement that celebrates real girls, in real life.” ¬†Their aesthetic revolves around the philosophy of “skin first, makeup second”, and that “skincare is essential, makeup is a choice.” ¬†With the meteoric rise of makeup gurus like James Charles, Huda Kattan, and Jaclyn Hill with their extreme, maximalist makeup techniques using everything but the bathroom sink, it’s nice to see a brand essentially counter that movement with a minimalist, skin-first aesthetic.


I can’t relate well to matte, exaggerated liquid-lipstick-lips or perfectly stenciled brows.¬†There are moments for makeup like this, but it’s just not an everyday thing for me. Skincare, on the other hand, is an everyday thing for me along with a bit of color and accenting of features I like such as brows. Glossier’s ideas about beauty match mine- you should always look like you, and your skin should still look like skin, even with the extra bit of color or false lashes or foundation. And so their products like Boy Brow, Generation G lipstick, Stretch concealer, Milky Jelly cleanser, and the Super serums have been perfect matches for my everyday routine. Simple and natural, putting skin first, while adding just enough zing.


And so, Glossier has released their products slowly, with maybe one new launch every other month. Each product is meant to address a very basic need with the intent of being one of your staples. Whether it’s a truly excellent everyday moisturizer, or four brilliant shades of blush, or the perfect facial cleanser, Glossier products are meant to be your favorites that you wear everyday and repurchase over and over. Glossier also has the very democratic habit of crowd-sourcing their products, meaning they take the advice and input of their readers on IntoTheGloss to create the perfect skincare or makeup item based on the consumer’s desires. ¬†Oh, and their design and branding are soooo dang cute. ¬†Snapping a pic of your adorable pink pouch feels natural, even when mixed in with your other favorite stuff.

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So what exactly does it mean now that I’m a “brand rep?” Well, it mostly means I love Glossier and the folks who work there noticed. I was asked to join the program by a Glossier team member because of my love for the brand as displayed on social media, and my frequent commenting on IntoTheGloss. A page was then created for me with a little introductory video, along with a list of my favorite products. When any purchases are made specifically through my page, I receive a bit of commission (5%- it’s baby commission!). ¬†And for those who are purchasing Glossier for the first time, you receive a 10% discount when you purchase through my page too. ¬†Below is just an image – click here to see my little vid (I talk to you!) and shop through my page.

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Now, here’s what being a Glossier rep doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean I have inventory that I need to sell; all purchases through my link are fulfilled by Glossier alone. In other words, I make no direct sales. Being a rep doesn’t mean I paid startup costs either, since, again, you have no inventory as a rep and becoming a rep is free. Additionally, I will not be asking anyone to “join me on my journey” as Glossier reps don’t and can’t recruit other reps. The only way to become a rep is to be asked by Glossier. Also, there’s no incentive for me gaining a new, first-time customer. In fact, the only incentive there is for the new customer herself to the tune of a 10% discount on a first purchase. And finally, Glossier reps can’t see who purchases through their page; I can only see what is sold and how much commission I’m making that month (which, for me, rarely hits over $10!).

What I get to do: I get to tell you about new launches, probably share photos with you, and talk about the products that I love and how I use them. Also, if just one purchase is made through my page each month, I receive a $30 credit the following month. Not bad, and way to keep a loyal fanbase! And of course, if you do decide to click “Add To Cart” through my page, that’s not so bad either. Just look for the “You’re shopping with McKenna Rishmawy” icon to the top right like you see in the photo.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the brand or any products. ¬†I’m more than happy to make recommendations.¬†¬† xo, MR

If You Have Just Five Minutes …

My current living situation isn’t exactly the most glamorous.

I live in a building with many other families that are all living there for the purpose of someone completing a higher education degree. ¬†It is a season of scrimping and saving, constant transition (as there is a moving truck in front of our building at least once every two months), and general uncertainty. ¬†Many of the women in my building are busy raising three or four young children; others are plugging away at their own coursework or job responsibilities. ¬†Any you way it slice it, it’s not exactly the place where you’ll see lots of false lashes or makeup brushes lying around.

That being said, all this doesn’t mean the lashes and brushes have been tossed to the wayside here, rejected as some sort of earthly frill without any value. ¬†For so many of my neighbors, there just isn’t time, and one’s mind is simply preoccupied with other things besides finding the perfect highlighter that’s right for your skin. ¬†I guess the same could be said for many folks in various stages of life- we often find ourselves without time, or living in seasons when we’re just distracted, and little things that brought joy are the first to go. ¬†Something like makeup or skincare becomes more of a tedious effort than a delightful ritual. ¬†One of my most restful activities has always been doing my makeup and hair, and even without children, I’ve already found myself slowing down and not wanting to take the time that I used to for these things.

But for me, my putting aside of makeup says more about the state of my mind and heart than about busyness. ¬†I could take the time to do a little something, but when my mind and heart are clouded with worry or feelings of ungratefulness, I can’t enjoy something like makeup. ¬†In moments like that it’s hard to sit down, take a deep breath, and choose which couple eyeshadows I’d like to wear. ¬†It’s a challenge to let go of the worries of the moment and say, “You know, things are going to be okay. ¬†Worrying truly solves nothing, so let’s choose joy and put on the makeup I love.”

But something funny happens when I do surrender those worries, when I say “no” to the seemingly looming cares of tomorrow- I find myself picking up the brushes, turning on the curling iron, and taking joy. ¬†I find myself putting in the “work” of makeup out of thankfulness, out of delight. ¬†And¬†suddenly, makeup stops feeling so much like work, but rather like the pleasure it’s been for me since I was twelve. ¬†You could almost call it worship. ¬†I sometimes manage to get so caught up in this delight that I end up with full-face look, complete with primer, contouring, something colorful, and maybe even false lashes.¬†¬†When I say no to worry and fear, I am able to take delight in beauty and creativity.

Think about that.

So for those of us that are busy, worried, tired, or feeling unsure of whatever it is in the season you’re in, I’d encourage you to choose joy and put on those false lashes. ¬†Or mascara. ¬†Or lash extensions if you’re especially busy! ¬†Release those fears and bust out your exfoliant. ¬†Surrender your anxieties and decide which color you’re going to paint your nails. ¬†Say no to the fear and choose rest. ¬†So if you have even just five minutes, here are a couple strategies for pursuing this very specific practice of joy and rest effectively:

  1. Choose a bold lipstick and strong eyebrows – Stop thinking of lipstick as overly glamorous and formal, and start thinking of it as your best femme-friend that can go with you anywhere to give things a little sunshine and “Yeah, girl!”. ¬†A great lipstick is like carrying around¬†Leslie Knope in your bag. ¬†One of the easiest signature looks you can adapt is that of a striking lip color paired with gorgeous, groomed brows. ¬†Have your face moisturized, and use one or two brow products to fill them in, brush them up, and tame them in place. ¬†As you know, I like Glossier’s Boy Brow for a really quick fix, but Bobbi Brown’s Perfectly Defined Long-Wear Brow Pencil comes in a good variety of shades, is tapered as a pencil, and comes with a spooly brush. ¬†You can always use clear mascara or Boy Brow to then set things in place. ¬†Next, have your lips moisturized with your fave balm and then apply whatever awesome lipstick your heart desires. ¬†Choose something that feels like you, but is perhaps a small step beyond your comfort zone. I love wearing MAC’s Russian Red by itself, but there are also some seriously amazing shades by Bite Beauty that I love staring at. ¬†Colors like Jam, Tannin, or Dragonfruit would make amazing signature shades. ¬†Moisturizer + eyebrows + lipstick = very French and very pulled together, probably within five minutes. ¬†Below, my current look of choice.
  2. Choose a perfectly-cleansed fresh face – Do your whole routine of a little exfoliating, a little cleansing, a quick spritz of toner, and a yummy moisturizer for a quick-but-indulgent accomplishment. ¬†A bare but glowing face these days is widely accepted as a chic substitute for makeup (though I always recommend giving your brows a wee bit of love, too). ¬†I use a small bit of Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate as a mini peel for one minute (and I treat this stuff like golden elixir as it was a gift), and then I rinse and follow up with Ole Henriksen’s Empower Foaming Milk Cleanser. ¬†After I rinse off the cleanser and pat my face dry, I spritz on Lush’s Eau Roma Toning Water. ¬†I love that this is in a spray bottle as opposed to a needing a cotton pad for application- so fast and easy. ¬†I follow up with Origin’s A Perfect World SPF 25 Age-Defense Moisturizer with White Tea, and I’m glowing like the sun! ¬†A little brow gel to complete the look, a quick pull back of the hair into a low bun, and you’re basically ready for New York Fashion Week.
  3. Choose mega lashes¬†and flushed cheeks¬†– Mascara takes me the longest time of any other makeup product to apply, so if you’re short on time or patience but you really want lashes, choose to focus on only that and perhaps one more thing. ¬†Use an eyelash curler like Kevyn Aucoin’s¬†to gently curl and lift your lashes. ¬†Lash curlers are really underrated in my opinion; they do so much to open up the eye and ease the application of mascara. ¬†Next, pick a couple favorite kinds of mascara that thicken and lengthen (or if you can manage just one, props to you). ¬†I like almost any kind from CoverGirl’s LashBlast line– the orange tube (LashBlast), the purply-blue tube (LashBlast Fusion), the lime green tube (The Clump Crusher), or the turquoise tube (The Super Sizer). ¬†I could use any combination of these babies and get really black, super thick lashes that you can carefully build for length. ¬†Once you’re happy with the outcome, do a quick dusting of a blush that you’ve found to be most flattering (and by flattering, I mean it suits your face nearly every day of the year). ¬†An easy pick is NARS Orgasm, long hailed as universally flattering on all skintones. ¬†The name may make your eyes roll, but the stuff is no joke. ¬†If that’s out of your budget, Milani¬†has a good variety of really pretty blushes that are super concentrated in both matte and shimmery finishes. ¬†These get a ton of buzz on Pinterest and Instagram; I used on once on a bridesmaid who owned one and wanted to wear her own blush and I was really impressed.


Whatever your plans involve this weekend, whether it’s a lot of running around, getting things done, or just sitting on the couch trying to catch your breath, be sure to open the door to joy. ¬†And if that means exfoliating or applying lipstick in a shameless shade of merlot, to that I say, “Yes and more please”. ¬†xo, MR

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.


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).


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!


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

How To: Seriously Beachin’ Waves

Loose, shine-free, textured waves are my favorite kind of hairstyle. ¬†It’s fairly easy to replicate the look on myself because my hair has some natural wave to it, so the bias is obvious. ¬†However, I do love the different which-ways you can make waves go, and I like their easy, laid-back feel. ¬†My friends will tell you that one of the ways I express friendship is by “waving” your hair- I’m not kidding. ¬†It’s the most relaxing process for me. ¬†And just the word “wave” evokes peaceful memories of the ocean, and being a California girl, that’s never a bad thing. ¬†Although, authentic “beach waves” with a bit too much salt going on can get a little crusty if we’re honest. ¬†There’s a difference between looking like you spent a weekend at Laguna Beach or a year on an island with Tom Hanks in a loincloth.

When I create my own waves, I go by a couple tried-and-true tips so they don’t look too neat, but I do want to make sure they have plenty of body. ¬†If you have curly hair, the general method is to blow your hair out straight first and then create the waves, but that’s a lot of heat and effort so I understand if you bypass this how-to with an annoyed eyeroll. ¬†I’d encourage you to still give it a shot though, when you’ve got extra time just for fun! ¬†If you have stick-straight hair, this may still work but you will probably want to crank the heat on your curling rod and a good dose of hairspray won’t hurt, either. ¬†Regardless, see if this works for you too. ¬†I love straightening my hair when I have time, though it’s a different kind of vibe with bangs. ¬†Making my hair extra curly is the hardest for me, but it’s been really fun the few times I’ve executed it well. ¬†Waves are just the easiest for my hair type, and here’s what I do to get them.


Step 1: ¬†Freshly washed hair works best, because you can rough dry it and give it serious volume. ¬†I’ll wash and condition my hair, comb it through with a wide-tooth comb and a few sprays of Unite’s 7-Second Conditioner, and give it some time to air dry. ¬†This allows at least a little natural texture to come through, which is good. ¬†If I’m doing my makeup, I try to take this time to apply moisturizer and get my face makeup on while my bangs are still pulled back. ¬†Once my bangs are dry and styled, it’s hard to do my makeup without messing up my bangs.

Step 2: ¬†After my hair has had a little time to dry (think like, 60% dry), I’ll use a blowdryer to rough dry it the rest of the way. ¬†No brush required (except for the bangs, just a little bit)! ¬†I’ll flip my head upside down and all that, and just kind of go at it until it’s dry. ¬†You don’t want to lay a heat tool to it while it’s still damp at all, or you’ll basically boil your hair. ¬†After it’s dry, I spray some more heat protectant on it and let that settle for a minute.

Step 3: ¬†I wave my hair in three sections- bottom, middle, and top. ¬†I’ll use a clip to keep the upper sections of my hair out of the way as I go. ¬†Using the Hot Tools 1.25′ curling iron, I’ll take small chunks of hair (probably 1-inch sections) and wrap them around the iron. ¬†The key is to not use the clamp; just wrap the hair around the iron and hold it there for a couple seconds. ¬†When you wrap the hair, don’t wind it tightly around the iron; think more of a languid, ribbon-around-the-Maypole kind of wrap as opposed to tightly winding thread around a little spool. ¬†You want these waves to be loose and lazy. ¬†Also, I try to not wrap hair in the same direction every time. ¬†I try alternate between wrapping forwards and backwards, although if you wrap in all one direction I actually don’t think it turns out that bad. ¬†Another thing- I leave the ends out! ¬†That’s a big part of the beachy feel; don’t wrap about the last inch of hair around the iron.

Now, I suppose you could just use a curling rod for this whole process, but the results with a rod are almost a bit too precious from my experience.  The best rod I know of is the Sarah Potempa BeachWaver, but Hot Tools costs a fraction of the price and they yield the same results in my opinion.

Step 4: ¬†Time to apply texture product! ¬†As you curl each section from bottom to top (and by curl, I really mean wave), liberally mist a dry texture spray all over the waves you’ve created. ¬†I like Bumble and Bumble’s Thickening Dryspun Finish and Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray. ¬†Spray it into the roots and, as you go through each section, flip your head upside down and shake out your waves with your hands. ¬†Additionally, take another texturizing product that isn’t dry, like Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist, and apply it to the ends. ¬†I spray some of this into my hands (because it can be sticky) and scrunch it into the midlengths and ends. ¬†I love the effect of this particular product; it gives a piecey-ness to the look. ¬†You can also try a wet sea spray like Bumble and Bumble’s Surf Infusion like I did this time; it has moisturizing oils in it so it not only gives that beach effect to my ends but it also moisturizes them, which is nice after all the heat styling. ¬†And it has just enough sea salt in it to not be too drying.


A lot of people also like to add a mousse or some other volumizing product before they begin rough drying, but my personal experience has been that applying stylers after drying my hair is the most effective.  I get plenty of volume with a dry texture spray, but if you have success with a product applied to wet hair, by all means go for it.

The nice thing about this style is that it tends to hold up pretty well the next day.  You can always go back over sections with the curling iron again, too.  And dry texture spray also functions as a dry shampoo; that stuff is seriously the gift that keeps on giving and is by far my favorite hair innovation of the past five years.

Let me know if you try this or these products, and tag me in your pictures if you do!  xo, MR

“No Makeup” Makeup Is A Thing

Ah, yes. ¬†The whole “no makeup” farce. ¬†We roll our eyes at those with the #wokeuplikethis selfies, or the #nomakeup selfies, or #nofilter selfies, or whatever. ¬†We really just roll our eyes too much in general, but for the sake of this post …

Let’s discuss “no makeup” makeup. ¬†Yes, there is such a thing. ¬†One of the things that has frustrated me with the makeup conversation over the years is that makeup is all too frequently assumed to look like the obvious, the dramatic, all the time. ¬†Wearing or loving “makeup” all too often means you must wear full coverage foundation, lipstick, dramatic eyeshadow, and false lashes and all the like on a regular basis. ¬†When I’ve mentioned to new guy friends that I have a beauty blog, I’ve gotten a few perplexed looks because I’m not wearing a Nicki Minaj or Gwen Stefani-level face when I say it, and I rarely do wear this kind of makeup (though I love it when I get to). ¬†And if I really like makeup and enjoy writing about it, well, doesn’t that mean I should be wearing a full face all the time?

Nope.  Not necessarily.

What I frequently go for when I have some time is a “no makeup” makeup look. ¬†I love running errands or going to a friend’s house or the movies with this kind of makeup. ¬†Sometimes I’ll even choose it for something a little more special because no-makeup-makeup has a minimalist feel to it, and I like that. This is my favorite kind of look to create on others as well.


What this involves is some liquid or powder foundation, primer beneath that if I feel like it, some blush, some eyebrows, some concealer in any necessary areas, and probably lip balm and a touch of “my lips but better” lip color. ¬†The eyes are left completely bare (except for maybe some underage concealer). ¬†I know Jennifer Connelly’s look pictured above definitely features some eye makeup, but see how barely visible it is? ¬†It’s just a bit of sparkle and a little mascara, or maybe a couple individual false lashes. ¬†I love how modern it looks contrasted with that sheet of shiny, raven hair on her head. ¬†I personally never add to the eyes with no-makeup makeup, but perhaps I add a touch of highlighting if the foundation doesn’t give off enough of a glow on its own. ¬†My easiest formula for the look is this: even skin, flushed cheeks, good brows, and “your lips but better” lips.

No-makeup makeup also allows me to focus more on my skin. ¬†I can take my time with serums, oils, and moisturizers with less makeup to worry about, and this kind of care makes a beautiful canvas for foundation. ¬†I need to pay more attention to my skin these days anyhow because it’s starting to become very, very dry.

The weather here in Chicagoland has surprised me in that I did not expect it to be so drying to my skin. ¬†I was bracing for the freezing temperatures, didn’t bat an eye when the first snow arrived, and totally expected the thick, damp humidity during our first month here, but the dryness of winter? ¬†Wow. ¬†And it doesn’t just come from the weather. ¬†The dry, cold winds, coupled with the dry indoor heaters and the hot baths and showers I’ve made a habit of taking have left me dry as a bone. ¬†Therefore, I’ve had to consider an overhaul on my skincare and spend a lot more time focusing on moisture and masks before I even think about makeup.

Anyhow, here’s my own take on no-makeup makeup:


There’s no filter on this, so it is what it is. ¬†I know I took some time with my skin before taking this, using my favorite serum- Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum, along with a sample of May Coop Raw Sauce. ¬†Can you believe that name? ¬†Raw Sauce. ¬†It’s a Korean essence that contains a lot of maple tree sap; it’s meant to prep skin to receive and more effectively absorb other skincare products. ¬†It sounds really gimmicky but I truly felt a significant difference when I used it. ¬†When applied, it feels so cooling and almost tingly. ¬†I would wear my serum on top of it and my skin would feel cool and smooth to the touch all day. ¬†But the Raw Sauce is a little expensive- $43 – though the bottle is pretty huge and a little goes a long way. ¬†And I like the Caudalie serum better than Shiseido Ultimune, which I tried last year. ¬†I’m almost out of the Caudalie, and if I repurchase it will be my third bottle. ¬†I love it.

For the makeup, I think I actually used my BareMinerals Original SPF15 over some Hourglass Veil Mineral primer. ¬†I’m really trying to blast through that BareMinerals, though sometimes I forget how nice it can look with the right prep beforehand. ¬†The concealer I favor is Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat in 2.5 Vanilla for the undereye area, but I may have used NARS Creamy Radiance concealer in Custard here, too. ¬†The NARS is a little more powerful in my opinion for highlighting, but it’s also thicker which makes it not as great for the undereye area. ¬†You want the thinnest, creamiest formula for your undereye area; nothing thick or cakey which will age you and make you look tired.

For blush, I think I used Stila Convertible Color in Lillium. ¬†It’s a nice, basic pink cream blush that you can also use on your lips. ¬†I just tap (not rub!) it into the apples of my cheeks. ¬†I used my trusty CK One Color Brow Pencil + Gel Duo in Crafty Raven for my brows. ¬†If I go for bare makeup I really like to have my brows stand out, otherwise the look is kind of like an unframed picture. ¬†And I’m just wearing Burt’s Bees here, maybe with a touch of their Lip Crayon in Sedona Sands on top of the beeswax. ¬†I will not use any other lip balm than Burt’s Bees Beeswax. ¬†The peppermint oil in it is so relieving, and there’s no mineral oil in it so it actually works and I only need to apply it about twice a day. ¬†No “chapstick addiction” problem here.

It’s sort of surprising how much makeup is involved in no-makeup makeup, huh? ¬†The fact of the matter is, I did not wake up like this. ¬†I mean, I know I’m not wearing that much or anything terribly obvious, but I am wearing makeup and this did take a few minutes! ¬†So two things not to be fooled by- “makeup” doesn’t always mean a full face, but “no makeup” sometimes involves much more than you’d think. ¬†The trick is to stay honest, and just enjoy it either way! ¬†xo, MR

Image credit of Jennifer Connelly to Getty Images.

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.


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.


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.



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

Doing Makeup for Underprivileged Teens: Everything It Was, and Wasn’t

Alright alright alright. I haven’t written in a while. March has been hella crazy, but with all kinds of good things. And what’s more is that a lot of that busyness has been specifically due to my preoccupation with hair, makeup, etc. Splendid.

For instance, let’s just go over this past Saturday.

On Saturday, March 22, I had the opportunity to attend the Orangewood Foundation’s Belle of the Ball event. What’s this? This is a day of beauty, self-esteem, and empowerment for around 400 teenage girls, many of whom are in the foster care system and the majority of whom are socioeconomically disadvantaged. The event is specifically oriented towards their senior Prom. Each girl participates in various seminars on topics like body image and stress, and they are given a formal dress (of their choosing), a pair of formal shoes (of their choosing), a purse, and a makeup and skincare consultation.

Just take a guess as to where I come in.

Two of my coworkers (the cheer coach for our 1st grade cheer squad and our performing arts teacher … surprise) headed off to Orange Coast College in the early morning to get ready for makeup consultations on approximately four girls each. We were given t-shirts to wear, and were escorted to orientation in a nearby classroom. There, myself and a couple hundred more makeup artists were given the run-down on what our job was for that day: to provide affirmation, easy tips on makeup and skincare that could be used forever, and a natural, customized makeup look. No photos were permitted as many of the girls in the foster system are put at risk when their photo is shared online. Done deal.

And so then we all headed off to our separate rooms where they split us up into groups of thirty or so. That’s when we all began pulling out our kits. Ohhhhhhh mama. Not only do you get insane kit envy when looking around at a room full of different makeup artists’ junk, but it’s also so interesting to see what different artists find important and essential to have with them. Many were prepared with a full range of eyeshadow colors (we’re talking canary yellow and such), whereas I limited myself to a mere two eyeshadow palettes so as not to overwhelm myself with options. There was a wide array of the various products I have read about over and over spread out among the long tables that filled our rooms, and some artists had brought their huge palettes from their cosmetology schools as students, while others brought an amateurish mish-mash of items that they just knew would work (and that would be me). The chatter of makeup talk filled the room (and I’m not sure how many times I heard OH GIRRRL said that day), and eventually the girls were escorted in by rounds for the next four or five hours.


Just a smattering of the kits spread about the room, with parts of mine on the top right.

What was supposed to be just four girls at a rate of fifty minutes per girl eventually turned into what I believe was seven girls at a rate of about thirty minutes each. Now, let me tell you- that is fast. Very fast. I greeted each girl, chatted for a bit, gave them each a facial massage with sunscreen moisturizer after removing any traces of old makeup, matched foundation (and mixed a couple shades on the majority of the girls), and got to work on color. I relied on MAC’s Sheertone Shimmer blush in Plum Foolery, NARS’ blush in Exhibit A and Orgasm, Dior’s 5-Couleurs eyeshadow palette in Earth Reflection and Stila’s shadow trio in Baked Bronze, and a bunch of other stuff that I really can’t remember. Yep. Oh, and the foundations consisted of just three shades of CoverGirl TruMatch. That stuff’s good for drugstore range (and it’s also good to be able to refer the girls to less expensive brands). ¬†For skincare consultations, I stuck with two rules for the girls: wear sunscreen everyday, and be sure to take off all makeup before you hit the sack. ¬†Easy enough, but essential nonetheless.

I can’t really explain how great the whole experience was. I was so nervous before beginning because I was terrified that the girls would want a really difficult look, or wouldn’t give an easy smile, or that I wouldn’t be able to properly match their skin tone and then I’d look like an idiot (note: I have worked almost entirely on Caucasian girls. That’s just how it’s been. I fully admit that I just don’t know enough and have enough regular contact with non-white people. We were told in advance that the wide majority of the girls we’d be working with would be of Hispanic or non-white descent, and so I was excited and anxious to finally practice on non-pale skin. I’ve done enough pale. Soft neutrals, rosy cheeks, blah blah blah).

However, I’m pretty sure that a couple of the completed looks I worked out on about three of these girls ( and I was crushed that I couldn’t take pictures of a couple) was some of the best work I’ve ever done. One of the things this experience did for me personally was affirm my capabilities as a makeup artist. I know some of you may scoff at that, but up until this point I had really thought that I might just be a white girl’s makeup artist. I felt that, sure, I was competent enough, but possibly only up to a certain point. Give me a face that doesn’t look remotely like mine, and I’m screwed (and they are, too).

But nope! This day confirmed that I’ve done my work. I’ve done my studying of what works with what, and what rules are okay to stick with and which can be broken. I’m happy to say that all the girls looked great. My first girl would giggle literally every time I showed her the mirror after applying the next step to her face. We loved it. A couple girls had really never worn makeup before, and I think the whole thing was just a bit overwhelming for them and they couldn’t see past the fact that this stuff was on their face (which is understandable). I tried to just affirm that whatever they were feeling was perfectly okay, be it delight or discomfort. One girl insisted on not wearing any makeup but she asked more questions about it than any of the others! One girl took selfies for every step of the process. Another just sat quietly, and I found myself awkwardly chatting to fill the silence until I confessed to her, “You know, you don’t mind the quiet, do you? I think I keep talking because I want to be sure you’re okay and I’m a bit excited, but if you’re okay saying nothing, I am too.” She nodded and agreed, and I shut up and got to work.

My first four girls (because I’d only planned on doing four) got swag bags that I’d prepared with E.L.F. and Yes to Cucumbers products, and by mid-morning you could feel all the wonderful energy that was in the room. There was so much mutual blessing that was being exchanged between all of us and the girls, and I seriously can’t get over how genuinely giddy some of them were. It wasn’t cheesy and silly; it was real and it was deep. I had come to this event with this somewhat condescending idea that I was to be a FORCE OF TRANSFORMATION in these women’s lives, and yet at the end of our half hour some of them grabbed me and hugged me in a way that affirmed my deepest humanity, simply because it was one human genuinely and righteously loving another human. They were giving to me; they were transforming me.

That was one of the most incredible things I took away from all of this- the fact that that entire morning and noontime was an exercise in healthy, righteous, human touch. Upon the moment of meeting each of these girls, I shook their hand and immediately began touching their face. When does this happen?! We typically only touch someone’s face when we’ve earned their deep trust, or we too often think of touch immediately in an eroticway. However, in the case of my Belle of the Ball girls, physical touch was to be the very grounds of our relation with one another. Despite whatever experiences she’s had, and despite whatever ones I’ve had, here we go- the first and only thing I’m going to do is touch your face. I’m going to massage your face and observe the little details of it. I’m going to reach for that makeup brush behind you and I’m going to keep my hand firmly planted on your shoulder while I do it (as my intent was to always have a hand on the girls as a way of asserting my attention toward them) . I’m going to purposefully use physical touch to create beauty and impart affirmation unto you, and all in a way that is healthy and good. This wasn’t some patronizing matter of “giving back” or some meaningless “WELL YOU’RE PRETTY NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY” trope. No, this was a matter of two humans exchanging touch and affirmation in mutual blessing of one another. This was virtue and goodness; this was the kind of stuff that humanity was created for.


My fellow artists, colleagues, and friends, Jenae and Samantha.

And it was makeup that brought it all together! A shared joy over makeup, and a shared joy over, well, joy was what made this day what it was. We all finished about an hour late, but after clean-up and a couple good-byes exchanged with other artists, my coworkers and I left feeling fulfilled. Not fulfilled because we had just “done the right thing” or earned our charity points for the year, but because we had just shared an experience with other humans that upheld the most profound of truths: that we are made to be part of a loving community. We need each other. I needed those girls as much as they may have needed me in that moment.

So, that was my Saturday. ¬†And it was well spent to say the least. ¬†If you’re interested in getting involved with ¬†the Orange Foundation in any way, check out their site for opportunities at¬† ¬†Oh, and I can’t say that this will be the tangible outcome of any other volunteer work I do, but this was the swag we were all given after the event-

laura mercier

Holy what the WHAT.

xo, MR