Bachelorette Beauty-Palooza!

Ah, the Bachelorette.  The tears (“I can’t control my emotions right now!”), the destination dates (someone should’ve told Alex to take off that Argentinian gaucho hat), the scapegoats (seriously, Chad was one of the only sane guys there), the dudes who all look exactly the same and who are white, one hundred percent of the time, when it comes to the final four contestants of each season.

This current season featuring Joelle “JoJo” Fletcher is one out of just two Bachelor/Bachelorette seasons that I’ve watched in the past decade.  I think I watched a Bachelor season with a contender named Moana in it years and years ago in high school, so it barely counts.  And in 2014, when my curiosity was piqued once more, I finally decided to tune again only to bear witness to the ridiculousness that was Juan Pablo Galavis, a Bachelor who has largely gone on to be known as one of the most hated in the franchise.  I can’t tell you how many friends said to me, “Oh, yeah, this is a really bad season to start watching again.”

But what actually kept me watching the dreaded Juan Pablo season didn’t really have anything to do with him.  By the sixth episode I couldn’t have cared less who he chose, but you know what I did care about?  Sharleen Joynt’s eyebrows.  And Andi Dorfman’s ombre.  And Nikki Ferrell’s waves.  And Sharleen’s lipsticks.  Yes, I continued watching this dumpster fire of a season (at least, until the final two) for the amazing parade of positively sensational hair and makeup.  And during this current season, JoJo has been quite the parade float, too.

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I once read an article in a February 2014 edition of Allure magazine that spoke of how the women vying for the Bachelor’s heart have so much downtime, are so constantly bored (no Internet, no outside contact, no phones), and spend so much time together that the main chunk of their time ends up focused on doing one another’s hair and makeup.  I mean, can you blame them?  It’s likely that there are at least a few girls with skills in the house, there are no stylists (except for the final rose ceremony and first introductions, apparently), and with burdensome amounts of time on your hands and your main priority being attractive for one guy, you might as well keep that curling iron on at 400 degrees all day.

However, it’s different with the Bachelorette, who has an on-set makeup artist to help her with every big appearance.  And concerning JoJo, I’ve admittedly really liked her hair and makeup all season.  I do wish she would get a little more creative beyond the Victoria’s Secret mermaid waves she sticks to, but it sure never looks bad.

So, how exactly does one go about looking like a proper Bachelorette?  What does JoJo use?  And how about any tips from former Bachelor contestants?  You’ve gotta admit that the insane glamapalooza of the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise is quite riveting, and it all makes you want to try a little bit harder for your everyday rose ceremony … er … day at the office.

1. JoJo does the ever-popular “Hot Tools 1.25 inch curling rod + Oribe Dry Texture spray = pretty waves” routine with her hair.  This routine has been described so many times in the hundreds of magazines I’ve read (including on instyle.com, where JoJo was interviewed).  This is even what I typically do with my own hair when I want to really “do” it (though JoJo’s hair manages to look ten billion times more professional than mine). If you’re still looking for a tool and a product to give you the waves you’ve desired, this should all tell you something.  It works.

I think JoJo probably uses the clamp on the curling iron while I avoid it.  Whereas I like a more languid, who-cares look by wrapping sections of hair around the iron with your fingers, actually using the clamp will yield a slightly more polished feel.  I think JoJo probably does the latter.  However, a nice dose of Oribe’s Dry Texture Spray will always do a good job of breaking things up and keeping anything from looking too precious.  I can’t tell you how many celebs have mentioned this product in interviews: Blake Lively, Scarlett Johansson, Rihanna, Gigi Hadid, I could go on forever, baby!  And that’s to say nothing of the artists that use it (read: all of them).  I love the slight, tousled grit that this stuff gives your hair, with the addition of volume, a bit of oil absorption, and an amazing fragrance.  JoJo also uses a combo of Oribe shampoo and conditioner.

2. For Bachelor contestants, items or services that normally seem over-the-top for everyday life are non-negotiables for the show.  Imagine if you knew you were going to have no access to beauty services for at least a month or so, but you still had to look glamorous everyday.  Oh, and you’re going to be on camera.  Oh, and chances are you’re going to cry on camera, too.  What would you do?  Here are a few ideas: spray tans, eyelash extensions, Zoom whitening (with Crest WhiteStrips stocked up at the house), and Temptu airbrush makeup.  And I’m sure if this show had been around decades ago, they all would’ve been wearing chinstraps at night too.  Anything that’s going to have a long-lasting effect is a must.  Erica Rose, a season 9 contestant, mentioned eyelash extensions and airbrush makeup in an interview with with Allure magazine, and Courtney Robertson of season 16 and Catherine Giudici-Lowe mentioned WhiteStrips.  Additionally, JoJo mentions occasionally using clip-in extensions to help with volume, especially during rose ceremonies.

Interestingly enough, one thing many of the Bachelor contestants seem to avoid are acrylic or gel nails according to the aforementioned Allure article.  Sure, they last for a couple weeks or more, but if and when they chip, there’s nothing you can do about it.  Only professionals can manage such horrors, and since you can’t leave the mansion you’re stuck in, your nails are stuck too.

3.  JoJo’s routine for her makeup each day on the show was intense.  As in, four-full-paragraphs intense.  Like I said earlier, the Bachelorette gets to work with a makeup artist once a day- Gina Modica, who’s been a mainstay on the show.  Many of the following products used have been her go-to’s for multiple Bachelorettes, with minor variations on color products and the like.

According to an article for The Daily Mail, Modica starts JoJo’s routine with good skincare, including Glycelene’s Rejuvenation Cream, Beauty Serum, and Opalescent Eye Serum.  Another article tells us that JoJo layers Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster underneath her makeup for sun protection.  Modica, like many of the Bachelor contestants doing their own makeup, prefers using Temptu Air S/B Foundation for its long-wearing properties (and I can attest that this is a commonly requested product for bridal makeup), and she also uses the brand’s airbrush bronzer on JoJo.

According to an article on Flare.com, JoJo loves contour (shocker) and Modica uses NARS The Multiple in South Beach to achieve something subtle (and keep in mind that this is on top of bronzer). For highlighting, she used the ever-popular Becca x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Shimmering Skin Perfector Poured Creme in Champagne Pop in just a couple select places.  To set face makeup and to help with undereye circles, Modica cites Gorgeous Cosmetics Concealer in Medium (a brand I’d never heard of) and MAC’s Blot Powder in Medium Dark.  However, the Daily Mail article has Modica preferring Besame French Vanilla Brightening Powder for these purposes.  This was an interesting mention to me, as I usually see Besame cosmetics vetted by girls who fancy themselves as pinup, retro-ish types.  I’ve only ever seen Besame sold online or in vintage stores and I’ve never seen a non-victory-roll-wearing type of girl mention it, so it’s cool to see it used by a mainstream artist on a really mainstream show.  That means the stuff is legit and isn’t just loved for its cute, retro packaging.

For eyes, Modica credits Stila’s Stay All Day Brow Gel (and if it’s got any of the staying power of their liquid lipsticks, it works) and MAC’s Paint Pots in the Daily Mail article.  I can attest to the goodness of the Paint Pots; they make a great shadow primer or can be worn alone for something natural.  She also praises Chanel eyeliners and mascara in another article whose source I can’t remember.  To seal everything in (a priority, since we’re up against humid, tropical escapes and lots of tears here), Modica uses MakeUpForEver Aqua Seal Liquid Converter.  I wouldn’t even begin to know how this stuff works.

For lips, she recommends the following: Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro, Giorgio Armani Ecstasy Lacquer, Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick (which I actually think lacks great staying power), and MAC Velvetease Lip Pencils.  I’m surprised that none of the typical cement-lock liquid lipsticks were mentioned such as Stila’s Stay All Day or Kat Von D’s Everlasting for their all-day effect (though the Armani Ecstasy is supposed to be in that ballpark), but then again, shine on the lips is always more flattering, romantic, and camera-friendly than a matte finish.  I think we can also agree that matte liquid lipsticks just aren’t that comfortable, and they aren’t super kissable either.  And we can’t be having that since the priority here is making out on the daily with a harem of men.

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So to summarize, JoJo’s routine for the show each day was basically more than what I typically do for brides on their wedding day.  Totally real life, guys!

4.  It’s easy to find a lot of former contestants’ favorite beauty products because a LOT of them are now bloggers.  Pastels, lots of feminine typography, picture perfect families, the assumption that you most certainly will want to shop what they’re wearing- you know the drill.  And if they’re not a blogger, they’re building a decent following on Instagram and spilling a beauty detail or two there.

The following former Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants all have blogs now that feature multiple beauty posts: Jillian Harris, Ali Fedotowsky, Emily Maynard, Kaitlyn Bristowe, and Desiree Hartsock.  And this doesn’t include any of the lesser-known contestants that were let go of earlier in their seasons.  Longtime favorite and original Bachelorette Trista Rehn Sutter also has a website dedicated to her designs, her family, and a variety of other things beyond her own content.  Knowing what I like though, you can guess that I’m most excited about something like Emily’s all-time fave perfumes (V&R Flowerbomb, Kai, Tom Ford Black Orchid, etc) or Ali’s go-to foundation (Smashbox BB Water), even though I really know nothing about them and never even watched their seasons.

5.  I tried to replicate a similar look to JoJo’s more casual makeup, and here’s how it turned out.

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To some this may still look fairly natural, but trust me, I’m wearing a lot of makeup.  I’m wearing a really good mattifying toner as a base for my makeup (Sunday Riley’s Martian) and I went with heaviest hitter in the foundation department – Lancome’s Teint Idole Stick Foundation, buffed out with a BeautyBlender.  I kinda dorked around with everything else- Kat Von D’s Shade and Light Palette for brightening powder and contouring, bronzer on top of all that, a rosy blush by Becca, still more highlighting with a NARS cream shadow, and NARS Creamy Radiance concealer for the undereye area.

I actually don’t have any neutral cream shadows at the moment (something that may need fixing?), so I used some shimmering browns from my Dior Earth Reflections palette. I don’t see much color on JoJo’s lower lids for date days (though I could be totally wrong), so I refrained. However, I applied lots of topliner, lots of mascara, and false eyelashes. Eyebrows are filled in with a pomade and set with Glossier Boy Brow (which is actually my norm these days). Lips are just like JoJo’s – Too Face Melted in Chihuahua, with a little extra shimmery gloss on the center of each lip. I’m going to try and leave this on all day to see if it actually lasts the way Modica believes, but I honestly feel like I’m wearing five layers of frosting on my lips.  They seriously feel sweaty, and it’s gross.  Oh well.  It’s for science.  And yes there is a filter on this picture.  You don’t really want to see the results of me quickly trying to contour my face without a filter.

I wondered what was so off about my overall appearance compared to JoJo’s aside from the obvious “she looks like her, I look like me” factor, and then I realized- she’s very tan.  And I, even in the dead of summer here, I am very much not.  Here, a very tan, very glamorous JoJo similar to what we’d find at a rose ceremony.

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I’ve really enjoyed the platform for beauty that the Bachelor franchise has created.  I never can turn down a chance to explore the daily hair and makeup routines of women, but I will admit that the diversity of those women (and men) has largely remained an awkward point of conversation throughout the Bachelor’s existence.  Producers claim that the castings are based on the preferences of the season’s lead, and so if the lead states a preference for something like “tall, brunette guys with the personality of a banana” like we’re seeing this season, then apparently that’s the majority of what we’ll be seeing.

Still, I can’t help but think that it says something when we look at the fact that a nonwhite contestant has never made it to the final two (or even four, really?) on either show, and that a nonwhite person has only been cast once as the lead on either show (and who am I talking about, you ask?  Juan Pablo- he is Venezuelan).  In fact, two black men who tried out for The Bachelor attempted lawsuit with the claim that producers of the show bar people of color from ever receiving the primary roles, if even that.  The charges of racial discrimination were dismissed.

All this to say, race is just one of the issues that has plagued the phenomenon that is the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise, and I can honestly say that it’s one of the (many) factors that has kept me from being a true fan and consistent watcher.  When we’re down to the final four and I can scarcely … and I mean scarcely … tell the guys apart, I’m kinda over it.  So, we’ll see what happens with next seasons, but for now, I’ll just be enjoying the Bachelor’s history for its plethora of great lipstick and hair choices.  And as far as this season goes, I’ll guess I’ll root for the tall brunette guy.  xo, MR

Photo Credits: First picture to JoJo Fletcher’s Instagram – @joelle_fletcher; fourth picture to Lester Cohen/Getty

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Winter Makeup Inspiration

So, if you follow me in my various social media outlets, you know the SAG Awards were a relative disappointment to me.  I think my favorite dress honestly may have been Brie Larson’s thanks to its unexpected details, but beyond that, I was considerably underwhelmed.  Again.  However, what the SAG Awards were lacking in dresses, the month of January certainly made up for in awesome celebrity makeup.

This is the kind of makeup that I find so inspiring, mostly because it actually seems accessible and real and like something I could repeat on myself.  I love makeup that is still beautiful but doesn’t exist for the sake of itself, and doesn’t insist on completely transforming its subject.  Ironically, red carpet celebrity makeup is much less intimidating to me than anything like what I see on YouTube or Instagram with all the palettes and powders and contour creams, however fun that all may be.

So the following three looks are ones that had me gasping and reaching for my own makeup brushes this past month.  The subjects all happen to look extremely alike, so you’ll need to forgive me for my unintentional-but-glaringly-obvious lack of diversity in this post.  However, it is beautiful makeup nonetheless, and I think everyone can appreciate that.

Kristen Stewart at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival premiere of “Certain Women”

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K-Stew is my jam when it comes to a smokey eye.  She frequently wears a smokey eye and it seems to fit her supposedly moody disposition (though this smile would say otherwise), but I absolutely love the look and am always thinking of either her or Keira Knightley when trying to replicate it on myself.  Friends know this tends to be my go-to look when I really want to “do my makeup” – a smokey, smudged-out eye paired with little else, hence the nearly-bare lips.  Good stuff.  And just yesterday, Kristen was announced as the new face of Chanel cosmetics so I’m pretty sure we have a lot more smokey awesomeness coming down the pipeline.

Makeup artist Jamie Greenberg was responsible for this look, and you can check out her blog for the exact routine and products she used on Kristen (which are almost all Chanel, of course).  And what a fun surprise- Greenberg used Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon in Sedona Sands on her lips.  That little guy is sitting in my makeup bag at this very moment!  I knew that paired well with tons of eyeliner.

Alicia Vikander at the 2016 SAG Awards

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This is the kind of makeup we call “timeless”.  Makeup like this, on any skin tone, on any woman, for any occasion, will never not be beautiful.  Look like this at Prom, look like this on your wedding day, look like this at work – it will never be an issue.  I know it helps to have otherworldly skin like Vikander, but honestly, even if you have acne or some type of skin insecurity, the color features of this look will still work for you.  Yes, they will.  Why?  Because it sticks with the very best strategies for flattering anyone’s features- a rosy-ish lip that looks like it’s just come in from the cold, glittering eyes surrounded by an earth-toned shimmer, full, voluminous lashes, groomed eyebrows, and gently sun-kissed skin.  Even if you don’t have pristine skin (and I’m sure a bit of makeup was involved in giving that illusion, too), your features will still be nothing but enhanced with makeup like this.  You would just vary the choice of shades depending on your skintone.

Charlotte Tilbury created this look to complement Alicia’s stunning Louis Vuitton sequined gown.  The Australian edition of PopSugar did a full feature on the look here, complete with a run-down of every single product used.  Remember that the prices for the mentioned products are translated into Australian dollars, so they don’t cost quite that much stateside.

Natalie Portman at the New York City premiere of “Jane Got A Gun”

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Good ol’ Natalie Portman.  I think the first high-end product I ever purchased as a teen was Stila’s lipstick that they’d made just for her back in the day, appropriately named Natalie.  It was sheer, a berry color with purple-ish undertones from what I remember.  Of course it’s now discontinued and who knows what happened to mine, but I remember thinking as a fifteen-year-old girl that I would finally look like Padme once I got my hands on that lipstick.  Padme isn’t exactly the worst film character to look like, but her choices are pretty questionable and I’m not sure how much the lipstick actually helped my cause.  I managed to date someone similar in character to Anakin Skywalker, so I guess the goal was met?  Minus the whole awesome space opera part that made it actually worth it?

Fast forward some ten-odd years later and here’s Natalie again, still looking gorgeous as ever with a deep, crimson lip.  There’s something so fragile and feminine about Portman’s features that makes a dramatic lip stand out on her in ways that may not be the case with others.  I love her nearly porcelain skin here.  When I try to let my skin lose its color, I find it doesn’t give off a Snow White etherealness so much as it does a yellow-green Tales from the Crypt vibe.  It’s all about those undertones, man.  They’ll get ya.

As the face of Dior beauty, you can count on every product used here on Natalie to be Dior.  Lipstick Lifestyle did a great feature on the whole look recounting all of makeup artist Pati Dubroff’s steps.  I’m eyeing the eyeshadow and liner duo used that’s to be released as part of Dior’s spring makeup collection, but I’m certain it’ll be a little out of my reasonable price range (especially considering my lame empties challenge, which I guess I’m continuing with indefinitely).  I’ll just need to shop what I own.

And now I’m looking forward to seeing what beauty awesomeness (and hopefully gown awesomeness) the Oscars will hold for us.  Hopefully there’s some Leo awesomeness involved in that, too, because if there isn’t there will probably be some type of bear-attacking-you-in-nineteenth-century-Canadian-wilderness hell to pay.  xo, MR

Image credits (in order of appearance) to: Vanity Fair, Getty Images, Mike Coppola for Getty Images

My Grateful Bride, Kristin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Most Bubbly Bride Ever, Julia!

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

This is Julia.

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

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

Julia is also beautiful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you take makeup advice from a mermaid? I would.

So, every once in a while, I manage to get to know someone with an affinity for makeup similar to my own.  We both fawn over the perfect Dior palette, share similar frustrations with undereye concealer, and just manage to get excited over the same, dumb little things.  But don’t you dare tell us they’re dumb.

My friend Chelsea and I share a mutual lack of shame when it comes to how much we love makeup.  She, however, has had a lot more experience with it in her line of work considering that, for a good part of her life, Chelsea has been performing on the stage in all parts of the world.  And sometimes that has involved fins.  I’m not kidding.

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Yeah, we’re all jealous now.  I know.  At least we can all be jealous together.

Anyways, the other day Chelsea shared a new picture online (see below) and I was just stunned by her makeup.  I’ve known Chelsea to be quite capable at doing her own makeup because of her time doing shows and on the stage, but I had to be absolutely certain that this was her doing and so I asked.  And this was the initial response I got:

You want the honest truth? It’s funny… I HATE getting my make-up done. I never like it and I always feel like I’ve wasted my money. So my friend just got married and since every other bridesmaid and all of the moms were getting theirs done I thought… okay I’ll try it again.  Fail. I think I’m a make-up artist’s nightmare. Or dream? Considering I paid her full price and asked if I could do my own eyeliner, mascara, eyelashes, eyebrows, lips… and then ended up re-doing the foundation, blush, concealer, and touching up the eyeshadow (which was the only thing I liked) with my trusty DIOR palette.

Welp, taking over for your makeup artist didn’t seem to work out half-bad, Chels.  Especially considering the finished product turned out beautifully:

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I myself have sometimes gotten my makeup “done” only to doctor it up afterwards with my own touch.  I think we all do it, especially if you have particularities about what you like to see on your own face (such as the fact that I require at least five coats of mascara to scratch a certain itch in my brain).  So naturally, I then had to ask Chelsea exactly what she did for this full look.  I gave her the green light on giving me a play-by-play, down to every last detail.  She did not disappoint.  Got a special night out or a fancy occasion coming up?  Then keep reading.  What follows is basically my first guest post on The Bright Blush, and it’s brought to you by none other than Ariel herself:

Okay so I’ll give you the rundown. I used MakeUpForEver HD primer… but only for special occasions when I feel like I want to be professional. I actually don’t really wear primer or foundation often. I use BB cream on a daily basis. I found this awesome one by the brand KATE. It stays on for a long time (I even wore it on stage) and it’s not too runny or too thick. It took me a while to find a brand I liked. It also leaves a fresh dewy complexion, which is lovely.

For that specific day though, the make-up artist used airbrush foundation which I later covered up (errr…touched up) with Clinique Super Balanced make-up in cream beige.

Thanks to YOU if I’m wearing eyeshadow I always use the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer. I seriously never wore a primer before you told me about this and I am now obsessed. I ended up recommending it to everyone at work because it is just SO GOOD. It makes the eyeshadow pop and stay on forever. I like to also put it under my bottom lashes just on the outside half so I can use eyeshadow as a liner and it actually stays on. I find eyeshadow makes my eyes look bigger rather than eyeliner but that might just be me… unless you use eyeliner and smudge it a lot. Anyways…

For concealer I use Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat 2.5. IT IS AMAZING!! I only discovered it a few months ago and I am SUPER picky about under eye concealers. You’re talking to the girl who is endlessly on the hunt for a great moisturizing concealer that has good (but not thick) coverage and also one that doesn’t crease or rub off or get flaky or dry up or needs to be re-applied every hour etc etc etc. I buy a million and then never use them because they aren’t ‘just right’. I think I have given away more concealers and mascaras than I can afford. This one is a bit pricey but I feel like under your eyes it’s one area we shouldn’t skimp on. Prevention people! I learned the best way for me to use concealer is actually just below my dark circle and then I gently pat it with my finger to blend it up. I know everyone always says to use powder to hold it in place but I never do. I feel like it makes me look tired for some reason. Which is also why I’m always looking for a good under eye concealer that does everything.

The make-up artist showed me how to use Smashbox Photo Op Under Eye Brightener as well. I don’t own this product but it was really beautiful so I might have to look into that. She used it to highlight under my eyes and I have to say I was a fan. Dab on to the upper cheek bone area under your eyes and it really brightens up your face.

Eyeshadow- The make-up artist was using the Urban Decay Naked Palette (I don’t know if it was 1 or 2 and some other one that I didn’t see the name of). I later went over top with my DIOR palette in ROSY TAN to make the colours pop and added a shimmer highlight to the inner corners of my eyes. I always highlight right under my eyebrow (on the outer half only) and on the inside corners. I use a medium color on my lid and then use something really dark on the outer crease and blend it up. I also use that dark color under my eyes on the outside half. Pretty typical application and it looks really great on stage too. I think I have to find a balance between stage make-up and regular day make-up. I am so used to seeing myself in heavy amounts of eyeshadow everyday that I just get used to it and think it’s okay for regular life. Hopefully it doesn’t look too drag-queen. And if it does…. I’m still guna work it because I like it and it makes my eyes look big.

I don’t like to wear eyeliner but when you wear false lashes you need a little. I make a very thin line on the upper lash line using ‘Two Faced Perfect Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner in Perfect Black’. I also put a small line over the eyeshadow under my bottom lashes but only on the very outside. Not drawing a line underneath. (Am I being to picky now?)

Mascara- ALWAYS and only.. old school CoverGirl Super Thick Lash in very black. (The skinny red tube) Lots of layers. Just keep loading it on, haha! Sometimes I do another layer of CoverGirl LashBlast Volume (the thick orange tube) if I want it even more intense. I have tried so many mascaras because I’m a sucker for new bright colors and believe the lies that they will make my lashes amazing. But this one always wins and again I have wasted money because I just throw them in the bag with my 239586 unacceptable concealers.

And now for false eyelashes: My eyes hate them. I have tried so many brands. Thick, thin, long, short…because of my job I need to wear something. But literally every time I wear a strip of false lashes my eyes get heavy and watery and I look tired. So I started using Individual lashes by ARDELL (Flare Short Black). WINNER!!! I could wear them everyday if I wanted. Josh thinks fake eyelashes are disgusting and make him want to gag… little did he know I was wearing them all the time. HA!! Now the secret is out because the videographer at our wedding filmed me putting them on while saying.. ‘Surprise hunnie… they aren’t real’. At least they don’t make him want to gag. I use tweezers to put them on and focus on the outer half. It really doesn’t take that long and you can also use it to fill in gaps in your lashes if you have any.

Eyebrows- I am a brow girl. I literally look like a different person if I don’t fill in my eyebrows. I use CoverGirl professional natural lash mascara (clear) to tame those suckers down. And then I use a brush and my dark brown eyeshadow (Which I may or may not have taken from Disney..shhh) La Femme Hollywood in Dark Brown.

I only use a light brush of powder between my eyebrows and on my nose. I do not like a shiny nose. T-zone control is important. I use MAC Select Sheer Pressed NC25.

Bronzer- Again thanks to your recommendation I am a die hard fan of NARS Bronzer in Laguna. It’s perfection and doesn’t give me pimples.

Blush- I may or may not have also taken this one from Disney….. haha it’s ‘La Femme HOLLYWOOD’ in Lilac Champagne. It is VERY pink but I literally dust the tiniest amount on only the apples of my cheeks (Yes while smiling). And its wonderful.

My trick for everyday lips is my Wal-Mart no name brand ‘Ariel’ (yes, like Little Mermaid… you can also get Cinderella) lip chap and then lip liner. I’m not kidding. I get so many compliments on it and I just want to laugh because it’s a dollar.. and probably made for 5 year olds. When I don’t have that I use Carmex and lipliner.

For this certain occasion I used my Ben Nye Rum Raisin lipliner (Thanks Disney) and I wanted really bright lips to match her bridesmaid flowers so I used Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fuchsia Fusion. It’s not super long lasting but I don’t mind reapplying. For me it’s really all about the liner because my lip line is not very defined.

One more product that I love to use for beautiful glowing skin, especially in a strapless dress, is St. Tropez Skin Illuminator. It’s a shimmery lotion that gives you a beautiful glow and defines your arms and neck/chest. Apparently Jennifer Aniston uses it so I had to give it a go. Turns out she knows what she’s doing. If you don’t want it to be too shimmery just mix it with a regular body lotion.

I think that’s it… Sorry if I rambled on and on. It’s very long. Oops.

And there you have it.  Let me tell you, I LOVE a girl that can talk makeup like it’s nobody’s business.  Music to my ears.  Chelsea may live far away (as she’s been a performer in Hong Kong and continues to live there), but let’s face it- there’s nothing like a heavenly makeup job to bring folks together, though they may live oceans apart.  Come visit soon, Chelsea!  xo, MR

My beautiful bride Michelle … or, my bride that looked like Ariel.

Michelle (or Meesh, as I’ve known her for a few years now) has probably one of the greatest senses of humor you’ll ever encounter.  I’ve loved and known Meesh since high school, and the first thing I can remember doing around her is laughing.  Trust me- there’s nothing like finding a friend who can belt Duran Duran’s Rio at the top of your lungs together with you in high school, and my relationship with her has remained relatively similar all this time.  Meesh is resourceful and creative as a friend, and cheerful and outgoing in her nature.  It was a blessing to have her stand with me as a witness to my own wedding vows, and it was an honor to be there for hers.  But what concerns me here the most, of course, is the pleasure I had in doing her bridal makeup!

Meesh has some awesome facial features that I was so excited to highlight for her wedding.  She has huge blue eyes, adorable cheeks, and beautiful princess hair.  Meesh requested that we use a very bright blush I own for her day- NARS’ Exhibit A, which actually is the product that served as the inspiration for this blog’s title!  This blush was perfect for complementing Meesh’s beaming expression that she carried with her all day.  For her eyes, I used an ultra-flattering Chanel shadow in Taupe Grise’ and a MAC shadow in Embark for deeper contouring.  I applied some gel liner (Bobbi Brown‘s, of course) to her upper lids and on her inner-lower lids, and then applied some awesome false lashes (which Meesh is a huge fan of on a regular basis).  For lips, we kept it simple and I applied a basic, clear gloss from Chanel in Plaisir.  The right shade of Bare Minerals also perfected her overall complexion- I swear by that stuff for life, there’s no greater product that I’ve found for any skin type or tone.  You can trust it for your wedding day, without a doubt.

 Top it off with some MakeUpForEver HD Finishing powder (as I’ve used on every bride), and we’re good to go!  She looked like Ariel!  Stunning!!

Meesh and Justin’s wedding day was in August, and I’ll always remember it as one of the hottest days in which we’ve had to remain somewhat pretty throughout its entirety.  After dancing, sweating, and running around through all the excitement that weddings bring, I have to say that Meesh held up like a champ!  Her hair, her makeup, everything- it all hung in there, and I was really worried about the stability of  my makeup under such heat.  In fact, I’d say we all did pretty well!

Whitney, my April bride, was a bridesmaid for Meesh as well!  I kind of “coached” her in applying her own makeup so that I could keep my hands free for the bride, and Whit did a beautiful job on her own.  She’s really been picking it up!

I so appreciated Meesh’s thankfulness for my work.  She posted my very first review on weddingwire.com for me, and she made it so clear to me how beautiful she felt on that day.  Nothing could bless me more as an artist, and I could not agree more with how truly, truly beautiful she was and is!  xo, MR

All photography is credited to Amanda Doublin.  For more of her work and a full post on Meesh and Justin’s day, check her out at http://www.amandadoublin.com

Bridal anti-makeup

Megan is one of those women that makes you take a good, hard look at yourself and ask ‘How can I give more? How do I need to change? I want to be more like her.’ She has an iron will and a heart of compassion, and, no joke … she teaches underprivileged sixth-graders at a charter school in Watts. I have an education in, well, education, and I can say with all certainty that that is tough. And I’m not even referring to the kids (because they will be a challenge in any classroom anywhere), but the system that teachers are up against these days in California can be brutal and discouraging. I love Megan for her ability to endure and for her uncompromising integrity in the face of adversity.

For her wedding, Megan didn’t have a particular plan for her face because makeup isn’t really one of her things. And not that it mattered- she goes without it pretty much everyday and manages to always look naturally beautiful. You just don’t picture Megan with a lot of makeup on when you think of her, and so her bridesmaids and I concluded that the ‘less is more’ approach would make the most sense for her. And boy did it work out. Using a bronze-y, metallic palette for her green eyes, a little peachy-pink blush combined with bronzer for cheeks, a warm lip color, and my go-to MakeupForever HD foundation and finishing powder, and voila!… it’s all she needed. I like to think of it as an “anti-makeup” approach to bridal makeup … all I was going for was enhancement of Megan’s natural features. Anything too out of the ordinary for her would’ve just been so … not her.

And seriously, who needs makeup with that hair? xo, MR

All photography is credited to Jen Disney Photography. For more of Jen’s work, check out her talents at http://www.jendisney.com .

Here comes my (first) bride!

Whitney has been a friend of mine since late high school, and one my very closest at that. She was a bridesmaid in my own wedding last year and there was never a question that I’d be a bridesmaid for her. When I think of Whitney, the words ‘loyalty’ and ‘dedication’ immediately come to mind. She’s worked herself to the grindstone the past couple years pursuing (and achieving!) the goal of a nursing career, a journey which brought her to the brink of insanity. But when Whitney sees capability and calling within herself or others, there’s just no stopping her. She’ll work night and day to push herself, and she values the qualities of commitment and hard work in others too.

It’s for these reasons that Whitney’s been the one friend that has pestered me the most to advertise my talents. I’m pretty wishy-washy on things like these, but not long after her engagement, Whitney asked me to do her makeup for her big day. Now, I’d never put myself to the bridal test before (unless you count my own wedding … I did my own makeup for the most part … more on that later), so I was still nervous at the idea. What was so cool, however, was that Whitney just had such complete confidence in me. She made me feel like a professional, and in turn I felt like one. We had a couple practice sessions, and by the bachelorette weekend we’d hit the spot. On the day of, I really couldn’t have been more proud of my work. As a whole picture, I’d never seen her look more beautiful. I was floored.

I honestly felt like a champ after this wedding. I was encouraged, and I felt inspired to try for more. Since then (and this was in April, by the way), I’ve done a couple faces for Prom, some general practice on friends, two more brides (one of which seals the deal this weekend!), and countless applications on myself. I’d also done the makeup for a couple photography sessions earlier in the year. I aim to push myself this next year with the hopes of making just a couple more brides as happy as my Whitney! xo, MR

All photography is credited to Mike Lewis Photography. For more of his work and the full spread on Whitney Norrbom’s wedding, check out his blog at http://www.needpictures.com/blog/