Makeup For A Night Out- My Friend Meg

It’s been way too long since I’ve done someone’s makeup for a special occasion; my last real client was before our move out here!  The only thing that’s come close is when I had the pleasure of doing a trial run for a beautiful girl attending her senior prom here in Illinois, but her plans fell through at the last minute.  So, since July of last year, it’s really just been me tending to my own face (which begets way too many selfies, let me tell ya).

So you can imagine my excitement when my friend Meg, whom I’d gotten to know through church, asked me to help her with both makeup and hair!  I admit I was a little nervous because it had been so long, but I was too excited to work with someone again to let the nerves bother me.  Meg was attending a benefit event for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and the cocktail attire dress code provided the perfect excuse to play around.

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I prepped Meg’s skin with Glossier’s Super Bounce serum, which perhaps turned out to be her favorite product we used that day.  Luckily, even though I’d brought my own kit with me, Meg had an amazing arsenal of her own with plenty of great stuff to choose from.  We primed her skin with Laura Mercier Radiance Foundation Primer, and then I used a Beauty Blender to evenly apply Bobbi Brown’s Skin Foundation Stick in Beige all over.  After a dusting of BareMineral Original Foundation in Light to set it, I used Meg’s two Cle de Peau concealers to the undereye area as well as around the nose and lips.  If I can name one area on the face that always gets overlooked when it comes to concealer, it’s the nose area.  The skin around your nostrils and at the bottom of your nose almost always suffers from discoloration; a good concealer on these spots has a real lifting and brightening effect.  To set the undereye concealer, I used Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder.

For Meg’s eyes, I stuck with some of my most trusted friends- MAC eyeshadows in Shroom and Cork, and my Dior 5-Couleurs Eyeshadow palette in Earth Reflection.  I used the two brown shades in the Dior palette, along with the pearly-white one for the brow bone and inner corners of the eyes.  The hardest part of makeup for me, to this very day, is properly blending multiple eyeshadows.  I really try to get a look at the eyes from all angles and in both natural and artificial light; I tried to take my time getting this just right because unblended eyeshadow is truly painful to behold (and here’s a tip- shimmery shadows are much more forgiving than matte ones when it comes to blending).  I lined Meg’s eyes with my BFF- Christian Siriano for Victoria’s Secret eyeshadow in Royal- and I don’t know what I’ll do when it finally runs out because I’ve yet to find anything quite like it.  For lashes, we used multiple layers of Meg’s Bobbi Brown Eye Opening Mascara.

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I did a bit of contouring with Kat Von D’s Shade and Light Palette, and used Chanel’s blush in In Love for cheeks.  I added a bit of highlighting using MAC’s Mineralize SkinFinish on the top of the cheekbones, and a touch of a pearly NARS cream shadow to the cupid’s bow.

Finally, for lips, Meg prepped them with MAC’s Prep + Prime.  We then used Laura Mercier’s lipliner in Natural Lips topped with NARS Velvet Satin Lip Pencil in Bahama- this is the perfect dusty brick-rose with just enough color to be a “statement lip” without needing to be fire-engine red or something.  We had her pack a clear gloss with her along with the pencils, just for extra moisture.  To set everything and give the whole look a diffused effect, I dusted Meg’s face all over with Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light.

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As for hair, I’d known for a while that I basically wanted to take inspiration from Ahn Co Tran and go for waves with lived-in texture.  This is my favorite look, and frankly, it’s one that I know I can replicate fairly well on others.  Meg has a midlength bob so I knew this texture would be perfect for her cut.

I used my tried-and-true technique of wrapping one-inch sections of hair around a 1.25-inch curling iron, without using the clamp and always leaving the ends out.  If you try this, try to wrap sections loosely so you don’t get a wave or curl that is too tight.  As I progressed through her hair (and I did it in three layers, working from the bottom up), I’d separate any waves that were too big or tight and finish with a generous mist of Bumble and Bumble’s Dryspun Texture Finish- better than Oribe!  I also sprayed Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist into my hands and worked it into Meg’s hair, too; the Texture Mist provides bouncy hold and sort of acts like a spray-gel, but better.

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I kept laughing because Meg kept saying how I understand “the bend”- no one wants their hair truly curled these days, we all just want it to have that awesome “bend” that looks chic and lived in!  It’s the best!

One adorable Majè jumpsuit later and Meg was ready!

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I had such an awesome time playing around with this sweet mama- she looked amazing and I was so happy with how much she enjoyed the whole process!  I can tell you that it’s so much more fun with the client is interested and curious about what you’re doing, from the skin prep to the final touches.  And I was truly happy to finally lend someone a beautifying hand on the North Shore- it’s about time!  xo, MR

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Short and Back Again: A Hair Addict’s Tale

And if you don’t get the Tolkien reference in the title, I can’t help you with life.

If you have known me personally, you have known that I have been on nothing short of a hair quest, a hair saga, a hair journey to the Misty Mountains and back again, since about 2010.  It has been bizarre, to say the least.  I have reached the heights of beach waved, ombre’d glory, only to somehow look in the mirror on some depressed afternoon a month later and not like what I see.  For no good reason.

That’s what’s been bizarre about it.  I’ve been chasing down something with my hair for years, and yet when I look back at pictures from just two months prior I think Good God, Lemon!  Why did you ever complain?!  And yet, there’s still that hair moment that I haven’t landed on.  And it’s strange because I truly feel that I’ve had so many great hair moments!  I don’t know what I’m waiting for.  Maybe the cause is ungratefulness.  Maybe it’s comparison.  Maybe the dissatisfaction comes from an itch for change that doesn’t actually need to be scratched.  I think if I could sum up my hair chronicles in a song it would probably be U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.  It’s been DRAMA, guys.  I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls …

But anyhow, Bono and I digress.

So let me just recount my hair journey from the past six months.  That’s it.  And that’s probably all you can handle; you would hate me otherwise.  I can go on and on about my own hair chronicles.  Trust me- my friends know it.  It’s one of my more narcissistic habits that I’m ashamed of until I get started (and then I can’t stop).  But then again, I could go on and on about your hair too, probably.  Man, I reeeeally wanna braid someone’s hair right now.

In January of 2015, I had long, brown hair.  I would put it in ponytails.  I would curl it.  I would put it up in topknots.  I will never again complain about long hair simply for the fact that you can do so much with it.  I miss sleek, long ponytails that feel very fashion forward.  I miss pretending to be a Victoria’s Secret model (a nice little game to play with yourself).  But as is common, I had an itch for change.  Pinterest, friends’ haircuts, and trends will do that to you.  And sure enough, in either late January, Justin Kamm cut my hair into a lob and lightened it up as well.  I keep trying to make a permanent mental note that I ultimately don’t feel like myself with completely dark hair, but about every 16 months or so, I forget and then return to my senses a few months later.  It’s not that I hate it or think it’s a bad look; I just think the lighter bits are more flattering.

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But then, on Friday, April 3rd, I decided to go for the most drastic haircut I’ve ever had.  By that point I’d known for about one month that we would be moving to Chicagoland, and something in me just needed to go for it.  I had always wished that I could see what my hair would look like short, but fear always kept me from making the chop.  I’d been comfortable and at ease with my long-ish hair that I’d had all my life, but I sort of came to the realization that it’s just hair (and not my identity), and it can grow back.  Moreover, I felt that if I can make the push out to the Midwest, I can also make the push to cut my hair.  It was time to face the unknown.

And so, once again, Justin worked his magic.

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The cut was a bit of a shock for me.  I was in foreign territory.  I know it’s not the shortest cut you’ve ever seen (obvi), but it’s a funny thing when you suddenly become conscious of just how much you’ve been hiding behind your hair your whole life.  When you feel that breeze on your bare neck and reach back only to find nothing to sweep over your shoulder, you feel vulnerable and exposed.  It’s just your face sticking out there!  No long princess curls or beachy waves to toss around and taut as your pride and joy; no feeling of safety that Oh, I don’t feel confident about my face today, but at least I’ve got my long hair.  Nope.  And even while the cut may be a lovely expression in itself, when people look at you, they’re really not seeing all your hair like before (or at least that’s how we tend to perceive these things on ourselves).  There’s some hair, but what the eye now sees from the clavicle and up is pretty much just your face.

And with that, I found that when you cut your hair short, you really have to own it.  Like, you have to own the crap out of short hair.  You have to own it like it’s your job and like it’s the best haircut people have ever seen, even on days when you’re feeling unsure and you actually have no idea what other people are thinking.  You have to be intentional about it and go with it when it’s messy and when it’s styled.  In the weeks following the cut, there were moments when I felt so cool and so French in a way I’d never felt with long hair.  And then there were days when I sensed people were trying to backhandedly tell me that my hair was the most unprofessional, unkempt mess they’d ever seen.  And you know what happens when you own it both days, either way?  You love it.  You really, really love it.

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Once the cut started growing out a bit, it really hit the sweet spot. It gained a little more bounce and I started finding my own way around it.  With short hair you discover that just the smallest changes make a big impact- tucking it behind the ear on one side, a change in part, flipping it all the way over the opposite side a’ la Riawna Capri and all the bajillions of LA-based platinum blonde mid-lengthers that she inspired with Julianne Hough (and yes, if you’re from LA and you’ve gone white-platinum mid-length and flipped your hair to one side, you can thank Riawna Capri for that – not kidding).

But sure as the sun rises, I came to find that the longer my hair grew, the more excited I would get about styling it.  I think I just love the process of growing it out and playing with it.  Even in writing this, I’m coming to find that when it comes to hair I sort of live for the journey.  In most things, I actually do try to live for the destination as I believe that a journey doesn’t amount to much without a meaningful endpoint, but with hair, I’m different.  With hair, it’s all about the cliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimb.

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However, with the impending move, I knew that I’d need to stop by Salon 9 one final time for updated color.  I wanted to add more blonde, and in preparation for growing it out long I also wanted to even out the a-line so the back wasn’t too much shorter than the front.  And with that …

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Blonder, a little more even, and ready to grow through autumn.  I loved the texture of this cut and I can only hope that it isn’t lost in the growth or by some poor hair stylist who gives me a trim out here and hacks it into oblivion.  That being said, I do have a couple helpers that have been upping my texture and styling game lately.

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I’ve been using Bumble and bumble’s Thickening DrySpun Finish for a long time now.  It does basically the same thing as Oribe’s Dry Texture but costs half the price.  The scent is amazing (and I know, Oribe’s is amazing too) and it works as a hybrid of dry shampoo, hair spray, and volumizer.  I love it.  Their Don’t Blow It creme is pretty good for me these days, too.  It apparently doesn’t work well on hair that’s already curly or frizzy, but it’s pretty good for my natural texture.  A little scrunching helps, and my natural wave is enhanced without the frizz (or ANY effort).  And the R&Co Jackpot styling creme is what I use for smooth looks right now.  I bought this half-used bottle from a hairstylist at Salon 9 for five bucks.  I use it on blowouts or when I’m sleeking back my hair, but it’s also good for men’s styles.  Just be careful- the scent is nice but powerful, and too much can be a bit overwhelming.  I also continue to use Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist, but you’ve heard me blab about that on here before.

I’m excited to continue my growth process and see where the road leads me, but for now, I’m trying to enjoy my just-above-shoulder length.  Cheers to enjoying what you have!  xo, MR

Four Easy Change-Ups. Or, How Not To Be Bored With Your Look.

When I know I’ve got a night out coming up (which in my case, is more like just going to a movie), I try to plan for at least two hours of time to get ready.  Why such an unreasonably long amount of time, you ask?  Well, I want to the time to go through the slow, slooooow process.  I want to turn on some I Love Lucy, I want to perhaps have some coffee in front of me, I want to think about my hair (which will probably end up in waves, but hey, it still takes time), I want to think about my makeup, and I ultimately want to think about it all in conjunction with my outfit, which is the hardest part.  Pulling an outfit together that I’m truly satisfied with is tough as getting a two-year-old completely happy with the toy in front of him.  So combine all of these factors together, and you can see why I want a maximum amount of time.  I want to be able to take as long as I need making decisions about whether I’m wearing my leather leggings or jeans, heavy eyeliner or an eyeshadow-based look, if I’m going straight or wavy with my hair.  The decision-making is the longest part of the process.

So, when it comes down to that decision-making, what are some options that I can have up my sleeve that won’t involve the same stuff I always do?  Or at least, just some quick ways to spice things up?  Here, four of my favorite quick strategies for putting a twist on your typical look:

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1)  Instead of using brown or black, use a colored eye pencil to create a new version of a smokey eye.  Start by mattifying your eyelid with a primer like BareMinerals 5-in-1 BB Advanced Performance Cream Eyeshadow.  Then use a colored eye pencil to draw a thick, thick line across your upper lid, and do the same on your lower lid though not quite as thick.  Fill in your whole upper lid using the pencil.  Next, use either a swab or a rubber tip (many eyeliners come with them attached) to smudge out the liner.  Smudge it up into the crease and out toward the end of your eyebrow.  Smudge the bottom lid as well, and finish with tons of mascara.  I personally love Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Vice; a sparkly, bright purple from this incredible range of colors.

2)  Pick a new shade of blush.  Find yourself gravitating toward the same blushes all time time?  Maybe you always do pinks, or you stick with corals, or perhaps you only ever wear bronzer.  I challenge you to try something completely different.  It’s surprising how much it can change the character of your makeup.  Go for a shade of plum, or something bright and shocking like NARS’ Exhibit A.  I’ve been loving MAC’s Mineralize Blush in Warm Soul as a different take on something both coral and bronzey.

3)  Up your brow game.  Thanks to Cara Delevigne and a slew of models following in her wake, bold brows have become the crowning glory of a full makeup look.  Heck, I would even say that nowadays you can get away with just filling in your brows and leaving the rest of the canvas blank.  Do the tiniest bit of necessary plucking, and use either a pencil or gel to fill in and even out the whole brow.  Use a wax or a gel to set them as well, and brushing the brows upward these days is a super fashion-forward look.  Full, well-groomed brows do so much to frame your face; I would challenge you to even try just taking care of your brows and leaving the rest to speak for itself.  It’s very French (and very easy).  I love using CK One’s Brow Pencil and Gel Duo in Crafty Raven on my own set.

4)  Instead of focusing on shine, try a mattified texture with your hair.  It’s easy to fall into the same routine of slathering on a frizz-fighting serum and using a paddle brush to try and create pristine shine with your hair.  However, there’s an arsenal of products out there these days that will lend a volumized, second-day, beachy texture to your hair that has its own kind of modern, rebel appeal as opposed to polished, ladylike shine.  IThey also make better use of your own texture! love Bumble and Bumble’s Thickening Dryspun Finish and Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist.  You can rub a bit of the latter in while your hair air-dries, or you can scrunch it into your hair afterward.  The Bumble product does best on second-day hair or after you’ve blown it out to add rough dimension and volume.

Let me know what you’ve tried for a quick and easy change-up when you’re ready to step out.  Getting ready for a night out (or what usually looks more like a barbecue and some It’s Always Sunny’s in a friend’s backyard) has already become a rarity for me; using my creativity to the best of my abilities shouldn’t be.

Oh!  And I realized that I haven’t followed up on my last post!  I present, what I decided to do with my hair-

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You guys!  I look just like her!  Oh just kidding.  But this was one of my favorite covers in a long time, and I submit this as my tribute to one of my favorite actresses, Jennifer Connelly.  My color genius, Justin Kamm, helped me choose a warm, rich brown shade while weaving in a few lighter, almost auburn-flecked highlights (which I confidently declared as “toffee”) to add some dimension.  It will probably lighten up a bit over time, but I’m loving the change.  I feel like I need a bit more makeup with darker hair, but I can’t say I have a huge problem with that.  xo, MR