Brow Game Strong

Back in high school, I noticed this one girl, who had always been very pretty, suddenly beginning to look much more adult than the rest of us.  I couldn’t put my finger on what had happened.  And it wasn’t anything owed to physical development of the body; it was something different about her face.  Her hair was perhaps getting lighter, but that just didn’t account for all of it.  It was something in the expressiveness of her face that had suddenly become more mature and couldn’t be found on my own face.

I remember when I realized that it was the fact that she was now penciling in and defining her eyebrows that had caused this noticeable change.  When I think about it, she didn’t really have standout eyebrows before (light blonde), and now they were squared off with a very angular arch, colored in with a chestnut-blonde pencil that was a couple shades darker than her hair color.  It gave a very harsh effect in hindsight that I would never attempt to repeat, but I think that was the first time when I realized how powerful eyebrows can be.  They are very easy to ignore, but it is truly amazing how much of a beautiful impact they can have on your look when you pay just a little attention to them (or, well, the right kind of attention I guess).

My mom began urging me to leave me own eyebrows alone around the same time I noticed this other girl’s.  At that point, the trend was still to pluck them nearly out of existence and/or replace them with dark, harsh pencil lines, and it had been so all through the preceding decade.  Natural brows circa 2003 were considered sort of weird.  If you manage to find a picture of the Spice Girls, Drew Barrymore back in her younger years, and even Angelina Jolie around the same time, you’ll see that eyebrows were not recognized as the crowning glory of the face as many now see them.  Women like Brooke Shields and Jennifer Connelly (who I am eternally and forever obsessed with) were considered sort of fringe-y and almost avant-garde for letting their brows remain strong and full (and not always in the best way).  I remember my mom referencing Brooke Shields when encouraging me to leave my eyebrows alone, and though I didn’t yet have a grid for “different” being a good thing at that point, I listened to her.  I thought maybe my eyebrows could be something special.

I probably did not pluck a single hair from my brows (save for the little rogues that tried to make their way out into No Man’s Land) until I was 22 or 23.  At that point I began seeing the benefits of plucking one or two hairs that had come down just a tad too far; this defined the shape of my brow and prevented them from becoming a chaotic mess.  I also began using my first product to fill them in a bit more and brush them into place- Anastasia’s Tinted Brow Gel in Espresso.  I used this on my wedding day.  I hadn’t thought of really paying much attention to enhance my eyebrows before all this.

And then it happened- Cara Delevingne happened.  One model, over the course of perhaps just one year, exploded within the fashion world and seemed to singlehandedly make full, bold brows cool again.  Brushing them up, and yes, making them darker but without sacrificing their texture (as in you want the hairs to be visible and not colored over) became acceptable rules to play by.  And suddenly, everyone who had ever plucked their brows to death in the 90’s and 2000’s was at a disadvantage.  I, however, rejoiced!  And seemingly overnight, bold, statement-making brows were everywhere in the celebrity world- Camilla Belle, Lilly Collins, Keira Knightley, Diane Kruger, Megan Fox, and a million more.  Finally- a beauty trend that I really, really felt like I could relate to, and one that didn’t demand alterations of what was natural.  And it was finally okay to look like Joan Crawford again.

So what do I currently use?  If a wily hair ever manages to make itself just a bit too present, I reach for my Tweeezerman tweezers (and they are truly the most precise) and yank that sucker outta my life.  But not too much!  I limit myself to probably three choice hairs that don’t belong.  If I start hunting for more than that, I fear that things may get out of hand.  So in short- extremely limited plucking, like maybe once every 1-2 months.  I like how brows can almost take on a more masculine quality when you let them be.  For the most part, I try to let them do their thing.

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As for daily grooming, I often find that I won’t touch or brush my hair in the mornings, but I will tend to my brows.  At the very least, combing them up into place happens with a brow brush or a clear gel.  I once found myself using a plastic fork to brush them up at work when I failed to bring anything with me.  My most regularly used product is the CK One Color Brow Pencil and Gel Duo in Crafty Raven.  The tapered pencil is easy to use and the spooly brush with gel is a cinch.  I’m on my third one of these currently.

When I have a couple extra minutes, I use Brett Brow’s Duo Shade Pencil in Medium Brunette.  I use the darker side on the inside half of my brows, carefully filling in the inner corners but without squaring them off (which scares me and looks a bit angry).  It’s important that my brows look shaded, soft, and natural, and not as if they were stenciled in.  It’s important to me that I still be able to see the individual hairs.  I probably use the most pencil around the arch area, which is just off from the center of my eye.  I then take the lighter shade and sketch a little more into the arch and then out (creating that so-called “ombre’d” brow effect).  I then use Brett Brow’s Arch Control Gel that comes with a dry blender brush.  I use the dry brush to blend in any sketched lines that are too harsh and visible, and then finally the gel to brush the brows up and in place, carefully tapering them off at the ends.  This particular gel leaves brows shiny, which I love.

If I’m really going the extra mile, I’ll take a creamy highlighter like the NYX Wonder Pencil and draw just a couple tiny dots beneath my brows, blending them in thoroughly.  This gives a lifting effect, and it highlights the brow bone in a very flattering way that opens up the eye area overall.  The highlighter-concealers that I discussed in this previous post are also excellent to use for this technique.

And that’s about as crazy as it gets.  I have never had my brows waxed, and their shape isn’t immaculate like much of what we see these days on Instagram, but I appreciate the low maintenance.  I’d rather put money or time into a hair appointment or a nice skincare item, but I’ve had a couple friends with very high maintenance eyebrows that they love to invest in and treat beautifully.  I remember InStyle magazine once describing high maintenance brows (think Camilla Belle status, possibly in need of frequent waxing appointments) as the “Celine luggage of brows”, referring to them as impeccably tailored and requiring the best of care.  I love that idea, but I myself have not been quite that blessed.  I guess the grass is always greener.

My next brow venture will probably involve attempting to trim my brow hairs (myself).  Anyone do this currently?  I’m curious to hear your experiences.  Peace, love, and brows for now!  xo, MR

I’m over summer. Or, in which I discuss Fall 2013 beauty trends far too prematurely.

January and July are the months where I get antsy.  I start getting that mid-to-late season itch for something new, as in new trends, new ideas, and new fashion.  And of course, the magazine industry doesn’t exactly help me out with this struggle.

As you may know, magazines roll out their issues about one month prior to their actual, designated months (Get it?  Because everything is early in fashion.).  So, right now it’s mid-July, which means that just about all of the August issues are out.  Okay, so no big deal right?  Well, here’s the problem with the August issues- they’re one big tease.  All they seem to be is a preview for September (the official kick-off for the fall season in fashion).  And when you have an entire month of nothing but fall previews to deal with, you begin to find yourself looking for … oh, I don’t know … fur vests in the middle of summer?

Yeah, it’s pathetic.  I’ll admit that I’ve been looking for a felt fedora hat for over a week now (not much unlike Rosie’s Rag and Bone one seen here).  I’ve even got a modest Fall 2013 shopping list going, complete with a white fisherman’s sweater.  Try hunting one of those down in July.  But regardless of how early I begin looking for signs of the coming season and how hopeless it may be until mid-August, I have to admit that it is really fun.

So what can we all look forward to as far as beauty trends for Fall 2013?  We’ve got color blocking, heeled loafers, and tons of grey to look forward to in our wardrobes, but how about our faces?  Here are just a couple things I dare you to try when the winds change:

1.  Put some serious color on your lips.  Any color, so long as it’s bold.


Of course, I don’t tend to favor pink during the autumn seasons simply because it doesn’t feel right against all my black, grey, and muted tones (though I am kind of done with cliche rules like that), but a deep oxblood or a fire engine red like the above look shown at Marc Jacobs will certainly do the trick.  And texture doesn’t matter- glossy, matte, satin, stained, whatever.  It’s all about color saturation in this case, so there’s no real formula so long as it’s committed to its hue.

2.  Braid your hair.  ANY way you want.


Fishtail braids, Heidi-style plaits across the crown, one long braid down the back, you name it.  If there’s a single braid of the smallest size to be found in your hair, it’s a winner this coming season.  And let it be known that I am a braid IDIOT that can hardly get her own hair into a classic three-section braid without feeling like she needs to Animorph into an octopus.  While I still can’t seem to get my hair into a satisfactory braid that makes me happy, I did find this tutorial on the fishtail style to be extremely helpful, and I’m convinced that I could probably get the job done on someone else’s hair at this point, if not on my own.  My favorite styles were the ones seen like the shot featured above from Viktor & Rolf.

3.  But if you’re not going for a braid, go for something extra sleek and extra modern.


I tend to feel most confident in my hair when it’s down with loose body and light waves thanks to ten minutes with a curling rod … but next season, I’m planning to change that.  A couple weeks ago, just as I was getting ready to head out the door to commune with some friends, I was fussing over the very flat-against-my-head state that my hair was in.  I’d blown it out straight days prior, leaving me with no volume and quite a bit of oil on the scalp.  I then decided to go for what will be one of Fall 2013’s bigger beauty trends:  I took out my rattail comb and created a deep, severe side part, and I then brushed all of my hair back and set it with shine-imparting, light-hold gel for a sleek, almost wet look.  I then tied my hair into a low ponytail and ran a flat iron over the length of it, just for good measure.  I was left with a style that felt more face-flattering and fashion-forward than my typical soft waves.

Anything of this nature, whether employing the use of a side-part with a bun or ponytail or just slicking the hair back with relatively no part, was huge during February’s Fashion Week.  I particularly love Liu Wen’s style shown above for Jason Wu.  My most current inspiration for this look, however, has been coming from Kate Mara’s character on House of Cards, Zoe, though Kate wears this look quite well herself on the red carpet.

4.  Try going without mascara(!) and let your brows do the talking.  And let them do all the talking.


I know, I know.  We’re AMERICANS!  We’re OBSESSED with mascara!  So fine.  Let’s get over it.  Makeup on the runways last February exhibited two kinds of extremes: a full focus on the eyes with heavy eyeliner and loud color, or a completely opposite approach that left the eyes completely bare.  And when the makeup artists left the eyelids nekkid, they seemed to compensate for it in either the lip department orrrrrrr ………. the BROW department.  The bold eyebrow is back with a vengeance these days thanks to models like Cara Delevingne, and I’ve gotta tell ya, I couldn’t be happier.  I love this bold, minimalist look seen as a whole package in the image above from the Chloe show, combining both bare lashes and fashion-forward eyebrows.

Now, I myself have never plucked, tweezed, threaded, or waxed my eyebrows until this year.  I am not kidding.  But the whole brow craze just got me so excited about grooming my own that I started dabbling in a little shaping here and there (not without anxiously contemplating for about five minutes over which exact three brow-hairs to pluck).  I started filling in little gaps with pencil a couple years ago, and my hand has just gotten heavier and heavier as models like Cara have grown more and more popular.

And then, about two weeks ago, this happened.  Camilla Belle came out of hiding with two spectacularly perfect caterpillars on her face, and I FELL IN LOVE.  Say no more!  I’m hooked on the bold brow, and I’m ready to let the Liz Taylor in me shine!  No no, not that Liz Taylor.  THAT Liz Taylor.  There we go.  That’s more like it.  NO!  I said NOT THAT LIZ TAYLOR!  Or THAT one!  OR THAT ONE!

THAT ONE!  Thank you!  Gosh!  xo, MR

Spring is sprung! Not really!

In case you didn’t know, we’re currently in the middle of New York Fashion Week.  That’s right fools.  Get your calendars straight according to the world of fashion and start ringing in the New Year in September with Fall Fashion Week, and celebrating the mid-year in February with Spring Fashion Week (though both really take place in summer and winter).  I’m not exactly sure how that’s all going to pan out what with Nemo (cute name for a storm, ain’t it?) going down and all, but the folks who make the fashion world go ’round don’t exactly pay attention to things like weather reports when it comes to the bi-annual insanity that is Fashion Week.  Deadly weather be damned!  I can guarantee you that things like high heels and skirts are STILL happening in the midst of all the snowfall, and there are seriously like, ten shows a day happening or something like that.  Fashion peoples be cray.

I’ve been aware of the trends we’re going to be seeing this spring for some time now, and the only one in fashion that I really paid attention to was the surge of graphic black-and-white prints thanks to the likes of Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, Alexander Wang, DKNY, Louis Vuitton (blame Marc for that one, too), and seriously a bajillion more.  Being that this is a beauty blog, however, I’m more interested in discussing the beauty trends of the season.  The two most prominent beauty trends for the spring of 2013 consist of blue-green shades of eyeshadow (not your Grandma’s shade of periwinkle, by the way, so don’t be rollin’ your eyeballz just yet) and bright orange-red lips.  Now don’t think too hard about trying to do some fancy peacock eyeshadow look when it comes to the former.  I have a fat eyeliner pencil from Sephora in a shimmery shade of aqua that I like lining my eyes with, even just the bottom lid.  And Sephora Rouge lipstick in shade #29 is a flattering, comfortable shade of tomato-ey tangerine for anyone.


But beyond the specific trends for this spring, I’ll be trying a couple things more often with the hope of integrating the techniques into my everyday look.  First is the tough one- contouring.   You know how sometimes you look at runway models and they almost look as if they’re making a fish-face, sucking in their cheeks and they have cheekbones that look like they could cut glass?  Welp, they’re probably not and they probably don’t.  I mean, chances are that if one is a model then they probably do have very high cheekbones, but I’m telling you- Every model on the runway has undergone some makeup contouring.  This typically involves using a darker shade of foundation or powder foundation, a deeper-but-neutral shade of blush, or a bronzer in the hollows of the cheeks to create the illusion that you have higher cheekbones.  Well-done contouring can even work wonders on the shape of your nose, as well as the forehead and jawline.  Celebrity news blogs and websites will always make a huge fuss over speculation on Kim Kardashian and how it appears like she’s had some kind of surgery on her nose, cheekbones or whatever, but it’s actually all the result of her crazy skills with makeup and contouring.  Believe it or not, Kim is actually very talented with makeup (but she just wears so dang much all the time that I just can’t seem to like it).

I’ve been using NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna most faithfully for contouring on my own, but I’ve also taken to using a cheaper, darker shade of creamy foundation sometimes too.  Coco Rocha mentioned the tip in an interview I read recently, and it’s worked out well.  I picked up a CoverGirl+Olay Simply Ageless Foundation in Classic Tan, and I just use my fingers to blend it upward into the hollows of my cheeks.  I like to use a powder just under my jawline and a little swipe going from my temples back down into the hollows of my cheekbones.  Think of making a “C” shape with your brush.  For lighter contouring, I also like MAC powder blush in Buff.

As for eyebrows, I’ve taken to the almighty Cara Delevingne as my inspiration lately.  Seriously, this girl is THEE model of the 2010’s if you ask me.  She is EVERYWHERE.  Her bone structure is out of control (though note the contouring on her cheeks!), but it’s her eyebrows that have gotten everyone’s attention.  Dramatic eyebrows have made a serious comeback in the past three years or so thanks to various models like Cara and runway beauty trends, which is good news for me considering I’ve never plucked mine.  Ever.  I’ve never waxed, never had any kind of eyebrow appointment, nothing.  My mama always said I had good eyebrows, and I didn’t really care much until I met Jennifer Connelly’s eyebrows.  Oh dang!  But what I have been doing lately is filling in any uneven patches with an eyebrow pencil and just brushing them out using an eyebrow comb.  And sometimes, when I think of Cara, I just pencil them in a leeeetle bit more … and a little more … and a little more.  I’ve been using two different shades of Make Up For Ever’s eyebrow pencils for a while now, sometimes using both and sometimes choosing one depending on how dark my hair is at the time.

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So below, we’ve got the results of my contouring/eyebrow-loving adventures.  I put a pretty heavy filter on the shot so you could really see where I placed the product (and in this case, it was the CoverGirl).  If you try contouring, don’t be afraid to use a lot.  Results with contouring tend to be a lot more fun as opposed to when you’re too shy.  Now, what will really be fun is when I put a little blonde back in my hair and I still stick with the dark, heavy brows.  I always was disappointed by the assumption that light hair calls for dainty eyebrows.  NO HAIR CALLS FOR DAINTY EYEBROWS.  Shoot, I told my husband last night that I wish mine would grow out and get even bigger!  I wish my eyebrows would just declare mutiny and take over my whole face!  Oh, and whatever you do, DO NOT pluck your blonde (or even dark!) eyebrows into oblivion and then proceed to draw chola brows in their place.  What are chola brows?  THESE.


So there you have it.  These are my makeup plans for this coming spring- contoured cheeks, strong brows, blood-orange lips, and blue-green eye makeup (though probably not all at once).  Oh, and for those that insist they don’t follow trends, and that “trends are for followers” or “people who can’t think for themselves” or whatever such derp as that- I’m sorry, trends are for people who like to have fun.  Trends are for people who like to play around and try something different.  And don’t you be foolin’ yourself into thinking that you have nothing to do with trends and that you’re some kind of original.  Just refer back to Meryl Streep’s death-kill monologue in The Devil Wears Prada wear she, *ahem*, educates Anne Hathaway’s character and lets her know that everything she’s wearing, and everything she ever chooses to wear, was chosen for her months in advance.  There are those who follows trends, and then those who set them.  And if you’re not in some studio designing and working on your collection right now for your September show, it’s very likely that you’re not a maker of trends.  If you purchase a clothing item, a neat new beauty product, any such thing from a store, congratulations- you follow trends.   And that’s ok!  What on God’s green Earth is WRONG with being a follower, I ask you?!  The world would be a better place if we all chose someone commendable and committed to following them as best as we could instead of trying so desperately to make our own way.  So get out there and copy someone!  Just not this person.  xo, MR