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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What I Brought Home From My Vacation

My Christmas vacation this year consisted of a trip back to southern California, where the sun shined unbelievably for the full nine days that we were there.  What a beautiful time it was.  I had flapjacks with Dad, went on a traditional shopping excursion with Mom, laughed my butt off with my family as we celebrated Christmas, stood basking in the warmth of Laguna Beach, saw so many friends that I love, managed to squeeze in quality time with a few of them, and just had an all-around great time being around people and places that I’ve missed.

But of course, me being me, I couldn’t resist listing what I got out of this trip that pertains to the nature of this blog.  Namely, what beauty experiences did I walk away with during my time in the Golden state?

A new appreciation for flying

This trip involved my first flying experience in over four years.  While the flight into California was ridiculously turbulent (as in the-captain-issued-a-preemptive-apology kind of tubulent), the flight back was actually quite pleasant.  I enjoyed a couple issues of Elle and InStyle, a Korean serum mask, and a very small glass of Bailey’s just for fun.

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Adding the tiniest bit of luxury to my flight almost made it feel like a borderline chic experience.  Hey, when you’re flying second class and your knees are touching the awkward, hungover twenty-one-year-old’s knees next to you, you kinda have to make it work, even if it means that twenty-one-year-old almost jumping out of his chair at the sight of you wearing a creepy Hannibal mask next to him.

A serious Sephora haul

Now that you’ve heard me complain a couple times about how dry my skin is over here, you’ll be glad to know that my mom-in-law came through with two products that I’m so excited for, and a couple that I picked up myself thanks to a generous gift card from my mom.

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I’d wanted to try an oil cleanser since my skin starting drying out over here, and my mom-in-law came through for me with this one.  I received Erborian’s Solid Oil Cleanser as one of my gifts.  Out of curiosity, I took home a sample of this from Sephora and it is some dreamy stuff, let me tell you.  It smells so fresh and relaxing, with a spa-like green tea fragrance.  The unique consistency is that of a thick, stiff goop, but take a minute or two to really massage it into your dry skin.  It is delicious.

According to the Korean double-cleanse method, you’re then supposed to follow an oil cleanser with a foaming cleanser (though I’m sure the oil cleanser is probably enough for most people).  I’ll be using Ole Henriksen’s Empower Foaming Milk Cleanser (once I finish what I currently have), which also smells relaxing and calming.  I’ve been so into finding scents that lift my spirits lately.  Doing little things like enjoying a smell, or listening to soothing sounds, treating yourself to a coffee, or doing a relaxing yoga session in your apartment are things I used to right off as sad, temporary attempts at trying to avoid reality and ignore life’s troubles.  Now I realize they’re just ways of enjoying your freaking life.  And another small way of enjoying life- dry shampoo.  The highly reputable Living Proof formula was also a Christmas gift, and it’s especially helpful for managing the new hairy addition to my forehead I came home with (see below).

My own Sephora picks include Alterna’s Caviar Replenishing Moisture Shampoo, Shiseido Ultimate Power Infusing Concentrate, and Origins A Perfect World SPF25 Age-Defense moisturizer.  I’ve used all three of these items before and I enjoy each of them.  After running out of my fourth bottle of Rahua shampoo, I’m choosing to give it a break and focus on intense moisture throughout the winter with my hair, especially as I grow it out.  The Alterna is great for that.  Concerning the Shiseido, I have said that I like Caudalie’s Vinosource serum better and I believe I still do.  However, Caudalie is good for intense moisture but it doesn’t necessarily help with other areas of concern like spots, etc.  The Shiseido is a little more geared toward all areas, so I’m going to see how well it multitasks.  And the Origins moisturizer is a nice one that I’ve been using for a while now.  I’ll stick with it.

My only bummer was having my new bottle of Fresh Seaberry Restorative Body Cream, a gift from my sis-in-law, detained by TSA because the bottle was too big.  Poop.  Once again Mom saves the day by sticking around just long enough at the airport for my husband to run it back to her so she can ship it out.

A super-dark manicure

Ever since growing my nails back, man, I am addicted to painting them.  I do darks, nudes, or a true red.  For my manicure that I got with my mama (thanks, Mom!!), I chose OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark, a cult fave, for New Year’s and to go with my mostly basic wardrobe that I’d packed for the trip.  It’s a really deep purple that is barely distinguishable from black, but that’s why I like it.  Once you catch the color in the right light, you see the eggplant hue shining through.  It can work as an interesting accessory (and yes, I consider painted nails an accessory).

So, here’s the best shot I got of them, which also happens to be the best shot I got of an extremely fancy-pants bathroom at the Montage in Laguna.  Two for one.

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BANGS

Because I knew I’d be able to book an appointment with Justin at Salon 9, I had to take the opportunity.  I’ve been rocking a mid-length, rather grown out ombre’d lob since summer, and I figured I could go for a couple small-ish changes.  We darkened things a bit and went for a richer brunette while still leaving some shimmering highlights within the length.  The real addition here though, is the new arrival of bangs.  Whew.  I had forgotten what a commitment they are, but I really want to make them work this time.  I mean, really.  I want long hair down to my chest like I had before, but now with long bangs.  I want bangs to be part of my integral look for a while, so I’m in it for the long haul.  And don’t make fun of my robe or slight-smeared eyeliner here.  I’m wearing MAC’s kohl liner in Smolder, which I consider my Jack Sparrow liner because it always smears and you just have to roll with it.  A pirate’s life for me.

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What this has meant so far is styling them every day, somehow.  I can’t get away with just throwing everything up in a bun and leaving the bangs scraggly and bent out of shape after getting out of bed; they have to be styled.  I mean, there’s looking French, and then there’s looking hungover-French.  Bangs cowlicked up past your forehead can put you in hungover-French territory, so styling them is a necessity.  Sometimes this means just tweaking with a flat-iron, sometimes it means wetting and washing them and starting all over.  It’s very difficult not to fuss with them throughout the day, but you have to remember that their shape doesn’t need to be perfect.  Gone are the days when bangs needed to be precisely uniform and round brushed, so the look still isn’t as high-maintenance as it might’ve been, say, seven years ago.  You can get away with a much more laissez-faire feel now, but you still need to make sure things look cohesive.

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For me personally, I think bangs are a good exercise in self-maintenance and forming a consistent routine of trying.  I very much look forward to the care and keeping of them.  Cheers to caring more in 2016!  xo, MR

Hello, again.

Hi.

My name is McKenna.  I’m a California native, now living in the Chicago North Shore area.  I like to read and write about beauty.  I like to engage in beauty through social media, as well.

What this all looks like is following a variety of blogs, scrolling through Instagram, reading endless amounts of magazines, actually doing makeup when the occasion presents itself (on both myself and others), browsing without purpose through Sephora (or Walgreen’s, or the Saks beauty department), and just thinking about hair, makeup, and skincare in general on a pretty consistent basis.

It looks like taking selfies when I’m excited about how my hair turned out for the day, getting really pumped over an ‘Olivia Palermo for Ciate’ nail polish collection (even though I currently have no nails), smelling every perfume on the glass counters at Nordstrom, getting possessive and angry toward IntoTheGloss because you feel like Emily Weiss has sold out since you first read the blog six years ago, and flipping out over Kate Mara’s new pixie cut.

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I’m not ashamed of any of this.

What this doesn’t look like, at least for me, is making how-to videos (though they have been requested and I am considering it), using a blur effect app on my photos, and doing a lot of contouring and strobing and lining outside the natural lip line.  And no, contouring and strobing aren’t the latest moves or drug trends you’ll pick up on at EDM, though it sometimes feels that way.

My makeup muse is probably Keira Knightley.  Which means my actual makeup muse is her regular makeup artist, Kate Lee.  I’d be happy to discover what products are favored by Kristen Stewart, and I also admire Diane Kruger, who typically does her own makeup for red carpet events.  I also enjoy makeup artist Nick Barose, who typically works with Lupita N’yongo and doesn’t seem to take his job so seriously that he can’t laugh at the ridiculousness that is makeup industry sometimes.

My makeup anti-muse is probably Kylie Jenner or any of the beauty Instagrammers/vloggers that seemingly try to emulate her techniques.  It always looks good, but it’s just so much.  I’m usually suspicious of anyone whose makeup is always “on point and flawless”.  This is why I’ll probably never become a paid and sought-after professional makeup artist- I admit that I don’t like really “makeup-y” makeup.  My favorite kind of look, by the standards of many, would probably be considered very basic and boring.  My philosophy has always been “Skin first, makeup second” as Glossier puts it (and yes, I even go by this philosophy on your wedding day), and a lot of the makeup I see these days on social media doesn’t put the person’s skin first.  I’m not about a transformation; I’m about an enhancing of what’s already there.

So what does my MUA resume consist of?  A lot of good faith, the pictures you see here, and decent reviews from women I’ve worked with before (who are mostly brides and, admittedly, mostly friends).  Yep, I’m pretty much a makeup artistry amateur and it will likely stay that way!  But that doesn’t mean I can’t pretend to be professional when I talk about it.

My list of hair muses is endless, with some of the regulars including Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Aldridge, and a whole barage of women who’ve set the most unrealistic standards for hair since the Disney princesses of yore.  For the most part, if it’s messy, wavy hair with some good texture and grit, I’m highly inspired by it.  I love Tracey Cunningham on Instagram for her coloring wizardry, and Anh Co Tran for the imperfectly perfect texture he brings to his cuts.  Oh, and Justin Kamm of Salon 9 in Orange County, CA is pretty amazing as well.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do when the time comes for new color and I can’t get out to see him.

My skincare muse is the French woman.  I mean it.  That stereotypical image of the French woman who cares little about how sleek and shiny her hair is but cares obsessively over the condition of her skin- that’s what I like and feel I can relate to.  It also makes it easier to walk out of the door for work without a stitch of makeup on, but with the knowledge that at least my skin is doing great.  Downside- This makes me an easy sell for skincare product lines that apparently hail from the land of guillotines and fondue (and no, I’m not referring to Garnier), but hey, it makes life fun.  Even though all such “French” products are probably being manufactured in Minnesota and managed out of New Jersey, or something.

Other sources of beauty inspiration for me come from movies, cities, and art.  For some reason, all of these things seem to feed into my appreciation for makeup, skin, and hair.  I think it has to do with the fact that I see them all as beautiful things.  As it is with lovely hair or skin, a vibrant city, striking architecture, and a mesmerizing film all carry the common thread of beauty.  So, this makes sense of how when I see a haunting movie, I suddenly have the urge to try something new with my makeup.  Or, how when I walk through a museum, I feel the urge to do someone’s hair or write about beauty as I am now.  It’s all very interconnected.

Anyhow, that’s pretty much me in regards to all this beauty stuff.  Like I said in the beginning, I love to read and write about beauty.  I kind of just really love to read and write (though not nearly as much as some people I know), but the whole makeup thing tends to kick these itches into overdrive.

So here I am, back after a long hiatus, re-introducing myself to you.  I’m here to write about beauty.

My name is McKenna, and in this particular space I go by “The Bright Blush”.  Nice to have you here.

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xo, MR