Bridal & Beyond: The Past Four Years


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

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

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



Bridal for Chelsea Weeldreyer

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

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Maternity shoot for Jennifer Clark

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


Bridal for Molly Maxwell

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



Headshots for Katie Ernst


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

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

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Bridal for Stephanie Poblenz

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

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

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


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

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xo, MR


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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

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.

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.


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.


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.


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!


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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

Hello, again.


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