When More Is More: Kardashian-Inspired Makeup

I used to think I really loved makeup.  Well, I mean, I do love makeup.  A lot.  I always thought I loved it more than most people.  However, within the past couple years or so, makeup as we know it has changed forever in some radical ways.  And in light of this, I have to say that my love for makeup as we know it now has become more of a journey than a certainty.  Let me provide a little background.

The rise of the Youtube video blogger in the 2000’s transformed the world of makeup through the power of shared knowledge.  Suddenly, everyday women all over the world were able learn and practice difficult and elaborate techniques thanks to thousands of tutorials posted by other everyday women all over the world.  Some video bloggers have reached mega-celebrity status like Michelle Phan and Jaclyn Hill, with their worth now in the millions.  Instagram offered another avenue for sharing makeup knowledge, along with its glow-giving filters and other fancy apps with capabilities of blurring and retouching our complexions.

Then came the variable with the most impact- Kim K and her Kontouring Kingdom.  Suddenly the world of makeup was launched into the stratospheric heights of what once seemed impossible.  Social media took quick notice, and now you can’t scroll through your feed once without noticing a woman showing off that signature Kardashian-Jenner look: contoured cheekbones, a contoured forehead and chin, golden-yellow highlighting thanks to some type of banana powder, shimmery, pearlescent highlighting across the forehead and cheeks, a contoured and highlighted nose, immaculate eyebrows, full, voluminous lips sporting a matte, liquid lipstick, layered eyeshadow with a flawless cut crease, thick, perfectly-drawn winged eyeliner, and dramatic false lashes.  Throw on a couple filters and there isn’t a flaw in sight.  It doesn’t exactly look natural either, but in this new phase of makeup artistry for every woman, more is more.

I’m not consistently drawn to this maximalist kind of makeup as most know; I find myself more inspired by the work of celebrity makeup artists as opposed to what I see on Instagram (with folks like Mario Dedivanovic and Joyce Bonelli excepted).  However, it is fun to think about all the possibilities in your train case after watching a tutorial on the most elaborate smokey eye you’ve ever seen.  Even if something isn’t quite for you, it can still be inspiring.

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And so, I decided to have a little fun last night and just go for more.  And man, did I not feel like myself.  This was no single wash of eyeshadow topped with a bit of kohl liner and mascara like I usually do for a night out or something.  I followed the formulas of multiple Youtube bloggers that I’ve watched and went through every step in what felt like a game of human paint-by-numbers: mattifying primer, liquid foundation, powder, concealer, contouring, banana powder, illuminating powder, blush, shadow primer, layered eyeshadow (four shades), eyeliner, mascara, false lashes, lipliner, and liquid lipstick.  Everything I used is pictured above, except for the false lashes (which were just accent lashes by Ardell).

And none of the following photos have any filter on them.  I’m simply standing in front of a soft lamp for the ones featuring the finished look.

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BAM.  Crazy!  The difference is almost laughable, isn’t it?  It probably would’ve helped to give a bit more of a smile in the photo on the left, but hey, for dramatic purposes we’ll leave it as it is.  Not hiding the bangs under a beanie helps as well, but when it’s -2 outside and you’ve just arrived at work after battling the oppressive elements, you’re probably going to put your bangs in a beanie too.

But it didn’t turn out too bad, did it?!  I have to say that I liked how I looked in most every picture I took, which isn’t typical for me at all.  That is one thing that this kind of makeup can do well- photos are suddenly not so intimidating.  You just have to find your favorite angles that show off the makeup best.

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Also, understand that to many women (and men too, from what I’ve seen on Insta), this is still total amateur hour. I did not take things anywhere near as far as some Youtubers or bloggers take them, and a lot of people would probably still consider this a soft, natural look. I don’t, but it starts to become a matter of relativity.  Many people have had countless hours of practice with Kardashian level, “extreme” makeup, and they can do much, much more than me in terms of talent and technique.  This is just one of my first takes on it.

I’m convinced that the one detail that really takes things to the next level is the highlighting on the nose.  It’s what kind of gives you that ethereal, almost plastic look.  The Kat Von D Shade and Light contouring palette is also key- I really, really like that palette.  I’ve watched several Youtube videos on how to get the most out of it, and it’s amazing what you can do to the shape of your face with six simple shades.  I tried to do the exaggerated lipliner for that crazy Kylie Jenner effect too, but the fact of the matter is she gets lip injections.  There are complicated contouring and highlighting techniques that can give the illusion of much larger lips, but that tends to require a couple shades of creamy concealer and I only have my match shade.  I just tried things with nude liner and liquid lipstick.

The liquid lipstick I used on my lips was also hard to work with outside of the natural lip line because once it sets on your skin, it dries within seconds and doesn’t budge.  You can’t make any adjustments or changes.  It’s seriously high quality stuff, but you do not wear it for comfort or ease of application.  I used Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Patina.  You might be able to tell that the lip lines got a little smudgy because I tried to rub the lipstick off in some spots, but it didn’t work.  I basically had to go to bed with this stuff on and it is so unbelievably drying.  Not exactly the comforting, moisturizing formula you’d use in weather with a wind chill factor of -15 degrees.

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No filters here, I promise!  Just in front of a lamp (especially because it was night and there was no natural light to be found).  I’m under a bright light on the left side too, though.

I have to say, the transformative power of Youtube-inspired makeup is undeniable.  It works, especially in terms of making you feel glamorous and photo-ready.  However, it’s not a realistic everyday look for me and my life.  Now that I know I can do it though, maybe I’ll take a stab at it more than once a year.  I just wouldn’t want this to ever feel like the norm because that can take the fun and novelty out of it.  For now I’ll just be sure to keep washing my face and taking good care of my eyebrows.  xo, MR

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Average Makeup For Average People!

If you know me, you know I’m a huge fan of trends.  I always look forward to what’s coming out next season, and I’m the first one to jump aboard the bandwagon when everyone starts wearing their hair a certain way (hellooooo, ombre for life).  And I love it!  Trends are a fun way to keep my look dynamic, and I find myself trying things I wouldn’t normally try once something pops up on the trend radar.

However, when it comes to the beauty trends I’ve seen floating around Instagram these days, I’m not as keen. You’ve heard me say these things before- Kardashian-style contouring, so-called strobing (which is just a trend word for highlighting, which has been around forever), exaggerated lipliner, and the bright red cream blush that is suddenly being applied to everyone’s undereye area because it apparently cancels out green undertones … why?  I will admit that all of these tricks can be exciting when it comes to the transformative power of makeup, but it’s become popular to go through these complex makeup routines for everyday life.  The Kardashian-Jenner women look fully made up and one hundred percent camera ready every single day, and by sharing all of this with their followers, they have caused millions of other women to aspire for the same.

However, this is not a very realistic thing for most folks to aspire to.  Wearing the kind of makeup each day that is meant for HD cameras is not only a lot of look for many people, but it is also difficult to put into practice.  It can be time consuming and expensive to apply a full routine of makeup each day like what we see on Instagram, and many would find it uncomfortable to wear that much to work or just out running errands.

So what might a full (keep in mind, full) makeup routine look like for the more average person?  One that still ups your typical makeup game, but doesn’t require any red undereye concealer or even false lashes?  We can get to all of that, but let’s start with something basic.  It is presumptuous of me to believe that I have any answers, but here’s my stab at it:

  1.  Start by prepping your skin.  Got a good moisturizer?  Slather it on.  Or a sunscreen?  Serum?  Whatever it is, put it on to get your skin moist and ready to receive product.
  2. .Take either your liquid or powder foundation and use a brush (fluffy or foundation, depending on whether you’re using liquid or powder) to apply a light layer.  Be certain that there is no line of demarcation on your jawline.  In other words, blend, blend, blend so there is no visible line where the makeup begins or ends.  Check your hairline, the smaller areas around lips, and your nose!
  3. Use an eyebrow pencil no more than two shades darker than your natural brows to lightly sketch in any gaps or anywhere that you’d like more definition.  Use a brow brush to brush them up, and then use a brow gel to set them.
  4. Take a blush or powder that’s just a shade or two darker than your skintone and, using a blush brush, make light, consistent strokes just beneath your cheekbones (and I used MAC’s blush in Buff, pictured below).  This will create some light definition.  I typically like to limit my contouring to this.  You can also use bronzer for this step.  Just be sure to blend well.
  5. Next, apply a cream concealer to the couple darkened spots on your face such as the undereye area and beneath your nostrils.  I like NARS Creamy Radiance Concealer, Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer, and Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Eclat, which all work as both concealers and highlighters.
    1. Here’s where I add a bit of highlighting- Along with the darkened places of your face, apply small dots of concealer to areas where light hits your face naturally.  See my picture below for a reference.  I’ve actually mimicked Chrissy Teigen’s methods here and I’ve found that these little spots work nicely.  I also added some around the lips.
    2. Then, use a concealer brush (or your finger, which will work) to blend in the concealer.  Try your best to find natural light when blending so you can see clearly.  It is hard to blend accurately and thoroughly in a poorly-lit bathroom.  Your face should appear to have some nice dimension and should appear highlighted, even glowing.  Obviously, the picture below is pre-blending.

IMG_08646.  To add some extra shimmer (or “champagne pop” as some have called it), take any shimmery highlighter such as MAC’s Mineralize SkinFinish in Soft And Gentle and apply it to the apples of your cheeks, your forehead, and a bit on your chin.

7.  For your eyes, I like to choose a neutral but flattering eyeshadow such as Burberry’s Pale Barley and blend it all over my lids, stopping at the browbone.  For just a little extra drama, I line my eyes with a darker, matte shadow like the bottom-left shade you see in the Dior Grege palette you see below.  Line the upper lid, line the lower lid.  Add some brown eyeliner to the waterline.  I’ve used the same CoverGirl one for a couple years.

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8.  The one thing I’ll go overboard on is mascara.  I take as much time as I want on this.  However many coats, however many different kinds.  Everything else is so neutral and light that I like to add that small dose of glamour with a ton of thick lashes.

9.  And finally, for lips, I just add a gloss!  No lipstick, no liner, just gloss.  Pick any flattering gloss you like.  I’ve been using Marc Jacobs Enamoured Hi-Shine Lip Lacquer in Love Buzz.

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Give all this a shot.  There’s no filter here, so this is how it turned out in natural light in front of a window.  I’d say the steps that make this a little more difficult for those who’d call themselves “beginners” are those involving the concealer as highlighter.  You can always skip those steps and just start with concealing the darkened areas or problems spots (like zits), and add some shimmery highlighting powder to your cheeks.  Play around with it, and let me know what works.  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.

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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.

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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