If You Have Just Five Minutes …

My current living situation isn’t exactly the most glamorous.

I live in a building with many other families that are all living there for the purpose of someone completing a higher education degree.  It is a season of scrimping and saving, constant transition (as there is a moving truck in front of our building at least once every two months), and general uncertainty.  Many of the women in my building are busy raising three or four young children; others are plugging away at their own coursework or job responsibilities.  Any you way it slice it, it’s not exactly the place where you’ll see lots of false lashes or makeup brushes lying around.

That being said, all this doesn’t mean the lashes and brushes have been tossed to the wayside here, rejected as some sort of earthly frill without any value.  For so many of my neighbors, there just isn’t time, and one’s mind is simply preoccupied with other things besides finding the perfect highlighter that’s right for your skin.  I guess the same could be said for many folks in various stages of life- we often find ourselves without time, or living in seasons when we’re just distracted, and little things that brought joy are the first to go.  Something like makeup or skincare becomes more of a tedious effort than a delightful ritual.  One of my most restful activities has always been doing my makeup and hair, and even without children, I’ve already found myself slowing down and not wanting to take the time that I used to for these things.

But for me, my putting aside of makeup says more about the state of my mind and heart than about busyness.  I could take the time to do a little something, but when my mind and heart are clouded with worry or feelings of ungratefulness, I can’t enjoy something like makeup.  In moments like that it’s hard to sit down, take a deep breath, and choose which couple eyeshadows I’d like to wear.  It’s a challenge to let go of the worries of the moment and say, “You know, things are going to be okay.  Worrying truly solves nothing, so let’s choose joy and put on the makeup I love.”

But something funny happens when I do surrender those worries, when I say “no” to the seemingly looming cares of tomorrow- I find myself picking up the brushes, turning on the curling iron, and taking joy.  I find myself putting in the “work” of makeup out of thankfulness, out of delight.  And suddenly, makeup stops feeling so much like work, but rather like the pleasure it’s been for me since I was twelve.  You could almost call it worship.  I sometimes manage to get so caught up in this delight that I end up with full-face look, complete with primer, contouring, something colorful, and maybe even false lashes.  When I say no to worry and fear, I am able to take delight in beauty and creativity.

Think about that.

So for those of us that are busy, worried, tired, or feeling unsure of whatever it is in the season you’re in, I’d encourage you to choose joy and put on those false lashes.  Or mascara.  Or lash extensions if you’re especially busy!  Release those fears and bust out your exfoliant.  Surrender your anxieties and decide which color you’re going to paint your nails.  Say no to the fear and choose rest.  So if you have even just five minutes, here are a couple strategies for pursuing this very specific practice of joy and rest effectively:

  1. Choose a bold lipstick and strong eyebrows – Stop thinking of lipstick as overly glamorous and formal, and start thinking of it as your best femme-friend that can go with you anywhere to give things a little sunshine and “Yeah, girl!”.  A great lipstick is like carrying around Leslie Knope in your bag.  One of the easiest signature looks you can adapt is that of a striking lip color paired with gorgeous, groomed brows.  Have your face moisturized, and use one or two brow products to fill them in, brush them up, and tame them in place.  As you know, I like Glossier’s Boy Brow for a really quick fix, but Bobbi Brown’s Perfectly Defined Long-Wear Brow Pencil comes in a good variety of shades, is tapered as a pencil, and comes with a spooly brush.  You can always use clear mascara or Boy Brow to then set things in place.  Next, have your lips moisturized with your fave balm and then apply whatever awesome lipstick your heart desires.  Choose something that feels like you, but is perhaps a small step beyond your comfort zone. I love wearing MAC’s Russian Red by itself, but there are also some seriously amazing shades by Bite Beauty that I love staring at.  Colors like Jam, Tannin, or Dragonfruit would make amazing signature shades.  Moisturizer + eyebrows + lipstick = very French and very pulled together, probably within five minutes.  Below, my current look of choice.
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  2. Choose a perfectly-cleansed fresh face – Do your whole routine of a little exfoliating, a little cleansing, a quick spritz of toner, and a yummy moisturizer for a quick-but-indulgent accomplishment.  A bare but glowing face these days is widely accepted as a chic substitute for makeup (though I always recommend giving your brows a wee bit of love, too).  I use a small bit of Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate as a mini peel for one minute (and I treat this stuff like golden elixir as it was a gift), and then I rinse and follow up with Ole Henriksen’s Empower Foaming Milk Cleanser.  After I rinse off the cleanser and pat my face dry, I spritz on Lush’s Eau Roma Toning Water.  I love that this is in a spray bottle as opposed to a needing a cotton pad for application- so fast and easy.  I follow up with Origin’s A Perfect World SPF 25 Age-Defense Moisturizer with White Tea, and I’m glowing like the sun!  A little brow gel to complete the look, a quick pull back of the hair into a low bun, and you’re basically ready for New York Fashion Week.
  3. Choose mega lashes and flushed cheeks – Mascara takes me the longest time of any other makeup product to apply, so if you’re short on time or patience but you really want lashes, choose to focus on only that and perhaps one more thing.  Use an eyelash curler like Kevyn Aucoin’s to gently curl and lift your lashes.  Lash curlers are really underrated in my opinion; they do so much to open up the eye and ease the application of mascara.  Next, pick a couple favorite kinds of mascara that thicken and lengthen (or if you can manage just one, props to you).  I like almost any kind from CoverGirl’s LashBlast line– the orange tube (LashBlast), the purply-blue tube (LashBlast Fusion), the lime green tube (The Clump Crusher), or the turquoise tube (The Super Sizer).  I could use any combination of these babies and get really black, super thick lashes that you can carefully build for length.  Once you’re happy with the outcome, do a quick dusting of a blush that you’ve found to be most flattering (and by flattering, I mean it suits your face nearly every day of the year).  An easy pick is NARS Orgasm, long hailed as universally flattering on all skintones.  The name may make your eyes roll, but the stuff is no joke.  If that’s out of your budget, Milani has a good variety of really pretty blushes that are super concentrated in both matte and shimmery finishes.  These get a ton of buzz on Pinterest and Instagram; I used on once on a bridesmaid who owned one and wanted to wear her own blush and I was really impressed.

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Whatever your plans involve this weekend, whether it’s a lot of running around, getting things done, or just sitting on the couch trying to catch your breath, be sure to open the door to joy.  And if that means exfoliating or applying lipstick in a shameless shade of merlot, to that I say, “Yes and more please”.  xo, MR

Would you take makeup advice from a mermaid? I would.

So, every once in a while, I manage to get to know someone with an affinity for makeup similar to my own.  We both fawn over the perfect Dior palette, share similar frustrations with undereye concealer, and just manage to get excited over the same, dumb little things.  But don’t you dare tell us they’re dumb.

My friend Chelsea and I share a mutual lack of shame when it comes to how much we love makeup.  She, however, has had a lot more experience with it in her line of work considering that, for a good part of her life, Chelsea has been performing on the stage in all parts of the world.  And sometimes that has involved fins.  I’m not kidding.

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Yeah, we’re all jealous now.  I know.  At least we can all be jealous together.

Anyways, the other day Chelsea shared a new picture online (see below) and I was just stunned by her makeup.  I’ve known Chelsea to be quite capable at doing her own makeup because of her time doing shows and on the stage, but I had to be absolutely certain that this was her doing and so I asked.  And this was the initial response I got:

You want the honest truth? It’s funny… I HATE getting my make-up done. I never like it and I always feel like I’ve wasted my money. So my friend just got married and since every other bridesmaid and all of the moms were getting theirs done I thought… okay I’ll try it again.  Fail. I think I’m a make-up artist’s nightmare. Or dream? Considering I paid her full price and asked if I could do my own eyeliner, mascara, eyelashes, eyebrows, lips… and then ended up re-doing the foundation, blush, concealer, and touching up the eyeshadow (which was the only thing I liked) with my trusty DIOR palette.

Welp, taking over for your makeup artist didn’t seem to work out half-bad, Chels.  Especially considering the finished product turned out beautifully:

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I myself have sometimes gotten my makeup “done” only to doctor it up afterwards with my own touch.  I think we all do it, especially if you have particularities about what you like to see on your own face (such as the fact that I require at least five coats of mascara to scratch a certain itch in my brain).  So naturally, I then had to ask Chelsea exactly what she did for this full look.  I gave her the green light on giving me a play-by-play, down to every last detail.  She did not disappoint.  Got a special night out or a fancy occasion coming up?  Then keep reading.  What follows is basically my first guest post on The Bright Blush, and it’s brought to you by none other than Ariel herself:

Okay so I’ll give you the rundown. I used MakeUpForEver HD primer… but only for special occasions when I feel like I want to be professional. I actually don’t really wear primer or foundation often. I use BB cream on a daily basis. I found this awesome one by the brand KATE. It stays on for a long time (I even wore it on stage) and it’s not too runny or too thick. It took me a while to find a brand I liked. It also leaves a fresh dewy complexion, which is lovely.

For that specific day though, the make-up artist used airbrush foundation which I later covered up (errr…touched up) with Clinique Super Balanced make-up in cream beige.

Thanks to YOU if I’m wearing eyeshadow I always use the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer. I seriously never wore a primer before you told me about this and I am now obsessed. I ended up recommending it to everyone at work because it is just SO GOOD. It makes the eyeshadow pop and stay on forever. I like to also put it under my bottom lashes just on the outside half so I can use eyeshadow as a liner and it actually stays on. I find eyeshadow makes my eyes look bigger rather than eyeliner but that might just be me… unless you use eyeliner and smudge it a lot. Anyways…

For concealer I use Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat 2.5. IT IS AMAZING!! I only discovered it a few months ago and I am SUPER picky about under eye concealers. You’re talking to the girl who is endlessly on the hunt for a great moisturizing concealer that has good (but not thick) coverage and also one that doesn’t crease or rub off or get flaky or dry up or needs to be re-applied every hour etc etc etc. I buy a million and then never use them because they aren’t ‘just right’. I think I have given away more concealers and mascaras than I can afford. This one is a bit pricey but I feel like under your eyes it’s one area we shouldn’t skimp on. Prevention people! I learned the best way for me to use concealer is actually just below my dark circle and then I gently pat it with my finger to blend it up. I know everyone always says to use powder to hold it in place but I never do. I feel like it makes me look tired for some reason. Which is also why I’m always looking for a good under eye concealer that does everything.

The make-up artist showed me how to use Smashbox Photo Op Under Eye Brightener as well. I don’t own this product but it was really beautiful so I might have to look into that. She used it to highlight under my eyes and I have to say I was a fan. Dab on to the upper cheek bone area under your eyes and it really brightens up your face.

Eyeshadow- The make-up artist was using the Urban Decay Naked Palette (I don’t know if it was 1 or 2 and some other one that I didn’t see the name of). I later went over top with my DIOR palette in ROSY TAN to make the colours pop and added a shimmer highlight to the inner corners of my eyes. I always highlight right under my eyebrow (on the outer half only) and on the inside corners. I use a medium color on my lid and then use something really dark on the outer crease and blend it up. I also use that dark color under my eyes on the outside half. Pretty typical application and it looks really great on stage too. I think I have to find a balance between stage make-up and regular day make-up. I am so used to seeing myself in heavy amounts of eyeshadow everyday that I just get used to it and think it’s okay for regular life. Hopefully it doesn’t look too drag-queen. And if it does…. I’m still guna work it because I like it and it makes my eyes look big.

I don’t like to wear eyeliner but when you wear false lashes you need a little. I make a very thin line on the upper lash line using ‘Two Faced Perfect Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner in Perfect Black’. I also put a small line over the eyeshadow under my bottom lashes but only on the very outside. Not drawing a line underneath. (Am I being to picky now?)

Mascara- ALWAYS and only.. old school CoverGirl Super Thick Lash in very black. (The skinny red tube) Lots of layers. Just keep loading it on, haha! Sometimes I do another layer of CoverGirl LashBlast Volume (the thick orange tube) if I want it even more intense. I have tried so many mascaras because I’m a sucker for new bright colors and believe the lies that they will make my lashes amazing. But this one always wins and again I have wasted money because I just throw them in the bag with my 239586 unacceptable concealers.

And now for false eyelashes: My eyes hate them. I have tried so many brands. Thick, thin, long, short…because of my job I need to wear something. But literally every time I wear a strip of false lashes my eyes get heavy and watery and I look tired. So I started using Individual lashes by ARDELL (Flare Short Black). WINNER!!! I could wear them everyday if I wanted. Josh thinks fake eyelashes are disgusting and make him want to gag… little did he know I was wearing them all the time. HA!! Now the secret is out because the videographer at our wedding filmed me putting them on while saying.. ‘Surprise hunnie… they aren’t real’. At least they don’t make him want to gag. I use tweezers to put them on and focus on the outer half. It really doesn’t take that long and you can also use it to fill in gaps in your lashes if you have any.

Eyebrows- I am a brow girl. I literally look like a different person if I don’t fill in my eyebrows. I use CoverGirl professional natural lash mascara (clear) to tame those suckers down. And then I use a brush and my dark brown eyeshadow (Which I may or may not have taken from Disney..shhh) La Femme Hollywood in Dark Brown.

I only use a light brush of powder between my eyebrows and on my nose. I do not like a shiny nose. T-zone control is important. I use MAC Select Sheer Pressed NC25.

Bronzer- Again thanks to your recommendation I am a die hard fan of NARS Bronzer in Laguna. It’s perfection and doesn’t give me pimples.

Blush- I may or may not have also taken this one from Disney….. haha it’s ‘La Femme HOLLYWOOD’ in Lilac Champagne. It is VERY pink but I literally dust the tiniest amount on only the apples of my cheeks (Yes while smiling). And its wonderful.

My trick for everyday lips is my Wal-Mart no name brand ‘Ariel’ (yes, like Little Mermaid… you can also get Cinderella) lip chap and then lip liner. I’m not kidding. I get so many compliments on it and I just want to laugh because it’s a dollar.. and probably made for 5 year olds. When I don’t have that I use Carmex and lipliner.

For this certain occasion I used my Ben Nye Rum Raisin lipliner (Thanks Disney) and I wanted really bright lips to match her bridesmaid flowers so I used Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fuchsia Fusion. It’s not super long lasting but I don’t mind reapplying. For me it’s really all about the liner because my lip line is not very defined.

One more product that I love to use for beautiful glowing skin, especially in a strapless dress, is St. Tropez Skin Illuminator. It’s a shimmery lotion that gives you a beautiful glow and defines your arms and neck/chest. Apparently Jennifer Aniston uses it so I had to give it a go. Turns out she knows what she’s doing. If you don’t want it to be too shimmery just mix it with a regular body lotion.

I think that’s it… Sorry if I rambled on and on. It’s very long. Oops.

And there you have it.  Let me tell you, I LOVE a girl that can talk makeup like it’s nobody’s business.  Music to my ears.  Chelsea may live far away (as she’s been a performer in Hong Kong and continues to live there), but let’s face it- there’s nothing like a heavenly makeup job to bring folks together, though they may live oceans apart.  Come visit soon, Chelsea!  xo, MR

Target and Kittens- Is there anything better?!

One of my most favorite things about my amatuer-ish makeup “expertise” is that I get asked lots of questions.  I love taking questions about anything, such as inquiries about which products I use to remove makeup (got that one last Sunday from a friend!), or a recommendation on a great, natural lipstick (got that one last Tuesday from a family member!), what my experience is with makeup setting spray (got that one on Friday from a coworker!), or what half of the makeup products in existence are even for in the first place (got that one last weekend from a dude friend!).  It’s a joy knowing that folks can count on me for some help, but it’s also fun seeing others grow in their own knowledge of beauty products.  As someone with a background in education, I really enjoy, well, educating people.  A couple days ago I accompanied one of my dearest friends to the MAC counter where she proceeded to choose four awesome eyeshadows for herself, including some super-fun contrast colors (and she hasn’t owned much product before this).  I’ve done her makeup a few times over the past year, and by having it done for her, she’s told me that it’s helped her understand the importance of certain products (like eyeshadow primer and highlighter) and that it’s helped her see how she’s capable of doing her own makeup quite well, too!  Sometimes you just need someone to tell you that you can do it on your own, or show you how to do it just once, or insist that you don’t have to follow “the rules” of makeup as closely as you may think.

One of the questions that I’m asked frequently concerns drugstore makeup.  I believe I may have posted on a similar topic already, but another go-round can’t hurt!  Many folks want to know what items they can save on at a drugstore, or at least which particular drugstore items are good finds that are hidden beneath the rest of the not-so-quality makeup.  I always like to say that face makeup and blush should definitely be held to higher standards, and skincare and haircare should be as well (and these should be held to the most natural standards possible, too).  But there are a couple goodies that I’ve recommended to everyone that you can purchase for ten bucks or less at your local Rite-Aid, Target, etc.  A couple of these picks are just different neutral eyeshadows, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve been asked for recommendations on a universally-flattering eyeshadow that can be worn easily.  So here, a compilation of my favorite finds as shown at a local Target:

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Maybelline’s line of Color Tattoo eyeshadows consist of an extremely pigmented and long-lasting cream-to-powder color that gives great shimmer.  I’d honestly compare the quality of this line to Chanel’s Illusion D’Ombre, though with not as multidimensional shades.  “Bad to the Bronze”, as seen here, is particularly well-known for being a great choice for any skin color and any eye color.  This very shade been praised in Allure magazine, and what’s great about cream shadows in general is that they’re so easy to use.  You don’t even need a brush- just use your fingers to swipe this stuff on to your lids and up to the brow bone.

revlon

Revlon’s Colorstay quad palettes are the best budget-friendly answer to the eye palette question.  The one shown in “Addictive” is, like the Maybelline shade, a good, foolproof choice for anyone.  Revlon recently gave their eye palettes a makeover so they used to look a little different (and they had different names, as this one was previously named “Coffee Bean Quad”), but they seemed to upgrade the range of shades offered, as well.  Revlon’s Customeyes palettes are also great if you’re searching for a more avant-garde selection, and their PhotoReady shadow and primer palettes are equally creative in color range.  The PhotoReady palette in “Pop Art” has always looked fun to me for a more dramatic look.

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Some of the more frustrating experiences I’ve had with makeup artists or counter employees is their insistence that if you purchase one product, you simply have to buy this other product that will make the first one much more effective.  For instance, if you purchase a new face powder, you simply must buy the setting powder to apply for a proper finish!  Gah!  One thing at a time!  Unless you’ve specifically stated that you’re out to complete your whole kit from top to bottom, don’t worry about nabbing everything suggested to you.  Buy items as you realize that you need them.  However, sometimes such advice from experts is, in fact, merited.  Case and point:  proper makeup brushes.  Please, please, PLEASE do not believe that a single eyeshadow brush will help you achieve any desired look you have in mind.  There are, in fact, different brushes for very different purposes.  I won’t go into detail here on which ones do which things (though I’ll just say that for eyes, you should probably own at least three different brush types if you want to be really effective with your shadows).  Now, I always try to encourage folks to stick with higher-quality brushes as they’re denser, softer, and tend to last far longer, but the Sonia Kashuk line at Target has a surprisingly strong line of cosmetic tools to choose from.  Her brushes (especially those that are black and labeled as “professional”) are very precise and efficient in application.  I’ve even purchased some of her application sponges (See the blue precision sponge?  A great BeautyBlender knock-off!) with great results.  So my point is, if you don’t have the time to mosey on over the the nearest Sephora, head to Target instead and snag a couple of these brushes.  They’re affordable without skimping on effectiveness.

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I think I’ve talked about these puppies before, but here’s an innovative lip product from a drugstore that you can count on: Revlon’s Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain.  Quite the mouthful, huh?  These are Revlon’s answer to Clinique’s Chubby Sticks, a product meant to provide sheer color and lasting hydration.  Ever since Gucci Westman assumed position as the global artistic director of Revlon, the colors offered by the brand in everything from eyeshadow to nail color have seemed to take a high-end turn.  This Just Bitten Kissable shade in “Darling” is a perfect example.  It’s not a typical bubblegum pink- it’s got hints of lavender in it.  It’s about as close to purple as my lips will ever get, but it’s a fun choice for something a little more unexpected.

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You’ve heard me talk about these before, but proper doctrine need not be preached in limited quantities.  CoverGirl’s LashBlast line makes the best budget-friendly mascaras.  Period.  Take special note of the blue, green, and orange tubes.  I’ve used all of these for years.  I’ve used others in between such as Maybelline, Dior, L’Oreal, and Stila, but none manage to compare to CoverGirl’s.  I understand that people tend to want different things when it comes to mascara (because how Maybelline’s Great Lash still manages to sell well, I’ll never know), but if you’re looking for a buildable, slightly tacky formula with a brush that can be easily controlled, these are perfect.  The only one I really haven’t liked is the “24 Hour” kind, in the black tube.  Too messy, goopy, and not enough build.  But as for the rest, knock yourself out.

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First things first:  sorry for the dirty nail.  I literally covered myself in clay yesterday and have yet to scrape off every bit of it (but whether it was at the spa or for an art project, you’ll never know).  Second things second:  L’Oreal’s Infallible 24 HR Eye Shadow line is the boooooommmmmmmmmb.  That sounds like it says “is the boom”.  Well, it’s the boom and it’s the bomb.  This line is your best choice for a dramatic, “going out” look for under ten dollars.  These have incredible color payoff comparable to Urban Decay’s shadows, but if you don’t like shine be sure to stay away as these will draw some serious attention to your peepers.  This shade in “Bottomless Java” might be one of my favorite shadows of all time, and I taut it as my absolute favorite drugstore find beyond all the aforementioned.  This whole line is completely reliable, though.  I posted a video from IntoTheGloss a while ago that showcased my hero Emily Weiss using the “Eternal Black” shade for a super-smokey glam-rock look.  So before running over to MAC for one of their pigments, check these out first.  They may have what you’re looking for.

Welp, there you have it.  If you’ve read, I know that the next time you’re at Target, it’s highly likely that you’ll be picking up one (or all) of these.  But I hope you’ve found this helpful, as we’re often overwhelmed by the choices given to us by makeup manufacturers (and that’s actually part of their strategy).  So fear not!  Play it safe and play it beautiful with one of these Old Faithfuls.  And here, to make your day even more special, two pictures of a kitten with my makeup brushes:

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Now go die happy.  xo, MR