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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Boy Brow? Oh Boy!

It’s no mystery that I love famed beauty blog Into The Gloss.

I was lead to discover it one day as I read an interview with Derek Lam in Allure magazine; he suggested it as a beautifully curated beauty blog from an insider perspective (that of beauty editor Emily Weiss).  I was in a classroom when I first searched the blog; I remember exactly what computer I was on.  At the time I’d been reading junky, more celebrity focused blogs here and there, but that deep craving for real product knowledge and in-depth discussion over the nitty gritty stuff in beauty wasn’t really satisfied by such content.  I also loved seeing what other people used in makeup and hair, but I didn’t have much of a broad platform for these discussions other than my friends and magazines.  I loved going through other people’s makeup bags and medicine cabinets (still do!) to see what they used; finding a fancy bottle of shampoo behind someone’s shower curtain is like finding hidden treasure!  And yes, that’s me sneaking behind your shower curtain like Norman Bates’ mom so leave out all your good stuff for me to see and play with.

Anyhow, Into The Gloss, and particularly their interview features, successfully scratched this itch that I’d apparently been dealing with and it had me addicted around February of 2011.  The site seemed to clarify my perspective and ideas about beauty and the specific things I love about it.  For instance, not liking makeup for the sake of makeup, but enjoying it (and shampoos and perfumes and facewash) for the environment it creates and the ability you have to curate your own special little collection.  It’s like an expression of your identity- the eyeliner you like to wear, the way you like to wear it, when you choose to wear it.  ITG felt like it had more philosophy and nuance behind it than blind allegiance to a certain look or brand; more discussion and just plain sharing than crazy video tutorials.  ITG also played a large part in building my confidence in going makeup-free.  I came to see that your bare, well-treated skin could be just as great a luxury as a rich, smoked-out eye.

So when Emily announced the birth and creation of a beauty line in late 2014 based on ITG philosophies and the desires of their readers, I admit that I reacted in a somewhat possessive manner.  No!  No no no.  The blog had gotten too big and too well-known already since I’d begun reading; it was no longer my special little secret and now there’s a product line coming out?  Too much!  Can’t handle it.  I basically hipstered out on the whole thing for a while.

But the line- named Glossier (say glossy-YAY)- is just so beautiful and is marketed just so well.  You cannot help but be impressed by the entire experience that Glossier gives its customer.  The packaging and social media interactions are unique and adorable, down to the very cardboard box your shipment arrives in and the emojis they use that come as stickers with your order.  Their “skin is in” philosophy comes through loud and clear with products like the Skin-Perfecting Tint that seeks to just keep your complexion even and glowing in a way that doesn’t cover up or even “make up” your face.

Glossier has a vision that feels clean, fresh, and also very French (which you know I love).  The focus is on items like masks, face mists, and balms, like a no-nonsense-but-somehow-still-indulgent spa day for your face.  You can tell how much careful thought and editing went into this line, with my favorite example being the trademark shade of “Glossier pink” on all their packaging which reminds me of that pink door in Palm Springs.  In fact, that’s what all of Glossier reminds me of- Palm Springs.  Modern, luxurious, and yet still a little raw thanks to it’s natural environment.

I just can’t help but applaud the whole innovation of Glossier, even if I am feeling a bit jealous of how popular and awesome they’ve become and how everyone now knows it and wants to have them in their medicine cabinet.

Today, however, I am celebrating Glossier’s newest addition to its line, and it’s their very first color product.  This is Boy Brow!

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I knew a color product was on its way from the line, but when I discovered that it was a brow product, I might have done a mid-air heel click.  Brows are having their moment, and I feel like we’re all looking for that one product (ideally not two or three or four) that takes care of the whole picture.  As shown in my post from just a few weeks ago, I sometimes use up to four products at once on my brows (dry brush, two pencils, and gel), and that’s not counting tweezers and any browbone highlighting I choose to do.  Even my CK One product that I love so much still has two steps to it.

So when Glossier announced Boy Brow as “brows goals achieved” in one step, I was skeptical.  If it was to be an all-in-one, this meant the following needed to be true: the brush would need to be strong enough to brush brows into your desired shape without leaving too much product behind, the formula pigmentation would need to be concentrated enough to not need more filling in with some other product, the formula would need to leave a nice finish with some shine, and the formula would need to last without being stiff.

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I purchased Boy Brow in black because I perceived the brown to possibly be too auburn/red for my brows.  I received it yesterday, and …

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BOY BROW!

To have my brows look the way I want with just a couple literal strokes of a wand is pretty dreamy.  The wax formula is inspired by traditional hair pomade with beeswax and canauba wax, which makes sense since guys typically use a creamy but tough pomade when they want their hair to stay in place; why not the same for brows?  The formula also lasts all day, as in I’m looking at myself hours later as I write this and my brows haven’t moved.  However, Boy Brow doesn’t stiffen in the way that one other product I use does.  I enjoy this other formula-that-shall-remain-nameless for its shine qualities, but it can leave my brows very stiff and you can feel the gel stretching when you make expressions with your face.  Not so with Boy Brow.

Application was a cinch.  A couple tiny, gentle strokes with the tiny, gentle brush delivered enough pigment to my brows without leaving clumps of goop behind, and my brows were given a thicker, more full appearance which meant no need for extra filling in with a pencil.  The finish has a slight shine to it without looking wet, and the small, tapered brush separates every hair.

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After using Boy Brow with completely successful results for the past two days, I’ve placed this puppy on my bathroom counter, where I try to leave the products I don’t want to leave home without applying first.  If it’s going to be that simple, why not keep this out where it’s always handy?

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Boy Brow comes in three shades, and I’ve left no filter on the first selfie above so you can see how the black shade matches my brows spot-on.  I’m sure there’s a Boy Brow match for you, too.  To shop Boy Brow or to browse more of their awesome products, go to Glossier here.  Thanks for the fun, Glossier!  xo, MR

Brow Game Strong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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