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

When in Rome, do as the French do. Or whatever.

photo (96)So, I’ve been trying this new thing lately.  I’ve been wearing just red lipstick.  No no, just red lipstick.  I’ll put on my moisturizer, comb my eyebrows if I have a moment (and lightly even them out with a pencil if even more time), and then choose one of my reds and get to paintin’.  And then I’ll leave.  No concealer anywhere, no blush, no mascara, nothing beyond the red lip.  Today was one of these days, and I employed NARS Dragon Girl.  It’s brighter than the more scarlet Cruella, but I’ll take either one.

Considering my inability to wake up in a timely manner, I often find myself lacking the time to put on any sort of makeup before I leave the house for work.  I’ve discussed this before.  But it bums me out.  For as much of a crazy hoarder lady as I am when it comes to makeup, I have to say that I probably wear it just three out of seven days during the week.  It’s depressing too, because putting on makeup has the capabilities of relaxing and centering me, and I have to miss out on that creative moment just for myself.  But part of what prevents me from doing my makeup quickly is this belief that when I do it, I have to do a full routine.  And it’s not that a full routine necessarily takes a ton of time once I get going, but it’s just that I take about as long as an Ent to make a decision when it comes to makeup.  Seriously.  I’ll lay all of my makeup out in front of me and then just stare at it for a few minutes before I pick anything up.

What’s great about the red lip, however, is that it needs nothing else.  It really doesn’t.  No “full routine” is necessary.  I recently read an interview of makeup artist phenom Laura Mercier, and she talked about how you can find women all over her home country of France who wear absolutely no makeup everyday except for red lipstick.  Their hair is perhaps casually pulled back, their skin is bare, but their lips are painted vibrant red.  And somehow the touch of unabashedly glamorous red manages to pull your whole look together.  It looks intentional, and yet it still appears like you didn’t try too hard.  Like you just ascend to Audrey Hepburn levels of sophistication on a regular basis, even if you’re just in a sweater and jeans.

I do admit that I love the French beauty aesthetic a lot more than our American perspective on it.  The French idea of beauty tends to revolve a lot more around the natural and the subtle.  There’s a sense of restraint within French women when it comes to things like makeup and hair, and yet they’ll never be accused of not taking the subject seriously (but not in an obsessive manner like we tend to be used to … think more reverence than obsession).  Conversely, American beauty has few subtleties to it by comparison.  The idealized perception of Barbie and women like those we see in the Miss America pageant, the outlandish plastic surgery procedures we’ll undergo just to feel like a “hotter” version of ourselves, all the gloss, shadow, and false lashes we use, and the heavy face makeup that really doesn’t do a thing for your face other than make you look like the child of RuPaul … seriously, what we tend to perceive as light, day-time makeup here will fly as an over-done full face of crepe batter in France.

It isn’t that French women don’t try; it’s just that there’s a difference between, say, trying to look like a Victoria’s Secret model every day from the time you’re twenty until you’re fifty, as opposed to just simply trying to age gracefully when it needs to happen.  I’d like to think that what I’m doing (and not doing) to my skin today is actually an investment that will pay off when I’m sixty.  And finally, the most interesting part of French beauty culture to me is the fact that there’s zero emphasis on working out.  They take their time with food, eat a very balanced diet, and do plenty of walking, but the gym fanatic culture we see here in America doesn’t exist in France.  Whether a woman has a J.Lo butt and Gwen Stefani abs isn’t really a concern; it has more to do with a woman’s taste and how she carries herself.

I know all of this may sound like the very height of snobbery, and for that I apologize.  It’s just that getting acquainted with the French idea of beauty over the past couple years has given me the realization that getting ready, or should I say getting pulled together in a sophisticated way, doesn’t have to be as hard as a routine of eye makeup, face makeup, and curled hair.  In fact, sometimes doing just the opposite has a much chicer effect, and this has been nothing short of freeing for me personally.  Because I feel like concealer, bronzer, blush, eyeliner, and mascara are all necessary when I do my makeup, I give up on all of it all together when I don’t have the time.  But not so with the French!  Just grab the rouge and go, and if it can be so with the French, it can be so for moi.  xo, MR

p.s. Oh, have I been to France?  Nope.  But let me just say this- when I get there, DO NOT expect to find me galavanting around like an excited tourist.  I intend to blend in seamlessly, even if it means wearing a paper bag on my head as some kind of fashion-forward “statement” so I can hide from you.  I need to be taken seriously by the people that I so admire, and I’ll be not be outed by you ID-ing me as a ‘Murican!  If there is a ever a time when I need to look like I can cut you with my gaze, it’s when you find me in Paris.  I’ll be wearing the most uncomfortable plantar-fascitis-inducing heels with the most awesome, heavy, bad-for-travelling-but-good-for-looking-like-Catherine-Denueuve coat I can find.  I don’t have time for your comfy sweater-sets and walking shoes and backpacks!  What is that kind of foolery?!  Don’t look at me with your fanny pack in Paris.  DON’T look at me.

On how I was once told that I look like Severus Snape. And how someone fixed that.

I’ve never done a “before and after” makeover.  Ever.  I just haven’t had the opportunity, and I mean, I usually like to think that the “before” isn’t that bad.  However, this past week I made contact with an old childhood friend who needed a model for some before-and-after makeover shots.  Lauren had been working at the Laura Mercier counter at the Nordstrom in South Coast Plaza, and she’d been given an opportunity to pursue a counter manager position for Trish McEvoy at a different Nordstrom location.  One requirement for the position- produce some before-and-after shots of a model for direct approval by Trish McEvoy herself.  So Lauren threw up a little Facebook “Help me!” one night in search of a model, and I figured hey, I’ve never done it before, I had the time, and I’d love to catch up with a childhood friend, so why not?

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Welp, I know my initial thoughts regarding this whole thing were “Why not?”, but upon seeing the results of Lauren’s work, I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of, “Oh … that’s why”.

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Now, I do not mean to go on any kind of self-deprecating rant here.  I’ve always found an abundance of self-deprecation to be disingenuous for the most part, smacking of a sad search for affirmation.  When well-placed and given in moderation, self-deprecation can actually be my favorite kind of humor (read: Liz Lemon), but I try not to make it my go-to.  So know this: I’m being honest.

But let me tell you that upon showing these shots to my dad, he said that I looked like Severus Snape in the one to the left.  Yes, Dad was paying me the highly-coveted compliment of saying that I look like this man.  How fortunate am I among women!  But you know, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that, well, I couldn’t detect just a little bit of resemblance.  I mean, one of my regular coffee shop customers has told me within this past month that A) I look like Orlando Bloom and B) I look like a page boy.  And no, we’re not talking Orlando Bloom in full Nordic-blonde extensions Legolas-tic glory here.  While most women these days would love to be told that they look like Miranda Kerr, I was bestowed the honor of being told that I look like the dude that married and made a baby with Miranda Kerr.  But I mean, in regards to my “before” picture, I admit that I myself exclaimed that I looked like a gender-ambiguous prison inmate upon seeing it.  And it probably doesn’t help that the expression on my face seems to be bordering on Charlie Sheen mugshot territory.  But hey, it happens.  We’ve all got our Severus Snape/Charlie Sheen/Orlando Bloom days, and it’s for reasons like this that we can all appreciate miracle-workers like Lauren.

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I absolutely loved Lauren’s work.  She stuck to a palette of matte, brownish neutrals for my eyes, really played up my brows (which I loved), and we ended up doing more of a warm, coral lip.  I also loved her application of my face makeup because while she used a good number of products, she applied them in thin, sheer layers and blended them seamlessly to the point where I didn’t look like I was truly wearing makeup- it rather looked like I had perfect skin with subtle contouring.  Lauren was also honest in naming products that she was more excited about than others, and in steering me away from a couple that she wasn’t the biggest fan of.  And trust me- you are hard pressed to find a salesperson in the beauty industry that will be honest in their opinion of products that they have every opportunity to make commission on.  It’s almost always about the up-sale, but with Lauren I walked away with a gorgeous makeup job and a true education.  If you ever find yourself in need of a most excellent makeup artist while perusing the ever-intimidating grounds of the Nordstrom beauty department, know that Lauren is your girl.  I’ll be going back for that Laura Mercier Mineral Illuminating Powder in Starlight, Lauren!  You rock!  Lauren’s been working on a blog of her own recently that you can follow her at:

And I have to add, simply because of all the grand compliments I’ve been receiving lately, that Lauren sent in the pictures for review (with a predictably positive outcome, thanks to Lauren’s talent) and Trish McEvoy herself called me beautiful … *squeal*.  Take that, Snape.  xo, MR