Vid Tutorial: Bronzer/Blush For Beginners

Okay, so I promise that my next post will be a written one!  I’m working on an article about my experience following another article that’ll shows the steps for emulating a certain celebrity look, and I’m super excited because it involves bright eyeshadow (a rare thing for me).  But for today, it’s more video tutorial practice!

Again, the aim for my tutorials is to be like, ridiculously simple and obnoxiously basic.  And always under ten minutes. Today this will look like discussing bronzer and blush, and how to apply both.  If you already know what you’re doing and if you’re already some expert in color correcting and could even offer Jaclyn Hill a few tips at this point, well, then maybe this isn’t for you.  So chill out and prepare to not be impressed.  I am not Huda Kattan.

On the flipside, if you’ve ever been unsure about where or how to apply bronzer, blush, or both at the same time and you just want somewhere to start, I’m here for you.  And note that my finished results really aren’t that much different from what I start with- the aim is never to transform, but rather to simply enhance.  Obviously you can build on blush and bronzer from the point where I leave you, but the biggest takeaway is the where and the how.  Enjoy!  xo, MR

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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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