Vid Tutorial: Beauty Blender For Beginners

So, what difference can a twenty-dollar sponge honestly make with foundation application?

In my honest opinion, a lot.

For a long time the BeautyBlender sounded very gimmicky to me.  I mean, couldn’t I just go buy the pink knock-off sponges at CVS?  Well, you can, but the BeautyBlender is soft, silky, washable, and reusable.  It’s meant to handle a lot of work, and it is not the same as your typical drugstore sponge.  The results when it comes to foundation application are true to the hype, and I believe this tool works better than foundation brushes!  I purchased one perhaps a month ago and I have to tell you that I haven’t picked up a foundation brush since.

So, here’s a quick how-to on applying foundation with a BeautyBlender (along with a bonus how-to on Glossier’s BoyBrow).  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.

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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

Laying The Foundation

I’ve been really into liquid foundation lately.  I know that may seem like a no-brainer for a makeup junkie, but it’s taken me a long time to come around to it.  I’ve only just begun to truly appreciate it.  I remember the first bottle of nice-ish foundation I ever purchased was from The Body Shop, and I wore it for my wedding day underneath my favored BareMinerals Original powder foundation.  Beyond a special occasion like that, I’ve rarely worn it until just recently.

Foundation didn’t have a lot of appeal to me when I was first getting into makeup.  I think I grew up watching a lot of girls cover their faces in MAC StudioFix or something like that old CoverGirl AquaSmooth compact foundation, and then they’d reapply throughout the day with the same sponge that they’d been using for a couple months.  Holy bacteria Batman.  I remember my high school geometry teacher calling out a girl in class once when she had her makeup out for reapplication.  The funny thing, however, was that she didn’t give her a hard time for having makeup out in class- she gave her a hard time for reusing that dirty old sponge that was in the compact, rather than a fluffy brush that you can clean regularly.  I remember seeing a couple powder brushes make their appearance in geometry after that.

The formulas couldn’t have helped either.  So many foundation formulas have been loaded with cheap petrochemicals that essentially clog your pores, disabling them from releasing oil and sealing them to a fate of breakouts (though foundation may certainly not be the only cause of one’s acne).  And you hardly knew better as an eighteen-year-old!  Growing up, the range of formula types was limited, even within the high-end brands.  It seemed that every kind of foundation was meant only for full-coverage. That ever-popular MAC StudioFix among high schoolers?  Oh man.  The number one ingredient in that stuff is talc, which means that you’re basically caking baby powder on to your face with the help of a bunch of slippery silicones.  The only truly inventive type of foundation that I remember noticing were those with salicylic acid in them, meant to help clear acne.  Beyond that, the textures were all the same- a dense, creamy substance with little to no dimension.  Which makes sense of why so many of our faces in high school looked like they were covered in pancake batter.

However, the foundation formulas we’re seeing today are more innovative than ever.  The line between skincare and makeup is continuing to be blurred, and the ingredients are thankfully increasing in quality.  Those formulated to cast a beautiful, pearly glow all over your skin thanks to light-giving pigments, those meant to provide “high definition” coverage that looks flawless on camera, those fused with skin-healing serum to moisturize and make you shine, those formulated with all kinds of exciting natural ingredients, and those meant to be virtually undetectable- there are so many incredible options now.

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I feel like two things have been responsible for this revolution- the first being the advent of high-definition television, and the second being the rise of BareMinerals.  Regarding the latter, it seemed like BareMinerals taught us all of sudden that we could have really amazing makeup without all the extra petro crap in it, along with our fresh pressed watermelon juice and free range eggs.  The former set all kinds of celebrities and makeup artists to the drawing board, in desperate need of makeup that concealed the flaws now being exposed on HD TV in reality shows and on the news.  And so from there, we gained two great innovations- mineral makeup and high definition makeup.

The creativity surrounding foundation these days seems to be limitless.  I see new formulas showing up on Instagram, in magazines, and on blogs constantly.  Some particular standouts seem to be the following: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Foundation, Too Faced Born This Way Foundation, Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Foundation, Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation, Yves Saint Laurent Fusion Ink Foundation, Glossier Skin Perfecting Tint, and MakeUpForEver Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation.  Many of these unique, high-end formulas have been immediately followed up with drugstore versions, such as Maybelline Dream Wonder Fluid-Touch Foundation as an answer to the Armani, and Revlon PhotoReady Airbrush Effect Makeup as an affordable response to the MakeUpForEver HD formula.  The trends are undeniable.

A few personal favorites that I’ve tried on brides or myself and have loved include the aforementioned MakeUpForEver (my current favorite for my own face, and the first I ever used on a bride), Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Foundation, Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H Foundation, the aforementioned Tarte, and Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Eclat Illuminating Foundation (the ideal for my own face, but currently too expensive and no reason to buy yet).  I like Lancome’s Teint Miracle too, but the shade I own it in is now officially too light.  Looks like I’m going to have to wait until the dead of winter to wear it, or mix it with something else.

I’ve always loved using BareMinerals Original, but I’ve begun to notice that it’s doing something a little funny to the texture of my skin.  It’s now seeping into my pores and fine lines, and I’m finding that some liquid foundation formulas these days give more of a healthy look to my face.  The original powder formula formula is making me look and feel a tad dry even with a primer, and that’s not something I need in a Chicago winter.  I prefer the brand’s Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream now, and I’m enjoying experimenting with the liquid formulas I have (which only amounts to three, honestly).

Any formulas you particularly love?  Or hate?  I’m so impressed by the excellent variety of foundations out there these days, I’d try them all if I could!  xo, MR

When Snow White got married. Or, my bride Ali!

Oh, where to begin?  I have been looking forward to this wedding for a long, long time.  Mike and Ali have been dating for as long as I’ve known each of them (since they were seniors in high school), and my husband and I have spent so much time around them both as individuals and as a couple that when their wedding weekend was finally upon us, it just felt like some kind of surreal.  And I’d had a feeling that Ali would be giving me the honor of doing her makeup for her wedding day, but having me as her bridesmaid?  Too much.  Too much joy.  Ali is all at once lively and calm, silly and subdued.  She’s at first glance an introvert, but you then come to realize that she’s an adorable rabbit waiting to pop out of the magician’s hat.  Ali is wise, thoughtful, mature, and unwavering in her convictions.  She’s a gem, and I’ve barely seen her since the wedding day and it’s killing me!  Just a few more days, Ali!

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Now, back to business.  What’s great about doing a friend’s makeup for their wedding is the fact that you’ll probably get to do multiple trial-runs on them, editing and choosing different things as you go along.  Ali and I got to do exactly this, as I did her makeup for her engagement shoot (which I blabbed about here), for fun several times, and for two of her bridal showers.  Now, I’d given Ali a smokey eye for her engagement shots and I’d say it turned out pretty well.  It was sultry, exciting, but not quite … I don’t know … Ali?  If you know her, you get it.  It was ridiculously fun at the time, but as the months passed I was still uncertain as to what I was going to do for the big day, and I knew it wouldn’t be a smokey eye.  So for her first bridal shower, I decided to have a little fun and go with a hot pink lip.  It was a hit.  I absolutely loved it.   It worked with her fair skin and dark hair, and it took the drama down a necessary notch while still having impact.  And then the wedding inspiration came: a berry lip.  I dreamed of something along the lines of Snow White, and the vision began to come together.

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I began collecting the tools necessary for my vision, and l once again lucked out by owning a foundation shade that matched my bride perfectly (MakeUpForEver HD Foundation, uh-gain).  I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve built such a kit that I don’t have too much of a need for new product.  However, I chose to invest in Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light, mostly because I wanted a great finishing powder that A) wasn’t loose (like MakeUpForEver’s HD Finish Powder) and B) didn’t leave any possible ghostly white traces (like MakeUpForEver’s HD Finish Powder).  Hourglass did the trick perfectly.

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There I am at work!  We’re just about ready to walk down the aisle, so I’m just doing touch-ups here.  For myself, I had my hair blown out by the fabulous Dani of Salon reBelle in Orange, and I went with a deep side-part just to add some drama and show off the lovely highlights that Justin of Salon 9 had given me some time ago.  I chose a smokey eye for myself, which I tend to favor when it’s time to dress up.  I wasn’t completely happy with the combination of shades I chose … a bit too grey for my taste, which is oddly my least favorite shade on my own eyes … but it was fun anyhow.  Any time I *need*  false eyelashes is a fun time.

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Here’s a shot of mi’lady I took once I was completely finished with her makeup.  I had to have my dear friend Laura (who was responsible for hair, by the way) help me apply Ali’s eyelashes because by that point my hands were so shaky from caffeine and small finger movements.  But nonetheless, everything turned out exactly the way I’d hoped.  Oh, and speaking of things being exactly what I’d hoped for: Ali snapped up my out-of-this-world talented friend Bethany for her own wedding photography.  I’ve raved about Bethany in my post on Ali’s engagement shoot, but also in this post here when she envisioned an old-world romantic desert wedding using my husband and I as models.    I really can’t explain how ethereal Bethany’s photography is to me.  Everything she sees is romance.  There’s a special character to her eye that I just can’t describe, and so I just have to let her work explain for itself.  Below, the perfect kind of shot I was hoping for once Laura and I were finished with Ali’s hair and makeup.  This particular shot is nothing special, and yet, it totally is.

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Things just kept getting better once Ali put on her dress.  And oh, THAT DRESS.  Ali had tried on a number of dresses, and while they all looked stunning on her, this one both looked stunning and perfectly captured her personality.  Again, if you know Ali, you just get it (not to get all insider on my readers, but some things are just difficult to explain without knowing a person).  This dress was something out of Downton Abbey, it was!  And it doesn’t hurt that Ali has always reminded me somewhat of Michelle Dockery.

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I remember how I kept constantly saying, “YOU LOOK LIKE SNOW WHITE” allllllllll day long.  But I meant it!  If there were ever an illustrated bridal interpretation done of that princess, this is what it would look like.  I just couldn’t get over it.

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I happily reapplied Laura Mercier’s Lip Stain in Mulberry on top of Stila’s Lip Stain in Cherry Crush frequently throughout the day.  The former can be a tad drying, so Ali’s sister offered up some of her own gloss later in the day for the reception, which worked out nicely.  For Ali’s cheeks, I only stuck with some contouring (no blush, technically) by using MAC’s blush in Buff.  I absolutely love that shade for contouring on fair-to-medium skin, as using bronzer for contouring just doesn’t work on everyone.

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Isn’t she something straight out of a fairy tale?!  I kept waiting for bluebirds and chipmunks to start following her and carrying her train!

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And at last, the beautiful couple.  I couldn’t have imagined a more glorious bride for this day.  And this day in it’s entirety was, in fact, wonderful.  I got to play bridesmaid duty for an incredible friend, one of my own bridesmaids did the magnificent photography work, and my husband performed the wedding ceremony!  I was in heaven.  But that’s what weddings are, aren’t they: the slightest, sheerest picture of a heaven that we’ve yet to see.  Love you so much, Michael and Alison! xo, MR

All of the photography featured in this post (save for the fourth picture) is credited to Bethany Carlson Photography.  For more of Bethany’s beautiful work, you can visit her website at www.bethanycarlson.com.