Thursday, December 4, 2014

That time I went out to buy a media cabinet, and came home with more beauty supplies...

When I was shopping in Ikea, I fully intended to use this for it's actual purpose: DVD storage. Then I decided to repurpose these media drawer liners as brush drying mats.

A good set of brushes is so essential to a good makeup application, and if you take proper care of them they can last you for a decade or longer. My favorite indestructible brushes, both from my personal stash and for professional use, were made by Bdellium Tools, Royal Langnickel, and Shu Uemura. Obviously, I have invested a great chunk of money into making sure that I have the proper brush for every job, so I am meticulous about their care. Bad things happen when excess moisture stays in the brush. At best, it can get in the ferrule, weaken the glue, the hairs begin to shed, and your 65 dollar brush is now just a stick. What's the worst that can happen? The combination of excess moisture, haphazard cleaning, and improper drying or storage can lead to spreading of germs and bacteria to yourself or your clients.
I clean each brush individually, disinfect it, squeeze out the excess moisture, and lay them flat to dry. My Inreda Makeup Brush Drying Mat (because that's what it is) is 3/4" deep, which elevates my tools away from whatever hidden bacteria may be lurking on surfaces, allows for air to completely circulate around and through the bristles, and gets the brushes dry faster. Do you feel the need to sanitize your fancy new drying surface? Spray it down with alcohol or pop it in the dishwasher.
The Inreda DVD rack costs seven dollars in the media storage area of Ikea, so I bought two when I thought that I would use them to organize video games and DVDs. Laid out side by side, the two mats can evenly dry about 100 brushes at one time.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Effaclar Serum is effective and the price is right.

I am officially obsessed with Effaclar Serum from La Roche-Posay. The miracle serum is engineered to help normal-to-oily skin types address and combat signs of environmental damage and aging. It can be used daily with sunscreen and/or nightly under moisturizer. Since I started using it nightly I have seen a dramatic difference in the texture of my skin. Pores around my nose appear smaller, and they no longer swallow up my makeup and primer when I wear foundation. I have oily/combination skin, and this serum has lessened the texture of both dry patches AND the acne scars. My skin is not only smooth (literally, like butta), but much brighter and more even-toned. I love this product and cannot say enough good things about it.
I have noted here in my blog before that I am extremely sun-sensitive, and usually steer clear of using deep exfolating methods in the summer. Follow the directions on the bottle (with any type of AHA or glycolic serum) to avoid getting a sunburn. Effaclar contains a 7.5% AHA-Glycolic Complex, which is strong enough to get the job done, but hasn't left my skin irritated. It tingles just enough to let you know that it is working.
The best part of it all is the price. I have paid upwards of 150 dollars for similar products and not seen these kind of results. Effeclar is costs a little more than 40 dollars, and available at CVS or Ulta. When I factor in the coupon that I used to get the serum, I am amazed that it is possible to get spa-like results from a product I paid 25 bucks for at a drugstore.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

No, I don't need to see a link to your Pinterest page.

Now that bridal season is in full swing, I'm just about fully booked, and things are going well! However, I have noticed a disturbing uptick in one particular bridal trend that needs to end now: 2014 is the year of The Obsessive Pinterest Bride.
I am a freelancer, and consider every job as an audition for the next. One angry bride with internet access can ruin my whole season, so my ultimate goal is to give each and every one of them an outstanding experience, from first contact to the final follow up. I have been working with brides for a decade, and I have never seen a planning tool that is more confusing and destructive to the creative process. Beautiful women contact me, and say in their initial emails "I don't wear very much makeup, so I'd like to look natural. Do you mind if I send you a link to my Pinterest page?" ...And then they send me a link to 200 photos of women wearing full coverage foundation, highlight and contour, black winged eyeliner, layered lashes, and opaque matte lipstick. Yes, it is beautiful makeup, but it is as far from natural as a makeup artist can get. I would never use that much makeup on a person who is not on stage, period. 
The majority of the Pinterest photos I see were staged on-set by a team of professionals, who need it to look good for only an hour or however long it takes for the photographer to get the shot. The makeup artist and hairstylist are standing just out of the frame, ready to run in and powder a nose or slick down any stray hairs. Many of these looks weren't designed to hold up for hours (after sweat and tears, or an entire wedding/reception/after party), but to be photographed quickly and then changed to another look. Unless you are paying me to follow you down the aisle with my set bag, to stay all day and all night ready to touch up your makeup at any second, chances are I'm going to use a different batch of products than what would be used for a quick photo.

Clients need to remember that some of these women in the pictures are not actual brides on their wedding day, but MODELS working on a bridal shoot. I frequently point this fact out to clients because it is part of a model's job to take care of their skin, whether that means getting regular facials or just having a fantastic home skin care regimen. Please, do not expect that on your wedding day or at your bridal trial your makeup artist is going to swoop in like a magical fairy and give you perfectly flawless skin. If you haven't been doing the prep work by drinking tons of water and using quality skin care products, then my work is only going to be as smooth as the canvas that you have given me to paint on. 

I have never done a bridal or formalwear photoshoot where the hair stylist didn't bring a suitcase full of extra hair. Let me repeat that again: I have NEVER done a bridal or formalwear photoshoot that didn't require the hair stylist to bring a suitcase full of extra hair. However, I have seen engaged women share page after page of Pinterest images with hairstylists and expect to get the exact same extreme multi-tiered voluminous updos. Unless you are showing up to your bridal trial with at least two extra bundles of hair, the hairstylist has to work with what grows out of your head. Some brides realize this, order hair extensions weeks before the wedding, and have them dyed to match. A lot of Pinterest brides see a photo, fall in love with a look that is impossible for the average human to achieve, and have very unrealistic expectations based off that photo. 

These photos have also been professionally retouched. I will admit that sometimes it takes a highly trained eye to know how much a photo has been digitally manipulated "in post" (that's industry talk for adding filters and effects). Here's a clue: when the model or bride in the photo has a face that is blurred completely poreless and devoid of natural moles, freckles, or vellum hairs ("peach fuzz"), that is probably NOT a good inspiration photo to show your wedding day makeup artist. 

It's not just the wedding vendors who are feeling Pinterest pains. Sometimes I feel the most sympathy for my friends who work as tattoo artists. It seems that people don't put much thought into the placement or color choices of their permanent artwork. We work in a visual industry, so I definitely do not want you posting online and telling your friends I did that work on you if it doesn't represent my best quality work! At the end of the day, if one of my customers chooses bad makeup, at least they can wash it off. I can't imagine having to recreate poorly placed, horribly colored, permanent artwork on someone who can then walk around sullying my professional reputation for the rest of my life! ("Dude, check out my bitchin tat! D did it.") 

If a seasoned artist is trying to talk you, the client, out of something, you should definitely listen to their suggestions and their reasons why. It's up to us as visually creative professionals (especially hair stylists, tattoo artists, and makeup artists) to be responsible and explain that might not be the best look for your hair type, skin tone, or face shape. It is up to you, the client, to research the person who is working on you, pick the right professional for the job, and LISTEN during the consultation. I don't arrive for my annual appointment armed with a binder full of photos of random smiling people, and then proceed to tell the dentist how my teeth should look when they are done and what to use to clean them. 

Here are a few tips that will make almost any type of potential client have a successful consultation: 

Ask open ended questions. If you are going to send an artist a picture of a person who looks absolutely nothing like you, be up front with the artist about what elements of the photo catch your eye. (Statements like "I like the glow on her skin" and "I like the placement of her eyeliner" tell me a LOT about what to do on a person.) If you, the client, bring us a photo and just say "I like her tattoo/hairstyle/makeup" be prepared to hear that you may not get that EXACT look, but we can design something similar that is more suited to your individual needs! Tell us what you like about the look, and we can try our best to bring those specific elements into your look. We aren't trying to be difficult by not giving you the exact result from the photo. We are doing our best trying to give good customer service as artists, because our name and professional reputation is on the line too. 

Be honest. Tell your stylists what they are getting in to, so they know exactly what your needs are. In 2007, while I was busy planning my wedding and attempting to recreate a Harlem Renaissance era jazz club vibe in a Chicago park, I was experiencing major hair thinning because of medical treatments. I told my friend and hairstylist, Charles Campbell of Kiva Salon in downtown Chicago, exactly what meds I was on, and he correctly assessed that I would probably be losing even more hair in the weeks before the wedding. Then he gave me the sexiest wash-and-go pixie cut since that scene in "Friday" when Debbie slow-mo jogged up the street and waved at Craig. (Apparently all those magazines that say "guys prefer ladies with long hair" didn't ask any guys who were teenagers in the 90s.) When The Dude saw my hair, he loved it and said I looked like Nia Long. SCORE!! I also told the vendor who created my birdcage veil that there wasn't going to be much hair left to grab on to, and she adjusted the comb accordingly. If I had been unrealistic in my expectations, I would have insisted on keeping the length, and adding extensions into thin, brittle, medically-damaged hair because I had to create that picture-perfect vintage late 30's hairstyle in all the pictures in my bridal binder. We aren't trying to get in your business, but your medications and hormonal treatments will affect hair and skin texture. It is best that you honestly tell your wedding glam squad these things, so they can plan for you accordingly.

Be flexible and open minded. Just because you haven't heard of some of the brands I'm using doesn't mean they are no good. When you limit your stylist to using the products that you requested, you are shutting down the opportunity for them to do their best work with the professional materials they are accustomed to using. Sure, you may think your department store foundation is great for daily wear, but you are a teacher/lawyer/accountant who doesn't get their picture taken on a regular basis. I'm sure that I haven't heard of some of the things you regularly use at your daily job either, but I'm not going to challenge your expertise on the matter. When you go to any type of stylist and say things like, "I know my texture is fine and straight, but would like to try adding curl to my hair, if possible" or "I would like to try a bright lip but haven't found the right red yet" or "I usually hate my legs but I have been working out and I might be ready to show them off now" you give stylists the power to find the colors and shapes that work best ON YOU, instead of making us feel pressured to recreate an exact look from a photo. 

I'm not saying that you should delete your Pinterest page and scrap all of your ideas. What I am saying is that you should look with a more critical eye and decide what it is about these styles that appeal to you, before you get your heart and head set on the impossible. 
Remember these tips, and good luck planning your wedding!
...and we lived happily ever after, because I trusted a professional to do their job!