Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Smoothing serum for post-surgical scars

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and October is famously designated for Breast Cancer Awareness, but most people don't know that October 2 is National Previvors Day. 
Seven percent of breast cancer diagnoses are in people that have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, but 90% of people who have the mutation don't know it. I am in that group of people who chose preventative surgery in order to avoid cancer. At first I scoffed at being called a Previvor, but I know there are many women in my family and around the world who would have loved to have the chance to have that title. 
In the last couple of months, I have been using Scar Healing Therapy by Kinerase on my incisions in the morning and at night before bedtime. It has a lightweight gel texture that absorbs into the skin immediately, so it can also be used on the face under makeup! The 48 dollar price tag may seem a bit steep compared to drugstore scar remedies, but Kinerase is made by Valeant Pharmaceauticals, and therefore has more advanced ingredients that actually WORK.
This product is NOT a replacement for antibacterial ointments (like Neosporin), so wait until your wounds are no longer open to begin using it. After they have healed and the stitches are on the scabby side, you can begin using Scar Healing Therapy. Eventually the scars begin to return to your natural skin color, and the raised texture becomes noticeably smoother. As my doctor told me, you'll be back on the beach looking stunning in a bikini again very soon!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Back To Cool"

This June, I was lucky enough to spend a day with a really, really ridiculously good-looking crew of kids, while working with a very talented team from the Baltimore area. The end result is "Back To Cool" - a children's fall fashion editorial inspired by a long day at the office. Shooting with these kids was awesome. They had a long day of work with no naps, and stayed totally professional on location!

I am sure you are wondering, what does a makeup artist do with kids who already have dewy skin and perfect complexions? We shot these photos in the dead of summer, and this was a bunch of basketball-playing, horseback-riding, rope-jumping, ACTIVE children. Active kids get sunburn, mosquito bites, scrapes, bruises, and boo-boos. I used Cinema Secrets concealer on all of the above. I used Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream to soften flaky skin and add a healthy sheen to dry areas. The little ladies on the set all seemed to really enjoy the lip gloss I chose for that day. Urban Decay Lip Love (in Drizzle) is a honey-infused lip therapy that is cruelty-free and vegan. I've been told that it is also quite delicious.

This editorial was printed in Maryland Family Magazine and you can see it online on Check it out, if you can handle the cute.
Here I am behind the scenes, reapplying sweet tasty lipgloss to my gorgeous model, Hayden, for the 90th time that day. My job is sooooo difficult sometimes... 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

ultra hydrating body wash does indeed exist

I have been using Shea Moisture products on my hair for a while, but was somehow still unaware of the fact that they also make body products. Recently I stumbled upon their Olive & Green Tea Bubble Bath and Body Wash. Now I don't know if I can use anything else ever again.

This body wash contains certified organic olive oil and shea butter, so it is loaded with vitamin E and fatty acids that soothe and hydrate my dry winter skin. The green tea extract adds a light pleasing scent and antioxidant protection. I love that Shea Moisture products are cruelty-free and none of them contain sulfates, synthetic color, or synthetic fragrance.

I'm digging the light scent and the hydrating bubble action.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Beauty, Blood, and Beards

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's been a long while since I've written. My hands have been preoccupied over the last few months. 2012 was an intense year. When I wasn't working, I was still working. I studied techniques and read about skin care in my free time. Sometimes I woke up thinking about makeup and fell asleep thinking about makeup. I took some time off work and did the Production Makeup Program at Cosmix School of Makeup Artistry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Other students in the program came from all walks of life, all over the country, and as far away as Nigeria and Brazil. Some of us had years of salon experience and others were fresh out of high school. Most of our days were spent doing hands-on work, but there were quite a few moments of traditional "school" time. It has been over a decade since college for me, but I actually enjoyed getting back into the swing of daily homework and writing papers. (Ironically, I was able to justify bringing along my xBox as a means of communication with the outside world.) The Dude came to visit me for my birthday weekend in September, but I was away from the comforts of my home and family for 15 long weeks. The experience I had at Cosmix was worth every second. I gained so much confidence and learned from some incredible people currently working in the industry. In addition to being talented hands-on artists, the teachers had also been active in parallel aspects of the industry. One has years of film experience and is also a voting member of the Academy, another worked for years representing artists in a talent agency, and another runs a company that produces ready-to-wear sculpted foam prosthetics. They brought more than just technical makeup knowledge to class, and there were some days when listening to their life stories and work experiences gave me all the lessons that I needed.

The first month of class was like a beauty boot camp, and brought artists of all levels back to the basics. Color theory and facial geometry are the essential building blocks of all makeup artistry, and I really appreciated the opportunity to have a refresher course on those subjects from veteran artists and amazing teachers. As the program progressed, our curriculum included replicating looks from many decades and studying the cultural shifts that changed fashion and beauty over the course of time.
My anxiety began to kick in midway through the program, as we were beginning to work on skills that I did not feel comfortable with yet. I eventually conquered my aversion to styling hair. Personally, I keep my own hair short, and my photo shoot hairstyling repertoire used to consist of two styles: high ponytail and low ponytail. I am rarely put in situations where I have to do anything more than that, so I am extremely thankful to have spent some time learning more hair styles. After weeks of timed hair and makeup drills, I saw a dramatic improvement in my speed and accuracy.

Car crash head trauma and my first broken nose.

My career so far has been focused on clean beauty makeup for print photography and formal events, but I have always held an interest in doing makeup for film and television. When I was a little kid in the 1980s, the first makeup artist who I knew by name was Rick Baker. He permanently resides in the Holy Trinity of Childhood Heroes alongside Miss Piggy and my Mom. I was thrilled to have the chance to create and apply prosthetic makeup. Bald cap application, hand-laying of beards and mustaches, and head casting were all part of our curriculum. I also discovered that I am actually pretty good at making bullet holes. Each night after I left class I took a shower immediately, but still managed to have plaster or some type of adhesive stuck to my body somewhere. I didn't even care. My whole mission in life became to get as messy as possible. My only regret is that it ended so soon. I could have done FX and injury work for another month with no complaints.

So, I've been home for a little over a month and just found a huge chunk of plaster stuck to the underside of my makeup kit. It made me miss my new friends in Florida. This entire experience has rekindled the fire in my soul and has made me even hungrier. Learning new techniques and expanding my skill set is always an on-going process for me, and I am definitely a much more well-rounded artist than I was at this time last year. My family is SO awesome, and they were extremely supportive while I was so far away. I also have to thank Michael Devellis, James Vincent, and The Powder Group for selecting me to receive the Kelly Gleason Scholarship for Makeup Arts. Without them, none of this magic would have happened.
Some say that beauty makeup artists and special effects artists are two completely different types of people, but I think it is entirely possible to be a Jill Of All Trades who loves doing it all. That is my ultimate goal.


Sher demonstrates her version of the smoky eye.
Nadine shows how to sculpt a face with contour.
Sher Salzman called my work "Flawless" - I cried.
I look ruggedly handsome with a beard, right?
FX guru Andy Wright taught us proper head casting.
My roommate: a plaster head for sculpting my makeup mold.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Warhol portraits came to life on the runway in London

Every fashion week has a few standouts in makeup artistry that have to be mentioned. I have been a fan of Vivienne Westwood's ladylike punk style since early in my teenage years. When I watched the Red Label spring/summer collection I was amazed by the makeup and hair. Key makeup artist Val Garland layered the models faces in neon brights and Easter-egg pastels, giving them the same surreal appearance as an Andy Warhol pop-art portrait.
Ladies on the runway wore bizarre combinations including green skin, blue eye shadow, and bright pink lips alongside pastel hair designed by Mark Hampton. Some of the models wigs were designed in the style of Debbie Harry, and others were in the trademark flipped bob of Queen Elizabeth, but all of them had bright and unexpected colors streaked through. The end result was that all of the models looked as if they had stepped out of a painting in a modern art museum.
The whimsical makeup and hair was balanced out by a wearable vast collection, with silhouettes that could flatter every woman. I'm in love with both the navy blue wrap dress and the white dress with the assymmetrical top. Shown with accents like metallic boots, floral hats, and opera length gloves, Ms. Westwood's collection brought the styles of the 1960s back in a big way. Have you ever wondered what Mary Tyler Moore (as Laura Petrie) and FLOTUS Jackie Kennedy would dress like if they went to a Lunachicks show at CBGB? I'm pretty sure this is it.
You can watch the show here.

makeup companies making big promises... again

It looks like another company is coming under fire for making claims that their skin care products have drug-like magical potency to magically erase the signs of aging and turn back the hands of time.
I have learned not to expect miracles from skin care products made by cosmetic companies. They may be wonderfully effective for some people, but they aren't guaranteed to give the same results to everyone. 
Products that are used in professional medi-spas by aestheticians, spa technicians, dermatologists, and plastic surgeons may come with a higher price tag sometimes, but that is not always the case. Some of them run in the same price point or less than a luxury brand product carried in a department store.  Usually, when they are more costly, the reason for that is the science and research that goes into making the product. Another reason for that is the quality of the ingredients. In my personal opinion it is worth the extra pennies to buy a product that is better suited to my needs. 
Remember that cosmetic companies in the U.S. are not government regulated. Makeup brands are coming out with serums and creams that cost upwards of a hundred dollars an ounce, and some of them have little to no proof that they actually do what the fancy packaging claims that they do. Skin care gets FDA tested and approved when it has been created by a pharmaceutical company or is made for use in a medical setting. In those instances, the companies will sometimes advertise using actual case study photographs that document the effectiveness of the product over time. Personally, I am going to trust that eye cream a lot more than the one advertised with a retouched photo of a 22 year old model who has been worked on by professional makeup artist.
Another thing I hear from clients is, "Well, my mother used XYZ-department-store-brand for 30 years and that is what I am going to use too." Science and technology is ever evolving. There are new advances made in chemistry everyday, and the skin care industry changes to reflect that. They find ways to make ingredients more effective, and they find that certain ingredients are obsolete. Remember back in the day when Pluto was still a planet? I guess "My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas" has become "My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nachos" now. I am not driving the same car I was driving ten years ago. I am not watching the same television I was watching ten years ago. I do not watch VHS tapes or play Sega Genesis anymore, so it only makes sense that I would certainly change my skin care every few years, too. 
Remember that your skin is your biggest organ, and you need to treat it as such. I am not knocking all department store and drugstore brands because there are some wonderful products out there, but you have to be cautious as a consumer. If you have special concerns it is best to get your mascara from a makeup company, and your skin care from somewhere else.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

LOOK at Walgreens

Walgreens, the iconic American drugstore, has been everyone's favorite neighborhood pharmacy for over 100 years. Since acquiring the Duane Reade beauty chain in 2010, they have tried to elevate the common drugstore experience to rival what shoppers get from a department store. LOOK Boutiques have been introduced in Walgreens key urban markets such as Chicago and Las Vegas. In certain locations they also serve wine and sushi. This week I visited a nearby location in northwest Washington DC.
The first floor is the familiar drugstore setting with traditional soda coolers against the wall, rows upon rows of magazines, and 2 tons of candy for sale. As soon as you take the escalator second level, the store opens up into a bright and immaculate room with high ceilings and enormous windows. Anyone who has ever been in the cosmetics area at a department store knows that they are notorious for crappy flourescent lighting. The LOOK Boutique is filled with glorious sunshine, and natural light is any retail makeup artist's best friend. The makeup stations are cleaner than some I have seen in local spas. Most makeup boutiques in malls usually cram insane amounts of products into tiny claustrophobic spaces (Sephora, I am looking at you), but this store is extremely spacious and actually pleasant to navigate.
LOOK carries some of the same brands found in spas and used by professionals in the beauty industry. I was happy to see the cult-favorite Becca Cosmetics and powerhouse pharmaceutical skin care from Kinerase. Nail polish snobs can find OPI and Essie, the same brands used in professional nail salons everywhere. A display island in the middle of the sales floor showed an impressive selection of brushes and application tools. I also saw plenty of premium hair care products and fragrances that you would normally find in a nice department store.
Ana is the supervisor, and she leads a team of friendly makeup and skin care experts. The staff members all greeted me with the same courtesy and professionalism that shoppers expect to receive from a luxury-brand department store. They aren't just there to restock cotton balls and ring up your cheap mascara. These ladies give great customer service, are extremely product savvy, and have years of experience in the beauty industry. LOOK Boutique is definitely going to be a huge success in Washington DC.
Kinerase? In Walgreens??? Yes!