#MakeupMonday – Black Girl Beautiful Inaugural Event

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The Black Girl Beautiful inaugural event took place this past Saturday (10/15/16) at the Siren Studios Orange in Los Angeles.

So let’s get the elephant out of the room…

Why is an event like “Black Girl Beautiful” even necessary? Well, I can think of a few reasons. First of all, the stated Vision for the event:

    “Black Girl Beautiful is an empowering, shopping and beauty event for women of color that want more. More products, knowledge and conversations with like minded women, and beauty experts focused on beauty for black skin.”

Sounds fair enough, no? As I mentioned in a recent post, I was kinda shocked that so many mainstream makeup brands still do not have deeper foundation colors. And I’ve been to many a consumer shopping event (so not including the pro shows like IMATS, the Makeup Show, etc.) where there were NO beauty products that would work for women of color. Likewise haircare products that work for the highly textured hair that most Black women have are generally not represented.

The other reason I can think of is that in 2016 we are still having “scientific studies” to explain why women of color are not considered amongst the most beautiful faces (in the full article that breaks women down by feature, Rihanna did slip in there a couple of times, as did Selena Gomez). Leaving out how incredibly tired and outdated it is to rank “most beautiful women” at all, it is difficult to believe that if we do still insist on making such a ranking, no women of color would make the cut. “Science” or no, that just seems ridiculous to me.

ALL women possess beauty and ALL women deserve a space to feel uplifted, and pampered and to have their beauty celebrated. That’s what the Black Girl Beautiful event was all about.


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Black Girl Beautiful founder Nikia Phoenix conducting one of the raffles…I did not win…



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It was a warm, sunny day in LA and the open space and white walls of the Siren Studios space gave the event a relaxed, spa-like feel. So since everything was out in the open I just started at one booth and made and shopped my way around…


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werking the Black Girl Beauty booth…


I started, of course, with the official Black Girl Beautiful booth to pick up a tee and a pin. Super cute!


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the fab artist who matched my foundation at AJ Crimson Beauty

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#7 – a rich, red brown


One of my main goals was to look at a foundation for myself. I was matched by one of the AJ Crimson artists with AJSkin Duo Cream #7. It is oil based – which is a concern with my oily skin – but the initial color match was excellent. As the day went on, the foundation wore well and would have been fine if I’d had some powder on me. What I did notice when I took one last snapshot of myself before hitting the bed was that it had turned quite yellow on me. Now; I’m super red and notoriously difficult to match. But I do think this is more of a case of oxidation as the product sat on my skin. So that will be something to watch for as I try this product again. On the super plus side, the weight and texture of this product is outstanding and I never got the “GET THIS OFF OF MY FACE!!!” feeling that I normally do by the end of the day with foundations.

I’d go more in-depth about the AJ Crimson line, except I already have before. I do need to do an update (and I will be because something big is coming soon), but in the meantime keep AJ Crimson Beauty in mind. His line is one of the better brands for Black women currently on the market.


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fab makeup artist Renee Loiz about to work her magic…

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ladies who booked a makeover with Renee received a lovely goodie bag…

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makeup pron: isn’t Renee’s setup gorgeous?

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I could not have been more proud of my makeup kin Renee Loiz who was in attendance providing makeup/skin consultations and performing mini-makeovers. Her booth set up was absolutely gorgeous and she was turning out those faces! She was too busy for me to even chat with her, which was great!


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Free Your Mane Conditioning Pomade and Reviving Spray

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Free Your Mane samples: Yuzu Body Wash, Restorative Hair Oil, and Hydrating Shampoo

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the gorg ladies of Free Your Mane


Again, the other big category of need for Black women at beauty shopping events is hair product. The Free Your Mane brand is new to me, but they’ve already been racking up accolades and have been written about in major mags like Allure. One important thing to know about natural Black hair: No two heads are alike. So FOR ME there were a lot of problmatic ingredients in the FYM products, namely ‘cones (various forms of silicone which is often used to smooth and de-frizz curly hair textures) and oils. My baby fine hair can’t deal. That said, a lot of women LOVE ‘cones and oils in their hair. So if that’s you, it is worthwhile to give Free Your Mane a looksee. The oils are high quality (their main one being organic Baobab seed oil), and their products are paraben, phthalate and sulfate-free. AND they are naturally scented and smell delish! (important with hair products!)

I picked up the Perky Curls Reviving Spray – which does have oils but it’s in a water base – for myself, and the Conditioning Pomade probably for my kit. Texture-wise, the Conditioning Pomade looks very much like Suavecito pomade, which I love. It’s more of a gel pomade as opposed to a heavy oil pomade. Gel pomades thin down nicely and are more usable on more varied kinds of hair, IMO.


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Leaders Skincare oily-head combo: Pore-Scaling Mask and Pore Minimizing Mask

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her eyeliner game is strong and if her skin is any indication, the face masks work a treat!


Leaders Cosmetics was on hand with their Korean-style face masks (they are a Korean skincare brand, and the primary seller of the now infamous Sheet Masks). They had several different kinds on-hand but I chose these to try as I have hellaciously oily skin (STILL!!!), but at 40+ years old, using products to try to “dry up” the oil is not what’s hot in the streets. It’s all about balancing the skin so it can be at its best. Because while having oily skin may be annoying, not having lines or wrinkles is not annoying. 🙂 The Pore-Scaling mask is a charcoal based powder mask designed to draw impurities and excess oil. The Himalayan Camellia Pore Minimizing Mask refines pores and soothes irritated skin. Camellia oil is the oil from the green tea seed (not to be confused with Tea Tree Oil, which comes from an entirely different plant) and it is a power-house beauty ingredient. It is emollient, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, you-name-it. And the mask itself – instead of being a regular paper sheet mask – is a Coconut Bio Cellulose Mask for extra hydration. I cannot wait to use these back-to-back and watch my skin glow!


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I’m a new Onyx Box member!

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my 1st Onyx Box filled with goodies from Cargo Cosmetics, Cantu, Made Beautiful, Uncle Funky’s Daughter, and Linne Skincare

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the lovely ladies of OnxyBox


I’ve had my eye on Onyx Box as a beauty box subscription service I’d wanted to try for a while. Since they were in attendance at the show, I had to give it a whirl. At the show, I was able to pick out 6 products to create my first Box. And then of course in future boxes they will curate the contents and I’ll get a beauty surprise in the mail every month 🙂 As you can see, these are no skimpy little envelope samples that you could have gotten yourself at the beauty counter. And they aren’t a bunch of perfumes or “who’s that??” brands, either. These are 3 deluxe size samples and 3 full sized products of known, Premium brands, my friends. Now I’m not saying every box is half full sized product (I don’t know, I just joined) but I am saying that Onyx Box gives you product sizes you can actually use.

PRO TIP: If you are a beauty pro who does not happen to be Black yourself, but you want to learn about makeup and HAIR products that will work on your Black clientele, wouldn’t it make sense to join a service like Onyx Box? Do it! And if you do, please tell them Tania Russell / Makeup to Go sent ya!


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DevaCurl Inspiration Wall…

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Last but not least I had to visit the Deva (pronounced Diva) Curl mini-salon. DevaCurl is not a Black hair salon. Many (I would even say most) Black hair salons specialize in hair straightening treatments, weaves, etc. Black women who wear their hair in it’s natural state – as I do – need a different skill set in a salon. Enter DevaCurl which specializes in Curly hair of all kinds, including highly textured natural Black hair. I don’t know if they were the first salon of its kind or if Ouidad was the first. Both are great salons. Ankywhoo, DevaCurl revolutionized Curly haircare in terms of both products and the infamous DevaCut™. So I’m not going to say explicitly why ya girl needed to swing by the mini salon to talk to a stylist, I’m just saying that I needed to swing by the mini salon to talk to a stylist… 😉

Honorable mention goes to;


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Nicolet Beauty and Body Culinaire, both of whom I visited although I did not purchase anything. Yet.

Nicolet Beauty – as you can see – is another member of the highly pigmented matte lips in “unusual” colors tribe. They also had very pigmented eyeshadows. The colors looked very good and were very true (so – for example – the purple goes on PURPLE, not magenta as some purple lipsticks do). I have to be honest – I personally do not care for how the matte formuations feel, nor am I into these colors for myself. So as a woman I’m like eh… HOWEVER as an artist I recognize that I need to incorporate some of these types of lips into my kit and the Nicolet Beauty lippies were some of the better ones I’ve seen of the type, with great colors for deep skintones.

Body Culinaire was a custom body scrub bar consisting of yummy skin loving all natural scrub ingredients (coffee, brown sugar, etc.) and luscious natural oils with which to make custom body scrub blends. The booth looked and smelled scrumptious! I loved EVERYthing about it, but my reality is I never use body scrubs on myself LOL! I will visit her site soon, however, because I do like things like this as gifts, and gift season cometh soon!

In addition to the shopping, there was a speaker series with various thought leaders in the Beauty industry weighing in on topics pertaining to Black Women and Beauty. Sadly, this is where my inexperience as a photographer failed me and I did not get any good photos because I had the wrong kind of lens with me 🙁 But I sat in on the “Cultural Appropriation” panel and the “Iconic Beauty” panel. The Iconic Beauty panel – in particular – was right on target for Makeup to Go with AJ Crimson, celebrity natural hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood, The Real head hairstylist and wig maestro Robbi Rogers, Lori Taylor Davis of Smashbox, and celebrity artist extraordinaire Autumn Moultrie as speakers. The topic of discussion ranged from influences, to what constitutes an iconic Look, to how do they create iconic looks for their clients. THIS was the diversity in the industry panel the pro shows were looking for.

To say I enjoyed the Black Girl Beautiful inaugural event doesn’t really say it. I practically floated back to my car and I’ve thought about what I saw and heard (as long as this post is, I left stuff OUT) all day today. In addition to who/what was there, the event itself was very well done. Everything about it was high-end, high quality #Excellence. This event was created to fill a need in the beauty/shopping experience market and indeed it did. I look forward to attending the event again in the future and I’m hopeful it will continue for many years to come!

(Nope, not a sponsored post. I purchased my entrance ticket and all products mentioned 🙂 )

Do you use any of these products? Did you attend the event? Tell me in Comments 🙂

Skinwerks Make Up For Ever Ultra HD

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Please Note: I was given these items as Gratis for a job I was doing in my work as a makeup artist. This is not a sponsored review post, in fact Make Up For Ever does not know this post is happening (until I tell them about it). 🙂


For a beauty makeup artist, skin is everything…

so I’m starting a new series here on the blog called “Skinwerks”. A play on both “skin work” – which is all the foundational elements of doing a makeup – and “Makeupwerks” which is my portfolio website for my work as a makeup artist. Clever, no? No? Well anyway…

I get asked a lot why I have so many different foundations. Well, for a beauty makeup artist I cannot imagine that there is anything more important than the skin work (which is why I also have a lot of different skincare). All the colorful eyes, sculpted cheeks and fierce lips won’t pop against a bad complexion. And by bad complexion I do not mean skin that is broken out, etc. Those things can be fixed with proper skin work. By bad complexion I mean wrong foundation match, wrong product use for the skin that is being worked on, heavy-handed cakiness, etc. etc. This is PARTICULARLY true if any kind of photography is part of the equation! I previously did a post on Foundations and it was a popular post, so I want to go a bit more in-depth and talk about my old loves and new discoveries.

What Am I Looking For In A Foundation?

When I’m looking at a foundation, I’m evaluating;

– Color range: Does it have a wide range of colors and undertones for all skin tones?
– Coverage: Sheer, Medium (my favorite), or Full and is the coverage buildable?
– Finish: I’ll explain more in-depth in a future post but basically the Finish refers to how the foundation looks once it’s set.
– Wear: How long does it last?

To start this column, we’re looking at Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation and the Ultra HD Invisible Cover Concealer (and as a bonus, the MUFE Pro Sculpting Palette for contour and highlight), which I’ve recently re-discovered.

Skinwerks Make Up For Ever Ultra HD

PROS
– Foundation: Medium coverage, easily buildable to Full coverage
– Foundation: Excellent color range
– Foundation: Lotion-weight liquid formula
– Concealer: Covers and corrects in one
– Concealer: lightweight texture
– Concealer: good coverage
– All Three: Readily available at Sephora

CONS
– Foundation: finishes a little matte, but is adjustable
– Concealer: Could offer a few more shades on the very fair and very deep end
– Sculpting Palette: Seems to run a bit warm

Both the MUFE HD liquid foundation and concealer were reformulated in 2015 due to the advancements in HD camera technology. The Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation was reformulated into a lighter “lotion” weight liquid that still maintains the level of pigmentation necessary for HD photography. However, it is also an excellent – and popular – option for personal use as the HD formulation is water based, and has illuminating properties so it doesn’t look “flat”.

As much as I like the new formula foundation, the new formula Ultra HD concealer is phenomenal. Phenomenal. It’s super lightweight and at first glance it looks like it would do absolutely nothing. YET when applied it both covers and corrects while still leaving the area looking like SKIN.

Lastly, my preference is to also do any contouring that I plan to do during my initial skin work so that it looks like skin and less heavy than some of the contouring you might see online. Therefore, as I’ve had the Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Face Palette for a little while, I decided to throw it into this demo as well.

My friend Erin was so kind as to be my model for this trial so let’s take a look…

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clean face…as you can see Erin has fab skin already…as you can also see, she is a nut. We were laughing about something…


So here’s our before. Erin is about my age and we’ve been friends for about 572 years. She’s a former private chef, now starting a counseling practice, wife and mom, and all around badass chick. As you can see Erin has pretty, clear skin without a lot of skin issues. Just the standard redness between the brows, over the cheeks, around the nose and on the chin. As I started working on her I also remembered that her skin tends to run a bit on the dry side. ALSO as I started working on her I realized that she has almost NO discoloration under her eyes?!?! So instead of going for a lot of correction, I went for a more brightening effect to make her eyes pop.

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Foundation Only


COLOR(S) USED: Y245 (with a drop of R250 added)

Honestly, I did not care for the original HD foundation formulation at all. It was too opaque and too matte, in my opinion. I certainly would not have used it on anyone with drier skin or who has any texture in their skin as – in my experiences with it – the original formula settled and created more texture.

Erin doesn’t have discoloration, breakouts, etc. to deal with but like I mentioned her skin runs a tad dry and she does have a few fine lines. Therefore it’s important that any foundation she might use doesn’t settle and increase skin texture. As you can see, this new formula MUFE Ultra HD does not do that. When initially applied, it gives a Medium coverage that evens out skin without looking cakey, which is what we want. I’d call this kind of finish “skin realistic”. It just looks like you/your model/your talent has really great skin but without looking overly matte or overly sheeny. This type of finish is perfect for film and TV and it’s also what (I find) most women want to look like in their everyday lives.

PRO TIP / TECH TALK: I’ve used this foundation on a few jobs now and it is also quite malleable. For my commercial/lifestyle/fashion I tend to actually want a more sheeny finish, and I have been able to easily make that happen with the right skin prep. And in the event I want it to go more Full coverage, I just let the initial layer set and go back over it with another layer.

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No foundation or concealer

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Foundation-d and Concealer-d


COLOR(S) USED: Y21

It was hard to photograph the addition of the concealer since Erin does not have the courtesy of having visible discoloration under the eyes. 😉 On her I used a slightly lighter-than-normal color to brighten which is a trick I do a lot both for private clients and for photography. What I really wanted to illustrate was how it does NOT look like concealer AT ALL. Nor did it settle into under-eye lines and create unwanted texture. This is a truly excellent formulation.

PRO TIP: If I were trying to just correct and conceal instead of brighten I probably would have used Y31 or Y33

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Hmmm…that’s quite warm for a contour…


COLOR(S) USED: Contour color only

If I’m going to do any contouring, which for photography I usually do, now is the time. So here I’ve introduced the contour color from the sculpting palette. See how red it looks? That’s n’good. Shadows are not red, and when you are adding contour and highlight you’re basically adjusting shadow and light on the face to accentuate the bone structure.

The whole palette looks really red to me

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not entirely sure what to do with the color on the far right…

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Highlight, Contour, Illuminizer, Color (blush, maybe?)


In fairness, they do make different palettes for different skin tones, so it may just be this Tan Skin (#40) palette that looks super red. I’ll have to go take a look at the others.

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the Fabulous miss Erin


Here is miss Erin once everything is blended and buffed. Super pretty, right? I did not use any powder on her so it’s worth nothing that once totally set the Make Up For Ever HD Foundation goes a bit more matte. This makes sense for HD and it also increases its length of wear for both professional and personal use. And if you’re wondering if this product works for all skin tones, the answer is a resounding YES. Make Up For Ever has always been one of the best in terms of including foundations and concealers for ALL (I used to use their Modeling Fluide foundation on myself back in 1812). The HD foundation comes in a whopping 40 shades broken down by undertone – R is for red based, Y is for yellow based – and depth of shade with 1 being the lighter shades and 5 being the deepest shades. 180/R530, for example, is a red-based brown that’s fabulous on folks in my complexion range. The HD concealers come in 11 shades – including an orange corrector shade. Like I mentioned they could stand to add a very fair shade and a couple of deeper shades.

Since being given these products for a recent job, I’ve used the Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation and Concealer pretty often and on a wide variety of jobs from commercial, to fashion (I made the finish more sheeny), to private clientele. They’ve definitely made the rotation! (NOTE: There is also a recently introduced Ultra HD Stick foundation, but I haven’t tried that one yet so I’ll get to it in an upcoming post.)

Have you tried the Ultra HD Invisible Cover Liquid Foundation or Concealer? Whatd Ya Think? Let me know in comments. And if you have Foundation/Concealer questions, let me know in Comments and I’ll hit it in a future Skinwerks. 🙂

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#MakeupMonday – Anatomy of a Kit Prep

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…One thing about being a freelance makeup artist…

is that two days are rarely ever the same. If you follow my makeup artist feed on Instagram, you’ve seen many posts of my various makeup kits and set-ups. More often than not I am carrying this kit because I’m working with one of my commercial clients and my needs are smaller and I can carry a more curated kit. Every once in a while, however, I need to carry the entire kit and caboodle, so to speak. This requires some kit prep in order to be ready for my gig.

There are certain things I ALWAYS do before a job, and some things that I do that are specific to the job I’m working on.

Kit Prep I Always Do BEFORE A Job
– Wash makeup brushes
Barbicide Hair Brushes/Tools
– Wipe down palette surfaces and lotion/bottle openings with alcohol
– restock liquids and consumables (alcohol, brush cleaner, tissues, sponges, cotton swabs, etc.)

notice how all but one pertains to kit sanitation, which as I mentioned in a past post I take very seriously. I need everything to be clean, dry and ready BEFORE I show up for a job therefore I generally take care of all of these things when I get home from my previous job (i.e. – I did all of this Friday night so that come Sunday morning everything was dry and ready).

On Emmys weekend I was booked to work with the brand Gwynnie Bee on a combo photoshoot/Emmys watch party. Major influencers were there along with two major celebs so it was a high profile event. Nothing I haven’t done before, however, I’d not worked with this client before and I also wasn’t entirely sure how many talent I would ultimately end up working on. Therefore, I also had special kit prep for this specific job. This was one of those jobs where I had to a) have Top Shelf product b ) my presentation had to be on point (which it should be at all times anyway), and C ) I had to be prepared for any and everything.

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LORAC PRO eyeshadow palettes 1 & 2 depotted into Make Up For Ever large empty palette
Something I’ve wanted to do for more than a minute is depot anything that’s currently in a retail palette/package into a Pro empty palette. Why? First of all, space. When you’ve gotta bring the kitchen sink you need as much product to fit into as compact a space as possible. It’s also easier to see what I have in a palette like this as opposed to 50-lebbin little individual palettes. Secondly, on the real, retail packaging was not meant for the abuse of traveling around in a pro kit and they usually end up looking like crap. Look at those LORAC palettes and then look at the Make Up For Ever palette. Which one looks better? Yeah. Presentation matters.

PRO TIP: The LORACs came out easily because the body is cardboard and foam. For products in plastic packaging you will need more finesse so as to not damage your product.

PRO TIP 2: Non-pros; make a palette out of your powders and creams (eyeshadows, blushes, bronzers, highlighters, etc) and packing your makeup for trips will be a breeze!

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NARS Blushes in NARS Small Pro Palette
Likewise, as I’ve mentioned in numerous past posts, I needed to get it together with my blush choices for deep complexions. This palette was the Belle of the Ball as many of the influencers fell into the color range and I thoroughly enjoyed showing them how to play with blush colors to get different effects. As mentioned in my SF Haul post, the powder colors are Desire, Taj Mahal, Exhibit A and Seduction. In addition I added two cream blushes; Enchanted – which I love as a subtle highlight on pretty much every skin tone, and the mighty Montenegro which is just Flat. Out. Gorgeous.

DEPRESSING NEWS: Typical NARS-ness, they seem to have discontinued their cream blushes. 🙁 If you find them on eBay or somewhere, nab them. And add Penny Lane, too.

PRO TIP: I always label my palettes. A ) so I know what’s in it, but also B ) I love everyone but I want it to be clear that this item belongs to me. This is particularly important when you’re working in close quarters with other artists.

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Kit Organized into individual ZUCA Utility Pouches
Once I have everything streamlined and organized, it’s time to pack it up. I know some artists just put things wherever in their kits and I don’t judge (well, maybe a little….OK I do…), but I cannot work that way. It slows me down too much if I have to look for things, so I compartmentalize HARD CORE. Every category has its own bag, that way when I get to location and see where I’m going to be set up I only pull out what I need and I can leave the rest on standby. Pictured here are my foundation/concealer bag, color products bag, and my eyelashes bag which saw a LOT of action on this job! Other main compartment bags in my kit are skincare, powders, cream blushes, and pencils. And actually right after this job I ordered another ZUCA pouch so I can split up the color products (one for eyes, one for cheeks/lips).

And the final outcome…

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Lean, mean, makeup machine. Not pictured is my suitcase which I was able to put neatly under my worktable in the event I needed something that I didn’t pull out of my kit. Different jobs require different kits but one thing remains the same: A well-prepped kit = a happy makeup artist.

PRO TIP: It is INCREDIBLY important to be clean, organized and efficient on your jobs, but particularly those with high profile clients.

PRO TIP 2: MANY MANY THANKS to Make Up For Ever for providing product for me for this event!

Do you change kits depending on your jobs or does your kit remain the same? How to you prep before your jobs?

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MakeupThursday – August Makeup Spree

Because it’s my blog and I can do a general makeup post whenever I want to…


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That’s right folks, it’s MakeupThursday. The plan was to do this write-up on Monday, the day after my return home to Los Angeles after 3 weeks of work in the Bay. LOL! Yeah, that was a joke.

Anyway, while up in the Bay I went on a shopping frenzy. A lot of my shopping was a well needed wardrobe revamp as I really hadn’t bought any new clothes since losing weight. However being the makeup artist that I am, I had to squeeze some makeup shopping in there as well. Here’s what I bought;


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Fiona Stiles – YAY
NYX Cosmetics colored mascaras – not so much…


1) Fiona Stiles Beauty – Cream and Powder Eyeshadows and NYX Cosmetics – Color Mascara

You may have seen this image on my personal Instagram the day I bought these. Like I mentioned in a previous Makeup Short Notes I’m loving everything I’ve tried so far from the Fiona Stiles Beauty collection (available at Ulta). I purchased a couple of more items along with a couple of the NYX Cosmetics color mascaras in preparation for some editorial work I had going. The Fiona Stiles performed beautifully, but alas the NYX did not. Colored mascara that really registers COLOR is difficult to find. Suffice to say that whenever I have found one that really works, it has tended to cost more than $6.99. Oh well. Be on the lookout for a full story on Fiona Stiles Beauty in a coming post.


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2) Dante Disposables – Dante Brush Cleaner

Not the most exciting purchase but I do love this cleaner. This is a quick cleaner so it does NOT substitute for shampooing your brushes. What I like about this cleaner versus my beloved Parian Spirit or some of the other quick cleaners is Dante has no scent. I find that makeup artists are divided pretty much right down the line between loving Parian Spirit (citrus) or Cinema Secrets (vanilla). That’s great, but let me tell ya; Not everyone likes your scent. They could, in fact, be allergic to your scent. It is important to bear this in mind when putting a brush on someone’s face.


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3) Glam Kitti Palettes

I’ve talked about Glam Kitti before, but its always a good time to bring them up again. Designed by celebrity artist Monifa Mortis, Glam Kittis are reusable, recyclable travel palettes. The Kittis contain 6 wells for cream cosmetics, one well for powder (includes a cute little powder puff), a little spatula, a little lip brush, a little funnel, a little cosmetics applicator and 6 oil blotting sheets. Oh and did I mention the compact is mirrored too?! Yeah. Glam Kitti’s are the bomb. I love giving them to my private clients as a touch up kit AND I’ve used it for myself as a quick travel kit.


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musebeauty.pro


4) MUSE Beauty Pro – Esum Makeup Kit Bag
Esum – Muse spelled backwards – is the house brand of MUSE Beauty Pro. MUSE is a small, artist-driven pro makeup supplier based in San Francisco (with a satellite outlet run by one of the co-owners in Chicago). These are exactly the types of business I LOVE to support; beauty brands that support artists. If you’ve seen some of the other “pro makeup” bags, then you’ve seen something very similar in appearance. However what tipped the scales that I actually purchased the Esum bag is the quality of the construction. This is actually the 2nd Generation of the Esum bag and it’s a little bit wider and deeper, better cushioned, stronger velcro and zippers, etc. So while other bags may look good, this bag was made to work and last. It is a perfect size for when I need more than a little bit, but not my full kit.


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5) NARS Cosmetics – NARS Pro Palette

A lot of folks have already purchased this and moved on so I won’t spend a lot of time on this one. I WILL, however, say why I hesitated; it is a cardboard based palette and I’m not a fan of cardboard palettes. NARS is an artist driven brand that is also active in and supportive of the artist community, therefore I’m going to trust that NARS quality will come through and protect my product. The body is covered with a vinyl-ized fabric all over so it should not immediately die if it accidentally gets wet, and I like that the cover is solid. I know a lot of people like the window, but I’ll be able to see the product just fine when I open the palette. When the palette is closed and more importantly when it’s travelling I need my product protected.


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click to see color names


6) NARS Cosmetics – Desire, Taj Mahal, Exhibit A, Seduction

I got the palette to house my “black girl” (or guy) blush colors. I’ve hit pan on these colors many a time over the years. Desire always surprises people, but pinks like Desire are gorgeous on fairer to medium toned brown complexions. What usually does not work about these colors is the white/pastel cast they often have which looks ashy on brown skin. “Desire” has no such issue, it doesn’t even look ashy on me (it just doesn’t particularly register on someone my complexion). Likewise, even though Taj Mahal has shimmer to it, there is no ashy. Red blush (Exhibit A) looks amaze on all humans because blood is red so it looks like a natural flush, and Seduction is the gorg burgundy color that everyone always reaches for on deeper complexions. And all of these colors have enough pigmentation to actually read on deeper skin tones. Yay.


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7) NARS Cosmetics – NARS Best Blush Palette

Every year NARS collaborates with Nordstrom on some beauty exclusives – which always includes an amazing exclusive blush palette – and every year I miss it. But not this year! This palette includes Orgasm, Deep Throat (OK, wow), Luster, Desire, Albatross (a highlighter), and Laguna (NARS legendary bronzer) which are, in fact, some of NARS best blushes. Yes I went blush crazy, and no, it is not a problem for me to double up on Desire, this palette is going into a different kit. Since I prefer NARS traditional blushes over the Dual Intensity blushes this is a great pick up for me. I’ll do a comparison between the two soon!


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Congrats Miss Ian!


8) NARS Cosmetics – NARS Survival Kit 1

I went a little NARS crazy too, but this one was also chosen on purpose. For my inaugural giveaway to the folks on my mailing list I just wanted to give away something really good that I would want. I have mentioned before that NARS is one of my favorite brands overall, and I have always loved NARS gift sets. The Survival Kits 1 & 2 are another exclusive through Nordstrom. I had to refrain from ordering the Survival Kit 2 “for my kit” (i.e., it would never have made it anywhere near my kit).


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Sorry girlie!


9) LORAC Cosmetics – The Getaway Palette

I saved this one for last because I did not actually purchase this during my extravaganza of fabulosity. The Getaway Palette contains 6 eyeshadows, 2 blushes, a bronzer and a highlighter. LORAC – as my people know – is one of my favorites of the pro-to-consumer aka “prosumer” brands. While this could certainly work in a pro kit, when I see a neat little “does it all” palette like this I immediately think of all my #Bossbabe friends who could use something chic and compact while traveling for work and/or recreation. I’ve owed one such friend some fabulousness for quite some time now, so this is going out to her right about now!

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#MakeupMonday – Makeup Short Notes April 2016

Hello hello! As I’m getting back busy, I’m getting back to doing more exploration of new products. Here’s what has caught my eye of late in the Makeup Short Notes April 2016.

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1. Glossier

Glossier is a brand founded by the folks of the Into the Gloss blog. I’ve been slow to try it just because you have to order it online (to my knowledge. If there’s a stockist in LA, someone let me know please…), but I have been intrigued by it since it’s inception because of their tagline “skin care as makeup”. And you know how I love my skin care. Thus far I am digging their kind of combo skincare items more so than the color items. The main reason for that being that the color items are extremely limited. For example while the perfecting skin tint goes from “Light” to “Rich”, as they are named, there are only five of them. And I think it’s safe to say that there are more than five skintones in the world. Particularly with people of color, that type of range makes it very difficult to actually find a match without doing some serious mixing wizardry. But the “Balm Dotcom” (and the new “Coconut Balm Dotcom”) really is great as one of those type of Rosebud Salve/8 Hour Cream items that can be used for a bunch of different makeup tricks. I also really liked the “Generation G” lip color. There are only four shades but they’re all pretty universal including “Jam” which is gorgeous on deeper skintones. It has a soft matte finish and it feels good on the lips 🙂

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2. Fiona Stiles Beauty

Famed celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles introduced her cosmetics line this year. I’ll be doing a full story on the whole line in a future article but I tried it out this weekend and I really liked it. It’s one of those brands that’s obvious it was started by a makeup artist in terms of the pigmentation and the textures. What’s really nice about it is that it is available at Ulta and the price points are not crazy. As always I tried some of the foundations, some of the eye colors and some of the lip products. Right now I do have to say the standout for me were the “Radiant Aqua Eye Veil” cream eyeshadows. Most consumers are terrified of cream eyeshadows, so it’ll be interesting to see how that goes in the marketplace. However most makeup artists I know love them, myself included. The cream eyeshadows in the Fiona Stiles Beauty collection are super pigmented with color and have a creamy/velvety texture. I will be purchasing all of those I’ll just tell you that right now.

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3. Erborian Skincare

I also hit Sephora to see what’s new and happening out there and makeup world. Not a whole lot was happening makeup-wise in Sephora (same old, same old brands, etc.) however there were some very interesting skin care items. Number one of which is a Korean/French fusion skincare brand by the name of “Erborian”.

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Erborian liquid moisture bar


The premise of Erborian is highly intriguing; using Korean principles/inspiration/ingredients in Western formulations. I am getting sucked more and more into the layered skin care approach made famous by Korean women, but I’m honestly weary of the use of some of the more unusual (unusual to me) ingredients in true Korean skincare (like “snail essence”). Therefore this line could be just the ticket. In addition to the four items pictured, the brand has several cleansers including a skin-cleansing balm that is not petroleum based, several masks and moisture emulsions, and a BB Cream. I did end up purchasing a couple of items so look forward to that in a future article after I’ve had time to try them out.

4. Melanated Beauty

Lastly it’s time to look for a new foundation for myself. I’ve mentioned numerous times I have been using Bare Minerals Matte powder foundation. I have a different brand of powder foundation I want to try but in general I think I want to move away from so called mineral foundations. First of all using the powder formula doesn’t seem to do anything regarding my hyper oily skin, and using mattifier underneath, over, sideways etc. doesn’t seem to make a difference. Secondly as I mentioned in my last short notes, what the Bare Minerals Matte foundation did to me in my drivers license photograph was just wrong; Massive TD reaction, I looked aged and a completely different color. A few other recent photos also showed hints of the dreaded TD reaction. I looked at old photographs of myself and it did not do that, so I’m wondering if there’s been a change of formulation. Further my skin is just in different condition now and it really does not need that much coverage and nor does it need to be covered all over, just in a few key places. I want to go back to either a stick formulation or a good quality liquid that I can use in spots.

** I was amazed at how little choices there were for my skintone in retail makeup brands in 2016.**

Again, this was NOT a case of the store not carrying it. I was in Emeryville which is a diverse city in the very diverse San Francisco Bay area. This was a case of trying the deepest color available in a given line, and that deepest color being nowhere near deep enough. Too many lines still have an inadequate color range, period. I’ve heard makeup artists complaining about lack of color choices and that always struck me as bizarre because there are plenty of color choices in the pro brands from creams to liquids to BB creams etc. However if you are an artist in a market where you are largely doing your shopping from retail stores or if you are the average non-pro makeup artist beauty consumer who just wants to hit the store and get something right quick, I can see where the frustration lies. This is a picture of my hand with swatches from several brands in their darkest color (click on photo for specific foundation names).

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my hand testing foundations. Click on image to see who’s what…


As you can see most of those are highly incorrect. There are a couple on there that could work for me but would be too red for a lot of people, and then most of them are too light and too yellow for me. Being a pro makeup artist who works on every type/shade/age/etc. of person there is, I’ve never felt the need to orient this blog towards women of color specifically. However AS a woman of color and seeing now that the cosmetic situation is still highly problematic to say the least, I am going to start doing more reviews specific for women of color. Because that was crazy! Suffice to say I did not end up buying anything for myself. 😐

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