#MakeupMonday – The Original Beauty Blender™ vs the Makeup Blending Sponge

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left Original Beauty Blender™, right Graftobian GlamourGrip™ makeup blending sponge

    NOTE: This may sound like it, but this is NOT a placed post. Beauty Blender™ does not know I am writing this, this is my own independent comparison out of my own curiosity. I was given a Graftobian sponge, but I purchased everything else including my Beauty Blender™ sponges. This review is based on my actual usage in the field on my jobs and is just my subjective opinion. πŸ™‚

    CORRECTION: As I said above, my post below is based on *my*experiences with the Beauty Blender™. However, I’ve received feedback from other fellow pro artists that actually the Pink Beauty Blender™ sponges can in fact have dye run. Also artists who purchased the first run of Beauty Blender™ experienced some ripping/tearing. The ripping/tearing has not been an issue with later versions of the Pink, and no one reported any problems at all (dye run, ripping, etc.) with the Black sponges. No word on the White sponge or the Micro.mini..

When the Beauty Blender™ sponge first entered the marketplace to say that it took the makeup artist community by storm would be an understatement. The excitement went from zero to sixty in seemingly minutes and next thing I knew every makeup artist I knew owned and LOVED a Beauty Blender™. I was That Makeup Artist who actually was not immediately WOW-d. I thought it was fine, but it was a tool like any other and it certainly was not a “must have” in any way. Why was my reaction so lukewarm when so many of my artists friends raved? Probably because the first makeup blending sponge I tried was a knockoff, not a real Beauty Blender™. Truth be told – now that I own and use several real Beauty Blenders™ – I still kind of feel that way; it is not a must-have, use on every job item for me. Now that I am working with the real deal, however, I can appreciate what an excellent tool is really is.

So this got me thinking: How do the numerous makeup blending sponge knockoffs stack up to the original Beauty Blender™?

The first knockoff makeup blending sponge I used was so bad it was comical. It came from an overseas company who claimed to be the manufactures for the real Beauty Blender™ sponge. The claim was dubious at best as I already knew Beauty Blender™ is an American based company, and the sample sponge they sent was the wrong shade of pink, and not quite the right size and shape (they attempted to explain this away in their literature by calling what they sent a “prototype” 😐 ). It worked OK, but honestly no differently from a run-of-the-mill wedge sponge. But then the truth came out – literally – the first time I washed it. Upon washing this fakey blender sponge, an odd blue dye emerged from the core of the sponge to the surface. And no matter what I used to wash it, how often I washed it, etc., the weird blue dye would not go away. NOPE. Not using that on people’s faces. Owners of true Beauty Blender™ sponges know that when washed there is no dye run, no change in shape, no crumbling (until they get very old at which point you probably should have long replaced it), etc. I do not know what that thing was, but it was not a Beauty Blender™.

This was about 4 or so years ago. Nowadays the Beauty Blender™ is well established for both makeup pros and makeup fans alike. As such there are even more knockoff sponges, or shall I say, Beauty Blender™ “inspired” sponges ;-). Generally speaking the quality of these dupes has improved significantly from my overseas friend. Since my testing on this began about 6 months ago, none of the makeup blending sponges I tried have changed shape, lost color, or started falling apart on me. But when it comes down to it, do any of them compare to the actual Beauty Blender™? Here are my thoughts on a few of the Beauty Blender™ inspired sponges I have tried.

makeup to go makeup to go blog makeup blending sponge Graftobian GlamourGrip sponge
1 ) Graftobian HD GlamourGrip™ Sponge

If you know Makeup to Go/Tania Russell, you know I am a large fan of Graftobian’s HD Creme foundation and I also use their Wet Dry Dual Finish Powder Foundation. A couple of trade shows ago, I brought so many of my friends & students to the Graftobian booth to buy the HD Creme that the gentleman at the booth gave me a GlamourGrip™ to try. I like it.

Grip: The shape is supposed to make it easier to grip, but I find I prefer the egg shape of the Beauty Blender™. Also the GlamourGrip does not have enough of a “tip” at the top end to get into crevices like around the nose and the inner eye corners.

Texture: Texture is where everyone fell short of the goal line although I would say that the Graftobian sponge came the closest. It has a similar velvety exterior to really give that buffed, polished skin finish for which the Beauty Blender™ is known. Also the GlamourGrip™ is softer and more squishy like the Beauty Blender™, making it easier to hold and control.

Maneuverability: I found it a bit clunky feeling in-hand. I would not call it “bad” because of the grip-ability due to the softer texture, but the shape could be more streamlined.

Finish: The GlamourGrip™ left a very nice finish on the skin. It took a bit more work to get all the lines and demarcations out of my finished applications than the Beauty Blender™, but ultimately the finish was very nice. Worked well with both cream and liquid foundations and with Graftobian’s own Dual Finish Powder Foundation.

OVERALL: Not a bad dupe.

makeup to go makeup to go blog makeup blending sponge real techniques miracle complexion sponge
2 ) Real Technique Miracle Complexion Sponge

Grip: The Real Technique sponge pays homage to the original egg shape of the Beauty Blender™ but then adds their own spin of having one side blunted. This blunt side is for buffing/smoothing/blending out edges/etc. I like the shape. The problem, however…

Texture:…is in the texture. The Miracle Complexion Sponge is too dense and not at all springy like the Beauty Blender™. Also it has larger, more visible pores which in my opinion affected the final outcome of the finish.

Maneuverability: Good. In addition to the blunt edge for buffing, it has the “traditional” tip end for reaching into the crevices.

Finish: Okay. The finish was – again, in my opinion – no different than a wedge sponge. NOW artists have used wedge sponges since forever and you can get a good finish off of a wedge sponge. I was able to get a good finish off of the Real Technique sponge, but I would not call the final outcome a ‘miraculous complexion’ by any stretch.

OVERALL: Nice, basic sponge. No less, but no more.

makeup to go makeup to go blog makeup blending sponge ulta super blender sponge
3 ) Ulta Super Blender Sponge

Grip: Again, I do not care for these contoured shaped sponges. I like the egg better. The Ulta sponge does have more of a definitive point than the Graftobian, however, so it is better at getting into the crevices.

Texture: Hard. Not dense, not firm, straight out hard. Not comfortable on the model’s skin and also didn’t move/manipulate product well.

Maneuverability: Clunky shape plus hard texture = not comfortable in hand.

Finish: Has visible “pores”. Gave a foundation finish like that of an ordinary wedge sponge.

OVERALL: Of all of the sponges tested, this was definitely the weakest. I still use all of the other sponges mentioned in some capacity, but as of this writing I do not know where my Ulta sponge is.

makeup to go makeup to go blog makeup blending sponges sonia kashuk blending sponge

4 ) Sonia Kashuk Blending Sponge (NOTE: this version of the product has been discontinued)

Grip: The Sonia Kashuk (SK) sponge has a more streamlined version of the sculpted shape like the Ulta and Graftobian sponges. It’s less “fat” and has a nice tip at the end. It is a bit dense, comparable to the Real Techniques sponge. It is not hard like Ulta, but it is not as soft as Graftobian or certainly the original Beauty Blender™.

Texture: Small pore size and slightly “velvety” exterior texture. Feels nice to the touch.

Maneuverability: I still prefer the egg, but the SK sponge came in a solid second place in terms of hand-feel and maneuverability. Due to the shape, I had to pick it up and put it back down on the face multiple times which makes it more cumbersome to use. However I was able to stipple, blend, buff and reach all of the crevices just as I would with an original Beauty Blender™.

Finish: Very nice. Again, I wouldn’t say Beauty Blender™, but it gave me a nicely even and smooth finish with both cream and liquid foundations.

OVERALL: Nice sponge. Sonia Kashuk makes quality products overall and this is another in her excellent collection. As good as a Beauty Blender™? Nope.

What it is exactly about the Beauty Blender™? Well in my opinion it is a few things. Firstly, it is my understanding that the exact composition of the materials used in the original Beauty Blender™ are proprietary. Therefore other companies may approximate and get close, but they will never look or feel exactly the same as a Beauty Blender™, and you really can see and feel the difference. Secondly, the shape of the Beauty Blender™ is really key. That egg shape allows for a perfect “press and roll” motion with the surface area of the sponge making contact with the face at all times. That coupled with the smaller pore size is what makes for the super smooth, “airbrush” finish that the Beauty Blender™ is famous and beloved for. Used properly, there are NO lines, streaks, or demarcation of any kind with the Beauty Blender™. With almost all of the other sponges, the odd shape not only has a gap where the sponge is not making contact with the skin but it also makes it more difficult to do a continuous press and roll motion. I had to keep picking those sponges up and putting them back down on the face, making it more difficult to get rid of all demarcations. The Real Technique sponge would have been great shape-wise, but the overly dense texture and larger pores prevented it from giving me that flawless finish. It is also worth noting that my two contenders were also the more expensive dupes of the ones I tried. The Graftobian sells for about $14.99 and the Sonia Kashuk retails for $10.49. Bear in mind I chose to compare the better of the knockoffs that exist. I have seen some real, real doozey Cheapy McCheapersons out there. My favorite being this bag of assorted shaped/sized/colored blending sponges which one of my former students had. They felt terrible, and worked about as well. Some manufacturers have lost track of the concept of function over form. LOL!

If you’ve used one of the knockoffs and been disappointed I would encourage you to try the real deal. Until you have used an authentic Beauty Blender™, you have not actually used a Beauty Blender™ sponge. That said, not everyone needs to spend $20 on a single sponge, and I get that. Therefore, if you would like a lower cost alternative that will give you a very nice finish to your makeup applications, I found the Graftobian and the Sonia Kashuk to be quality substitutes.

EDITOR’S NOTE 2/11/18 – In the spirit of disclosure: This post was written back in 2014 and at that time all of my Original Beauty Blender™ sponges were purchased by me. Since that time I have been graciously invited to several Original Beauty Blender™ PR events wherein I have been gifted many Beauty Blender™ sponges and other products by the brand. In the 4 years since I originally wrote this article my opinion remains unchanged; I still prefer the Original over the dupes, but there are some dupes in the marketplace that are pretty good. Look for a #REMIX update article soon!

#MakeupMonday – Maybelline Master Kajal Eyeliner

jacey blush school of makeup maybelline master kajal eyeliner makeup to go makeup to go blog

the lovely Jacey was my demo model, makeup by moi…

Howdy folks. I’m using this Makeup Monday to introduce a new column to Makeup to Go; A Quick One. A Quick One reviews are going to be straght-forward reviews of just one product. I’ll still cover ingredients, performance, etc. but in a condensed and easier to read format. I may even start using a ratings system.

For this the inaugural A Quick One, I am reviewing Maybelline’s Master Kajal eyeliner. Anyone who knows me or who reads the Makeup to Go Blog knows that – with the exception of Great Lash mascara, Revlon lip colors, and a couple of other products – I’m not a huge fan of drugstore/mass-market makeup. Too much of it just doesn’t work. When I first heard about the Maybelline Master Kajal, I was duped intrigued on the strength of Maybelline’s Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner. The Lasting Drama gel liner was almost unilaterally well-received and reviewed and deservedly so. The gel liners are creamy, nicely pigmented, apply easily and work for personal and professional use. How does the Master Kajal Eyeliner stack up?

jacey blush school of makeup maybelline master kajal eyeliner makeup to go makeup to go blog

Maybelline Master Kajal eyeliner (click to see larger)

What Is Kajal?: It’s Kohl. As you are likely familiar, Kohl is a popular eyeliner type due to its soft texture and easy blendability. Traditional kohl/kajal is made from ground galena which is a form of lead(II) sulfide, mixed with other ingredients. Even though that form of lead is not generally considered to be toxic, a lot mainstream brands that sell Kohl pencils do not actually use Kohl in the formulation. Instead they’ll use a mixture of oils and waxes to emulate the texture of kohl.

When I was growing up, the Kajal I was familiar with was the traditional kajal which came in short, stubby cones with pointed ends. You can still find these traditional kajal cones in Indian and other international grocery stores that sell international beauty products.

Testing: I used the Master Kajal eyeliner during a demo for my Makeup for Photography class. I did not want to chance using it on a job, but I did want to see how it look photographed as well as in real life. I tested the Navy eyeliner specifically because I wanted to see if it would give good color payoff.

Design: The Maybelline Master Kajal emulates that traditional cone shape and adds a long, tapered handle to make it easier to hold. I liked the handle, it felt good in hand and it was easy to control. It should be noted that the Master Kajal has no sharpener nor does any more product “push up”. The amount of product you see is the amount of product you get. Product life will depend on product usage, and Maybelline suggests in the product packaging to always use it on its side (in a rotating fashion) instead of on its point. Keep this in mind.

Colors: Black, Charcoal, Brown and Navy
Good eyeliner basics and the Navy adds a nice pop of color to the collection.

Texture: Waxy. Not at all what I was expecting, although upon further inspection of the ingredients I am not surprised. People who like Kohl eyeliner – which I do – like it for it’s creamy texture. In fact some people do not like Kohl because they think it’s too soft. Well, as we will soon see, there’s no danger of that with this product 😐

Blendability: Since it is not creamy, it is not as blendable as one would expect or want from a Kohl/Kajal liner. In India, Africa and the Middle East the Kajal cone is all many women use to create a deep smokey eyeliner. There is no way you could do that with a product of this texture. I had a more difficult than expected time getting the winged eyeliner to jump off. Both myself and my model felt the product “drag” along the lash line. I would definitely not use this for the lower lashline or the waterline.

Color Payoff: Weak. It registered as a grayed blue in real life and as just a gray-ish/charcoal-ish color when photographed. It certainly did NOT look like anything I’ve seen in the advertising for this product. Remember when I said you are instructed to use the product on its side for maximum product life? Well nothing came off the cone when I did that 😐 It was only when I used the tip did I start to get any meaningful color release. As the product warmed up against my model’s skin I was able to use the side but it took some effort.

jacey blush school of makeup maybelline master kajal eyeliner makeup to go makeup to go blog

this was the best color payoff I could get (click to see larger)

Wear: Just okay. I did my demo in the morning, and my model and myself were at school all day. I did notice that by the end of the day the color – which was not strong to begin with – had begun to fade. But there was still liner on her lids several hours later.

jacey blush school of makeup maybelline master kajal eyeliner makeup to go makeup to go blog

Hmmmm…. (Click to see larger)

I took pictures of the backs of two of the eyeliners I purchased because one had a sticker on it which implies that the product may have had some formulation changes. As you can see the first several ingredients are various waxes: Microcrystalline wax, paraffin, candella, etc. It does contain castor oil which is a great ingredient that generally adds a smooth texture and “slip” to a product. But then that’s it. There are a couple of standard cosmetics ingredients in the mix (lauryl methacrylate/glycol dimethacrylate crosspolymer is a fixative, for example), and a few flower waxes towards the end of the ingredients list (meaning they are small components of the overall formulation). Mostly this is a colored wax stick and we all know what a colored wax stick is called? A crayon. Quite frankly that’s what the Maybelline Master Kajal looked and felt like. By contrast check out the ingredients in Sephora’s Kohl eyeliner pencils. Waxes AND oils for a soft, smooth texture. Clearly Maybelline are referring to “kajal” as the shape of the product, not the actual quality of the product

The Verdict: Would Not Repurchase. This is certainly not up to snuff for any professional use of any capacity, and consumers can do better as well. There are other “Kajal cones” available (Sephora’s brand has particularly nice color payoff) or you can just get a Kohl pencil like Make Up For Ever’s fab Kohl Pencils and call it a day.

Alas, Maybelline did not hit another one out the park with the Master Kajal eyeliner.

#MakeupMonday – The Basics: Mascara

If you hadn’t noticed, my Monday posts tend to be geared towards the makeup “every user”. Non-pro, aspiring pro, makeup journeyman, makeup novice, etc. Mondays are where Makeup to Go just talks product. Without. A. Doubt. the number one product I am asked about is mascara. All the folks who ask about it – laypersons and fellow makeup artists alike – seem to be on the eternal quest for the perfect mascara. It’s kind of a set-up of a question, however, because I also find mascara to be an intensely personal choice. So what I might look for in a mascara someone else may hate, and my “holy grail” mascaras might end up in someone else’s trash bin.

All I can do is offer my advice as someone who – because of my work as a makeup artist – has tried a lot of different mascara on a lot of different eyes.

That’s the thing, and that’s what my reviews are generally based upon. Just trying product on myself does nothing to let anyone know what a given product will do for them. And actually I don’t ever wear mascara. Having used a lot of different products on a lot of different faces, however, I have some pretty concrete ideas about what I’m looking for. My criteria for The Basics Mascara are…

1. Volume
Length can be created with just about any modern mascara with the right technique, but what I really like to add to all lashes I work with is Volume. Therefore, I tend to like thicker mascara formulations.

2. Definition
I like to pick up every single lash, this adds to the illusion of increased volume and gives lashes that “flirty” look I like.

3. Non-Clumpy
Spider eyes – off the runway – are unattractive. I do not want the lashes sticking to one another.

4. Long-Lasting
Needless to say having to do a re-apply is a non-starter. Adding more if you want more is one thing, but the initial application should be able to go the distance.

5. Finish
Like any healthy hair, lashes have a natural sheen to them. I prefer mascaras that do not dry too matte and cake-y.

Criteria established, here are some of my top mascara picks both new and classic. OH and another thing: I base my assessment on the formulation, not the brush. As we discussed last week, I cut off the wand and use disposables anyway.

In no particular order…

1. RMS Beauty – Mascara
This naturally derived, Eco-certified brand constantly delivers. If you’ve been disappointed by the performance of natural mascaras before, look no further than RMS. Rose Marie Swift is a makeup artist and her line performs like a makeup artists’ line. The Mascara is available in either a Defining or a Volumizing formula. While I like both, I tend to gravitate to the Volumizing whenever it’s time for a re-stock.

2. Korres – B5 & Rice Bran Mascara
Korres used to be a fully naturally derived brand as well, unfortunately via corporate buy-outs that’s no longer the case. In fact I hear they may no longer be cruelty-free which is unfortunate. Back when these things were not an issue I used to use their B5 & Rice Bran Mascara regularly. They describe it as lengthening and defining but I found it gave nice volume as well. I used to describe it as my “natural Great Lash”.

3. Dior – Diorshow
What can be said about Diorshow that hasn’t been said already? 30K “Loves” and counting on the Sephora website tells the tale. This mascara creates thick, juicy, velvety lashes even when you do not use their legendary wand (just use a fat disposable wand for similar effect).

4. Benefit – They’re Real Mascara
As the name implies, this mascara is supposed give the illusion that you’re wearing falsies. It doesn’t look like you’re wearing false eyelashes, lol, but it does a very nice job of building up lashes, particularly those on the – shall we say – more puny side. This formula is lengthening, volumizing, and curling all in one. I have heard, however, people say it caused their lashes to dry out and break off so they must be using some powerful stuff in the formulation. I’d either save this one for special occasions or use a lash conditioner regularly (Vitamin E or Jojoba oil works wonders to condition the lash line).

5. Besame – 1932 Cake Mascara
Every now and then I encounter a client who says that any mascara they use just slips off almost immediately. For folks who find this to be the case, I recommend going to a cake mascara. All mascaras used to come in cake form pre mascara tubes. The formulation is drier by nature (to use, you just activate with water) and less prone to slippage. Besame Cosmetics is a relatively new brand with a vintage feel and I’m digging their cake mascara. The colors (available in Black and Brown) are rich, the formulation is smooth, you can apply as many layers as you dare to get the depth and fullness you desire, and once applied it lasted all day. I recently used it on a photo shoot and it was fabtastic.

6. Tarte – Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara
Anyone who reads Makeup to Go with any regularity knows I love Tarte cosmetics, so let’s just get this out of the way: I’m totally biased. Over the years they’ve had a number of mascaras and they’ve all been excellent in my opinion. What’s nice is Tarte has “greened” their line and become a largely naturally derived brand yet the performance has remained the same. The 4-in-1 lengthens, curls, volumizes and conditions for lush and dramatic lashes. I prefer this for private clients vs for photographic use (I think the conditioning oils make this mascara break down a bit faster under lights). This is an excellent mascara. They also make an extra Volumizing formula and a waterproof formula.

7. Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara
Ok, remember when I said I was judging these mascaras based on the formula not the wand? Well this one really IS about the wand although fortunately you can find disposable wands with the unique ball shape. I know some folks who disdain the ball but it is the secret to picking up every. single. lash. I mean EVERY lash, even those teeny tiny ones in the inner corner. If you prefer to use a traditional wand you’ll still be happy with the result. The formula itself is creamy, smooth, and non-flaking and leaves you with well-defined, long and lush lashes with a nice sheen.

8. Maybelline – Great Lash
The legend and with good reason. Thick, gloopy and crazy pliable, with the change of a wand type I can create any kind of lash I want. For me Great Lash is the “winner and still champion” of all mascaras. And at $6-$8 a tube, it isn’t painful to throw it out and get a new one when 3 months time is up.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: I have a couple of items I think are worth a mention even though one I do not use often and one is new to me:

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Waterproof Top Coat was a game-changer for me. I do not care for waterproof mascaras nor do I tend to need to use them often. With this handy-dandy top coat I can make any mascara I wish to use waterproof. Lash Genius, indeed!

Buxom Custom Mascara Bar. I do not have any insight as to how well it works, but it’s a pretty cool idea. Basically you purchase Buxom’s Vanity Lash mascara and then based on the desired lash (volume, length, definition, etc.) you choose the perfect brush to accomplish the look. I used the Vanity Lash mascara on a private client this past weekend (it was her own mascara) and I did like the way it amplified her lashes which are rather short. So if you’re a fan of Buxom, or if you’re trying to find what brush works best for you, this is worth trying.

#MakeupMonday – Kit Sanitation

Makeup to go makeup to go blog kit sanitation

The Clean Team

A couple of weeks ago here on Makeup to Go Blog, I posted an article regarding knowing when it was time to say “Goodbye” to your old makeup (click to read “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: When to Toss Makeup). In that article I made mention of the fact that some rules can be bent or even broken. The trick? Kit Sanitation.

Makeup artists refer to their makeup product & tools as their “Kit”. If you have a lipstick, an eyeliner, a mascara and a few brushes, that is your Kit. Makeup artists obviously have a lot more in their Kits (not to mention an artist that does Airbrush or an artist that does FX), but the point of the story is whether your Kit contains 5 items or 500, proper care, maintenance and storage will enable you to keep and use your products longer. I debated doing this post as a “Makeup Monday” or as a “Biz Talk” post but as I was writing the makeup purge post I realized this is relevant info for pros and non-pro makeup lovers alike πŸ™‚

Humans are bundles of bacteria, as are most things in the world. It is this constant contact with a barrage of bacteria why we cannot just keep makeup indefinitely. Think I’m exaggerating? Check out this LiveStrong article on the different types of bacteria found on cosmetics, transmitted through human contact.

– Staphylococcus epidermidis
– Staphylococcus warneri
– Pseudomonas aeruginosa
– Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus

So we’re talking 3 different forms of Staph infection, and one other infectious bacteria that is even worse. No bueno.

Short version: Keep your stuff clean!!!!!

As a semi-germaphobe I just cannot believe the condition in which I’ve see some people’s makeup and tools. Sad to say, I include non-pros AND pros in this statement 😐 Keeping your products and tools clean will not only lessen (not eliminate, lessen) the risk of catching some of the afore mentioned nasties BUT it will enable you to keep makeup longer. No makeup artist is buying a limited edition NARS palette and then tossing it after a year, that’s laughable. I owned my beloved “Skin Deep”, “Emotional Rescue”, and “Rapture” palettes for about 6 years or so (from when they came out until this past Labour Day weekend when I did my purge) and they were in steady rotation in good working use for about 5 of those 6 years. That final year was me being in denial and not ready to let go, even though the lipsticks were giving me that telltale smell πŸ™


Ask a number of makeup artists and you’ll likely get a number of different answers, but in 15+ years I’ve never had a sanitation complaint or had talent have a negative reaction (that I am aware of) from my Kit. Here’s how I keep it clean;

Cream Products
(Foundations, Blushes, Eyeshadows, Lipsticks, etc):

In my professional life I use a (preferably metal) spatula to take product out of its container so I can use it on my talent/client. On myself, of course, I just use the product directly on my face. In either case, I give a quick spray with alcohol after use (yes, even when using a spatula because the product has been open and hence exposed to air). Let the alcohol sit on the product for at least 30 seconds. I just give my product a good spray down and let it air-dry and by the time its fully dry it is good to go.

Powder Products
(Eyeshadows, Blushes, Bronzers, Pressed Powder, Powder Foundations, etc.)
SPRAY WITH ALCOHOL AFTER USING. Wipe top layer periodically.

Powders should last you a while because they do not carry bacteria the way creams and liquids do. That said, unlike creams and liquids you have to use them right out of the pan. With creams and liquids you can decant as needed and not have to “double dip” into your product. Since using powder products is a constant “double dip” you’ll want to keep that top surface clean. Spraying with alcohol will NOT compromise your product, just be sure not to over saturate your product, and let the alcohol evaporate completely. You can – and should periodically – use alcohol wipes on your powder product so that you are actually removing the top layer of product revealing a fresh, new layer underneath. Some people recommend scraping the top layer of powder products, but one time of accidentally crushing your favorite eyeshadow, blush, or bronzer and you’ll see why I’m not a fan of that method.

Liquid Products
(Foundations, Liquid Highlighters, Illuminators, Lotions, etc.)

These are tricky because they generally need to be shaken and then most people pour the product out into their hand, often touching their hand. Once bacteria is in there, there is no way to get it out. My solution: Use liquids that come in a pump bottle. That way you only dispense what you need and the rest stays safe and isn’t exposed to air, your hand, etc. If your favorite product doesn’t come in a pump bottle or a tube, move it to one. Places like The Container Store or my beloved MUJI that I wrote about have empty pumps and tubes available. NOTE: Glass is better than plastic in terms of longer term storage. If you get a plastic container, don’t try to reuse as plastic is porous. Just toss it when the product is empty and get a new one. Extra Germaphobe Points: Wipe the opening of your pump bottle/tube with alcohol periodically πŸ™‚

Makeup to go makeup to go blog kit sanitation

Cut the wand OFF. Maybelline Great Lash comes like this now (click to see larger)

CUT THAT WAND OFF!!! Use Disposable Wands Instead

Mascara just does not live long so your first order of sanitation business is just to accept the reality of that reality. However, you can make your mascara last longer by ditching the wand that comes with it and using disposable wands the way professionals do. And by ditching the wand I do not just mean not using it, I mean cutting it off. Why? Because every time you take the wand in and out of the tube, you are pumping air into the product. This not only increases the likelihood of introducing bacteria, it also dries the mascara out faster so you have to replace it sooner. By cutting the wand off you can stretch your mascara’s life from 3 months to as many as 6 or maybe more*. NOW – a lot of the hype with many mascaras on the market IS the brush itself and how it applies product or separates lashes or what have you. IF you want to use the wand that comes with the mascara you certainly can (on YOURSELF, not using it on multiple people), just know that you’ll have to replace your mascara more frequently.


Pencils can actually last a while if well cared for. I do an alcohol > sharpen > alcohol routine for all of my pencils in my kit. For yourself, if you just sharpen your pencils** right after using it and keep your pencils covered (don’t lose those lids!) you’ll be removing that outer layer where the bacteria lives and your pencils will stay happy longer. Extra Germaphobe points if you sharpen your pencil AND spray with alcohol after each use.

Gel / Liquid Liners

With Gel liners, which is what I primarily use, I scrape a small amount of product out with a spatula and I spray the gel liner with alcohol after each use. As we all know, gel liners tend to dry out quickly anyway, and alcohol hastens the process. Therefore like mascara, this is just a category of product that does not last very long.

Liquid liner is great for personal use but tricky for pro use because the brush/applicator sits in the product in the tube. Therefore to use the product you are constantly double dipping. For professional use if I decide I’m going to use a liquid liner for whatever reason it’s a case of one and done for me. I use it and I give it to the person I used it on and just keep it moving. For personal use, you can wipe off the brush/applicator tip with alcohol before re-inserting it into the tube. This may help a bit but again, this type of product by its nature just doesn’t last long.

(Brushes, eyelash curlers, pencil sharpeners, etc.)

I said this in a previous Makeup to Go post and I’ll say it again: Everything I just wrote is completely moot if you do not keep your TOOLS clean. Your TOOLS are the items making direct contact to the skin and hence they are the carriers of the bacteria.

– WIPE BRUSHES AFTER EVERY USE. Its not hard, in fact it only takes a few minutes. Wiping your brushes with a specifically designed quick brush cleaner will remove surface oils, skin cells, etc. that get on your brushes. Hence you won’t transfer that back to your product, hence your product will live longer. There are many brands, just make sure they disinfect as well as clean pigment. And always let the brush dry completely before using again, you do not want brush cleaner on your product or on your face! In a pinch you can always use good ole alcohol (just be forewarned, over use of alcohol will dry your bristles and cause your brushes to age prematurely). My brush cleaner of choice: Parian Spirit

– DEEP SHAMPOO your brushes at least once a week. If you’re doing makeup on other people, please do this as close to daily as possible. Again, there are a number of good brands, and in a pinch you can use either a shampoo/conditioner all-in-one like Pert, or any baby shampoo. My brush shampoo of choice: Clean Brush

– WIPE METAL TOOLS such as tweezers, eyelash curlers, pencil sharpeners and spatulas with alcohol after every use. And when they start looking raggedy, just replace them.

– WASH YOUR HANDS before doing anything. Our hands are our most important “tool” in our “kits”. Before handling anything and certainly before touching your face, wash your hands with soap and hot water. At very least wipe with a sanitizing cloth and use hand sanitizer. It makes a huge difference.


Preferably NOT 99% alcohol, it evaporates too quickly. I use either 70% or 91% alcohol, both of which are readily available at any drugstore. 70% is my favorite. The water content helps the alcohol evaporate more slowly so it disinfects more thoroughly but it is not so much water that it will ruin your product (I wouldn’t recommend a 50% alcohol, too much water).

Beauty So Clean
I’ve not personally tried it but I know many pros who swear by it. The main active ingredient in BSC is alcohol. The difference with BSC is the addition of emollient agents. They claim that straight alcohol can dry out and alter your cosmetics (not in my experience) and that BSC is formulated with a balance of disinfectants and emollients to prevent that from happening. Again, I’ve never had a problem with straight alcohol, but Beauty So Clean works and it smells good. If you’d prefer to use something other than straight alcohol, Beauty So Clean is there for you.

– Parian Spirit Brush Cleaner
(NOTE: Parian Spirit has lower alcohol content than most pro brush cleaners and uses citrus spirit as its main cleaning/disinfectant agent. Therefore it does not dry as quickly as other “quick clean” brush cleaners and the smell is very citrus-y. I love it, some folks hate it lol)

Clean Brush Shampoo
Solid brush shampoo to deep clean your brushes.

This shouldn’t need to be said but I’ll say it just in case: DO NOT USE BLEACH ON YOUR COSMETICS PRODUCTS. It’ll ruin them. However I do use a small amount of bleach on a q-tip to clean my pencil sharpeners periodically. Wipe, let sit for a bit, then RINSE with water and dry thoroughly. Do not try to soak your sharpener in bleach, it will rust all the metal bits (ask me how I know that 😐 ).

STORAGE makes a big difference as well in the longevity of your products but speaking of long, this post already is. Look for a post on storing your cosmetics in an upcoming Makeup Monday.

#MakeupMonday – MUJI – Makeup Organization Paradise

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entrance to the San Francisco store…

A couple of months ago, I was introduced to MUJI USA in Los Angeles by a fellow makeup artist.

I knew of MUJI from NYC where they have a few different locations, but I did not know they had migrated to other parts of the country, namely California. Yay!

For those who may not be familiar, MUJI is a chain of – I would describe – mini department stores selling a variety of goods. The focus of goods at MUJI is in clothing, housewares, household organization, some limited specialty food items, stationary, skin care & beauty accessories, etc. MUJI is short for Mujirushi Ryōhin, which translates as No Brand, Quality Goods. Basically instead of a bunch of flashy design, and wasteful packaging etc., MUJI uses a minimalist aesthetic and focuses on recycling, responsible manufacturing and waste reduction. My type of company. I LOVE the aesthetic and vibe of MUJI stores. It is absolutely the type of space I could spend hours in just relaxing and taking in all there is to take in.

For the makeup artist or aficionado, MUJI is an organizers paradise. From tubes, to pump bottles to acrylic organizers, pencil cases… you name it. In pretty much every quadrant of the store (except for the clothing section πŸ˜‰ ) you can find something that can be beneficial to organizing your health, beauty and makeup essentials. WARNING: This is the type of store where it is easy to spend way too much money! This is what I purchased on two recent trips;

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I am constantly obsessed with getting my kit smaller and more efficient so I purchased some tubes in which I plan to put various moisturizer and skin cleansers, an Oil Cleanser – which is one of the best ways to remove makeup – for my kit, a facial toner and a facial loton which I just want to try for myself, a couple of flip top squeezable bottles that I have no idea what I’ll use them for yet, a set of spatulas and syringes to help move product into their new containers and a set of 3 corrugated cardboard business cards holders which I LOVE. Those are going to come in quite handy as I actually two different business cards (one for Makeup to Go and one for myself as a freelance makeup artist) and I’ll be able to keep them organized and clean in my purse πŸ™‚ MAKEUP ARTIST NOTE: While the MUJI Tubes are OK in a pinch for color cosmetics, for my foundations, liquid blushes, etc. I still prefer the Yaby tubes. In particular it’s the shaker balls in the Yaby tubes which ensure the pigments stay evenly mixed in your color cosmetics that make all the difference IMO. HOWEVER, for moisturizers, gels, toothpaste, etc. etc. the MUJI tubes are great and they come in a few different sizes.

How does MUJI compare to say, The Container Store? Well, as you know The Container Store is my boo and no one will ever fully replace them. I have to say that – aside from the Asian aesthetic which makes them very different in feel from TCS – MUJI is a more curated, targeted, niche experience. They are not as big and they do not carry as much stuff as TCS and they are not trying to. MUJI is not new, the company began in the 1980’s, so it is not an issue of them growing as a company. The stores in Asia may be bigger, I have not been, but I feel like MUJI USA has pared their offerings down to what best fits their customer and what best serves their company ethos. Short English Version: There is room for both, both stores are great, and I will continue to frequent both.

Here is a visual walkthrough of the fabulousness that is MUJI. If you are like me and love organizational products and stationary, I warn you now this may be dangerous to your viewing health πŸ˜‰

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beauty accessories and implements

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more beauty accessories and implements

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even more beauty accessories and implements

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MUJI brand skincare

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more MUJI skincare, this is the men’s grooming section

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in addition to the skincare cosmetics, they also have great accessories like muslin face cloths and cotton face pads…

muji makeup organization paradise

beauty organization section: tubes, and jars and bottles, OH MY! (also pill cases, clear travel pouches, etc.)

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pump bottles in different colors, either for color coding or for product that should not be exposed to a lot of light

muji makeup organization paradise

stationary section: pencil cases, pouches, etc.