#MakeupMonday – Strobing – What It Is What it Ain’t

makeup to go blog strobing ellis faas glow up powder

Ellis Faas Cosmetics Glow Up Powder S501
Perfect for the Strobing Technique

So strobing.

Yet another “makeup trend” for folks to follow. And of course, as with any makeup trend, there are certain products that are “must haves” in order to achieve the look and then once you get one set of “must have” products another set comes along telling you that you “must have” those too.

In all likelihood, if you have a complete makeup kit either for yourself or for your use as an artist, you already own a number of things that can be used to Strobe, so let’s break down what it is, what it isn’t, how it works best, and what you do need in order to accomplish the look.

What Is Strobing?

Basically Strobing is using highlight to sculpt and emphasize bone structure. It’s the “softer side” of the (overworked) Contour craze that has been trending in makeup for a while now. What “Strobing” isn’t is new, in any way, shape or form. As with Contouring, artists have been doing this since forever. And as with a good Contour job, Strobing takes a deft hand because it can quickly go awry when done incorrectly. The point is to create subtle highlights, not to look like you’re oily or worse, covered in glitter. My favorite video demonstrating the technique doesn’t even call it Strobing. Here makeup artist extraordinare Ellis Faas demonstrates the technique as she’s introducing her Glow Up powder.

and obviously if you want a more extreme strobe, you can just apply more product. If you do that, however, you’ll need to be VERY precise in your application lest you end up looking like you hit the chicken shack full force.

If we’re using the term, I guess, I “strobed” this model. Again, I didn’t call it “strobing” but I wanted to bring out her bone structure without the use of Contour. Truth be told, I’m far more into this look than I am the heavy contour look. I think this look is lighter, fresher and more modern.

makeup to go blog strobing what it is

© K. Szatmari
Makeup by Tania D. Russell

What Products do I Need to Strobe?

So you like Strobing and want to add it to your technique arsenal? It’s as simple as reaching for your nearest Illuminator/Highlighter. That’s it. No special product required. Here are the illuminators/Highlighters I currently have in my rotation:

makeup to go blog strobing hourglass ambient lighting palette
1 ) Hourglass – Ambient Lighting Palette
I professed my love for this palette in a previous post and I still love it. I can use this highly versatile palette of subtle sheen anywhere on the face to create a pretty glow that is never overly sparkly. And with three colors in a palette, I always have the right shade for whomever I may be working on.

makeup to go blog strobing becca cosmetics shimmering skin perfector® powder
2 ) Becca Cosmetics – Shimmering Skin Perfector®
Like the Ambient Lighting powders, Becca Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfector® pressed powders are finely milled and apply like velvet. I would say these are a bit more shimmery than the Ambient Lights, particularly depending on what color you get. I tend to like Highlighters/Illuminators that are more nude-y so I can use them all over the face (and on a wider range of skintones). I have the Shimmering Skin Perfector® in Moonstone, which is a pale gold, and Topaz, which is a golden bronze. The latter I use on deeper complexions and the former I use on fairer complexions.

makeup to go blog strobing kevyn aucoin celestial lights powder
3 ) Kevyn Aucoin – The Celestial Powder
The Celestial Powder is almost difficult to describe. You remember in Old Hollywood how they allegedly used to put Vaseline™ on the lens in order to diffuse the image and give the actress a “glow”. The Celestial Powder is that glow in a compact. It’s a truly beautiful product. It is lightweight, almost suede-like in feel, and adds a subtle but present highlight to any area applied. If memory serves it only comes in one color – Candlelight – which as the name suggests gives the skin a beautiful candle lit glow.

Sadly I do not actually own Ellis Faas’ Glow Up powder, so I cannot speak to it. I already have too many products of this type to justify purchasing it. If anyone out there has the Glow Up powder, hit the Comments and let us all know how it is 🙂

PRO TIP: Any pro quality powder cosmetic can also be applied damp to intensify the color and effect. So if you want a more intense highlighting effect, simply apply with a slightly dampened brush. Be sure to let your product dry completely before closing it so it doesn’t warp or get moldy.

makeup to go blog strobing NARS cosmetics copacabana multiples
4 ) Nars – The Multiples – Copacabana
NARS is really doing the most with The Multiples nowadays. The Multiples is one of NARS oldest and most successful products in their brand, but now they have new Matte Multiples and all these bizarre colors, and this that and the third. Needless to say I’ll have to visit a boutique soon and see what all that is about. In the meantime as far as strobing needs are concerned, I would look no further than Copacabana which is a nude-y sheen-y color texture. It has long been my favorite Multiple by a mile (I love Malibu as well but it’s the wrong color for our purposes right now). A cream product can give you stronger “Strobing” action than most powders will, and in fact it can be layered with powder.

makeup to go blog strobing all over shimmer liquid stila cosmetics
5 ) Stila Cosmetics – All Over Shimmer Liquid
A liquid will potentially give you the most strobing action of any product type. You can apply lightly for a subtle sheen, or you can go for it and kick up the bright lights. Use With Caution! Stila’s All Over Shimmer has long been favorite of mine for giving pronounced highlighting action without being sparkly. It used to be available in a truly nude color (#1), but unfortunately that color is no longer. Of the available options, I’d recommend Kitten.

makeup to go blog strobing moonbeam highbeam benefit cosmetics
Honorable Mention: Benefit Cosmetics Moonbeam and HighbeamMoonbeam is an iridescent apricot color, and Highbeam is an iridescent pearl color. They are a little bit more glittery than the All Over Shimmer liquid, and they can also be either applied for subtle sheen or for all out shine.

makeup to go blog strobing becca cosmetics shimmering skin perfector® liquid
Honorable Mention 2: Nowadays I actually use Becca Cosmetics liquid version of their Shimmering Skin Perfector®. It’s a more subtle sheen (less sparkly), but also buildable and Pearl is a perfect nude-y white sheen color.

PRO TIP: I would not use a liquid highlighter/illuminator around the eyes. I’m sure people have, but I cannot imagine what that would feel like if you accidentally got some in your eyes. I’ll stick to powders around the eyes. Do not say I did not warn you.

makeup to go blog strobing ben nye lumiere powder
5 ) Ben Nye – Lumiere Powder

If you are tired of playing games and want intense sheen and highlight, this is the product for you. This is a theatrical makeup, so it’s meant to withstand lights and read from off stage. AKA – it’s strong: Proceed with caution. That said, this has been one of my favorite products which I’ve kept in my Kit for years and years.

How Do I Strobe?

I don’t make tutorial videos (yet… we’ll see in the future), but I would say the video I posted from Ellis Faas is a good outline. The areas you’ll want to highlight are;

– Brow Bone
– Inner eye corners
– **tops of the cheekbone**
– **center of the nose**
– and possibly the cupids bow of the lips (use a light hand as that highlight sometimes just looks sweaty)

Ms. Faas also did the center of the lower eyelid in order to further accentuate the Orbital Bone, and I like to do the center of the forehead (as long as there is no breakout or whathaveyou) and right above the brows to further accentuate the temples.

You’ll note both of the brushes she used were rather small. This is important so as to maintain control of your product instead of your product going all over and controlling you. I recommend brushes such as;

makeup to go blog strobing bdellium tools maestro 939 brush
Bdellium Tools – Maestro 939 Angled Detailer which is a small, angled detail brush for precise application on the nose, cheeks, etc.


makeup to go blog strobing bdellium tools maestro 780 brush
Bdellium Tools – Maestro 780 Pencil for the inner eye corners. “Pencil” brushes are short, dense hair brushes that allow for clean application of product in that difficult inner eye area. I also like Pencils for smokey eyes so I get smokey eyes not Out Of Control raccoon eyes.

Bare in mind also that different products are better for different skin types and conditions. If you have really perfect skin without a lot of texture, you can use pretty much whatever you want, as strongly as you want. However if you have acne, wrinkles, enlarged pores, or any other type of skin texture issue, shimmer will accentuate the texture so less is more. For more mature skin I love the Kevyn Aucoin Celestial Powder. For skin with a lot of texture, I like the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector® Liquid or the Hourglass Ambient Lighting powders.

Have you tried the Strobing phenomenon? How did it go? Let us know in Comments, or better yet, send in a picture!

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#MakeupMonday – #Makeupwerks Tinsel Tokyo Magazine

Makeupwerks Tinsel Tokyo Magazine

Magazine: Tinsel Tokyo

Photographer: K.Szatmari

Model: Addi Culler / Photogenics

Makeup (& Hair): Tania D. Russell

Time for another edition of #Makeupwerks which is where I feature a breakdown of some of my own work. For the editorial theme of this beauty story, I didn’t want to do something as simple as “glitter” or even “pigment”, I really wanted to play with the idea of Texture.**

makeupwerks tinsel tokyo magazine makeup artist tania d russell los angeles san francisco makeup to go blog

(Click to view larger)

Products Used:
Prep – Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water; Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre
Skin – Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics: TINT tinted moisturizer; Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Loose Powder
Eyes – Fortunate Face Cosmetics: IntensifEYE primer; Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCCMakeup) Loose Colour Concentrate Pigments: Dope, Crusing, Nevar, and Flawed
Lips – Who knows, sorry (I always mix several colors)

makeupwerks tinsel tokyo magazine makeup artist tania d russell los angeles san francisco makeup to go blog

(Click to see larger)

Product(s) Used:
Lips –
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCC Makeup) LipTar: Trick, Loose Colour Concentrate Pigment: Glisten; Whip Hand Cosmetics Pure Pigment Loose Eyeshadow: Dangerous

Eye –
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCC Makeup) Loose Colour Concentrate Pigments: Crusing, Acacia; Whip Hand Cosmetics Pure Pigment Loose Eyeshadow: Colada, Grouch

makeupwerks tinsel tokyo magazine makeup artist tania d russell los angeles san francisco makeup to go blog

(Click to see larger)

Product(s) Used:
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCC Makeup) Loose Colour Concentrate Pigments: Nori (splattered on face)

(** As any artist does, I use a lot of different products and blend and combine to create the desired effect, but the products listed were the main products used in any given look **)

#MakeupMonday – AJ Crimson Beauty

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AJ Crimson in demonstration for AJ Crimson Beauty at Frends Beauty Supply 5.22.14

On May 22 I was able to attend a demonstration of the AJ Crimson Beauty line. The event was hosted by Frends Beauty Supply (who I recently discussed in a previous post) complete with champagne and nibbles* and the demonstration was performed by AJ Crimson himself.

This was actually NOT my first intro to the line. The line made its Los Angeles debut at The Makeup Show Los Angeles 2013. At that time there was a little mini palette of the cream foundations and I remember that my makeup cohort and fab artist Renee Loiz got one and for reasons unknown, I did not. More on that later…

If you are not familiar with AJ Crimson’s name, you likely know his work. Having cut his teeth largely with musical entertainers, AJ Crimson has painted the lovely faces of Missy Elliot, Estelle, Fergie, Brandy and many others. Behind the “industry scenes” he is also the CEO of BLACKBOARDGROUP Management and he is a well-regarded beauty and lifestyle expert.

The AJ Crimson Beauty line is devoted at this time solely to foundations, BB creams and powders. Like myself, he is all about the skinwork as a priority, in fact he stated several times during his demonstration that he often does not use color cosmetics (eyeshadows, blushes, etc.) at all and instead he uses various shades of foundation products to achieve his looks. This technique is particularly effective on women of color where the color of the clients skin and the natural variations within add to the color palette available to the artist. Both foundation products come in a wide array of colors, going into deeper skin tones that most cosmetics lines do not. This is particularly great in the BB Creams because for the longest time there really weren’t any BB Creams suitable to women with dark complexions. Here’s the 411 on his product line:

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco tania d russell aj crimson beauty dual skin creme foundation
Dual Skin Creme Foundation –

This is an oil and wax based formulation that is water resistant, gives sheer to full coverage and is described as being “HD Approved” (So as with any pro foundation, the onus is on the artist to do a clean application. Applied properly it can look great in any photographic setting). This product is currently available in 8 shades and he said that more shades are being added in the very near future. The texture of the foundation was creamy without being overly oily and once set it feels smooth and velvety on the skin. Due to the formulation, there is some natural sheen once applied, so if a more matte finish is desired, you can simply powder it as needed. Interestingly, AJ applied the foundations using a natural hair brush that might typically be used for Blush. This allowed him to apply his product in sheer veils, building up to the desired amount of coverage instead of one, thick, cakey layer. He actually finished quite opaque – he even demonstrated using it for tattoo coverage – but it still looks like flawless skin and not a bizarre mask of product. This product was created with the intention of professional use, although a consumer who wanted fuller coverage could also wear this foundation comfortably. Even after the finished application, the model said the foundation felt pretty much weightless. Now here’s the unfortunate thing: Remember when I said my friend Renee bought the foundation mini palette at the Makeup Show LA last year and I did not? Yeah, well, that item is no longer available. 🙁 Turns out it was only a limited edition item. The packaging is the one ding I would say about this product from a professional kit stand point (although clearly, you could just de-pot it into a Vueset or the like). AJ informed us that a new click-stack packaging was coming in the near future to address this concern. If I understood him correctly, it sounds like it’s going to be similar to the mini-palettes Yaby introduced last year, which I wrote about in last year’s PHAMExpo wrap-up.

makeup to go blog tania d russell makeup artist aj crimson aj crimson beauty

AJ Crimson in demonstration at Frends Beauty in Los Angeles

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco tania d russell aj crimson beauty bbd cream
BB+D Cream –

For the consumer market, AJ Crimson Beauty offers the BB+D Cream, the name being a cheeky take on the whole “alphabet products” craze. Basically “+D” is that this cream gives fuller coverage than the average BB cream (so really, it’s a CC cream, but who can keep up). One other significant change from most BB creams is that he opted to leave out SPF. The SPF is left out so that on consumers there wouldn’t be that white cast that SPFs can so often give off, and also so that if an artist did want to use this for photography – either alone or as a base for the Dual Skin Creme foundation – it would work well and not give a TD Reaction. Since this is intended as a product for the consumer market, I don’t know about leaving out the SPF. I am an avid BB cream user, and like most of us I’m lazy. I want one thing that is going to get everything done at once, easy peasy. So we shall see how that plays out in the market. Otherwise, this formulation is full of “good for you” skin ingredients such as sodium hyaluronate, vitamins A, C, and E, jojoba oil, almond oil, shea butter, etc. Super oily skins may find the oil content to be a bit much, but my skin – which is oily – liked the way it felt and I did not experience any excessive breakdown due to oiliness. As we all know, however, I am a huge user of face oils to begin with, so take that as you will. This product is currently available in 11 shades that should suit everyone from the very fair to the very deep.

I will add that – while I did not personally experience this – I have been told by a fellow makeup artist that she has experienced significant Oxidation with this product. Oxidation is when a product reacts with the skin’s PH and changes colors, oftentimes becoming too dark or too orange. This usually occurs in products with good ole Oxides in the formulation (Titanium dioxide, Iron oxides, and Zinc oxides). You remember we spoke about those recently in the Powder Malfunction article. Needless to say this is something to be concerned about and as I use the product more on various talent with various skin tones and skin types, I will be keeping an eye on this.

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco tania d russell aj crimson beauty universal finishing powder
Universal Finishing Loose Powder –

AJ mentioned several times that he is not a fan of powder cosmetics and he tries to avoid using them. By “powder cosmetics” we’re talking eyeshadows, blushes, face powder, etc. Like most makeup artists, if AJ does use a face powder it is going to be a loose powder due to its superior setting and finishing properties. The Universal Finishing Powder is currently available in 3 colors, although we were informed that the Butternut/Warm Cocoa color is soon to be discontinued. The neutral is a colorless, oil absorbing powder good for general usage and the Bamboo is his version of a “Banana Yellow”-type powder. Bamboo is less matte than the Neutral, and it is good for setting with some skin tones and also very good for highlighting. The powders are finely milled with a silky finish. They are very lightweight so they do not just sit on the skin creating unwanted additional texture. AND they Do Not change the color of the foundation work you’ve just applied. This is when I knew AJ was a man after my own heart and an artist of like-mind. Once I’ve done all this work to get the skin to where I want it, I hate thick, overly colored powders that change all the work I’ve done. GAH! So needless to say I liked the AJ Crimson Beauty powders very much.

If by this point you are wondering how you can be down, have no fear, the AJ Crimson Beauty line is expanding its availability throughout the country. Frends Beauty is the exclusive stockist in California. If you are outside of California, check the website to see where it is available in your area. Also keep your eyes out; AJ Crimson is werkin it right now, conducting various workshops and demonstrations throughout the nation to introduce artists and consumers alike to his brand. You can also get AJ Crimson Beauty directly via their website – and don’t forget – he will be both a speaker and an exhibitor at the upcoming PHAMExpo.

Lastly, let me finish by saying what a delightful person I found AJ Crimson himself to be. While he was definitely on point and about his business, he was not at all snooty or pretentious. He was very approachable, very generous with his knowledge and he respected his audience (most at that particular demo were working artists for Film and TV – and by working I mean one of the artists in attendance is Kerry Washington’s artist for “Scandal”). It was a pleasure to have an audience with an accomplished artist with such a positive attitude. These are the types of businesses I get excited to see grow and that I am proud to support.

* Be sure to follow Frends Beauty Supply on their various social media streams to find out about various events for pros and non-pros alike 🙂

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco tania d russell AJ Crimson Beauty demo

AJ Crimson Beauty demo at Frends Beauty Supply

#HaveYouSeenThis – Making Angelina Maleficent

makeup to go blog makeup artist beauty writer tania d russell making angelina maleficent

Dig those cheekbones! Image courtesy of Disney

I am a Beauty makeup artist. Quite frankly – while I very much respect the craft – I detest FX/horror/monster makeup. I just do not like looking at “gross” no matter how well it is done. In fact the better it’s done, the harder it is to look at.

All that said, I love a good character makeup. I particularly love character makeups that combine fantasy and beauty. Enter Maleficent, Disney’s upcoming film starring Angelina Jolie. The story itself is promising: Maleficent is the “Queen of All Evil”. She is initially introduced in Disney’s original Sleeping Beauty film. Instead of just remaking Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent tells the story from the viewpoint of the Evil Queen including delving into her past to learn how she became who she is today.

For those of us in the Glam Squad, this film looks like a treat for the eyes. The costuming looks amazing and reading the story of the makeup, nails and costume design reaffirms that being a great artist requires a balance of artistry and technical skill. Making Angelina into Maleficent was no quick foundation and lipstick job.

Read all about it at Fashionista.com

#MakeupMonday – Powder and the Makeup Malfunction

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons tania d russell face powder makeup malfunction

When Powder Attacks (taken from various AP sources. If images are used in error please let us know…)

Face powder and the Makeup Malfunction. Such a simple product, yet such controversy. Use of face powder goes back to the time of Cleopatra, so it is hardly something “new” in cosmetics. In fact in my previous article on face powder, I described it as a wonder product and one of the most important products in my kit. And it is. So if powder is such a “cannot live without wonder product” I am sure non-pros reading about all of these makeup disasters are wondering the same thing;

What is really going on with all of these celebrity makeup malfunctions?

Well, the issue is not the product so much as the product usage. This is why it is prudent, albeit admittedly difficult, to not jump on every product trend but to learn HOW product works and get what works best for you from there. Let’s delve into why Powder and the Makeup Malfunction occurs. WARNING: Science Ahead!

How is it Used?
Face Powders have been used throughout cosmetics history to even skintone, brighten complexions and give the skin a smooth surface feel. As cream and liquid foundation came into being, powders became accompanying partners in the makeup routine to help keep skin matte and to help make the liquid/cream foundations last longer. Historically it has been applied with a puff or a brush and buffed into the skin, pretty much the same as it is now. As a makeup artist, I can also use it to subtly adjust foundation colors, blend edges, mute overly-bright color cosmetics, etc. Powders are wonderful and versatile cosmetics.

What Is Face Powder?

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Generally speaking, face powders these days are comprised of Talc and/or grain starches (rice, corn, etc.), preservatives and possibly colorants and scents. Some brands may also add moisturizing or other treatments agents. So called “mineral” powders are generally comprised of Mica, Silica, Zinc and Titanium Oxide and then Iron Oxide pigments that provide the color. Let’s take a look at the labels on some of these products.

Ben Nye is one of the original, old-school powders ever available in the marketplace and its ingredients list is fairly typical* of a loose face powder. These are the ingredients for the Ben Nye Neutral Set Colorless Powder;

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons tania d russell ben nye neutral set face powder makeup malfunction

Talc – Talc used to be deemed a dangerous ingredient because INDUSTRIAL GRADE talc had Asbestos which is obviously not a good thing. Cosmetics grade Talc which has been purified and is what is in use in health and beauty products poses little to no adverse health risks. Talc is all natural (unlike a lot of “mineral” makeup ingredients which are actually synthesized) and is the softest of all of the minerals. Therefore talc is used when a silky soft finish is desired.

Aluminum Hydroxide – Skin protectant, adds opacity, may also add color in some formulas.

Methylparaben / Propylparaben / Butylparaben – Preservatives

Sorbic Acid – Not to be confused with Ascorbic Acid which is Vitamin C, Sorbic Acid is another preservative.

Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Powder was the first HD powder I ever became aware of. It is extremely finely milled and goes on nearly weightlessly and invisibly. Its ingredients list is as follows;

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons tania d russell  koh gen do maifanshi face powder makeup malfunction


Zinc Myristate – Is a mineral salt and is used as an anti-caking agent.

Silk Powder – An inorganic pigment powder and filler, Silk Powder is used to give product and the skin a “silky” soft finish, and to give added oil absorption to a formulation.

Sodium Hyaluronate – Salt form of Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic Acid is a “skin-identical” ingredient used in health and beauty formulations as a moisturizing agent. (Hyaluronic Acid occurs naturally in the human body, primarily in eye fluids and in the joints. HA for cosmetics use is laboratory generated generally from bacteria).

Iron Oxides – Iron compounds used for coloring cosmetics products.

So as you can see, the Koh Gen Do powder – which if I did not say before is LE AMAZING – incorporates elements of straight stage powder like Ben Nye, but also some modern formulations found in today’s cosmetics as well as some ingredients found in products marketed as “mineral” makeup powders.

Talc, rice starch and corn starch all share in common the fact that they are very matte and they contain no reflective materials. Therefore when used, they leave a soft, matte overall finish to the skin. The “oxide” family are widely used in the mineral makeup product category and in color cosmetics (eyeshadows, blushes, etc.). Most have reflective properties to them to varying degrees (some low lustre, some sheeny, some high sparkle, etc.). You may be familiar with Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide as physical sunscreens which work by deflecting the sun’s rays away from your skin. Makeup Artists will also recognize Titanium Dioxide as a product to be used with caution for professional photography because the reflective nature of TD can cause a “TD reaction”: That appearance you see in some photographs where the face looks whiter than the body. This is the lighting reflecting off the titanium dioxide back into the camera. This is also common in selfies, snap-shots, etc. where flash photography is common. Cosmetics companies like Oxides in powders, foundations, etc. because the keep formulas from looking too “matte” and they give varying degrees of sheen/shimmer to products which gives a “glow” when applied.

Now. In May 2008 Make Up For Ever introduced a brand new concept into the world of Face Powders when they introduced their High Definition Micro Finish Powder into the marketplace. The HD Micro Finish loose powder contains but one ingredient; silica. Silica’s full name is Silicon Dioxide.

Uh oh. Didn’t you just say that Oxides have reflective properties?

Yes I did. Read on my friends…

What Goes Wrong?

MUFE’s HD Micro Finish Powder is 100% Silica (in the loose powder form. The pressed powder has other ingredients, but the primary ingredient is still Silica). Silica is also well known to most as the little packet that comes in packaging – including some food packaging – to absorb moisture keep products dry. Therefore as a powder it is very mattifying but in a less “cake-y” way than talc or starches can be. Texture-wise, the MUFE HD powder is very very light and very very dry. A light dusting is all that’s needed to mattify the face and provide a flawless finish.

So What’s The Problem?

A 100% silica powder is a 100% reflective powder, so it is not a wise choice for FLASH photography. It’s great for TV, it’s great for film, it can be great for print, it’s great for walking down the street. It is great anywhere there is going to be stationary, set lighting. To the naked eye, it is matte in appearance. However – and this is where the danger starts – when the flashes go off, that OXIDE is going to react and flash that light back at the camera. The second danger element is the fact that it is so dry. As I mentioned in my previous powder article, silica based powders need the moisture of freshly applied makeup to hold onto. The dryness makes silica powder a fabulous SETTING powder because it adheres like crazy and really sets the makeup. However, once the makeup is set and dry there is no moisture for it to cling to, so it just builds up. As you can see, common culprit areas are around the nose and underneath the eyes which are frequent touch-up areas (under the eyes due to concealer slip and around the nose due to natural skin oils). The final danger element is the “micro finish”. The particles of the MUFE powder are teeny tiny. They are not as readily visible as talc and starch based powders. MUFE themselves tout the “invisibility” factor of their HD powder as one of the benefits of the powder and it is a good thing. Normally. However when you have a makeup error such as too much powder building up in one place but you cannot see that too much powder has built up in one place, you are en route to a Makeup Malfunction situation. That is how all these celebs are getting caught out there. The people involved are neither crazy nor blind. Had they been able to SEE that the powder was going to go buckwild and do them wrong, they would have fixed the situation before it happened. However;

Oxide reaction + dry powder buildup + fine particles that are not easily seen = Makeup Malfunction.

I really, really want to stress that MUFE HD powder is a fantastic product and when used correctly looks absolutely gorgeous. This article is not intended to bash any given product. Also, a lot of brands are now making their own knock-off versions of the MUFE HD powder, surely of varying ingredients and varying overall quality. In all likelihood none of us were there when these makeup malfunctions took place, so we do not even know for sure what product was used. Lastly, I also want to shout-out all the makeup artists who have had clients appear in the “What Were They Thinking” columns the day after an event. Any artist who works in these situations knows that you do not know what the client is going to do once they leave you to go to their events. We’ve all read plenty of stories of celebs getting their awards show fast food fix on (this article says “after” but trust me I know of several “on the way there” stories). Therefore I am not going to speculate who did what, when or why. I am merely writing this article to educate artists and consumers on how this particular phenomenon happens.

Bottom line – I, Tania Russell, makeup artist, would just not risk using silica based face powders at all for these types of events. If you want to make sure that you look your best in your snap shots at parties, etc. or that your client looks their best at any type of live event, stick to the tried and true of talc/starch based powders. If you are worried about the “cake” factor, apply with a skilled hand and you will not have that problem. I used Ben Nye powder on at least 90% of the photos on my website. If you DO choose to use a silica based powder, please know what you’re doing. Knowing how to use the product and, first and foremost, knowing the conditions under which the powder is going to be seen makes all the difference between a makeup malfunction and a makeup masterpiece.

Sources: Temptalia.com, Ponte Vedra Soap Shop, MakingCosmetics.com, Paula’s Choice, Skinacea.com, Environmental Working Group, WebMD, American Cancer Society, Human Touch of Chemistry.com, Wikipedia.org,

* there are countless cosmetics formulations in existence, this is just provided as an example.