What’s the Haps?

Makeup-ing, Blogging, and how Tania is getting her groove back…

still here just grindin makeup to go blog makeup artist los angeles makeup artist san francisco makeup educator


I hadn’t planned to write anything, I just logged into my blog as I do periodically to check on the back end technical stuff and make sure everything is OK. But in doing so I realized: Whoa! I haven’t made a post in a while!

I forget this because – in my mind and in the “behind the scenes” – I’m actually working on the blog all the time.

I am! Truly! I’ve said it before and it’s worth saying again;

My appreciation for the full time bloggers has grown immesurably in the last year ‘cos as I’ve been gaining new insights and skills and working on how I want this blog to go I’ve come to realize that those folks work hard. H-A-R-D. So hat’s off to them. But here’s a quicky update on what’s been going on and what’s upcoming here in Makeup to Go! world.

1 ) I had a severe loss of mojo there for a minute.

Subscribers to “Speaking of Makeup” (my fab newletter to which you should subscribe) got a note back in February that with everything going on in the world, talking about makeup had become challenging. I still kinda feel that way at times. You can read that newsletter installment – Makeup in the Hour of Chaos – here.

2 ) I had a severe car accident in March.

While working out of town on a job. Not fun. I am, however, very fortunate that I walked away with minor injuries, considering. I’m just happy I walked away, frankly. I’ll decline to go into it and/or post pictures but suffice to say it was no minor fender bender. This was the kind of accident where walking away was NOT a given. (I finished the job I was up there for, too…).

3 ) I’ve had a severe UPSWING in freelance work!

This is a good thing, and this is also probably the main thing holding my back from making Makeup to Go great again. After The Great Illness of 2015 it took a minute to get back into the swing of things. But by the Fall of 2016 – I’d say – things were back a’swinging full force.

And as for Makeup to Go the business and the Blog…

4 ) I’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes learning.

I took the end of 2016 to enroll in some courses specific to blogging/social media and I’m actually planning to attend my first blogging conference this summer. I believe in Makeup to Go and I want her to grow and flourish but in order to do that I needed to learn some things. I had to humble myself and realize that while I may have a lot of experience as a pro makeup artist I had pretty much ZERO experience as a pro blogger so I need to step my game up because…

5 ) I really want to teach, but not really at a makeup school.

I’ve learned a lot teaching in schools, not the least of which is I’ve learned that I prefer working for myself. I’d really like to resume Makeup to Go’s original purpose of being a vehicle for my education and consulting arm of my business so be on the lookout for those elements coming back into play. However…

6 ) First and Foremost I have reached a point where I cannot do everything alone

Nor do I want to. Not only do I need to get help with the logistics of Makeup to Go, on the blog front I also want to invite new voices and make MTG more collaborative. This does not mean that I will start taking random submissions for content (please do not send anything, I’ll return it without even reading it the way Studios do). I still very much want Makeup to Go to remain a curated experience based on the knowledge of pro, working, Media makeup artists. Fortunately for me, I know a lot of those types of folks :). I’ve had guest bloggers on Makeup to Go before, as well as regular Maquillaje Para Go contributions from my makeup homie Delia, so look for that to expand, particularly in the product reviews. I cannot try every product out there, another artist may love something that I hate, and I think it will just be a further enhancement of Makeup to Go’s goal of being “Dedicated to the Art and Craft of Makeup” to have more pro voices in the mix.

So that’s what’s up with me, now tell me what’s up with you? Aside from Publishing more consistently, what would you like to see from Makeup to Go? What types of content would you like us to cover? Please tell me in comments :).

Have you signed up for the Makeup to Go Blog newsletter yet? Join the fun for exclusive content, giveaways, and other assorted fabulosity! Makeup to Go Blog Newsletter – “Speaking of Makeup”

#Happenings – What’s Going On With Makeup To Go 5/6/15

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me on my way to what I thought would be a simple doctors appointment.

Hello hello!

I hope everyone who celebrates had a fab Cinco de Mayo. I desperately wanted enchiladas but could not have any so I hope y’all ate plenty for moi. Why couldn’t I partake? Read on…

An important part of blogging is not falling off the face of the earth, yet that is exactly what has happened. But I promise I have a good reason!

If you follow me on Instagram I posted a couple of pictures of me in San Francisco teaching a private lesson. All went well except for the fact that I started having severe knee pain. Without going into the whole sordid tale: I thought I had a strained ligament, it turned out that I had something even more complicated and next thing I knew I was having to have surgery.

That’s where we are now. I had knee surgery about a week ago and I have a six-week long at home therapy to complete. That means I have about five more weeks to go. What am I going to do with myself in this time? Well I can’t walk, therefore unfortunately I can’t work on-set doing makeup right now so there’s that LOL. Now that I’ve re-acclimated to being home and I’m feeling better I am planning on doing some long wished for upgrades changes and modifications to the blog. And like I mentioned before I have an upcoming article on what to do – as a freelancer – when you find yourself in a position where you suddenly cannot work. Oh and maybe I’ll even update my Pinterest for the first time since forever. HA! 😀

I can’t promise I’ll be quite as active over the next few weeks as I normally would be. But do keep your eye on both the Makeup to Go Twitter feed @makeuptogo , and the Makeup to Go Facebook page facebook.com/MakeuptoGo for updates here and there and to catch some Past Makeup to Blog Goodness.

Thanks as always for reading and supporting Makeup to Go/Makeup to Go Blog!

Twitter @makeuptogo
Instagram @makeuptogoblog
Facebook facebook.com/MakeuptoGo

(P.S. YES I do private makeup lessons and I love them! I should be back available mid to late June!)

#MakeupMonday – The Makeup Show Los Angeles 2015 Wrap Up

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It is time for my The Makeup Show Los Angeles 2015 Wrap Up post. Gosh… where to even start? I had a fabtabulous time (yes, fabtabulous is a word 😉 ). But seriously I had an amazing time. Every time the Trade Shows roll around I am asked which one is “better”. Every time I tend to answer the same: they are both well produced, they both have good speakers and exhibitors, the vibe and the focus are just different so it depends on what you’re looking for, etc. etc. This is all true. But I’m going to go ahead and just say this: I like IMATS and I always enjoy it when I go, but I feel at home at the Makeup Show. I do not know that I can articulate what exactly the difference is. Well… real talk: It counts for a lot that at least here in Los Angeles, the Makeup Show is not open to the general public. You have to be at least somewhat qualified in the beauty biz (media makeup artist, bridal makeup artist, salon, student, something) in order to attend. Therefore while the Makeup Show is busy, it’s not crazy the way IMATS has become (other than on Pro night). Secondly… I don’t know…. the folks speak my language. I am not an FX artist, I will never be an FX artist, I do not like FX (I don’t like gore/monsters/zombies, etc.), I do not watch films or TV shows that involve a lot of FX (Tania D. Russell will never watch “Walking Dead”), that’s not my scene. IMATS was started by Union makeup artists and actually when it first started (I know cos I was there!) there was almost no focus on Beauty makeup whatsoever. So while IMATS has become more inclusive to Beauty for sure, FX/Character/Film & TV makeup are still very much its core. The Makeup Show is exactly the opposite. It was founded by beauty makeup artists and people involved with cosmetics brands on the corporate level. When it first started it had no FX, although in recent years they’ve added a little FX stage (which I did not even see this year. I remember seeing it a couple of years back…), and the type of artists **I** grew up admiring – the ones in the magazines doing gorgeous editorials or the ones creating bold and inventive designs for music videos – are center stage. I have been doing makeup full time professionally for a goodly amount of time now (I’d say around 16 years of people paying me for makeup full time), and I STILL get excited to be around that energy, which is awesome. 😀 (Note: this post is long, but it is largely pictures 😉 )

The Keynotes and Seminars

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Celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles

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Finished red carpet look by Fiona Stiles

Priority #1 for all the folks in my crew was to NOT MISS celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles. I loved her talk and demo, not only because her work is amazing – which I already knew that – but because she was so down to earth and just very real about being an artist, working, and surviving and thriving in this industry. And it wasn’t just in my head, several of my students who attended the show said that there were a lot of similarities between things I’ve said in class and things she said on the stage. That always makes me feel good. Not only because I like to think I know somewhat what I’m talking about, but it’s also nice to know that even for artists at the highest echelons of success certain elements of working and the biz remain true. More on that later… Anyway, Fiona demoed a Runway look based on a look she’d recently created for actress Gabrielle Union. People were, of course, asking her what product she used (and she jokingly kept referring to herself as a “product slut” meaning she’s not loyal to any one brand and she’ll use anything from drugstore to the highest end as long as it works), but I really learned a lot from watching her and observing her technique. As with a lot of masters, she did not use a lot of product and it didn’t necessarily look like she did a whole lot (she did), but the finished application was flawless. You can see her work at her website, Fiona Stiles Makeup (click to go to her site). And you can follow her on all social media @fionastiles.

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Ellis Faas keynote. Nice picture, eh? I had a seat behind a pillar so I couldn’t see the stage except for on TV :\

Of course I wanted to see Ellis Faas speak. I was actually hoping she would also demo, but she did not. *** D’OH! Apparently I missed her demo. See comments below. Dagnabit!!! *** While she did discuss her path and her process as an artist, etc., much of her Keynote was actually focused on her eponymous cosmetics line. That proved to be interesting in its own way as well. Anyone interested in developing a line would have learned a lot from this Keynote. From packaging, to thinking about a brand both from a consumer viewpoint and an artistic viewpoint, to marketing, etc. It was fascinating because my earlier Ellis Faas encounter at the pre-party at Nigel’s earlier in the week was focused almost entirely on her artistry. But like most really successful folks, Ms. Faas is not on some “Oh I’m such an artist I cannot think about that other stuff…”, she really put a lot of thought behind every choice she made for her brand. To see her work and her cosmetics brand, visit Ellis Faas Cosmetics (click to visit site).

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Ellis Faas Icon Gallery

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Ellis Faas Icon Gallery

And then of course there was the “Icon Gallery” of her work. I bought her book and had it signed so I have all of these images, but basically the book – which all of the images in the Icon Gallery are from – is a compilation of the work she created to promote her cosmetics line, with the stories behind their creation. It is a very inspiring book.

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Artist / Illustrator Donald Robertson and Lori Taylor discussing their collaborations

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Art by Donald Robertson

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Art by Donald Robertson

Like I said in my preview post, this was a WildCard lecture for me, but I am glad I followed my gut and sat in on it. Donald Robertson is not a makeup artist, he is a visual artist and illustrator and the Creative Director of Special Projects for Estee Lauder. As such he collaborates with the lines within that brand, including Smashbox Cosmetics. This Keynote was co-moderated by James Vincent (Director of Education for The Makeup Show), and Lori Taylor, International Artist for Smashbox. Many folks reading this may well be visual artists (painters, sculptors, illustrators, etc.) and as such you are aware of the similarities in the creative process with that of a makeup artist. If you are not a visual artist in any other medium – which I am not – I encourage you to pay more attention to the visual arts world. It will give you a new perspective into your own artistry. In addition to his own journey and process he also gave a lot of practical business advice on being your own brand, utilizing social media, and the like. He got his “big break” bringing his art to a wider audience via Instagram, and that aspect of his business has been a major part of his success (click here to read a NYPost article about his success). I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Donald after his talk and he seems like a warm and friendly Southern Gentleman. You can join everyone else in following him on Instagram at @drawbertson

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Art by Donald Robertson

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MUFE rep Turner Floyd, Melanie Inglessis, William Lemon III and The Makeup Show Director of Education, James Vincent

Last but not least, on Sunday I caught artists Melanie Inglessis and William Lemon, III in conversation with Make Up For Ever’s Director of the Professional Business Division, Turner Floyd and the ubiquitous James Vincent. This lecture came about because not only is Make Up For Ever the Diamond Sponsor of The Makeup Show, but Melanie and William were both amongst the 30 artists with whom MUFE collaborated for their Artist 30/30 project. Melanie is a high-end celebrity/red-carpet artist (click to see her work), while William is known for his cutting edge work with largely music clients including (but not limited to) body painting and “skin printing” (click to see his work). Again, they both spoke primarily about their journey and their artistic process. While they both have backgrounds in visual art, it was very interesting to see how differently that background manifested into their careers. Another thing that is inspiring about coming to these trade shows to hear these artists speak is realizing that there is no one certain way to be an artist in this business. Except for being talented and skilled – which all of these successful artists have in common – there is no one way to get started, no one way to look, no one way to act, etc. This is not a cookie cutter industry with one pre-defined way of being a “real artist” (despite what you might see and hear online).

I mentioned earlier that certain themes of being a working artist kept coming up over and over. What were they? Well first of all on the practical level, they all talked about Social Media and good usage practices. So for those of you living on Planet X thinking that you do not need to engage with social media and that it’s for bloggers only, etc. Think again. Secondly, every single artist I saw (and some I did not, according to what my students said to me), mentioned being kind, being of service to your client, being a chill fun person to work with that people like. This is still a people business and nothing – not even talent – will move you along faster than being someone that people like to be around PARTICULARLY when you are first starting/on the come up in your career. So be nice, stay humble and work hard folks! Do not fall for the false prophecy of Internet Superstardom!

The Exhibition/Shopping Floor

My experience this year basically came down to attending lectures on Saturday, and wandering and shopping on Sunday. Walking the floor is always fun, I always run into a zillion of my friends in the biz and some of my current and former students (yay!), I get to see my vendor friends, I’ll take a look at what’s new (nothing new really grabbed me this year, honestly), and then if I actually need anything I’ll pick that up as well.

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I am interested in Smashbox’s new Photo Finish Primer Water but they were out when I got to their booth…

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the highly coveted original classic

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Makeup artist Valerie Hernandez assisted by MTG Fam, makeup artist Liza Macawilli Ramos in demonstration for Youngblood Cosmetics

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MTG fam, makeup artist Jennifer Naideth werking it out at the Ellis Faas booth…

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Melanie Mills, makeup artist and founder of Gleam Cosmetics at raffle time! (I did not win 🙁 )

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The Haul

Many thanks to The Makeup Show for always bringing in such fabulous vendors and thank you to these vendors for these fab products. I had to really dig deep and NOT buy other fabulously that I just really do not need. I have such a grip-ton backlog of makeup as it is! Anyway, I love new product as much as the next artist, so can’t wait to dig into these purchases!

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Dose of Colors Matte Liquid Lipstick in “Kiss of Fire”. Different artist friends kept talking to me about this line so I decided to try it out. A word of warning; this is strong stuff. Just trying it on my hand stained my hands and fingers for a bit.

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Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Cream Color Concentrates. I actually purchased this at the pre-party at Nigel’s Beauty Emporium that I attended. Good thing, because the OCC booth was hella crowded both days of the show. Colors purchased are “Pleasure Model”(pink) and “Beholder” (teal).

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Youngblood Sampler. Many thanks to the Youngblood crew for always sharing samples of some of their new items with me. What I need to go back to the website and get is the new TSA compliant 3-pack of their fab Minerals in the Mist sprays.

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Dante Disposables brush cleaner: A true quick dry, disinfecting spray with NO SCENT.

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Crown Brush “Syntho” line foundation and concealer brushes. Normally, I’m not a fan of the less-expensive brushes but the Crown Syntho line is quite good and that round duo-ended Foundation/Concealer brush is a nice “homage” brush of a Stila foundation brush which this Crown brush just happens to looks exactly like 😉

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Bioderma Sebium H2O. The Bioderma Sensibio H2O for sensitive skin has been a kit staple for most makeup artists since forever. The Sebium is a micelle cleanser and makeup remover for oilier skin. I go this one for me! 🙂

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Straight Pin Studio Mini Essentials Kit. Since I also do hair for my commercial clients, this is something I’ve been meaning to get for a while. I have had the pleasure of working with Straight Pin Studios co-founder, Lucie Doughty, who is an award-winning session stylist and Editorial Director for Paul Mitchell. As you can see this is not just another little organizer doo-dad for your hair pins/ties/etc. This is a filled KIT of pins, ties, etc. Each compartment closes separately so you do not have to worry about product flying all over the place, its compact and organized and perfect for a makeup/hair kit.

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AJ Crimson Beauty Lipcheeque and S & M (sultry and matte) Lipstick. The AJ Crimson line – which I’ve written about before – is a line catering towards products for women of color. So if you are wondering where to get products for deeper complexions, check AJ Crimson Beauty out. He is now starting to roll out his color products (he started with skin; foundation, BB cream & powder) and they are GORG! I got one each of both the Lipcheeque (lip/cheek color pan) and the S & M (sultry and matte) Lipstick. The Lipcheeque color is “Say Whet?!” a bright, but wearable purple that can go from sheer to intense, and the Lipstick color is “No Explanation”, a deep berry/brown color. Yum! (we’ll see if “No Explanation” makes it to my kit)

That was my Makeup Show Los Angeles experience. Leave a comment below and tell me yours! 🙂

#MakeupMonday – IMATS Los Angeles 2015

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Once again I had the pleasure of attending a makeup artist trade show. This time around was the International Makeup Artist Trade Show aka IMATS Los Angeles 2015.

This year was a bit different for me because I was (and still am) actually working up in San Francisco and had to fly down for the show. But armed with inexpensive airfare (thanks JetBlue!), I was able to make it down to see makeup artist friends, stay in contact with vendors, see fabulous lectures/demonstrations, and yes, do a little bit of shopping.

If you’re an old-timer like me, it’s difficult not to take note of how much IMATS has changed over the years, in ways that are both good and bad for the professional artist. When it was the only show of its kind, it was pretty darn hardcore. Nowadays..??? I was not able to make it to Pro Night on Friday because I was working, but I could feel the change in subtle ways all throughout the show: From having to constantly ask for my receipts from purchases made, to pricing definitely being higher than standard pro pricing on some things, to going to amazing lectures where the audience was half empty. The focus of the show from the standpoint of the majority of attendees was squarely on shopping and in particular all of the lines that are popular in the online makeup world such as Sigma, OCC, Anastasia, and Morphe Brushes for example. Those are all great brands, but it just says a lot about the attendance of a show when those brands literally have long, winding lines but longtime pro staples such as Reel Creations were comparatively empty. Sad to say most of my students seemed to be mostly interested in shopping as well. I guess the shopping frenzy bug is something that slows down over time…

I got like 5 things and that was way more shopping than I thought I would be doing. My Saturday partner in crime – Fab makeup artist Renee Loiz – had some things she needed to get and suffice to say she was a bad influence 😉

Since I was doing the back-and-forth shuffle, I left my bag go goodies at home in LA without remembering to take a photo of my haul first. :|. Anyway, here’s a breakdown of what I got.

Parian Spirit
For once I did not get Parian Spirit, HA! I have plenty for the moment. I’ll see them in March at the Makeup Show.

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me along side my recently graduated student Ava, and miss Deb Bondar, founder of Face Atelier Cosmetics. No I don’t have something on my face, that’s a lighting thing…

Face Atelier
I have a few colors I need to restock in the fabulous Ultra Foundation, but I did not get them. Why you may ask? Because instead I bought a couple of the newly introduced Ultra Skin foundation. The Ultra Skin is a lighter weight formulation but I would not call it a tinted moisturizer. It’s almost like a balm. It felt hydrating and smooth on the skin, gave true coverage and a beautiful finish. I cannot wait to try it on a shoot soon! (sadly it is not up on the Face Atelier website just yet so no photo 🙁 )

Glam Kitti
Glam Kitti is the brainchild of celebrity makeup artist Monifa Mortis, and an idea whose time actually came a while ago so I’m glad someone’s actually created it. For those of you who do bridal, private clients, red carpet, or work in any scenario where you have to give your client some cosmetics so they can keep their touched up, you know that doing so has been a chore. The best we as artists have been able to offer to date are those little jars and some spatulas in a plastic baggie. Not cute. Ms. Mortis has created a recyclable mirrored compact consisting of a lip brush, applicator, spatula, & powder puff, wells for 6 cream products, a little well for powder, and 6 blotting powder sheets! All in a little compact that fits in the smallest of palms. How genius is this??? The benefit to this for makeup artists is obvious, but this should do well in the consumer market as well. I bought a couple, one specifically for myself for traveling. No TSA confiscation of my cosmetics, thank you… (click here to check out the cute little infomercial for the Glam Kitti )

Dante Brush Cleaner
One of my fab makeup gals told me about them a while ago, and I’ve been looking forward to trying ever since. Unlike Parian – which uses citrus oils as its primary cleaning agent so the smell is very strong and it takes a while for the oils to evaporate – Dante is more of an innocuous liquid. No color, no scent and non oily. So obviously it is not an all natural product as I generally prefer, but I am hoping this will be good on set when I need to clean and reuse brushes quickly.

Bioderma Sensibo (Crealine) H2O Cleanser
This is when I knew that even for non FX artists, most of the attendees were non pros. This booth should have been swamped. Artists have been coveting the Bioderma Crealine (Sensibio) H2o Ultra-mild Non-rinse Face and Eyes Cleanser for years. For American artists it’s meant waiting until you or a friend went to Europe, or over paying on European websites or Amazon. It’s that good. Now, however, BeautyLish will be carrying the product for the American market. Hazzah! And while I’m sure their prices will be good, the prices at the show were crazy good. I bought a grip. If you didn’t, ya missed it! 😉

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Ben Nye Banana Yellow powder
I am so annoyed with myself on this one. I braved the ridiculously long line at Naimie’s booth SPECIFICALLY to buy a jar of Banana Yellow powder to bring back with me to my class I was teaching in SF. Guess what did NOT make the trip back up to SF? 😐 And I overpaid, that price was definitely full retail. #LeSigh. I guess I’ll bring it next time I teach this class. On the positive side, Naimie’s line was crazy, but they were very efficient and the line moved quickly. (In fact, I paid MORE than what is currently listed on their website. Great 😐 )

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On the Lectures tip, I only got to attend 2 but they were both amazing. First was Stephen Dimmick who is a high-end beauty/fashion and celebrity artist. His work is stunning, but yet again his lecture was more than half empty. What an opportunity missed! Stephen gave those of us in attendance a wonderful retrospective of himself as an artist and how he grew his career as well as his thoughts on the state of the industry today. He was warm, real, candid, and completely on point.

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Stephen Dimmick

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makeup by Stephen Dimmick

The second lecture I attended was Francesca Tolot. Her lecture was well attended although a lot of people heard like the first 10 minutes and then left. SIGH. Anyway, for those who stayed, she shared stories of the creation of her book One Woman 100 Faces(disclosure: affiliate link to help keep Makeup to Go! going 🙂 ). What I was impressed by and I really hope a lot of young artists heard was how collaborative the project was, and how much she honored and regarded her collaborators. I’ve already personally come across a few unfortunate incidents of “ME ME ME” since I’ve been teaching and its… yeah. Humility and gratitude for those who help to lift you up is so much of being an artist, and to see someone at the absolute highest level show such respect for her team was truly refreshing. And then of course her work is just Bananas. She had three live models come out in looks featured in the book. All were amazing, one I do not even know how she did it. Unfortunately they were moving so my photos aren’t great, but you get the point. Amazing.

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Francesca Tolot, being interviewed by IMATS founder Michael Key

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makeup by Francesca Tolot

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makeup by Francesca Tolot

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incredible body makeup by Francesca Tolot

Once again, I left a trade show inspired and excited to be a makeup artist.

#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. 🙂

    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!