REMIX – #MakeupMonday – Best Blushes for Brown Beauties

Disclosure: Hey folks, instead of doing sponsored posts, Makeup to Go is a member of Skimlinks and Amazon Affiliates. So if you purchase something via any of our links, we get a lil sumthin sumthin to help us keep running. Thanks much!

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My ubiquitous Brown Girl (or guy) Blush palette. Pre China NARS, of course…


Makeup to Go has been around for a while now…

…and as such, some of our content is in need of a little refreshing. Introducting the #REMIX where we travel back in time and bring some of our “Best of” content up to date. I’m starting with one of my personal favorites; Best Blushes for Brown Beauties.

Blush is one of my favorite cosmetics products, but finding one that suits deeper skin tones is drama. Not JUST in the sense of colors not being deep and/or pigmented enough – although that is a legitimate problem. The other legitimate problem is that a lot of blushes (and eyeshadows, and other powder cosmetics) are formulated such that they give off significant white cast. The white cast generally comes from either from the talc base or white pigment in the formulation or excess shimmer/glitter (which is often white pigment based). If a blush is not pure color pigment based and is in anyway cut with white/light pigments, watch out. That’s where the dreaded “ashy” appearance comes from that can leave you (or your client) looking gray. Fortunately, there are some gorgeous exceptions that look stunning on brown (and not brown) complexions. Here’s who I’m loving right now.

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NARS Taj Mahal
When I first did this article someone left me a rather snarky comment that I “left off” Taj Mahal and Exhibit A. Um…thanks for reading the blog? At that time I replied that Taj Mahal wasn’t my favorite from NARS and just kept it moving. A burnt orange color wasn’t really appealing to me… until I finally broke down and tried it. My commenter was correct. I do in fact now use both, and Taj Mahal in particular is one of the GOAT* blushes for brown complexions ever. Stunning as a blush color on lighter to medium brown complexions and gorgeous as a non-ashy highlighter on deep brown complexions, I pretty much use Taj Mahal all the time nowadays. Thanks much Ms. Snarky Pants wherever you are 😉

ABOUT NARS: NO I’m not buying NARS for the time being although I am still using the NARS that I already have. Eventually I will write a separate post about the NARS situation but suffice to say that the NARS selling in China thing has been devastating for me. Devastating 🙁 . I love “Desire” by NARS as well. Alas, NARS is the change right now and anyway you probably aren’t interested in a list of just one brand so moving on…

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BlackUp Cosmetics – NBL11, NBL12
BlackUp is a French brand specifically designed to be a high end cosmetics line for Black women. As Black people come in an array of hues, tones and undertones, it is a fantastic line for broad spectrum of Women of Color. These are the two blushes I own so far and I love them both. The blushes are very finely milled (which is what you want in any powder product) so they are very smooth and the texture is velvety and luxurious instead of just powdery as lower-end blushes tend to be.

NBL11 is that kind of plumy rose that looks good on pretty much every human, and NBL12 is very similar to MAC Raizin. Unlike Raizin, however, NBL12 has shimmer so it isn’t a replacement for the MAC blush. NBL11 has a shimmer to it as well, as do most of their blushes. That would be my only knock against BlackUp. That said, the shimmer is subtle and as such is wearable for real life and usable for photography including HD.

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MAC Raizin
I had a former student just write me about this not too long ago, as I used to use it all the time in my in-class demos. I plan to do a post on Classic Cosmetics You Should Know, but that’ll come at a later date. For now, I HAVE to mention Raizin. This brick-y-brown-y golden-y red is another of the GOAT* melanin folks blush colors, and has been since f o r e v e r.

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Viseart Blush Palette #2 Rose/Coral
#2 is my favorite of the Viseart Blush palettes and I find that the pigmentation is so intense I can use it on nearly any skin tone. Whereas BlackUp costs $26.50 each, Viseart’s palette of 6 colors retails for $80. Normally I do not recommend blush palettes for anyone other than pros because we need a lot of colors. HOWEVER this one I can recommend to non pros as well because it’s extremely wearable. Palette #2 is six colors you can use, not just 2 good ones and 4 duds as palettes so often go. In addition to the wearability, Palette #2 also has the closest equivalent to “Desire” that I’ve found. Petal pinks (like Desire) look so so pretty on fair to light brown skin tones, but so often petal pinks are cut with white pigment and/or have shimmer so they go ashy. Every Viseart palette I’ve ever tried (and I own several) has always been color-true and has never given me ash. For the truly deep girls (my own complexion and deeper) I might slide over to Palette #3, but for the most part Palette #2 is my go-to.

Ready for something unexpected?

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e.l.f. Blush Palette – Dark
People always give me grief for not including mass market brands, so here you go. I’m not a fan of e.l.f. the way many artists are HOWEVER, I have to say I like this one a lot. I discovered it in a moment of desperation where I needed something and the only store available to me was a Target. Is it as richly pigmented as the brands mentioned above? No. But it is very nicely pigmented and even more importantly it is neither powdery nor is it a shimmer bomb. This palette is pigmented enough to read even on deep brown skin tones and while there is shimmer, it’s subtle and doesn’t leave a crazy white cast. I use this on the regular for one of my ecomm clients and I’ve been impressed. In fact, here it is in action;

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ELF Blush Palette Deep on Leslie Allen/LA Models


And more Brown Beauty Friendly blushes are on the horizon. A friend who works with MUFE says they have some new must-try blushes coming. Look for information on that soon to come.

…and if you’re curious to see the original article, click here to visit “Best Blushes for Darker Toned Beauties“.

(* for those who may not be familiar with the term, GOAT is an acronym for “Greatest of All Time”)

What blushes do you like for yourself? Or if you’re an artist, who do you like for your brown-babe clients?
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#BizTalk – Late Pass – IMATS LA 2017

Disclosure: Hey folks, instead of doing sponsored posts, Makeup to Go is a member of Skimlinks and Amazon Affiliates. So if you purchase something via any of our links, we get a lil sumthin sumthin to help us keep running. Thanks much!

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line around the building for opening day of IMATS LA 2017…


I’m late…

This was originally going to be a #MakeupMonday – Makeup Short Notes post, but as I was writing it became clear that my notes were no longer short. So IMATS LA 2017 will be its own post, and we’ll hit the Makeup Short Notes on Monday.

IMATS LA 2017 took place this past January, and while it was not as amazing for me as last year was, it was a highly enjoyable, well produced show. The caliber of the vendors was overall very good, and the caliber of the education was excellent. Even in the “Influencers” hall – which I found quite spookadelic last year – there was education that was accessible to the consumer audience, but still relevant to the pros.

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Sir John Keynote and demo

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Sir John’s second model


Sir John – of Beyonce’s Makeup Artist fame – was more awesome than I even hoped he would be. I’ve been a fan of his makeup for a while as his aesthetic is similar to mine – he even said a lot of things I’ve heard myself say in my classes – and I was pleased to see that he has a wonderful personality to match. No matter how simple the question, Sir John was energetic, engaging, encouraging and NEVER condescending. He truly wanted to teach and share information. All while doing not one, but TWO great makeup demos. Impressive! (follow him on Instagram @sirjohnofficial)

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Senior MAC artist Fatima Thomas “Contemporary Beauty for Women of Color”


On the flipside, I was completely UNfamiliar with MAC Senior Artist Fatima Thomas before her demo, and I walked away a fan. In addition to being an excellent artist and doing a beautiful demo, she gave a lot of technical knowledge in her talk. She is an EXCELLENT teacher. Lighting, temperature, hues, tone, color theory all played heavily in her demo. Those who kept their ears open walked away from the demo enlightened.

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Ashley Rudder of MAC Cosmetics “Eras Reinterpreted” demo

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finishing touches on Eras Reinterpreted demo


MAC Senior Artist Ashley Rudder’s demo met at the cross section of art and fashion as she worked through a highly modernized Elizabethan makeup design. I’d forgotten that MAC has some interesting, non-traditional products available in the MAC PRO line. I walked away with some new thoughts on product usage.

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Jordan Liberty “Beauty of Restraint” demo

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Artist Jordan Liberty is known for his modern “Glam” style and in his demo he walked through achieving a Glam look without going overboard. The end result was definitely still Glam complete with his signature glossy eyelids, but still fresh and pretty.

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Sam Fine Keynote and demo

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I’ve seen Sam Fine in demo about 12-trillion times and this last time it really dawned on me how unique and “his own” his style is. Everything from the way he uses product to the tools he uses (including an all-important Tupperware™ lid) is just nothing like what I’ve ever seen any other artist do. Maybe that’s why I keep sitting in on his demos whenever I have the opportunity. In an industry where folks are described as one of a kind pretty regularly, Sam Fine is truly One Of A Kind. And his work and career speak for themselves.

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a whole lotta film makeup fire power on one stage – Lost Boys 30 year reunion


On a very different note from what I’m usually into and what I usually discuss here on el blog, IMATS celebrated the 30-year reunion of the film “The Lost Boys” by having a Keynote panel featuring some of the actors from the film and the makeup artists who created the looks for the film. For those of us “of a certain age” The Lost Boys was That Movie; everyone saw it, everyone talked about it… even scare-dee-cat me who NEVER watches any kind of even slightly scary movie went and saw it in the theatre (eyes covered a lot of the time but still, I was there!). What I didn’t think about until this panel was how that movie completely changed the aesthetic of the Vampire genre, period. With one movie it went from the old Nosferatu “I vant to drink your blood”, Transylvania scary guy Vampire, to the young, sexy Vampire aesthetic we have now (if you’re wondering, yes, Lost Boys pre-dates the film adaptation of Interview with a Vampire by 11 years). So if you’re a fan of True Bood, Twilight, etc. you owe a lot of that to Lost Boys. Thank you to make-up artists Ve Neill, Greg Cannom (who was my Spirit Brother on the panel), and Steve LaPorte for sharing stories and insights.

Other Sights and Sounds

Aside from the education, the other (probably main for most folks) draw at IMATS is of course the shopping. I didn’t do too much damage this year, but for me as a Pro it is important for me to visit my vendors and peers, and as a FAN of makeup I always like to see what fun stuff is being created. Also, hanging out with my makeup homies is always the best part of any trade show. Shout Out to Eizabeth Fox (Instagram @lizzyfoxmakeup) for hanging with me. It was fab! 😀

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The actor underneath this makeup is in his mid-30s

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someone forgot to put their face on before the show!

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my former student Priscilla (@prisgutierrez) now works with the Eve Pearl line…

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my former student Mindy werkin’ it out for Frends Beauty

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the pro-sumer brands were doing swift business…

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new Senna Cosmetics brow powder pencils. Senna’s Taupe and Blonde pencils are some of the most truthiest #Truth products in all of makeup


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Cozzette powder palettes


My “Haul”

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Thank you to Make Up For Ever, Lemonhead LA, Embryolisse, Royal Langenickel and Poise Professional for your generosity! Be sure to follow these brands on social media, and buy and #supportthebrandsthatsupportproartists

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Mehron Mixing Medium, Parian Spirit brush cleaner, and a few brushes from Crown Brush


The 2nd to last photo are items I was gifted, the last photo is of the items I purchased. As always, I don’t do “first impression” reviews so keep your eyes out on full product reviews as I’ve had the chance to actually use things (except for Parian Spirit which we all already know I consider to be #TheTruth).

Thanks much to Michael Key and the IMATS staff for always listing to the community and putting on a high quality event! 😀
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#Happenings – AJ Crimson Beauté Boutique Opening

Disclosure: Hey folks, instead of doing sponsored posts, Makeup to Go is a member of Skimlinks and Amazon Affiliates. So if you purchase something via any of our links, we get a lil sumthin sumthin to help us keep running. Thanks much! 🙂

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from @ajcrimsonbeauty Instagram


One of my makeup passions

…is discovering small, independent and/or niche beauty lines that a creating high quality products with a unique point of view. From the jump I have been a supporter of celebrity makeup artist AJ Crimson’s line – AJ Crimson Beauté. The line has changed around since my first post about it, but now it seems to be settling into a groove, and AJ Crimson Beauty is growing from being in the pro stores and at cosmetics counters in various stores (including internationally in England and Nigeria), to opening up a signature “Atelier” boutique on chic La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles (right next door to the infamous Pink’s Hot Dogs).

The AJ Crimson Beauté Boutique is a little jewel of a boutique offering a curated shopping experience. The AJ Crimson line and the boutique were designed to address the beauty needs of women of color, however pretty much any skin tone can find something to enhance their fabulousness. In addition to his own line, the boutique carries makeup brushes, skincare, candles, etc. Even though the opening was well attended, the vibe was less of a bustling retail feel, and more of a relaxed, casual elegance that invites shoppers to sit a spell and stay a while.


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shot in silhouette on purpose as a few celebs were in attendance…


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AJ Crimson Beauté

Since last I wrote about it, the AJ Crimson Beauty line has pared down it offerings and focused on skin and lip products. On display were the Dual Skin Cream Foundations (which as I mentioned I just got one for myself) and Dual Skin Correctors, the Universal Finishing Powders, the Mattes + Metallics Gloss Lippies, and my favorite product, the S & M (Sultry and Matte) Lipsticks.

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Melanie Mills Hollywood – Gleam Body Radiance
It feels like I’ve discussed Melanie Mills Hollywood Gleam products about a zillion times, so nothing new to say here but it was nice to see the Body Radiance in the boutique. As the goal of the AJ Crimson boutique is to provide products selected to work on women of color, Gleam products do not have white cast that can make deeper complexions look cakey or ashy. That chalky/ashy effect is something to watch out for when using highlighting products on people of color.

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Urban Skin Rx
I’d not heard of Urban Skin Rx prior to seeing it at the store opening. Urban Skin Rx is developed by a medical esthetician and it is described as “Clinical Skincare for all Skin Types”. The line is comprised of skin care treatments designed to address a myriad of problems including the dreaded Post Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation that plagues so many women of color.

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Tribal By Nature
The entire space was captivatingly yummy smelling thanks to these delicious candles. These are elegant candles with refined scents that subtly grace a room with fragrance. Think Diptyque rather than Yankee Doodle. Strangely enough I cannot find a website for this company. ??? But I love a good candle so I’ll likely be back to purchase one.

Speaking of purchases; I swear I did not intend to buy anything on this trip – LOL! But real talk; well wishes do not pay bills. If we want independent retailers like the AJ Crimson Beauté Boutique to survive, we gotta whip out those credit cards and get ta spending. With that in mind, I went ahead and purchased two gorgeous makeup brushes, and for doing so I was gifted a fabulous goodie bag! 😀


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very generous goodie bag!



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#04 is AJ’s personal favorite


MustaeV
First my purchase; MustaeV (which I now know is pronounced like “Must Have”). This was the first time I’d seen their brushes and it was love at first sight. These are from the Kowonhye* Collection which appears to be their high end line, so these were not cheap. Quality brushes, however, are never cheap. I was immediately interested in #3 ($44.50) as I’ve been contemplating getting a good buffing brush for a while now. THEN, however, both one of AJ’s artists and AJ Crimson himself told me that I had to get brush #4 ($51.00) as well. #4 is listed as a blush brush but AJ says he loves it to apply cream foundations. I love true artistry brushes that can be used multiple ways. What else could I do?! I had to get them both!
(*Kowonhye is a well known international fashion/celebrity makeup artist),

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purples look fab on deeper skintones… Coloured Raine Cosmetics liquid lip in “Roulette”


Coloured Raine
Never heard of this line, but the color is gorgeous. I like liquid lipsticks for certain types of photographic work, and I know lots of folks like to wear them as a long lasting lip color option. I’ll give this a whirl and report on it soon.

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I love a bright, poppy red. GloGirl Cosmetics lipstick in “Uno Love”


GloGirl
I’ve heard lots of good things about the GloGirl Cosmetics brand so I’m stoked to finally have an item to play with. And I’m glad this tube is not Blue or the like… (but GloGirl has really pigmented versions of all of those edgy colors if you are so inclined…)

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gorgeous nude that will work with numerous skintones – AJ Crimson Beauté lipstick in “Nude”


AJ Crimson Beauty
My fave AJ Crimson Beauty products are the lipcolors, full stop. Not surprisingly this color stays sold out. This is a very universal nude color that’s neither too warm nor too cool, not too light or too deep, and not too brown or too pink. I imagine I’ll be using this one a lot.

I don’t think it needs to be said that the Holidays are upon us. In addition to the products carried, the AJ Crimson Beauté Boutique offers education and events, makeup application services, gift cards, and more. If you are in LA or coming for a visit, stop by the boutique as part of your holiday shopping extravaganza.

(Nope, this is not a sponsored post. I purchased items as described and neither AJ Crimson nor AJ Crimson Beauté know about this post until I tell them… 🙂 )
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#MakeupMonday – Black Girl Beautiful Inaugural Event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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


mtgbgbtandpin

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werking the Black Girl Beauty booth…


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


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the fab artist who matched my foundation at AJ Crimson Beauty

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#7 – a rich, red brown


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

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


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fab makeup artist Renee Loiz about to work her magic…

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

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

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


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Free Your Mane Conditioning Pomade and Reviving Spray

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

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the gorg ladies of Free Your Mane


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

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


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

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


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


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I’m a new Onyx Box member!

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

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the lovely ladies of OnxyBox


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

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


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DevaCurl Inspiration Wall…

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makeup to go blog makeup artist los angeles makeup artist san francisco makeup educator black girl beautiful inaugural event

makeup to go blog makeup artist los angeles makeup artist san francisco makeup educator black girl beautiful inaugural event

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

Honorable mention goes to;


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makeup to go blog makeup artist los angeles makeup artist san francisco makeup educator black girl beautiful inaugural event


makeup to go blog makeup artist los angeles makeup artist san francisco makeup educator black girl beautiful inaugural event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#MakeupMonday – Anatomy of a Kit Prep

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…One thing about being a freelance makeup artist…

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

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

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

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

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

makeup to go blog tania d russell makeup artist makeup educator beauty writer los angeles makeup artist san francisco makeup artist anatomy of a kit prep LORAC pro 1 and 2 retail packaging

makeup to go blog tania d russell makeup artist makeup educator beauty writer los angeles makeup artist san francisco makeup artist anatomy of a kit prep LORAC pro 1 and 2 MUFE palette

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

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

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

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makeup to go blog tania d russell makeup artist makeup educator beauty writer los angeles makeup artist san francisco makeup artist anatomy of a kit prep NARS pro palette custom blush palette deep skin tones


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

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

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

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

And the final outcome…

makeup to go blog tania d russell makeup artist makeup educator beauty writer los angeles makeup artist san francisco makeup artist anatomy of a kit prep final set up

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

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

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

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

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