#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.

and

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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#BizTalk – Nykhor Paul and the Beauty Biz

makeup to go blog nykhor paul instagram

Screencap from the Instagram of model Nykhor Paul


If you read beauty/fashion articles and blogs, by now you’ve no doubt read about model Nykhor Paul putting the entire fashion/beauty industry on blast on Instagram. If you haven’t, you can check it here (be forewarned- she pulls no punches in expressing her feelings).

Basically she is upset that as a professional model working at the highest levels, she is not being accommodated in the same way her fairer complexioned peers are with regards to her makeup.

I am not quite as ebony as Nykhor – who is that gorgeous Sudanese true blue black – but as African-American skintones go I am on the deeper end of the scale. Therefore my initial, visceral reaction to her post was a fist pump in the air, Black Power fist Afro-pick in hair, HELLZ YEAH! But as I thought about her post, I realized this issue does not all lie at the feet of makeup artists.

YES THERE ARE PLENTY OF MEDIOCRE MAKEUP ARTISTS OUT THERE

One sure fire thing that never fails to wrankle my feathers is going into an online makeup group and seeing someone ask “How do I do makeup on dark skin?” Or “Where do I find makeup for dark skin?”. Really? In America in 2015? Let’s just say an artist lives in an area where there really is not a lot of diversity and so they’ve never worked on African American skin. I thought you said you were a professional artist? Use your Color Theory skills and get to work. I fail to have sympathy for anyone who uses this tired, lame excuse of an excuse. And as for “Where do I find makeup for dark skin?”

YES LOTS OF BRANDS DO NOT HAVE THOSE COLORS BUT A LOT OF BRANDS DO

There are brands that make and have always made colors for deeper complexions (MUFE, NARS, etc) and the pro/theatrical brands (Graftobian, Ben Nye, William Tuttle, etc.) have always had deep colors. Heck, Bobbi Brown started her brand in part because when she did Naomi Campbell for the first time for the cover of Vogue magazine, she accidentally made Naomi gray because she did not have the right color selection. And Lupita Nyong’o is the current spokesmodel for Lancôme. Therefore, it’s not true to say that these colors simply do not exist, and it is silly for people to try to use the excuse that they do not know where to find them. Hello? Bobbi Brown and Lancôme. Not too hard to find.

All this said, however, by-and-large the mass-market cosmetic brands of the world have been shockingly slow about adding full color range.

SO THEN AN ARTIST SHOULD JUST USE THOSE BRANDS THAT HAVE THOSE COLORS, RIGHT?

Yes BUT here comes the rub: Ms. Paul was referring to her experiences backstage at various Fashion Week shows. Well, Fashion Week shows are overwhelmingly sponsored backstage by various cosmetics companies. When a show is sponsored, the artists are expected to use ONLY that cosmetics brand. Thus, if a Show is sponsored by a brand that does not have a full color range, because many brands still do not make a full color range, and yet the artists are expected to use only that line…

Many artists likely use this as their reasoning as to why they do not have certain colors, and that’s probably what Ms. Paul was referring to; the artist should at least try. I know a number of diligent artists who try to work around this problem by bringing in other product and taping over the name, but some sponsors do not really like that either. Sometimes an artist has to literally sneak product out of their bag right quick and then quickly put it back. Whose fault is that? Why aren’t these cosmetics companies making a full color range in 2015? And if Fashion Week is a trade show – which it is – why are they having shows sponsored by consumer lines that do not provide the artists with adequate product to complete the job?

ATTITUDE DETERMINES ALTITUDE

Something about this definitely speaks to an attitude regarding Beauty and what is beautiful. Models of color – and not just Black models – are still too often left out of the party, even when there is a definite “ethnic” theme to the Show. And when models of color are cast, there are often only one or two in a Show. There seems to still be a novelty element to casting models of color. Throughout the industry as a whole, there still seems to be a lingering afterthought attitude. White models are still “the norm”, and models of color are still an afterthought. If we don’t have colors for some of the models, eh, we’ll work something out…

Contrast this to a video I saw a number of years back about a Kenyan news reporter who moved to and was working in China. The story was not about her makeup but they happened to video her while she was getting her makeup done. I remember noticing and remarking to myself that the Chinese makeup artist had absolutely zero problem whatsoever doing her makeup. He had the product and the skill to service his client and he did his job, end of story. I think it’s safe to say that we have more Black people here in America than they do over in China. But yet…

SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE

Concerned parties – artists, models, and consumers – need to be more vocal with the cosmetics brands about adding these colors. Corporate sponsors in fashion is not going anywhere, so the sponsoring brands just need to stop playing and carry a full and diverse array of colors. As a pro artist I would NEVER put a cosmetics brand on negative public blast because we are partners with cosmetics lines and we need to maintain positive relationships. However some gentle nudging never hurt anyone ;). As I mentioned in my last post, I recently told one of my fave lines that they needed to keep their foundations for people of color and I was informed that those colors are in fact returning. This likely means that they got a lot of feedback regarding the popularity of those colors. Cosmetics companies do listen, particularly in the form of positive reinforcement such as “Hey I really love your brand, I’d love it if you added XYZ”. Trust me: the Lancôme of the Lupita Nyong’o era is not at all the same Lancôme of my youth. Cosmetics companies can and will change, its just a matter of getting them to hurry up.

And to you lazy artists out there who are still employing various excuses of why you cannot do, or do not have appropriate makeup for, clients of color, please do us all a favor and either step ya game up or step out the game.

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#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?

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

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

Talc

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.

#MakeupMonday – The Basics: Face Powders

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco the basics face powders T. LeClerc Face Poudre in Banane

T. LeClerc Poudre Libre en Banane


I have a confession: I LOVE face powder. Love Love Lovey Love Love. It softens colors, smooths the complexion, helps blending, erases mistakes, sets the makeup, on and on. It’s a wonder product! Yet I find most women simply wonder “What am I supposed to do with this?” Let me assure you: Once you get the right formulation and learn to use it the right way, you too will be a convert. As I have stated before I am planning a series of video tutorials and probably one of my first ones will be using powder correctly but in the meantime in The Basics we will cover some of the best powders out there and what makes a powder one of the best. NOTE: I am really only talking about loose powders in this article. Yes, I know many of you are more used to pressed powders. Pressed powders are great for touching up, but they are not the wonder product that is loose powder. If you are really fixated on pressed powder, most of these brands make pressed powder versions of these loose powder products. I invite you, however, to allow loose powder to sweep you off of your feet…

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco the basics face powders Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Sheer Loose Powder
1) Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Loose Powder – (personal or pro use)
This is my hands-down favorite for the “everyday woman”, and I have also used it in my kit. Bobbi Brown’s Sheer Finish Loose Powder is yet another of my beloved “pro product in department store disguise” products. It is very finely milled which is one of the main things to look for in a loose powder (thick powders are how you get that cakey look), it contains no sheen or mica so it gives a soft matte finish, and it comes in colors usually only available in professional powders. Pale Yellow (fairer skins) and Golden Yellow (darker skins) are used by Pro artists to give an “airbrushed” finish to makeup.

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco the basics face powdersShu Uemura Matte Powder
2) Shu Uemura Face Powder Matte – (personal or pro use)
As difficult as it can be to get Shu in the States these days, this powder is worth the effort. Just get the “Colorless” powder and you are all set. This powder is matte just as the name implies (they used to also have a version called “Sheen”) and can be applied to be Very Matte depending on the finish you want. Shu Uemura’s Face Powder gives a very long lasting smooth, matte appearance.

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco the basics face powders Smashbox Cosmetics Halo Hydrating Powder
3) Smashbox Cosmetics Halo Hydrating Perfecting Powder – (personal or pro use)
Powder can be a tricky proposition on older and/or dry skin types. What makes powder smooth out some complexions can also settle into fine lines and wrinkles and make the skin look even more dry. Smashbox’s Halo Hydrating series of products were made to address this very issue. Smashbox says that this powder will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in ten minutes. While I cannot bare witness to that claim, I can say that when I have used this powder on older clients and/or clients with dry skin I get none of the cake-y, creep-y effect that powder can so often do on those skin types, and the skin is left with a hydrated “youthful glow”. One word of caution for using this powder for photography: it does have some sheen to it.

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco the basics face powders Alison Raffaele Transparant Setting Powder
4) Alison Raffaele Transparant Finish Setting Powder – (personal – have not tried for pro use)
If you would prefer to stick to more naturally derived products, the best powder I’ve encountered in this category is Alison Raffaele’s Setting Powder. The Alison Raffaele line focuses on complexion products (vs. color products) and is a naturally derived, professional quality line. What I like about this product is that it is finely milled and it is truly colorless which means any shade of skin tone can use this. I have actually used this on myself and not only did I not turn ashey, but my breakout prone skin did not have a negative reaction to it. The setting powder also comes in a “Transparant to Go” dispensing brush, perfect for travel or to carry in your purse. As far as using it in a professional kit goes, it is probably fine but it does contain micas so you would need to test it for back-flash.

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco the basics face powders Sonia Kashuk Barely There Finish Loose Powder
5) Sonia Kashuk Barely There Loose Powder – (personal use)
I know, I know; most of the powders I have recommended have been on the pricey side. Reason being like most makeup artists I feel that your complexion products are where you should spend your makeup dollars and then if you have to you can go more mid to lower priced on other cosmetics. Drugstore powders usually come in cake-y formulations with limited color palettes and often have added ingredients to give “sheen” which is undesirable for most women. Sonia Kashuk saves the day once again with a quality loose powder at an affordable price. The color palette is limited, but there is a colorless option that should work with nearly every skin tone. The powder is sheer, fine and soft matte and gives a nice polished finish to the skin.

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco the basics face powders Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder
6) Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder – (pro but people insist on using it for personal use anyway)
Let me make one thing clear: This is a very good product. However, this product is a victim of frequent incorrect usage. This product has been blamed for multiple high profile “makeup malfunctions”. Whether or not it is true that those women were wearing this powder, what IS true is that if used incorrectly this powder will go very wrong on you very quickly. I recommend using this powder as a SETTING powder only, not a touch-up powder. This powder contains silica and the texture of the powder is quite dry. It needs the moisture of the makeup to hold onto. For the initial setting of makeup it is beautiful and leaves a flawless finish in most settings (it does not play nice with flash photography). Often times women find they do not need to touch-up after having used this powder. If you do, however, use a more traditional powder.

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco the basics face powders Ben Nye Powder
7) Ben Nye Professional Powders – (pro use but see notes below)
Ben Nye is a staple brand of professional artists worldwide. These are the powders I keep in my everyday Commercial makeup kit. They are versatile, long-lasting, and they come in a full range of colors – both to match skin tones and to counter-act skin tones. The Ben Nye powders come in two formulations – the Visage Poudre Luxury Powder which is finely milled and sheer and more resembles the powders above and the Classic Translucent face powders which are much more opaque. This, my friends, is the big difference; The traditional theatrical makeup powders are NOT sheer. This makes them more versatile for professional applications but you just would not want to wear them in real life. The Visage Poudre Luxury Powders, however, are quite wearable for everyday and in fact I make a custom blend for a few private clients using these powders. In the Visage Poudre Luxury Powder the colors to look for are Banana Yellow and Cameo (a soft pink color). In the Classic Translucent powders, the colors to look for are Neutral (colorless), Topaz (darker yellow), and Fair (soft pink). EXCEPTION TO THE RULE – I know I just said that you would not want to wear the Classic Translucent Powders on a daily basis because of their higher pigmentation but there is one notable exception: There are also four fabulous colors for darker skin tones which are great for professional use OR can be used as a powder foundation for the everyday woman.

8 ) T. LeClerc Poudre Libre – (personal or pro use)
The powder pictured at the top of this article, T. LeClerc is the one that started it all. Founded in 1881, T. LeClerc is a very old cosmetics line and one of the first to offer face powders and THE first to offer the now famous Banana Yellow powder. This powder is super sheer and super finely milled and leaves the skin with a most glorious finish. The one downside for me is that – as with many French cosmetics and skincare products – it is heavily scented. This concerns me as I never know when a client is going to possibly going to have an ingredient reaction, therefore while I own a jar of T. LeClerc I have never actually used it. If scent does not bother you, however, many a woman and many a makeup artist swear by this powder.