#MakeupMonday – Makeup for Breakout Prone Skin

Confession time: I have breakout-prone skin.

By breakouts, I mean acne.* I have battled with it my entire life right up to this current moment. It is overall much better now but my skin can still go from fabulously perfect and radiant to woefully broken out in seemingly a moment’s notice. Whether you are suffering from teenage acne or if you are like me and you are having “adult” acne, it sucks. That said, with proper care, product and makeup technique you really can lessen the impact of acne. Here then are some tips on skincare and makeup for breakout prone skin.

1 ) (Mostly) Everything You’ve Heard Is True
All the basics you have heard over the years about NOT PICKING at acne breakouts, keeping your skin clean, keep your hands off of your face, changing pillow cases, etc. are true. Additionally – and you should do this whether you have acne-prone skin or not – keep your makeup tools clean. Also, eating well and adequate hydration is always the basis of good skin care, acne or no. (Science says that it is a myth that certain foods cause acne. I’m not a doctor so I will not go there, but suffice to say my skin begs to differ.)

2 ) Cleanse Well but Do Not Over Do It
One thing people with acne prone skin often tend to do is go overboard trying to “dry” their skin out. As a makeup artist it is very common for me to see skin that is both oily and dehydrated. You need something that thoroughly cleanses, but does not strip the skin.

When Not Broken Out –
When I’m in maintenance mode, I like a non medicated cleanser like Alba Botanica’s Good and Clean Daily Detox Foaming Cleanser. Clears away excess sebum (oil), lessens redness and irritation but leaves the skin feeling refreshed and not overly tight. Good for sensitive skin as well (which my skin also can be).

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#MakeupMonday – The Basics: Foundations

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco basics foundation Bare Escentuals Matte Mineral Foundation Powder

Bare Escentuals Matte Mineral Foundation Powder in Deepest Deep - the shade I use on myself

Ah foundation… to Foundation or not Foundation. That is the question. Well the correct answer, in my ever so humble opinion, is a resounding: It Depends. It depends on a variety of factors, actually. Is this for everyday or for photography? If it is for photography what type of photography and what type of finish do you want? If it is for everyday what type of skin do you have and what kind of coverage do you need? Then there is the issue of matching the color properly. No two women are exactly the same coloring yet manufacturers can only produce so many colors in a line, and for years women of color were left out completely (fortunately those days are long over and most lines include shades for all women). No wonder so many women have a hard time picking the right foundation! Well, I am here to share what I know in the hope that it will help you make a better choice on your next foundation purchase. The right makeup will make the world think you have fabulously perfect skin, even if you – like myself – do not. Also, I am focusing on true foundations, not tinted moisturizers. Personally, I think a Foundation is a better purchase because when you want fuller coverage you have it, but if you want more of a tinted moisturizer all you have to do is mix any of the below (except for the Powder foundation) with the moisturizer of your choice and voila! You now have a perfect color match Tinted Moisturizer. View Post

#MakeupMonday – Spring Fling 2011

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…look created with Sonia Kashuk “Great Awakenings” palette…

Happy Spring!

Today is the official first day of spring, but if you are experiencing the kind of weather I am, it does not yet feel like it! Even here in “sunny” California we are having cold and rain. I went on a camping trip this past weekend and had to deal with driving wind, rain, hail and even some snow. Yikes! Weather like that only makes feeling pretty with bright fresh color seem all the more special and important. All the cosmetics lines have been rolling out their 2011 Spring makeup collections for the past few weeks. I have tried some* of the new collections and here are my picks for the some of the best of the lot.

sonia kashuk cosmetics great awakenings face palette 2011 spring makeup
1 ) Sonia Kashuk Cosmetics – Great Awakenings Face Palette
At the top of the list has to be this fantastic palette by Sonia Kashuk Cosmetics. Included are 4 “more than” neutral eye-colors, a deep brown powder/cake eyeliner, a perfect pinky/peachy blush and three pretty lipglosses. All for $19.99! If you have never tried Sonia Kashuk Cosmetics, her line is en par with any department store brand, full stop. I cannot big-up the Sonia Kashuk line enough, they are definitely my favorite mass-market brand. This palette is yet another reason why. NOTE: This palette is a limited edition item so run don’t walk!

Iman Cosmetics Eye-Con Collection 2011 spring makeup
2 ) Iman Cosmetics – Eye-Con Collection
My favorite mass market brand for women of color is Iman and the Eye-Con palette is a fantastic addition. So often women of color cannot join in on the fun, trendy spring colors because most (non-professional) eyeshadows are not pigmented enough to show on darker skin-tones. Iman has adapted all the “trend colors” for spring into pigmented yet wearable formulations that go on smoothly and last long. This is a great palette.

Jouer Cosmetics Glisten Brightening Powder 2011 spring makeup
3 ) Jouer Cosmetics Glisten Up collection
Jouer’s Glisten Up collection is exactly what you want for Spring: light and airy colors and formulations to brighten you up from the doldrums of winter. Taking a cue from the last series of Fashion Week runways, Jouer has gone with a shimmer inspired theme. My favorite item out of the collection is the versatile Glisten Brightening Powder. We Makeup Artists swear by products like these to add sheen and light to the face and body. What is particularly nice about Jouer’s version is it is finely milled so your face is glowy not sparkle-y. The lipglosses are sparkle-y so a little goes a long way, but a touch in the center of the lower lip makes lips look fuller or a sheer sweep over the entire lip takes your face from day to night in an instant.

Maquillage Givenchy Siena Silhouette eye palette 2011 spring makeup
4 ) Givenchy Collection Printemps-Eté Naïvement Couture –
Leave it to the French to interpret Spring quite differently. This collection features some of the “light and airy” color stories that you would expect for spring, but mixed in are interesting smokier, sultrier combinations. Givenchy is famous for their “Prisme Quads” which are 4 complimentary colors in one palette which can be used singularly or in any combination to achieve a myriad of colors. Not necessarily for a makeup newbie, but for the serious artiste Givenchy products are consistently amazing.

Paul and Joe Beauty Lipstick C 2011 spring makeup
5 ) Paul and Joe – Parasol Collection
Paul and Joe is an “atelier” line out of France which I love. They are kind of “cult” and rather difficult to get, although it’s becoming easier since making their way into Beauty Habit and some Sephora stores. Los Angeles makeup artists and other makeup-istas in the know have always had access to them via the fabulous Beauty Closet store. What I love about this collection are the perfectly pastel colors and the rich formulations. The colors are soft and feminine but not too “white” in cast. Paul and Joe cosmetics really feel like no other…and they wear incredibly well. Often times softer colors drift and either fade away or do not stay “true”. Once you apply these colors they are on and they stay on and stay the same beautiful color. My personal pick is the Lipstick C which comes in three shades of perfectly pretty pinks (color shown is “Afternoon Delight”).

*I generally do not review a product until I have actually tried it in some form of a Real World application, usually on one of my jobs/photoshoots. While I do receive product as a professional makeup artist (usually from editorial credits), none of the products discussed were given to me. These are all products I have purchased to try out in my Kit.

#MakeupMonday – Liquid Eyeliner


Makeup by Tania D. Rusell / © N. Horne for Teen Prom

Liquid Eyeliner is emerging as a trend for Fall 2010 makeup. Truth be told, however, the timeless look of liquid eyeliner is never out of style. Just one sweep of the brush can transform a look from casual to dressy giving your eyes instant pop. A lot of women have trouble with liquid eyeliner and it’s true, it’s not easy. However, it’s makeup not neuro-surgery and with a little practice you, too, can become a liquid eyeliner master.

There are specific characteristics too look for when choosing a liquid eyeliner because there are definitely good and bad liners out there. First of all, for purposes of definition, I am calling anything NOT a pencil, a liquid eyeliner. The 3 formulations I am including in this recap – liquid, gel and cake – are all applied similarly and all give a similar final result. Whereas good pencils are meant to be soft so that they can give you a blended, more “smokey” line, a liquid-type formulation gives that precise line that is very difficult to emulate with a pencil. Further, liquids are all formulated to be long lasting, whereas the softness that makes a pencil good also makes not as long lasting. When choosing a liquid liner you want a product that goes on smoothly, has a fine brush, and does not flake. All of the products below – from atelier to drugstore – fit the bill. As far as applying your liner, it is always easier to get a smooth even line if you gently pull your eyelid taut by gently pulling the outer corner of your eye. Balance the ball of your hand on your cheekbone for leverage, and do not try to rush. Let your liner sit for a moment before moving on to your next makeup step so you are sure it’s all dry and set and you should be good to go. Also – sanitation is important with liquid liners as they are a prime way to get eye infections. Resist the temptation to borrow a friend’s liner. When using a liquid liner, be sure to wipe the applicator off with a tissue before re-inserting into the tube. With gels and cakes, wipe off the top layer with a tissue before each use. If you are a professional using a liquid liner as part of your kit don’t try to get away with using the applicator in the product, that’s just asking for serious trouble. Pour some product out onto a palette and apply with a brush. If the product has a felt applicator spray with 70% alcohol and let dry before re-inserting into the tube (or better yet, use it on the client and then give it to them). With gels and cakes, spray with alcohol as normal after using.

Urban Decay Liquid Liner liquid eyeliner
Urban Decay Liquid Liner – Urban Decay makes some of my favorite liners overall, both pencil and liquid. Their liquid liners go on extremely smoothly which is important to get a clean application, and highly colored liners oftentimes have problems in that regard. These do not, and they also last a good long time. These have a teeny tiny, fine line brush built into the cap which may pose a challenge for some but once you get the hang you, too, will fall in love with this product. (if you don’t fall in love with the applicator cap, you can always do as the Pros do and just pour some product out and use a real eyeliner brush.)

Lorac Cosmetics Front Of The Line PRO Liquid Eyeliner
Lorac Front Of The Line – They seem to have reformulated this product as it is now called Front Of The Line PRO, but whatever the name, this is my favorite black liquid liner. It’s a really for real Black and it really does not move. Now, that’s both good and bad because you have to be precise and there’s little margin for error, but again once you get the hang of it, this is a GREAT liner. I also noticed that the old Front Of The Line formula is on clearance which is an opportunity to try this great product and a discounted price.

100 Percent Pure Black Tea Pigment Gel Eyeliner liquid eyeliner
100% Pure Black Tea Pigmented Gel Liner – I just wrote about this product recently in my review of the 100% Pure product line, but this product is so nice I have to mention it twice. This is a gel formula liner, and gels are great because they are in between a pencil and a liquid. They go on and you have a moment to smudge or play with them, but then one they set they’re set. You can apply a gel liner with an angled precision brush and get a fine, sharp line that will rival any liquid. The 100% Pure gel liners come in a nice assortment of colors, go on smoothly and evenly, and last a REALLY long time. And did I mention they use natural fruit pigments and are gluten free AND vegan? Yeah, GREAT product. I have all of the colors in my kit, but my favorite is definitely the Silver Star which is one of those great “not Black” colors. It gives great definition without the harshness that black sometimes has. It’s also a great color for blue eyes.

Three Custom Color Specialists Opaline Creme Eye Definers liquid eyeliner
Three Custom Color Specialists Opaline Creme Eye Definer – I don’t feel like I talk about Three Custom Color often enough which is odd considering how many of their products are in my kit. I recently discovered a cream eyeliner product from them and I love. Like any good cream/gel formulation these can go smudgy or sharp and then set to a non-budging finish. The Three Custom (or 3CC as they are affectionately known) cream liner also has a slight slight shimmer to it which is really flattering, particularly at night. It’s not enough to look “sparkly” (which is usually a bad look), it’s just enough to pick up light and make the eyes “pop”. I particularly love Aurora which is another of those great “not Black” colors.

Benefit Cosmetics Babe Cake Eyeliner liquid eyeliner
Benefit Babe Cake – Back in the day of old Hollywood, before there were liquid liners and long before gel liners, there were Cake eyeliners. Cakes are no longer as popular in the mainstream now that the newer formulations have taken over, but they are still great. I consider cake liners to be “Advanced Makeup” because you have total control over the product to do whatever you want with it. I really like it for when I want to do thick, prominent, “50’s Prison Movie” – type liner. But it can also do very very fine lines easily, just by using a different brush. One benefit (no pun intended) to cake liner is that it’s a more sanitary formulation because it’s a powder that activates with water, but then dries back to a powder after use. If you are prone to pink eye and have had problems with liquids in the past, cakes may be a good option for you.

Drugstore Divas, do not dispair. While less expensive liquid eyeliners have historically been pretty bad (not enough pigmentation, skippy/non-smooth formula, flakes and wears off quickly, etc.) a number of companies have heard your cries and are answering the call…

Rimmel Professional Liquid Liner liquid eyeliner
Rimmel Professional Liquid Eyeliner – Rimmel has a well earned rep for being one of the better drugstore lines and their Liquid Eyeliner is further proof as to why. They call it a “professional” eyeliner and it really does rival any of the top end brands. Comes in Black and a pretty Silver color. Downside – I hear Rimmel may test on animals although I’ve yet to confirm this.

Jemma Kidd Cosmetics I-Tech Liquid Eyeliner
Jemma Kidd I-Tech Liquid Liner – If you’re a color-technic kinda gal who has been frustrated with the lack of options for GOOD colored liquid liners in the drugstore brands, be frustrated no more. These are not as pigmented as say, Makeup For Ever Aqua Liners, but they are nicely pigmented and have a smooth formulation for an even application and they come in truly fun colors (as well as good ole Black).

Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner liquid eyeliner
Maybelline Eye Studio™ Lasting Drama™ Gel Eyeliner – A student of mine recently bought these and was showing them off in her kit to me. I was dubious to say the least. Drugstore brands are pretty notorious for having things that look good in the packaging and then don’t deliver when you apply them. Maybelline is clearly trying to bust that image as this product recently won an Allure Magazine Best of Beauty™ nod. I tried it myself and it really is great. This is the first really good low-cost gel liner option I’ve encountered. Even the brush that comes with it is good.

Iman Luxury Liquid Eye Liner liquid eyeliner
Iman Luxury Liquid Eyeliner – And for us divas of color, Iman has a very nice selection of liquid eyeliners. Again, with lower-cost brands the issue is always pigmentation because low pigment products just won’t show on darker complexions. Iman’s products never have this problem. The liquid eyeliners come in a nice array of colors (my fave is ‘Sapphire’) and apply evenly and wear nicely.

#MakeupMonday – Best Blushes for Darker Toned Beauties

Iman Cosmetics Blushes in Peace and Allure

Iman Cosmetics Blushes in Peace and Allure

I did a job recently where I had to do makeup on an African American female model who was about Phylicia Rashād’s (mom Huxtable from ‘The Cosby Show’) complexion. Both Phylicia and this model are a rich brown color, but still more fair than myself. To my dismay, I did NOT have a blush that really, really worked on her. Well, I had one, but it’s shimmery and I needed matte/satin products for this shoot (pharmaceutical ad). When searching for colors for darker skin tones either for yourself or for your kit, the issue isn’t needing a darker color necessarily (although that’s obviously sometimes the case), the issue is needing higher pigmentation. You’re dealing with skin that already has it’s own measure of pigmentation so in order for color to show it needs to have a measure of potency. This led me to search for blushes for darker complexions, and let me tell you – it was a search. I thought I’d find some info online since there are always so many “Best Of” lists – nope. Searched some magazines – nope. I had to pull out the Do It Yourself kit and actually get in the car and hit the pavement to find the best blushes for darker toned beauties. Here’s what I found;

Three Custom Color – 3CC, if you aren’t familiar, is a makeup artists’ brand. It was founded by two working makeup artists and I don’t know any makeup artists who don’t have at least one of their products in their kit. I start with them because they have too many beautiful colors to even name. Seriously, depending on your skin tone or the skin tone of your client you WILL find a perfect shade for you in this line. They have two formulations, the very sheer Watercolours for Cheeks and the Cream to Powder blushes. I’m pretty sure folks in NYC can visit their Studio to purchase in person, the rest of us can order online.

Il Makiage – Another “underground” brand founded by a makeup artist with a massive makeup artist following, Il Makiage has weathered a few storms over the last few years and I’m glad to see they are still alive and kicking. They also have a multitude of beautiful colors for all skin tones. My favorites for the more richly hued beauties are;
2191 Mountain Beach (dusty coral), 2188 Indian Coral (rich coral), 2171 Bird of Paradise (rich terracotta), 2190 Mocha (pinky brown), 2208 Toucan (rich dusty rose), 2179 Current (serious pink… looks like too much but beautiful color on the skin), and my two favorites 2169 Aubergine (true Aubergine), and 2196 Raspberry

“But Tania, I don’t have time to try to track down these exotic pro brands”… I understand. Here’s the best of the mainstream;

Bobbi BrownPoppy (Deep Red), Cranberry (Deep Brownish Red), and the Pot Rouge cream blush in Chocolate Cherry.

Lancome – Yep, Lancome. They make a couple of great cream blushes that I use pretty often now. Chic Cassis (rich Plum/Aubergine color) and Retro Rogue (rich Currant-y red).

Nars – their selection of powder blushes isn’t great for darker tones but they have two amazing creme blushes; Turkish Red (coral red), and the mighty Montenegro (a rich, beautiful Mahagony).

Many of the organic/naturally derived brands have been slow in developing colors for all shades of people, however Korres has stepped up to the plate with two great blushes; 32- Purple Brown, and 22 – Purple. Both lean more towards a plum-y hue, and both are very pretty and wearable.

Last but not least for you Drugstore Divas, there are a few good options available in mass-market retailers

NYX – Other things in the line I would not be able to recommend, but their blushes are actually quite good. The blushes I’ve used are well pigmented and last for a good while. My color selects are Powders: Desert Rose (rosey pink), Cocoa (pinky brown), Copper and Pecan (brown with a reddish tinge) and Cream: Diva a dark, rich red with brown undertones.

Iman – Now available at select Targets and JCPenny, Iman gives you department store brand quality in a mass market store at a mass market price (about $11 each for the blushes). All four are great Peace (Plum), Sable (red tinged Brown), Allure (duo of Plum-y blush and a highlighter), and Posh (duo of a rose-y pink blush and a highlighter). There’s also a color on the website that I didn’t see in the store called Sunlit Copper. I already had a lot of Iman products in my kit, so during the shoot when I needed better blushes I bought Peace and Sable and I was good to go.