#MakeupMonday – The Basics: Mascara



If you hadn’t noticed, my Monday posts tend to be geared towards the makeup “every user”. Non-pro, aspiring pro, makeup journeyman, makeup novice, etc. Mondays are where Makeup to Go just talks product. Without. A. Doubt. the number one product I am asked about is mascara. All the folks who ask about it – laypersons and fellow makeup artists alike – seem to be on the eternal quest for the perfect mascara. It’s kind of a set-up of a question, however, because I also find mascara to be an intensely personal choice. So what I might look for in a mascara someone else may hate, and my “holy grail” mascaras might end up in someone else’s trash bin.

All I can do is offer my advice as someone who – because of my work as a makeup artist – has tried a lot of different mascara on a lot of different eyes.

That’s the thing, and that’s what my reviews are generally based upon. Just trying product on myself does nothing to let anyone know what a given product will do for them. And actually I don’t ever wear mascara. Having used a lot of different products on a lot of different faces, however, I have some pretty concrete ideas about what I’m looking for. My criteria for The Basics Mascara are…

1. Volume
Length can be created with just about any modern mascara with the right technique, but what I really like to add to all lashes I work with is Volume. Therefore, I tend to like thicker mascara formulations.

2. Definition
I like to pick up every single lash, this adds to the illusion of increased volume and gives lashes that “flirty” look I like.

3. Non-Clumpy
Spider eyes – off the runway – are unattractive. I do not want the lashes sticking to one another.

4. Long-Lasting
Needless to say having to do a re-apply is a non-starter. Adding more if you want more is one thing, but the initial application should be able to go the distance.

5. Finish
Like any healthy hair, lashes have a natural sheen to them. I prefer mascaras that do not dry too matte and cake-y.

Criteria established, here are some of my top mascara picks both new and classic. OH and another thing: I base my assessment on the formulation, not the brush. As we discussed last week, I cut off the wand and use disposables anyway.

In no particular order…

1. RMS Beauty – Mascara
This naturally derived, Eco-certified brand constantly delivers. If you’ve been disappointed by the performance of natural mascaras before, look no further than RMS. Rose Marie Swift is a makeup artist and her line performs like a makeup artists’ line. The Mascara is available in either a Defining or a Volumizing formula. While I like both, I tend to gravitate to the Volumizing whenever it’s time for a re-stock.

2. Korres – B5 & Rice Bran Mascara
Korres used to be a fully naturally derived brand as well, unfortunately via corporate buy-outs that’s no longer the case. In fact I hear they may no longer be cruelty-free which is unfortunate. Back when these things were not an issue I used to use their B5 & Rice Bran Mascara regularly. They describe it as lengthening and defining but I found it gave nice volume as well. I used to describe it as my “natural Great Lash”.

3. Dior – Diorshow
What can be said about Diorshow that hasn’t been said already? 30K “Loves” and counting on the Sephora website tells the tale. This mascara creates thick, juicy, velvety lashes even when you do not use their legendary wand (just use a fat disposable wand for similar effect).

4. Benefit – They’re Real Mascara
As the name implies, this mascara is supposed give the illusion that you’re wearing falsies. It doesn’t look like you’re wearing false eyelashes, lol, but it does a very nice job of building up lashes, particularly those on the – shall we say – more puny side. This formula is lengthening, volumizing, and curling all in one. I have heard, however, people say it caused their lashes to dry out and break off so they must be using some powerful stuff in the formulation. I’d either save this one for special occasions or use a lash conditioner regularly (Vitamin E or Jojoba oil works wonders to condition the lash line).

5. Besame – 1932 Cake Mascara
Every now and then I encounter a client who says that any mascara they use just slips off almost immediately. For folks who find this to be the case, I recommend going to a cake mascara. All mascaras used to come in cake form pre mascara tubes. The formulation is drier by nature (to use, you just activate with water) and less prone to slippage. Besame Cosmetics is a relatively new brand with a vintage feel and I’m digging their cake mascara. The colors (available in Black and Brown) are rich, the formulation is smooth, you can apply as many layers as you dare to get the depth and fullness you desire, and once applied it lasted all day. I recently used it on a photo shoot and it was fabtastic.

6. Tarte – Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara
Anyone who reads Makeup to Go with any regularity knows I love Tarte cosmetics, so let’s just get this out of the way: I’m totally biased. Over the years they’ve had a number of mascaras and they’ve all been excellent in my opinion. What’s nice is Tarte has “greened” their line and become a largely naturally derived brand yet the performance has remained the same. The 4-in-1 lengthens, curls, volumizes and conditions for lush and dramatic lashes. I prefer this for private clients vs for photographic use (I think the conditioning oils make this mascara break down a bit faster under lights). This is an excellent mascara. They also make an extra Volumizing formula and a waterproof formula.

7. Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara
Ok, remember when I said I was judging these mascaras based on the formula not the wand? Well this one really IS about the wand although fortunately you can find disposable wands with the unique ball shape. I know some folks who disdain the ball but it is the secret to picking up every. single. lash. I mean EVERY lash, even those teeny tiny ones in the inner corner. If you prefer to use a traditional wand you’ll still be happy with the result. The formula itself is creamy, smooth, and non-flaking and leaves you with well-defined, long and lush lashes with a nice sheen.

8. Maybelline – Great Lash
The legend and with good reason. Thick, gloopy and crazy pliable, with the change of a wand type I can create any kind of lash I want. For me Great Lash is the “winner and still champion” of all mascaras. And at $6-$8 a tube, it isn’t painful to throw it out and get a new one when 3 months time is up.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: I have a couple of items I think are worth a mention even though one I do not use often and one is new to me:

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Waterproof Top Coat was a game-changer for me. I do not care for waterproof mascaras nor do I tend to need to use them often. With this handy-dandy top coat I can make any mascara I wish to use waterproof. Lash Genius, indeed!

Buxom Custom Mascara Bar. I do not have any insight as to how well it works, but it’s a pretty cool idea. Basically you purchase Buxom’s Vanity Lash mascara and then based on the desired lash (volume, length, definition, etc.) you choose the perfect brush to accomplish the look. I used the Vanity Lash mascara on a private client this past weekend (it was her own mascara) and I did like the way it amplified her lashes which are rather short. So if you’re a fan of Buxom, or if you’re trying to find what brush works best for you, this is worth trying.

#MakeupMonday – Favorite Lip Glosses 2012

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons favorite lip glosses 2012

Two years ago, early in Makeup to Go!’s existence…

I wrote a piece about what I felt were the “top lip glosses” at that time. Funny how time flies because a lot of those lip glosses are no longer on the market. This is both the ecstasy and the agony of being a makeup fanatic; there is new product out all of the time BUT you never know when one of your ultimate favorites will be discontinued. A lot can happen in two years so let us now take a look at what happened to some of my faves and what are my favorite lip glosses 2012.

Honorable Mention:


makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons three custom color perfectly pink palette favorite lip glosses 2012
– Three Custom Color
I am not sure why I did not mention them in the first article so I am mentioning them now: Three Custom Color – or 3CC as they’re also known – makes fantastic lip products. They do make individual lip gloss wands, but most makeup artists, myself included, worship their lip gloss palettes. I have had the “Century of Red” palette in my kit since forever and I have recently added the “Perfectly Pink” palette (pictured) as well.


makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons nyx cosmetics mega shine lip gloss favorite lip glosses 2012
5 )
Then: Cargo Lipgloss Tins
Now: NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss

I discovered these particular NYX lip glosses a while ago and what I love is they are nice little knock-offs of the Smashbox Lip Enhancing glosses. They are not quite as thick in texture hence they do not last quite as long as the Smashbox, but they have a good texture and a good amount of wear, and they come in a great selection of colors including some “wild” colors, some nice reds, and some **great** basics (nude, apricot, rose, cocoa, etc). What is great about these is they are really cheap (in price, not in quality). Like cheap-y cheap. And I never recommend cheap cosmetics because usually cheap cosmetics are terrible but these are cheap and great. Can’t beat that!

What Happened to Cargo? Pretty much the same as I mentioned in the first article, they discontinued the lip gloss duo tins in favor of lip gloss quad tins, and they changed all the color combinations, discontinuing many of their best colors.


makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons smashbox lip enhancing lip gloss favorite lip glosses 2012
4 )
Then: Tarte Double Ended Lipgloss Wands
Now: Smashbox Lip Enhancing Lip Gloss

Yep, Smashbox has dropped down a bit on my list. This is NOT AT ALL due to a lapse in quality, oh no. This is strictly because they have dramatically cut the options of this product. The Lip Enhancing Lip Gloss used to come in three formulations (Sheer, True and Full) with a variety of colors in each formulation. Now Smashbox has cut it down to 17 colors in total, many of which are shimmery. The new lip gloss that Smashbox is offering – the Reflection High Shine glosses – is also shimmery. Smashbox seems to be going through a shimmery phase but unfortunately I am not a fan of shimmery glosses. If you are, yay for you Smashbox has lots of very nice shimmery colors right now. For me, not so much. As if this were not all painful enough, my FAVORITE of the Lip Enhancing Lip Gloss colors – “Debut”, a perfect creamy rose color – has been discontinued. Quel Dommage! (Pictured in the photo is “Tease” – a sheer raspberry)

What happened to Tarte? They have many other fantastic lip color products, but they discontinued the double-end lip gloss wands entirely.


makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons 100 percent pure lip gloss favorite lip glosses 2012
3 )
Then: Korres Lip Butter
Now: 100% Pure Lip Gloss

I still like Korres Lip Butters and Lip Butter Glazes quite a bit but these days I am going to have to give the nod to 100% Pure Lip Glosses. A ) I think they are better glosses. The butters are pretty but they are more like lip balms. B ) 100% Pure is committed to being a vegan, naturally derived, cruelty-free line. Korres USA is under a licensing agreement with Johnson and Johnson so while most of their products are naturally derived, I do not honestly know how natural Korres is or if they are cruelty-free with regards to their testing policies.

With 100% Pure, I know what I am getting. Their lipglosses are fruit pigmented and vegan and gorgeous. They have great texture, great scent, wear well, feel great and come in super pretty colors. I particularly love the “Raspberry Sorbet” gloss tube and “Shimmery Cocoa Berry” and “Pink Caramel” gloss wands.


makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons stila cosmetics lip glaze favorite lip glosses 2012
2 )
Then: Nars Lipgloss
Now: Stila Lip Glaze

Stila’s Lip Glaze pens have been around for a little bit now. I think I got into them when I went to the Warehouse Sale a couple of years ago, and they have been a fixture in my kit ever since. When I want a light, sheer hit of color and gloss these are amongst my Go To-s. The weight and texture are very light, the amount of gloss is very flattering, they are just very pretty. Another big plus is that they come in a variety of shades that all skin tones can wear. Stila changes/adds new colors regularly but as of right now they still have “Watermelon” “Apricot” and “Blackberry” which are three of my favorites.


makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons nars cosmetics lip gloss favorite lip glosses 2012

Steeeellllllaaaaaaa!!!!! (Nars Cosmetics Lip Gloss in “Stella”)


1 )
Then: Smashbox Lip Enhancing Gloss
Now: Nars Lipgloss

I remember it being a difficult to choose between Smashbox and Nars for the top spot when I wrote the original lip gloss article. If memory serves, my heart chose Nars but my mind chose Smashbox basically because I felt Smashbox was more accessible to more women. That may be true but I should definitely have followed my first mind. Nars is just phenomenal. What is more, they do not just randomly drop great products for seemingly no reason (Well, almost. They did drop all of their best Artist Palettes on me a few years ago but I digress…). They introduce new colors and formulations regularly, but in Nars world that does not mean the existing great colors have to be dropped. This pushes them to the head of the class by a mile for me. For makeup artists new is fun but for every ten new products if you are lucky one might prove to be a classic. Once you have found a classic you never want your kit to be without it. Consistency is key and I need products that I know are going to be fabulous every time I use them. All this said – yes Nars is pricey. If you can afford to get a few of the glosses, do so, you will not be disappointed. If you cannot afford to go whole hog, save up and get a couple. You are worth the occasional splurge and again, you will not be disappointed. I do not even have a particular color recommendation for Nars lip glosses. Pick whatever color strikes your fancy, it will be amazing.

#MakeupMonday – Prepping for Fall

Pangea Organics Facial Scrub fall makeup

Pangea Organics Facial Scrub


While most women are mourning the end of Summer I am singing Hallelujah for the start of Fall! Autumn – as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before and I am certain I will mention again – is my favorite season of the year, November being my fave month (Thanksgiving and birthday month!). Admittedly this probably comes from having been born and raised in Southern California where I get all the sunny beautiful days without all the heat of summer. Makeup-wise, fall is a time of transition between the easy breezy days of summer and the deeper tones of winter. It is also likely that you’ll need to start tweaking your skincare routine a bit.

Trend-wise, Fall makeup for 2011 went refreshingly against the grain. While the tendency is to jump to dark and dramatic colors in the cooler and colder months, this year the trend is more towards a softer, more neutral palette. Soft eyes (even when “smokey”), soft lips, a soft blush of cheek and a soft matte finish is not only more wearable on the day to day for more women, it is also more flattering for more women. Dramatics can be great but the harder, darker colors can also be quite aging. Here are a few things I am loving going into Fall…

If you find your skin is starting to look a little dull and/or flakey, it is time to resume the exfoliation. Using cranberry seed enzymes and ground adzuki beans, Pangea Organics Facial Scrub (pictured above) is a gentle and effective exfoliator that will not leave your face feeling as though you washed it with a scouring pad.

As always, you’ll want to start with well moisturized skin. If your favorite moisturizer needs a little bit more “umph” but you are not ready to switch to an altogether new moisturizer, try one of Dermalogica’s Concentrated Boosters. Available in Extra Firming, Gentle Soothing, Skin Hydrating (my favorite), and Skin Renewal, the Boosters are often just what your product needs to make the seasonal transition. (Note: Skin Renewal is a hydroxy-acid exfoliating treatment so use with caution if you are already using a manual exfoliating product.)

dermalogica skin hydrating booster fall makeup

Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Booster


Matte it down. For most skin-types a foundation with a more matte formula combined with a bit of powder will achieve this season’s look. If you are an oily-skin gal like myself you might also want to look into a skin mattifier like Smashbox Cosmetics Anti-Shine or Boots Expert Shine Control Instant Matte, to keep your skin at a soft glow instead of being a gleaming beacon.

Boots Expert Instant Matte fall makeup

Boots Expert Instant Matte


Neutral does not have to mean boring. A modern neutral palette includes everything from pinks to greens to blues. It is all just a matter of hue and intensity. Urban Decay’s Naked Palette has been blowing up the spot ever since it’s debut for it’s “never boring” selection of browns with a few mauve-y pinks and smokey blues thrown in for good measure. I like this palette a lot but it’s quite shimmery overall. Since I also need matte colors in my life I Love Yaby’s Dramatically Neutral palette which is a combination of mattes, frosts and Yaby’s well known Pearl Paints in a palette that in range of colors which can never be called dull!

Yaby Cosmetics Dramatically Neutral Pallette fall makeup

Yaby Cosmetics Dramatically Neutral Pallette


Likewise for your lips the range of neutrals runs the gamut. Gucci Westman designed the “Expressionist” line for Revlon Fall 2011, and the “Skyline Pink” shade is a wonderful, slightly cool beige-y pink. In addition to classics such as “Honolulu Honey” and “Chelsea Girls”, Nars Cosmetics recently introduced “Pago Pago” which is a warm, sheer, beige-y pink with a touch of shimmer. And great doesn’t have to be expensive. One of my all-time favorite, use it all the time products is NYX Cosmetics Mega Shine Lipgloss. I am particularly fond of “Beige” which is a neutral pink with a beige base (as opposed to a beige color with a touch of pink), “Perfect” which is a warm, shimmery light pink, and “Beautiful” which is a cool pink with silver shimmer undertones.

Nars Sheer Lipstick in Pago Pago fall makeup

Nars Sheer Lipstick in Pago Pago


Frame your face. When color is not the defining factor in your makeup, your face is that defining factor. Like any beautiful painting your face needs a great frame and that means great brows and bone structure. As we all know, I am a HUGE fan of Sonia Kashuk’s Arch Alert Brow Kit. In other brow news, however, Smashbox has an entire array of brow products the coolest of which is the Brow Tech To Go which consists of a pencil version of their well known Brow Tech and a brow gel for hold, all in a smart pen-like design. Both products will help you achieve both the look and texture of this Fall’s fuller brow.

Smashbox Brow To Go fall makeup

Smashbox Cosmetics Brow Tech To Go


Smashbox also makes the art of contouring and highlighting a little bit easier with their Step by Step Contour Kit which has two contour shades, one highlight shade and an angled brush for application. What’s nice about the Smashbox kit from the makeup artist perspective is that it is not too dark and it’s not too warm in undertone. This enables you to achieve subtle and believable results.

Smashbox Cosmetics Step by Step Contour Kit fall makeup

Smashbox Cosmetics Step by Step Contour Kit


A Pop of Color keeps things fresh. The trick to playing with a more monochromatic or neutral look is to layer tone on tone. Do not forget the cheeks! A pop of blush brings life to the face particularly as the days grow a bit cooler. Korres Zea Mays Blush in “Natural” is a pretty beige-y pink with a hint of glow, or for deeper skintones try the Zea Mays Blush in “Orange Brown”.

Korres Zea Mays Blush fall makeup

This fall I encourage you to think outside the box and try a lighter more neutral color scape for your makeup palette. Remember, you will have all Winter to go dark and dramatic. 😉

#MakeupMonday – The Basics: Lip Balms / Lip Moisturizers

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons lip balms lip moisturizers Anita Grant Lippy Pucker Lip Balm

Anita Grant Lippy Pucker Lip Balm – Original


I have been a working makeup artist – meaning having people pay me for makeup with no ‘side gigs’ necessary – for going on 15 years now. When you’re in the makeup biz you really do think about product a lot. Therefore for me as a beauty blogger, when I write about makeup I tend to gravitate to products that I’ve found that work for photographic use, and to the latest greatest of what’s happening in the cosmetics world. I am frequently reminded, however, that “normal people” (aka – non makeup artists/fanatics) do not think about these things at all, they just want some basic products that work so they can look their best and go on about their way. Reality is – when women find out I am a makeup artist – they are MUCH more likely to ask me what is the best mascara or moisturizer than they are to ask about some esoteric micro makeup brand. Let’s be real: they’ve never heard of the esoteric micro-makeup brand, nor do they particularly care. Over the next few Makeup Mondays I will be going back and revisiting some basics. These are the things that real women ask me about all the time and all the time. Being a pro makeup artist I’ve gone through umpteen brands of each type of product and these are the ones that make my cut. To start The Basics: Lip Balms and Lip Moisturizers.

Now – A word about what I look for in a lip balm: First and foremost anything Petroleum based is out. Some folks love Petroleum based lip-balms and if that’s you and it is working for you then great. Keep doing you. I do not like Petroleum based lip-balms at all. They do not actually moisturize, in my opinion, nor do I like the way they feel (greasy) and then as a makeup artist I cannot use them under lip color because they make the color “slip”. Therefore there will be no Carmex, Chapstick, Rosebud Salve (although I LOVE Rosebud salve for other things), or even the ever popular Keihl’s Lip Balm #1. I look for balms that are creamy in texture and feel and are derived from natural oils often in some kind of an oil/water emulsion formula. Here then are my picks of fabulous lip moisturizers. View Post

#MakeupMonday – Top Lipglosses

Tarte Double Ended Lipgloss in Rhett and Scarlett top lipglosses

Tarte Double Ended Lipgloss in Rhett and Scarlett


NOTE: For the updated version of this list check out: Favorite Lip Glosses of 2012

Some women gravitate to eye makeup, some women to lip makeup. Without a doubt, I am a lip woman, specifically I am a lipgloss gal. No matter how many I own, I always buy more HOWEVER some do stand above the rest. Here then are my picks for Best Lipglosses;

5) Cargo Cosmetics – Lipgloss
This would be higher on the list save for the fact that Cargo changed the configuration and color selection of this item. They used to be lipgloss duos and they were the BEST ever. Now I see they are quads and they didn’t keep any of the same color names. I’m still going to recommend it, however, for a couple of reasons. First of all, the actual formulation of Cargo’s lipgloss was always fantastic; smooth and creamy and full coverage without being sticky or gloopy. Secondly, the amount of product was quite generous. Dunno if it’s still as generous now that it’s a quad, however, the tin is larger and deeper than most tubes AND you can scoop every last bit out. Not sure what the new colors are like but when you’re in Sephora, Cargo is always worth checking out. View Post