REMIX – #MakeupMonday – Best Blushes for Brown Beauties

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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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#MakeupMonday – Makeup Products I Would Die Without Revisited

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Early on in Makeup to Go’s history, I posted an article entitled “Top Ten Makeup Products Without Which I Would Die” (click to read the original post). Basically I was saying that these are my go-to, must-have, desert island, fade to black, killing it products. It’s a good list, too. However, that article is from clear back in 2009 and much has changed since then so I thought it time to revisit and update the list.

What is remarkable is how many of the products I named back then are still going to be on this list. Great products are great products. There is a reason you hear every makeup artist/expert/maven name the same products over and over again: They work. They work for a multitude of people, over a significant span of time, with consistent results. As readers of this blog, you are likely into beauty products and as such you are aware that these are rare qualities. Lots of good/OK/mediocre products come out everyday. How many times have you bought the latest greatest thing only to stop using it within a few months? Yep. The downside of beauty junkie-dom is that it does take a lot of trial and error to find those holy grail products. Once found, the wise beauty-ista holds on with two hands for as long as the product is available. Here are the Makeup Products I Would Die Without, revisited.

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1 ) Still On The List:

Looking over the previous list, I still use these items as much then as I do now, for all the reasons previously stated. These are classics that will likely remain on my list until such time as they are discontinued. Make Up For Ever’s Flash Color Palette does, however, get an asterisk because they have changed the colors in the palette and the thinned down the formula of the cream itself. So whereas I would wholeheartedly recommend the version of the palette that *I* have, I am not actually a huge fan of the current version of the product.

Honorable Mention: Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid and Shu Uemura Nobara Cream foundation would both still be on the list were they still available. (Stila still has a product called “All Over Shimmer Liquid” but the original colors are no longer available, and Shu Uemura still has the Nobara cream but they changed the formulation and the color selection some years back…)

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2 ) Face Atelier – Ultra Foundation / Ultra Matte spray / Transforming Gel

Face Atelier existed in 2009, but I was not familiar with the brand back then. Since learning of the brand in – oh – 2011 or so Face Atelier has become one of my absolute favorite brands. The Ultra Foundation is an absolutely GLORIOUS liquid foundation, which I’ve professed my love for many times here on Makeup to Go. It is silicone based and gives a flawless, glow-y, perfected skin finish. If you are a pro, go for the Ultra Foundation Pro which is the exact same foundation in a more kit friendly plastic bottle. The Ultra Matte Spray is another silicone-based product that magically creates a satiny-matte finish on the skin which lasts and lasts. And when I say it lasts I mean that the first time I used it was on a very high energy performer whom I expected would be a sweaty looking mess after his performance. Instead he looked pretty much as matte and even as he did when I first did his makeup. AMAZING product. Lastly the Transforming Gel will change any powder cosmetic into a long-lasting gel consistency. So if you want to use eyeshadow to fill in brows or as an eyeliner, the Transforming Gel will get the job done. (Sidenote: the Matte spray and the Transforming Gel are on the Face Atelier website under “Effects”)

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3 ) Tarte Cheekstains

I may have mentioned a few times here on the blog how much I love this product. I have zero idea how this got left off of the first version of this list. If I had to pick one desert island color of the Cheekstain, it would definitely be “Tipsy”.

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4 ) Graftobian Dual Finish Foundation

I’ve received a lot of grief over my love of this product from other artists, but bottom line is I have used it for 4 years now and a ) I still have plenty of most of the product and b ) it has always worked extremely well for me. Whether you get Graftobian or another brand, a wet/dry powder foundation is a very versatile and useful product for any makeup artists kit (Yaby I hear makes a great one, I’ve not tried it yet). I also recommend it for my non-makeup artist clients who want a bit of flexible coverage but do not like the feel of wearing foundation. The Graftobian is NOTHING like MAC’s Studio Fix or the like. When used dry is it like a pressed powder. It give a little bit of coverage and knocks out shine. When used wet it gives sheer coverage similar to a bb cream and it can be built up to a more medium coverage without looking cakey and streaky. Sidenote: The Graftobian Dual Finish Foundation is also available in a palette of 12 of their most popular colors. Click here to see the Pro Palette version I actually have in my kit. My review from 2012 is still up on the CRC site! 🙂

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5 ) Viseart Neutral Eyeshadow Palette

I was either high or lying when I did not include this on my first list. I probably did not want to include it because I did not want to tell people about it 😉 But if you frequent any of the many online makeup social groups you will see that the cat is very much out of the bag on this product. I was made aware of the Viseart palette way back when during my first agency so we’re talking circa 2005. I finally bought it and added to my kit a couple of years later, and it has not left my kit since. In my opinion this is *the* pro neutral eyeshadow palette. It is truly matte in finish, the color are truly neutral, it is creamy in texture and easily blendable and not at all powdery or chalky. The Viseart palette is in no way comparable to the current rage of neutral eyeshadow palettes currently flooding the market. The Viseart palette stands alone in a league of its own.

#MakeupMonday – Rediscover Frends Beauty Supply

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the new and improved Frends Beauty Supply


I finally made it to the newly revamped Frends Beauty Supply! I could not be more happy for them or for the makeup community. Frends Beauty Supply has been around since forever. 1940, to be exact. In the mid-90s it changed ownership and came back into prominence as one of the “big three” of the pro makeup stores. I was not shopping there in the 1940s 😉 , but I have been shopping there for my entire career which is means I’ve been shopping there for over 15 years, so pretty much when the change of ownership happened. Frends has always accommodated me at every stage of my career, from complete novice, to old saw.

Cut to 2014 and the makeup landscape has changed dramatically. Back in “the day” pro stores were humble affairs. Pro makeup artists didn’t care too much about a store’s “ambiance” so long as it was clean and had the products we needed (think about the late great Columbia Stage and Screen). Nowadays there are a lot more makeup artists and a lot more people interested in makeup. Hence there are a lot more makeup outlets than ever before. Behemoths like Sephora (which even the current incarnation/ownership of Frends pre-dates by a couple of years) meant that the Pro stores have had to step their collective games up. In my recollection Naimies was the forerunner in terms of creating a space meant to serve both professional artists and makeup consumers alike both in terms of the product they carry and the presentation of the product in a more traditional retail space. Relative newcomer to the pro makeup store scene Nigel Beauty Supply followed suit carrying both popular consumer brands and pro brands (and an FX shop) in a retail environment. Even Cinema Secrets and Kryolan (San Francisco) – while still being decidedly pro oriented and focused primarily on their own makeup brands – have livened up their retail spaces. Frends is proof of the old adage that “slow and steady wins the race” as they have quietly completely revamped their image via strong online presence to connect with their customer base, developed fantastic new product for the pro community, and now last but not least they commandeered the building right next door to the old space to create a fabulous new retail environment.

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I have always enjoyed shopping at Frends because they carry all of the pro brands and items I could imagine in stock, the prices are very good, and the staff is both knowledgeable and FRIENDLY. Yes, I had to emphasize friendly to that extent because there are other stores who may be bigger and brighter but their staff makes me want to leave, period. Everything about my recent visit to Frends – from stock to service – was pleasant and a breeze so I am glad to see that has not changed. The new store seems to be a slightly smaller footprint while still carrying the same amount of product, yet it does not feel “stuffed” and the store is easy to navigate. Frends has always carried everything from haircare to FX to prestige consumer brands (LORAC, Stila, Koh Gen Do, etc.) as well as supporting new smaller businesses like Clean Brush Shampoo and my beloved Vueset palettes. There is also now a wall of skincare that I pretty much had to literally pry myself away from lest I buy one of everything and go into debt and lose my house (but my skin would look fab!).

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wall of skincare… be still my heart…


If you are one of those people who did not shop at Frends because you did not like the old space, or if you just are not familiar with them, head on over and see why so many of us have been shopping at Frends Beauty Supply for so many years. Not in Los Angeles? Frends will ship via their website. They also have a full Production Services department.

Frends Beauty Supply
5270 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Valley Village, CA
(818) 769-3834
www.frendsbeauty.com

EDIT: Oh I forgot to mention, Frends has an in-house discount program for professional artists; the “Frends With Benefits” program. Click here for information on how to apply….

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movin on up


Disclaimer: No they didn’t pay me or ask me to write this review. This is NOT a placed post. Frends Beauty Supply has no idea this article is happening. 🙂

IMATS Los Angeles 2012 Wrap Up

IMATS Los Angeles 2012 is behind us. I ended up having a fantastic time at the International Makeup Artist Trade Show Los Angeles this year and I figured I’d better write about it before no one cares anymore. First a moment of full disclosure on why I am so late…

This time last week I was sitting in jury duty awaiting questioning for jury selection, in more pain than I have ever been in before. Ever. During the previous week I had what I thought was some minor shoulder soreness, and by last Friday night I was sitting in the emergency room unable to move my right arm. Did I mention that I am a right-handed makeup artist? Eventually the pain went away but my arm remained immobile. What I had going seemed similar to a condition that can last for as long as a year or two so needless to say I was in a bit of a panic as to how I was going to take care of myself and work. Through good treatment at the emergency room, good self care at home, and a little bit of Grace, my arm regained enough mobility by Sunday for me to do a basic makeup job. A couple of days ago (say Wednesday this week) was the first time that I could sit at a computer and type without discomfort. It has been a wild week!

Needless to say all of this changed my plans for IMATS. I was originally planning to go to the Pro Night and then go for a little span of time on the two weekend days. Instead I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been well enough to attend on Sunday. And I was super fortunate to have a running buddy at the show as my friend and fab makeup artist Renee Loiz, was also going that day so we were able to meet up.

Due to my compressed schedule I was not able to attend any of the workshops, lectures, or demos. This was a real bummer as there were several on Saturday I really, really wanted to see including the incomparable Kabuki (WHICH I hear was sadly under-attended by the largely non-pro crowd on Saturday). That aside I did much more walking the floor than I had in years. Years. It just seemed like it was waaaaaaay less crazy this year than last. The usual suspects (MAC, MUFE, NYX, etc.) were bustling but otherwise Renee and I were able to walk the floor, look at and touch product, and talk to the artist/representatives at the booths. Here is the scoop on what I got…


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1 ) Parian Spirit Brush Cleaner
Gotta start with the basics and this was THE MAIN thing I needed. I had to make sure I left the Trade Show with this product in my hand. I know brush cleaners are very personal to each artist and everyone has their favorite. Parian Spirit is my favorite and it has been ever since I learned about them clear back at the very first IMATS show (yes, I’m old). NOTE: I am noticing a lot of young artists do not realize that Japonesque brush cleaner IS Parian Spirit (even says so on the Japonesque label). Instead of buying small retail bottles it makes more sense for a working artist to get the larger professional sizes of Parian Spirit. View Post