A few mini reviews.

Yes, I know I’ve been VERY flaky lately.  Had one curve ball after another, and even though I’ve had a few new products pass through my hands, I haven’t been able to document my play with them.  I wanted to pass on a few mini-reviews for products that have caught my interest lately…



Tutorial: Depotting eyeshadows in unusual packaging

I had a request for this a few months back, and it has unfortunately taken this long to get my act together.  There’s a lot of information on depotting the common eyeshadows, like MAC and Urban Decay, but the technique differs with some other specialty makeup brands, like Tokidoki, OLD Urban Decay eyeshadows(The one I had like this is probably 4 or 5 years old, now.), Benefit, Shiseido, Shu Uemura, Sephora, Ulta,  even NARS Eyeshadow duo’s.  If you aren’t sure how if the pan is on a tray that  can be removed to heat it faster, or if it feels like it’s heavy plastic, you can usually depot them this way.  Please note, if you are depotting an eyeshadow in a cardboard case(Like the Urban Decay Book of Shadows), you’ll want to avoid this method, since it uses HIGH heat and may be more of a fire hazard.  I usually set the oven for about  250-300(Fahrenheit) for those, and let it sit for longer, until I can begin to pry the pans up.  THIS ALSO SHOULD NOT BE DONE FOR CREAM PRODUCTS, since they will melt.  To depot cream blushes, you need to drip alcohol between the pan and the compact, to dissolve the glue.

As with any depotting, you will need a hot surface(The plate of a hair straightener, or an iron.  I use an iron, with a layer of aluminum foil to prevent glue or plastic from burning onto the surface), a thin knife(Or VERY heat resistant fingertips, like me), a magnet, cut to fit the bottom of your pan(You can purchase thin magnet sheets at craft stores, and some online cosmetics sellers offer pre-cut ones in common sizes, like 26mm(MAC, UD eyeshadows), and your empty palettes(ELF sells quads that fit 26mm eyeshadows, or Camera Ready Cosmetics sells YABY, zPalette, or La Femme palettes, that will fit 15-24 larger pans, depending on the size..


Review: How to Create the Perfect Eyebrows, by Victoria Bush

There’s a little bit of me that never left high school, and that part REALLY enjoys writing book reviews.  So when I stumbled onto Victoria Bush’s How to Create the Perfect Eyebrow, I had to review it.

Eventually, I want to cross reference this review with a post I wrote on grooming eyebrows, several months back. This book has DEFINITELY changed my eyebrow technique, and helped me learn to analyze other peoples eyebrows, for working on set.

First off–this book is DEFINITELY written with makeup artists, aestheticians, as the target audience.  You’ll find it can be a little challenging to do the practice assignments on your own face, as Bush starts off by having you measure the dimensions of the face with a ruler.  It’s MUCH easier to have someone else do this, or to do it on someone else, but you’ll go cross eyed trying to measure the proportion of your lips, based on your pupil…

While much of the basic information on face shapes, brow shapes, can be easily found online, the GREAT part of this book, for me, came from the measuring assignments.  I think most people would have a difficult time seeing a face shape chart and saying “THATS my face. I’m a heart-shape!”.  Heavens know I never really had a strong idea of which shape I had….  But by measuring and sketching the face out, you get a far stronger sense of the overall shape, overall feature size, as well as ideas for corrections.  Bush recommends several basic face shapes(Square, Long, Oval, and Round, which are universally discussed shapes, as well as less discussed shapes-Heart, Inverted Triangle, Hexagon, and Pear).   She also provides tests for determining your eye-set(Close, well, or wide), eye alignment(Almond, Even, or Drooping), Lip Size and length(Determined using the width of your nose, or the pupil of your eye)

Her discussion doesn’t just include the wealth of information usually seen on handling these face shapes(Balance a square or angular face with more rounded brows, balance a rounded face with more angular brows, use thicker brows with larger eyes and thinner brows with smaller eyes, etc.) but also includes notes on applying corrections to the brows, when one “fix” may cause another feature to look out of proportion.  It’s INFINITELY useful for looking at less than perfect faces, and brows.


We all have little bits of asymmetry in our faces, and features we’re insecure about.  So the information available about standard corrections may not always suit our needs.  Bush does her best to suggest corrections that may help someone feel better about their features, and give their face a stronger sense of proportion and symmetry.  She includes case studies with before/afters, including information on the womens desires, going into the appointment.  While the difference may not be as noticeable in the less extreme clients, her technique DOES work, especially on less straightforward cases where the brow may be sparse or uneven, the shape wrong for the features, mature facial issues, unusual growth patterns that may prevent some techniques from being effective,  etc.

The book includes an overview of most standard eyebrow enhancement techniques–everything from tweezing, sugaring, threading, waxing, electrolysis, laser hair removal, tinting, permanent makeup, etc. and notes on conditions that may affect the safety of the procedures.  While it CERTAINLY isn’t enough to get you through the licensing requirements that may be required to sell those procedures in a salon, it is helpful for weighing the pro’s and con’s of each one.

This book was WELL worth the money.  I wish that Bush had included more of the assignments—after the first few chapters, she stopped printing the answers in the back for the proper analysis, and stopped including new ones, outside of the client studies discussed. I would have loved more of those, since thinking analytically about them was very helpful in honing my aesthetic eye, and looking for logistical ways of managing my, and my models, needs.    It’s certainly something that you(and I) will need to practice LONG after finishing the book—I’ve read it several times, pored over fashion magazines analyzing the brow shapes in them, measured every detail of my face, my boyfriends, my models, and it is still a far more awkward thought process than I would like.

Overall, though, it beats EVERY book or website I’ve encountered on eyebrows, with the depth of detail.

odds and ends(Again)

Sorry for the lack of posts, everyone. ANOTHER relative had a heart attack. Second, in a month. UGH! He’s fine, but everything has been REALLLLLLLLLY stressful since then.

I just got done reorganizing the makeup I take out on shoots though it’s still only a fraction of my total makeup, since I’ve weeded out many of my bright pigments, and all of the eyeliners, foundations, etc. that are for my personal use. Still, I was in shock how fast it filled up my new container. There’s also panels on the lid that store my eyeliner right now! Yay!

The bottom has three plastic trays, containing my MUFE Aqua Creams, Flash Cream palette, Givenchy foundations, Sugarpill, Urban Decay, and Stila eyeshadow palettes, Graftobian powder foundations, blush, highlighters, etc.

This does not include the cloth container I store my brushes, lipstick, foundation, and eyeshadow palettes in. This is just the loose pieces!

Anyways, here’s a quick EOTD. It’s the ONLY makeup I’ve worn in weeks. One of the MUA’s in my area has been kind enough to talk with me about my work, and offered me some products she no longer uses. So I’ve been testing out a bunch of new things. She gave me quite a few shiseido and Benefit eyeshadows, and a range of other things. I feel bad I haven’t been able to test them more, since they seem to be quite fun, and I have comparatively few pastel colors.

Hopefully I’ll have some new stuff to show soon!  Life has been crazy lately, between family issues, lots of shoots, computer problems, work problems, and an insane stress level.  I haven’t been fit for human company.




Odds and Ends

Since I can’t post pictures, I may as well post a few quickie notes!

Last products I LOVED- NARS Grand Palais eyeshadow duo,  Tokidoki Carnivora eyeshadow, NARS Dogon eyeshadow duo, Sephora lip gloss, UD primer in Eden, and Sin.

Last product that FAILED to impress me-Benefit Stay Don’t Stray eyeshadow primer/concealer—it creased, over long wear.  Also, I didn’t care for NARS Casino—-on myself.  On some of my models, it’s STUNNING.

Products yet to review-many Benefit and Shiseido Eyeshadows, Benefit Coralista, NARS Casino, UD Eyeshadow Primers in Sin, Eden, and Greed, Givenchy Foundations(Various finishes), Bath and Body works lip glosses, new colors of Fusion Lip color(yet to arrive in the mail!!!) Smashbox UpLights luminizer, new shades of Sephora Cream Eyeliners, Tokidoki Carnivora eyeshadow,

A few nail polish experiments….

I was testing color combinations for a shoot I have this weekend.  Will show pictures when that is done.  In the meantime, here's a bit of pretty!

Colors used are Sinful Expressions-Nights in Barbados, Sally Henson Byte, Laser, and DVD HD nail polish, and Sally Henson Gilty Pleasure nail polish.

Shatter used is Sally Henson Antique Gold, OPI Navy Shatter, Blue Shatter, and Turquoise Shatter.

Review: Graftobian Powder Foundation

I haven’t gotten as much use out of the Graftobian 12 color dual finish powder foundation palette as I would have guessed.  It’s still a fairly decent product, though.  It’s fairly sheer, so it’s best for women who don’t need a lot of coverage, or anyone who doesn’t want to look like a solid coverage.  I have used it mostly with mens grooming on shoots.  It seems to do a decent job with oil control—I still needed a stronger transparent powder over top when shooting with oily skin, in the sun, but it was fine for the most part.

I find myself reaching for other products more, because I hate the process of layering to get anything closer to medium coverage out of it.  For most people(A few blemishes to conceal, and some under eye discoloration) I don’t find it heavy enough to look right without a lot of work.  I’d rather use graftobian cream foundations  without any dilution as a concealer, and then thin it out to get more natural coverage over the rest of the skin.  That’s just my own preference.  Most of the reviews and raves I’ve heard about it focus on its uses in similar circumstances—men, children, people who need almost NO coverage(Or people whose skin is so oily that I don’t trust a cream foundation, even with powder over top).  Currently, I don’t find myself working on very many people who fall in that group.

It doesn’t look cakey or powdery, and blends into the skin quite subtly.

The color range is quite nice, and this palette has enough to match almost any skin tone. I’ve never met anyone  I couldn’t match in it, and I’ve used the colors over liquid foundations  to fine-tune foundation matches as well.  Most of my complaints have to do with the overall coverage.  Also, the packaging of the palette feels flimsy-it’s a fairly lightweight cardboard, and has already begun to get bent and arched from being at the bottom of my makeup kit.  It’s not as sturdy as the graftobian cream foundation plastic palettes.

Review: The Balm lipstick in Classified

I mainly bought this for the packaging, as a prop for a shoot. Classified is a nice sort of russet peach-perfect as a peach for cool skin tones, but DEFINITELY not neutral. You’ll want a warmer gloss, if you have yellow undertones.

The outer packaging feels a bit fragile–it’s paper, and seems to need a bit of force to slide on and off the cap.

I was a bit iffy on the formula-it wore acceptably, about 4-5 hours, no feathering, but I absolutely HATED the taste. It went on with minimal fragrance just a slight chemical taste, but about five minutes after application, the flavor and sting of mint oil got to be overwhelming. Mint is great for making our breath a little cleaner, and plumping lips. I just have a pet peeve with it in cosmetic formulas, because I hate the taste. Whether this is a drawback depends totally on your own opinion.

Overall, I doubt I’ll buy any other The Balm lipstick shades-there’s some nice ones in the range, but I dislike the taste and smell enough to prefer other alternatives. For only a few dollars more, I’d rather have a tasteless MUFE Rouge Artist Intense lipstick.

Review: Makeup Is Art

Now, I’m a huge reader, and a researchaholic. I love looking for everything from textbooks, to magazines, to in-progress writing that I can edit. Lately I’ve been purchasing books with the intention of making sure that I have a firm grounding in ALL of my makeup technique, not just the ones I use regularly. I found Makeup is Art on amazon, and thought “Even if it’s bad, at least the pictures are pretty! And it DOES advertise itself as showing advanced techniques…”   It was pretty highly rated, and not too terribly expensive.  I have an easier time following things in print than on a computer, and I can’t focus through Youtube tutorials.

Sadly, it didn’t exceed my low expectations. The photography IS beautiful, but it is definitely NOT a textbook. I felt there were gaping omissions in the “Advanced” areas, though the breakdowns for skincare and variations on basic looks/techniques were nice.

For a book that seems to be targeted at freelance makeup artists, or aspiring professional artists, from the London Academy of Freelance Makeup, including chapters on designing editorial stories, designing looks for runway…. It was very haphazard.

Makeup is Art featured a number of photos of beautiful, advanced techniques(Like macro photography of lips, in dark gloss, with pigment spattered like spray paint), but did not discuss how to get them(Apply lipliner/lipstick, splatter with damp(not wet) pigment, PAT gloss over top to avoid disturbing pigment, using multiple brushes to avoid transferring any pigment that may get on the brush during the patting), what the limitations of the technique are (Instruct the model NOT to move her lips, put them together, lick them, unless instructed–you need to photograph it FAST—pigment spatters will bleed and fade within a matter of minutes. Not a technique for a costume party. If you have an airbrush gun, you can use that to splatter the pigment more realistically, but do NOT attempt to just blow it through a straw. It’s unsanitary. When splattering pigment, use a business card(easier to trim) or sheet of paper to cover other areas of skin that should be clean of splatters…)

The book didn’t cover ANY sanitation, any notes on product usages.  There were a number of instances were it advised students to be creative with products and usages, but not ONCE did it explain any of the common misunderstandings, like why non-toxic craft products or glitter are NOT cosmetic safe, why acrylic paint is NOT a good substitute for professional body-paint, why you need to be aware of your products recommended usages, why you need to purchase disposables, when to use lash glue vs. spirit gum vs. prosthetic products to glue items to the body, etc.  There was no information to help temper your creativity with good product safety and sanitation.

If you like looking at pretty pictures of makeup, enjoy!  If you need a book that covers all of the basics, that can remind you of the importance of using a good lip-liner when you are away from the computer, or encourage you to experiment with lip stain, enjoy!

Honestly, if you have time and attention, you can learn more from watching youtube artists, if you’d just like to refine your techniques for your own face.  I feel I should warn you, though—the scope of the book was ALSO fairly limited in the skin tones/ethnicity’s of models presented, and there was no discussion on common skin diseases.  So there is comparatively  little information on dealing with monolid eye shapes, Middle Eastern undertones, deep African skin, dermatological diseases or conditions(like severe Excema, allergic reactions, rashes, tattoo cover, which forms of Tinea may be contagious, and how to prevent contaminating your supplies if you are working on a model with the condition, or just trying to prevent spreading the discoloration on to other spots on your own face, etc.)

If you want a book that will help you adjust your techniques for the professional arena, or provide a THOROUGH discussion of makeup technique, this is NOT it.  It may help with reference(showing photographers examples of different period looks that would suit their concepts, or asking if they want this intensity of smoky eye, or that one.)  and it has a lot of great material if you are a hobbyist, or someone who is just widening their cosmetic love beyond the face they put on for work every day.  But it does seem to be wrongly marketed a bit. I certainly expected more than 1-3 pages of pictures and info for each discussion.

Review: OPI Black Shatter nailpolish

The world knows, by now, that I’m not much of a nail polish nut. I bite my nails, and have genetically tiny nail beds to start with, so fancy nail art is out of the question, and many nail polishes don’t apply easily, due to the shortness of the nails. I’d hoped Black Shatter might be a fun way of dressing up my nails, and in some ways it is. It’s not very easy to control, though. THe product dries REALLY fast—-I usually dip the brush in the product after every few nails, but I notice a skin of dried product on the brush itself, and around the neck of the cap, that hardens WAY too fast. I have had nail polishes for years that change their consistency less than Black Shatter has in a month. I’ll probably only be able to use half the bottle before the rest is unusable half-hardened clumps.

The clumps can make it difficult to gauge how much polish is on the brush, to get the effect you want. Apply a THIN coat of polish, you get lots of thin streaks and shatters. Apply a thicker coat, and it breaks in larger areas. For small nails, you DEFINITELY want the thin coat—the large coat barely shatters at all on my pinky nails, if it is applied too thickly. It works better now that my nails are a little longer, but at their shortest, it is NOT worth using the polish, because it will barely shatter.

I find myself removing and redoing it about two-three times per nail, to get an effect I like, because of how difficult it is to control. This is obviously tedious, since you have to wait for the base coat to FULLY dry, to apply it, only to discover that it didn’t shatter in a way that matches the rest of your nails, or a clump of product on the brush meant it applied too thickly and didn’t shatter.

The effect is definitely unusual. Either you like it, or you don’t. That said, I’ve NEVER gotten compliments on my nails, except when I’m wearing the shatter. I’ve had models, random people at work all asking me to look closer at them, and if that’s black shatter on them. It’s very distinctive, and is an easy way of getting a fancier look, if you wish.

I just dislike how quickly the product ruins itself, and how difficult it is to control. The black itself seems to dull the colors underneath—I’ve only found a few colors that actually seem to show up in the teeny shatters, and some formulas of the base coat won’t work, even AFTER they dry. You apply shatter overtop, and it pulls the coat of polish with it, exactly as if it was wet. The effect is NOT flattering, because the base color is no longer visible except at the edges of the shatter.

It has taken a LOT of trial and error to feel comfortable working with Black Shatter. I’ll keep trying to make my peace with it, because I DO like the concept. It’s definitely not an “apply and go” nail technique, though, the way you would think.

Here it is, shown over Sally Henson Byte nail polish, with a glossy topcoat, and over Sinful Expressions Bleeding Heart, and Essie Matte topcoat(To show the texture of the shatter more).

Previous Older Entries

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 249 other followers