Thursday, January 27, 2011

Contorted Views on Contouring

Whenever I take the extra 40 seconds to contour my face, I always feel a little more confident. But there is something about contouring that is a little disturbing.  

When you’re taught to contour in a classroom setting, you are taught to contour with one main goal in mind – to achieve the appearance of an oval face. The oval face is the beauty industry’s standard for perfect face shape. While I love the effect of contouring on most people, I can’t help but poo-poo this idea. After all, we have some strikingly beautiful people in this world that proudly flaunt fabulous no-oval faces. 

Just to name a few:
Reese Witherspoon and Michelle Pfeiffer work their hard core heart shaped faces.
Victoria Beckham maintains her “posh” status with a triangular face.
Sandra Bullock and Janet Jackson - both rocking the square face.
And just when you think it couldn’t be done…. Liv Tyler…. sports the long face with grace.

I think some of these women are uniquely beautiful BECAUSE of their distinctly different face shape.

The Smashbox Contour kit
Here’s what I’m willing to stand behind about contouring. Contouring is an AWESOME tool to accentuate features that you love and minimize the features that you’re not as crazy about. It can help a crooked nose appear straight, get rid of a double chin, help a face appear slimmer, and give you beautiful cheekbones for an important photo moment. Instead of looking in the mirror and contemplating how you can give yourself an oval face, try looking for what YOU want to stand out about your face and work from there.

Contouring – the Basic Rules

The basics of contouring are easy! Just remember that a darker shade will “push things back” or recess a feature. A lighter shade (the highlighter) will bring a feature forward. You’ll want to use a matte color for your contouring that is two to three shades darker than your skin tone. Your highlight color will be two shades lighter than your skin tone. Some people prefer matte colors for highlighting as well, but there are some beautiful light-catching shimmery highlighters that do a beautiful job (especially if you want those glowing cheekbones).

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Microdermabrasion and Fancy Vacuum Cleaners

Microdermabrasion heads
 When I was a little girl, I remember a vacuum cleaner salesman that came to our house to share the wonders of his exceptional allergen-fighting vacuum. As a child, I was amazed. He would “reclean” and otherwise clean surface in our house to show us how crappy our vacuum cleaner was. Then he kindly offered us his vacuum for $1500.

Microdermabrasion reminds me of that fabulous vacuum cleaner. No, it’s not $1500. In fact, at NBU microdermabrasion is really reasonable ($40 a service). It reminds me of that amazing vacuum because you end up seeing some unsavory stuff about your skin.   

The microderm we do at NBU is done with a diamond encrusted head with a vacuum attached to it. It basically works like really fine sandpaper. We draw it across the skin and the crazy flakes start flying. It reminds me of the feeling you get when you vacuum fluffy carpet (even with my "bo-bo" Sears vacuum cleaner). You know how you can distinctly see where you’ve run the vacuum and where you haven’t? Geez… I love that. With the skin, you can instantly see where the microdermabrasion head has abraded the skin and where it hasn’t. 

BUT, I've saved the best for last. The really sick satisfaction of microderm is after the treatment is over. There's a little cup on the side of the machine, and if you bend over and look carefully...  are you ready?? can see all the tiny particles of skin that you just pulled off your client. That's right... little DNA pieces of them. I know… it's gross. And yet, it’s so hard to look away. 

I've included a picture for your enjoyment. 
The funky stuff - a job well done.
Gettin' Beauty Schooled,

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Maximize Your Makeup - Cream Eye Shadows

Can you give me some tips about how to do my eyes?

I spend about 6 hours each week learning about cosmetics and skin care products.  Most weeks I get to spend an even greater amount of time doing what I love - - applying them to people! In all of my rubbing, smearing, painting and brushing, I'm asked a lot of questions from friends, clients, etc. The one above is probably one of the most common.

Since the devil is often in the details, let’s talk about something specific - - something that’s scary for a lot of people….


Don’t be afraid. I know…  I know... the first time you tried it, it went horribly wrong. The colors looked so pretty in those little round containers, but the application was strange and it was smeary and impossible to blend. It’s like when you finally get all of your friends out on the dance floor, and then one of those weird songs comes on that nobody knows how to dance to. One of my friends recently told me that she calls cream shadow “scream shadow” - - by the time she’s done applying it, she just wants to stare into her vanity mirror and scream her frustrations out. But hey – you wouldn’t pull your girls from the dance floor and leave in a tiff, right? Of course not! The night is young! Just the same, you might want to give “scream shadow” another shot.

6 tips to help you reconnect with your cream shadow:
  • Two is company – Cream shadows don't like to be alone.They’re so ideal for combining with other shadows (esp. pigments and shimmers). Cream shadow serves as a great base and they grab powdered shadows and loose shimmers that are added on top.
  • Get your “blend” on - So, we know that blending cream eye color is more challenging than blending traditional powder eye shadow. If you want to blend out creams, try reaching for a sponge - - not a makeup brush. The warmth of the skin causes cream shadows to adhere quickly, so using a brush to try to move the cream is only going to frustrate you. Instead, use a “rolling” method with the smaller end of your sponge to blend and thin out cream color.
Using a neutral cream shadow as a base helps conceal 
veins or redness from recent plucking. (MAC's "Painterly")
  • Know their role - Don’t confuse cream shadows/bases with eye primer. Primers are great if you have oily lids and your color tends to move around on your eyes. Primers also sink into the skin and create a smooth canvas for applying cosmetics. Bases (cream shadows can be used as bases) are used to enhance color, and adhere other types of shadows, cosmetic shimmers, etc.
  • White + Bold Colors = Drama - White cream shadows do an amazing job enhancing other brightly colored shadows. Have you ever loved a bold eye color in the container, only to have it lose its brilliance when you apply it? Apply a white cream base first and then add the color you really want to show off. This will make your bolder colors bright and true.  
  •  Decease the crease - Make sure your cream shadows are crease resistant - -we’ve all fallen victim to the crease at some point. I’ve found MAC paint pots to be a great defense against the crease.   
  • Bring the brush back - Grab an inexpensive small angled brush at the art store (usually a couple bucks) and apply a bright cream shadow as an eyeliner. If you like the bold colors, but you're not sure about wearing them on your lids, eyeliner is a more subtle solution. 

Gettin' Beauty Schooled,


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Epiphanies in Cosmetic Chemistry

Chemistry was NEVER my subject. The periodic table of elements was just way too intimidating for me in high school. In college… well, let’s just say my psychology major was a strategic choice.  I would have never guessed that I’d have to look at that periodic table again - - in beauty school no less.  

ENTER (drum roll please) … COSMETIC CHEMISTRY.

“The state board of TN and Nashvegas Beauty U want you to understand how cosmetics and skin care products are created.”

That’s all Miss. Kellie had to say. I can dig it, Miss. Kellie - - now you’ve got my attention. There are few situations where I would agree to strap on some crazy lab goggles and rubber gloves, but I’m TOTALLY up for it if it means I get to take a shot at creating the world’s next anti-wrinkle cream. 

I must have been feeling a little philosophical this week.   It’s crazy when you start to parallel your life and the ingredients you’re mixing together in the makeup lab.

Let me explain - -  

When you mix two substances together that can’t typically be mixed, you create what’s called an EMULSION (oil and water for instance). With skin care products and makeup, emulsions are created all the time. The key to effectively mixing the two “unblendable” substances is to add an ingredient called a SURFACTANT. The surfactant molecule is capable of bonding the two unblendable substances together, because the surfactant has a water-loving side AND an oil-loving side. You guessed it - the water loving side marries the water ingredient, and the oil loving side marries the oil ingredient, and the three live happily ever after in the form of a super-duper spreadable skin lotion that claims to keep you baby soft as long as you use it twice a day. 

Ok. Enough chemistry. Back to my philosophical moment -

I'm five months into my beauty adventure and I’m starting to feel a bit like a surfactant. One side of me is pulling on my current health insurance career (the one that is paying the bills), and the other side is trying to rein in my love for the manic beauty industry - - two chemicals that just don’t want to mix. It seems like health care reform and eyebrow arching should be able to get together over a nice glass of Pinot Grigio and work this thing out.

Then again – I guess we’re all a little “surfactant-ish” every now and then. 

Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,