Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How to contour your face

One of the problems that we see with stage makeup is the face appearing to be all one mask of a same color and your features essentially disappear. This is due to both distance and bright lights (if there are bright lights). If you want to add more of a 3D effect to your face, you will want to use contouring methods, which consists of shadowing and highlighting certain areas on your face.

Shading and highlights on your face will essentially be you re-drawing your face. Essentially, you want to highlight the spots where the light hits the skin on your face and shade the spots where the light creates shadows on your face.  I typically do the shadows first and then the highlights.  Make sure that the shadows don’t bleed too much on where the highlights will need to be.

  •       Under the cheek bone;
  •       On each side of the nose;
  •       Crease in the chin;
  •       Under the jaw line.

  •  Do a ‘heart’ shape by highlighting over the eyebrows and under-eye area/cheek bone;
  •  Middle of the forehead;
  •  On the ridge of your nose;
  • Tip of the chin.

Note: For the temple area, you may want to play with whether to highlight or shadow it; it will really depend on your skull.  If you have a dip at the temple, most likely you’ll prefer shadowing it. If you don’t, highlighting the area will be your preference.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Care for brushes

To keep with yesterday's post about brushes, here is some information on how to take care of them.


I highly recommend storing the brushes in a brush case. If you buy a set, it will usually come in a case or bag of sorts and you can use that. You can store them really whichever way you want but, to increase the longevity of your brushes, you want to store them in a way that the bristles can't be damaged.  So throwing them in a makeup bag is NOT a good idea, unless it's for a short period of time (e.g., when traveling) but even then, I wouldn't recommend it.  Store them carefully and they will last for a long time.


Brushes should be cleaned regularly. That will help both keep them in good shape for a long time and also keep them clean in terms of color cross-contamination and bacteria.  There are a number of ways that you can clean brushes. Here are some options.

Warm Water and Baby Shampoo

It's pretty much exactly like it sounds. Take your makeup brush and get the bristles wet with warm water. Then put a small amount of baby shampoo on the bristles and massage to get the color out. Rinse the bristles well with more warm water. Use a towel to remove the excess water from the bristles, making sure to reshape the brush to something close to its original shape. It's very akin to working with your own hair. ;) Let the brush air dry.

The advantage of this method is that it's fairly inexpensive as baby shampoo is not costly and a small bottle will last you a long time. The disadvantage is that it takes a long time for the brushes to dry (about 24 hours). So you likely won't be able to do this very frequently.

I usually use this method for big fluffy brushes like my kabuki brush, my powder brush, and my blush brush. That's the best method to get the colors out of the brush and clean them real good.

Makeup Brush Cleanser

Makeup brush cleansers come in all kinds of formula. I've tried the one by e.l.f. before and wrote a review on it. I'm not using it. The one that I do like is by MAC (which I talk about in that e.l.f. product review). The instructions on the bottle say to pour some cleanser over the brush bristles and then reshape the brush and let dry. I've seen MAC stores where they have a jar of it and will dip the brush in it (just the bristles) and then they will wipe it over the a tissue. The method I use, which I've seen done by my favorite MAC consultant is to pour a little amount on a tissue, wipe the brush back and forth until all the color is out, reshape the brush, and let dry (I put it back in the case to dry). This latter method uses the least amount of product.

The advantage of the makeup brush cleanser (MAC or other one that has alcohol in it) is that, since it has a little bit of alcohol in it, it will dry off much faster and you can technically use the brush in like 20-30 minutes but I usually wait longer to make sure that it's completely dry. In addition, they claim that the product helps condition the brushes. I don't think that it's that much more conditioning than the baby shampoo would do so I'm not sure that it's an advantage really but I haven't tested it. The disadvantage is that it's a little pricey at 14$ but it does a splendid job so I feel that it's well worth the price.

I usually use this method for all my brushes for eye makeup. I clean these more frequently (see below) and they require a faster drying method.

Frequency of Cleaning

I have friends who I have had to chide for the frequency of cleaning the makeup brushes... they *may* do it once a year. That is WAY too infrequent, unless you really don't wear makeup often.

I clean my eye makeup brushes after every use. Yes, I do. The main reason for that is to ensure that there is less cross-contamination of colors. If you don't clean your brushes after use, even if you wipe them and think that there isn't color left because you can't see it, there is still color in the bristles, just not visible to the eye... but it will affect the color that you are trying to apply next. So if you've had that issue where the color isn't quite right, it could be because you're using a brush that needs to be cleaned.  Also, it's a good idea to clean those frequently since they are being used around the eye area.

I clean the big fluffy brushes about once every 6 months, though I should probably do once every quarter just for good measure. These brushes always have the same product or near same product (I don't have drastic differences in the blush colors I use) every time so there is less cross-contamination of color (or none if we're talking about the loose powder).

Friday, January 10, 2014

Product Review - Big Sexy Hair Powder Play

I received the Big Sexy Hair Powder Play sample as part of the Ipsy bag in April 2013. The full size (0.53 oz) retails for about 15$.  I was excited to try this brand as I've been intrigued by it and have heard good things about it. This is the first of 3 samples that I received from this brand over the months.

The Powder Play promises to fluff up your hair, give it uber volume, etc. I was excited about that because it's really hard for my hair to get some volume and I had heard from a number of folks that powders are great at doing that and that I should try this very brand. So I was real excited to give it a try.

The verdict? Well... I was uber disappointed. It did very little for me. It fluffed up my hair a little bit but not nearly as much as it promised. I tried applying it directly on my hair, as instructed. I tried pouring some in my hands first, in case dropping the product directly on my hair was making it too heavy or something. There was no discernible difference between the applications and not much volume gained. *sigh*

I've seen reviews online of folks who love this product so it must work for some people. It doesn't work for me. Given the fairly high price, I'd recommend trying it through a sample (should you be able to find one somewhere) or through someone who already owns the product... or, obviously, you can take a chance and purchase it but I most certainly wouldn't invest in it.

For the record, I don't think that the brand was the issue as the other two products that I'll review will have quite the different write-up. I tried a fluffing powder by a got2b and it also didn't work for me either. I thought that Big Sexy Hair being a pricier brand and generally getting better reviews, it might work better. But, while there was *some* more fluff, it wasn't enough.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Product Review - Wet n Wild Photo Op Shadow Palette

As part of the October Ipsy bag, I received the Wet n Wild Photo Op Shadow Palette from their Fergie Collection in Desert Festival.

First, I noticed the nice colors and got excited about this palette. And then I saw that it was a Wet n Wild product and my excitement dwindled down, thinking that it's a cheap brand.

Yesterday, though, I felt like trying out the colors. And you can see the look below.

I applied the bottom left color all over the eyelid. I then applied the bottom right color at the crease and outer corner of the lower lash line. Given that it was much darker than I originally anticipated (more on that later), I applied the top right color over the brown to try to tame the color a little. Finally, I applied the top left color at the brow bone, the inner corner of the eye, and over the lower lash line.

First off, the payload was much much much better than I would have thought for the brand and especially for this price range (palette costs about 4.99$).  I was very pleasantly surprised at the first brush stroke.  For this price range, I'm used to colors just washing off and requiring a good number of brush strokes to get a good color going. I have to admit that I did apply the Shadow Insurance by Too Face as I always do (honestly, you shouldn't leave home without it or another eye shadow primer) so that may have helped a little but, having experimented with it and all kinds of eye shadows, I can say that it was indeed the pigmentation in the palette that yielded those good results.

Secondly, when I applied the brown color, I literally thought to myself "Holy mole! That's great contrast!" Hence why I had to tame it for work. I mean, I could have gone to work like that but a little taming was needed for me to feel like it was less stage makeup and more work makeup. So I figured that I definitely needed to state that on this entry: the contrast is so good, it's totally stage worthy! And that's very rare to find in any palette, let alone one in this price range.  When I looked at other palettes in the collection, except for Dutchess Lounge (which I'd have to see in person to fully ascertain), the other palettes seem to also have amazing contrast that would be stage worthy.

Was there anything that I didn't like about this palette? Well, the only thing was the packaging: it's a rather thin plastic case so, if you're not careful in protecting it while traveling, it could break.  But that can be prevented by just a little extra caution.  The other thing is that the selection of colors in this collection is a little limited.

So, honestly, for 4.99$? It's totally worth purchasing, especially for stage or special occasions. I'm actually tempted to purchase the palette in Maldives Sky because I like the colors... not that I really need a new palette.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

And the winner is...

Long time no see on this blog. For a number of reasons, I ended up not posting as much last year. It should be better this year though I can't predict the frequency just yet. ;)

To re-start things off, I thought that I'd talk about which of the makeup subscriptions that won me enough that I resubscribed.

At one point, I had 3 makeup subscriptions going (click on the name to see my past reviews of those): Birchbox, Ipsy, and Starlooks. In an effort to keep my budget better under check, I ended up stopping all subscriptions. And, honestly, I was swamped with a ton of samples that I had yet to try. They just were coming too fast and in too much quantity for me to keep up. So I thought that a break would be beneficial for both the budget and the pile of samples.

If you want to access the company's website, click on the name of the company below.

The Losers

So here are the two that didn't make the cut for me to restart the subscription.


Pros: What I enjoyed about Starlooks is that it was always full size products and so, for 15$, you got a whole lot for your value. The best example was the December box, which was their palette that they normally sell for 99$, though I wouldn't exactly pay that much for it. But 15$ was a damn good price (and I use that palette frequently for restaurant belly dancing makeups). They also provide a little card with pictures of looks created with items in the box, which can be useful in knowing how to use the products (though they don't explain exactly how they did the look).

Cons: The fact that it was only their brand was what made me not re-subscribe for it. The brand isn't bad... it's actually makeup that has a pretty good payload. But I could never see myself purchasing from their brand, honestly. What I like about subscriptions is not knowing which brand I'm going to receive and discovering new brands. It also appears that the price of the box has gone up to 25$.

Who I'd recommend this subscription to: If you'd like to get the most bang for your bucks and don't care about discovering new products, then this is the subscription for you.


Pros: Birchbox was the first subscription that I signed up for, based on a recommendation. And, at first, it was pretty darn good. The samples were interesting, you'd always get a good number of bigger sized samples (generally called "deluxe samples"), and they seemed to pay attention to what you had said you were interested in. They usually provide a good number of samples and they tend to be for higher end products.

Cons: After a while, it seemed that the samples weren't as interesting and that they were sending whatever they had on hand. I originally chalked it off to growing pains but then there was a good 3-4-month period where I was disappointed in my box and didn't really want to use any of it. So it didn't feel like I was really getting my 10$ worth out of it. It seemed like they weren't paying attention to what you had said you were interested in but were just picking out at random which box you'd get. It also seemed like the samples were getting increasingly smaller in size so it felt like you were getting, yes, more samples but fewer bigger sized ones.

Who I'd recommend this subscription to: If you like receiving uber random things (including like chocolate, tea, gourmet fortune cookie, hair tie, etc.) and prefer receiving higher end products, this may be the subscription for you. Also, Birchbox tends to have more beauty and hair products and just a bit of makeup so if you're more interested in those kinds of products, this is the subscription for you. I'm tempted to resubscribe to Birchbox for that very reason.

The Winner

There was one that made me itch to restart a subscription. Enough that only 3 months elapsed between when I stopped the subscription and when I restarted it.


When I originally started subscribing, they were having some growing pains but they've been more consistent for a good while now.
Pros: The consistency has been largely achieved by sticking with the theme or concept that they were going for each month and everyone receives about the same items (colors may differ). So whereas Birchbox made you feel like some people got luckier than you, Ipsy makes you feel like everyone is pretty much equal. They do have some variations based on your answers to a beauty profile where they not only ask you things like your physical characteristics but your personal style as well. The majority of the products are actually full size nowadays with like 1 or 2 that are deluxe samples (generally those will be liquid liners or mascara). The majority of the products are makeup products. They always have rebates that month for the brands that are included in the bag. And we call it a "bag" because it does come in a cute bag. Here's what it was for December (not my actual bag but I got the same products except for the lip pencil).

Cons: A number of the products that I've received over the months are from brands that you can find at the pharmacy. I'm a bit of a makeup snob when it comes to brands but I've generally been pleasantly surprised by the pharmacy brands products (a good number of product reviews are coming up). For those brands that you can't find at the pharmacy, they are generally little known brands that can only be found through their own website. Not that it's a big problem per se but they won't necessarily have offers like free shipping (I hate paying for shipping); but that's when the rebates that you get that month are useful. They also tend to cycle through some of the same brands (well, they are at the mercy of who wants to give their products to them after all). It seems that there's a nail polish in like every bag or at least every 2 out of 3 bags and they are often in funky colors. And, well, you receive a bag every month so they do stack up. But they've been a blessing in keeping my jewelry organized and when traveling to keep things separate. But they do accumulate. For all that they personalize the color selections, sometimes you'll receive something that you'll wonder if you'll ever use because the shade isn't one that you'd normally wear... and sometimes it's a nice discovery that it's a shade that looks good on you... but sometimes it's not.

Who I'd recommend this subscription to: Well, pretty much everyone, though I probably need to add that you need an interest in makeup. Honestly, you get a good amount of interesting products for your 10$.