Month: September 2014

Siouxsie Cixous

This look, modeled by Brenden, started out being Siouxsie Sioux inspired and then quickly became part Hélène Cixous and part Morrisey in execution. Maybe porno for Egyptologists too. But I guess that’s what happens when you have intense eyebrows, colombina masquearade mask eye makeup, and fluffy blown back hair.



Brenden is a lesbian in training for Pittsburgh, PA. His makeup interests include Rupaul's Drag Race, goth eyeliner, and whatever Gina wants to put on him.

Brenden is a lesbian in training for Pittsburgh, PA. His makeup interests include Rupaul’s Drag Race, goth eyeliner, and whatever Gina wants to put on him.

brenden 8First, let’s review the bad. One of the biggest mistakes I made in pulling off this look was using Covergirl Clean Oil Control Foundation. Brenden definitely got what he paid for when he purchased this foundation–a pigment that made him too yellow and did not control shine AT ALL. This “anti-luisance” was lackluster but not in the way we wanted it to actually help us lack luster on Brenden’s face. This foundation may have been the worst makeup product I’ve ever used.

Despite these set backs, and even if it is hard to see in the photos, Brenden’s intense, hieroglyphic eye makeup came out beautifully. Props, thanks and general shout out is in order for our friend Megan who helped us highlight how truly awful and cheap Covergirl cosmetics are in juxtaposition to the good, high end makeup she provided for this look. (As a side note, Megan knows a lot about makeup and will hopefully become a regular contributor!)

Brenden 6For Brenden’s look we used:


Although I’m not providing a palette picture here, you can imagine it would look like a bunch of black smudged onto my arm. We were able to achieve some depth and nuance in this look, however, by adding highlights with the light shadow colors, Sin and Nude. We also blended in Gunmetal and Illamasqua’s Alluvium to create a rich, shimmery smoky effect that added interest and softness to all of the black layered on black layered on black.

Lots of layering is indeed what I did to line and shadow Brenden’s eyes: I drew the lines I wanted to further darken and shade in with the Maybelline Kajal Kohl Liner first, then I applied the Armani black silk shadow over that, then I painted over that with the L’Oreal lacquer (see my review of this lacquer here), and FINALLY I sealed it with more Armani silk shadow. I really liked the Maybelline liner. It doesn’t come on intensely black, but it made it easy to map out where I wanted to apply more extreme pigment, providing a nice base that didn’t smudge.  Also, the Armani silk shadow is no joke–it created a black silkiness that was perfect for creating bold dark lines that blended into a smoky shadow over Brenden’s eye lids.

Another unfortunate aspect about this look as it appears in these pictures is that you can’t really see how truly creamy and beautiful the Burberry lip cover is here. The Devon Sunset color is a not-too-bright, not-too-nude coral pink that added some color and softness to the severe, dark palette we used for this look. Plus, Brenden’s lips have a naturally dramatic bow to them, making the Clara Bow lip that Siouxsie perfected really easy to achieve on him.

Oh, and then after the glasses were put back on, Brenden’s look became mostly Rachel Maddow.

brenden glasses


Swallowtail Siouxsie Look

Today’s look is part yellow swallowtail part Siouxsie Sioux.  red-blue-yellow-black

A friend of mine is going to guest model for Vampid soon, and he wants to rock a dark-eyed Siouxsie Sioux look. In preparation for this future post–coming soon!–I bought some new makeup to experiment with siouxsie-siouxdoing thick black lines and shading around my eyes. In the process of such mad makeup experimentation, I came up with this look.

Because I knew getting dark Siouxsie eyes would require a lot of product, I kept it relatively cheap and picked up L’Oreal Infallible Gel Lacquer Liner. I chose this particular liner because it looked like it would give me a lot of product for my money and came with a liner brush.

First I thickly lined my top eyelids with this liner and half of the creased area above my eyelid. Then I connected and filled in the two lines I made at the outer corner of my eye. I also smoothed everything out and sealed it with black eye shadow.

bee close up 1

After using this product, trying to maintain this SSS look for the entire work day, I’d rate it a 6/10 for being just so-so liner. While it is easy to apply, doesn’t smudge too much, and stays on all day (fading just a tad), I’d prefer a creamier, more richly pigmented liner–and something more truly like black lacquer.

Also for this look I picked up some yellow eye shadow by Revlon ColorStay. I chose this brand simply because it was the only distinctly yellow eye shadow I could find in the drug store on the day I was shopping for makeup. This eye shadow came in a palette which included a gold, purple and black color.  Like the L’Oreal liner, this Revlon eye shadow is only so-so: I had to use a lot of it to get it as bright as you see in the pictures, and if I hadn’t used primer the pigment would have been even less vibrant. I also used the gold color to highlight the inner corners of my eyes.

bee eye 2

The clear star product I used for this look is the lipstick—-NYX “Indie Flick.” This color is powerful, vibrant and didn’t fade easily. I will definitely be wearing this lipstick frequently, especially as the weather gets colder and I need a nice color pick-me-up to bring at least some visual warmth and fieriness into my life.

The products I used:

bee product picture

Revlon ColorStay eye shadow in yellow, gold, and black

White NYC waterproof eyeliner (to line my waterlines)

L’Oreal Infallible Gel Lacquer Liner

NYX Matte Lipstick in “Indie Flick”

Urban Decay Primer Potion (not shown)

Make Up Forever Smoky Extravagant Mascara (not shown)


palette picture bee

The palette from top to bottom:

White NYC eyeliner

Gold Revlon ColorStay eye shadow

Yellow Revlon ColorStay eyeshadow

NYX “Indie Flick” Matte Lipstick

L’Oreal Infallible Gel Lacquer Liner in black

First of Many First Day of School Looks

You can never be over the first day of school look when you are a teacher, no matter how over it you may be. The first day of school often sets the tone for the rest of the year, and you can definitely fuck it up (and I have). What is a teacher with bright pink hair and who is often mistaken for a college freshmen to do to style herself in confidence, knowledge, and authority for the first day of school? Go with a bold, black winged eyeliner to add intensity to an otherwise clean, nude look that’s what. Wearing a vintage Armani blazer with stacked shoulder pads helps too.

Blog school look 8

This look combines both adventurous intensity with understated but complex simplicity (an oxymoron, I know, I’m the literature scholar, but I’ll explain). The adventurousness comes from the thick eyeliner and full, long fake eyelashes. The simplicity comes from the natural, clean look of the seemingly simple face makeup and nude lip. This simplicity is quite complex, though, in terms of the layering and blending of products that went into making my complexion so glowing and flawless.

Blog school look 7

Blog school look 6

Here is a list of items I used on my “first day of school” look:

product picture 3

Too Faced Brow Envy brow kit

Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara

Stila Stay All Day waterproof liquid eyeliner

Sephora fake eyelashes

Too Faced Lip Insurance lip primer

Hourglass Femme Nude No 4

Milan Shadow Eyez 12 Hr Eye Shadow, 11 Sand Dunes

Urban Decay Naked palette

Urban Decay Primer Potion (not pictured)

Givenchy Photo’Perfexion Foundation, Color 106 Perfect Pecan

MAC Prep + Prime face prime

BareMinerals Stroke of Light eye brightener

BareMinerals foundation powder

Too Faced Teddy Bear makeup brush set (plus a cheap foundation brush I picked up at my local drugstore)  

I started with my eyes and applied the Urban Decay primer potion generously to my lids and eye creases. Then I filled in my lids with “Nude” from the Naked palette. Applying it with an eye shadow applicator brush, I didn’t shade it into the crease of my eyes.

Then I took a liner brush and drew a black curved line, smiling up from the corner of my outer eyelid towards the end of my brow line, with “Creep” from the Naked palette. I lined the powder exactly where I wanted to apply my eyeliner. Lining with eyeshadow before the liquid liner shows me where to put the darker, longer-lasting, and harder-to-correct liquid liner. As a final touch, I sealed it all with more black eyeshadow, which also allowed me to blend and smooth out the line I drew with the eyeliner pen.

Next I used my liner brush to line my lower eyelid with “Buck” from the Naked palette, using only eye shadow as a subtle eyeliner on my bottom eyelids. I didn’t line my waterlines on either my upper or lower eyelids because I wanted to keep the look of my eyes wide open and clear. To finish off my eyes,  I cleaned up my mistakes and excess eye shadow dust with a little more eye primer where needed. Finally, I highlighted the inner corners of my eyes with “Sin” from the Naked palette, making sure to coat my tear ducts and blend the shadow into the brown Buck color I used to line my bottom lids. Note that I only blended the Sin into the beginning part of the line I made with Buck–I  did not trace the Sin all the way down to the other end of my eye.

Moving onto my face, I used a foundation brush to apply face primer all over before I applied my foundation. Then I took my highlighter pen (the BareMinerals eye brightener) and applied it directly onto my forehead lines, smile lines, above and under my eyebrows, under my eyes, and on top of my cheekbones. I let the product sit on my face and did not blend it in until after I did my eyebrows and lips. I didn’t use bronzer or blush although I might have if I felt my complexion lacked depth and nuance, looking too pale and lifeless.

For my brows, I used the small angled eyebrow brush in my brow kit to trace the top line of my brows, following my brow line. Then I traced the bottom line of my brows in the same color. I filled in my brows with the lighter brown color in the kit and blended, shaped, and smoothed everything out with a brow brush. I cleaned up the excess pigment and dust around my brows with a q tip and then set the brows with the brow wax in the kit, brushing them one final time. Lastly I highlighted under my brows with the highlighting powder in the kit, blending into the highlighter pen I used to highlight the same area. I also blended some of the highlighting powder from the brow kit into the Sin color I used to highlight the inner corners or my eyes.

Before gluing on my fake eyelashes, I put on mascara to my top and lower eyelashes to help curl the lashes and hold the fake lashes in place. Then I moved onto my lips where I first traced a thin highlighting line around my entire mouth with the Milan eyeshadow pencil, using it as a lip highlighter but not exactly as a lip liner because I applied it just around the outside of my lips. After coating my lips with lip primer, I put on my nude lipstick.

For my final touches, I blended the highlighter still siting on my skin (always blending up into the lines and areas I wanted to hide or emphasize) and sealed in everything with a big, fluffy blending brush dusted with BareMinerals foundation powder.

So, a lot more went into this look than might appear considering the simplicity of the nude palette I used.

Along the top of my wrist from left to right: Palette used for school look

A smudge of the BareMinerals Stroke of Light above the Givenchy foundation

MAC Prep + Prime

Hourglass Femme Nude 4 between two strokes of Milan Shadow Eyez in Sand Dunes

Going down the rest of my arm from top to bottom:

Stila liquid eyeliner

Creep eye shadow

Buck eye shadow

Sin eyeshadow mixed with highlighting powder from the brow kit

And that’s it! Take a bow!

Blog school pic 7

Do you hate this final picture of me (below) as much as my “content editor” (a friend I bullied into giving me constant feedback about my blog and visuals)? He thinks the last photo has terrible lighting and degrades the quality of the other photos. I think the photo shows the “curtain falling,” and my return to my sloppy, more poorly lit, candid everyday world. 

Lips, Beginnings

Introduction to sublime smackers

I love lipstick. It’s my favorite makeup to buy and put on. I’m so attracted to all of the colors, textures and flavors of lip products. As soon as I begin to sample lipsticks at a cosmetic counter I can’t stop myself. I could and maybe come close to trying on every color. My face around my mouth gets messy and sticky with all of the melee of products I smudge onto it like a little kid let loose in a berry farm with juice dripping down her chin. I’d probably eat lipstick if it were edible. My love of lipstick might border on obsession.

So many lipsticks

MAC, NARS, Too Faced, Stila (particularly noteworthy for the tingly sensation the mint oil in their lipsticks gives you), Bite Beauty, Lip Tar, Kat Von D, Hourglass . . .  all have a good selection of lipstick products whether you prefer matte colors (like me) or something super creamy or glossy. These products come in a variety of forms too–in tubes, tubs or pencils. You can apply these products on directly (when they come in a lipstick or crayon form) or with an applicator brush (If the come in a glossy or matte liquid). You can also apply on any lip product using a lip brush if you want to very thoroughly and meticulously coat the pigment onto your lips. See an example of the size and shape of a typical lip brush here.

 Generally the breakdown of lipstick hues go through a spectrum of nudes, browns, reds, pinks, oranges, and plums. Nude lip colors are becoming super popular right now, with a variety of subtle pink, tans and browns to choose from. Of course, you can also find more adventurous colors, like purples, greens, and blues–you usually have to seek out more indie makeup lines to find these hues, though.

Don’t forget that pharmacy brand lipsticks can be good too! Paired with the right lip primer you can make almost any lipstick stay vibrant and nearly smudge proof. Just go for the colors and amount of creaminess, glossiness, or matte affect you like in a lip product!

Some of my favorite lipstick brands include: Kat Von D Studded Matte Lipstick, Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme, MAC matte lipsticks, and Hourglass Femme Nude lipsticks.

Lip stains

At the moment, I am all about lip stain. Lip stains stay on almost all day with little need to reapply or touch up even after you eat or drink something. My favorite lip stains are by Kat Von D. Her lip stains have a nice matte finish, fill and cover the surface of my lips completely, and stay on bright all day.

Kat Von D Everlasting Love Lip Stain

Obsessive Compulsive Lip Tar offers a cruelty-free lip stain in a vast array of fun and more neutral colors, but I am not as big of a fan of this product. It doesn’t have the same stay-power as Kat Von D. However, friends of mine insist that if you get the right lip primer (not Lip Tar’s primer) then Lip Tar stands out as a really fantastic lip stain. I will say, though, that the Lip Tar primer has a refreshing, cooling burst of mint to it–it just works better to prime more solid, matte lipsticks.

Obsessive Compulsive Lip Tar

Recently, I’ve also been loving Lime Crime’s Velvetines. They are similar to the Kat Von D lip stains, perhaps a bit creamier, but they come in some different and intriguing shades.

Lip primers

If you want some advice on a good lip primer, I recommend Too Faced Lip Insurance lip primer. It comes in a tube like a lip gloss with an applicator brush. The product is an off-white gloss with a grittiness to it that helps smooth and texture your lips at the same time, lending some grip to the color you apply over it so that the color will stay on longer. The vitamin E oil in it also helps spread pigment over your lips at the same time that it helps to heal chapped lips. I use this primer before I put on a creamy lip product. If you want something to help smooth and spread a more matte product, though, I’d recommend Lip Tar’s lip primer.

Too Faced lip primer



Serving Good Face, Beginnings

Introduction to tinted creams, primers, powders and highlighters with a small aside about blushes and bronzers

For a long time I avoided foundations and powders because they clogged my pores and gave me pimples. In the past I preferred to simply and exclusively use a good, non-greasy and un-tinted face lotion with sunscreen. This is still a good option to maintain the healthy glow and clear complexion you may already have.  Combined with a good diet–getting all of your vitamins, minerals, proteins and healthy fats and plenty of water–your skin could be great without any tinted creams or powders.

This is me giving myself the full treatment: primer, foundation, highlighter, bronzer, blush, and concealer---none of it blended in yet. (As you may have noticed too, I do my eyes before my face so that I can clean up mistakes and excess pigment around my eyes.)

This is me giving myself the full treatment: primer, foundation, highlighter, bronzer, blush, and concealer—none of it blended in yet. (As you may have noticed too, I do my eyes before my face so that I can clean up mistakes and excess pigment around my eyes.)

Now that everything is blended in you can see how smooth, natural and creamy it looks. (This time you may have noticed that I also did my eyebrows after I blended in all of my face products.)

Now that everything is blended in you can see how smooth, natural and creamy it looks. (This time you may have noticed that I also did my eyebrows after I blended in all of my face products.)













BB, CC, and Tinted Cremes

Since BB (beauty balm) and CC (complete coverage) creams have become popular, I’ve changed my tune about putting tinted cream on my face. These products are beauty cocktails providing nourishment and protection for your face, tending to include minerals and emollients that brighten and soften skin. They also even out your skin tone and texture, conceal pores, and prevent sun damage. Protecting your skin from the sun is especially crucial in terms of preserving the elasticity and vibrancy of your skin and preventing wrinkles over time.

At the shrewd suggestion of my friend and personal makeup guru, who highly and tirelessly recommends Korean skincare products for all your skincare needs, I use Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Cream SPF 45. I am really happy with this product. It is light, non-greasy, breathable and makes my skin look healthy, clean, bright and smooth.

Dr Jart+ Premium BB Cream

Besides the Premium BB Cream, Dr. Jart+ has a variety of different BB creams to choose from. The black label BB cream is a little less expensive and works equally well, but it only has a SPF of 25. The Dis-a-pore BB cream is a little thicker, offering more coverage for the pores you are trying to make “disapore.”

Dr. Jart+ Black Label BB Cream

Dr. Jart+ Dis-a-pore BB Cream

I’ve also tried and liked Supergoop! CC cream, This product offers a nice lightweight foundation that also completely and seamlessly covers the face.

Supergood! CC cream 

If you prefer a dewy, glowing look, especially if your skin is usually dry and dull, I recommend It Radiant CC cream by Banila Co (another Korean brand).

Banila Co, It Radiant CC Cream

I tend to prefer BB and CC creams over tinted moisturizers such as Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer. These products don’t seem to cover my face as well and do not strike me as equally effective, nourishing, and luxurious-feeling. One exception would be Dr. Jart’s Ceramidin Day Tint–I really love how creamy and moisturizing this product is. Ceramides, which this product contains, are natural lipids that can already be found in your skin–they work to retain moisture and provide anti-aging effects.


You can use BB, CC, and tinted moisturizing creams as foundation or as primers for foundation. You can also use specific primer products before applying foundation or any tinted cream. I like facial primers because, besides helping you use less foundation, you can also use them to clean up any stray dustings of powder that inevitably show up when you put on eye shadow. Additionally, primer helps you blend and soften eye shadow lines on and above your eyelid.

Pro tip: It’s better to use primer over eye makeup remover or water to fix your makeup mistakes. Makeup remover will make it impossible to reapply more makeup and water won’t be strong enough to lift the pigment you are trying to conceal and/or blend.

There are a variety of face primers out there that do different things. A thicker, creamier primer will work to hide lines, pocks, and deep track marks on the face that make your skin’s texture uneven. A thinner liquid primer will add shine and glow to your skin tone at the same time that it helps to reduce the greasy shine caused by extra oily skin. Liquid primer will also help spread and smooth the foundation you coat over the primer so you don’t have to use as much foundation. Different primers also indicate whether they are more suitable to help with dry, oily, or combination skin.

I’ve used Hourglass’s Mineral Veil primer, which is a white liquid primer, and I love this product to help clean up stray eye shadow dust and help spread my foundation over my skin. It also makes my skin feel revitalized and healthier–but maybe that’s the psychosomatic effect of its marketing strategy, telling me that the primer has special minerals in it that are good for my skin.

Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer

I’ve also used BareMinerals Prime Time primer. This is a clear liquid primer, good at smoothing and correcting. I prefer Hourglass’s primer over this one simply because the Hourglass one is easier to see how you are spreading and blending it (because it is white) but also works more like water in the way that it works to clean away smudges and imperfections without feeling like it leaves any residue behind.

BareMinerals Prime Time

One thicker primer that boasts the ability to cover unseemly pores is Benefit’s POREfessional primer. It’s a good choice if you want something that offers more coverage.

Benefit POREfessional primer

My main primer at the moment, however, is MAC’s Prep + Prime Skin. This is a shimmery white primer, not too creamy, not too liquid, that goes on thinly and smoothly and does not look too shimmery on the face. This specific product intends to reduce the appearance of oily skin, but it still adds a nice under-glow to any tinted cream you put on top of it.

MAC Prep + Prime


Foundation is also something you need to sample and experiment with. First, getting the right color to blend with your skin tone is crucial. Then, you have to decide if you want something that is thicker and offers more full-coverage or something lighter that blends into your skin. Different foundations also have different finishes–matte or dewy. Depending on your skin type–oily, dry, or combination–you may prefer a different finish to help you either reduce shine or add luminosity.

I’m using a foundation at the moment that I truly love. It’s a bit on the high-end side, because it’s Givenchy (a French company known mainly for its haute couture clothes and fragrances), but it melts into my skin and makes it look soft, luminescent and flawless. A friend of mine insists that this foundation actually improved the overall texture and tone of her skin after she used it for a while. Check out Givenchy’s Photo’Finish foundation—it is rich and luxurious without being heavy and suffocating, and it also smells really good!

Givenchy’s Photo’Finish foundation


To set in foundations and tinted creams, you can use a face powder such as BareMinerals Mineral Veil powder. A vegan friend also recommends cruelty-free Minerale products as another mineral-based foundation powder option that is less irritating to some people’s skin than BareMinerals. I find that BareMinerals products are nice and light and don’t clog my pores or make me break out. In general, these mineral powders offer a smooth, matte finish over liquid foundation that helps the foundation stay and last on your skin. If your foundation ever looks too wet, just put some powder over it!


BareMinerals’ Mineral Veil is a translucent powder, but you can also use tinted powders to layer on top of your bb cream, foundation, and concealer for even more coverage. Shisheido has some good foundation powders I’d recommend. There are also different translucent finishing powders you can try, especially if you want a more matte finish or pore-concealing look. One option would be Makeup Forever’s HD Finishing Powder.


If you want to cover up areas of your face that need something more potent than a bb cream or foundation, try concealer. If you have red, discolored, or dark spots on your face, you may want to try color correcting concealers that come in green (to hide redness), yellow (to hide dark spots) or purple (to hide excessively yellow complexions). If you want a concealer that matches your skin tone to put on top of your foundation to hide particularly annoying pimples or blemishes, you have plenty to choose from! Currently I use and recommend Makeup Forever’s Ultra HD Concealer.

Blushes, Bronzers and Contouring

You can also use bronzers, blush and other powders to add color and contour to your complexion and face. Don’t overdo it with bronzer and red-orange-pink pigmented powders and blushes. These products look best simply and sparingly applied. To use them, blend into the outer lines of the face with a big, fluffy blending brush, like this one by MAC. Blend along the hairline and jaw line (be careful to really blend around these areas!), the outer sides of the bridge of your nose (apply the product lightly here and don’t apply it all the way down to the tip of the nose), and in the hollows of the cheeks (right below your cheek bones and well above your jaw line). Don’t forget to blend and blend again and again because you don’t want any lines or unevenness in the coloring.

Cream blushes and bronzers or contouring pigments are also available. Some people like to use certain lipsticks and lip glosses to add tint and pigment to their face too. Using lip products is considered a “dated” technique because now you can just buy blush and bronzer creams but plenty of people still use lipstick and prefer to do so. I’m embedding a makeup tutorial video from GossMakeupArtist that discusses how to use lipstick as a blush.

I don’t currently have a go-to bronzer  I’d recommend. Truthfully, I generally avoid bronzer, and I particularly don’t like products that add too much shine, sheen or sparkle to my skin. I always prefer a matte, natural look when it comes to shading and perfecting my skin tone. When you go out searching for a product that will work for you, brush the powder onto your skin to assess it for its shiny or matte qualities and how well it compliments the yellow, red, or brown tones in your skin. Usually the light, delicate skin on your wrist is a good place to test face makeup because it provides a surface similar to the skin on your face, which also tends to be lighter and more delicate and sensitive.

Blush is another area that requires experimentation. Depending on the colors in your skin tone, different shades of reds, pinks, oranges, and purples will either suit you or not. Generally a peach shade, that has a mix of red and yellow, looks good on most people. Becca’s Champagne Pop Highlighter is supposed to be good for its ability to look amazing on a wide range of skin colors. I find that for my skin tone bright rose pinks and corals work best. Currently I use Kat Von D’s Everlasting Blush because I think the color stays well. However, I really love and highly recommend Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting blushes if you prefer a softer and more subtle blush.

A final but important note on highlighters

Generally highlighter, as the name indicates, highlights the parts of the face you want to emphasize or draw attention to. You can highlight under your brows to draw attention to their shape and arch. You can highlight around your lips to highlight their shape and plumpness. You can highlight above and on your cheekbones to emphasize them . . . the possibilities are numerous!

Besides adding brightness to your skin tone, highlighters also help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles because they minimize the appearance of shadows. So, you can highlight your smile and forehead lines to brighten and eliminate the shadows those lines create. You can also highlight under your eye to brighten the eyes and reduce the appearance of dark circles.

You may  prefer a shimmery eye shadow or shadow pencil to highlight under your eyebrows and around your lips, but I prefer liquid highlighters that go on like liquid foundation. Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Èclat is an expensive but sumptuous product that I really like. For a cheaper but just as effective alternative, try BareMinerals Stroke of Light Eye Brightener, which I use all over my face and not just under my eyes. Sometimes if I want a glossier look, especially in the cold winter months, I’ll use a more creamy and luminous highlighter such as Kryolan’s Illusion Silk Highlighter or a powder that’s a tad more shimmery such as Hourglass’s light-colored Ambient Lighting Powder.


Mascara and Luscious Lashes, Beginnings

Introduction to Mascara and Lash Products to help you get started

Finding a good mascara is really tricky! Sometimes the mascara you use might not be that great, but you can’t really tell because the applicator brush does a good job coating, feathering and lengthening your lashes. Most mascara I try for the first time I instantly love because new mascara always goes on smooth and usually looks good. After a few uses, though, it gets clumpier and doesn’t seem to produce the same magical effects. Also, as you may know, you should throw out mascara after three months anyways.

Jodie Austin Cypert, modeling mascara application. Photo by Jodie.

Jodie Austin Cypert, modeling mascara application. Photo by Jodie.

For these reasons, I suggest getting for free or buying sample-size mascaras because the samples usually contain enough mascara to last a couple of months. Sample-size products allow you to try a variety of products more quickly and each time you throw away an expired sample size of mascara you don’t have to feel like you are wasting a lot of expensive product. With sample sizes you don’t have to limit yourself to using only one mascara until it is finished—you can switch between a few different products getting different looks and affects on a day to day basis.

To get free samples you can ask people at makeup stores if they have samples of certain products and/or you can save up frequent-buyer reward points at places like Sephora or other makeup outlets to use on samples including various mascaras. You can also sign up for services like Birchbox, Glossybox, etc. which allow you to come across and try out new products and mascaras on a monthly basis for a decent price. Birchbox also works on a point system that can allow you to get and try more free products.


Here’s a list of specific mascaras I’ve tried and my general comments:

 Benefit, They’re Real: This gives me a long, full lash. The brush has a little ball at the end, useful for painting the bottom lashes and harder-to-target small lashes closer to the corners of the eye.

Make Up Forever, Smoky Extravagant: This gives me a dramatic, dark and thick lash. The brush is big and bushy, good for getting a lot of product directly onto the lash for a bold lash look.

Too Faced, Better Than Sex: This separates my lashes and coats them thoroughly, giving my lashes a more dramatic look. This product can come on a little thick and can be hard to smooth out. The brush is feathery, which is why it is hard to smooth the product onto the lashes. It is effective mascara, though, if you want a bold, striking lash.

Urban Decay, Perversion: This also gives me a dark, feathery lash, and I prefer it over Too Faced’s Better than Sex because it’s easier to apply and smooth out.

Benefit, Roller Lash: This is probably my favorite mascara at the moment. The brush is thin like a hair curling iron and seems to really lengthen and separate my lashes.

Honestly, cheap drugstore mascaras are perfectly fine at getting the job done too. A classic, reliable choiceis the pink and green Maybelline Great Lash, in the waterproof variety or not.

There are also mascara primers on the market, but I have never noticed any noteworthy difference or improvement when I use such products.

While I’m not into primers, I do recommend Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Lash Genius clear waterproof mascara as a general mascara sealer and for waterproofing mascara if the product you already use isn’t waterproof.

If you want a source for extensive mascara reviews, try the blog, Clumps of Mascara. Blogger Brittany Minor has tried almost every kind of mascara you can find!

A note on fake eyelashes:

Fake lashes are another really popular option right now and will certainly give you long, full luscious lashes. Plus, as long as you don’t coat them with mascara and/or if you gently clean them, you can reuse them. Of course, finding the lash with the right shape, length and fullness–one that is perfectly suited to you–requires some searching and experimentation. However, you can always cut the lashes at the ends to better fit your eye shape, and you can trim down the lashes themselves to your desired length (but I always fail horribly when I try to do the latter!). Just remember to never cut the lash while it is glued onto your eye. Also, when you apply the lash, don’t put it exactly in the inner corner of your eye. Placing the lash in the inner corner makes wearing false lashes uncomfortable, and the look and illusion of the long, full eyelash isn’t botched if you line your eye with the fake lash a little further down your lash line.

A common and easy to find eyelash glue is DUO, which you can buy at most drugstores. Put a small amount of the glue all along the line of the fake lash, dabbing a bit more at each of the eyelash ends, and hold in place until it is dry. Placing the lash can be tricky at first, but it comes easily with practice. Make sure to start at the inner corner, holding until the glue becomes more tacky and solid, and then press the rest of the lash down following your lash line. Finish by making sure the end of the lash at the outer corner is also firmly set.



Brows, Beginnings

Introduction to Brows and Products to Help you Get Started

Brows really define and shape your face so don’t neglect them just because they can be tricky to master. Because big, bold eyebrows are fashionable right now, there are a lot of different products to choose from. Plenty of comprehensive brow kits exist, ones that come with coloring powders (to line and fill in brows with an angled brow brush), setting wax to hold the brow’s shape, highlighter to go under and emphasize the brow line, tweezers, brow brushes and combs, and shaping stencils. If you want to keep it simple, though,  tweezers, a brow pencil, a waterproof gel, and a brow brush are all you need. You can always highlight with any highlighter you already have, which includes light, shimmery eye shadows, eye shadow pencils, liquid highlighters for your eyes and face, and highlighting face powders.

I do think that plucking, over using a razor or waxing, is a good move for brow care. You don’t want to use a method of hair removal that’s too radical or permanent because you want the hair to grow back so you can fix mistakes or try different shapes. Laser removal of hair and then tattooing your brows onto your face sounds like a bad idea to me. Gravity has an affect on tattoos and can make your brows look droopy and odd as you age. If you live in a place where you can find someone with skill to shape your brows–by eyebrow threading, waxing or plucking–I would recommend giving it a try and observing how they shape your brows so that you can try to replicate their work on your own (or just continue to make appointments with them every few weeks!).

For tweezers, Tweezerman seems to be a ubiquitous brand that people like.


To line and fill in my brows, I use an Anastasia Beverly Hills brow pencil. It works to provide pigment and setting wax all in one, and it comes with a brow brush on the other end of the pencil. If you line and fill in your eyebrows too dark, use the brush to brush out and gradually erase your mistakes. Another option, similar to the Anastasia Beverly Hills pencil, is the Urban Decay Brow Beater pencil–I’ve used this and liked it very much.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow pencil

Urban Decay Brow Beater 

I seal my brows after I use an eyebrow pencil with Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Lash Genius clear topcoat. I love this product! It also works to seal in mascara or to just use as clear mascara for your eyelashes. Other options are Anastaia Beverly Hills’ tinted brow gels and Bare Minerals’ clear, waterproof mascara (that works great for brows and eyelashes).

Anastasia Beverly Hills, Lash Genius Topcoat 

Anastasia Beverly Hills, Tinted Eyebrow Gel

Bare Minerals, Locked and Coated Clear Lash Topcoat






About Eye Shadow Primer

Getting Started With Primer

If you want to use and experiment with eye shadow, you should definitely get a primer. Primer makes a night-and-day difference in how colors show up on your skin and how long the pigment stays on. I use Urban Decay for my primer needs—specifically Primer Potion. Urban Decay has other primers too, but I’d stay away from the one called Sin. Sin is super shimmery and might make achieving a nude, natural look difficult.

Urban Decay Primer Potion 

When shopping for primer, you can test out different primers on your skin and note how shimmery they are, how thick and creamy they are, and how dark or light the pigment is. I find that a thick, creamy primer works better as a primer for eyes (face primer is a different story). And the lighter the primer is the more the color that you put on top of it will appear bright and truer to the way it looks in the palette.

Also, eyeshadow primer can be used like a concealer or eraser to cover up or wipe away any mistakes you made with eyeshadow or eyeliner. Sometimes I even use primer mixed with eyeshadow to smooth out my eyeliner, especially if I’m trying to achieve a flawless winged look. AND you can use primer as a concealer over your smile lines because eyeshadow primers are usually engineered to not get stuck in creases.

If you use bright, bold, or neon colors, try to find a primer that is as light or white as possible. This will ensure that the vibrant colors really show up on your eyes. White primer can be hard to find, but I suggest the NYX primer.

NYX Eyeshadow Base





Eye Shadow, Beginnings

(Photo above: Jodie Austin Cypert modeling eye shadow play. Photo by Jodie)

Introduction to Eye Shadow and Products to Help You Get Started

The first color of eye shadow I ever wore was a pastel lilac purple that I would thickly and hastily coat onto my lid with my finger after gym class in the 7th grade (it was the late 90s). The whiteish-purple powder would coat my eyelashes too, and, probably paired with the Paul Frank shirt and Jncos I was wearing, I looked like a normcore snow princess whose eyes were just blinded and frostbitten in a whiteout snow storm.  I retrospectively support my young self for giving it a go and experimenting with a new look, no matter how haphazardly. Sometimes I still use my fingers to blend and apply eyeshadow, but I’ve learned that makeup brushes are your friends, friends that you can blow on to prevent any excess powder getting all over your lashes and cheeks. (That last line may need some further tweaking and editing.)

I’m guessing that most of you prefer natural, nude, everyday looks for school or professional life—unlike me who likes to look like a drag photo 2-1queen whenever possible, in any context. If you DO want bright and adventurous, check out the Urban Decay Electric Pressed Pigment Palette to help you get started experimenting with really bold looks.

Urban Decay Electric Pressed Pigment Palette


If you want more neutral colors, to do a nude look or a subtle daylight smoky eye, I’d still stick with Urban Decay products. They have a lot of palettes to choose from and you can also create your own. The Naked1, Naked2, and Naked3 are the most popular palettes the brand has curated.  I have Naked1, and I use it almost every day. This is a good palette to build natural and also more dramatic looks with since it offers an array of colors but nothing bright or neon. It has light colors to add highlights, a great, brightening gold color that make my blue eyes stand out and go well with the rosy, yellow undertones of my skin, deep shimmery and matte browns to blend with, shimmery black to line and shadow with, and a really lovely dark steely blue “gunmetal” color that compliments any color of eyes nicely. My only complaint is that too many of the eye shadows in the palette are shimmery, and it is harder to get a matte, natural look with the palette. It’s also hard to blend and make subtle some of the shimmery colors without more matte colors to mix them with.

Urban Decay Naked

Other people have complained about this “lack of basics” problem too, which is why Urban Decay released a smaller Basics palette, followed by the Basics2. You could get one of the smaller Basics palette if you want a simple, limited palette to help you work on a natural look, especially if you are just getting started with eye shadow.

Urban Decay Basics

Urban Decay Basics2 (this link offers a helpful comparison of the Basics palettes from the makeup blog From Head to Toe)

Naked2 and Naked3 offer a different range of color selections form Naked1. All of them provide colors to highlight with, blend with and shadow or darken with–it just depends on which colors you like best and will use most often.  Naked3 notably has more rosy/pinkish hues to it, which may not be ideal for you if you are already too rosy.

Urban Decay Naked2

Urban Decay Naked3

MAC, of course, also makes eye shadows that everybody loves. Most of the products I am linking to on this site take you to Sephora—as a kind on one-stop shopping site for makeup. However, you can’t buy MAC products at Sephora–you have to order MAC online or go to Macy’s.

You can also experiment with cheap drugstore brands. The Nouveau Cheap makeup blog insists that some Wet N’ Wild palettes have shadows that are tantamount to Urban Decay. However, I’ve never had much luck with cheap eyeshadows–the brightness and durability of these shadows always pale in comparison to more expensive, department store products.



Eyeliner, Beginnings

Introduction to Eyeliner and Products to Help You Get Started

When I first started wearing makeup as an adolescent/young teen, eyeliner was a particular challenge. The smooth lines I tried to create always turned out wavy and clumpy. After trying to line my waterline, I’d be in tears with eyeliner smudged and running down my face. Expertly applying eyeliner takes practice, but it is a skill you can quickly learn and intuit on your own. My mother’s only advice to me when I asked her what to do with my new eyeliner pencil was, “Don’t poke your eye out”–and I still managed! Although I still occasionally end up with a black line smudged on the side of my face at the end of a long day, I’ve learned some tricks about smoothing out my lines and getting long wear out of the products I use. For instance, after I apply the eyeliner I usually seal and/or layer it with eyeshadow to for a smooth and blurred effect that seals in the liner.

For liquid, long-lasting eyeliner I use Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Eyeliner. You can use Stila’s liner to achieve a dramatic look with a thick line and cat-eye technique (a good, simple tutorial by Keiko Lynn can be found here), or you can achieve something subtle with just a thin line of color to make your eyes pop a little more than usual.  I usually only use liquid liner right above my top lash line, but you could also use it below your bottom lash line (not on your waterline, though). Thickly applied underneath your eye will give you a more severe, gypsy look.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Another liquid eyeliner pen I like is Kat Von D’s tattoo liner. I’m a fan of Kat Von D’s makeup line because I think she makes good and affordable products. She’s also vegan and so is her line–but you may want to fact check me on that.

Kat Von D tattoo liner

For an eyeliner that will stay put but is still smudgeable (to better blend into eye shadow for a smokey look, for instance) I recommend a gel eyeliner. You can also use a gel liner to line the watermark of you upper lash line. I use Marc Jacobs gel liner, and I set it with a black or brown eye shadow on top.  Of course, though, there are other similar and less expensive products out there including ones by MAC, Stila, Bobbi Brown, and NARS.I’ve heard good things about the Urban Decay Super-Saturated Ultra Intense Cream liner (that does sound intense, doesn’t it??), but I haven’t tried it myself. Some of these products, such as the Urban Decay liner, come in pots, and you apply it with a liner brush that you usually buy separately. Others come in pencil or crayon form (usually the kind that you do not need to sharpen).

Marc Jacobs gel eye liner

UD Ultra Intense

Example of a brush you might use to line a gel pot product

To line your bottom lid and waterline, I’d use a traditional waterproof eyeliner pencil—nothing fancy. In fact, my go-to is the inexpensive NYC waterproof brand that you can get at most pharmacies. I’ve also used and really like Makeup Forever’s Aqua Eyes eyeliner pencil. Again, I like to seal in the liner with a dark brown or black eye shadow, which is easy to do if you have an eyeliner makeup brush that looks like the one in the link below (I’m showing a MAC-brand brush so you can see the shape, but which makeup brush brand is best is a whole different topic to pursue).

NYC eyeliner pencil

Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes

Eyeliner brush