urban decay

Looks to smother with confetti

My ideal New Year’s Eve involves me lounging, makeup free, in a nest of blankets with a soothing face mask, a cat in my lap and a glass of wine in my hand. With that combination I’m guaranteed to be asleep well before midnight, but at least I’ll wake up rested for the new year.

If the right group of friends is involved, going out for NYE can be fun too. Having a good crew is surely essential for surviving an environment thick with drunk, obnoxious people who feel wretched and anxious about making the first moment of the new year the perfect moment.  You need someone to raise your eyebrows at when the homely and horny girls doing obscene things to men who you suspect were hired from Craigslist to endure a champagne and desperation soaked night somehow get even more down and more dirty on a couch in the bar. You need someone to wink at as a grey beard cruises your boyfriend. You need to grimace in solidarity as the Brooklyn MC projects dancing Hasidic Jews on the wall and tells you not to take selfies in 2015. And you need someone to find confetti in her underwear the next morning after dozens of party poppers were let loose around you like a rainbow bukkake,

Yes, that pretty much sums up my last night of 2014.

This year I was fortunate enough to get confetti-splattered with some of my favorite people. And my pretty friend Jayne let me do her makeup. Originally our plan was to go with a Taylor Swift look–wing-tipped eyes and bright red lipstick that would, fingers crossed, devolve into the goopy, hysterical mess Tay Tay perfects at the end of her “Blank Space” video. taylor_swift_770_1Taylor-Swift

We took the bright wing-tipped look in the left photograph and brightened it up with some white, violet and gold colors. We also ended up skipping the red lip and going for a nude one, keeping the look light and ethereal.

jayne face 1jaybe face 1

For Jayne’s look we used:

jayne paletteLush’s cream eyeshadow, Focus

The Body Shop’s Colour Crush eyeshadow, Blueberry Night (blended into the Lush shadow, on the right side of the first strip of color)

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil, Cottage Cheese (really bad branding on their part, we’re thinking the same thing)

Lush’s golden eyeliner, Dynamic

BareMinerals Moxie lipstick, Speak Your Mind

Jayne eyes 1

All of these products were new to me, and I love the colors we were able to achieve with the Lush cosmetics in particular. To start, we used a white eye shadow primer by NYX–this allowed us to work from a bright base and build up a luminescent effect with the other products we layered over it. On her eye lid we blended the silvery cream shadow with the light jayne full 2violet eyeshadow causing the hue to become beautifully opalescent. We then blended the golden eyeliner at the outer edge of her eye and into her eye crease to add more dimension and to highlight her blue eyes. In the inner corners of her eyes we used the Cottage Cheese pen with some powder highlighter to smooth out the color (so it didn’t actually look like clumpy cottage cheese, staying true to its stomach-turning name). For her eyeliner we used Stila liquid liner. I also added some Hourglass ambient lighting blush to her cheeks–after we dabbed on some primer and BB cream–which gave her a soft coral glow.

For my own NYE look I drew inspiration from 70s David Bowie.



70s makeup (from what I can gather from my vague interest in certain 70s idols–Dolly, Stevie, Debbie Harry, Siouxsie, Cher . . . ) was about dark eyeliner and soft but colorful eyeshadows.

12885f images-2 images-1

I went for a soft but colorful red and gold look.

Gina bowie face 1

gina bowie face 2

For my look I used:gina palette

Urban Decay eyeshadow, Freelove

Madison Street Beauty eyeshadow, Flamingo (this is the darker, shimmery color below and mixed into the lighter, peachy, less shimmery Freelove)

Lush eyeliner, Dynamic

UD eyeshadow, Half Baked

MSB Golden Bronzer

NYC City Proof Twistable Intense Lip Color crayon, Roosevelt Island Red

Gina full bowie 1I covered my lids in the gold eyeliner (you’ll note I used this as an eyeshadow instead of an eyeliner on both Jayne and me). I also lined my top lids with this color and extended it into a pyramid shape in the center of my lids, going into and above my eye creases. Then I shaded the inner corners of my eyes and into the creases on either side of the “pyramid” with pink eye shadow.  I dusted and blended around the edges of these colors with the red, glittery eye shadow.

I used the golden bronze to contour around my face, going for a more subtle Bowie contour-mask look (as seen in the picture below).David-Bowie-as-Ziggy-Stardust

The rusty-red lip color definitely made this look stand out, and I got the glossy effect by applying a gold lip gloss over the top. The NYC lipstick crayon I used was less than $5, long-lasting and tasted like cake or some sweet dessert–definitely worth it!

For the end of 2015 maybe I’ll go for the gold forehead circle.

Bren and Jayne on bus

Beauties still got to commute to the par-tay


Rainbow Bright Eyes

My friend Emily served as a gracious Vampid model to show off a look inspired by Queen Elizabeth I’s Rainbow Portrait. rainbowportraitKnowing that Emily studies early modern literature, I suggested the Virgin Queen as the source of inspiration for a look we could curate, and we both agreed that the autumnal colors in her famous rainbow dress would be perfect.

Emily kindly gives us a “micro-lecture” on the portrait and the look it inspired:

Emily 1

Emily is a karaoke enthusiast originally from rural Missouri. Her interests include smiling at strangers, singing loudly in the streets, and eating cookies for breakfast.

The highly symbolic Rainbow Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, attributed to Isaac Oliver, was painted around 1600 when Elizabeth was in her 60s, though you’d never know it from the youthful visage she has in the painting. As the “eternal virgin” queen of England, it was important to maintain the image of her youthfulness. She wears pearls, a symbol of virginity, and if you look closely at her dress, you will see that it is covered with a pattern of eyes and ears (the queen sees and hears all!). Unfortunately, I don’t own any garments of clothing printed with body parts, but we did take inspiration from this quirky dress by playing up my eyes in golden tones similar to the shades of this portrait, and I adopted her long strand of pearls to complete the ensemble. Perhaps we can also take inspiration from Elizabeth I’s resistance to the many marriage matches suggested for her, and her insistence that she would rule England alone as its virgin queen.  Now I just need to find a country to rule so my family will stop pressuring me to settle down!

 For Emily’s look we used (from right to left):

Chella Ivory Lace HighlighterIMG_6991

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil 621A Pure Gold

NYX Slide On Eye Pencil SL16 Golden Bronze

Madison Street Beauty Desert Sands Eye Shadow #63

Madison Street Beauty Peony Blush

Madison Street Beauty Marigold Blush

Urban Decay Slowburn mixed with Buck

UD Half-baked

Clinique Glow Bronze Lipstick

Emily eyes 3First I outlined all around Emily’s eye, connecting the inner and outer corners, with the gold NYX pen. Then I applied UD’s half-baked over the liner. I then layered MSB Marigold blush (used as an eye shadow) above the gold shadow, going into Emily’s eye crease. Above the marigold, I blended a line of MSG Pure Gold—creating a gold-orange-gold rainbow on Emily’s eyes. 

Emily eyes 1To get a smoky cat eye effect, I mixed UD’s Slowburn bright orange shadow with the matte brown Buck and blended at the outer end of the “rainbow” I created. Next I lined her bottom lid with the NYX bronze eyeliner, giving the look a little more depth and edge.

We kept her face simple, using a mix of her foundations—Clinique Even Better and No7 Instant Radiance. MSB pink Peony blush subtly brightens Emily’s cheeks. Very little contouring was necessary, especially because we wanted to feature, not hide, Emily’s high forehead. In the Queen’s time, women plucked their hairlines to get a prominent forehead. In our time, Emily gives the look a beautiful modern spin. Emily 2

For our final touches, I had Emily do a quick lip scrub with a bit of honey and sugar (it’s fall and lips are starting to chap!) before she put on a demure nude lipstick. I made up this lip scrub on the spot, having never tried it on myself before, and it seemed to work well. As a pure sugar lip solution, Emily attests to its deliciousness too. Last, with three coats of Laura Mercier’s volumizing mascara, we were done!

Note on Madison Street Beauty products: a few weeks ago I posted about their going out of business sale. I don’t know if they are still having their sale or not, but this could be your last chance to get some of the colors you see here. Their makeup is light on the skin and offers rich, shimmery mineral pigments. The blush, however, is not too colorful—which is good if you have light skin and don’t want your blush to look too colorful.

Emily 5Now off to enjoy the evening!


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