Back To School Makeup

It's almost August and that means a new semester is right around the corner. Whether you're in college or high school, the later you can sleep in and not mess with a full face of makeup, the better, amiright?

I'm actually starting school again this fall, and now that I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 1 year old, also pregnant, and no longer in my spunky early 20s, knowing I'll have to get ready to be presentable to the public already has me exhausted. 

I'm not one to wear a ton of makeup as is, but I'll definitely be looking for something I can quickly apply without fussing too much so I can head out the door. Here's some of my favorite picks for easy, back to school looks:

Foundation

- LimeLight By Alcone Botanical Foundation

I love this because it's so pigmented, so it doesn't take much time or product to give me a finished look. You can use a beauty sponge, a brush, or just use it as concealer to conceal the spots needing coverage. I don't typically need to use concealer when using this foundation, which also saves me on time.

- FitMe Matte and Poreless Foundation
For a drugstore option, I'd go with the FitMe Matte. I personally love the Dewy one, but you do have to set that with a powder and it's not the best choice for oily skin. So for long days at school, a matte formula is more likely to hold up better if you don't have time to take the extra step for powdering or using setting spray.

Concealer

- LimeLight By Alcone Complete Waterproof Concealer

If you do need an extra bit of coverage, or you don't want to put on foundation and just want to conceal dark spots and blemishes, go for this waterproof concealer. It will last all day and is opaque without being noticeable.

Blush

To bring a little color to your face after concealing, you can very lightly pinch or massage your cheeks while you're walking out the door. But if you actually have time to apply blush, I'd recommend the cream blushes from NYX. Lots of beautiful colors, and a few swipes on your cheek is all you need for a natural, glowy, flushed look.

Mascara

- CoverGirl LashBlast Mascara

For drugstore, this is my Holy Grail mascara. It gives me lots of volume and length and the wear time is great. Nothing fancy or over the top, just one or two coats and I'm good to go.

Eyeshadow

Honestly, I don't apply eyeshadow when I'm in a hurry. I use mascara to bring some life to my eyes but that's it. A good option for quick, neutral eyes is simply using a bronzer if you have one. Swipe it on your lid and into your crease to define your eyes but keep it natural and fast. For color, you could use a blush but some red pigments are not safe for eyes so you may want to check the packaging first. Also, MakeupGeek and ColourPop both have good, affordable eyeshadows.

Lips

A simple touch of color lip balm works wonders, so swipe some on and you're ready to go!

 

Beginner's Guide to a Pro Kit: Eyeshadows

Hello, future pro makeup artist! Welcome back to my series where I discuss the best tips and tools that I've come across in my time building my own career. Don't get me wrong - I still have a long way to go, but when I was brand new, I researched every piece of info I could find from all parts of the internet and from books, so I decided to combine some of that, along with my own experiences, here on my blog. A lot of becoming a talented professional is figuring out how to work things out on your own, but I do want to share some good info that will help you along the way.

So far, we've talked about the first steps in your journey, foundation suggestions, and skin prep. Let's move on to what most clients focus on when asking for a makeover: the eyes.

When I was first starting out, there weren't as many well known options as there are now. It seems like new brands and palettes are popping up every day. But in the beginning, I only carried a few things in my kit:

The Naked 1 palette from Urban Decay
The Lorac Pro 1 palette
A few MAC single shadows
L'Oreal Infallible Single Shadows (Amber Rush and Eternal Sunshine)
Maybelline Color Tattoos

I still have most of these actually, I just don't use them as much and some have moved from my client kit to my own personal stash. The Urban Decay shadows are decent, but they have a ton of fallout, so I would suggest doing eyes before foundation. I don't think the Naked 1 palette is anything to write home about, but it works and I used it almost exclusively for awhile. In fact, I'm pretty sure I used only shades from the Naked palette for my first bride, and she looked beautiful. And although I've nearly retired these items, the Lorac Pro Palette still gets used semi-regularly. The Infallible shadows are pigmented and long lasting. I do love the quality, but they only come in shimmer and are not cruelty-free if that is important to you. And the Maybelline Color Tattoos can be used alone, but they actually make awesome bases for other shades as well!

However, I'd say Viseart palettes are your best bet, to be honest. If you can save up and buy some Viseart, you truly won't need anything else for a long, long time. The quality is remarkable and well worth the price, and the packaging was designed with makeup artists in mind, so it is simple and sturdy. The integrity of the brand is also important to me, and Viseart has plenty of integrity. Aside from their regular $80 palettes, they do offer a $30 Petit Pro Palette, which is a small version that includes 8 matte and shimmer shades.

A look using only Viseart shadows

A look using only Viseart shadows

I also really enjoy the Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette. It has beautiful warm, orange and red shades that pick up where my Neutral Viseart palette leaves off. You can do a lot with the MR palette. It has some lovely shimmers and mattes, although it won't achieve any cool toned looks you may want to do.

A look using mostly Modern Renaissance

A look using mostly Modern Renaissance

Another option is to buy a few single shades and design your own palette. You really won't need as much as you think you will: a few shimmer shades, some good neutral mattes, a pop of color. Don't be afraid to mix shades, or use blushes or highlighters as eyeshadows. Inglot, Makeup Geek, Ben Nye, Graftobian, Kryolan, and ColourPop are all good, quality options. 

And I know Morphe, Coastal Scents, and BH Cosmetics are popular among enthusiasts because they're big palettes for super cheap. But I can tell you why they're cheap: they are low quality cosmetics made in China using bottom of the barrel ingredients, with less emphasis on hygiene standards than here in the U.S. $19.99 for a 35-pan Morphe palette... the consumer is only paying 57 cents per shade, and Morphe needs to make a profit so that means they paid even less than that. What kind of quality can come from that? I don't care what YouTube told you. I don't care that Jaclyn Hill acts like she had an actual hand in creating the formula. I don't care how "buttery and creamy and soooo pigmented" they are (of course they're going to look pigmented when you're using your finger and pressing down as hard as you can). They're "affordable" because they're made with super cheap ingredients (and probably some lead and asbestos thrown in) that could cause reactions on your clients. The Beauty Gurus of the world get paid beaucoup bucks to shell out their affiliate codes to you, so uh yeah, they're going to push their codes when most of their audience can actually afford to click their link and buy it. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to be serious about the profession. Hey, we're makeup artists and we can be a bit snobby but it's because we research this stuff and are more informed than the average consumer. We're not just liable for the products we use on ourselves - we are liable for hundreds of different faces with different allergies and sensitivities, so we need to keep only quality products in our kit.

Okay, now that I got that off my chest...

There are good options out there that won't make your wallet shrivel up and die. I've listed some brands that are a good starting point. Don't try to collect every color of the rainbow at first, because I guarantee you you won't need it. If I had a dollar for every client who pretty much wanted the same exact smokey eye - I'd buy myself a new Viseart palette ;)

Beginner's Guide to a Pro Kit: Skin Care

Skin care is one of the most important things you'll have in your kit. So many different canvases are going to sit in your chair, many of them with years of skin neglect that you'll somehow have to remedy in very little time. You should invest in good products, as it will make your job so much easier and your work so much better.

But you're just beginning your MUA journey and you don't have a lot of bucks to spend! So what are you supposed to do?

When I was first starting out, I was broke, still in school, and taking unpaid gigs to build my port. To prepare for my first client, I went out and bought one of those $1 blue tins of Nivea Creme from Walgreens because honestly that's about all I could safely afford, and you know what? It worked. Was it a good purchase for my kit, and would it work on everyone? Nope. It's a body lotion first of all, and the main ingredients are pretty much just mineral oil (which can cause allergic reactions for some people), wax and petroleum jelly. But hey, I was new and I was learning, and it got me by until I could afford to invest in better skin care.

So I saved some cash, did my research, and decided my next purchase would be Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre, which is a basic staple in many pro makeup artists' kits, and it was affordable. I actually wrote a Product Spotlight post about it here. It is a good, basic moisturizer that I can use on anyone. If you're just starting out, I recommend skipping the $1 bullshit and grabbing this. If you want some variety, I also recommend their Hydra-Mat formula for your clients with oily skin.  And don't forget some basic cleansing wipes to clean the skin of residue before application.

I used the Lait-Creme for a long, long time. I only recently updated my kit and picked up some new items. Now I have a plethora of skin care in my kit:

Embryolisse Hydra-Mat
Graftobian OxyDerm Moisturizer
Sonia Roselli Beauty Japanese Cleansing Oil 
SRB Sex-A-Peel
SRB Water Balm
Limelight By Alcone Skin Therapist
Limelight By Alcone Must Dew

I use different ones for different clients, depending on their skin's needs. As I've stated a million times, it takes a lot of time and a lot of money to build up your kit, so invest what you can into the important items such as foundation and skin care, but don't get discouraged if you can't yet splurge for the luxury items you see in other artists' kits. It takes a lonnnnggg time, trust me! Just remember you'll want something to cleanse the skin, and then something to moisturize. Then you can add other stuff such as serums and exfoliators as well.

If you have any questions or want to see my work, check me out on facebook at facebook.com/allysonroemua or Instagram (@allysonroemua)!

So You Want to be a Makeup Artist...

Makeup has always been popular, but in recent years it seems to have blown TF up with the surge of YouTube beauty gurus and the wealth of information that's easily available now. That leads to more people becoming better at doing their own makeup, and beginning the crossover into professional makeup artistry. However, I come across countless Instagram accounts where the bio states that the person is a "self-taught professional MUA"... but then there's literally nothing but selfies on their page. If you're not getting paid for doing makeup on other people, and the only thing you can show is how well you wing your own eyeliner, I hate to break it to you but you're not a makeup artist - you're an enthusiast. So if you really want to begin a professional career doing makeup, there's a few things you'll want to do first.

FIRST AND FOREMOST: GET LICENSED.

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I cannot emphasize this enough. In Tennessee, you must have a cosmetology or esthetics license in order to do makeup and get paid for it. Straight from the Tennessee State Board, which makes the laws for things such as cosmetology:

62-4-108.  License required to practice or teach. 
      Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, no person shall practice, teach or attempt to practice or teach, cosmetology, manicuring, aesthetics, or natural hair styling in this state without a valid license issued by the board pursuant to this chapter.
     (1) "Aesthetics" means any of the following practices:
          (A) Massaging, cleansing, stimulating, manipulating, exercising, beautifying or similar work with hands or mechanical or electrical apparatus or by the use of cosmetic preparations, antiseptics, tonics, lotions or creams;

          (B) Placing or applying artificial eyelashes; or

          (C) Giving facials, applying makeup, giving skin care or removing superfluous hair by tweezing, depilatories or waxing;

Do people follow this? No. I know a number of people who are makeup artists and not licensed. If State Board were to find out, they could be given a hefty fine, and perhaps worse if they were caught doing it again. Will State Board find out? Eh... probably not, but if you care at all about making this your career, you'll follow the law, not only to educate yourself but also just to cover your ass. If you give someone pink eye, all they have to do is call the board and let them know you've been practicing without a license, and boom! your career is over. Also, keep in mind that not every state requires a license, so if you plan on moving soon definitely check out the laws in your new state.

(The exception to this is makeup counters - people working in retail settings do not have to be licensed as they're essentially "demo-ing" the product and only the products are being paid for, not the application.)

Secondly, read everything you can about sanitation. The main thing is: 99% alcohol is NOT effective at disinfecting. Per the CDC, 70% - 91% isopropyl alcohol is best to use. Any higher, and the alcohol evaporates much too quickly and merely freezes the bacteria. It is a common misconception, and even The Makeup Artist Handbook says to use 99%, so no wonder this myth gets perpetuated. But use 70%.

Most artists know this, but use disposable applicators such as mascara and lip gloss wands. Do not reuse sponges. They harbor bacteria, no matter how much you think you've sanitized it. It's best to use disposable, or stick with brushes.

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Speaking of brushes... CLEAN THEM after every client (duh). Preferably, you'd have enough brushes to not have to worry about cleaning in between clients if you're doing a party, but this is not always possible, especially when you're just starting out. Bring a brush cleaner and 70% alcohol with you in your kit, and when you get home, wash with either a specified brush cleansing soap, or baby shampoo. It is important to note that soap and water do not sanitize. You can spray them with alcohol but there is a chance it will dry your natural hair bristles out over time, if you use brushes with natural hair.

Use a spatula to scoop out creams, and never ever double dip. I also like to wash my hands as soon as I get to the client's home. It's part of the little touches of customer service to put them at ease and let them know my hands are clean. Kevin James Bennett, pro makeup artist, also suggests using individual alcohol wipes instead of hand sanitizer. If you go to touch your cell phone or anything outside of your kit, re-sanitize your hands. This is one thing that was drilled into my head in esthetics school, because when you take the State Board licensing test, they will penalize you if you absent mindedly touch something such as your hair or even your sleeve without sanitizing afterward. Better to be meticulous than not.

Those are the basics, but always do your own thorough research. You may run into contradicting information occasionally. For example, in one of my pro groups it is often argued as to whether or not sponges are sanitizable. Some artists say they reuse their sponges and have had no issues. Others point out that it is illegal in some states to reuse sponges because you cannot disinfect them, so you should be using disposable. I always prefer to go with a better safe than sorry method and use disposable, or I gift the sponge to my client if I'm going for the non-disposable option. 

On to the fun part! Your kit. It should be clean. Clients don't want to see foundation caked all on the inside or applicators not in containers when you open your kit. Make them feel rest assured they chose the right artist who is going to give a shit about their health and well being. I don't care how good of an artist you are if you and your kit look dirty. Appearance goes a long way and is part of good customer service.

As far as what goes in it, I will write another blog post about good options for a beginner, because all the info out there is a bit overwhelming and sometimes it takes trial and error. I am forever finding new products to add to my kit, and getting rid of items I hardly touch anymore, even if they used to be my holy grails. Building a kit is expensive. And it takes time. And you'll probably be rotating items in and out of your kit until the day you retire. I'd say the most important thing to invest in is a foundation palette, that way you're not turning down work because you can't color match someone, and you're not relying on the client to have their correct shade and a decent foundation to use.

So now you're licensed, you're educated on proper sanitation practices, and you've started building your kit. Now it's time to put in the work. Practice on everyone! It's very important to get familiar with various skin tones and types. As a makeup artist, you'll come face to face with so many different people - many of whom do not know how to take care of their skin, so you'll need to know what to do in each case. It takes time and experience to get it down, and you'll probably mess up along the way but that's what learning is for. Practice on friends and family as much as possible, and you'll probably do a lot of free work at first. You can charge a small fee for your time when you first begin but you need to let the client know you are inexperienced and still learning. It's really uncouth to claim you're a "pro MUA" when you're not. I've seen people put up Facebook ads calling themselves a pro makeup artist, but charging $20 a face and the client has to bring their own foundation. Just... don't do that. Be upfront with your skillset. People will appreciate that much more than they will if they think they're getting the Dior treatment with an E.L.F. budget.

There are many other aspects of being a makeup artist, as essentially one day you'll be a business owner - which brings a whole other set of issues such as taxation and insurance - but these are the beginning steps to get you there. Good luck, always believe in yourself, and don't shy away from hard work.

MAC Coming to ULTA

You may have heard the news... the iconic cosmetics line is coming to 100 Ulta stores by June.

This comes as quite a shock to me. It actually makes me weirdly uncomfortable, like... what is happening in my makeup world?? MAC was once a prestige brand catering mostly to professional makeup artists, but this move makes it seem as though the company is seeking desperate measures to stay relevant amongst the myriad of new makeup brands coming to the market. While it's true that MAC has lost some of its luster in the eyes of professionals (some say the quality has gone down), it's still a "go-to" brand for consumers, mostly because of the name. I personally think it's a bit overhyped. I don't have much MAC in my kit - not because it's not good, but because there are other brands out there that offer just as good - if not better - products, often times for more affordable prices. I keep mainly professional brands stocked in my kit that the every day consumer has never been exposed to. I can't tell you how many times I've had a bridesmaid ask what brand ("brand," as in one - lol!) I keep in my kit, and when I rattle off names like Graftobian, Face Atelier, RCMA... they stop me and say, "Oh, I really think MAC is the best. Do you have any MAC?" Often times I find that MAC is the one name even casual makeup wearers recognize, so it may seem like this Holy Grail brand of makeup. But MAC is not the be-all end-all. I do enjoy the Pro Longwear Concealer and the gel eyeliner in Black Track, and of course the iconic lipsticks. But honestly, MAC comes out with so many new limited edition collections that I have stopped paying attention. There's a new one every time I turn my head! Many of the collections seem very gimmicky to me, like they were made just for quick sells without putting in actual effort.

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Maybe MAC sales are down in recent years so they're trying out new strategies. Estee Lauder, the parent company, wrote in the 2016 fiscal review: "Operating income was impacted by a decline in retail traffic in the United States related primarily to mid-tier department stores that primarily affected Estée Lauder and Clinique, as well as certain M. A. C freestanding stores." MAC knows that partnering with ULTA will bring in new customers who have never shopped at MAC before. I've heard people who work at ULTA say they get customers asking for MAC all the time anyway since that's the one brand they know. If you're a makeup newbie, chances are you haven't heard of Becca, Too Faced, or maybe even Urban Decay... but you probably have heard of MAC. So when you step into ULTA and feel overwhelmed, now you'll be able to head straight for a familiar brand name. 

Here in Clarksville, our only option to purchase is to go online or drive all the way to Nashville for a lipstick... No thanks. So in that sense, I am excited that (hopefully) Clarksville will be getting access to MAC - if it comes to this town. I might actually be more inclined to add some more concealers to my kit if it will be easily accessible and simple to restock.

I do find it odd that MAC chose ULTA over Sephora, but I think that's because ULTA has brick-and-mortar stores with way more square footage. You can typically find a Sephora (and MAC) in malls, where there is limited space, but you'll usually find an ULTA standing on its own. It has the space to handle another huge brand. 

Obviously, from a business standpoint, it's a good move for MAC. It will bring in a lot of extra revenue from new consumers. As a professional makeup artist though... well, I'm sad that the main goal seems to be to push a new mediocre collection down the throat of the consumer, while catering less to the professionals who helped build the brand to what it is today.

Will you be purchasing more from MAC now that it will be more accessible? 

Product Spotlight: Maybelline Fit Me Concealer

The Maybelline Fit Me Concealer is one item I keep in both my personal makeup collection and my professional kit. It really is quite good. It's not the only concealer I have in my kit, but it's one of my favorites. I use it on myself every day that I wear makeup. I own three out of six shades.

Ulta's website describes it as: "Natural coverage... Exclusive translucent base and lightweight pigments allow skin's natural highs and lows to show through," which makes it sound as though it's not a very full coverage concealer. But I find it to be quite a nice medium-high coverage on me. Somehow though, it does still look natural and never obvious or cakey. I use it on my under-eyes and blemishes, and it works great on all areas. I have read others have issues with it looking cakey under their eyes, and don't consider it as high coverage as I do, so that's something to consider for your own skin's needs. For under my eyes, I usually blend it out with the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion sponge on myself, but I have used fingers, a flat foundation brush, and a small fluffy brush as well. I prefer the softer finish and blendability the sponge gives. When using my finger, I tend to pick some of the product right back up onto my finger versus just having it simply all blend out, and with a foundation brush I really need to take my time to blend it out to avoid streakiness, but a fluffy concealer brush and lighter pressure works well on my clients. 

However, the shade range leaves something to be desired. There are 6 shades total, and the Ulta website has a horrible representation of the shades, in my opinion. The supposed darkest one in the lineup (Deep) is actually lighter than the fifth darkest one (Cafe), and the second shade (Fair) is actually lighter than the first shade (Light) for some reason. Cafe isn't even super deep, but I suppose it can be used as a highlighting shade on some deeper skin tones.

It lasts me all day, but I do set it with powder just to ensure the longevity. It's lightweight, and not as thick and heavy as Maybelline's Master Conceal. For $6.99, I think this is a great steal!

Product Spotlight: RCMA No-Color Powder

Y'all... I just love the RCMA No-Color Powder. I know it got big when YouTuber KathleenLights started raving about it, but it's been a cult favorite of professional makeup artists for years.

           Photo from RCMA website

           Photo from RCMA website

One of the things that make it so great is that I can use it on any skin tone. It looks white but it goes on invisible. I don't know how this sorcery works. I've used it on every skin tone with no issues. I mean, yeah, if you over-do it, it can become ashy on deeper tones. But you really have to try hard to over do it because it only takes a small amount to make the magic happen.
 
Here are examples of different skin tones on which I've used this powder:

Now, I'll admit: when I first bought this, I could not figure out what the big deal was. It made my finished looks become all cakey and very obvious. Under the eyes would turn out crepey. What was everyone so on about?

Then I realized I was using way too heavy of a hand. It's honestly unbelievable how small of an amount you need to use in order to get the job done. I take a... oh, maybe a half a teaspoon size amount... for each section of the face. That's a very rough estimate - I mean, all I do is pour some out onto my palette, quickly dab a big fluffy brush into the pile (and I do mean quickly... I don't want too much on my brush), then I still tap off the excess even though there doesn't seem to be much on there, and brush it across the face in a sort of light gliding or flicking motion. It distributes the product with just the right pressure so the powder clings to the skin without being heavy. I have gotten it down to a science. I can actually see it put a flawless finish over the foundation and give it this sort of... soft focus look. That's the only way I can think to describe it. It seems to blur the pores right in front of my eyes. It's really remarkable, but it did take many a trial-and-error to get there. If you use it under the eyes, use an even smaller amount than you think you need. That is an area that will definitely look cakey if you use too much of this powder. A medium-to-big, soft fluffy brush is your best bet for the face, and a smaller soft fluffy brush like the Real Techniques Setting Brush is best for under the eyes. Don't get the powder over the whole surface area of the brush, though. Just get it on the center of the brush and allow the outer bristles to do the dispersing for you as you glide it over the face. That's my little tip but you may find a technique that works better for you. 

That being said, I truly do not get YouTubers baking with this. I know it looks good on camera, but from my experience using it on a variety of skin types, there is no way it looks as good in person, so I do not recommend baking with it. I mean, I don't recommend baking in general because I think it's absurd for everyday wear, but I digress...

So another tip: for very oily skin, I will dust some of the RCMA No-Color Powder on after a mattifying moisturizer has sunk in, and then continue onto the eyes. This gives the powder time to soak up any excess moisture left on the skin before I put on the foundation. After foundation, I'll go back in with another layer of powder and use Ben Nye Final Seal to lock everything in place.

And of course, the price... $12 for 3 oz. of product, and it lasts sooo long. The bottle is pretty big. I've made only a dent in mine and I've been using it for nearly two years. I have even given some away to friends and brides so they could try it out, and I still have plenty left. I consider it a steal for that price. 

I don't think I'll ever be able to replace this powder in my kit with another product. Have you tried it?