Reader Questions about New Clients, Certifications and Writing

I've gotten so many messages of support and encouragement (thank you!!), as well as questions which I'll try to address here. This post will deal with the questions I've gotten the most. I'll get to all the others as fast as I can. Many will be addressed in future topical blog posts - so please check back.

1. Are you taking clients?  / Why aren't you doing pro makeup anymore?

These have the same answer, so I put them together.

I've been doing makeup professionally in one capacity or another for over 20 years. Since my Multiple Sclerosis symptoms started a couple of years ago, in terms of physical symptoms, my hands have taken the worst of it. I have reduced sensation in my fingertips, weakness and occasionally tremors (especially in the summer.)

I managed to get through a light makeup application on a friend a few weeks ago without much incident, but I was sore, shaky and tired the next two days. I was so tired by the end of the session I even forgot to take pictures of my friend! It was so much fun and I enjoyed every second of it -- but I paid for it. And I realized that if I wanted to take pro jobs, I'd have to hire an assistant just in case I wasn't able to finish the application. It's just not worth that to stay in that side of the beauty business.

If I can't finish my own makeup application (on myself), or if I press too hard because I can't judge pressure well, or if I shake too much and have to wash everything off, no one else but me is bothered by it. On a client, I just don't want to risk it.

That said, I will continue to do crazy makeup on myself and occasionally glue things to my face. :D

My effort now is in covering product launches, reviewing products that I think would work well for dancers and other performers, and putting together a guide book for makeup application in the social dance world.

2. Didn't you write for . . . ?

A cropped Polaroid picture of the last issue, in 1997, of Luxe Beauty Report. Thanks to too many moves, that might be all I have left to show for it. Thank goodness for the digital age!

A behind-the-scenes set up shot from a YSL Beauté launch in 1998.

Shockingly, a few of you remember me from the Beauty Buzz days. I was both astonished and flattered by that. :D  I became a beauty journalist in the early 90's first with my own (print) publication, Luxe Beauty Report, and then for other beauty and fashion websites like,, BeautyBuzz and I am writing for Lucire once again, and you can see my latest article - Pat McGrath SkinFestish003 Launch  

3. Are you certified?

No, unless you count Sephora's Makeup Artist training program, in which I was certified. I was also a Fragrance Foundation Certified Fragrance Specialist. But in general, I am what's called a "brand trained" or "vendor-trained" makeup artist, not a cosmetologist or aesthetician. I considered it but I would spend too much of my time learning hair and waxing and other skills that I had no intention of doing professionally, and it wasn't cost effective for me.

I was very lucky to have started in cosmetics in the late 80's when companies spent a small fortune training and retaining their people. For example, I studyied with an aesthetician when I worked for Payot Paris. Training would take months and would continue nearly constantly. I also worked in environments where cross-training was strongly encouraged.  Some brands still spend tremendous resources on training, but they are getting fewer and fewer.


Review: smashbox INSTA-MATTE

smashbox INSTA-MATTE  -- Redeemer of meh GWP lipsticks!

I wanted to hate this. It seemed so frivolous. But now I can't stop trying it out with every single lipstick in my kit that I had given up on. Below, see pictures of two prime examples - GWP Estee Lauder lip colors that have been in the bottom of my makeup bag. Rubelite (a frosted medium pink) and Pinkberry Creme (nude cream). Both of the colors came in the last GWP, and they were just "okay". I didn't throw them away because I thought I could use them in my kit.

What better place to start the experimenting?

These two lipsticks, with the addition of smashbox INSTA-MATTE, are now colors I actually want to wear!

The Rubelite shimmer, because it is a frost, retains some of its shimmer and goes a bit lighter than the other lip colors I tried with INSTA-MATTE. All of my lip colors transformed a tiny bit lighter, but anything with a frost was much more noticeable. Even so, I like the color.

But the color transformation isn't even the best part - keep reading for more details.

The frost in this lipstick makes the INSTA-MATTE transform a fair amount lighter than the others. Still - I find myself reaching for the color when I want a "pick-me-up".

With the creme lipstick, the transformation isn't that much lighter - but I adore the color. It's feels and looks like a velvet nude. After INSTA-MATTE, I have the perfect "my lips but better" nude.

Another lipstick I had given up on was Makeup Revolution's "Looking Ahead" - not because I didn't like the color, but because it arrived from the UK broken. I liked the color, but didn't like it enough to fish it out and use a lip brush. Now I like the color enough to smash it in to a palette and wear it more often.

But the best use I have found for smashbox INSTA-MATTE is actuall with stains! The biggest problem I have with stains, other than that they feel so dry, is that they look a bit flat on the lip. Pigment grabs onto dry patches of the lip, makeing the color uneven - especially over time.

When I add the layer of INSTA-MATTE, my lips feel better longer and look more even, more full, more . . . plush. That really describes the feeling on my lips. Again, the color goes a little bit lighter, but well worth it to get the effect.

As I said, I wanted to dismiss this product - but it has redeemed several lip colors in my kit that I thought I'd never enjoy using. If you have a pile of lipsticks you don't want to throw away, but find yourself passing over - give smashbox INSTA-MATTE a try and see if you can find some hidden gems.


Launch: New Clé de Peau Eye Shadows for Summer!

New silky-soft pastel eye shadows from Cle de Peau Beaute

A silky soft long-lasting eye shadow that comes in three luxurious textures: shimmery, semi-matte and matte, for beautifully accentuated eyes that dazzle with magical color. $45.

  • Formulated with Hydro-Wrap Complex EX and Premium Argan Tree Oil for a moisturizing effect.
  • Exquisite color and a subtle texture wear flawlessly.
  • Provides exact color reproduction.
  • Long-lasting.
201 - Whimsical Smoky Green

203 - Seductive Deep Purple

204 - Elegant Soft Gold

205 - Fresh Sage Green

208 - Vibrant Lemon Yellow

209 - Clear Sky Blue

210 - Graceful Dark Brown
Ingredients: Talc, Mica, Iron Oxides (Ci 77499), Iron Oxides (Ci 77491), Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Diatomaceous Earth (Solum Diatomeae), Petrolatum, Triethylhexanoin, Dimethicone, Zinc Myristate, Iron Oxides (Ci 77492), Boron Nitride, Sorbitan Sesquiisostearate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Diisostearyl Malate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance (Parfum), Polysilicone-2, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Peg/Ppg-36/41 Dimethyl Ether, Polyacrylate-4, Sodium Magnesium Silicate, Glycerin, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate.

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CeraVe Healing Ointment Fixed (and prevented) My 'Retin-A Face' aka, 'The Retinoid Uglies'

Okay, it may not look this bad - but this is pretty much how Rein-A face or "Retinoid Uglies" feels.
 If you've ever tried Retin-A, very strong chemical peels (or have just been sun burned rather badly), you'll relate to this post. You manage to get enough moisturizer on your face to spackle down the dry patches of skin and get some sunscreen and makeup on. Everything looks mostly even - or so you think. That was my delusion this past Wednesday.

I waited for my face to be completely dry after cleansing, and then applied my tretinoin (0.1 %) cream. After about 15 minutes, I put on my moisturizers in layers - MD Selections Hyaluronic & Ferulic Serum, Elizabeth Arden's Ceramide Day Cream SPF 30 (which I use mostly for the ceramide benefit, rather than the SPF), and topped it off with Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 sunscreen. Elta's SPF 50 is one of the gentlest sunscreens I've found and doesn't have as chalky-blue a cast as Shiseido's WetForce SPF 50 sunscreen. I like both, but the chalky color of Shiseido's WetForce isn't something I want to bother with every day.

I felt like I had taken care of all of the dryness and was ready for makeup. I used Shiseido's Lifting Foundation with a bit of Estee Lauder's Double Wear High Cover Concealer under my eyes. Everything seemed to go on smoothly, so after setting with Cle de Peau translucent loose powder, I was ready to go.
Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Lift and Firm Day Cream Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30. I tolerate this well, but it does have fragrance and may bother some users.
This comes in tinted and untinted - I use the untinted simply because the tinted color looked unnatural on me.
A couple of hours later, in my local Starbucks bathroom mirror, I saw the disaster. 
Retin-A face. (Also known as the Tretinoin Uglies.") 
This isn't a picture of me, but this is roughly what I looked like:  All over my face. There was no way I was going to be able to cover that with makeup.
I checked my makeup bag to see if I had any moisturizer with me and all I had was my travel tube of CeraVe Ointment and Arden sunscreen. Normally, I wouldn't put ointment on my face during the day, only at night. Desperate times called for desperate measures. I got hooked on this from Target's monthly "Beauty Box" sample (see full review here: and have been finding more uses for it almost every week.

Here's a breakdown of what I did. Maybe, if you get Retin-A Face, it will help you, too.

1. With a damp paper towel I very carefully and very lightly wiped off the flakiness. I didn't try to get all of it, just the worst of it.
2. Before the dampness evaporated, I smoothed on about a pea sized dab of CeraVe Healing Ointment ointment. Everything smoothed down. I could tell if I looked very closely that there was still a little dead skin and some unevenness, but it was mostly smooth.
3. Re-applied the Arden Ceramide SPF 30 cream which was the only sunscreen I had with me.
4. Re-applied a thin layer of Estee Lauder's Double Wear High Cover concealer under my eyes and over a couple of the reddest patches. I didn't brush it in with my fingertips - just tapped lightly so I wouldn't disturb the moisturizer (or patches of dry skin) underneath. (The MAC version of this is a better value, but I do love that Lauder's compact has a mirror.)
5. I very lightly set my face with MAC Mineralize pressed powder. I have to say, this powder seems to go on smoothly no matter what the heck is going on with my face. I am so impressed with it!
Then I stood back and checked my work. Everything was smooth. I couldn't believe how beautiful my makeup looked. My face felt so much better too - no tightness, dryness or stinging.
But that's not even the best part!
Three hours later, when I got home, my makeup was still completely in place - no flakes, no streaking, no fading, no creasing under my eyes.
I used it that night after my tretinoin cream to see if it would prevent the morning redness and peeling, and it absolutely did. My skin looked radiant and smooth - which never happens when I'm in the beginning phase of tretinoin use.
I then thanked the Beauty Gods and Goddess, and CeraVe, for making CeraVe Healing Ointment and selling it in a 12 oz tub (for about $22.).

After looking at the ingredient list, I should not have been surprised this worked so well. CeraVe Healing Ointment has ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and lipids - setting it pretty far above my usual "emergency retinoid care" which included occasional use of Vaseline, Boiron Homeoplasmine Ointment (herbal extracts + Vaseline), and Neosporin (topical antibiotics + Vaseline.)  

(I do a lot of crazy things to my face. My emergency kit is pretty well stocked.)

There are a couple of drawbacks to CeraVe Ointment being used on the face:
  • Despite the claim, this will still feel heavy and a little greasy. It doesn't soak into facial skin with the same ease and speed as it does on body skin.
  • It may cause breakouts for people prone to acne - especially those sensitive to mineral oil or wax-based products. See ingredient list below for reference.
Conclusion: If you use retinoids, or chemical exfoliants or peels, consider keeping a tube (or a jar) of CeraVe on hand to help with the peeling and discomfort.  However, if you have acne-prone or very oily skin, this might cause more problems than it helps. If you try it, do so cautiously and use only where and when you need it - not as an all over facial moisturizer.
*Note # 1: As always, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary.) These results are my own, and I am not making any guarantees. Please consult your doctor to find out which products would work best for you while you're on tretinoin.

*Note # 2: I am not being compensated by anyone for recommending any product in my reviews.

CeraVe Healing Ointment: Mineral Oil, Paraffin, Ozokerite, Dimethicone, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Ceramide 1, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-11, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Carbomer, Panthenol, Water, L-Proline, Xantan Gum.

Launch: Colour Pop Matte X Lippie Stix

Launching Today - Colour Pop Matte X Lippie Stix
Only $5!!

A look at the colors:

Launch: Pre-Order Now: Gorgeous YSL Beauty Mascara Vinyl Couture [Video]

YSL Beauty Mascara Vinyl Couture -- $29

These are gorgeous - and reminiscent of the 80's bright mascara colors I used to love. (Reinforced by the Rubik's Cube video lol.)  I can hardly wait for these to come out! Scroll to the bottom to see YSL's featured looks.

Revolutionary, intense, super shiny color for lashes. The patented mascara formula gives lashes length, volume and curl with deep, saturated color like never before.

This liquid lash color frames eyes with high impact color like never before, without compromising the sleek volume, definition, and curl you crave. Shocking color from root to tip, these high-sheen vinyl mascaras ensure lashes make a strong statement with every wink.
(This product is expected to ship between Tue May 10 2016 and Fri May 20 2016 if it is purchased today.)

How to create some of the looks:

 The colors:

More Looks:

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