Sunday, October 30, 2011

Easy 20's-inspired Siren Look

A dark lip and dramatic eye can be overly-dramatic when paired together, but if you're going to be dressing up as a flapper girl for either Halloween or any other fancy occasion, this is a simple look that can help you channel the 20's with minimal fuss.

Regardless of skin tone, what you'll need are:
  • Matte foundation and powder
  • Black shadow (matte)
  • Dark russet/wine shadow (shimmery)
  • Contouring powder (matte)
  • Very dark black-purple or black-brown lipstick

Step 1: Begin by applying matte foundation and powder over your face. If you need to be really dramatic, make sure you REALLY apply the powder. If you just want a 20's-inspired look like I did, leave a slight glow to your skin.

Step 2: Brows. For a dramatic look, you can cover your brows with Prit stick (UHU, or any other water-based stick glue). Rub it on and smooth away any excess, let set for a bit, and then apply foundatino over it. I don't recommend this unless you are an expert at brow-drawing, because you'll need to draw in entirely new brows and most people can't get both sides even.
If you want to go the easy route like I did, just use the matte black shadow and a fine angled brow brush to shape it gently and make sure you have a pronounced arch. Don't make it thicker than it naturally is.

Step 3: Creating the doe-eye. Lay the base by packing matte black within the lids. Note that the color only goes up into the socket at the INNER half of the eye. At the outer half, it slopes down and ends right at the outer ends of the eye. No wings, flicks, or smokiness. 
On the bottom lid, DO THE REVERSE, and concentrate color on the outer half of the lash lines. At this point, it will look very odd and panda-like, but don't worry.
This creates the exaggeratedly rounded eye look of 20's screen sirens.

Step 4: The fun part; smoking it all out. Use a dark rust or maroon colored shadow on a blending brush, and smoke out the edges of the black. Carry the color up to the bottoms of your brows on the inner portions of the eye. At the outer ends, it should slope downwards and not wing out.
Repeat on the lower lash line, concentrating the smokiness on the outer halves instead of inner this time.

Step 5: To finish up, apply black gel liner along the upper and lower lash lines. No need for precision. You just want to darken up the lash line.
Then apply mascara to finish. If you want to be more dramatic, wear spiky false lashes with gems or rhinestones near the TIPS. Women in those days liked to apply little balls of glue right on the tips of their lashes, but since I don't have any black glue to mimic the effect, I had to do without.

Step 6: Cheeks. Instead of a blush, which would spoil the whole Noir look, go for subtle contouring using a matte powder along the cheekbones.

Step 7: The final touch is an uber-dark lipstick (I used MAC Prince Noir but you can just darken any magenta or plum lipstick with a black one (L.A. Girl has an affordable and good-quality black lipstick). Focus on your cupid's bow, while leaving the outer corners of your lips just a hair thinner than you'd usually draw them, but not too much unless you're going for a dramatic interpretation. 
This gives that exaggerated curvy lip of the 20's but still remains flattering for most lip shapes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Smoke and MIrrors - Sparkly Smoky Eye Tutorial

A single, flat grey shade on the lids can make the skin look dull and sometimes a little sallow, so the trick to wearing it is to wear a few shades of grey for some contrast. 

Step 1: Apply a smoky metallic grey all over the lids from lash line to socket line. 

Step 2: Use a deeper grey to extend and wing out the outer corners in a V shape. Then run this dark grey along the outer half of the lower lash line as well.

Step 3: With a pale pearly lilac, fill in the innermost corner of the eye for some brightness there.

Step 4: Moisten a brush with some mixing medium or eyeshadow sealer and then dab translucent white glitter over it. 

Then apply mascara and there you have it!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Poison Orchid: Too Faced Exotic Color Intense Eye Shadow

Too Faced Exotic Color Intense Eye Shadows

Too Faced Intense Eye Shadow in Poison Orchid
I snapped up just this one shadow from the new Too Faced Midnight In the Garden of Glamour collection. This midnight amethyst shade is a smoky dark grey with oodles of magenta sparks, and was the instant standout shade for me, because I haven't found anything else quite like it, and the camera just can't capture how beautiful it is in real life (the sparkles are actually more pink/red than they appear on the images). 

If you already have tons of shadows in your collection, DEFINITELY just check out Poison Orchid as it's unlike any other color I've seen or owned.

To better showcase the shadow, I did a very simple eye look that enhances and elongates the eye using this smoky, duo-chrome purple.
Step 1: Use a matte black shadow and a smudger brush to line the outer half of upper and lower lash lines. Don't worry about getting it neat. Just get it really dark at the lashes.

Step 2: Using a flat brush, pack Poison Orchid on top of the black, diagonally upwards from the inner corner, so it flares up into a wing. (An easy way to do this is to hold the brush at the outer corners and sweep in, and downwards.
Also add smoky purple outside the black that you drew along the lower lashes.

Step 3: Add a matte beige on the inner half of the lids, diagonally inwards, wherever the purple isn't. To shew the contrast better, I took the above picture with flash. (The eyeshadow shifts to a smoky indigo violet in flash!)

Step 4:  Finish with black liquid liner on the tide line (under your upper lashes), and then 2 coats of black mascara. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

D.I.Y. Liner/Sealant Formula

The good thing about a sealant is that it can be used to suspend pigments and glitter, so that you can apply an intense swatch of it as glitter or just foiling your pigments and shadows for a more dramatic look. There are ready-made formulas around from many brands but if you can't get hold of them easily, or at a convenient price, you can always make your own with the below ingredients.

  • Cheap
  • Works on pigments but not on glitters
  • Not long-lasting (pigments and glitter will fall off easily once the water evaporates)
Eye Drops
  • Gentle
  • Not too cheap but not very expensive either
  • Works on pigments but not on glitters
  • Does not seal makeup although it sticks better than water
Glycerin Solution:
  • 1/4 to 1/3 parts with water
  • Affordable
  • Does not suspend or cling to glitters
  • Does not seal makeup although it sticks better than water
Oil-free Makeup Remover: 
  • Foils shadows very well
  • Not expensive but not cheap either
  • Works on pigments but not on glitters
  • Does not seal makeup although it sticks better than water
Eyelash Glue:
  • extremely longlasting
  • gives very intense glitter liners
  • works with glitters but not with pigments 
  • have to apply the glitter AFTER you apply glue, which may be messy
  • pain to remove
  • expensive to use in large quantities
Experimenting with various glitters and pigments.

My Formula?
Gum Arabic solution.
Gum arabic is a natural gum of plant origin, and is used in pill coatings, confectionary coatings, painting and a whole variety of other uses. (But as with anything, if you tend to have sensitivities, just swipe a little on the inside of your elbow to see if you are allergic before use. I don't have any problem with it.)
  • This sealant sets into a "glaze" and will not rub off until you wash it (liners in top image are actually completely dry and budge-proof but look "glossy" and wet) 
  • You can easily get it from most Art Supply stores (usually the watercolor paint section) for a few dollars
  • You'll need to dilute it for use, which means 1 bottle will last forever
  • Don't use this if you need to smudge or blend anything. This will really set it.
Diluted gum arabic solution (30% concentration) in dropper bottle.

Get a dropper bottle and mix your formulations as per below:
  • 25-30% concentration - good for making liners and you will get a more budge-proof and glazed texture
  • 10-20% concentration - good for pigment or shadow foiling (do NOT wet your brush with this and touch it to your pan shadows as this will SEAL them)
  • 2-5% concentration - put a tiny bit into a spray bottle with toner and make your own makeup setting spray
Be sure to test on your hand the first time too. If your liner cracks or feels a little too thick after it dries, you'll know your formula is too concentrated.

Step 1: Apply black liquid liner to the lash line just to keep some definition. This will also serve as a guiding line for your glitter or metallic liner. 
Step 2: Add pigment or glitter slowly to a tiny drop of your sealant, and mix with your liner brush until the formula looks almost like it is becoming clumpy.

Step 3: Use a fine brush to apply your glitter liner just above and slightly overlapping the black liner applied earlier. You can use either a gel liner brush (small tapered flat brush) or a pointy super-fine brush like the one I used (get these at an art supply store).
Don't worry about applying an opaque and even line in a single stroke. You will likely have to make several passes as there won't be enough formula on the brush to finish your line. 

Step 4: Apply mascara last to finish the look. There will be no messy fall out to clean up, and your liner will last for hours and hours.

Cleaning up:
Gum arabic solution is water soluble, so if you get any on your hands, counter, etc, water will get it right out easily. However, like any makeup, the glitter and pigments themselves will cling to your skin, so to really remove it from your skin at the end of the day, make sure you use a proper face wash or makeup remover and rub gently to dislodge everything.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Featured Shade: Matte Purple Shadow

Colors to pair a matte purple shadow with!

A good matte dusty-purple is hard to find. Purple is one of those colors that I find to be more flattering in a matte or satin finish. Sparkly or metallic purple can look a bit too garish for work and school, but a dusty lavender grey is a much better option.

My favorites are Everyday Minerals Matte Eye Shadow in Tide Pool (limited edition, unfortunately), and Urban Decay Matte Eyeshadow in Cult (slightly deeper purple). This is a quick run down of some foolproof shades to pair matte purple with.

Everyday Minerals Tide Pool Eye Shadow (Matte)

Purple on Purple: Pale silvery-purple with a deeper smoky purple look great together.  Swatches: MAC Crystal (left), and Tide Pool (right)

Champagne and Purple: The contrast of a pale glimmering gold with a smoky purple is gorgeous. Swatches: MAC Retrospeck (left) and Tide Pool (right).

Chocolate and Berries: Nothing goes with purple as well as a rich cocoa when you want a more sophisticated look. Swatch: MAC Cement (left), and Tide Pool (right).

Bronze on Purple: For instant drama, an ambery, metallic bronze shadow or glitter  paired with a matte purple  can really play up your eyes.  Swatches: NYX Pearl Mania in Oro Pearl (left) and Tide Pool (right).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Barry M 146 Dolly Pink Lip Paint (Swatch and Review)

Barry M Dolly Pink Lip Paint close-up.
This is THAT pink.
Yeah, you know. The one that is soft, bright, girly, and yet a little bit rebellious all at the same time. The one that looks so scary, but seems to work with every skin tone. MAC Pink Nouveau will always be the queen of bright doll pinks to me, but there are a few worthy dupes or alternatives.

If you want a creamy version of MAC's Pink Nouveau or NYX Summer Breeze, Barry M 146 Dolly Pink is the color for you.
Swatches (L-to-R): MAC Pink Nouveau Satin Lipstick, NYX Summer Breeze Matte Lipstick,  and Barry M 146 Dolly Pink Lip Paint.
As you can see above, the shades are extremely similar. Barry M Dolly Pink is a little more expensive than NYX, but still a very affordable lipstick. NYX Summer Breeze is the warmest, MAC Pink Nouveau in-between, and Dolly Pink is a touch more blue than the other two (which makes it pop more as there is more contrast with your skin), so if you're afraid of very blue pinks, this is not a good shade for you.

I'd liken the texture to a MAC Amplified Creme Lipstick, as it's very high-intensity but still has a creamy sheen. In terms of opacity, it is not as dense and pigmented as Barry M 62 Vibrant Pink or 52 Shocking Pink.
 In fact, compared to those 2 lipsticks, Dolly Pink needs just a little more work to even out as it has a bit more "slip", and pressing your lips together can shift and smear the coverage. But it's nothing I can't live with if I very lightly blot with a single-ply sheet of tissue to take away some of the emollients.

I'd say the wear is average, which is expected for a creamy lipstick, but it more or less survived half a burger, fries, soda and ice-cream to boot, although it did not cling on as evenly as denser lipsticks like Pink Nouveau or Shocking Pink.

It's no longer summer for many of you, but you don't NEED a season to wear beautiful pinks. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Halloween Look: Twilight Nymph (feat. PAPERSELF Lashes plus Mini-review)

"Small Deer & Butterfly" lash cutouts, with a smoky red and plum eye

I've been fascinated by PAPERSELF's paper cutout lashes since I heard about them about a year ago. When they finally hit the local drugstore, I caved and got myself a box in the "Small Deer & Butterfly" design. Most of the others are too humongous to fit over anyone's eye, and I couldn't bear the thought of cutting them down to size.

The Small Deer & Butterfly set comes with 2 pairs instead of 1, and you have the option of either applying 1 pair to the top lashes, or add the other pair to your bottom lashes for extra drama as well.


I have to say these lashes are very finely machine-cut and a joy to look at. However, the material leaves something to be desired. I had hoped that they would have treated the paper to make it hardier, but this is just regular craft paper (thicker than the usual and way thinner than cardboard), and are meant to be worn just once.

You can't clean them, and if you are not careful, you will bend them and that's it. 

These aren't really bad points in themselves, but when you consider that each pair of flimsy, machine-cut concept lashes costs about £12.00 or SGD29.90 (the HORROR!) when a pair of painstakingly hand-made lashes costs only about USD2-5 from many brands, means that I will probably never repurchase another pair after this.

My verdict? There are incredibly chic, and incredibly exploitative. If you have money to spare and really want to make a statement for a special occasion, by all means go ahead. Do be warned that you are being over-charged for a concept. A rather original and neat concept, but just a concept nevertheless. 

Are these as durable as regular lashes? No.
Are they easy to apply? No.
Are these as flattering to wear as regular lashes? No. 
Are they worth getting super-excited about? No. I'd rather apply a pair of wispy, pristinely-woven Ardells or Eylures that make people stare at me rather than at my lashes.

Like me, I expect for many of you, the curiosity will win out over the practicality, especially as Halloween draws nearer. Go ahead if you really want to! These are fantastic for making peoples' eyes pop on a special occasion. But do note you will still have to wear regular mascara when you put these on.

Now that I'm done with the long review/rant, let's get down to the actual Halloween tutorial! If you plan to go as a dark nymph or forest fairy, these curly, vine-like lashes are a fantastic way to add some pizzazz to your look without requiring great skill or a super-steady hand.

Step 1: You want the focus to be on the dramatic eyes, so if you're not blonde, lighten your brow with a shimmery liquid, such as a blonde brow mascara (or like me, a shimmering bronze face gel). Over that, just for fun, I brushed on flecks of white micro-glitter.

Step 2: Onto the lids. Apply a dark base such as a MAC paint pot, ELF Cream shadow, or a black NYX Jumbo pencil. This creamy, tacky base will REALLY intensify your eyeshadow color, which is important when you're wearing red eyeshadow, as a sheer and diffused application will just make your eye look bruised and raw.

Step 3: Pack a metallic red shadow or pigment over the inner half of your lids  (most mineral makeup brands will have one).

Step 4: In the outer half, pack on a deep smoky purple. This can be any finish (matte, satin, metallic). Jutst make sure to smoke it inward along the socket line, above the red.

Step 5: After applying a swatch of black liquid liner, and then black mascara on top and bottom lashes, it will be time to apply your PAPERSELF lashes. Remember the lashes will not be visible if they are tilting at the same angle as your natural lashes. These will need to stand upwards, away from your lashes, so the glue needs to be applied on the side that will be sticking to your skin. (For regular lashes, we apply glue on the very edge, not the top side.)
 The short half-lash design I chose is easy to apply, but the longer strips are not likely to be. Be careful to keep your hands clean as any shadow, pigment or glue on it will transfer and be impossible to clean off the porous paper.

Also, be extremely gentle. If you're clumsy or impatient, you will most likely damage the lashes while attempting to glue them to your lids, as the lash band is notsynthetic and as flexible as normal lash bands. The whole lash is a single sheet of paper, so imagine gluing a small strip of paper to your lids standing diagonally upwards, and you'll know what it's like.

You might want to bring lash glue with you when you're out, as the paper lash may start to slowly tilt downwards over time, which can look a bit ridiculous (and be very uncomfortable).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Amber-Tan Lids

Summer's over, but your honey tan doesn't have to fade. Not on your lids anyway.

If you want to wear a stronger eye, but are unsure or a little wary of really loud or dramatic colors, then there is just one shade that you need to invest in. A warm, honey-gold tan with a bit of coppery heat.

Not only does it look great on the eyes, but you can also wear it as highlighter, mixed in with lipgloss, and even as a bronzer if you're very fair.

MAC Tan Pigment
 The quintessential golden-tan tone in my books is MAC's Tan Pigment. The deeper skinned you are, the more pink you can lean. If you're really pale, I suggest a more straw-gold tone like MAC Retrospeck, as copper bases can make your eyes look swollen if you're not careful.

Swatches (L-to-R): 1 MAC Tan Pigment, 2 Coastal Scents Opal Tan Mica, 3 I Nuovi Topaz Dust, 4 I Nuovi Cosmo Shadow, 5 MAC Retrospeck, 6 Coastal Scents ME13 Hot Pot.
An all-round flattering and easy-to-wear color would be I Nuovi's Dust in Topaz (#3 above) which is a true honey-beige which is neither too yellow nor too pink. If you want a stronger and warmer eye, go for MAC Tan. Of course, if you like that shade but don't want to break the bank, just get a sample size of Coastal Scents' Opal Tan Mica, which is very similar to the MAC, although a tad cooler toned. 

MAC Tan Pigment packed over the lids, with black liquid liner and false lashes.
Of course, if you have a dark skin tone, you can probably wear ANY amber-tan shade. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Makeup Brushes 101: Face Brushes

Similar to eye brushes, face brushes vary in shape and bristles. The same general rule applies; if you are applying a cream or liquid product, synthetic bristles tend to soak up less product and are also easier to clean. Natural bristles tend to pick up powders and spread them a bit better, although many synthetic brands today have really stepped up their game when it comes to producing fluffy brushes that match natural ones in performance.
Unlike eye brushes, I’m going to break these down into sections based on their usage purposes:
  • Foundation and Concealer
  • Setting Makeup
  • Blush and Contour
  • Highlighting
If you are just starting out, I recommend getting brushes from ECOTOOLS or Sonya Kashuk because these are very affordable and great quality. It will be a good way to get an idea of how different shapes work before you decide to invest in more expensive ones.

  • Good for quickly sweeping on liquids and creams over a wide area.
  • Uses/wastes the least product
  • Can be used for blending concealer and cream blushes as well
  • Con: Not so good for layering, and may cause streakiness

  • Flat top synthetic brushes are great for giving an airbrushed finish as you can stipple foundation on like with a duo-fiber brush, so it won’t be streaky like a flat brush can sometimes be
  • Bristles are more firmly packed than duo-fiber brushes so your application is a whole lot faster and easier, and the coverage is higher
  • Allows layering to build up to heavier coverage
  • Cons: Not as easily accessible as other foundation brushes (I shipped mine from Sigma)

  • Basic small concealer brush with a tapered tip to conceal tiny spots and blemishes
  • Reaches the hardest-to-reach places
  • Can be used as a lip brush
  • Not needed if you only need to even out skin tone in a larger area

  • Round-ferrule, over-sized brushes allow you quickly sweep a very light and even layer of powder over your entire face in just a few strokes.
  • You don’t have to get a huge one (like the one in the image above). Just the same general ferrule shape and very soft and loose bristles will do.
  • Great for all-over bronzing as it’s much harder to apply too much in too small an area.
  • Cons: Not good for packing on a lot of coverage

  • Kabukis are great, general-purposes brushes for both foundations, setting powders, as well as blushes. Most have a short ferrule and no handles, so you are forced to grip it in a way that encourages buffing (circles) and stippling (pressing), rather than sweeping (side to side).
  • Good ones should have a round ferrule and cottony-soft bristles to allow for buffing (circular) application. Buffing allows powders to fuse into your skin and is especially important for heavier mineral powders, which can sit like a mask over your skin.
  • If you need to cover an uneven surface, matte mineral powders are great for coverage and finish, but you should AVOID BUFFING and just gently stipple powder onto your skin with the very tops of the brush so you can keep things matte and diffuse the contours. You will need a flatter-topped kabuki (just avoid anything too pointy).
  • Cons: cannot be kept in a brush holder with your other brushes!
  • Blushing, contouring and highlighting require more precision than applying powder over your whole face, so the only difference is that while your brush should still be fluffy and soft, it should preferably also have an oval ferrule (has a “flat” side) to allow sweeping motions.
  • For precision, your brush head should be no wider than the apple of your cheek.
  • Cons: does not diffuse and spread color as well as a kabuki, so avoid if you are heavy-handed or often see streaky, uneven color on your cheeks!


  • Some makeup artists consider this a must for applying highlighter or blush on cheekbones. I personally consider it totally optional for that purpose, and find normal brushes much better at preventing streaky application than this. 
  • This does a good job of sweeping away any fall-out after you complete your eye makeup.
  • You can deposit and spread a nice layer of glitter over your skin without wasting too much product.
  • Cons: Not easy to control.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall Look: Dramatic Purple and Black Winged Eye

Dramatic purple and black winged eye with Revlon Soft Nude Colorburst Lipstick.
This is a super-dramatic look inspired by images of Fall's dramatic eye liner looks, as well as Swarovski's Wings of Fantasy campaign visuals. It's something of a creative look, but if you're playing a mythical Black Swan for Halloween (not the movie version) this is a simpler and more wearable way to go about it.

Step 1: Use a pointed pencil brush to apply a line of blackened purple along the socket line. (I used a pigment I mixed up myself, but any black will do. Bring it almost to the inner corners but not quite so there's a bit of gap if you have a double-lid. If you have a mono-lid, you will probably need to carefully trace the hollow of your socket with a very light pencil first, as you can't follow your natural crease line as conveniently.

Step 2: The easier part is applying lines along the upper lash line (thickly) and lower lash line (thinner). IMPORTANT: Don't let the lower line touch the inner corner as well. We want a "wispy look" with this, so just end off a little under your natural eye line rather than right on it.
At the outer corner, extend the lower line straight up and out at the same angle as your eye line. Then just simply stop when it meets the top line at the crease. If you need to clean up around the lines, do so with a Q-tip dipped in oil-free remover.

Step 3: Fill in the space in between the 2 dark lines on your upper lid with a sparkly magenta or pink. Dampen your brush slightly so the pigments will adhere better.
Try MAC Reflects Pink if you want this look. If not, any other color and finish would work just as well, including mattes. Just make sure the color can be packed on intensely.

Step 4: Now the black at your lash line is probably faded and diffused, so go over it again with a smudge brush to reinforce the darkness.

Step 5: After applying pale yellow or white liner to the water line, add dramatic false lashes if you want. I used Eylure Nicola lashes, which are flared outwards at the outer corners, and add to the whole winged cat eye look.
Go over the lash band with black liquid liner to hide it if you need.

Finished Look: Note how the pale liner on the water line helps to keep the eye looking "open",. This is especially important if you don't have large eyes.
Also, I love how the dark smoky liner along the lower lashes tapers off slightly without touching the inner corner. This adds drama, and is also a trick to look like you're an expert at applying tapered lower liner. (Makeup artists draw this with a free hand and dip slightly downward at the inner corners, which can be really difficult to get even on both eyes.)