Category Archives: 2016

Posts from 2016

Forgive them, for they know not what their faces looks like

I’ve always been fascinated by women who wear heavy, disfiguring makeup and have been beyond tempted to stop and ask questions, that is, to get an idea of what they see in the mirror.   Given the chance, and before the police arrive, I’d ask them about the thought process behind their remarkable cosmetic applications.  In addition to judging, I am sincerely curious about what motivates them to do this.

From my lofty perch, I wonder if these women are, or even can be, objective about the face they present to the world.  I reckon that they have a deficit of mature-stage self-awareness, and that this lacking must have a negative impact on super important stuff, like employment and relationships.

I was in Ulta recently, and was dumbstruck after catching sight of two sales women who had acted out, on their own persons, the grossly overdone foundation and contouring popular on Instagram and YouTube.  Their results had nothing to do with underlying skin tone or bone structure, sort of like this:

From Teen Moms 2


I concluded that they weren’t suffering from Low Self-Esteem, but rather the utter absence of self-awareness (what they see in the mirror versus what I see) and critical thinking skills (what makeup techniques may apply to them versus the InstaTubers).  I felt for them and their potential to survive in the wild.  Mostly I wanted to wash their faces.

During the exhausting television coverage of the presidential race, I also observed that some of the women – who were trying, with more or less success, to be taken seriously – were at the same time overly bronzed, contoured, baked, strobed, smoked and fleeked.

Katrina Pierson
Katrina Pierson
Scottie Hughes
Scottie Hughes






In fairness, and from my experience being up close to TV personalities, they often wear heavy foundation and eye makeup, that may or may not be applied by a professional, and may not, either way, look very good on camera or in person.  They might overcompensate for the sake of unforgiving high-definition cameras that highlight unfortunate practices like Failure to Blend.  And if you are a woman who cares more about the quality of the job you’re doing than how you look while doing it (unless those two things are one in the same), then it’s understandable when you would let yourself or someone else disfigure you with cosmetics.  But it still leaves me questioning the decision-making skills of the overdone.

You probably know someone who wears makeup in a way that you feel is too heavy or unflattering, leaving you wondering why.  Thoughts?

Less hope, more wisdom.


This girl set her make-up on fire …

Alicia Keys is a lot of things; singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress – a wildly successful and respected hit maker who recently made another kind of hit by beginning to appear in public without make-up.

In an article (“Time to Uncover“) for Lena Dunham’s online magazine, Lenny, Ms. Keys describes how her role in the #nomakeup movement began.  In a nutshell, make-up had been a chore that no longer felt necessary for the authentic Alicia.  I dig it.

Her message has rung true for thousands of women who have used the #nomakeup hashtag to show their faces in the raw.  I just checked Instagram and as of 10/3/16 at 2:30 p.m. EST, there were over 12 million posts.  Granted, some of them are of a) body parts, not faces; b) faces, but with make-up on; c) landscapes and d) dudes.  Still, nice going, ladies.

In addition to the large scale and enthusiastic support Ms. Keys has received, she has also been charged, by other women, of being, in various ways, inauthentic.

Most unscientific is the complaint that she can afford to buy beautiful skin.  Nope.  Beautiful skin is mostly heredity, and our habits – sun exposure and questionable enjoyments such as heavy drinking and smoking – determine the rest.  Come to think of it, I may be a poster child for how good genes trump beat years of extracurricular activities consistent with a rock and roll lifestyle.  If habits are everything, I should look like Yoda.  Thanks Dad.

From my experience, women know that they can look better by using a bit of make-up, and I maintain that it should take no longer for a woman to apply it than it takes a man to shave.  That’s my kind of feminism – equal output.

We spend far too much physical and emotional energy on how we look, and an obsessive concern can be a drain on our happiness and goals.   Expending a reasonable amount of time and money on style and grooming is about self-respect, while exhausting ourselves over our appearance is about exactly the opposite.  (Unless you’re Kim Kardashian; then it’s all business.)

What do you think?

Make-up stories from the Democratic National Convention

Because I’m based in Philadelphia, I was able to get up close and personal with some of the key players and willing participants who were here to take part in the events surrounding the DNC  – one for the her-story books.

First, I was hired to do make-up and hair for a senator, and the democratic party chair, from a mid-west state; this senator made history in her own ground-breaking way.  I’ll leave the rest to you and The Google.

Because discretion was required as per the client’s job description, I was left wondering about the double standard between men and women in public life.  Men who go on camera do get some make-up, usually to control discoloration and shine; if, however, they happen to wander (okay… blunder) past the make-up artist and straight onto camera, it’s unlikely that a hailstorm of tweets will come raining down about how bad or tired they look.   On the other hand, smart, rational women like my clients know that they must, at the risk of seeming shallow/vain or extravagant to constituents, have at least some styling (same has the men plus minimal eye make-up, blush and lip color), or…. yup, a Tweetstorm is a’comin.

I was also hired by Revlon to bring my team to an event hosted by Walgreens at their flagship store.  The invite-only crowd was made up of young, professional women, mostly lobbyists from the DC area, and they seemed to enjoy the pampering that the men in attendance were not privy to.  I will say that if you want a bright shade of lip color with a softly matted texture, the Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lip Color is a reasonable option.

Finally, I think Hillary’s make-up on the final evening was perfect: minimal eye featuring mostly liner and lashes, just enough cheek and lip color, and no overt attempt to obscure reality.

Switch to a CNN spot, wherein Donald’s national campaign spokesperson is wearing make-up like something out of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.  I utterly missed her message because I was too fixated on her 4-alarm smoky eyes, bow-chicka-wow-wow lip gloss and “eyebrows on fleek.”  Honestly, I don’t think I missed anything, but you get the picture…. if you don’t, here it is.  The video, that is.  Full screen, please.

Expect more politically and socially-inspired posts until this wacky election season is over.   Less hope, more wisdom.

Self-tantalizing …

Provocative title, no?  Actually, what I mean to talk about is a self-tanning product that I quite love.

Self-tanners come in several forms, but whether a lotion, gel, foam, spray or wipe, they are mostly messy, smelly and sticky. They’re also difficult to use properly, because to apply successfully, you need to be an exfoliated, patient person with an artistic flair who is motivated to be sleek, tan and hairless.

I used to be that person, but no longer have the excess hormones required to give a crap about looking totally hot in a bathing suit.  Now I just want turn my skin down a few watts with as little trouble as possible.

I could opt for a spray tan from a Fake Tan Professional. This would require standing in a cold space, in front of a stranger, in nothing but a paper thong, while she (most likely) wages an aerosol assault on my dignity.   A lot of my bridal clients opt for this service.  They have tons of hormones and are planning beach honeymoons.

Speaking of beaches, St. Tropez (yes, a glamorous destination, but also a company that manufactures well-regarded self-tanning products) has come up with what I consider a dream strategy to avoid wearing long pants all summer.  It is the genius of St. Tropez Gradual Tan In-Shower Tanning Lotion.

You spread this mild smelling lotion onto clean, wet skin in the warmth and privacy of your own shower.   You now have to remain damp and lotion-y for three minutes (I keep a kitchen timer nearby) before lightly rinsing and patting dry. Here are some suggestions for what to do in those three minutes:

  1.  Sing “The Girl from Ipanema” – twice
  2.  Do 90 Kegel exercises
  3.  Think about which country you’re going to move to after the 2016 Presidential elections

Practically, you could apply a hair mask and shave your underarms.  Afterward, get dressed, don’t get dressed, whatever you need/want to do, but you will not be sticky, smelly or streaky.  And, over time, you will develop an even, light-to-medium tan.  Brilliant product… give it a try and let me know if you worship it like I do.

Smart beauty shopping: three questions to ask yourself before you buy

Visiting the cosmetics section of department store is sort of like running the gauntlet (an ancient form of punishment wherein one must run between two rows of assailants who repeatedly strike at one’s person).  A useful analogy, considering the crap women have to put up with from beauty retailers, who are coming at them from all sides with the latest products.

One way to stop overzealous sales people in their tracks is to pretend that they are, for example, your husband, your child or a pet.  “No” should be much easier using this simple visualization tool.

In addition to growing a pair, here are three questions you can ask yourself before you lay out your hard-earned cash on a new beauty product:

What’s my budget?  Don’t get sucked into the vortex of luxury cosmetic brands if you can’t afford it –  expensive products aren’t necessarily better and if you believe that they are, then you should be able to support your beliefs financially.

Do I like the scent and or/ texture of this product?  This is an especially important question when buying skin care products, which only help you if you’re consistent with them.  You should like the way a product smells and how it feels on your skin so that you’ll actually use it.

Do I like the packaging?  For some, packaging is a major factor when making a cosmetic purchase.  Will it be on display, or tucked away in a cabinet, and if the former, do you care what it looks like?  Maybe not, but a poorly designed compact or palette, the kind that break almost instantly, get scratched up, and/or become a crumbled mess kind of bum me out.  I look for packaging that suits my simple aesthetic and that delivers a satisfying “click” of quality, like the seat belt of a fine German automobile.

Now go get ‘em, tiger….


Sorry Kylie Jenner, and, some lip tips…

I was delighted to appear with adorable newswoman Alex Holley on Fox29 Good Day here in Philadelphia a few weeks ago to demonstrate how to get full-looking lips like Kylie Jenner without the injections that she totally had.

Here are the tips I shared before I went to the on-air spokesperson dark side (watch all the way to the end, do not ever do this on network TV, and….. I crack myself up sometimes!):

1.  Prep lips with water before applying lip balm, Vaseline or whatever you use.  Putting these products on already dry lips won’t do you much good.
2.  Dark colors work best for those with fuller lips, and will make thin lips look even thinner, sad, Goth, etc.
3.  To make lips look full, use a lip liner one or two tones deeper than your natural lip shade.  I often line lips after applying color – less drag, less chance of overdoing it.
4. Less than full lips look better in light-to-mid-tone pink, peach or rose shades.  Full lips look good in any shade.  Bitches.
5.  A bit of gloss in the center of the lower lip will add fullness.  I love me some clear gloss.

Thanks for putting up with me, Alex and Fox29.  No offence, Kylie Jenner.   Less hope, more wisdom.