Tag Archives: tools

See the makeup light …

Make-up application, like photography, has a lot to do with controlling light.  For example, the fundamental purpose of eye shadow is to create a…uh… shadow that makes your eyes look bigger and/or makes your eye color stand out (I will not say “pop” – I will not say it.).  But one can only control light so much with make-up, because the former changes with every step you take.


This is why the light in which you apply your make-up is so bloody important.  Some of you put make-up on in the car – if so, go stand in the corner because you’re naughty.  But most of you put make-up on in a bathroom, with the light coming from overhead.  So, for example, no matter how much concealer you put on, you’ll still see a dark circle underneath the eye, because the light is hitting your brow and lashes and casting a shadow.  I am reminded of a certain Seinfeld episode….

Wisdom: most of what we see in the mirror that we don’t like is just bad lighting.

Celebrities are almost always seen under optimum lighting conditions in retouched photographs – no pressure. Imagine they’re caught lingering in unflattering shadows – those photos could very well end up in a supermarket rag, tagline: “The beauty is really a beast!!”  When I hit the lotto, I’m going to hire a personal lighting technician to make sure I’m perfectly lit at all times.

Mix bad lighting with failing eye sight and you have a beauty problem, which can be solved in most cases with the purchase of a good lighted make-up mirror.  They can range in price from $30 to over $1,000 dollars, and can be on pedestals, or wall mounted like the sort you might find in upscale and apparently sympathetic hotels.  Don’t be afraid to spend – a mirror that offers a good view of your bad self is priceless.

Whichever you choose, the reflection should be clear and undistorted.  Speaking of which, three to five times magnification should be sufficient – no one sees you 10 times larger than you actually are.  Nor is it helpful to see only a giant EYE in the mirror – maybe for over-scrutinizing your laugh lines, but not for successful make-up application.  You need to be able to see most of your face without distortion.

I just replaced the high end mirror I bought on eBay years ago with a product I’m rather giddy about – the cordless LED make-up mirror by simplehuman®bt1080_mainThe 8” version, which is ideal, comes in both pedestal and wall-mount style, has a perfect five times magnification, great glass quality, and the light is daylight temperature, the best for applying make-up.  It also has this somewhat creepy but useful habit of coming on when you get in front of it and then turning off automatically.  Strange at first but now I kind of dig it.

The simplehuman® 5X Sensor Vanity Mirror ($200) can be purchased at Bed, Bath& Beyond, so head over there ASAP with a 20% off coupon in your hot little hand, and you will be literally, and figuratively, illuminated.  You’re welcome!

Clean make-up brushes: next to godliness

658877_origCleaning make-up brushes is something I do after every job and it’s a makeup artist’s cross to bear.  That said, you don’t need to be quite so devoted – I recommend cleaning brushes used for powders once every couple of months or so, and brushes used with cream products (like concealers) twice a month or more.

If you’re using a small brush with a gel eyeliner, then it might need cleaning after every few uses, because the product is meant to set to a long-lasting finish and the brush will get stiff with dried pigment.

To clean your brushes, I recommend Dr. Bronner’s Fair Trade and Organic Castile Liquid Soap.  Those kooky labels that you’ve never read are covered with Dr. Bronner’s personal philosophy, referred to as the “Moral ABC,” at the heart of which is the idea of spiritual unity, or “All-One!”  Take a closer look at one of the labels next time you’re in Target, or better yet, go to Bronner’s website and read while in bed, because doing so will probably put you to sleep.

The charm of the Bronner story notwithstanding, the product continues to be one of the most versatile cleaning products in existence.  The “18 in 1” claim is true, for indeed one can clean one’s entire body and house with this stuff – add baking soda and white vinegar and bring down the likes of Proctor and Gamble once and for all.  The original Peppermint formula now comes in multiple scents, including Tea Tree, Rose, Almond, Eucalyptus, Baby Mild (unscented), Lavender and my new personal favorite, Citrus.

Basic brush cleaning technique: use about 1 part soap (you can try any liquid soap or shampoo, really – in fact, you can clean your brushes and wash your face with this one!) to 10 parts water.  Lather up, rinse very, very well, squeeze out and lay flat to dry.  Good idea to do this at night so the brushes are completely dry by morning.  Heed my words, because using an even slightly damp brush on a powder product will render the latter useless by compacting the pigment into something with the consistency of a hockey puck.

Seasonal tip: in the summer humidity, brushes can take forever to dry, so I use a towel to blot the excess moisture, especially from the larger ones.  In the winter, they’ll dry much faster, just like your skin (note to author: future post topic).

Clean brushes smell nice, feel plush and are good for you.  Off you go, then….