Healthy Summer Skin Care Practices – Part 2

There is a huge proliferation of advice in skin care and makeup products in the marketplace today, and fiercely competing for consumer attention and their beauty dollars.  Our media is bloated with print advertisements along with endless infomercials and TV home shopping programs devoted to hawking the latest and greatest in cutting edge cures for preserving and extending beauty.  Now that HDTV is mainstream, the anxiety level of how well skin appeHow-to-Choose-the-Best-Skin-Care-Products-for-Your-Skin1ars in super lifelike reality is causing great concern on both sides of the camera.  This further drives the angst in deciding about what is truly healthy or the best choices in skin care, not only in summer, but year round.  The self-image and well-being is tightly intertwined with (one’s) perception of physical appearance, so it’s almost a full time job in sorting out what information is fact, fiction, or just plain folly to follow!

Dermatology research has made significant discoveries and reconfirmed long-term studies over the last 15 years, and the development of new products and procedures aimed at treating, preventing and even curing pathological issues have proven hugely successful.  Out of this has come an even greater understanding of how certain ingredients can intervene in the physiology of aging and offer the best protection against environmental elements, especially the sun.  First and foremost is everyone’s personal responsibility to be educated in the early warning signs that could lead to skin cancer.   Melanoma cases are up 10 percent, and steadily increasing due to sun tanning bed use and unprotected sun exposure, and the sad truth is the majority of these cases are preventable.  Skin cancer awareness should be practiced not only by hair and beauty pros when working with clients, but anyone can learn the early detection symptoms by follow these tips that are conveniently arranged in alphabetical order:
A – Asymmetry: Normal moles or freckles are completely symmetrical.
B – Border: A mole or spot with blurry and/or jagged edges should be evaluated by a doctor.
C – Color: A mole that is more than one color is suspicious and should be evaluated by a doctor.
D – Diameter: If it is larger than ¼ inch or 6mm, it should be evaluated by a doctor.
E – Elevation:  A mole that is raised above the surface and has an uneven surface should be evaluated by a doctor.

My dermatologist states undeniably that the two major culprits of pre-mature aging (including lined and wrinkled skin) is the external overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and the internal breakdown of skin band proteins known as collagen ansundamaged-skind elastin.  Pre-mature aging is largely self-inflicted through careless exposure and lack of knowledge in skin maintenance.  Ultraviolet rays damage the DNA in skin cells triggering the release of inflammatory substances that cause cells to mutate or self-destruct.  These cell mutations can also lead to pre-cancerous cell growths.  The visual results of this destruction over time look like thinning and sagging skin with “age” spots such as brown, white, or liver colored spots.  Uneven or ruddy skin tone and blotchy looking redness often appears, and is permanent.  Repeated unprotected sun exposure or sun tanning over time contributes to a skin texture that is rough or crepe-like, or even leathery looking.  It also causes skin to greatly decrease in its natural moisture holding capability so skin acts and feels drier as you chronologically age.

It’s the harsh reality, but being forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes.  What are the steps you can take to protect and nurture your beauty AND enjoy the outdoors this summer?  It goes without saying that the wearing of sunscreen with a minimum SPF rating of 15 is the one thing that is powerful in protection.  I am talking about a sunscreen specific product formulated for protection, NOT a makeup product that has sunscreen in it!  Find one you like and wear it as your moisturizer under makeup as well as on exposed skin during the summer months.  Because I am unusually sun sensitive now I also put on a large brim hat and wrap-around style sunglasses when I head outdoors, in addition to “protective but pretty” layers of clothing.  On super hot and sunny days for extended periods when I am outdoors, it’s always a good time to break out the umbrella for extra cover.  Embrace the fact that the only safe tan is through a chemical tanning product.  The chemical self tanners on the market today give amazingly realistic results now that you really can’t tell the difference between chemical tans from radiation (sun or tanning bed) tans.

Collagen and elastin is the underlying foundation of skin, a fibrous network that is directly responsible for its smoothness and firmness.  The best thing you can do to help this support structure retain suppleness and strsunscreenength is to practice protection with sunscreen and the methods mentioned above.  Zinc added to sunscreen has been shown to help reflect rays away from skin and lessen the impact of free radical damage which can also weaken the fibers.  The antioxidant Vitamins C and E are clinically proven cell communication ingredients, and help protect them down to the deepest skin layers.  They form a protective hydration matrix in the skin’s lipid layer, which actually boosts the effectiveness of moisturizers and sunscreens.  Vitamin A (Retinol) has a long, clinically studied and proven history of being the most effective topical application that can actually stimulate collagen and elastin growth and strength.  It goes without saying that serious skin care should include these ingredients in your daily routine.

Finally, there is strong evidence that adding fish oils containing omega-3 fatty acids to your diet can greatly help in strengthening the skin’s natural lipid layer and making it more resilient against moisture loss, dryness, redness, and sensitivity during weather extremes, especially in summer and winter.  If you tend to sweat a lot, or there is high humidity outdoors, you can bet on dehydration occurring both internally and externally through skin.  Drink plenty of water during those times, so that your skin doesn’t lose the moisture balance in its lipid layer.  If you do experience any unusual dryness in summer extreme weather, try my quick fix boost of applying organic coconut oil or olive oil (sometimes I mix equal parts together) as an emergency skin moisture rebalancer.  These oils actually help restore the skin’s natural acid mantle and give it a boost back to normal function.  Hope you found this helpful, and wishing you a safe summer skin experience!

Healthy Summer Skin Care Practices – Part 1

Anyone who knows me, from family and friends to my professional makeup industry relationships, hears my constant mantra about maintaining a good 17946askin care regimen with zealous sun protection.  And for good reason.  Without a well-cared for skin “canvas” makeup doesn’t have the best support to do its optimal duty of beauty enhancement and elevating best features forward.  Instead, it often gets relegated as a means of disguise and concealment for hiding flaws or discolorations in the complexion due to daily neglect and sun overexposure.  The environmental harm shows up in later years as permanent skin damage along with premature aging, some of which can’t really be reversed.  It can also lead to more serious skin issues.  No amount of cosmetics can successfully camouflage long-term carelessness as if it didn’t happen, as it will definitely leave its marks and be more difficult to manage under makeup.

In my teen years my friendtanning_hdrs and I idolized the look of the beautiful copper toned “Bain de Soliel” girl in the television and magazine ads during the 60’s.  We did the sun worshipping “baby oil and mirror bake” poolside as if it were a religious gathering during the summer months.  The dry heat in my home town of Phoenix, AZ, where daily summer temperatures regularly soared past 100 degrees, made it quick and easy to acquire the bronzed diva look.  That was the era of Southwest style “fashion week” that lasted all summer long, with that burnished brown polish you worked hard to get to the envy of others.  We’re talking head-turning tanned skin here, showing it off with little more than a bikini by day, and halter tops, shorts, and flashy looking sandals for a night out.  Yes, we were devoted sunbathers, with little regard to the fact that we were essentially deep frying the DNA programming of our skin cells in a trade off for that very fleeting look of a youthful golden tanned goddess.

There was relatively little media that was thinking, talking, or warning the public about the fact that unprotected sun worshipping, such as repeated burns and deep tanning, leads to everlasting skin damage.  Instead, we were ignorantly encoding our future skin beauty and looks with an increased likelihood of premature aging and skin cancers.   Photosunburntbarbie aging from the sun leaves the skin with a leathery and heavier lined look, along with a dull and lifeless texture, as often seen in women now who grew up as sun lovers in that era.  Thankfully, our culture has become more keenly aware of the need for sun protection, as skin cancers due to sun exposure has risen sharply over the decades since the 60’s.  Much research in dermatology has been devoted to the cause and effects of skin damage with a particular emphasis on the effects of the sun.  The result is the development of highly effective sun care protection protocols along with clinically proven anti-aging skin care products, and the widely held view that sun protection is a year around vigil, not just in summer.

Fortunately, I wised up sooner than later from my sun goddess pursuits and after very bad sunburn that put me in the hospital from a day of open sailing all day on a lake.  The reflection of the sun off the water to my bikini clad, baby oil doused skin might as well have been leatherskinclassified as a nuclear conducted radiation burn!  To this day, many decades later, I have permanent sunburn/skin damage marks from that disaster.  I am continually fending off other suspicious looking growths with more periodic visits to my dermatologist, who happens to be one of the top clinical research docs on the East Coast.  I have learned a lot from her on these visits, and because she is very heavily into anti-aging studies, she has some strongly held opinions as to what really work as far as topical agents for anti-aging skin care regimens.  She also believes effective sun protection is a multi level approach, and a key factor in the long term success of topical anti-aging regimens.  So, for now, get your sunscreen game on (minimum 15 SPF) when outdoors, and get the heck out of the indoor tanning beds for good!  Next month in Part 2 of this series I will share with you the do’s and don’ts that should be a part of your healthy summer skin care practices.

The Definitive Primer on False Eyelashes – Part Two

There is no doubt that false eyelashes go the distance to enhance eye beauty and give that eye opening finishing touch.  They are truly functional in improving any natural lash length and fullness, especially in replacing lashes lost duefalse-eyelashes to illness or to adding extra glamour for that Red Carpet look.  Whether you want a subtle change or optimal drama, the added volume brings more openness and accent to the eye’s shape that any woman would desire, especially for weddings and special occasions.

To achieve the most natural looking blend with your own lashes, you need the best quality lashes available and an equally good lash adhesive.  Quality also dictates how easy or difficult the lashes will be in applying to your lash line.  Two things you need to check for are appropriate length and fullness to achieve natural looking volume.  Too many women make the mistake of wearing lashes that are either too long or too thick, which can make them appear ill-fitting or overdone.  False lashes should always follow the line of your own lashes, and fit naturally on the lash line within the inner and outer corners of the eye.

If using strip lashes always measure them to fit the width of your natural lash line first, by setting them next your lashes. Then remove and trim them where needed with sharp scissors.  With half lash or clumps, size them for width at the Details of beautyouter corners of your upper lash line.   Half lash/clumps are a great way to add subtle but sophisticated glamour, especially with a winged eyeliner application. Individual lash strands or cluster flares allow you to build fullness and length into your lash line where you need it the most.

There are two types of lash adhesive: a semi-permanent resin based glue, and temporary latex based adhesive.  If you want to wear lashes just for a day or evening, then the latex based glue is going to be easier to wear and remove, especially if you want to save lashes and reapply them again.  Resin glue is designed to allow false lashes to remain on for several days; however it will take more time and effort to remove the adhesive and lashes properly with a remover, and without damaging your own lashes.

The pro trick to getting strip or half lash/clump false lashes adhered without obvious glue marks is to use the thinnest coat of lash adhesive possible.  Dip a toothpick into the glue and run it along the lash strip; then wait 45 seconds for the glue to begin to set up before applying the strip.  With the individual lashes or cluster flares dip the end into the glue on the toothpick.  Apply the strip or individuals next to the root area of the lash line, as close as possible.  Following these methods will eliminate unsightly glue clumping, and give false lashes a stronger hold to your own when applying to the lash line.

Some artists recommend curling the natural lashes before applying the false ones or applying a coat of mascara before applying lashes and it’s a matter of personal choice.  However if your natural lashes are stick-straight I fmascara-40ind that curling them first with a heated lash curler, and then immediately applying a very thin coat of water-proof mascara, helps to hold the curl.  This method gives more natural lash continuity in which to situate the false lashes for the most natural results.

Once the lashes are in place, I like to apply a very thin coat of eyelash primer to help the real and false lashes blend together.  It gives further shape and definition, and to make them look more like natural growth from the lashline.  To finish and “place” the lashes I paint on the mascara with a mascara fan brush, (or you can use a disposable wand) and just enough to cover the primer’s white tint while adding a bit more definition.  It’s important not to overdo the mascara application with false lashes, and keeping good separation, or you risk having a clumpy unnatural appearance.  Once the mascara is set, use a clean mascara wand or eyelash comb to separate lashes and eliminate any little mascara globs or clumps.

Don’t forget the lower lashes; they will need a coat of mascara to balance out the overall look.  If they are skimpy on volume or length, then it’s a good idea to use the lash primer on them under the mascara to bring out more fullness and depth.  You can also opt to use individual false under lashes to do the same thing.  Lastly, practice applying and wearing lashes before you do them for your big event, so that you get the best results possible.

The Definitive Primer on False Eyelashes – Part One

Eyelashes are the “lights’ that turn on the eyes.  It’s that fringe of flutter that every woman loves to define as the finishing touch to any makeup application.  False eyelashes give movie star looks on the cheap because they are so affordable in any makeup budget, and if removed carefully they are reusable.

Eyelash enhancement has always been a major beauty focus, from models and celebrities to those who have lost their lashes due to medical conditions.  With all the recent technological advancements in lash amplifying products (lash growth serums, lash extensions, etc) coupled with the escalated advertising of mascara brand wars,  falsh lashes are a fast and easy way to pump up length and volume.  They can actually strengthen the natural eye shape,  and the extra lash volume adds to the dark contrast and intensity in the overall eye makeup.

Early False Lash Prototypes

False lashes became reality in 1916 when director, D.W. Griffith was filming his epic silent movie, “Intolerance”.  He wanted the leading actress, Seena Owens, to have greater emphasis of expression with her eyes, and with lashes brushing the tops of her cheeks as she blinked.  Griffith had a wig maker weave strands of human hair through tiny strips of gauze which were then glued to Owen’s eyelids.  Film folklore has it that Griffith is also is credited with coining the famous directorial phrase “Lights, camera, action!”

False eyelashes didn’t become all that popular outside of film and television use until the English model, Twiggy, made them famous as her trademark look in the mid-1960’s.  Those early prototypes, however, were made of plastic and fashioned into fine bristle-like wisps.  They were somewhat heavier looking when applied, and the glue available back then was not as strong in adhesion quality or long wearing as the eyelash glues on the market today.

Eyelash Options

False lashes come in three types of hairs: human, animal, and synthetic fibers.  They fall into 4 basic categories; strip, individuals (strands and flares), clumps, and extensions.  You can choose from natural and virtually undetectable lash bands and individual hairs to fantasy looks that can include feathers and tiny adornments built in.  Whether you apply a few singles for subtle volume, clumps on the outside corners for a sophisticated look, or full lashes for optimal drama the huge variety of styles and textures ensure there is a set of lashes to meet every possible beauty need.

Depending on the look you want to achieve (natural, intense, “cat eye”, wide-eye Doe look, etc.) make sure the lashes you select are the right style, size, length, and intensity to your eye shape.  This fit is very important so that you can blend the lash look into your overall eye makeup design without the lashes looking “overdone”.  For instance, if you want natural “organic” looking volume then choose a lighter hair color with a shorter length, and light-weight with the right flexibility for your eye shape.

Stay tuned for part 2 for eyelash application tips.

The Natural and Organic Cosmetic Ingredient Controversy – Part 2

There is no doubt that public misconceptions on the natural/organic cosmetic issue exists, and to the advantage of cosmetic companies who use this uncertainty to promote their products as the “safe choice” solution.  As such, pro artists and consumers alike owe it to themselves to get a grasp on very simple cosmetic chemistry knowledge if they are going to make wise buying decisions based on truth and product advertising accuracy.

Every single ingredient approved by the FDA for cosmetic formulations (and there are close to 25,000 of them) are elements that can be roughly classified into 4 basic origins of cultivation: animal, plant, earth/ore, and laboratory created (synthetic) elements.  Every raw elemental material or ingredient from these categories that is used in creating a cosmetic MUST be synthesized (chemically processed) to stabilize it in a compound or to be bound into a mixture for an end formula use.  This also includes a proper preservative base for shelf life and consumer use safety.

Therefore, the resulting product from this process does NOT make it a completely natural or organic “end to end” cosmetic creation.  Rather, it’s a cosmetic product that could have started out with some raw materials originating from natural/organic (plant, animal, earth ore) sources before chemical processing.  This is where the element of organic “truth” gets lost in translation and public confusion starts.  Cosmetic company marketing strategies take excellent advantage of this confusion as a means of exerting some control over the debate through advertising statements, and with the hopes of converting customer fears into trust for their products.

There is no conclusive scientific evidence that natural/organic cosmetic products are any safer to use than others on the market.   The FDA put out a statement in 2007 by one of their resident doctors, Dr. Linda M. Katz, director of the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors to this effect:  “Consumers should not necessarily assume that an ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ ingredient or product would possess greater inherent safety than another chemically identical version of the same ingredient. In fact, ‘natural’ ingredients may be harder to preserve against microbial contamination and growth than synthetic raw materials” 

Further, the USDA put out a statement concerning the public’s interpretation of USDA Organic Seal, or any organic seal of approval, on cosmetics. “It is not proof of any government endorsed health benefits or product effectiveness.  It is purely a marketing program, not a safety program”.  An interesting article in the NY Times, “Skin Deep: Natural Organic Beauty”, examines this issue further with other national experts weighing in on this subject.  The USDA/FDA have also published official statements concerning organic (natural) ingredients and labeling organic ingredients, with links listed below:

FDA: Organic Cosmetic Product Terms and Definitions
National Organic Program: Cosmetics, Body Care Products, and Personal Care Products
USDA: Organic Certification and Labeling of Cosmetics and Personal Care Products
USDA: Solving the Problem of Mislabeled Organic Personal Care Products

Another perspective to think about is that many natural/organic substances touted for use in cosmetics by manufacturers are also considered toxins, and used in other fields of biology or forensic pathology for research means.  Ultimately, product safety and skin sensitivity will always remain the foremost issue with any cosmetic ingredient.  As one health conscious consumer summed up the natural organic controversy:  “ Even if you fry an organic potato, it is still a french fry”.

 

The Natural and Organic Cosmetic Ingredient Controversy – Part 1

I have been getting a number of inquiries lately about cosmetics that have “natural” or “organic” based ingredients, so I am sharing my opinions on this subject based upon my own research, observations, and professional experience.  Over the past decade I have watched the rise in popularity of cosmetics advertised as natural/organic, especially with mineral based makeup products.   What I find interesting is that consumer demand for these products is driven largely by health fears based on mis-information and mixed with a lot of confusion.  The lack of solid case studies or proven performance statistics regarding natural/organic ingredients leaves this business wide open for cosmetic company advertising campaigns that capitalize greatly on the undefined nature and perplexity of the subject.  It’s also their opportunity to take advantage of the situation to create a position of authority merely through carefully worded advertising.

Many leading dermatologists agree that there are very few long term clinical studies or data available on the vast majority of cosmetic ingredients, let alone natural/organic substances used in cosmetics.  Most of the research has been based on the efficacy of vitamin compounds as topical agents, such as Vitamins A, C, and E used in skin care.  For instance, the use of Vitamin A (retinol) in prescription and over the counter skin care is well studied and documented with over 60 years of clinical use.  Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, has been proven in university research trials over the last 20 years to have a banquet of positive effects on skin, as does Vitamin E for its healing properties.

There is no scientific data published or government (FDA) research to support that natural organic derived elements are safer or even better for skin than inorganic/synthetic ingredients.  In fact, many natural organic substances can cause potential toxic harm to skin, especially to those who have skin disorders, allergies, chronic inflammation or irritation.   People with these issues cannot use many natural organic ingredients in cosmetic topicals because they can trigger painful flare-ups.  Quite simply, an irritant substance is an irritant substance regardless of it being natural organic or synthetically derived.  The skin does not know, nor can it tell the difference between organic or synthetic elements, but it does react to any contact sensitivity caused by these ingredients.

There are no federalized industry standards or regulations for the use of the words “natural” or “organic” in the cosmetics industry.  There are still no published FDA-approved standards for labeling cosmetics as natural organic, nor does the cosmetics industry collectively agree on a specific standardized definition.   These two words have simply become strong buzz terms born from marketing strategies created solely by cosmetics companies, and have morphed consumer ideology into a thought process based upon unsubstantiated and sometimes outright false claims.    Thus, “natural organic” has become advertising free-for-all bait that leaves the customer with little or no science to decide the truth of the matter, or to make an informed purchase decision.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this discussion later this month.

All About Makeup Sealers and Setting Sprays, Part Two

In part 1 of this blog on makeup sealers I mentioned that water/acrylic formulations are the best to use for sensitive skin types, and help minimize any obvious texture or sheen-like finish.  This is also true of skins that are dry, as some alcohol based sealers have a slight luster finish.  You don’t want any sealer on dry skin look like it is sitting on top of the makeup rather than blending naturally into it.

Some great water based sealers with durable wear are the Blue Aqua Sealer, by REEL Creations, and Blue Marble SeLr.   Another sealer I like is Hi-Def Matting Spray, by Premiere Products, because it leaves an invisible matte finish that is not detectable in camera.  Water based sealers are easily removable with just makeup wipes, like Comodynes.

The alcohol/acrylic based sealers are the strongest and most waterproof sealers you can use, and that needs little or no re-application.  They form a very thin yet durable film for all day wear, and won’t easily get absorbed out by makeup.  They are the go to product if you need to seal the makeup for climate conditions such as heat or humidity, or for makeup that is exposed to moisture.  They also give a durable and completely rub-proof finish to makeup so it doesn’t transfer makeup onto skin or costuming.

It is best to apply alcohol/acrylic based sealers in very thin layers to build the coverage as needed, but be very careful as it will look obvious if overdone.  You want to avoid a “coated” look to the makeup, so sometimes it’s best to use a low pressure airbrush to better control the sealer application.  Alcohol based sealers are also great to use as a rub-proof finish over temporary tattoo applications, or to seal camouflaging products over a tattoo.   Powdering over a sealer finish also seems to make them even more rub and waterproof.

Alcohol/acrylic based sealers require soap and water removal or using a makeup remover like Graftobian’s Creamy Clean.  They will need a bit more remover to lift completely clean off the skin if you have applied layers that result in heavy coverage.

All About Makeup Sealers and Setting Sprays: Part One

Makeup artists know the value of having a makeup setting or sealing product as a staple item in their kit.  These are film forming sprays that help provide more durability in a makeup application that needs to be stable and long wearing.  They also provide greater makeup protection under moisture conditions.  Sealers also allow you to layer makeup products over one another without smearing or absorbing the color underneath, and helps keep colors true to wear.  They provide a measure of protection in keeping makeup from rubbing or transferring onto clothing.

Makeup sealant sprays come in three basic formulas:  water/acrylic based, alcohol/water/acrylic based, and alcohol/water based.   Understanding the performance differences with these ingredient combinations, and what they can provide, is the key to getting satisfactory results from the sealer application.  Some sealers are more moisture and rub proof than others, and it depends entirely on the percentage of alcohol or acrylic that is blended in the formulation.  The successful wear of your sealer depends on choosing the right one for the job at hand.  It is also important to know what kind of texture (finish) each sealer will leave behind on the makeup application.

Water/acrylic sealers provide a protective film on makeup that is touch proof, but not entirely rub proof.  They also provide moisture resistance, so the makeup won’t streak under perspiration and oil, and is easily blotted off.  They are a better choice for sensitive skin than alcohol based sealers, which can make skin look a little too dry.  However, these kinds of sealers do get absorbed by the makeup during the course of wear, so you may need to repeat the application.  This is especially true with oily type skin.  Keep in mind that some acrylic/water based sealers might leave a semi-matte texture on the makeup, depending on the type of makeup you want to seal, and if it is powdered before you apply the sealer.

Stay tuned for part 2 for this discussion on sealers and their use.

Which Airbrush System is Right for Your Needs? Part One

Each week I get a number of makeup artists emailing me for advice about selecting the right airbrush equipment and airbrush makeup for their particular application needs. I have been teaching airbrush technology and technique through my professional workshops for nearly two decades now and the airbrush market today has, by far, some of the best equipment ever designed for beauty use. In recent years this handy gadget has undergone significant system refinements, thus the quest for the flawless face has taken a giant step forward in achievement.

Artists who are new to this tool, or have yet to take any skill acquision instruction, are in anxious need of a concise approach in wading through the numerous operating system options available. Many branded airbrush makeup companies have strategically worded advertising, and some with celebrity artist endorsements, to convince you their products are the one stop shop for all your airbrush application needs. Don’t be entirely taken in by publicity marketing and the lack of explanation or truth of what you are really buying into without serious comparison shopping first. Artists need easy to understand and unbiased technical information to help them interpret multifaceted airbrush schematics and their operating ratios. Begin to think in these simple terms: “how low should it blow for the technique in application to be in perfect control?”

With the onset of full digital signal broadcast (HDTV) the airbrush has definitely become one of the frontline tools in the makeup artist’s brush skill arsenal for more control in providing a precision makeup application for this format. The airbrush had been used for decades in special makeup effects work, but found its way into straight beauty use as airbrush systems became smaller and more streamlined in weight and portability. These newer petite units are designed to provide consistent low air pressure transport for the best control and management of transparency in a makeup application. The airbrush can distribute a “see through” finish that gives skin a more fresh or inborn look, which allows the complexion to retain more of its organic texture. Most importantly it can deliver a range of translucent results that is not quite achievable by hand applied methods.

The unique feature about applying liquid makeup through an airbrush rather than by hand is how it naturally “pixilates” to skin. The fluid is atomized with pressurized air through a trigger activated nozzle assembly, and releases a controlled spray of microscopic color “dots”. This causes a distinctive pattern of color distribution and texture that achieves more subtle looking coverage than you can get with the traditional sponge or brush method. The artist’s airbrush skill in technique in delivering the application is also better refined by using an airbrush system that provides low enough variable working pressure, thus it allows them to have more control in achieving flawless looking results.

The airbrush should be viewed as an important transparency to opacity delivery tool that allows an artist to work with greater latitude on either end of that spectrum. Hand applied foundation can only be stippled, patted, smoothed, stroked (or whatever your favorite technique) to a certain degree before it starts to be smeared around or taken back up again, The airbrush allows you that extra degree of transparency you can’t get with hand applied, which can literally take down shine without adding barely any visible color. Or, it can give you a much smoother and more natural looking build towards opacity for more coverage if you need it. It also eliminates any possible lines of demarcation often seen with hand applied makeup. Even the most carefully blended out application can still show small streak mark left by sponges in HD, especially in very large TV viewing screens.

Most of all, airbrush makeup is a completely sanitary application because no tools directly touch the skin in its delivery. In Part 2 we will identify and discuss the importance knowing of airbrush system interfacing ratios before you buy, which has a direct impact on the type of makeup application (face, body or both) you want to use it for. The right unit will also help you develop good airbrush techniques, approach and delivery in your application, and achieving the most flawless looking results.

The Shine and Shimmer Primer on Reflective Cosmetic Ingredients

> Recently I have been getting a lot of inquiries from makeup artists about reflective ingredients in cosmetics. These are what I call the little “micron mirrors” that are found in the majority of makeup products on the market. The major reflective agents most commonly used are mica, silica, and titanium dioxide which have been pointed to as the makeup feedback culprits in flash photography and cosmetic reflection issues in HDTV. These are ingredients commonly found in cosmetic powders and finishing products, and they are the main component utilized in mineral makeup lines.

The simple translation is, these ingredients are added to cosmetics not only as binders, thickeners, extenders, and slip agents, but supposedly they give the illusion of a softer more youthful look by reflecting light away from visible lines and wrinkles. The reality is that the more abundant these reflective ingredients are in the product, the more your face will look like a walking glitter factory, especially in outdoor sun. Ironically, the high absorbency properties of these ingredients can actually be very drying on many skins, and end up accenting lines and wrinkles more than visually reflecting them away!

Reflective ingredients don’t always transform skin into smoother visual perfection. It’s an idea that people think works in theory to soft focus or diffuse light spill on skin, but it actually ends up sitting on top of the skin looking like blinking headlights. For a further look into this issue I have compiled a condensed tutorial to help you understand what these elements are and how they work in a cosmetic product. I won’t bore you with long biology/chemistry explanations, but give you just enough to make you more educated in your cosmetic ingredient knowledge that will hopefully enlighten your makeup selection and application decisions.

Let’s start with Mica, which is actually a name given to a group of crystallized earth mineral salts that are similar in composition and physical properties. They are also silicate class minerals, which mean that they also contain silica components. Mica has a metallic-like form resembling thin rock sheets, or flakes, that have a strong, pearly-like iridescent luster. The mica flakes are easily split and micronized into small particles for cosmetic use.

Mica acts as a texturizer, filler and thickener, and is used as a stabilizer to help pigments maintain their suspension in a formula. Mica helps to increase slip and adhesion properties in a cosmetic and reduces “clumping” of other powder ingredients, like talc. Because of its pearlescent properties mica is used to produce pearlescent pigments, and most often bound to pigments as a color booster and tone brightener. Mica has a very strong holographic nature; meaning it easily transmits and reflects light, so it adds a glittery-like shimmer or sparkle to whatever pigment or compound it is blended with. Mica is also the main pigmented ingredient for all mineral based makeup.

Silica (or silicon dioxide) is a white or colorless mineral found abundantly in sandstone, clay, granite, and quartz. It has a metallic-like reflective texture, and is the principal ingredient used to make glass. The type of silica used in cosmetics is NOT the industrial crystalline dust particle form, but the cosmetic approved form of ground (rounded) silica microspheres. Silica has natural absorbency and thickening properties so it also used in cosmetics as an absorbing and thickening agent. It also improves the smoothness, slip, and wear in foundations, creams, and powders. Silica is also strongly holographic so it possesses light reflecting properties. It is also used as a binder to pigments as a color brightener.

Titanium Dioxide is an earth mineral that occurs in nature as three crystallized forms: rutile, anatase, and brookite. In its natural state it looks silver-gray and often with a multi-colored iridescent metallic tarnish to it. 95% of the world’s use for titanium processing is for the pure white pigment produced from it, and its ability to be a highly effective physical sunscreen agent. Titanium dioxide has a very high brilliance to it and excellent light scattering properties, yet it is strongly opaque, which helps give good coverage. This makes it the best cosmetic whitening ingredient and a very highly effective blocking vehicle against the sun’s penetrating UVA and UVB rays.

I am also including Talc in this line-up because it strongly intertwines into the performance of the above ingredients. Talc is hydrated magnesium silicate, a naturally occurring silicate mineral ore (rock) of magnesium. It is chemically inert to acids and alkalis’ which makes it an excellent filler and binding ingredient, especially for pigments. Talc is valued for its high degree of opacity in coverage, smoothness, softness, and high absorption qualities. It is a very inexpensive ingredient to formulate with and it binds well, which is why it is so pervasive in cosmetics.

Cosmetic talc is often combined with calcium carbonate (or other silicate salts) to increase its absorption capabilities, and to counter or reduce the effect of talc’s naturally occurring luster. It’s moisture repellent properties make it staple product for sealing and finishing of all kinds of makeup applications, as well as making products last longer in wear.

Now that you have a basic understand how these ingredients work, it is fairly simple to add up the pros and cons of their uses in professional makeup that require a non-reflective situation. Consumers will need to start reading labels to know how much of a glitterized appearance they may ultimately encounter when wearing products with any of these ingredients or a combination of them.

Please understand that I am not saying these are bad ingredients for makeup use. As you can see they are necessary in certain amounts to facilitate product efficiency in application and wear. It just means makeup artists will need to be more aware and know more about how these elements or their combined compounds and mixtures in a product will translate in their makeup application for media work, especially in high resolution photography or full digital (HDTV). It largely depends on how micronized the element particles are, how they unite as emulsifying facilitators, or if they are added in as light diffusing reflectors.

The first clue is a visual inspection of the product: if you can see reflective agents in the product while still in the container then you definitely know you will be dealing with that issue in the end result. I strongly recommend that you do your inspection in outdoor noon-day sun or the indoor light equivalent of 4500-5500k temperature, so that you can test it on your skin and properly evaluate the product for reflectiveness. If you can see it on skin, then you can bet you will be dealing with reflective issues in camera if you use it.

As a makeup artist working in HDTV I am naturally sensitive to reflective products, and always highly suspicious of products claiming “soft focus ingredients make skin look smoother and more diffused on screen”. The reality I see is that these “soft focus” reflective ingredients look like annoying little micro mirrors on skin in the camera and monitor. My own experience tells me that titanium dioxide can actually boost the reflective properties of mica and silica if they exceed certain proportions, and especially so if they are combined with talc. Talc will almost insure that these mineral additives will sit on top of the skin.

Another potential issue I see added to this situation is silicone ingredients in foundations. Silicone and its derivatives (dimethicone, cyclomethicone, crosspolymers, etc.) are inherently shiny in their texture and transparent enough to enhance or boost other reflective ingredients they come in contact with. Using powders with reflective ingredients on silicone makeup is nothing short of a potential makeup maintenance nightmare in the making. If you are dealing with topical skin moisture issues (perspiration and skin oils) on top of all this it can create a near impossible balance with good makeup maintenance and continuity in wear, especially for a long shoot day. You can almost bet you will be pulling the makeup off at some point in the day and doing it over again.

Hopefully this tutorial will help artists and consumers become more educated in these issues, and it’s always wise to expand your cosmetic chemistry knowledge to be able to make the right decisions for your needs. I didn’t really address the use of mineral based makeup here directly, but I feel that there is enough information about mineral ingredients in general to help guide you in your own decisions about mineral makeup use. A good article on mineral makeup was published on WebMD, and one that I feel makes some great points about the popularity, use, and claims in performance with mineral makeup. Click here to read the article.