Cherish The Season

>As Christmas begins to draw over us this evening we must hold close to our hearts the many blessings we enjoy, not only as artists, but as men and women who celebrate freely in the manner or faith we chose to do so. Many candles will be lit tonight at many Christmas Eve services around the world that celebrate the original reason for the season, which is the birth of Jesus Christ.

As you enjoy wonderful Christmas meals and goodies, and open beautifully wrapped presents from thoughtful friends and relatives, please take a brief moment to remember the valiant service of the many men and women of this great nation’s military who are deployed all around the globe. They will not be with their loved ones sharing in the delight and festivities that this holiday time of year brings. Rather they will, again, be standing guard and watch over the freedom and liberty we have to enjoy another season of celebration.

Take a moment this Christmas and pause in whatever manner of reverence for the continued safety of our military and civilian law enforcement. Remember that they and their loved ones have given up and sacrificed much in support of our great country. They have answered a high calling to serve and protect, a burden they willingly carry for us, and we must never forget to show appreciation, care, and respect for what they do. Without their vigilance there would be no freedom to celebrate a holiday that this nation cherishes, and in the religious fashion people choose to do so.

Christmas will also bear the marks of the brave and courageous who have fallen in the line of duty. The families and loved ones they have left behind will have empty places and heavy hearts that are still healing from their loss. Let us honor them in remembrance of their ultimate sacrifice. We are thankful for those who have safely returned and let us always show our gratitude for their patriotic service. May you have a truly blessed and meaningful Christmas holiday and wishing you the most prosperous New Year ever in 2010.

Beauty and the Beast: Fragrance Allergies, Part 1

> I have now declared myself the unofficial poster girl for an artificial fragrance free world. I knew it was the last straw yesterday when I came home from a TV commercial shoot location with the worst headache and sinusitis triggered by an overdose of multi-scented minutia. There were candles and automatic room sprays doing their thing in an enclosed setting. I could feel the telltale signs of a severe eczema attack also cropping up as I was applying makeup to the talent extras in my chair who were obviously wearing cologne or scented body lotions.

Granted this not a typical mainstream work situation, but my body was being been severely beaten down with odors that seemed to emanate from every direction in the home we shooting in. Towards the end of the day I had to have my assistant makeup artist take over completely because I became too sick from the heavily scented air in the environment to stay focused with my eyes and hands. Needless to say I was extremely grateful I had her with me, and that we could finish the job in a professional manner.

From my point of view artificial fragrance is a major pollutant in the workplace that is miserably tolerated, especially with fragrance sensitive persons like me. Studies and statistics show that nearly 20 percent of the population is chemically sensitive and artificial odor reactive, so this isn’t a freak of nature condition. In fact, exposure can trigger more serious medical conditions, such as full blown asthma, or other types of respiratory and immunological attacks. I am beginning to realize that people in general don’t really understand how serious this problem is, or how dangerous it can be to the chemically sensitive who are exposed continuously to artificially odorized environments.

Artificial fragrance is added to about every liquid, semi-solid and solid, and powder based medium we use in our daily lives. People are naturally drawn to fragrance because of it’s abilities to effect positive changes their moods and productivity, and retail companies know that it also increases spending patterns such as impulse buying. Just ask anyone who works in a fragrance based business or walk into a major department store during the holidays. You almost can’t avoid the fragrance models who fill the air with the samples they spray and hand out. Shopping at these stores pose a major health risk to odor sensitive individuals, and with a heightened flu season epidemic it can just about do a body in.

I realize that fragrance is an essential component of our cosmetics world. Many cosmetic ingredients must have fragrance “masking” in order to make the chemical mixture odor tolerable as we put it on our bodies. Among the most offensive in odor are many of the natural or organically derived product ingredients that must undergo a synthesizing process, which includes odor masking. Without added fragrance they wouldn’t be marketable, and therefore bearable to apply to the skin.

It is a fact that several types of auto immune diseases (both systemic and topical) are on the rise, and I am wondering out loud if artificial fragrance is a major contributing factor. I battle an ongoing a skin disorder (eczema) in which an eruption can be directly triggered by fragrance and can last for days or weeks. These outbreaks are not only painful but expensive, and because of the very strong prescription ointments I have to use to help promote the healing. Not to mention that these medications, over time and use, will chemically thin the skin mantle permanently and cause premature aging. Not exactly the kind of side effect I want at my age, as I need all the anti-aging help I can get!

Tracie DeFreilas Saab, M.S., is the author of a white paper discussion, “Individuals with Fragrance Sensitivity”. She cites some of the common reactive symptoms of fragrance sensitivity, which are also listed on the Job Accommodation Network website (www.jan.wvu.edu), a service of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL):

* Nausea
* Difficulty breathing or tightening of the throat
* Hoarse voice or loss of voice
* Tingling of the lips and skin
* Skin rashes
Because of the growing seriousness of this problem in the workplace there is much research that has been done, and activism that underscores the importance of fragrance sensitivity awareness. Standard operating procedures are being applied in municipal and government job markets to help educate and reduce the exposure to high risk individuals. The good news is that many employers and employees willingly make changes when they are told about the ill effects of fragrances on their colleagues.

There is a lot of research, guidelines, workplace protocols, and white paper discussions on the internet concerning fragrance allergies in the workplace. WebMD, a very well respected medical resource on the web, has a good article: Fragrance Allergies: A Sensory Assault. Another article is from the Human Resources Management Guide website: Fragrance Sensitivity. I encourage you to do your own investigation by using this search engine phrase “fragrance allergies in the workplace”.

So what does this have to do with makeup artistry you say? Plenty. The environment you work in has a lot to do with how well you can perform your job, and this includes avoiding health hazards that pose a high risk to your well-being. As such, I don’t allow artists assisting with me to wear fragrance on the job. When I routinely check with principal talent about their skin condition before they arrive on set I also ask them to refrain from wearing scented products. It is an accepted practice not to smoke on set, especially in the makeup room, so I see not wearing fragrance as becoming an extended part of that courtesy.

Finding good fragrance free products that perform well has become almost a second career in research, trial and error. Next time I will share some of my findings, and thoughts on how fragrance free balances with the cultural move towards a more eco friendly environment.

Color Story

>Color is what radiates life to our eyes. It is the essence of all things organic in nature and what we strive to faithfully recreate in our art forms. Color is a sustaining renewable resource because no matter how devastating natural disasters can be to the landscape, color eventually returns without any artificial persuasion. At night, color becomes a magnificent study in gray scale values, but few realize that those dark and light contrasts are the underlying rules of how color is structured and composed to be pleasing to the senses.

It is difficult to imagine a world without color, but most of the time we take it for granted. Color is as automatic to us as breathing air or walking. We barely scratch the surface in viewing the incredible abundance or intensity of colors in our environment because we have grown so accustomed to its seasonal vibrancy. We expect it, and we depend on color to be a constant force in our daily life. We wake up every day to a bright yellow sun, or stroll through lush green gardens with colorful flowers, or perhaps catch sight of a bright red cardinal bird. Even snow has a brilliance, a white that is unmatched by any other visual sensation.

In ancient times color was viewed as a precious commodity and some colors were very costly to make. Ownership of certain colors also represented status in society. Purple, for instance, was a symbol of wealth and power, and was reserved for only the rich because of the vast amount of raw materials and labor it took to make it. An ounce of purple dye, hand made by processing thousands of murex mollusks, was more costly than gold. Even vegetable dyes back then were not nearly as brilliant as the murex purple, nor as durable. Yet today we have literally millions of hue variations available in intensities and values at our fingertips. Our textiles and cosmetics are bursting with tints, tones, and shades of colors that would have been impossible to make or even forbidden to own in those ancient times.

Color has a strong psychological influence, even at the subliminal level, and can cause us to be attracted or repelled by its visual characteristics. It is the robust ingredient used to create the atmosphere and setting for celebrations, such as weddings, or holidays like Christmas. Color has intrigue that has been studied with passion by philosophers, physicists, and scientists throughout the ages seeking to master its phenomenal elements. From ancient Greeks (Aristotle) to 17th century alchemist, Sir Isaac Newton, and the celebrated 19th century Polymath, Johann Goethe, to the 20th century painter, Albert Munsell, color theory exploration has produced a body of rules, ideas, and principles by these men and others along the way that have been used to interpret the art, science, and vocabulary of color.

There will continue to be lofty discussions about color theory, and much of it boils down to opinions based on how the studies and research are interpreted. For instance, is light triadic in nature or is it a continuum? Are the primary colors (red, blue, and green) simply light waves that emit from a prism, or is it colorless energy picked up by brain receptor primaries (considered to be cyan, magenta, and yellow) and translated in varying percentages of what our eyes perceive through them?

No doubt, color can be complicated and the scientific aspects of color exploration alone could fill volumes. From Sir Isaac Newton’s first color wheel design to today’s professional colorists who forecast best selling colors and their combinations to manufacturers, it’s a fact that color will continue to define almost every facet of our existence.

Regardless of how we personally rate color’s importance in our lives, it is an active and sustaining ingredient we experience every moment we are alive. As summer draws to a close let’s take a fresh look at the fabulous colors coming our way in the next few weeks as the Fall season begins. As makeup artists, we can view some of the best examples of color theory in the raw, and study a bit in nature to help hone our creative abilities.

Adventures in Home Hair Coloring

>I am one of those blessed women who inherited the “later in life” gray hair gene. My mother didn’t start covering her strands of grays until she was nearly 60, and it seems I am following right behind her. Well, I have to admit I actually started my first time ever hair coloring adventure on myself a couple of years ago when I started noticing them sprinkled around my hairline.

Actress Jane Seymour was hawking a home hair coloring product in a TV commercial around that time, so I was convinced if lovely Jane could still have fabulous looking long tresses coloring them herself (if indeed she really does color them herself) then it was a no brainer for me to give it a try.

Like many women standing at the portal of first time hair coloring I found it a bit overwhelming wading through the myriad of color choices available at my local drug store. As I compared options I also pondered the outcome of a potential disaster if I didn’t select the right one that would be close enough to merge with my natural color. With my fair skin tone and medium brown hair that had golden and red highlights I knew I didn’t want to end up looking like a high contrast dye job.

Finding the right gray covering product that was subtle enough blend in well with my natural hair color characteristics was definitely my immediate goal. So, I decided to go with a very short term Level 1 (semi-permanent) formula in light golden brown that would wash out within 6 shampoos. It had no ammonia or peroxide so that if it ended up looking bad it would only take a couple of weeks to wash completely out. It makes experimenting fun because with this kind of gently hair color formula you really can’t do any harm.

One thing is certain, that as we get older our skin tone becomes paler because the pigmentation in our skin doesn’t regenerate with the same intensity as it did in our youth. The same is basically true for natural hair color, and it loses its natural luster as the gray sets in. Once I found the product that worked for me it became a dance to figure out how to make the color last as long as I could in-between applications.

My gray hair patterning is largely in the front of my face and around my hairline, so it looks like I have more highlights that contrast nicely with my natural hair color. There is no doubt about it, I loved the results I got with home hair coloring and covering gray around my face does brighten my look for a more youthful appearance.

I discovered that gray or silver hair can typically be color resistant, and this was true for my hair, so I have to leave the color solution on for the maximum amount of time recommended in the directions. I also found that alternating with two different strengths of semi-permanent dyes (one washes out within 6-12 shampoos, the other washes out within 12-24) does a great job of touching up the color while helping to keep my hair in better condition. Overall, home hair coloring takes much less time and expense than going to a salon and at this stage of the game for me the results look very natural and believable to the eye.

So to all of you out there who are wading into the first time gray hair coloring waters, here are my 10 tips to help make the experience a little more secure with believable results and longer wear. They will also save you some money and time between coloring sessions.

1. The day before coloring wash your hair with a clarifying (detergent) type shampoo, and allow to air dry. This will remove any conditioning or styling product residue so that the color can fully penetrate the hair shaft, which will also allow the color to wear and last longer.

1. Install a shower filter that filters out chorine. Unfiltered tap water contains strong amounts of chlorine, which is a bleaching agent and will cause hair color to fade faster. Tap water also has mineral sediments that can bind to the hair and interfere with optimal color adhesion. A filter takes out most of the unwanted sediments and it is also great for the skin!

3. Choose a demi-permanent color to start with that is actually ½ to 1 shade lighter than your natural hair color. Hair color typically takes bit darker than described on the box. For instance, I use a light golden brown color even though my actual hair color is medium brown. This gives me a perfect blend with my own hair color and the highlights are more evenly distributed throughout.

4. When you apply the color, avoid putting it on the ends until the last 10 minutes. Hair is much more porous on the ends so it absorbs quicker. You will get more even color results throughout the hair strands if you don’t over saturate the color on the ends.

5. Wait at least 48 to 72 hours after coloring hair to shampoo. This will allow the hair color molecules to fully saturate the hair strands and result in longer wear between color applications.

6. Use a shampoo that is made for color treated hair, and don’t rinse in hot water. Hot water expands the hair shaft and contributes to faster fading. Always use lukewarm water to shampoo and rinse hair.

7. Allow hair to air dry after coloring and avoid using a blow dryer for two days following your color application. The hair dryer on fresh color will add a slight dullness to the color that is permanent, and you will end up having to use shine enhancing products to bring it back to full intensity.

8. Use an ionic dryer which is kinder to color and to hair, and dries hair faster without dulling down or frizzing out the hair texture.

9. Use a conditioner that has sunscreen in it to help protect your color, and keep it from possibly turning a brassy looking color. If you use a curling iron or hot rollers use a thermal styling spray that will help keep the heat from penetrating the hair shaft too deeply and breaking down the dye adhesion molecules.

10. About 2 -3 weeks after coloring use a color enhancing shampoo every other time you wash your hair. These kinds of shampoos have ingredients that enhance the hue and boost shine. When you get close to needing to color again, try a color glossing product to get the last bit of wear out of your fading color. These products intensify the color with shine so that you have the illusion of fresh looking color.

All the Flutter about Eyelash Extensions

> It seems that every red carpet event these days is also a walking celebrity advertisement for full, lush looking glamorous eyelashes. Semi-permanent lash applications, better known as lash extensions, are fast becoming one of the most requested beauty services and makeup artists are adding this skill to their service offerings, especially for brides. Eyelash extensions are a fabulous way for the average person to bring a little more drama to their eyes that will enhance their overall features for a more glamorous look.

What is it about eyelash extensions that have become all the rage? For one thing you can have long naturally looking lashes that feel weightless and look simply beautiful 24/7, and with little need for mascara. The eyelash extension technique was created in Asia and its popularity quickly made its way West. Now there are so many eyelash extension companies that have sprung up to cash in on the craze that it makes it a little more difficult to find the right training that results in good technique with quality materials. However there are a couple of very reputable companies out there that have solid and stringent requirements for certifying artists in the procedure.

Traditional false eyelashes are applied by a strip and glued directly under the lid table. Individual false lashes are knotted clusters and placed between the lashes with glue. The problem with both of these methods is that if the strip or cluster lash is done incorrectly they are very noticeable to the eye. What’s worse is that the strip and knotted cluster is easily seen on an actor in HDTV, and if too much glue is used then it becomes very distracting and you lose the original intent of lash enhancement.

Eyelash extensions solve the problem for actors working in HD because these are applied directly to the individual lash one by one for a natural look and feel. They provide customized length and volume to the natural lash for a full and lush look that sometimes doesn’t require additional enhancement from mascara. A good application is seamless to the eye, and the wearer should not even be aware of them if they have been properly applied. Brides simply love the look in their videos and photographs. What woman doesn’t love to look glamorous for that special occasion, or have beautiful looking lashes just for every day wear?

Eyelash extensions can last 8 weeks or more, depending on how they are cared for. A good application is applied with an adhesive that is soft and flexible and moves naturally with the lash. Because the extension is bonded to each lash individually, they will naturally fall out when the lash reaches its natural shedding stage. Extensions do require maintenance to keep continuity in the look. You will require a touch-up every two to three weeks to replace any lashes that have fallen out so it will blend with new growth coming in.

Eyelash extensions are a time and money investment that requires upkeep, and you need to consider those factors if you decide to wear them. It can take up to two hours to have the initial full set done, and they need to be kept on a regular basis to maintain the look. A very small number of people may be allergic to the glue so if you think you may be one of them I would recommend you pay for a trial attachment of a couple of lashes on each eye and see how it works for you. If you have sensitive eyes to begin with then eyelash extensions are probably not for you. Contact lens wearers should also use extreme caution.

Above all, make sure you have your extensions done by a well trained artist that has been company certified in the proper application technique with high quality materials. Do your research to find the best value and the best trained. Compare prices, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to ask the artist to provide a list of satisfied customers. If you know people who have had them done and are very happy with the process get referrals from them and check them out. It’s most important that you find someone that you can trust, and has a good reputation for excellent service and sanitary procedures.

I have done extensive research into companies that provide eyelash extension training and there is so much hyperbole from many of them that you just have to gloss over that and look for answers to the really important questions. It doesn’t matter how many celebrities are endorsing a particular company, it matters far more about the standards of training, the most up to date knowledge provided, high quality materials, and sanitation procedures. This is why I chose Shavasana Eyelash Extensions for training artists at our studio because of their high quality standards in materials and procedures, and their nationally established reputation.

And finally, for those who just can’t afford the cost and maintenance of eyelash extension but looking for a more cost effective way to boost lash length and volume, I strongly suggest Fast Lash by Japonesque. This is a dry white polyester fiber that is used in combination with your mascara application. It works on any length or condition of eyelash to lengthen and thicken in minutes. It comes off easily with the regular removal of your mascara. It’s not recommended for sensitive eyes or extended contact lens wearers, but I recommend Natural Born Cosmetics™ Hi-Define Volumizing Eye Lash Primer and Conditioner as an alternative as it really does a great job of boosting the length and volume of your mascara application.

Bridal Beauty Season, Part 2

> To put it simply a wedding is a “stage production” starring the bride along with her supporting cast of bridesmaids and ushers. She will be under the scrutiny of a live audience (and frequently close-up) while being captured by video and still photography for nearly 8 hours or more. Hiring a makeup artist to help design and carry forward her most beautiful features will be one of the best financial investments she can make for her wedding preparations. Professional beauty advice is priceless compared to the overall cost of the nuptial event, and the forever after memories frozen in the wedding photo album and DVD.

The great thing about finding a good professional artist to work with is the double bang for the buck. Not only can they work magic with makeup but they understand the functions and issues with the “live” canvas they work on. Good skin care mechanics is part of a makeup artist’s fundamental knowledge tool set and brides should always take advantage of that. Skin typing for makeup selections requires an understanding of skin texture and condition, which can lead to a good discussion about product recommendations to incorporate for a more nurturing skin care program.

I consider optimal skin maintenance a critical part of my bridal services which is why I begin every consultation at that level. Many times I find that my bridal clients are still using the same routine they started with in high school. They don’t really understand how their skin changes as they mature, and 9 times out of 10 they are using overly aggressive skin care products and methods that are causing more problems than they can control. Brides are generally experiencing a lot of stress in their lives during this time and it often shows up in their faces. This is another important reason to help them optimize their skin care program to minimize the use of overly invasive or unnecessary products. It will go a long way to improve their skin texture for a smoother complexion, which is so important for under scrutiny of the HD cameras on the big day.

Part 2 of Bridal Beauty Season Tips offers some guidelines that will help showcase every bride’s most unique feature, her eyes. Beautiful eyes that project from a smooth looking complexion are the result of the right combination of foundation products and a properly chosen color palette.

1. Brides should always begin every makeup session with eye drops to clear out any redness and brighten the sclera or white part of the eye for the clearest looking natural eye color.

2. Pale complexions should avoid choosing vibrant or overly bright colors because they tend to be overpowering in photographs.

3. Olive undertone complexions should avoid gray, charcoal, and dark brown shades as they tend to pull down the “sparkle and brightness” in the eyes.

4. Avoid using any mauve, burgundy, or any kind of red shade of eye shadows. These colors end up looking like a bruised eye in photographs.

5. Avoid using “neutralizing” colors in the eye area for discolorations and hyper pigmentation as it can cause a grayish or muddy looking result that is immediately picked up in camera. Stick with high pigmented opaque concealers applied very thinly. Keromask is a “Red Carpet” celebrity favorite and the go-to concealer for pro makeup artists because it always produces fantastic looking results.

6. Concealer should match the skin tone and have good opacity results. Never apply it lighter or you will photograph with “raccoon” looking eyes in your pictures.

7. Always use matte texture eye shadows. Iridescent shadows tend to crease and fade and the reflective nature of these shadows don’t give eyes a good contrasting depth, especially for photographs. Natural Born Cosmetics Eye Shadow Palettes are perfectly edited in warm, neutral or cool color groups that are easy to use and provide long lasting wear.

8. Use a bone, toast, or off-white color shadow on the brow bone area to give eyes soft drama contrast and depth. Darker skin tones should use a highlighter with more of a pink beige or peach brown tone. This captures light to further frame and enhances the beauty of eyes, and sets off the overall color harmony.

9. If you wear false eyelashes: use a heated eyelash curler, such as the Japonesque Heated Eyelash Curler, to gently shape your own lashes first. Apply false lashes and use the heated lash curler again to blend them together.

10. Two coats of waterproof mascara is a must! Natural Born Cosmetics Indelible Lash Waterproof Mascara is extreme staying power, and a top bridal favorite.

11. Blend, blend, and blend again! Good blending is the secret to the most natural looking “frame” for the eyes and will help set them off. The HD camera will pick up and magnify any hard edges.

12. Using an eye priming product, like Cinema Secrets Eye Primer is the secret weapon that will smooth out the lid for optimal shadow application, and provide long lasting results from your eyeshadow application with a truer color payoff.

13. Avoid using eye contour and eyeliner colors that are too intense (such as black or dark brown) for the natural eye color. It will overpower your eyes and lose the contrasting effect.

14. To get longer and lush looking eyelashes without resorting to false eyelashes, use a fabulous eyelash thickening and lenghtening product to prime the lashes before you apply mascara, such as Natural Born Cosmetics Hi-Define Volumizing Eye Lash Primer and Conditioner.

Following these simple tips will ensure a classic timeless look every bride will look fabulous in!

Bridal Beauty Season: Part 1

> Spring is my favorite time of the year, and I love how the landscape here in Northern Virginia is replete with colors that are fresh and crisp with a sparkling new zest. This is also the season that brings a lot of inquiries from brides about beauty and makeup as they prepare for one of the biggest days of their lives.

Without a doubt, a wedding is a major moment when skin gets a very close up look, and immortalized forever in photos and videos. The care skin has been given is going to greatly impact how well makeup can project the bride’s most beautiful features. Even the best trained makeup artist can not fully camouflage skin that has overriding issues due to neglectful skin care or improper skin care product selection and use.

The good news is that skin responds fairly quickly and positively to simple remedies such as adopting a good skin care regimen tailored to your skin type, and using products that have the least amount of unnecessary ingredients that can upset the lipid layer (pH) balance of skin. Optimal skin care includes using products that work to enhance the skin’s natural functions and renewal process, and staying way from using products that may cause potential irritation such as dryness, flaking, or redness. Quite simply, good skin care is the major key to looking as flawless as possible under makeup.

The smart bride will also clue her fiancé in on good skin care practices to minimize ruddiness and irritation that often happens with rough handling through shaving, or vigorous washing of skin. She can even go one step further and suggest to her man that a super light touch of dual finish powder or transparently applied airbrush makeup on the wedding day can imperceptibly even out the rough spots in his complexion to give a far cleaner look to his skin for photography. I have seen tons of photos of a bridal party that made the investment of professional makeup services to insure beautiful “camera ready” looking results. However the raw faced or ruddy looking groom was a startling contrast to his stunning bride, and unfortunately those photos will be forever mementos of that fact.

Now that wedding photography is moving to the high definition format, ruddy looking or uneven male complexions become even more of a visual issue. The good news is that you can solve this undesirable contrast by using professional grade makeup products that are applied with a super light technique, just as it is done imperceptibly on male actors appearing on Television programs in HD. If it is done well it will not be detectable to the eye as makeup, and this will make for a completed look to wedding party continuity in photos.

Here are some of my important beauty tips that will help brides look their best for this grand occasion:

1. First and foremost I believe it is important to implement a good safe skin care routine in the months before the big day so that your skin has a chance to normalize as much as possible. Don’t introduce anything new to your routine at least 6 weeks before the wedding. Also, you don’t want to do anything drastic to the face such as high powered facials, peels or injections that could cause a serious reaction. Stay away from these cosmetic procedures for at least a month before the wedding.

2. Invest in good professional brow grooming! A well shaped and defined brow creates a beautiful frame for the eyes, and allows eye shadow to bring out the best in contrast to pop the natural color of eyes. Use a very high quality professional brow tweezer, such as Japonesque Artisan Slant Tip Tweezer to maintain the look of your shaped brow. Use brow powder rather than pencil to fill in sparse areas and set with a brow fixative product such as Natural Born Cosmetics Brow Fix, or Natural Born Cosmetics Brow Wax.

3. Your foundation must match your skin exactly in your undertone (warm, neutral, or cool) and the shade must not be too light or too dark for your top tone. You will have a strong line of demarcation if the match is not smooth at both skin levels, and this will show up strongly in the wedding photos and video. With today’s wedding photography and video going high definition this will really stand out as an obvious skew between the face and the neck.

Use only high performing foundation products that give you flawless looking results and long lasting wear. I use Graftobian’s Hi-Def Glamour Crème or Graftobian’s GlamAire Airbrush Makeup because it is formulated in all three undertones (warm, neutral, and cool), with over 60 true skin tone shades to select from. It delivers all the important continuities I need for bridal makeup to last beautifully throughout the wedding and reception, and especially under all lighting conditions for photograhy and video.

4. Waterproof eyeliner and mascara is a must! Those tender moments of exchanging vows in the ceremony often bring tears of joy, so you want to be sure your eye makeup survives the waterfall and wears smoothly throughout the event. Natural Born Cosmetics Automatic Indelible Eye Liner is the perfect choice for budge proof and fade proof eyeliner. Natural Born Cosmetics Indelible Lash Waterproof Mascara is 100% waterproof and smudge proof mascara that really does last until you take it off.

5. A good rule of thumb for choosing a hair style is to harmonize the look with the design of your wedding gown along with the theme of your wedding. Is it soft and romantic, or dramatic with high contrasts and details, or are you are going with a timeless classic and elegant look? You don’t want your hairstyle to be so overpowering that it becomes the main feature, and you lose the “frame” of your face. It should be balanced enough to connect the headpiece and gown for an overall pleasing look, but bringing the major focus to your face.

Stay tuned for part 2 with more Bridal beauty tips and suggestions!

Hi-Def Makeup: Get Your Brushes on the Bandwagon

>Lately I have been observing the reticence many makeup artists have about getting on board the HDTV format bandwagon. What is most noticeable is their general lack of interest in getting additional training that might help them better adapt their makeup application techniques for HD requirements. As this technology takes permanent center stage in video and television production they are going to be caught with more down time on their brushes if they don’t brush up to include refined knowledge and methods for a smooth transition to this medium.

I see a couple of reasons why makeup artists are slow to embrace this mandatory digital upgrade. One is so many of them are always busy pursuing their beauty portfolios and frequently upgrading them with new print and fashion/editorial work. They are driven more by this kind of creative artistry than the “powder puff mechanic” makeup maintenance type work required for video. They prefer to spend their time building their reputations and refining their talent and technique in this arena, which I can completely understand and relate to. I personally find special makeup effects far more rewarding and challenging than doing straight makeup for video.

However, I am realist too, and there is never going to be the call for SFX work that will keep me happily, gainfully, and exclusively employed in that vein. Video has been and always will be the enduring backbone of any production industry, even in the smallest of markets. This is where many artists are seriously overlooking the fact that video should also be part of their pursuits of steady and gainful employment. Print and fashion makeup jobs may greatly fluctuate in availability and budget from one month to the next but video is a staple stream of employment opportunities.

I work in the Metro Washington, DC market, which is one of the most video rich regions in the country. High Definition was birthed here back in 1986 with the first test broadcast, and the FCC is requiring full digital HD compliance for the rest of the country very soon. There is an array of headquarter and bureau markets here that are driven by cable, network, political, government, industrial, military, and corporate entities which makes this region’s video industry arguably one of the most makeup productive in the US. Virtually all of these markets are now HD exclusive. Tie this to the fact that many film and TV/video artists here also work the New York production market, which is a mere 4 ½ hours away, so that significantly widens the industry HD job field potential.

Another reason is I suspect many makeup artists are confused with a lot of mis-information floating around out there in how to properly refine or adjust their techniques and product choices for HD. It IS definitely about the refinement, not about adjustment! Refining is an important process that requires more vertical growth in knowledge along with polishments in technique in application. Adjustment is simply a shift, a lateral movement with little knowledge or methodology behind it. Some artists are just secretly afraid to expose themselves to any gaps they may have in their fundamental skills platform that might make transition to working in this medium more difficult. Other artists who are retail, salon, or bridal based makeup businesses simply don’t see the need at all for them to acquire high technology makeup education.

The truth is no matter what makeup artistry field or specialty you work in HD is going to touch you in one way or another. You won’t be able to avoid crossing around or over it so you might as well face it head on, and win. HD resolution is available now in just about every professional and consumer format that records or broadcasts an image, including print photography and the cinema. HD demands more professional working knowledge from makeup artists in the technical aspects of camera recording, lighting, advanced makeup color theory, and cosmetic chemistry. Lighting science is definitely one of the most important communication aspects of a video production a makeup artist should have a strong working interface with, especially for HD. Needless to say an artist’s ability to effectively translate their skill set into full digital needs is going to influence their future job and earning potential in the video market.

The solution to crossing over the HD makeup threshold is to squarely deal with any doubts and insecurities you have about this head on, and move past them as quick as you can to get with the program! Be honest and truthful to yourself about your knowledge and ability because HD is going to painfully expose any shortfalls you have. Search out any training available that will help you bridge whatever gaps you have in fundamental makeup knowledge and technique so that you have a better skill set with to refine into HD. Concentrate on any classes available that elevates your working knowledge in the science and physics of camera mechanics, lighting science, and color theory. Then practice, and practice some more until you can work it like it is second nature on an HD set.

The demand for artists with proper makeup techniques for HD video is definitely on the upswing. More video production companies are recognizing the importance of having a makeup artist as one of their major needs with budgeting because of HD. Training artists to be successful in this format is a passion I have, and to see this generation of artists as well as the next have the proper education for execution. This is the major reason I created High Definition Makeup University in which artists can come and train in an actual HDTV studio setup with some of the leading HDTV makeup artists in the country. Read more about it at Creative Artistry & FX.

The Little Artist That Could

> One of the great rewards of being a makeup instructor is the ability to sow into “fertile ground” and watch it bear fruitful crops. What I mean here is that many of my students who come to my makeup workshops really take to heart what they are taught in head knowledge and skill in technique, and then run with it all to launch or further strengthen their respective makeup careers.

One of my most memorable students from last year was a budding young makeup artist named Lau who traveled from Hong Kong to take a private artistry fundamentals class with me along with one of my scheduled airbrush workshops. This was Lau’s first trip to the US, and her English speaking ability was somewhat limited. However it was clear to me that her heart’s desire was to someday grow to be one of Hong Kong’s most in-demand bridal and commercial makeup artists, and become makeup teacher herself. This petite young lady definitely showed a lot of courage and resolve to travel to Washington, DC by herself for a week and accomplish one of her major artistry skill goals. She also wanted to be the first in her region to offer professional airbrush services to her clients.

Lau immediately captured the hearts of her fellow airbrush workshop students with her warm personality, sheer determination in spite of the language barrier, and display of natural talent. She was quietly reserved by nature during the learning process but extremely attentive. I was surprised at how fast she picked up on the knowledge technicals and composition, and translating them into her own creative expressions during the project phase. We all grew very fond of Lau during the two days, and it was another great example to me of how artists can quickly break through communication barriers and bond simply through their art forms.

During her artistry fundamental skills platform workshop with me I was so pleased at how quickly she moved ahead with a newly expanded technique structure through this additional one-on-one workshop, and within the span of one week she made the most of all she learned and assimilated in both workshops with some amazing work she did on the live model during the laboratory phase.

I got an email from Lau the other day, nearly a year since she took both workshops, and she proudly sent me photos of her very first class of students! It was a total joy moment for me and so wonderful to see how much more she has grown in her abilities. This girl was never afraid to take bold steps to make all of her artistry career goals come true. I have had students come from all over the world during the many years I have been teaching, and it is always so infinitely rewarding for me to hear about them moving ahead and achieving their artistry goals and dreams.

Giving your best to others is always going to be the greater satisfaction and fulfillment in this business. It’s the one thing that not only genuinely touches others and their careers, but it’s also the pleasure knowing your reputation is branded as one who is willing to give freely and openly to empower others to their own successes.

Seeds of Opportunity

>One of the great joys of being a working makeup artist is the ability to share your expertise with up and coming young talent. Over the last 15 years I have taught numerous makeup workshops and seminars, and have had many opportunities to instruct and mentor wonderfully gifted artists with great potential from around the world. I think back to my own beginnings and relentless labors to make it in an industry at a time when there were no formalized schools to speak of, and opportunities for training and mentoring came very few and far between.

Early on in my budding career I was so very fortunate to have sat under two of the rising artists of the era who, years later, went on to win Academy Awards. During that time I became keenly aware of how competitive, aggressive, and “political” the studio system was towards emerging artists, and the difficult dynamics within the artist community. Waiting for that big chance or the curtains of opportunity to briefly part was very trying, and at times it seemed hopeless that I would ever get even a small break. Little did I realize then that the long delay I was suffering through was going to be a very important part of my makeup training.

I don’t know if I would have developed the right fortitude, perseverance, and longsuffering patience this business demands had I gotten lucky too soon. Instead, I had lots of time to practice my skills and perfect my artistry through lots of trial and error situations. The mistakes I made were far more valuable because they forced me to focus harder on my end goals, wise up in my attitude, and further sharpen my knowledge and techniques. They also greatly improved my timing in performance while refining my overall skill set in those important fundamentals every artist must possess to move successfully into more advanced and specialized artistry fields.

During this time I had a chance opportunity come along with the celebrated special makeup effects artist guru, Dick Smith, whose kindness and generosity gave me one of the most memorable and valuable lessons in one sentence during those early days, and he said: “Those who lead and excel in what they do cannot keep it to themselves.” I didn’t quite grasp what he was referring to at the time, but that one phrase stuck with me then, and over the years has strongly impacted my ideology, ethics, and integrity in how I perform my work and serve others this industry. Those few, well chosen words were one of the biggest career blessings I could have ever received.

As time rolled on it became clear to me what Dick meant in that forecast, and that is leadership and excellence is the infrastructure of your performance along with the very best you have to give in talent and technique. Those who lead the way are also charged with the duty of working to the best of their ability, and advancing the artistry field with their contribution of greater imagination and skill offerings. We are bound to passing the craft on successfully to the next wave of up and coming makeup artists, as well as leaving it better than it was.

There are always going to be talented artists on the horizon and marching forward behind you, and some may pass you by. Get used to it! They are the ones that will push the makeup artistry “envelope” harder and farther than the previous generation, and our craft needs constant innovation to stay alive and relative on this end of the editing process. So, when their time comes to shine we owe it as a tribute to our own successes to make sure the knowledge and techniques, and the skills to perform, them have been carefully polished further and handed off in the same mode of excellence and leadership.

How else will these important standards of artistry practices survive and live on if the seasoned artists doesn’t keep their hands open, sharing, and modeling the professional way? There is far too much fear, jealousy, and insecurity that runs rampant in this business, and I see many high tier makeup artists tight-fisted with their cutting edge knowledge and skills as a means of maintaining the mysteriousness, control, and monopoly over industry makeup jobs. Many strongly feel that by being accessable and generous in sharing the “Inner Sanctum” of their craft skills is like personally escorting thieves to the loot. I have the view that no one can really steal a job from me; either it was never mine to begin with or was never going to be mine to have OR give.

The confidence I have in myself, my reputation, and the scope of my skill set and performance is my job security, and my honorable practices with integrity and high ethics has always led me to many open doors of work opportunities. When I walk out my craft with the respect for others working in this industry, and while giving liberally and freely to other artists along the way, it always comes back to me in immeasureable ways. The greater satisfaction I have in my career these days is offering the best I have of my talents and techniques to other makeup artists hungry to learn, so they feel supported and empowered along the way to their own greatness.

If this career path has taught me anything about people and relationships it is the important principles I learned along the way in what it takes to perform your craft, and that also means serving others with excellence. It’s in the act of service that one receives the greatest tangible reward, and giving it way will alway be the biggest blessing coming back to you, and greatly multipled.