Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Haute Couture Hair: Hairstyles for The Rise of the Avant Garde

The Rise of The Avant Garde

Significant changes are brewing in the fashion world as we speak. Since the 2010 suicide death of the influential fashion designer Alexander McQueen, the fashion community has witnessed a landslide of his iconic ideas, tidily sweeping away the banal, and replacing it with brilliance. It’s The Rise of The Avant Garde….and it has yielded endless unique and exquisite ways to adorn yourself, coming from the grave of a visionary. I am especially fond of embellishing ‘from the neck up,’ ie.–the head and the face….whether it be with fabulous Face Lace or exotic facial jewelry, dramatic feathered lashes, or my favorite trend, the headwear craze….

Haute Couture Hair

But today we’re going to talk about hair. Your hairdo is critical and can make or break your look, as evidenced in the photos in this article. Here I will show you my top picks for some fabulous “Haute Couture Hair,” as I call it, and advise you on how to achieve it. Enjoy.

 

Heart shaped updo

 

Desperately Seeking Drama

The first thing to aspire to, when trying to achieve memorable, haute couture hair, is…..Drama. High-fashion clothing needs to be matched with an equally epic hairstyle, and you’ll definitely want an exaggerated effect….how much depends on just how much chutzpah you have. Consider your event or the activity that you will be doing, and strategize for the clothing ensemble so the look is cohesive. After all, an updo can look very average…..dowdy and matronly, even….or it can stop people dead in their tracks, like the one above, a fanning, heart-shaped display with a dramatic white streak and thick blunt bangs. I adore this do! It is so unique and awe-inspiring….sexy, yes….a sublime confection that will definitely not go unnoticed!

Drama in your hairdo exists through many factors, including texture; length and volume; cut and proportions; the silhouette; and finally, color. It is important to remain realistic and realize that you will never be able to re-create some of these looks–even if you are a talented hairdresser–without the use of fake hair and other materials, so you might need to familiarize yourself with both a wig shop and an art supply. According to expert stylist Edward Tricomi of the prestigious Warren-Tricomi Salon in New York City, an art supply is a great place to score materials for creative hairstyles. “You can find pastel chalk to color the hair and all kinds of other interesting things, like aluminum wire. You can create updos with that,” he explained.

 

 

Giant hair bow

The giant hair bow above is a custom piece made with wire and synthetic hair. If we were to see the model’s head from the back, we would probably notice that her own hair was tucked into the center “bellybutton” of the bow, and this bow is a custom hairpiece created by a talented stylist or perruquier, also known as a wigmaker. So if you are dying to recreate this style, set forth to interview a few experts in the field to find out who is capable of creating a giant hair bow like this one, which would be engineered to easily slide on and off a high ponytail/bun with little gripping combs built into the structure of the hairpiece. It would probably also include a drawstring tie to anchor such weight securely on your head. I would make it a little smaller for the real world, but not by much. Keep it oversized. The size is exaggerated for the fashion editorial, but in real life, you would need to scale it down a bit. I think this look is elegant yet edgy, and that stark contrast makes it memorable—this is a true couture coif. And now let’s examine some other styles and discuss.

 

The Updo

Beehive

 

The beehive above is the result of a sleek blowout in the salon, after which the hair would be ironed straight with a flatiron, then anchored on the very top of the crown of the head in a high centered pony….and finally, it is alternately teased and then smoothed until it reaches new heights as a perfectly conical beehive….it’s created almost like the cotton candy you’d get at a carnival. The model is probably wearing a hairpiece for height and structure. The hairpiece is most likely a faux ponytail that was attached at the crown, and then mixed with her own hair to achieve that super high, narrow shape. The beehive was popular in the 1960s, a decade ripe with sexy hairstyles that require a lot of time and patience, and of course a lot of hairspray!!!

Awesome updo

 

Here is another updo, a bit more casual than its ancestors. I would imagine that this model is using at least one hairpiece, maybe more, and probably a hair rat or two. You can find hair rats in your specific color on Amazon online. Note the fringy tendrils that were cut to frame the face for this particular look. An experienced stylist would be able to recreate this updo. But you should always book a trial appointment with your stylist to ensure that you will be satisfied with the end product. And for every trial with a hairstylist comes the bill. They are not going to give it to you free. This can really eat up both time and money, but there’s no greater buzzkill than to be entirely prepared for a lovely event or beautiful engagement, just to find out that your hairstylist is a newbie–green cosmetology graduate–or that they simply don’t know what the hell they’re doing, which is often the case. I’m not going to lie to you—finding a talented hairdresser is no easy feat. And when you do find one, you had better treasure that relationship. It was actress Joan Crawford who said, “I think that the most important thing a woman can have–next to talent, of course–is her hairdresser.” Touché, Joan. Touché!

I’m continually shocked by the lack of mastery that lurks in many a salon these days. So please, do your research. The best way to find an amazing hairstylist is by referral—that is, word of mouth….of course, however, you must be listening to the right mouth! So find the savviest fashionista in your circle, or ask a well-heeled woman whose look you admire. You can also do some detective work online and interview your prospective hairstylist prior to the appointment. Ask poignant questions, and it wouldn’t hurt to see a portfolio of their work, if they have one.

It is an empowering feeling to be armed with knowledge, and knowledge is something that no one can strip from you. So challenge yourself and do your homework! It will pay off in the end.

 

Braided updo

Another useful tip is to check out some books from the library on hair from different eras….For every time in history, there are different looks which reflect the society and its people. I love the hair from the 1960s, it is so sexy and big, and it’s making a comeback.

You can also look at cosmetology industry magazines–hair journals, that is–that focus on all kinds of different styles. Look online by doing a google search, and pick a hairstyle that is completely unique. It might even have step-by-step instructions on how to create the look.  

Cute topknot with white eyeshadow

And remember, even if there are instructions, you should still schedule at least one trial before the “big day,” whatever that may be—the wedding, a fundraiser, a gala, New Year’s, a special night out, or your ex-bf’s funeral.  😉

She Bangs

Black bangs

Another haute couture hair element is severe bangs. Bangs often signify youth and are very flattering on many face shapes, but they are extremely high-maintenance and if you have one ounce of natural curl, you are going to regret making the cut.

Blunt blonde bangs

It really is best to work with Mother Nature, because, my darlings, she will always win. To maintain a perfectly straight, thick curtain of bangs like the ones on Cara Delevingne, above, you must have compliant and naturally straight hair. 

 

Blunt blonde geisha cut

This is the biggest mistake that I see women making in their beauty routines: don’t fight Mother Nature. Work with what you have, not against it. Besides, there are plenty of sources for clip-in synthetic bangs, or wigs with bangs, that would supply you with the look you are trying to achieve without the growing pains of a regrettable haircut.

 

When Short is Chic

 Short but chic

The styles are always changing, and one year short hair my be in and the next year, it may be out. If you are hankering to make the cut, there are still many options for shorter haute couture hair. Remember that for your daily do, you want something that works with your natural texture, not against it…..something more low-maintenance. We all have too much to do in this complicated world than to worry about waging a war on our hair every day. Special occasions are different, but if you are not sure what you want, and are feeling undecided, I strongly urge you not to chop off your hair on a whim, because you will regret it. 

Choppy short do

Hair grows at an abysmal rate of a half-inch per month……that’s only six inches in a year! Talk about a long-term commitment. There is nothing more frustrating than those awkward stages of hair growth in between layers or bangs.

Short bob with bangs

The drama in a short cut is usually attributed to its overall silhouette. I love the geometric lines of a Sassoon cut, above, but again, only those with naturally straight, smooth hair need apply. Don’t be fooled by how another woman’s hair may look. You have to work with your characteristics and lifestyle, not hers. So curly girls, this look is not for you. One drop of rain–or five minutes outside in humid air–will cause your curls to kink up and revolt against Vidal Sassoon, who would most certainly roll over in his grave, the poor man.

 

  Such a Tease

Sexy 1960s hair

Backcombing, or teasing, as it is affectionately called in the industry, is a great way to build volume and create a sexy silhouette like the photos above and below. It’s also a great way to break the hair and destroy the healthy smooth cuticle on your strands. For this reason, I do not recommend teasing your hair every day, or soon you will have very little hair to work with. For an elegant night out, however, I am so fond of these looks.

Braided teased mess

They’re both half-up, half-down hairstyles with a slightly disheveled look that I like to call “Bedroom Hair.” You want it to look like you just took a tumble with someone and almost got caught. A little dirty, yes, but that’s what makes it so drop-dead sexy!!! Live a little!

 

Orange hair tucked in

The look above is serious haute couture hair…..Notice the way the fashion stylist for this shoot put the model’s hair underneath the garment to peek out. I love this technique because it is very unusual. I’ve actually never seen another woman do it, other than myself. It’s kind of like you’re playing with the clothes and challenging traditional notions of how to dress oneself. I think it’s very creative. You can do this with jewelry in lieu of the fabric—especially if you have a gorgeous large statement necklace. It just looks so cool and unique to tuck the hair beneath the necklace or weave it in between the gems, something like that. Very avant garde. 

Heavily teased beehive

And finally, the French twist above gets its own twist when you backcomb it for a bigger end result. I love the look of a French twist, and many women can do them on themselves, so give it a try and practice teasing the hair before you assemble. Check online for tutorials. They’re all over the internet. 

Elegantly Wasted

 Messy mess

Sometimes, the best solution for a problem is the opposite of what you might have expected. Such is the case with “Elegantly Wasted” hair. The contrast looks so hot, I think. It’s young and hip and modern. Just look at our striking model above. Her messy hair looks great when worn with sooty rockstar eyeliner and a shiny nude lip….pure seduction! 

Giant teased mass

I also like “Elegantly Wasted” updos. They look great with couture.

Blonde mess with roses

Add an Accessory

Integrating hair accessories into your coif is a great way to make your style even more dramatic and memorable. I love the bevy of blooms in the “Elegantly Wasted” updo above. Hair accessories don’t have to cost a fortune, either. Synthetic flowers like the ones above are not costly, and neither are chopsticks, below.

Chop sticks and flower

I highly recommend getting a few hair accessories to jazz things up. Chopsticks look great in a simple topknot or back bun, and a flower behind the ear is always fresh and pretty in the summertime.

 

Pink ribbon

I also love a little ribbon from the fabric store. This type of trim is cheap, cheap, cheap, but as you can see, it looks so sweet and lovely above.

 

Hair jewelry

Hair gems and jeweled sticks are two more cool accessories that I love playing with, and as you can see, the sticks look downright elegant in a modern geisha updo.

Working With a Hat or Fascinator

 

Black lace veil

The headwear craze is surging through fashion right now at a feverish pace, and I could not be any more thrilled. I’ve always loved hats, and the new creations, by so many talented milliners, are so creative, wildly imagined, and artistically executed. Headwear always elevates an ensemble to newer, more avant garde heights, but if you are not sure how to wear your headpiece, here are some tips.

 

Slicked back with leather hat

When wearing a hat or fascinator, you usually cannot go wrong with a simple bun or elegant chignon at the nape of the neck. Sweep the rest of the hair back for a smooth look, and then put on your headpiece.

 

Slicked with fascinator

As you can see, the hat or headpiece takes center stage and a bad hair day is nullified.

 

Floral fascinator

You can also perch your headpiece atop a French twist…

 

 

Red mink fascinator

…or wear it rakishly on one side with a high pony!

 

Christian lacroix 2

I love to see creativity in dressing. It makes the ultimate imago more memorable, so try integrating the hair with the headpiece, as shown above on the catwalk at Christian Lacroix.

Christian lacroix

And remember that you can combine elements for a really beautiful outcome. Wear a long synthetic ponytail with some ribbon or a flower, or both! Hair accessories integrate faux hair with your own hair seamlessly and make the partnership even more believable.


Keeping Track of Trends

Long loose braid

Keeping track of trends insures that your hairstyle will look cool and current and cutting-edge. Fashion is forever changing. And if 2014 was the year of the braid, above, then 2015 is primed to promote the pony!!!

 

All ponytails

The runways at Fashion Week were positively permeated with the popular pony!!! Above, from left to right, the pony appeared, in different incarnations, at: Monique L’huillier, Herve Leger, Fendi, Carmen Marc Valvo, and Chanel!

The pony popped up at both Dior and Carolina Herrera as well. At Dior it was a sultry rendition by stylist Guido Palau, and at Herrera, Orlando Pita styled the pony low and sleek and wrapped with silver leather!!!

The Power of the Pony

 

Formal ponytail

I positively adore the look of a ponytail with couture. You’re challenging conventions and redefining elegance. Rules are meant to be broken. Trust me, life is way more interesting that way. So the next time you contemplate your hairstyle for an haute couture moment, consider a high pony like the one above. You can buy the synthetic ponytail at wig shops on the cheap, so they are an attractive option for Haute Couture Hair on a budget. In addition, they are easy-peezy to put in, and instantly transform hair from drab to drama! I like to use my own hair to wrap around the base of the ponytail for a similar effect to what we saw at Dior.

Color

 

 

Chic pony

The color or colors of your coif will definitely factor into the final look. Bright colors and unusual colors are widely accepted nowadays, and I must admit, I think I have a crush on cherry red, above. If you can find a synthetic pony like the one above, there’s no need to even damage your own hair in the curious quest for color.

Pink knots

Do you see how the bright colors above work with couture? I think it looks unique and fabulous, but experiment and find your signature style.

Cruella 3

Personallly, I’m slightly obsessed with the notion of opposites, and I’m digging this photo editorial above, sourced by my fashionable friend Lexee of Lexee Couture. The model is a witty nod to Cruella Deville. Love it. I’d like to try this in reverse: my black hair with a single, brilliant white skunk stripe! Talk about drama!!!


If All Else Fails….


Slicked with chopsticks

 

If you’ve run out of money, time, or options, or if the hairdresser screws it up, simply slick your hair back in a tight bun, puncture it with a pair of chopsticks, and call it a day……a Bad Hair Day. See you around. xxx

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Top Trend Prediction: Facial Jewelry

Givenchy facial jewelry 1

Models for Givenchy floated down the runway with a new form of embellishment that I’m deeming one of the most exciting forthcoming trends, ever: facial jewelry. This is my bet for the single most important innovation that has sprung from the 2015 fall fashion collections. Other things, we have seen before—whether it be the certain swing of a silhouette or a particular texture of a textile…Facial jewelry, however, is something so unique and unchartered that I’m completely thrilled to write about it, and even more curious to see where this no doubt novel and unique trend may surface again and yet again, as I am wagering it eventually will.

Givenchy facial jewelry 2

The brilliant makeup artist Pat McGrath adhesed pearls and gems to the models’ faces as per requested by Givenchy’s creative director Riccardo Tisci, who wanted to embellish them.

Givenchy facial jewelry

“He gave us the jewelry,” McGrath stated, “but we had to work out how it would stay on,” she continued, “because it was quite weighty,” and the process took more than six hours to complete. Because some of the septum piercings almost resemble a handlebar moustache, I am actually preferential to the facial embellishments we witnessed at John Galliano’s brilliant debut for Maison Margiela just months ago, below. This art was also crafted by Pat McGrath.

Galliano 1

I adore the dramatic smoky gem-encrusted eye above and the shellacked gold-leafing on the model’s hair. Talk about exotique!

 Pat mcgrath for galliano at margiela

And just look at the workmanship above, also from Galliano’s debut! On the model, left: a beaded brow, giant clusters of gems, shimmering eyeshadow and a glistening golden hairline; on the model, right: a face covered with pearls and sparkling stones! I love the way they drape across the forehead and the cheekbones, and hang with an asymmetrical precision off one side of the model, where here, the face truly is a canvas!

 

I am so fascinated by the concept of facial jewelry, and so curious to see how it will evolve. And if you’re like me, and you want to start experimenting with facial jewlery but you’re not quite as artistic (or patient) as Pat McGrath and her staff of talented makeup artists, here is a little secret: the jewelry doesn’t have to be attached to the face with glue or piercings….Do you remember my friend Marianna Harutunian? She is the jeweler I wrote about back in 2014, and she…is…fabulous! Read my article from last September here, where I introduce you to Marianna and I discuss the future face of jewelry.

But first, check out these jaw-dropping jewels that just garnered her heavy praise from moi, personally! Here is a way to incorporate the facial jewelry trend without the bother of time-consuming methods, sticky glue, or piercings! Just look at this headdress, below, on Scandinavian star Laleh in her video “Colors,” styled and directed by Bea Åkerlund!!!

Laleh face shot

 

Isn’t it positively ethereal?!?! I could see this headpiece as a veil alternative for a rebel bride…or an accessory worn by a fashionista at a formal event like a fund-raising banquet for a chic cause, or perhaps to the opera or some such…or even on the beach, for an haute couture moment! It’s super sexy!!!

 

Laleh s fingers

This shot from the same video by Laleh, above, shows even more of Marianna’s breathtaking work! Note the crystal fingernail armor on each tip and that insane hand harness! I need these in my life!!! Marianna, are you listening? 

(AND……as a quick but profound aside, Marianna’s agent told me that the accessories director at Alexander McQueen in London left a message for her! Hmmm….what could be brewing there? I will keep you posted if I hear, my darlings!)

Now, go read that article I wrote about Marianna, before you forget! Don’t worry, fashion can get me all ADD sometimes, too!

Until next time…Peace. Love. Beauty.

xxx

 

 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The New Ponytail

Ponytail 1

 

Well it would seem that an old/new trend is back, and it’s a school-day staple: the ponytail. Yes, the ponytail is back in fashion, worn smooth and sleek at Carolina Herrera’s fall 2015 show, below, as envisioned by stylist Orlando Pita.

 

Leather wrapped ponytails 

 

The hair is pulled into a low pony, secured, and then wrapped tightly with silver leather for an elegant finish.

Guido Palau, British-born hair stylist and trendsetter, featured the pony at Dior, below, where hip-length extensions were added in and the pony was wrapped with its own hair for a sleek and modern look.

 

Dior ponytails 2015

 

Try this chic way to conceal an elastic, as seen on Kim and J. Lo, below:

Section off a small chunk of hair just below the base of your ponytail. Once you’ve secured the pony, wrap the remaining hair around the base, using pins as needed.

Kim and j lo

 

Glamourous, yet simple!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Makeup Artist Rae Morris: Low-Maintenance Tips for High-Maintenance Girls

It is better to arrive late than ugly. However, it is best to be punctual and look banging.

Award-winning makeup artist Rae Morris has worked on many a famous face–from Miranda Kerr to Naomi Campbell–and she knows all too well that makeup application and shopping for cosmetics can be both time-consuming and confusing.

But it need not be. Rae is author of five outstanding reference books on the art of making up, and now she is preparing to give birth to a new baby: The Ultimate Beauty Guide, her sixth tome on looking lovely. Just check out her work from the forthcoming book, below, on model Lana Zacocela, shot by photographer Gavin O’Neill…It’s nothing short of awe-inspiring! This is a sneak peek into her new project, not even available in stores yet!!! Just look at those eyes!

Lana zakocela

I have collected every book from Rae’s illustrious 20+ year career in makeup, and I find them to be invaluable references. They are chock-full of low-maintenance tips for high-maintenance girls.

Here are the rest of Rae’s incredible books. You’ll want to buy them all!

Makeup the ultimate guide

Makeup, the Ultimate Guide was Rae’s first attempt in publishing back in 2008, and this book is brilliant! “I wanted to create a book that would bring high-end fashion makeup into the realm of everyday life,” Rae said. “Every single look–even the most glamorous ones–was broken down into a simple step-by-step photo guide with clear and concise instructions, so that no matter your experience, you could teach yourself.” She continued, “This is the format that I have stuck with ever since. The response was amazing and the book became an instant best-seller.”

As a quick aside, Rae managed to get Catherine McNeil for the front cover and Miranda Kerr for the back cover. Not bad for book number one.

Express makeup

Rae changed focus with book number two, Express Makeup. “I have spent a lot of time in my career working back stage at fashion shows where everything has to be done quickly,” Rae stated. The tricks that she has learned in the trenches of fashion were the inspiration for this book.

“Whether you have fifteen minutes to spare or just five, there are express fixes perfect for women who may be put off by how long it takes them to do their makeup,” she said. This book is all about real women with real-world time frames, about tricks like using sticky tape to do eyeliner and the most efficient sequence in which to do your makeup. “Express Makeup is about making makeup livable,” she added.

Timeless makeup

Timeless Makeup was Rae’s third book in 2011. “It was really a culmination of several things for me,” she said. “I’d just turned 40 and having been a professional makeup artist for almost 20 years my appreciation of beauty at all ages had really evolved.”

Fascinated with the difference makeup could make in reducing the signs of aging and, when applied with age appropriateness, how makeup could actually create a timeless beauty as we age, Rae belted out another winner with Timeless Makeup.

“Rather than working on 15-year-old supermodels, I found I actually often preferred older models where a simple technique could literally takes years off apparent age,” she said.

This book focuses on women over 30 where the signs of aging are starting to show, and the average model age in Timeless Makeup was 56.

Beautiful eyes

Along the way two other books emerged as extracts: Beautiful Eyes, being the eye section of Makeup, the Ultimate Guide, and Quick Looks, below, Rae’s latest release, which is derived from Express Makeup.

“My books are now published in eight languages and are used as the curriculum text for makeup academies around the world.”

She continued, “I’m particularly proud of this because I’m dyslexic,” she stated, adding, “I’m just more passionate than I am dyslexic!”

Quick looks

You can find all of Rae’s books on her website, and while you’re at it, you just have to check out her awesome collection of magnetic brushes…Yes! Magnetic!

Rae s brushes

“The magnet in the base of the handle means the brushes can securely stand upright,” as opposed to just lying down, Rae explained. “This takes up less space, makes them extremely easy to organize and find, and is great from a hygiene perspective because the brush heads don’t have to be in contact with anything. In combination with our storage system, the magnets secure the brushes in transit, this protects the heads so that you don’t open your kit on arrival to find bent brush bristles everywhere,” making them perfect for travel!

Another nice trick is that when you clean your brushes you can hang them upside down (using a metal surface) and they drip dry!

But the most important aspect to Rae’s brushes is the intelligence with which they are shaped–the artistic keen knowledge that’s applied to each and every brush.

“Over time I became more passionate about brushes than anything else in my kit–over years I tested different designs and textures and in the process, almost without realizing it, I came up with my own range of brushes. My brushes are the secret behind many of my most famous creations.”

“To me, makeup is all about the brushes. You can do more with minimal product and an incredible brush range than you can with cotton buds and drawers full of makeup.”

Thanks, Rae, for sharing! You are an inspiration to women everywhere who want to look great but don’t have hours and hours to primp. We love you!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Easy Summer Living: The Best Beach Bags & Totes & What To Put In Them

If you’re suiting up for summer, craving the hottest in handbags and the most stellar of sundries, you’ve just hit paydirt. Here is a list of musts for those easy days by the beach and the pool: the best bags and totes, and what to put in them.

What To Put In Them

Let’s start with the inside…because we all know that’s where true beauty begins in the first place! Summer is a great time to loosen up and lighten up–with regard to your hair and your makeup. Ironically, this can mean even more products in your handbag due to the harsh elements that will otherwise wreak havoc on your skin and hair.

I try to always pack a giant floppy collapsable hat; my shades (equipped with proper UV protection); sunscreen and mineral makeup; and of course some clips and pins for hot-weather hair. Usually I pull my hair off the face into a high pony or a tousled or braided bun for summertime. For hair, as you know by now, I love my Philip B. haircare products. The four-step hair and scalp treatment kit below, $94, contains a few of my favorite things in one travel-size bag.

Philip b travel kit

Within this convenient set you can find Philip B.’s cult-status Rejuvenating Oil, the delicious Peppermint and Avocado Volumizing and Clarifying Shampoo, his Light-Weight Deep Conditioning Creme Rinse, and the very necessary pH Restorative Detangling Toning Mist. These botanical-rich products will keep your hair shiny and manageable all through the sweltering summer months.

R and F eye wipes

For skin, I make sure to have my Rodan + Fields Redefine Peptide Eye Wipes, $30, for quick clean-ups on my face and around the eye area. These things are a peptide-rich Godsend! They are the softest pre-soaked cloths…perfect on hot days, whether you’re sweaty from a game of beach volleyball or running errands in the heat. If you need a quick fix to take off your makeup at the end of the day before reapplying a fresh face for an evening out, or, if you’re just too exhausted to run the water before collapsing into bed at night, these wipes are the shiznit. They’re great for your man, too. Pack them in his gym bag and his complexion will thank you. They are so rich in peptides that you will notice a tangible difference in your skin right away. If you’re taking a day trip, stash these wipes in the cooler that is holding the food and drinks. They feel so refreshing on a hot summer day.

And speaking about refreshments…I love Susan Ciminelli’s Marine Lotion, $125. It’s a light serum that you can spray on to freshen and moisturize the skin, and it’s spiked with algae oil, one of nature’s most nourishing clock-stoppers, and other essential oils, such as calming cypress, aromatherapeutic marjoram, anti-inflammatory juniper, and antibacterial vetiver. A quick spritz or two leaves skin dewey and comfortably moisturized. This is a can’t-live-without product for too many celebrities to name…I’m absolutely addicted! You will notice from the first use how transformative this serum is. It really gives a great glow, and you can use it over the full body after you shower, under your moisturizer. Bliss!

Marine lotion

As a quick aside, Susan produces some of the most delectable skincare products you can find, high praise from a licensed aesthetician, myself. I love her detoxifying products and masks, and you’ll get to know Susan later, when I discuss her products more in-depth. In the meantime, she has a great blog that discusses cleansing and purifying foods, complete with recipes for the skin-conscious! I recommend that everyone subscribe to her informative newsletter, complete with great recipes and helpful skin tips. You will love it.

Triple defense

Rodan + Fields make a wonderful collection of sunscreens for every skin type. I use their Triple Defense Treatment, $80, a sunscreen that sinks into the skin in the most luxurious way. This is part of their anti-aging skin care line, which employs the ultimate ingredients and technology for mature skin. I love the radiance it gives me, while protecting from those harmful UV rays and free-radicals.

Mineral makeup and brush

I also pack my mineral makeup for touch-ups which will provide extra SPF all the day long. The Rodan + Fields mineral makeup, $29, is the best mineral powder in the cosmetic industry, period. The lightweight fluffy powder, developed by the two Stanford-trained dermatologists Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields, reduces redness with anti-inflammatory peptides that build collagen, and it physically blocks the sun with titanium dioxide and micronized zinc.

This powder provides a physical sunscreen block similar to the kind you used to see in the old days–the cliché lifeguard with the white strip of zinc on the nose. But this stuff buffs on beautifully and the shades are incredibly versatile and natural looking. The powder is water- and sweat-resistant, too, meaning its longevity outlasts a liquid or cream foundation. But don’t forget to touch up…Your skin will eat up the peptides, and it’s a fact that if I skip a few days of my mineral makeup, I notice less vibrancy and a little less skin density and firmness. This is a treatment product, as well as a sunscreen and a cosmetic.

The mineral makeup comes with a retractable antimicrobial brush, $37. The dense, soft, fluffy bristles are treated to repel bacteria. Isn’t that smart?

Hand shield

And when you are protecting your skin from the sun, do not neglect your hands. They are a dead giveaway as to your age, so take care and use a sunscreen. I am in love with the Rodan + Fields Shield Hand Balm, $43, which comes in a solid stick form and can be applied to the back of the hands only. Genius.

And that’s the dirt on what I put in my bag. Now, let’s look at the bags themselves, shall we?

The Best Beach Bags & Totes

I’m retiring my red pony hair Dior and my fabulously tactile stingray purse for something that looks lighter for summer. This gives my expensive purses a break and extends their lifespan.

It is not necessary to spend a lot on a summer bag. Invest in your skincare and haircare first, they should be your top priority. Here are some fab bags at all price points.

Marc jacobs tote

This is Marc Jacobs’s answer to easy summer dressing–a structured natural and black circular raffia basket bag , $198, that you can carry cross body over the shoulder or handheld. It’s chic either way.

Marc jacobs detail

The texture screams summer, and the smart water-resistant raffia material make this tote both pretty and practical.

Tory burch molly tote

Another raffia beauty, the Tory Burch Molly Crossbody Tote , $195, is a playful take on the beach bag. With whimsical fringe and adorned with puka shells and beads, this carryall speaks of far-flung chic. Exotic.

Platia straw bag

Platia’s straw bag is a steal at only $34.50. The natural color and rugged texture make this carryall a great, practical investment for easy summer dressing.

Rugby tote

The Rugby Stripe Straw Beach Tote above, on sale for $38.99 at CWonder.com, is a roomy bucket bag that will stash everything stylishly.

Lanvin

I love everything by Lanvin, and this beautiful woven straw tote, $360, is trimmed with a leather snake print double handle and grosgrain ribbon.

Yesstyle coffee striped tote

YesStyle offers up a chic on the cheap Striped Straw Tote in Coffee, above, for a mere $14! Now that’s a bargain!

Check out the fabulous wooden beads and the braided organic texture, below.

Coffee striped tote detail

And finally, a blizzard of butterflies makes the beautiful backdrop on Valentino’s Butterfly Camouflage Tote Bag, $3,995, available at Neiman Marcus by pre-order only.

Valentino butterfly tote scaled

This bag already sold out at Saks Fifth Avenue online, but if you happen to have four grand lying around…plus tax…this bag could be all yours. You better hurry though, cuz it will sell out again. Trust me.

Valentino butterfly tote

I love the vivid colors, the richly textured mix of canvas and napa leather, and the raised laser-cut butterflies which have been painstakingly stitched on for a 3-D effect. This bag is a real beauty, even more striking in person.

Valentino has captured the essence of one of fashion’s hottest trends (and one of nature’s most complex creatures) in this spacious and most coveted square tote with winged sides. You can take this bag to the boardwalk or to the boardroom without boredom. It’s just that versatile, completely appropriate for any venture, and oh so striking. Plus the craftsmanship is unparalleled. It’s Valentino, after all. The wearability, the quality of materials and workmanship, and the versatility and utter gorgeousness is what you get when you shell out four racks for a luxury couture handbag such as this.

Next up? Hats and shades. I hope you’ll join me. See you soon.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Scrimping & Splurging on Cosmetics: Powders & Creams, Eyeliner & Mascara

As I discussed in our first article in this series, there is a time to scrimp and a time to splurge on beauty supplies. It is a fact that higher-quality brands cost more for good reason, and that not all cosmetics are created equal. But in this age, having the best of everything can be impossible, or it can really strain your budget at the very least. In the first article, we have established that investing in great skin care and a high-quality, treatment-based foundation and/or mineral powder is the way to go. Now, here are some more products that you can scrimp or splurge on: Powders & Creams, Eyeliner & Mascara.

Guerlain shadow palette

Blushers, eyeshadows and highlighting powders from the expensive brands are more finely-milled than drugstore brands, meaning easier blendability and a satiny application. You can also get by with using less product, so you save money by investing in the better brands, but sometimes it’s hard to justify spending $90 on a Guerlain eyeshadow palette, above, despite its luxury formula and stunning packaging.

In addition to the powder being more finely milled, the colors of expensive brands are often much better as well. Cheaper cosmetic companies do not capture the essence of nuanced tones. Colors are often more obvious and amateurishly executed, and metallics can look foiled instead of luminous. Therefore, when bargain shopping for color you must go forth with a very discriminating taste.

Blush need not be costly. My number one tip is regarding color, and my number two tip is regarding application, and my number three tip is regarding the formula. First, you must choose a subtle color, not a garish one, and use sparingly across the apple of the cheek from directly under the pupil swept toward the ear. Be judicious. Nothing looks more desperate and crazy than a girl all dolled up with too much blush, or with misplaced blush, which can widen the face and make it look fat. Finally, powders always go on last, and it is often best to use the same formula that you last left on your face when dealing with powders and creams–ie.–if you put on a cream-based foundation, you can use a cream blush, unless you powdered it down. In that case, use a powder blush. And did I say be judicious?

Sonia kashuk blush

Makeup artist Sonia Kashuk makes great powder and cream blushers for Target, $9.79. These blushers are a bargain compared to MAC blushers, which cost more than double that price, or Tom Ford blushers, which sell for $56. It is just not necessary to spend that kind of money on blush. Sonia’s colors are excellent and you will use a small amount.

It really is nice to work with eyeshadows that are finely milled with the consistency of confectioner’s sugar. But these eyeshadows can break the bank. If you can afford Dior and Guerlain, go for it…Those are two of my favorite brands.

Sonia kashuk eye quad

But if you’re working on a restricted budget, choose to invest in your skin first and foremost, because Sonia Kashuk also makes great eyeshadows, $13-$20, in lovely palettes above and below, that resemble Urban Decay’s Naked collection you’ll find at Sephora.

Sonia kashuk eye palette

My favorite eyeshadows actually come from a cosmetic and brow boutique in Southern Cal. It’s the ever-fabulous Senna Cosmetics, founded by cosmetic giant, Eugenia Weston. Because I am not a working makeup artist, I am completely content buying single eyeshadows in lieu of a palette of shades. Eugenia’s eyeshadows come in never-ending finishes and the hippest colors. The singles are $18 each. Invest in two or three and you should be good to go. If the price point is still too high, you can always get a palette by the aforementioned Sonia Kashuk.

Eye m glam model

The highlighting powder you use on your cheekbones and eyes should be a shimmering flesh tone, and it’s great to have a bright white highlighting powder as well. These are good basic products to have that will give you a highly-dramatic glam look, as seen above or, a casual dewy beach glow all year round. You are using an infinitesimal amount, remember, but the subtlety of the color is everything. The shimmer should be rich and warm, the texture, silky smooth so that your skin looks radiant and flawless. Darker skinned women and the fair-complected can both go for the custom blended pigments by Giella. You will need the peachy-pink, golden-coppery hue, Eye M Glam, below right, and the brilliant white B-Dazzle, left. I’ve shown swatches below.

B dazzle and eye m glam

I loooove the Eye M Glam–Giella’s custom blended highlighter, created by one of my absolute favorite makeup artists–Kim Kardahshian’s makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic. It’s $35, and it is awesome! Worth every cent.

Kim and mario

Do you see the radiance of Kim’s skin in the photo above, where she is pictured with Dedivanovic? Look at the highlight on her brow bone and cheeks. That’s Mario’s Eye M Glam at work. It’s not too frosty or too metallic. And it is so fine that it practically melts into the skin. Gorgeous. If you prefer a cream highlighter, you absolutely must try SeneGence International’s liquid Pearlizer. A bottle of this stuff should last you, literally, at least two years. I’m not even exaggerating. You just need a teeny bead of product and it gives the same effect as the Eye M Glam, but in a luscious cream formula. Read my review about the Pearlizer here.

These highlighting products are necessary splurges, and the product will last hella long so it’s worth the investment.

Maybelline liquid black eyeliner

It is best to have a collection of both kohl and crayon pencils and one liquid liner at the least. Pencils can be from the drugstore. Maybelline Ultra Liner waterproof liquid liner in black is a must-have. It’s six bucks at Target. And I also like the felt-tip pen liquid liners made by MAC and Senna Cosmetics. With these products you should be able to create any desired outcome on the eyes.

Sisley mascara

Mascara is worth investing extra money if you have it. Sisley’s mascaras are awesome, and the wand for their So Intense mascara, above, is very specific, meaning it traps every single hair, and it comes in a cool assortment of colors. I like the blue one. It’s a really great formula, and I love it, but it’s $66. Ellis Fass makes a very nice mascara, although it is hard to find in America. I believe you can only get it at Net-A-Porter. I get most of my makeup free from the cosmetic companies, but I sometimes have to buy mascara because it’s that one thing that goes bad rather quickly, and should be replaced regularly before it dries out.

L oreal mascara

If you don’t want to spend a ton on mascara, L’Oreal makes good ones. I like their Voluminous Mascara. It’s a good choice.

This concludes our second segment on scrimping and splurging. Next stop: Lips. I will summarize the best in beauty at pleasing price points. Until next time…Peace. Love. Beauty.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cosmetics: When to Scrimp, When to Splurge, How to Apply, and The Products That I Buy and Use

George washington and kissScrimp or Splurge?

Well, I just got finished taking one of those dumb, mind-numbing surveys that you find online….and by ‘one of those surveys’ I mean it was a quiz regarding beauty products. Test your knowledge, they said, and take this valuable quiz: can you navigate the makeup aisle? Are you a savvy shopper? Okay, so here goes. I’m going to share with you a couple of the questions and then we’re going to set the record straight on how you really shop for skin care and cosmetics…When do you scrimp, when do you splurge, and what do I, a beauty editor and licensed aesthetician, buy and use on a regular basis?

True or False: You can use a tinted lip balm or lipstick as a creamy blush substitute. Duuuuuh! True.

Then, the creators of said quiz feel compelled to further clarify the matter: “Good news: If you’re short on cash, creamy lipsticks and tinted lip balms also function as cream blushes. To create a rosy glow or a romantic flush, apply these makeup multi-taskers to the apples of your cheeks with your fingertips.” Oh geesh. Elementary, am I right? Blush is one product that you can scrimp on, as long as you know how to apply it correctly. But that’s another subject for another article.

Next question. True or False: Expensive makeup products work better than cheaper drugstore brands.

Here is a tricky one. They said the answer is false. “The amount of money you spend on makeup,” the survey advises, “has little to do with the uniqueness of the formulation, the quality of the product or even its effectiveness. In fact, many drugstore brands offer similar or better results compared with the pricey potions sold in department stores.”

Wrong! That is completely and unequivocally false. It’s an ignorant statement, and I can assure you without a sliver of doubt that there is a time to scrimp, but there’s also a time to splurge on quality products that can make a sizable difference in your appearance, your extrinsic aging and your lifestyle.

Washing face

Skin care: Splurge.

It is best to invest in quality skin care your entire life. When you are in your teens and twenties, you need make less of an investment, but sunscreen is always mandatory, and you’d better make it a good one.

As you age you will need to begin incorporating vitamin C, certain acids, peptides and retinol. These ingredients are costly, but it is important to note that you will use much less product if the ingredients are potent and active, and formulated intelligently, ie–expensive. With high quality skin care, you need such an infinitesimal amount–a fraction of the amount you would use with a drug store brand.

Quality skin care is more expensive for many reasons and you’re not just paying for sexy marketing and gorgeous, gold-tipped jars with exotic names. On the contrary, some of the best skin care that I have ever used does not come in fancy packaging at all…The smart cosmetic company will invest in what is inside the bottle, not the packaging itself.

Potency is always an issue. Cheap skin care companies do not have the same levels of active ingredients that you will find in expensive skin care. Ingredients like peptides and vitamin C are costly and must be thoughtfully determined by the chemist so that you get significant results. Vitamin C, for example, must be handled a certain way for it to maintain its stability, while peptides must be of very high quality and used generously.

Because all this is expensive, most cosmetic companies are guilty of ‘sprinkling.’ This is a term used when they add just enough of a beneficial ingredient–such as peptides–into their product so they can make impressive-sounding claims, but not enough to show any efficacy. Or, the quality of the peptides used might be of a low variety. Just because the bottle says it has a certain ingredient in it, doesn’t mean your skin will see the benefit from that ingredient. It could be the combination of ingredients, and how they work synergistically. You must invest in a quality regime for the current needs in your life cycle, and one that is backed by science and statistics. The company should have a reputation of complete and utter integrity. I cannot urge you enough to do your research on the company you are supporting.

Applying foundation

Foundation: Splurge.

Nothing looks worse on the skin than bad foundation…Whether it’s too orange-y or too chalky, whether it settles in lines and pores or melts under pressure. You must start with a good base. Troubled skin is one matter: see a great dermatologist. A cheap or ill-matched foundation–even on young healthy skin–just looks awful. It’s unprofessional and distracting. A good foundation will blend right into your face and you should be able to apply only to spot areas when needed without demarcation.

If you have truly flawless skin you are either the result of superior genetics, or you’ve had a deep peel recently. I love Jessner peels. Ask your skin doc if it’s right for you. A deep peel from a qualified doctor or aesthetician can transform your complexion radically, and they’re not even that expensive.

Aces of bases

Aces of Bases

So, you may not need foundation, but it’s always nice to have the option of a little more coverage. Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer is a good solid product. Personally, I use Amore Pacific’s Moisture Bound Tinted Treatment Moisturizer, $70, from Neiman Marcus, and it is nothing short of divine.

Amore pacific

It’s oil-free, with a velvety consistency that is extremely workable due to its fine texture. The coverage is perfect, the colors are very natural looking, and it smells amazing, and all with an SPF 15.

The best news, however, is that it’s great for your skin. This is the difference between cosmetics of today versus cosmetics just five years ago–they treat and condition in addition to perfecting…It’s a new age in cosmetics and you may have heard the term ‘cosmeceuticals.’ That’s because many, many products are attacking skin concerns while providing excellent, appropriate coverage.

Amore Pacific harvests bamboo from Jeju Island, off the coast of Korea. The island is known for its volcanic mineral-rich soil and the bamboo sap extracted from the plant is super hydrating. Amore Pacific cleverly uses bamboo sap in lieu of water, so the product becomes richer, not watered down. The sap supports the production of hyaluronic acid, which binds moisture to the skin. In addition, it’s a powerful antioxidant, 200 times stronger than vitamin C. The amino acid-rich sap offers instant and long-term hydration, improves skin’s self-defense with essential minerals, and increases cellular regeneration to provide radiance and a youthful skin density, and like I said, it’s oil-free. This is an amazing product!

You will not find this type of research or these ingredients in any cheap drug store product. Modern quality cosmetics treat, repair and protect the skin while you are making up.

A good tinted moisturizer is a nice way to get a sheer bit of coverage. It is important to remember, however, that tinted moisturizers, although they usually do contain a sunscreen, do not offer enough sun protection and you should use a daily SPF underneath.

I have seen some serious skin problems from not wearing adequate protection. Pigmentation is a formidable enemy of perfect skin. It’s always best to prevent damage, instead of trying to undo it. Melasma, or pigmentation, is a stubborn, stubborn condition and requires the kind of diligence that is, no joke, life-changing…in a highly-inconvenient way! Just ask any girl struggling with melasma, they will tell you. It means, sunscreen, 24-7, even indoors, and you must seriously limit your sun exposure, even then. One little exception to the rules–one quick drive down to the corner store sans sunscreen–can be a setback that can mean months if not longer of intensely working to reverse and repair, and all while trying to prevent new pigment from popping up.

I don’t wear my Amore Pacific Moisture Bound every day. In some circumstances I will wear sunscreen, only, on a bare skin, or, conversely, I may want more coverage than my tinted moisturizer can provide. If coverage is what you crave, top your tinted moisturizer with a good mineral makeup, or go for one of these foundations: Guerlain’s Lingerie de Peau; Giorgio Armani’s Maestro Foundation; Ellis Faas; Eve Pearl Compact Foundation; or Shiseido’s Moisture Mist Beauty Cake Foundation (made in New Zealand). The last is a recommendation from my brilliant friend Susan Markovic, a makeup artist in Australia, who swears by this product. She deems it the best in the biz, yet, she tells me, very little is heard about it.

If you have a little problem area here or there that needs some extra coverage, try building your coverage by tapping a bit more product on the troubled areas. Then, build your coverage further with a high quality mineral makeup dusted on top. Or tag team the area with concealer followed by mineral makeup.

Rodan and fields mineral makeup

I often forgo any liquid base entirely in lieu of my Rodan + Fields mineral makeup, which is truly remarkable. This stuff is packed with peptides, and therefore is also a skin treatment. In addition to the powerful peptides, the mineral makeup creates an occlusive barrier between the skin and the sun–a chemical-free SPF that you can touch up throughout the day, and every time you do it, you are drenching your skin in valuable peptides. Brilliant. The brush that they sell is densely packed with the softest, fluffiest antimicrobial synthetic bristles. Antimicrobial? Rodan and Fields, these docs, I swear, they think of everything. They are genius.

Eve pearl concealer

If you choose to use a concealer, the best ones are Eve Pearl’s Dual Salmon Concealer, above, (moist) and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (dry).

Occ conceal

Use a dry concealer for acne and oily areas on the face; use a moist concealer under the eyes where the skin is more delicate, dehydrated and prone to wrinkling.

That sums up the beginning of our series on scrimping and splurging. Stay tuned for the next installment. You’ll thank me later. Love you.