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Friday, October 25, 2013

Blending In

"Behind the makeup and behind the smile I am just a girl who wishes for the world." ~Marilyn Monroe

You might be surprised at which part of your eyeshadow application is really the most important.

It doesn't matter if you're only using one color of shadow or a terribly complicated, multi-colored palette- the most important part of the entire process is proper blending. No matter how beautiful a color is or how great it looks on you, it's going to look awful if it's blotchy or uneven. You're better off choosing fewer colors that you blend well than a complex palette if you don't have the time to blend properly. Good blending is the only way to achieve a sophisticated makeup application where colors blend seamlessly into one another and at the outer edges. 

For this you need a brush- but NOT the one you've just applied your color with. It should be a clean, dry brush; you can use this brush to blend all your colors- just buff the brush on a piece of tissue or paper towel after using a darker or more intense color to avoid 'muddying' the other colors. When I was in art school I was taught to experiment with brushes and find my own ways to use them. As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to brushes it's the same with makeup as with painting: whatever works for you is the right brush for the job. Most MUA will suggest a 'crease' brush for blending- and I find that works well for me- but if you've not done so before, try out a few different bushes to find what you like. 

You can blend after applying each color, or - especially if you have a more neutral/natural palette- you can wait until you have 2 or 3 colors on and then blend. Most of the time just a gentle buffing motion- back and forth, or around in tiny, quick circles, will do the job. Find the motion that works for you. Obviously the more complicated your makeup the more blending required. 

If you run into trouble blending a color at the outer edges remember you can always use a translucent powder or foundation powder with your blending brush to make things go more smoothly. You can also 'tone down' a too-heavy application or too-intense color this way, too.  

If 'blending' your eyeshadow colors isn't something you've paid a lot of attention to before you're in for a pleasant surprise. You may find you're a makeup artist in the making….

Happy Dressing!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dry Water

"When you drink the water, remember the spring."~Chinese Proverb
I have dry skin.  I have a genetic skin disorder that predisposes me to very dry skin, so anything I can do to alleviate this is a plus in my world. I've recently made an interesting discovery regarding this and I thought I'd share. Maybe it's news to you, maybe not. 

For some reason or other, a few weeks ago I started reading about drinking water and what is and isn't safe- this sorta segued into reading about the safety of the water we shower and bathe in. Turns out that lots of people say (and it seems logical) that our skin absorbs the chlorine and/or chloramine that's in our water supply when we shower or bathe. I read that the lungs absorb formaldehyde via the steam in a hot shower, as well. Lots of people also said that the chemicals we absorb via showers and baths are more damaging than when we drink that very same water. This doesn't seem nearly as logical to me, but an awful lot of people are saying it. An awful lot. 

For me, not treating our water with these chemicals conjures up images of dealing with lots of nasty 3rd world diseases, so until a better alternative is presented, I guess I'd rather deal with this on my end- via a water filter for my shower. 

I have the dubious distinction of being a renter, so a filtration system for my entire water supply really isn't a practical option. I read about what's called a vitamin c shower filter- the story is that vitamin c added to shower or bath water neutralizes chlorine and chloramine- unfortunately, the only way to remove the fluoride that I can see is one of the fancy filtration systems that just wouldn't be practical or maybe even possible as a renter.  And, you ask, what about baths? Just shuffle down to your local Trader Joe's (or local health food store) and buy a bottle of vitamin C crystals ($11 at Trader Joe's) and add a tiny amount to your bath and voila- your bath water is treated. As for the vitamin c filter for your shower- it's about $22 for a filter on, and this should theoretically last about a year. I assume that's for one person showering once a day- but don't quote me on that.

So I decided considering my skin issues, this was worth a try. It arrived and I installed it- I felt a difference the very first time I showered. I didn't realize that as a rule, for about 2 hours after a shower I'm usually subject to some pretty unpleasant itchy skin and general discomfort. This has almost completely stopped.  My skin isn't perfectly comfortable, but it's been less than a week, and it is does seem somewhat cumulative, so maybe there's more improvement to come. 

Not bad for a $22 investment. :-)

Happy Dressing! 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

We're In The Lettuce!

Mirriam Webster's definition of 'well- heeled' : having plenty of money.

There are a few things that are always necessities when it comes to personal image- I would argue maybe more so when you're a bit broke. Whatever your current financial situation- whether or not you're in the position to buy new goodies, you need to have reliable, good shoe repair, a good hair stylist, and even if you have some sewing skills, a good tailor as well.

Why is this important? When times get tough it can become trickier to look your best- so if you've done right by your wardrobe and invested in regular upkeep thus far you'll be in the best position possible; when you can't afford to replace the basics or update with some more on-trend pieces all you'll have to do is continue with the minimum maintenence. Yes, you'll be spending some money- but it should only be a fraction of what you'd invest in entirely new pieces. 

If, for example, you really need new shoes, but it's not going to happen right now, the next best thing is to have a great shoe repair person.  This is crucial no matter what.  Ratty looking shoes ruin an otherwise good outfit faster than anything else. You can't fake the shoes. That's where the term 'well-heeled' comes from- someone who's shoes are always in good repair.  My shoe place- - takes The. Best. Care. of my shoes, boots and purses and makes them look like new each and every time I bring them in. 

Say you have a great item of clothing that's in good condition, but is somewhat out dated to the point that you don't really want to wear it; figure out if perhaps there's something that can be done to bring it more up to date or towards something you'll love and wear- if so then trot it down to your tailor and see if they can make it a reality, and how much it would cost. It's free to ask, right? (If not, find another tailor.) I'm currently looking for a new tailor- my last one got robbed and they took my skirt (??!)….can't say I was terribly attached to that skirt, but still, it put me off….

As I'm always pointing out, you'll be better off investing in fewer, less expensive pieces that you have tailored to fit you properly than spending all your money on fancy, trendy stuff that doesn't fit well. 

And the last thing- a good hair stylist- I don't think I need to say much here. A great stylist will find the cut that flatters you the most and will work with your preferences- and I don't know about you, but nothing- NOTHING makes me feel like I look my best more than a great haircut.  If you can find a great stylist at Supercuts, good for you- stick with them. My experience has been that they let you call ahead and schedule with a particular stylist. Another option to consider is going for a very simple cut that should be easier to get done well at more places. 

If you care about how you look then these things are always essentials. If you're broke or close to, they can get adjusted down to just bare-bones maintenance. When you're in the money they should still come first before buying new anything- that way should your bank account take a down-turn you'll just have to spend the minimum for upkeep, and still look like your most fabulous self.

Happy Dressing! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fresh Blood

"If a man is not faithful to his own individuality, he cannot be loyal to anything." ~Claude McKay

I was channel surfing recently and stopped on HSN to watch Hal Rubenstein selling his new line of clothes and shoes- he asked a question that I think is key to accessing your personal aesthetics- 'what sets you apart?' This is an excellent place to start if you have no clue about clothes or fashion and have never given this sort of thing much thought, but would like to start. It's also a good starting place if, like me, you're just looking for a few new ideas for your wardrobe. 

Most of us have something we love- maybe for you it's the love of a certain color, a particular 'era' of fashion, a particular print, a particular item- maybe you wear a suit every day- maybe you're a fool for boots and own 50 pairs. Maybe it's a 'signature' thing- a certain color of lipstick you wear daily, or a particular piece of jewelry or type of jewelry you love. It could be a more abstract concept- only you can define what makes your heart sing. 

It doesn't have to be a huge thing that sets you apart. It may be very subtle, and in fact only something that people who get to know you will notice. Or it may be huge and hard to miss. What it does need to be is something that you like in particular that you want to accentuate. It does need to be something that you can, in some way, expand upon visually to create- or add too- a cohesive 'theme' to your overall look. 

Remember that you'll do it differently than anyone else will, so don't worry about choosing something unoriginal. And even if you do it to the best of your ability EXACTLY like someone else does, it's still going to be different on you-for lots of reasons. Still, I think it's important to explore what it is about it that you like and what you can do to personalize it as much as possible. 

Another thing to keep in mind is to give this some time- be willing to spend a little time researching if applicable (usually it is, and it's fun, too) and let said research take you off on unexpected tangents. Have a way to collect imagery that works for you- Pinterest, a notebook, a bulletin board…and pay a little attention to it each week; as you add to it, note if there are things in particular that stand out, if you see any 'themes' developing- try to define them and make sense of it. 

Keep in mind the goal is to define 'what sets you apart?' Or maybe it should be 'what would you like to set you apart, and can you make that happen, one way or another?' 

Happy Dressing!!