As seen in Philly Magazine: eye make-up for a red dress

In recognition of the Go Red for Women campaign, the editors at Philadephia Magazine asked me about what sort of make-up would look best with a red dress.

Neutral shades for eyes are best when you’re wearing red, so had to give a shout out to Urban Decay and their brilliant Naked Basics palette ($29).



Fox29’s Jennaphr Frederick pays a visit to my studio

On November 12th, the feisty and hilarious Jennaphr Frederick of Fox29’s Good Day stopped by the studio to help me promote my recycling event and to get my opinion on make-up (uh oh) – the necessary and the not-so-necessary.

We also had a special guest with us, Bryan Barron, who was in town promoting the latest edition of “Don’t Go to the Beauty Counter Without Me,” a book he co-authors with Paula Begoun (“The Cosmetics Cop”).   Bryan talked with Jennaphr about beauty “dupes,” that is, inexpensive products that can be substituted for wicked expensive ones.  So that’s good.

I always tell my clients and  workshop participants about Beautypedia, the online version of the book – it’s a much more comprehensive and current resource for thousands of products reviews.  Begoun’s research team base their reviews on claims made by the manufacturers, about efficacy, for example, and the ability to turn you into Jennifer Lopez.

Video of my two spots coming soon…..

Bryan Barron, moi, Jennaphr the Great

Bryan Barron, moi, Jennaphr the Great

Your bar soap is calling …. and it wants you back….

You may not be old enough to remember Irish Spring soap commercials (“Manly yes, but I like it too!”) or know that Ivory soap floats, or that each bar of Dove contains “one-quarter cleansing cream.“  In those days, upscale bar soaps—those you wouldn’t find in a grocery store—were made by apothecarial types and American companies that were named after British people. The raciest body cleanser available was Vitabath, a heady green gelee that manly-men wouldn’t be caught dead using.

Soap went liquid in a big way in the 1980’s, when a company named Minnetonka introduced Softsoap. Almost 30 years later, bar soap has been sidelined in favor of every conceivable form of liquid cleanser, specialized by body part, and scented in all manner of flora, food and philosophies. Drugstores, supermarkets and big box stores stock aisles with dozens of brands that promise to calm, invigorate and exfoliate. Product junkies have field days in department stores and specialty retailers like Bath and Body Works and Sephora, where hundreds of shower and bath gels smell like breakfast, dessert and Starbuckian beverages.

Soap that is soft doesn’t get wrapped in paper; it gets bottled, usually in plastic, with a pump dispenser, the assumption being that to pump is to enjoy body cleansing in its most convenient form. But, as usual, convenience has a price; according to data from the Container Recycling Institute, about 25% of the bottles that are used for all this fancy washing are recycled (not the pumps, mind you, there’s no hope for them) – the rest go to landfills. No wonder that the lowly, lonely soap bar is standing on the outside looking in, wondering what the eco-hell has gotten into us.

In case you’re thinking of slinking back to the bar, but are concerned about harmful additives and the like, you can visit the Skin Deep database, which rates product safety on a scale from 1 to10, based on ingredients (not on how dangerous it is to pick up a bar of soap in the shower). Of the 1,252 bar soaps reviewed, over half rate a “2” (low hazard). Mainstream brands like Dove and Caress tend to score higher, and ironically, The Body Shop, a brand that promotes itself as “natural,” is one of the few with soaps that rate a whopping “7” on the hazard scale.

You can find Philly-made soaps in Reading Terminal Market at Terralyn, where eccentric-looking bars come in the shapes of things like goddesses and birds, or visit Terrain at Styres (Glen Mills) to sample their preciously packaged offerings.

Cleanliness being next to godliness, or whatever your motivation to Not Be Stinky, think about revisiting your basic and not-so-basic bar soaps – you might help to turn the plastic tide.

Make-up brushes: cleanliness is, in fact, next to godliness

I’m always asked what I use to clean my make-up brushes.  Truth be told (because this is a moral tale), I use Dr. Bronner’s 18 in 1 Hemp Pure-Castile Soap, diluted to one part soap, 10 parts water more or less.

This is something I have to do after every job (so much fun), however, I recommend that clients clean brushes used with powders once per month, and brushes used with cream products (like concealers, cream eye liners, etc.) twice a month or more.  Rinse well, squeeze out excess water and lay flat to dry.

Emil Bronner (1908-1997), was a German Jew who emigrated to the U.S. in 1929, a third generation master soap maker and chemist who founded his castile soap business in 1948.  Those seemingly kooky labels are covered with Dr. Bronner’s personal philosophy that he referred to as the “Moral ABC,” at the heart of which is the idea of spiritual unity, i.e. “All-One!”  Can’t argue with that, or maybe you can – no judgment.

The original Peppermint castile soap now has five companion versions: Tea Tree, Almond, Eucalyptus, Baby Mild and my personal favorite, Lavender.  Take a look at one of the labels next time you’re in Target, or better yet, go to Bronner’s website and read them.  Each one is different but the song is still the same.

The charm of the Dr. Bronner story notwithstanding, the product continues to be one of the most versatile cleaning products in existence.  The “18 in 1” claim is true (how often does that happen?) for one can, indeed, clean ones entire body and house with this stuff.  Add baking soda and white vinegar and bring down the likes of Proctor and Gamble once and for all.

On Red Lips: not for the faint of heart…

Photo: Marie Labbancz

The classic ruby lip: cosmetic counters and make-up aisles offer endless variations on the theme and beauty magazines reinvent the look each season to make it seem “new.”  I assert, however, as a make-up artist and avowed cosmetic voyeur, that women may want to rock red lipstick, they might even buy a tube or two, but they are not, for the most part, wearing it.

In the early 50’s when Revlon mad genius Charles Revson launched the crimson masterpieces “Cherries in the Snow” and “Fire and Ice”—both available to this day— most of the women who were inspired to buy the shades actually wore them.  Then again, this was a more formal era when hats, gloves and structured purses were standard in everyday fashion.

We now live in a world where flip flops are okay at the White House, and women, both young and old, can be seen at the mall in what appear to be jammies.  One might understand, therefore, why high maintenance red lips might make one feel a tad overdressed.

In spite of the marketing and the overwhelming selection, the fact is that not all of us look good in red lipstick, and this has less to do with the shape of the mouth or the skin tone and more about our personalities and how we feel about ourselves.   Vibrant lip color creates a strong personal statement that many of us are just not that comfortable making.   It takes confidence to pull off, for example, a classic matte red lip, and let’s face it; the beauty industry was not built on the backs of confident women.

Do you know a woman (hint) who doesn’t like having her picture taken?  “She” probably doesn’t feel comfortable in red lipstick either.  To “her,” red lips feel risky, unsettling and overly seductive.

Notes of encouragement: you can work on getting comfortable with a lip that shouts “Here I am!” by taking it out for short test drives.   Ground rules: if your skin has yellow undertones, then a warm red will work, while those of you with pink undertones will be better off with a blue-based shade.   Keep eye make-up to a minimum and cheeks soft.

Once in your fiery state, think about how you feel and note the reactions you get from others.  With practice and positive reinforcement, you might begin to grow into the woman you imagined you would like to be, the one wearing that perfect shade of red lipstick.

A Good Day with Fox29’s Jennaphr Frederick

On May 9th, Fox29’s spunky Jennaphr Frederick and crew visited my studio to help Good Day morning show viewers learn how to avoid common make-up mistakes.  We had a brilliant time together (Kerry Barrett was on air – I had done her make-up for a headshot a couple of years ago), and the segment turned out to be a great tutorial lash curling and applying DMK Foundation/Concealer (available at the studio).  Watch the video here….

Introducing Amal Oils 100% Organic Argan Oil

        I now have a brilliant response to the oft-asked question “what should I use to moisturize my skin?”  That response is: “argan oil.”  Not because it’s the latest thing (which it kind of is) but because this pure, multi-tasking moisture is lovely to use, effective and reasonably priced.

   Amal Oils 100% Organic Argan Oil isn’t tested on animals (really) and is preservative, paraben, fragrance and toxin free. It is also very high in essential fatty acids (for moisture retention), sterols (compounds that have softening and anti-inflammatory properties), tocopherols (vitamin E) and polyphenols (another antioxidant).  This is good stuff.

    In addition to offering argan oil of the very highest quality, Amal Oils is a woman-owned company whose production of a beauty product actually supports the economic independence of Berber women in Morocco.  In a labor-intensive process, these women extract oil from the nut of the endangered but now protected argan tree.  Truly a tree worth hugging.

    Argan oil has a mild nutty fragrance that doesn’t linger and can be applied morning and evening as a  facial moisturizer.  Use it on the body, particularly on hands and to moisturize nails and cuticles, or on your hair, to add moisture and shine.

    I’m so excited to be the only resource in the Philadelphia area for this product – contact me to schedule time to come in and give it a try.  $35 for 2 ounces.