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Makeup for Professional Artists, Fashionistas and Makeup Junkies

Each year I conduct my own UFC, a search for the ultimate coverage system. My reference standard is Max Factor panstick. Properly applied in a sheer layer with a foundation brush or sponge, it covers everything. Guaranteed. So who lives up to panstick?

Heres my list of coverage products.

Category One: Lightweight Class, Concealers for Under Eye

1. Still the reigning queen of dark circle coverage is Benefit’s Erase Paste. It is an orange color corrector. Orange is the complementary color to purple. Nuff said.

2. My own recipe, the Smashbox Slushy. Here is how I make my own Smashbox coverage. Mix together Smashbox Halo Yellow correcting powder with their high definition concealer on a palette. Mix until is a paste like consistency. Add a drop of under eye brightener and mix into the slush. Now, prep the skin under the eye with Blend face primer (Thank you Shannon Ahola, lead regional trainer for Smashbox for this tip!) first and now apply the slushy. If this don’t cover it, nothing will! If you need to know more about under eye coverage scroll back through this block to my chapter on Corrective Makeup.

3. Laura Mercier dual undereye concealer…Winning now for 6 year in a row, this stuff is gonna work like a dream. I suggest a combination of Erase Paste and this on top!

Category Two: Middle Weight Class, Sheer Coverage Foundations and Tints

1. Kett Airbrush foundation, provides a clean, photoshoot worthy coverage when used with an airbrush. For the airbrush compressor, the winner is the Kett Whisperlight. Its the size of a carton of cigarettes and weighs about as much. If you want to work with alot of talent, fast, buy the Kett system, including compressor and foundation set, with corrector and powder. For the actual airbrush, Iwata is a good choice if you don’t have a leaning.

2. Smashbox BB cream, read my review.

3. Makeup Forever liquid..yep, it works, no doubt about it.

4. And again, a winner for the past 5 years, Bare Minerals for mineral foundation. Why this brand you ask? Every brand makes a mineral foundation now. Or do they? Read the ingredients on any Mineral foundation. Then read the ingrediants for Bare Minerals. See the difference? Bare Minerals just consists of minerals! Most other mineral powders read like the materials list for a first year organic chemistry lab section.

Category Three: The Heavy Weights, For Tatoos, Scars, and Complete Coverage

1. CoverFx still holds first place. Until someone can come out with something as good for the skin and as effective as this, it will hold the title belt. I am talking their cream foundation here. It is rapidly becoming a new standard in film. My friends who do the makeup for Nikita, the Series, shot here in Toronto use it exclusively. Watch an episode. Ask Anthony Gordon, probably my favorite contemporary makeup artist how he feels about CoverFx.

2. Halo hydrating powder by Smashbox…its a second place to CoverFx, but why does it win? Because its a mineral powder that conceals well. So its only winning because its a viable alternative to a cream that does about 75% of the job of Cover Fx. However, its still imperfect coverage. The upside, and why it wins as well, is that you can photograph with it. You cannot photograph mineral powders they cause problems. This isnt my finding to be clear, its the result of many discussions on model mayhem and Emme Elles industry forums on the subject by editorial makeup artists. Halo works in a photos, hence earning it a coveted spot in my top three.

3. MAC high coverage cream foundation. Remarkable product. Just remarkable. This hides anything. If you are a teenager with alot of acne, just buy this and learn how to apply it evenly. Its mask-like however so requires finesse, thats why it didn’t win first place.

So thats the UFC results for 2011. With 2012 upon us now, who knows what fabulous new lines will come our way.


For years women have dreamed of an all in one makeup which replaces their skin care routine, priming, coverage and oil control in one shot. Myrstira, a Canadian powder introduced on the Dragon’s Den and now available at Rexall, attempted to be this solution. It was a phenomenal product, I worked alongside the daughter of the developer, she promotes the product in store. This powder created a full makeup in a few sweeps of the brush and worked on a remarkable number of skin tones. However, this product lacked high SPF, priming, oil control and moisturizing and so really found itself classified as a foundation. Once you enter the budget-but-good foundation market, you are up against Vichy’s mineral foundation which retails for $23 and provides coverage as good as any mineral on the market. Its a hard place to be.

Smashbox, with its trend setting Davis and Dean Factor power team, decided to make a breakthrough in this very tough game. They have done something pretty unique here, they hit the nail on the head. Here is my take on their new BB cream.

Well folks, we did the launch for BB in Canada last week at Sephora. I worked two locations, Sherway Gardens and Yorkdale. The Sephora staff are incredibly supportive so I had a lineup of customers waiting to get a fast makeover with BB cream all day both days. I tried it on everyone I could find.

This cream, is a combination SPF 35, moisturizer, primer, oil control and light foundation all in one. It comes in 4 shades and they matched incredibly well. The way I see it, is that we apply this directly after cleansing and see if it is enough. It often is! If not, then we have a fantasticc primer to build a layer of foundation on, or you can spot conceal after its on. Either way, its more than enough coverage for all but the stubborn cases. It really comes as close to a miracle that I have seen. And you know how fond I was of Plump Perfect, Makeup Forever Foundation and Bare Minerals. But this to me, knocks em off the map. Smashbox better be aggressive with this, because the imitators are going to be coming fast and furious. As I understand it, the Koreans invented BB creams, BB means Beauty Balm. American early attempts were not well received and were criticized online for not being up to Korean standards. Bloggers using Smashbox BB from QVC over the past quarter were unanimously positive about it. Smashbox did it right.

A story is worth a thousand facts, so let me get down to it.

The first girl I worked on was a mother/daughter team, the daughter with 20 and had problem skin, acne, and it was fair. I used the fair BB cream on her and got perfect acne coverage. No concealer. Her mom, strangely, was olive toned and almost mediterranean. She used the medium and it blew her away as well. They both grabbed one.

This excitement caused the next girl to stop by, who had rosaceae. I had to test it. I do half the face in BB cream and leave the other half to compare in the mirror. I had redness control here, but it failed to cover it, as expected. However, using a sheer layer of Studio Skin foundation provided perfect coverage. Now thats signficant. Redness and acne, like dark undereye circles, both respond differently to products on different faces. So what this means is that sometimes Studio Skin doesnt cover acne well, but with the BB cream as a base, it worked dependably. This means that BB can enter under the category of corrective primer. It is not designed to provide 12 hour priming action for a photoshoot. For that I would stay with the primer line. But for the average girl, this is going to work just fine.

Everyone who tried it that first day of launch bought some. I dont know how many we sold, but it was a few. I know that within the first hour I had done over $350 in sales, which is unusually good for a walk in retail launch. My point being, this stuff is the new foundation. Every other line is going to have to live up to this standard from now on. For sheer coverage, it wins, hands down. Which is kind of interesting, because its going to compete against other Smashbox products like Halo, tinted moisturizer and HiDef. But I guess no matter which one wins, Smashbox will be the ultimate winner.

I continued to work with all ages. The BB cream was grabbed instantly by any woman over 40. They just said “give me that one now before you run out of stock”. I’m serious, this was intense. For the average professional woman who wants to go to work with a clean look, this hit the mark on every gal. One woman preferred the medium, even though she was light to match. The BB cream, if blended well, with a brush, can be used to create a tinted look, a bronzing action. You have to blend it well and keep it sheer, but yes Melinda, this can replace your bronzer as well. Oh my!

I had one complete failure on the BB for redness. A young model came in which large patches of pink redness on both sides of her face. The BB cream did absolutely nothing. I used the Studio Skin, however, on top of the BB cream layer and we had 100 per cent flawless coverage. Now again this is signficiant because Studio Skin is capricious, it sometimes covers, sometimes it doesnt. Sometimes I have to switch to HiDef foundation and suddenly I have coverage. So again, the BB cream priming and correcting action matches very well with Studio Skin.

One other case where BB cream failed to control redness was a woman with severe acne. Here I tested the BB and it did nothing at all. I used Studio Skin on a test patch and it failed, even on top of BB cream. Hmmm…so I switched to a test patch with Halo powder and bang! Complete coverage. So its that way in doing pro correction work, you have to stay with it, not give up. Smashbox has so many corrective choices that there is some combination in there that will work. Halo mineral powder has very high coverage in some cases, but in some, does little. Customization is the key for Smashbox, so one size never fits all.

In summary we sold a truckload of BB creams and women love it. I love it. It clearly goes into my Yiddish “I need, I want…I have to HAVE” category.

Hey All

Well I have been gigging for Smashbox for a couple months now and I am truly impressed with the line. Here are my 10 top Smashbox pics;

a. Beauty Balm; released early in the US, this is headed for release next week here at Sephora. This is the product many of us have dreamt about for years, a combination primer, moisturizer, SPF 35, oil control and pore refiner. And yes, coverage and correction! I am going to be using ALOT of this stuff on my clients. Imagine a world without foundation, without concealer, without moisturizer, with sun protection! Just put this stuff on with a foundation brush and BOOM…most women will have more than sufficient coverage. Is this a Davis/Dean invention or are the Lauder skin care gurus having a go at it? Either way, this is one product to watch out for.

b. Baked Stardust for contouring and warming the features. Absolutely love this for contouring and creating a nice cheek effect.

c. Creme Eyeliner Palette: delicious assortment of cream eyeliners which can be spread with a fingertip to make a great eyeshadow as well. Gotta have it.

d. High Defintion foundation, covers rosacea, acne, you name it….its an almost perfect foundation.

e. Correct and Blend primers; I reach for these first in most makeovers. They often do enough balancing of skin tones to finish the look. Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, these are a must have…however, Beauty Balm is going to replace them for me, for women with a relatively even complection.

f. 35 mm lip gloss; I have put this on tons of women this fall and they all took it home. Think organic metallic copper and yer thinking 35 mm. Perfect for that natural look.

g. Halo highlighting wand….to die for!!! Want that glow on the cheeks, lips, brows, anywhere? This is the stuff you use. A step up from J Lo’s almond oil mixed with foundation that Scott Barnes made immortal. Just go buy it….now!

h. Luminous tinted moisturizer;; apply with a Kabuki brush….for that supernatural glow… I need, I want, I have to have!

i. Gingersnap Blush…I have sold a truckload of this stuff. Every woman adores it. Cheeks are never rosy, except for kids running in the park in summer! Cheeks are terracotta on most women and this blush just hits the mark. Replaces NARS Orgasm as my favorite blush for the everywoman.

j. And last but not least: Xtreme mascara. The first mascara I have used in my career that doesnt make a mess….it goes on smooth and never fails.


Overall Smashbox is a stunning makeup line which is brilliantly designed with no pomp or circumstance. We love you Smashbox for your inventiveness and studio quality products. Keep up that good work and resist the temptation to become another skin care sales force.

Until I post again, happy glamming!

My good colleague Doug used to do a great show called Diva on a Dime….he featured makeup and beauty bargains. Yes, its true, you do not have to spend alot of money to look fabulous this season. Here are my top pics…

1. Moisturizer: Curel, available at Shoppers Drug Mart…this is a ceramide based moisturizer for dealing with that awful winter itch. Why do we need a moisturizer in winter? Air is made of nitrogen mostly, with some water and about 16 per cent oxygen. When air cools, it becomes denser, and pushes out the water molecules, so there is less water in each square cm of air….got it? So we get itchy in winter, as our skin becomes drier. Curel contains ceramides which are long fatty acids which prevent water loss in the skin. Ceramides were under an Arden patent which expired about 2 years ago. So now, for a few dollars, you can get a huge bottle of Curel ceramide moisturizer. It will instantly relieve itch for many hours. Try that with your fancy shmancy prestige moisturizer.

2. Exofoliation and general skin care…you do not need to buy Guerllains ridiculously overpriced ($300 a shot!!!!) skin care products. You can make your own at home for pennies. Recipe: take one cup of avocado oil, add to it, 10 drops tincture of willow bark (salycylic acid), 10 drops tincture of chamomile (alpha bisabolol, a natural anti-inflammatory), 10 drops tincture of peppermint (increases circulation and gives a great tingle), and use this daily as your skin care program. For exfoliation, take some baking soda and mix it with Cetaphil moisturizer and use in the shower. There ya go…high end skin care for a few pennies.

3. Eye shadow, lipstick, blush and mascara….NYX makes great makeup for cheap cheap!!! Only available at Rexall Pharmaplus, it rivals MAC and similar lines for color density, you can get 3 eyeshadows for 6 bucks! NYX sponsored Ru Pauls drag race. If you want good quality makeup for a few bucks, use NYX. For mascara, Maybelline falsies on sale, Shoppers Drug Mart, 6 bucks, rivals all that fancy shmancy Dior/Lauder/Arden over priced stuff. Goes on like a dream and won’t clump.

4. Facial cleansers and toner….on the cheap… . For a cleanser simply use Cetaphil for 10 bucks a bottle. Does the same job as all that high falootin’ prestige stuff, but costs a fraction of their retail cost and works on any skin type. Cheap and effective, no need to pay 20 bucks when you can pay 10 and be just as clean. For a toner, simply squeeze a bit of lemon juice into some water and there ya go! Toners restore pH to the face and lemon juice does just that.

5. Lip gloss….its expensive to buy alot of lip glosses at 20 bucks a pop. Why not make your own? Buy some clear MAC lip glass or Smashbox shimmer light gloss, colorless and odorless…then mix some Bonny Belle at 2 bucks a pop ..lipsticks in with the gloss to create your own custom colors. We don’t need no steenking gloss pallettes, cheap lipstick mixed with a clear gloss base is just as good. And since lipstick is just wax with pigment in it, you can buy the cheapest junk lipsticks you can find to make your own custom gloss pallette.

Until I post again, enjoy a frugal Christmas. You don’t have to spend alot of money to look and feel fabulous.


Hello dear friends, its the first snowfall of the season and I am thinking about winter wonder. There is a magical quality in the time from now until Christmas, that transforms into an elegant and spiritual feeling between Christmas and New Year. Its nice to capture some of that magic in makeup.

One look suggested to me by Julie Cook, a Smashbox pro team artist, featured soft peach lids with a liner of metallic light bronze. This gives a natural, but almost Christmas tree look to the eye. A modern Christmas tree is often sparse, with specific metallic balls and a monochromatic light set, lets say all white or all blue.. The same ideas translate into makeup. By understating the eye and yet adding a shimmer liner in a neutral tone, we set up a delightful holiday vibe.

I am loving layered texture lately. I am now doing freelance work for Smashbox cosmetics and their products lend themselves to this layered luminosity.

Here is the breakdown for foundation application keyed by Shawn, the national trainer for Smashbox, for the Lucian Matis runway show we did this fall.

1. Even the skin tone by using studio skin foundation to correct, do not cover the entire face, just spot correct.

2. Use the halo highlighting wand to form an inverted tree above each eye, and a box beneath each eye. Then sweep the halo wand upward just above the jawline toward the ear.

3. Apply studio skin foundation, light tone along the upper cheek line to the temple. Sweep up, not down, we want a Botox lift to the contour.

4. Make any additional corrections with regular foundation or concealer.

5. Using a powder brush, apply Baked Stardust shimmer powder over the face.

6. Using a Kabuki brush, apply tinted moisturizer OVER the shimmer powder. Thats right< OVER. The cool thing about Smashbox is that you can use liquid over powder..that opens up a huge nest of possibilites for texture.

7. Apply blush along the upper cheekbone toward the temple.

This is a rather complex foundation breakdown. The designer, Lucian, demanded that the models “glow from within”. This effect is hard to acheive without layering textures.


I have an alternate method for creating that magical holiday glow, which doesnt take as long. For this you need Ben Ney luminous pigment in silver. You also need a fair foundation. Apply the foundation first. Next, using a powder brush, slowly apply the Ben Nye pigment to create a fine luminous dust. Gently work the dust into the foundation. Your model will look as though she is emitting light. Alot faster. Unfortunately Smashbox doesnt make film grade pigments for special effects, and thats where the Ben Nye comes in.

I will post on some more holiday looks over the next week. Until then, practice some layered luminosity! I think you will find that you can go easy on the color story if you work with texture in the makeup.

Updated the lessons today. New work with Natalie Gold showing a natural to evening organic transformation. Lately I have been doing some fitness shoots with the good folks at

Also doing the natural look for Dr. Ho assisting on a before and after fitness program.

Basics for Fitness Shoot

First correct with concealer, using a dermablend pallette and a concealer brush. Stipple the concealer into place. Next, use Aircraft face powder foundation. Set brows with MAC lingering eye pencil. Line with MAC carbon using a narrow angle brush. Use Scratch by Urban Decay to do the eyes for a natural look. CoverFx bronzer in the color “Bronze” on the cheeks. You can layer this on top of pale rose blush or use a burgundy if working with women of color. Finish with Stila lip and cheek stain on the lips. Coat with MAC Lip Glass. Complete the look with Maybelline Falsies mascara, single coat. Line lower eye with brown eyeshadow if you need more punch. Can swap to black eyeshadow if working at distance.!/profile.php?id=100002265327734

Some of these looks at work.

Have a look at our youtube channel to see me doing real makeup on real professional models. Most of what I cover in my blog is covered here as well!