Posts Tagged: makeup

This Week I Love …


Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments.

So, I do love my red lippy. And I do know how to make it stay put. But I am LAAAAAAZY and far more likely to just slap it on and go than line, fill, apply, blot, apply, and blot. Which means that an hour or so and a glass of water later, I have what I lovingly refer to as “Scary Clown Lips.” I don’t actually know any scary clowns, and if I did I doubt they’d have a dark ring of lipstick around their mouths and zero pigment elsewhere … but the phrase has stuck somehow.

I will apply and blot on occasion, but even my favorite lipstick dries out my lips after a couple of hours. And I’ve tried a billion tinted balms, but most of them sit on top of my lips like icing and never sink in. I shake my tiny fists at Kiehl’s for discontinuing their tinted balms which I used and loved for years, but am thrilled to have discovered an even more richly pigmented replacement.

These Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments are aggravatingly expensive at $22.50 a pop. BUT. Unlike Burt’s Bees and Blistex and even the now-unavailable Kiehl’s that I loved, they truly add color to your lips. Quite a bit for a product so sheer, but not as much as an actual lipstick. (Although with enough coats you might get something approaching lipstick-level coverage.) And they fade off slowly and naturally, preventing Scary Clown Lips. In my opinion, they are the perfect balm-lipstick hybrid: Relatively moisturizing and super comfy to wear but also pigmented and rich.

I’ve got the berry color shown above, which has just the right mix of purple and red, and the cherry color which is bright red and surprisingly strong for a balm. One swipe usually does me just fine, and leaves my lips looking subtly red.

So yeah, it’s a lot of money for a lip balm. But if if it allows you to stop buying balm and lipstick and merge them into one? Maybe?

Anyone else a fan of these guys? Any favorite shades to share? Other tinted lip balms that actually moisturize and ALSO give some real color? Let us know in the comments!

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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Reader Request: My Makeup Routine


Reader Lydia e-mailed me this request:

Since you’ve been posting about the use of cosmetics recently, is there any chance you’d do a post on a gentle beginner intro to starting to wear make-up as an adult?

I’ve been back through the beauty tag and looked at the individual posts on cosmetics, especially the one about falling down the rabbit hole, but was hoping that you might do one that draws all the threads together. You made such a great transition from not wearing make-up to really understanding how to use it for the effect you want, and your posts on individual products have been really detailed and clear.

I’ve been trying to start wearing make-up as an adult, but, when I’ve tried going to a store’s beauty counter for help, I end up looking like a clown and being given a long list of products. Most online information seems to be aimed at the experienced make-up wearer, with even novice tutorials calling for three brushes and sixteen products.

I pointed Lydia to Sonja’s Makeup 101 series, which is really fantastic … but does go pretty deep into techniques. And uses an awful lot of brushes. So even though I STILL feel like a laughable novice when it comes to anything makeup-related, I will take a stab at this. Because I remember feeling just like Lydia as a 30-year-old woman, having those same experiences and frustrations, and wondering where to turn.

Of course, all I can really share is my own routine. It’s fairly simple, works for me, and doesn’t require loads of expertise or fancy tools … but I would never say it’s the ideal set of practices for anyone. Still, I hope it’ll be helpful for those of you just beginning to play around with cosmetics.


So first, the general:

  • I have become fanatical about skincare, and I feel like having healthy skin makes for a great canvas. When I’m broken out or sore, applying makeup hurts and irritates, but more than that, it feels like a chore concealing stuff that I don’t want seen instead of highlighting stuff that I love. My skincare routine includes oil cleansing (posts here and here), using a Clairsonic every other day (info and review here), and many other tactics to manage my hormonal acne (full post here). I do NOT believe that my methods will work perfectly for anyone besides me! But I definitely recommend finding a cleansing and moisturizing routine that feels good and works for you. Any makeup you apply will work and look better on clear, happy skin. (Or as clear and happy as you can get it. Some of us struggle more than others with skin-related challenges.)
  • I have had my makeup applied professionally and plied the artists with questions. I have paid for makeup tutorials. I hang out with Beauty Bets on the regular and am constantly hounding her. But as a hands-on learner, I STILL have had to do a lot of playing around and experimentation to find products and techniques that work for me. This just sucks. I wish I could say that this book or that class will help you find exactly what you need, but in all likelihood, you’re gonna have to spend the occasional evening trying out eye makeup techniques. In front of a mirror. And then wiping everything off and trying other techniques. Nothing beats trial and error, friends.
  • I put a lot of stuff on my face to achieve the much-lauded “no makeup” look. This drives me up a wall. Just had to mention that.
  • All of the makeup I use for the Sally version of a “full face” is shown at the very top of this post (minus BB cream and eyebrow fillers). All of the tools I use are shown below.


Next, the blow-by-blow:

Base layer: I don’t use foundation, have no idea how to apply bronzer or highlighter, cannot contour, and apply my entire base layer with my fingers. I do two things to make my freshly-washed skin look even in tone: I apply BB cream all over my face and under my chin, and I dab on some under-eye concealer. You can read my review of my BB cream here, a post that includes before and after photos. For concealer, I use the Glo Minerals palette shown above. I apply a thin layer of under-eye cream first to plump the area and prevent the concealer from settling into my winkles. Then I dab the light color on with my ring finger, and add a tiny bit of the darker shade to blend the edges. Ages ago, I was taught to use this wedge shape for concealer, and it is KEY to making my under-eye area look lighter.

Eyebrows: I get mine threaded every so often to keep them in shape. I’ve gone to fancy spots, but now I go to a gal at Ridgedale Mall who has a kiosk and she does a great job for $12. I pluck strays with Tweezerman tweezers, and generally have to do this daily, being a gifted Hair Farmer. I use a pencil and light strokes to create a rough outline, then brush some brown powder in there to fill any gaps. I actually use an eyeliner pencil and eyeshadow powder. Many makeups can multitask!

Powder: I use Neutrogena Healthy Skin. I get a little on my finger, and apply it to my undereye areas. Then I apply all over my face with a compact puff. I get very shiny without powder, and also keep a Neutrogena Shine Control compact in my purse and oil blotting sheets handy for touch-ups.

Cheeks: I tried powder blush for a while, but I really, REALLY prefer cream. (My favorites here.) I generally use the Elizabeth Arden shown above, so I’ll run my finger around the compact to get a thin glaze going, then dot it along my cheekbones, and blend upward toward my temples. Using my fingers. That’s it.

And that’s also it in terms of what I apply if I’m working at home or seeing friends or doing anything other than a TV or press appearance, event, or other fancypants activity. I don’t do eye makeup on a regular basis. I know it looks nice, but it makes me feel delicate and smudge-able and cranky so I am yet to make it a daily ritual. Considering how much stuff I use now and how little I used six years ago I won’t say “never,” but for now, eyes are a special occasion thing.


When I do eyes I do this:

Curl eyelashes: Une Femme taught me this one. Even if you hate mascara, curling your eyelashes can help those lashes look longer and opens your eyes considerably. I curl mine pre-mascara. I have no special technique. I grab as close to the lid as I can without hurting myself, and hold for 20 seconds. Do the other eye. Then another round of 20 seconds on each.


Apply “liner”: Audi taught me this one. When I attempt to apply actual eyeliner – especially in dark colors and black – I look like I’ve allowed a drunk toddler to do my makeup. So I use matte black eyeshadow and an eyeliner brush. I press the powder along the top of my lash line where liner would go, making it darkest where my lashes are thick. It creates a soft, dark line that is much more forgiving than eyeliner. The powder migrates throughout the day (even if I apply some sort of lid primer), and for much of the time it just looks soft and smoky. After 5-6 hours, it looks like a splotchy, greasy, weird mess and needs a touch-up.

Sometimes I will also use a black pencil to apply VERY light liner to the outer 1/2 or 3/4 of my lower lid, then blend with a finger or Q-tip. I’ve heard that doing liner on top only makes your eyes look bigger but my eyes can look a bit odd to me without a hint of lower liner, so I apply it, “rules” be damned. This also feathers and needs a touch-up after 5-6 hours.

Apply mascara: I apply to upper and a tiny bit to lower. Usually just one coat, but sometimes two. I use the brush on the far right above to separate my lashes if they stick and get rid of clumps. Right now I’m using Lash Domination. It is the second type of mascara I’ve ever used and it is better than the first (Benefit Bad Gal), in that it is more lengthening. The physics of this mystifies me.

And that’s it for eyes. My deep-set eyes mean that eyeshadow is meaningless so I just skip it.

Lips: For formal lips, I use Make Up For Ever in Rouge Artist Intense 44 (story here) and occasionally Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Color in Crushed Plum. Both of these are SUPER pigment-rich, which means that if I apply and blot, they will basically stain my lips for several hours. I can eat and drink and some color will remain. If I’m going to an event that is many hours long and involves eating/drinking, I use Sonja’s lip liner layering trick. Otherwise, it’s apply/blot/apply/blot. My lack of lip liner means that, if I don’t blot, the lipstick bleeds. But most days, I just use some combination of gloss or tinted balm and skip true lip color.

And we’re done.

I’m absolutely happy to answer questions about my choices and techniques, and will do my best to field other questions! But I definitely recommend talking with friends whose makeup application techniques you admire, poking around Pinterest for other simple tutorials, and lots of hands-on experimentation. Especially if you’re a novice and feel overwhelmed by beauty blogs and magazine tutorials. And I truly hope this was helpful!

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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Fascinating and Fashionable: Amy the Makeup Artist

Amy Presson is one of the sweetest, warmest, friendliest women I’ve ever met. She is also my polar opposite because she knows just about everything there is to know about makeup. Founder and owner of local makeup studio Jett Makeup, Amy does everything from eyelash extensions to airbrush makeup, hires out for special events and weddings, and even gives the occasional makeup lesson! (A smoky eye tutorial from her is on my holiday wishlist.)

Since we work in adjacent worlds but I know so little about hers, I thought it would be fun and fascinating to talk with her about her career trajectory and love for cosmetics and beauty. Let’s hear from Amy!

* * * * *

amy presson jett

Have you always loved playing with makeup?
My interest with all things beauty, hair and makeup began in my early teens and continued well into my college days. At that time, I felt intimidated by not knowing what products to use. Back then, makeup products were luxury items for me. Since I could not afford much makeup on my own, I often traded makeup with my friends if we were going out. I had fun experimenting with different looks, and I was always the girl that my friends would go to for hair styling and makeup. Even at an early age, I loved playing with makeup and knew that I had a natural talent for it.

Was a career in beauty something you could’ve predicted for yourself?
I knew that I wanted to do something creative for a living. However, with two teachers as parents, I was expected to enter college after high school. My favorite subject in high school was art class, so when I graduated high school, I wanted to incorporate my love of art into my future career. After high school, I entered a multimedia program at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona. I studied 3D modeling, computer animation, and computer programming. I loved the creativity and structure of the program, but I knew that sitting at a desk all day would not be something that I would enjoy long term. After college, I was lucky enough to be recruited by a friend who asked me to consider working part-time at a cosmetics store. At that time, I thought of it as a fun job and a great way to make a little extra money. However, I had no idea that it would help steer me into an industry that I would eventually have such a passion for.

Did you study or train?
I worked for Estee Lauder for more than six years. During that time, I received extensive training on skincare and cosmetics. I became more confident with makeup applications, and I sought out other makeup resources on my own. I self-studied different application styles, and I tried new makeup techniques on anyone who would sit in my chair at work or at home. I also trained in New York City to learn airbrush makeup application and techniques used for photo shoots by celebrity makeup artists. I attend beauty conventions every year to learn about new trends, products and tools used in makeup applications. I have also been fortunate enough to receive training from Emmy award-winning makeup artists who have shared a wealth of knowledge and advice.


What was it like?
Learning new techniques for makeup applications can be intimidating at first. However, I enjoy the challenge, continually practice and push myself towards perfection with each client that I work with. The variety of the work and seeing immediate results with my clients keep me motivated.

What did you find most valuable?
I found the experience working in the retail cosmetics industry very valuable. Working in retail cosmetics allowed me to hone my skills on hundreds of faces varying in age, color, shape, and skin type.

When and why did you decide to strike out on your own?
I began receiving requests from my retail customers to do makeup for weddings and other special events. Early on, I knew that I wanted to offer something very special for my customers. Jett Makeup was originally created to offer celebrity style “red carpet” makeup services on location only. In 2009, I launched an eyelash bar and airbrush makeup studio in Edina, Minnesota. Our menu of services remains limited to airbrush makeup and eyelash extensions so we can focus and deliver on what we do best.

What does a typical day look like for you?
Most of my weekdays consist of working directly with clients and managing my team. During our peak wedding season, I work offsite most Fridays and Saturdays with wedding parties. I also host special “girls night out” parties at our studio. Although I do the majority of my work in our studio, I also do onsite commercial work for local businesses including fashion shows, photo shoots, etc. I really love the diversity that this industry offers!

jett makeup 2

What do you love most about helping women with their makeup?
I love showing women how to have fun with their makeup and wear it with confidence. We offer makeup lessons which are the perfect way to get comfortable with applying makeup at home. During a lesson, our clients bring in their own makeup so I can consult with them on the best way to use their own products and colors to achieve the best results possible.

What is most challenging?
The most challenging aspect about makeup applications is effective communication. Getting a client to clearly articulate their expectations for the service takes skill and patience. I have found that it is beneficial to take extra time during the consultation and thoroughly interview my clients to gain as much information about their makeup preferences as possible. At the beginning of an application, I will often start out light and continue to consult with the client throughout the application so we can achieve their desired result.

What would you say to someone hoping to become a professional makeup artist?
I would encourage those considering makeup artistry as a career to practice makeup applications on as many people as they can. Ask for constructive criticism from your models to determine what you naturally do well and what you can improve on. Work on a wide range of skin types, ages and skin colors. Advance your work with challenging skin problems such as acne, hyper-pigmentation, melasma, and bruising. Above all, have fun with your work and your clients … your passion for applying makeup will carry you through your most challenging jobs ahead.

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