Thursday, October 24, 2013

In Search of the Perfect Nude

Not this kind of nude, silly!
Lately I have spent not one visit, but many visits to Sephora and other beauty emporiums trying to find the perfect nude.  Does anyone else out there notice how many ugly, deeply unflattering nude lipsticks there are?  It's particularly confounding since you see almost every model and actress in every ad wearing the same pinkish nude lip but you try to find that color and it DOES NOT EXIST.  Is this a conspiracy?  Where are all those women getting their perfect lips from?  There must be a secret storage house somewhere stuffed to the rafters with flattering nude lipsticks and you can only get them if you make a Faustian bargain with some sci-fi version of the devil.  

You will get a perfect nude exchange for your immortal soul.
Short of an unholy alliance, I have had to make do with trying every nude known to woman. My favorite nude so far is from the new Marc Jacobs makeup line.  It's a warm pinkish nude with a little bit of earth, a little bit of rose. 

Marc Jacobs Beauty Lovemarc Lip Gel in Understudy 114. $30
The Lovemarc Lip Gel has a slightly sheer quality that doesn't make you lips look too lined (as matte nudes are wont to do).  It's a lovely healthy pink nude that brings color to your face so you can feel like a cow-maiden on the heath.   And it's reasonably moisturizing.  Every lipstick claims to be moisturizing, but few are.   This lipstick uses monoi oil to keep your lips soft and smooth.  I still add a little balm on top to prevent my lips from getting dry.

L'oreal Colour Riche Lipcolour in Tender Pink 114. $8.95
This is a classic and it was my favorite nude for a long time.  Unfortunately, I found it to VERY drying which is why I stopped using L'oreal lipsticks altogether.  It's nude-ish pink with a fair bit of brown.  It was a little dark on my pale skin, so I would use it with a gloss.  Back in the day when I was working as a makeup artist, I found this shade to be flattering on almost everyone.

Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Buff -- Beige Pink. $24.00
Sephora has started carrying Bobbi Brown's makeup line, a sign of the 90's revival when she was putting brown lipstick on everyone.  I tried almost all her nude lipsticks and found, yes, they are too brown on me.  My lips looked dirty -- and not in a good sexy way, just a mud-on-the-mouth kind of way.  This gloss is a happy exception.  It gives your lips a pale nude-ish quality that looks very natural.  It's also reasonably moisturizing.  

Josie Maran Magic Marker Lip and Cheek Stain in Mambo -- Toasted Beige. $19.00
Mambo goes on very strong, very dark coffee brown -- in contrast to its description as a "Toasted Beige."  This would only be a good neutral for women with very olive or dark skin and certainly not a true nude.   I like to add a sheer gloss on top of my favorite shade of Magic Marker, the very flirty red Flamenco, to keep my lips hydrated.  You also can wear the Magic Markers under lipsticks to keep your color longer.

Lip Perfection Gel by Per-fekt in Melrose and Sunset. $24.00

I love the idea of this gel more than I love the execution.  It has a thick lip balm texture but the color is more intense than a balm.  The two neutrals I tried didn't work at all.  Melrose is a mauve-ish tone nude that made me look undead.  Sunset looked like it would be a nice apricot, but on the mouth it shows a lot of bright orange.  The only color I liked in this line was Hollywood, which is a true red.  You don't need a lot of this, a little goes a long way.  Oddly, I found it to be a little drying.

Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick by Hourglass in Canvas and Rose. $28
Hourglass has two neutrals in their Liquid Lipstick line, Canvas and Rose.  Canvas is described as a "soft rose beige" and goes on very light.  It will give you that striking pale beige lip that people like to use with smoky eyes.  Personally, I find it a little too light and devoid of color.  Rose, which is described as a "modern neutral," is that exquisite shade of rose-y pink that is not too bright or too dark or too "pink."  It's not a nude in a classic sense, but it's a gorgeous neutral-ish pink you could wear with a lot of different makeup looks.  Both Canvas and Rose go on liquid and then within a few seconds dry to a matte finish.  It has great staying powder, but it is very drying.  As adorable as they are, no one wants to make out with a lizard.  So when I wear Rose, I add a layer of Josie Maran's Argan Luscious Lips sheer lip gloss on top to keep my lips from completely drying out. 
Nourish-Mint Sheer Mineral Lip Color by Aveda in Sheer Moonflower 501. $16

So this is a lovely, earthy-y nude described a "sheer, shimmery natural earthy pink."  It looks darker on the tube than it does on your lips.  It's close to your natural lip color, while being a little darker and a little more pronounced.  This is a great lip color to wear if you want to look like you're not wearing any lipstick.  I've found that it photographs very naturally, giving your mouth some shape and definition while looking like bare lips.  It's quite moisturizing, but you will need to reapply frequently.  I like to pair it with Aveda's Rehydrating Lip Glaze in Mango Juice.

Aveda Rehydrating Lip Glaze in Mango Juice 260. $18  

This lip gloss is described as a "warm shiny shimmery peach" but I found it to be much more a neutral than a peach on the lip.  It has a little bit of sparkle and a beautiful beige quality, but enough warmth that you don't look undead.  On its own it will make your lips a little more pale and neutral-ish.  I like to pair it with the Aveda lipstick in Sheer Moonflower and I like to use it over other lipsticks to make them softer and paler.  It's very moisturizing.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Getting Glossy and Gorgeous Hair

Getting Glossy and Gorgeous Hair

At the end of summer, my hair is always a little broken-hearted and bedraggled, and no amount of deep conditioning seems to revive it.  Trying to get your hair into shape at this time of year feels very much like trying to drag a whining child back home from the beach at the end of a long day.  I've tried out a few rescue remedies with varying degrees of success:

From The Hair Shop on Wilshire near La Brea. $17.
Love this stuff!  You only need a small amount of 909 Silk Drops that you work into your ends and up your hair.  Takes sad, parched, "ratty" hair and transforms it within minutes into something presentable. It's like a magic trick.  Miraculously, it doesn't weigh your hair down at all.  You can also use it prior to blow-drying or heat-styling your hair to protect it from the heat. Has a very strong floral fragrance.  10 out of 10.

Damage Remedy by Aveda.  Your local Aveda store or  $28
I love Aveda, but I didn't love this leave-in conditioner.  It tended to make my hair a little straggly and didn't really improve the split ends or the overall dryness.  Pleasant grassy fragrance.   Eco-friendly, all-natural line with no animal testing.  2 out of 10.

John Masters Organics Shine On Leave-in Treatment.  Your local Whole Foods or  $30.
 Be sure to use this product while your hair is still wet (unless you have very full hair) or it will weigh it down.  This product is somewhat moisturizing, but primarily what it does is eliminate frizz.  If you have wavy or curly hair that tends to go crazy when it's dry or hot, you'll love this tress-tamer.  Apply a small amount all over your damp hair.  You may need add an additional product to use on your ends if your ends are very dry.  I recommend this for primarily frizzy rather than dehydrated hair.  No real fragrance.  Eco-friendly, all-natural line with no animal testing.  8 out of 10.

Aveda Color Conserve Daily Protect.  Your local Aveda store or  $24.
This is a lightweight leave-in treatment that you put through your whole hair (not just your ends).  It won't weigh your hair down, and it considerably brightened and enlivened my hair color (particularly great if you you have an intense hair color that tends to get duller over time).  People asked me if I'd had my color redone when I'd only just used this product.  The downside is that it isn't heavily moisturizing, so you may need to use another product to moisturize your damaged or dry ends.  One bottle lasts a really long time.  Has a soothing, woodsy-clean scent.  Eco-friendly, all-natural line with no animal testing8 out of 10.

Josie Maran Argan Oil Hair Serum.  Your local Sephora store or  $30.
I am completely in love with most of Josie Maran's wonderful, inventive, all-natural line, but not with this product.  I found it to be a little too heavy for most of my hair, and it didn't repair or gloss-ify my damaged ends.  Light fresh citrus scent.  Eco-friendly, all-natural line with no animal testing2 out of 10.
Pureology Antifade Complex Shinemax Shining Hair Smoother.  Your local beauty salon.  $20.
Pureology has some fantastic shampoos and conditioners that work great for preserving your color, but I didn't fall in love with this serum at all.  Shinemax serum is designed to brighten your color and smooth your frizz, but I found it to be very lightweight and didn't work well for either.  After a couple hours, my hair reverted to its old ways.  Instead, for color reviving and shine, I recommend Avead Color Conserve Daily Protect, and for frizz-smoothing I recommend John Masters Organics Shine On.  Eco-friendly line with no animal testing.  Very strong, annoying floral-chemical fragrance.  1 out of 10.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Mario Makeover

This is my "before picture," and since before pictures are supposed to be bad, I thought I'd try to go for the Celebrity Mugshot Look.  After a couple visits to Shades, an all-natural salon on Doheny, the colorists had managed to lift some of the henna out of my hair, but it left the hair looking and feeling very dry.  The strawberry shade looked very dull and blonde in person, but crazy bright red on camera, so it wasn't really working for me.  People kept commenting on my skin's redness, which I was fairly certain was a result of the color.  I was so despondent about my hair color, I even wore wigs around the house while I was cleaning (wisely, I avoided taking photos of this).  There is nothing as tragic as a Leo whose mane of hair just isn't right!  The only thing I like about this picture is my leopard-print caftan, which I call my "cat outfit."  It's a genuine vintage piece of 70's nostalgia for me and I spend way too much time lounging around in it.  It's heaven!

Enter Mario Llamas to the rescue!  He should be flying into my house with a cape waving behind him.  I've come to think of Mario as the Hair and Makeup God.  He's so talented in both (usually an artist is only really good at one), and I've had such a great time working with him on fashion and headshot shoots.  When I found out he makes house calls to do haircuts and color, I was so excited.  I was thrilled I could relax at home, listen to jazz, and get gorgeous! I also love Mario's prices.  He charges $35 for haircuts, $55 for haircuts that include a blowout, $55 for color touch-ups, and $95 for first-time all-over color.
Some of you already know that I've been wanting to try going darker, which I've never really done before, and luckily Mario was willing to take the plunge with me, and I could rest knowing I was in great hands.  Here is Mario painting the color into my hair.   It's a dark brown dye, but it went on looking very intense true blue-black, so I was a little scared!  I breathed and thought of puppies and kitties....
Here's Mario doing the haircut and blowout.  Mario is a true master of the blowout, which I've learned is an art form in itself.  When Mario isn't doing makeup for weddings all over Southern California, or making house calls to do cut and color, you can find him at Myblow LA on Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills doing glamorous blowouts.  Since I wasn't facing any mirrors, I couldn't wait to see what my hair looked like!

Close-ups of me with my new color and cut.  I added a little bit of light makeup: a rosy blush by Tarte called "blissful," a deep hydrating lip gloss by Aveda called "star dahlia," and a touch of black mascara by Lush (all eco-friendly brands that I love -- not only are the colors beautiful, but they avoid toxic chemicals and animal testing).  As you can see, Mario gave me a great new cut with lots of layers and some light side bangs.  It made my hair look longer and fuller, even though he actually cut off a lot of length.  I want to thank Colleen Kelly for her ideas about the layers and the side bangs.  Not only are you a great producer Colleen, you also know your haircuts! 
My before and after photos.  Mario really is THE Makeover Man!  If my photos have inspired you to try out a fun new look of your own, you can schedule your own Mario Makeover.  You can reach Mario to make an appointment at the email address or ask me for his contact info.   I was really scared of doing dark, hating the color, and not being able to change it, but now I am in love with my new color and so glad I took the plunge!  I want to thank all my amazing friends for all your thoughts and advice about my hair.  So, what do you all of guys think?  I  can't wait to hear your thoughts.  Please feel free to comment below on my new look!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hair Color: The Agony and the Ecstasy

One of my icons, Rita Hayworth, who wore her hair very dark, red, and blonde.
 So as some of you who are my Facebook friends have the misfortune to know, I have been obsessed with my hair in the last couple of months.  When my hair doesn't feel right, I'm in a state of permanent crisis, resembling a wet cat -- profoundly miserable until my hair is fixed, and hilarious to everyone except myself.  
This is me.
I've been using henna to intensity for red hair for about the past year, and the shade got progressively darker and more intense -- something which I absolutely loved, actually, but which occasionally earned comments from industry that it was too "punky" and would prevent me from getting roles. So I started re-thinking my red, and re-thinking my hair color in general.  Henna is notoriously hard to get out of hair, like a bad boyfriend it just clings and clings.  And I also have wanted to avoid conventional dyes, which recent research links to all sorts of rare and scary cancers.  So I visited Shades, a salon on Doheny in Beverly Hills which specializes in natural color.  It took a couple of visits to keep a lot of the henna out and lighten my shade to a more natural strawberry red, although it's still a bit untidy-looking.  And truthfully, I have always been attracted to "alternative" color.  Why color your hair if it's not really fun?  So a more dull shade is taking some getting used to.  
Here I am with my new strawberry hair color.  Red goes crazy on camera, it's like Spring Break for color.  In person my hair is duller and much less red.
And I've thought of going blonde again or going dark.  There's been such a massive trend towards brunettes in Hollywood, both in casting and in terms of what colors actresses dye their hair.  The only frightening thing about going dark is that it requires more of a commitment, since you cannot instantly bounce back with a lighter shade.  
My daydream of going dark: could I be like Kristen Stewart, who's career didn't ignite until she went for dark hair?
My nightmare of going dark: or could I be like Scarlett Johansson, who only truly shines in buttery blonde?  And then how could I get back to light hair without frying it?
All of this makes me fondly recall my teenage era when I had short hair and I could change hair color basically on a whim.  Of course, I was also young and foolish and didn't care that I wasn't turning my hair into straw.  Ah, those were the days!
Emma Stone in every shade: blonde, red, and brunette.  I'd love to have a magic wand to try all these colors for a few days with no damage to my hair.  I'd magically get headshots in every color.  Emma, can I borrow your wand please?
I had photos taken of myself in some truly atrocious wigs, to see what I looked like now with different colors.
Me in scary wigs: yes, it's come to this.  The cute brunette wig appears courtesy of Kim Airs, who uses it in her stage act where she becomes a man.  Thank you Kimmy!
And I've been browsing through all the Google search photos of actresses who've paved the way by trying absolutely every hair color, which is fascinating in itself.  Sometimes it isn't until an actress stumbles upon the right hair color that she becomes successful, and I think as women we apply that to ourselves as well -- the perfect hair color will magically make our skin color glow, make everyone love us, make the world shine.  All the gates that were closed to us because we had despicably uncool hair will now be opened, and the good things will come. This is the promise and the mystery of changing your hair, escaping your role in life and creating another one.  It's a little silly and hyperbolic and somehow very, very irresistible.
So I've compiled some photos of my favorite hair colors changes....I'm living vicariously through these women until I find my own magic shade.  Keep your fingers crossed for me everybody!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In Love with Marilyn at Macy's

I'm been devouring this incredibly gorgeous book, "Marilyn in Fashion," and feeling so inspired by the sexy, summer-y looks that Marilyn perfected.  I noticed a number of key elements of Marilyn's style: everything fit her body perfectly; her looks are sensual but don't actually show that much skin; and there's a wonderful mix of fresh innocence and sultry sexuality in her personal style.

Finding the kind of outfits that Marilyn wore is not easy, and pinup reproduction clothes are so lovely but often very expensive.  So I'm in love with a new Marilyn Monroe reproduction line that Macy's is carrying in their junior's section.

I tried on almost everything and ended up buying this gorgeous red dress:
Currently on sale at for $44.99 in sizes from XS-XXL

Here is the original dress that Marilyn for Niagara
Here's some more of this delightful line, perfect for looking delicious in this hot summer weather....