pretty and the penny: how much can makeup really cost?

September 24, 2012By stephanie 1 Comment

During a time when all my friends, from my close circle to my online community, are trying to pinch pennies and stay pretty – it has proven to be … challenging. From the latest It bag/shoe/jacket, the newest gadget (screw you iPhone 5), and rising real estate costs, once you add in a severe addiction to beauty products and looking good, well, you’re toast.

I’m no stranger to budgeting. By way of background, I went from a very well-paying job in the financial district to jumping ship, and growing BlushPretty from a weekend hobby to what it is now. And it wasn’t easy … I had a mortgage, a child (and one on the way), and champagne tastes. Dropping one whole income from the mix, in many people’s eyes (namely, my mother) was cah-razy. But I survived by budgeting. And here I am today … sure, not making as much as I used to … but back on track … and while I still have champagne tastes, er, my budget is more fancy ice teas and organic juices. Gotta make it work somehow, right?

Okay, back to the point of this post. Whether you are a freelance beauty artist or a dedicated practitioner of the Church of Lipsticks, chances are you cannot resist your nearby Sephora. Beauty blogs turn you on to the next big BB cream. Magazine perfume samples have you lusting over Dot by Marc Jacobs. Yikes!

So the question is: how can you look pretty with just pennies?

(Okay, maybe more than just pennies, but you know – the least amount of dollars possible?)

The short and sweet answer is this: pick and choose your staples wisely. And I am going to help you with that. Every few posts, now and then, will have the pretty and the penny theme … starting today!

My tip today is going to focus on the face. If I were to show you my personal stash of base makeup from pre-BlushPretty days – you know, the stuff I used to pretend that I have perfect skin – you’d see a selection of different types of foundations, powders and primers. I’m pretty sure I always had the latest product from 3 to 4 different brands. If I read it in InStyle, I was buying it. I would apply it just as I heard about in the magazines, saw on What Not to Wear, or whatever … it’s just how I rolled.

Fast forward to today. I’ve learned, from trial and error, that I don’t really need to do the kajillionstepbaseproductroutine. In fact, you can skip A LOT.

For example:

For everyday makeup, applying a primer might not be necessary. If you really want your makeup to stay on, concentrate your efforts (and dollars) on proper skincare first. If you’re skin is in optimal shape, you won’t need primer. Primers (really good ones) cost anywhere from $25 and up … save it.

Now, I personally carry two types of base makeup: a tinted moisturizer when my skin doesn’t need much coverage and a heavier stick foundation when I wake up looking like death. But the truth is most people can get away with carrying ONE type of base product and use it throughout all their skin’s mood swings. If you tend to have clearer skin – then keep only a tinted moisturizer or sheer foundation and if you need heavier coverage, rely a little more on your concealer.  If you find you need plenty of coverage, but some days just want to lay off the heavy, then use a damp sponge to sheer out your heavier foundation, or mix in some moisturizer to thin it out. Foundations and Tinted Bases can run for as little as $9.99 up to $70 plus … imagine how much you’re spending by keeping 3 or 4 different formulations “just in case” …

Last but not least, powders. Setting, Blotting, Pressed, Translucent. Hmmm, there is a powder for everything isn’t there? This is where you want to spend your money if you’re the type of lady who is ALWAYS powdering their nose. I have no qualms about you laying down a few dollars for a product that, price per powder down, you’ll be making the most out of it. However, if you’re the type of lady that sets her morning makeup and never picks up the puff again for the rest of the day, then don’t bother buying yourself the cutest little compact. There is a trick passed down from the ancient makeup artists of yesteryear: it’s called baby powder.


back to school for me, sort of …

September 11, 2012By stephanie 2 Comments

I don’t know what it is about Back to School, but I always find myself restocking and replenishing my kit in September when I’m trolling the aisles for notebooks, pencil cases, and fresh markers for the kids.

In my head, it seems odd. While we still have plenty of weddings to go throughout the fall season, September-October-November is when most freelance artists start to experience the onset of the “off-wedding season” and a “slow period” – so why should I stock up my kit now?

The only answer I came up with to this question is:

” … because I’m kinda weird like that.”

Anyhoo, my mental issues aside … I’m pretty sure there are plenty of makeup artists out there who end up doing the same thing. The fresh fall palettes and back to school buzz inspires a whole new “let’s rejuvenate the kit” mentality. So let me get into it and tell you all about what I have done in preparation for the “off-wedding season”.

I went crazy at MAC.

(This is a line fit for the whole “Sh*t makeup artists say” videos.) In addition to replenishing my concealers, and picking up some fresh tubes of lippies, I also picked up some empty 2 oz. foundation bottles. By the end of a busy summer season, I find that my large bottles of MAC Face and Body foundation are near empty and also, the tops of bottles are caked on with gunk and goop. Ew! I decanted all my leftover foundation into these smaller bottles which has lightened the load. In addition, I can now take my empties and use the Back To Mac recycling to my advantage.

I stormed every Wal-Mart within a 30 km radius and cleaned out their lashes.

Shopping at Wal-Mart – fun. Cashing out at Wal-Mart – hell. So instead of having to do it every other week or so when prepping for a wedding … I decided I rather spend one day in checkout hell and visit like five Wal-Marts and clean them out of Ardell lashes: 109, 110, 120, 301, 305 and just in case some 101, 116, and some single clusters. I would like to point out that I must have another savvy makeup artist residing in the same area doing the same thing because I’ve been having a damn-hard time trying to find the 110 and 109. It’s war lady! *shaking my fist*

I anti-bacterialized, lysol-ed, and vacuumed my kit.

Yes yes – we (makeup artists) do sanitize our brushes and product between each use … that’s a given. But what I did was I DUMPED every single piece of product and every case out of my roller case. Then I proceeded to vacuum the inside of my roller case, collect all the loose bobby pins and stray items that were tossed in various corners and pockets, wiped away any lipstick/eyeliner/foundation stains that could be removed and to finish – I sprayed the whole thing with Lysol. It doesn’t stop there. I then went through each of my individual cases. Wiped/washed each of the cases and sprayed with Lysol. Then, I wiped each product down with a lysol wipe – not the actual product – but the casing to remove any product gunk or powder dust or whatever. Presentation is everything.

I did the smell test.

Once I managed to clear the senses of any Lysol, I went through each of my product. If it smelled wrong, it got tossed. If it was close to its expiry date – tossed. Hadn’t used at all for the past summer of weddings – tossed. You get the point right?

So there you have it. My back-to-school-time-to-restock-the-kit-even-though-we-are-heading-into-offseason-wedding-time routine. I hope my kit stays this clean until next summer season when we get super-busy again and brides will take notice …