Sunday, 29 May 2011

May Photoshoot #3: Biba Fever Inspired

For this photoshoot I took inspiration from the beautiful work of legendary make-up artist Lisa Eldridge. She filmed a video where she uses Biba vintage make-up items to recreate a 70s inspired look on this doll-face model. In this demo she goes freestyle with loads of pastels and brights and an artsy approach to colour application and blending. Definitely not something you would wear on the street! 

Model: Erica

You can watch the full video here, and if you can, do take a look at her other tutorials, especially the ones featuring model Lindsey Wixson, they really are masterpieces!

Please note: I tried to recreate this eclectic 70s mood on the model's face, however my work by no means claims to be an exact copy of Lisa's. She is the artist, I'm just someone who loves playing with make-up on people's faces. 

I'm not going to explain the technique step by step, which you can find in Lisa's video. Instead, here is a full list of products I used: 

OCC Skin Primer
Make Up For Ever HD Foundation 117 mixed with Mac Face&Body in C3
MAC Pro Longwear concealer NC15
Ben Nye Neutral Set Powder 
La Femme Blush in Flamingo

MAC Soft Ochre Paint Pot
Laura Mercier Silk Road Palette (lavender shade)
NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Yogurt
Stars Make Up Haven e/s in Evergreen, Opal, 1492
MAC e/s Plumage
KIKO e/s 78, 162
Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Mascara
Ardell False Eyelashes n.120

NYX Lipliner in Hot Red
Christian Dior Addict Ultra Gloss Flash 982

Photographer: Luca Cadamuro 

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Violetta in Black & White - May Photo Shoot #2

Model: Violetta


This is the second photoshoot I did with photographer Luca Cadamuro. You can check out more of his works here! The shooting was split in two parts. In the first one, Violetta rocked a sexy black dress and I did her make-up following this look. 

After applying a base, I evened out her skin with a blend of MAC Face&Body in C3 and C5 and concealed her dark circles with KIKO Natural Concealer n. 03. 

For the eyes, I wanted to achieve a really full-on black smokey eye, so after priming I layered MAC Paint Pot in Soft Ochre to give our eyeshadow a good base to stick to. I applied a generous amount of a cream black shadow (KIKO Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow n. 20) on her upper and lower lids, and used a fluffy brush to even it out and blend it upwards towards the browbone and outwards to get an elongated shape. For extra staying power, I layered some matte black shadow over it. I created the gradient by blending MAC Copperplate around the edges of the black eyeshadow, and then applied MAC Blanc Type on the browbone, and blended it into the grey colour. Then lined with MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack and applied mascara. 

But what really enhanced the whole look and gave her eyes a true diva effect were false lashes. I chose a pair with considerable length and thick volume - Paramount Lashes n. 335. These lashes were bought in NYC Alcone Store by a dear friend of mine and are widely used by professionals in the industry. You can buy them online from Alcone

Violetta has a beautiful bone structure, so I only added some soft contouring to complement her cat eyes. Highlighter: Sue Moxley Shimmer Brick (Light) - Bronzer: Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess - Blush: NYX Powder Blush in Raisin.

On her lips, I wanted to keep it super natural, so I lined and filled them in with MAC Cremestick Liner in Sublime Culture and applied a nude lipgloss on top (NYX Lipgloss Palette 04 - The Nudes Matte). 

On the second part of the shooting, we changed the make-up and the outfit and shifted towards a more romantic feel. White was predominant.

On the eyes, I layered a creamy white base (NYX Jumbo Eyepencil) to make the powder eyeshadow I would put on later pop. I added depth to the crease by mixing two brown eyeshadow, a chocolate and a dark brown one, and also smudged them along the lower lashline. Then I applied a good amount of MAC Blanc Type all over the lids and browbone and in the inner corners of the eyes. I wanted to make her eyes really stand out and look bigger, so I applied Topshop white Kohl along her lower lashline. Eyeliner was MAC Blacktrack as usual, sealed with NYX Black eyeshadow on top for added staying power.  
For this look I chose a different pair of false lashes, namely Paramount n.314. These were thicker, more spiky and longer towards the outer corners than the ones I used for the black make-up, so they worked perfectly for giving that flirty yet elegant look.

I chose to complement her neutral romantic eyes with a girly pink lipstick and matching cheeks. Therefore I used NYX Powder Blush in Pinky and MAC Lipstick in Speed Dial over NYX Lip Pencil in Rose. 

Which of the two looks would you choose to wear? Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Screenface order: Ben Nye & RCMA

Hello everyone!

Sometime ago I placed my first order on, a UK-based website for professional beauty supplies. I must say my experience with this company has been really good! They have a wide selection of professional brands like Ben Nye, Japonesque, Kryolan, OPI, Temptu, etc. as well as their own line of products. Since my first and only order with Camera Ready Cosmetics was unsuccessful because the customs retained my parcel, I finally decided to purchase within the EU, even though the prices in pounds aren't as convenient as those in dollars obviously.
So, I got a few products for my kit which you can see below. The shipping was fast and the items arrived well packaged in perfect conditions.

1. RCMA Screenface 18-pan Foundation Palette
This palette has a really great range of shades, mostly with neutral undertones, so they should work well on most people. I wanted to try a cream-based foundation and this particular one is supposed to photograph beautifully as well, which is one of my main concerns. So far I can't speak of the quality (I will update soon) but I will say that I was a bit disappointed of its size when I unboxed it: it literally fits the palm of my hand, so I have a feeling it won't last very long, bummer! The price tag is a little steep at £69.95 for 40g, but you get the advantage of trying out a lot of shades plus three cream blushes.

2. Ben Nye Total Cover-All Wheel SK-100
This concealer palette is mostly made of "salmon" colours, so they should work really well with undereye circles. The pan at the centre is the lightest one and it can be mixed with the other ones to lighten them up. I'd say this is a medium-toned palette, but I chose this one over the SK-200 because it looked more versatile, plus I really needed some pink/orange based concealer for undereye darkness. It was £27.95 for 28g.


3. Ben Nye Neutral Set - Colorless Face Powder
There isn't much to say about this one, except that it is a transparent/translucent setting powder that looks white in the bottle but actually doesn't alter the colour of your foundation. I've had the chance to try it this morning, it feels very comfortable and it's almost undetectable to the eye! It was also pretty cheap at £5.95 for 49g of product.

4. Screenface False Eyelashes n. G600 Black
These were £4.95.

Bottom note: if I had purchased these items in the US, I would have saved a lot of money. Unfortunately it is still pretty risky to order from overseas, as you have to face the possibility of paying high customs taxes that sometimes exceed the value of your parcel. :-(

Sunday, 15 May 2011

May photo shoot #1: Michela

This series of close-ups is part of the first photoshoot I did with photographer Luca Cadamuro.

Model: Michela

We worked a classic yet intense smokey eye to leave more space to the model's bright hair and colourful accessorizes. Her necklace speaks for itself!

I prepped her skin with my usual MUFE HD Microperfecting Primer n.5. Although this is specifically designed to brighten and correct fair skin with redness issues like rosacea, over time I saw it working amazingly well on a variety of complexions. It does have a light blue undertone to it, but that doesn't show up at all if you use it sparingly (I believe that piling up primer isn't a good idea anyway).

Foundation was MAC Face&Body in C3, which turns out to be my most used shade! I toned down the redness on her nose with a green corrector (KIKO Natural Concealer n. 04) and evened out other minor imperfections with a blend of Natural Concealer n. 03 and MAC Pro Longwear Concealer NC15.

On her eyes I created a flawless canvas to work on with a primer (Too Faced Shadow Insurance) and layered a dark grey creamy base, namely Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Skinny Jeans. This shade could be described as a blend of grey, taupe and green hues with a metallic finish. It truly enhances any eye colour!

I applied a duochrome eyeshadow on top of the base (MAC Club) so as to achieve a multi-dimensionality to the eye, which plain black does not give. Instead, I used a black eyeshadow (NYX Caribbean Palette I Dream of St. John) to smoke out Club in the outer corners and above the crease. I added a touch of gold eyeshadow (Urban Decay Half Baked) on the centre of the lid to make it pop even more. Eyeliner was MAC Blacktrack and mascara Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme. I filled in her eyebrows with MAC Eye Brows in Fling, an ashy blonde colour.

A soft but sexy contouring was achieved by applying MAC Cream Colour Base in Luna on the cheekbones as a highlighter, Estee Lauder bronzer on the hollows of the cheeks and MAC Blush in Blushbaby on the apples of the cheeks. I powdered everything out with my usual E.L.F. HD Powder

I wanted to keep lips as neutral as possible, so I lined them with a flesh-toned pencil (Subculture by MAC), and applied Clinique lipstick in Blushing Nude on top.

Love it or leave it? Say it in the comments!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Face Of The Day: MUFE Aqua Cream#19 & Purple Lips

This is a simple look I've tried today with Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream #19, a bright purple with blue flecks. This shade is not available in the US. I've been having trouble working with this product because it is creamy but it dries SO fast I cannot do any blending on it. So I've only been using as an eyeliner so far, but I need to get the hang of it because it really is a beautiful colour (I guess it would look AWESOME on darker skin tones!).

I added some MAC Kid eyeshadow to give more depth in the crease and a blend of Copperplate and Blackberry on the lower lashline. Mascara is Clinique High Impact Mascara in Black.

I've been loving purple lips for spring recently, so I thought why not just matching eyeliner and lipstick. I used MAC Up the Amp (Amplified Creme finish) which is rapidly becoming one of my favourite lip colours ever. The lipliner is MAC Magenta

You won't see this in the pictures, but I used MAC blush in Melba, a soft peachy shade that counteracts the brightness of the rest of the face.

Love it or leaving it? Say it in the comments!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Make Up For Ever Aqua Liner Swatches!

I stopped at Sephora today to buy one of the Make Up For Ever Aqua Liners which have just launched. I wanted the black one, I know, so boring! But I really need a liquid eyeliner for some future work I'm planning to do so I thought I would try this new one. 

Obviously that shade was already out of stock, so I'll have to wait a few days more. While in the store, I took some swatches of a few of the liners that were on display.

Left to right: Iridescent Anthracite (I believe that this shade is EU only, correct me if I'm wrong), Iridescent Fuchsia , Diamond Burgundy, Iridescent Emerald Green, Diamond Lagoon Green, Mat Black, Diamond Turquoise Blue, Diamond Gold, Diamond Black Purple. 

They are all much brighter in person. I fell in love with Diamond Lagoon Green, which looks super summery! I really hope to get that one too. They retail for €20,90 at Sephora Italy. 

Have you had the chance to try these yet?

May Photo Shoot #1 Preview!

Hello everyone!
I have recently started a collaboration with a talented photographer in my hometown and this is the first job we did. More pictures and details to follow soon!

E.L.F. Hits and Misses

Today we're featuring a post on two E.L.F. products I have tested. One was a hit and the other one was a miss! Keep reading!


Seriously, this product is HG material for me, and for €4!
I don't have serious brow issues, mine are pretty full and decently defined, so I only need some filling and grooming. I've been trying several eyebrow pencils (read about it here) with varying results, and I like how they really help to get an ultra-full and defined brow, but they are often too reddish or too dark to suit my cool-toned medium blonde hairs, MAC Fling being an exception. So I heard of this product and decided to give it a try.
I bought this in Ash, which came out to be the perfect shade for my blonde eyebrows! Swatch in natural sunlight: 

The gel on the left is not too dark nor too light, has the perfect consistency and I love to apply it with and angled brow brush, although the mini applicator included is ok when I travel. You really can't tell the difference between my hairs and the gel when applied. The powder on the right helps setting everything and creating a natural overall shade. 
What is really interesting is that I also used this product to draw eyebrows on my grandma, who used to overpluck them and now is left with NO brows at all. This gel created a natural curved brow with an outstanding result.
The packaging is great. I love the black case and the fact they included a small mirror. It has good staying power: you can manage to get through an 8-hour workday with fabulously natural eyebrows.
Buy it!

This was a HUGE disappointment!
The product is extremely dry, has poor pigmentation, it's impossible to apply it decently with ANY brush, and above all, the colour is hideous! I was expecting an intense midnight blue and I got a dull, muted black-ish crap. No trace of blue shades whatsoever!! I wrote to customer service to complain and they asked me to send a picture of the swatch. When I took the photo, the colour in the picture actually came out blue. But in reality, it wasn't. Trust me, I gave this 3 or 4 tries before realizing that it was just plain crap. The lady at the customer service didn't help me out and that also put me off quite a bit. I literally threw this out, which I never do unless a product is really horrible or my skin reacts badly to it. This is why I don't have direct swatches to show you!
Seriously, do yourself a favour and shed your €16 for MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack, you WON'T regret it.

Sigma Premium Brush Kit Review

A while ago I purchased this brush set for my kit. I needed a good brush set without spending the big bucks and since I already had some brushes from this brand I decided to give the Premium Brush Kit a try. This is how they packaged my stuff (quite cute I would say!):

They included a complimentary extra brush which looked like this:
Nice job!

The Kit contains an assortment of 15 brushes which come in a handy black brush roll. The roll has a magnetic lock to make sure the pieces stay in place.

Here's what you get when you open the roll (they actually all come with brush guards, in this pic I had already taken them off):

And here are the brushes in detail:

Left to right: F20 Large Powder, F25 Tapered Face, F10 Powder/Blush, F15 Duo Fibre Powder/Blush, F35 Tapered Highlighter, F65 Large Concealer
Left to right: E50 Large Fluff, F75 Concealer, E35 Tapered Blending, E45 Small Tapered Blending, E25 Blending, E20 Short Shader, E15 Flat Definer, E10 Small Eye Liner

Sigma is a company known for producing brushes that often look like copies of the MAC ones. They have recently changed the naming system, but until a while ago their products carried the same codes of MAC brushes. I wouldn't say that they are trying to copy MAC because there is a substantial difference in quality between the two brands, if you've ever owned any random MAC brush you know that! Also, they have some pieces that I've never seen in the MAC range, like the F65 (correct me if I'm wrong).
Rather, I think that they offer an affordable alternative to higher-end brushes, without sacrificing too much on the quality. Their prices are significanlty lower (we're talking US$30 for a MAC 227 vs $9 for a Sigma E50), but in my opinion they also target a different clientele.
Let's have a closer look at each piece first:


- F20 Large Powder (MAC 134): good multi-purpose face brush. I use it for all-over dustings of powder and to blend bronzer/highlighter/cheek colour together.
- F25 Tapered Face (MAC 138): good for powder, but even more for bronzer and blush, given the tapered and very pointy shape. I don't reach for this one very often as I don't find it stiff enough for precise blending.
- F10 Powder/Blush (MAC 129): I use it mainly for very pigmented blushes, since it picks up just the right amount so I don't go overboard on the cheeks. Again, it's soft, not very stiff, but it does the job nicely. It sheds a bit.
- F15 Duo Fibre Powder/Blush (MAC 131): I wouldn't have included both this one and the F10 in the same kit, honestly. This is still ok for light dustings of powder, but I wouldn't say it's an essential piece.
- F35 Tapered Highlighter (MAC 165): this is a great brush, in theory! I love the pointy shape, it's basically a mini version of the F25 and it's made for application of highlighter on the cheekbones and sharp-cut contour work. However, this brush sadly does not hold its shape and as you can see, it's bent. The picture above was taken at the moment of unboxing and I have washed it 3 or 4 times since, and it NEVER retained the tapered shape, even when I used a specific brush guard for it. Huge disappointment and likely the worst of the bunch.
- F65 Large Concealer (no MAC equivalent): this is GREAT exactly for what it was meant to be: (undereye) concealer. It picks up creamy concealer beautifully and distributes it evenly and without streaks. No shedding whatsoever.
- E50 Large Fluff (MAC 227): I don't own the MAC one, but I certainly like the shape and functionality. Great for all-over applications of eyeshadow, browbone highlight, and even cheekbone highlight. I'm pretty sure that the MAC one is stiffer (read more precise) but this one works just fine. A big no-no is that it sheds like hell though, even during use, and it's a pain to remove all those black hairs from the client's face.

- F75 Concealer (MAC 195): a really sturdy brush made of synthetic bristles, it's amazing for concealer and creamy eye products. 
- E35 Tapered Blending (MAC 222): it's a great blending brush, however I do find I have to let it dry in a brush guard after washing, otherwise the bristles will all splay out and lose the original long and slim shape. I also LOVE this brush for buffing concealer under the eyes or on problem areas to cover redness/spots etc.
- E45 Small Tapered Blending (MAC 226): this one works beautifully for placing colour in the crease AND blending, it's definitely one of my favourite ones. Have to do the same brush guard thing though, because it won't retain the pointy shape. Also, it bleeds black dye after I've washed it.
- E25 Blending (MAC 217): I own the iconic 217 so I can really speak about the differences between these two. The MAC one is a brush I would NEVER go without. If I ever had to choose one single brush for eyeshadow application it would be this one, and the Sigma version is an excellent dupe! No shedding, great for placing colour on the lid, in the crease, for pro blending, etc. The only gripe I have is that the MAC one is soft AND firm, which allows for maximum control and precision. The Sigma one is very soft but not as firm and sturdy. Having said that, it's an excellent brush.
- E20 Short Shader (no MAC equivalent, afaik): I find only one use for this brush, that is smudging eyeliner or eyeshadow on the upper/bottom lashline. It's good for the purpose and quite precise.
- E15 Flat Definer (MAC 212): I would prefer this synthetic one to be less fat than it actually is, but it still serves the purpose of neatly placing gel liner on the upper/lower waterline. Occasionally I also use it for smudging on the lashline. Soft and sturdy.
- E10 Small Eye Liner (MAC 210): in my opinion this is not as pointy as it should be for actual precision. It's still a good, no-fuss eyeliner brush though.

I just realized I forgot to include the Lip L05 Brush in the pictures! Sorry about that. It's a regular lip brush with a silver cap, and there's not much to say about it except that it works just fine.


Is it worth the money? The Sigma Premium Brush Kit is a good-value-for-money brush set, and it definitely carries some gems in it. I believe you can't find another 15-piece and good-quality set for the equivalent of €100* (we're talking around €7 per brush here). 
*On a general note: you should always buy from the US website even if you're based in Europe, as it allowed me to save as much as €50 on my total purchase! And do check for coupons online, I had 10% discount with just a little research.

Who is this Kit for? I'd say it would be perfect for someone who falls between the categories of "complete beginner" and "professional make-up artist". If you own a few MAC brushes you will feel the slight but noticeable difference in quality. I believe that this difference would not affect the overall finished application of products as such, but rather it would have an influence on the ease of use, the control you have when placing the colour, and the overall durability of the pieces.

Are the brushes soft? The brushes in the kit are all exceptionally soft, except for those of a certain shape/material that is not meant to be the softest like the E20. I wash mine with Johnson's Baby Shampoo and I find it keeps them clean and soft. They are definitely very pleasant to feel against your face/eyes. 

My top picks: F20, F65, F75, E35, E45, E25 (in general, the eye brushes are MUCH better than the face ones!)

You can skip: F25, F35, E10

I would have liked to see included: An angled eyebrow/eyeliner brush like the MAC 266, a regular foundation brush like the MAC 190, and an eyeshadow laydown brush like the MAC 239 (I'm just using MAC brushes as a reference for shapes here).

What I did like about it: Value for money, some excellent eye brushes, good customer service on the website.

What I didn't like about it: I don't like how Sigma tries to push their customers to become affiliates and "make money" with them. I purchased the brush kit myself, but it's widely known that many bloggers and YouTubers are paid by Sigma to push positive reviews about their products. In my opinion, this doesn't speak for honesty towards their customers and can be misleading for some people.

I hope this was helpful, please share your experience with Sigma in the comments below!