Category Archives: Prettification

Drama Queen

So, I already have a very friendly author photo taken by the lovely and talented Teness Herman. But, in case the feather headdress didn’t give it away, I do love a little spectacle. I was recently lucky enough to shoot with photographer/painter/supergenius Kevin Rolly and I think it’s time to up the drama for the jacket of Shadow & Bone. I’ve winnowed my favorites down to these three. Little help?




Cast your votes in the comments section. Drama!



Filed under Prettification

The Dead Shall Be Raised

I have emerged from the Book 2 bunker, and in the weeks to come, I’ll share all the Important Wisdom I gleaned during my time underground. But for now, it’s almost Halloween, and attention must be paid.

On Saturday, I started the night at the KidLit Costume Party at the Wellesbourne in Westwood. The usual (and delightful) suspects were joined by out-of-towners including the inimitable Stasia Ward Kehoe and trailer/cover mastermind Vania of VLC Photo. Then I scurried off to Hollywood Forever Cemetery for their annual Dia de los Muertos celebrations. I’ve lived in Los Angeles a long time and never attended, but I won’t be missing it again. Photos follow. (Details on the makeup below.)

The Mausoleum on the Lake

The Main Stage

One of the Altars

Corpse Bride & Groom

Left: Painted Skulls; Right: Me and Makeup Artist Tracey Taylor. The very crafty Tracey made her own headband. My hat was created by the amazing artists at Bubbles & Frown (their Etsy shop is not to be missed).

About the Makeup:

Halfway through this, I realized it might have made a fun tutorial. And that is why I should never be put in charge of planning anything. But here are the steps I followed and the products I used (click on the image to the right to get a closer look):

1. Base. Classic Day of the Dead makeup calls for a coat of white Kryolan Aquacolor, but I needed my makeup to last for seven hours and I didn’t want it to crack. I lay down a base of Face Atelier in “0”, then airbrushed over it with Temptu White and Pink Pearl. It was a partial success. There was some “chipping” by the end of the night and airbrush isn’t easy to touch up.

2. Shading. Definitely not a necessity, but I think it adds depth. I used Temptu in Blush (a surprisingly coppery color) for the highlights, and Black to hollow out my cheek bones. You could easily do the same with any powder or eye shadow.

2. Eyes & Detail Work. I used Kryolan Aquacolor in black and red. I blacked the eyes first, let them dry, outlined in red– this allowed me to get away with what weren’t spectacularly clean lines on the black. I added the vines and stitching in black next, then the red details. Most challenging? Keeping the eyes symmetrical (so much easier to do on someone else!), also the little heart. The Aquacolor palette is expensive, but I’ve never regretted the investment. It’s fantastic for theatrical makeup or facepainting.

3. Highlights. One of my all-time favorites and definitely worthy of a future mention in Products I Love, Mehron metallic powder in gold. I turn this into a liquid paint with Ben Nye Liquiset. It has an incredibly shiny, true metallic finish. I like it best for detail and highlight work over dark colors, but one of these days I’m just going to go all Goldfinger and turn someone into a fancy robot.


You must use colors that set for a look like this. Stay away from anything with an oil base– what you usually get in those awful drugstore halloween makeup kits.

Be patient! Allow for drying time between colors and bust out the blow dryer to speed it along.

Make a mistake? Cover it up using rhinestones or glitter. This works for just about everything, including problems with your credit score.


Filed under Prettification, The Violet Hour

Glamorous Goo: OCC’s Lip Tars

I think we’re overdue for a little prettifying, no?

A bit about today’s line: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, a favorite of pro artists, is 100% cruelty-free and 100% vegan. “I wear leather,” you say. “I enjoy a good steak. Why should I worry about my makeup being vegan?” Perhaps because some cosmetics actually contain gross things like ground-up insect bits and urea. That’s right, urea.

Product I Love: Lip Tars. They look like bright little glosses but they are deeply, densely, deliciously pigmented. They’re something like lipstick in a tube but with a lot more slide. They leave a satiny semi-matte finish and they have insane staying power.

How to Use Them: Lip Tars are INTENSE. You need only the very tiniest bit of product. I start at the center of the mouth and work out to the lip line with these and I recommend a stiff, short lip brush. I also like them on cheeks– used sparingly, of course.

How to Choose Them: Collect them all! One of the most fun things about lip tars is that they make it easy to customize your own lip color. (So convenient for a pro kit.) Why settle for an in-between shade when you can mix the perfect peach or take your brilliant red to a moody bordeaux? If that sounds too labor intensive, worry not. These people know color. You can play it safe with the prettily pink Hush, try one of their beautiful reds, or consider Grandma, an eye-popping pinky coral that can be used to stain the lips or applied to the cheeks for a blissed out glow. (Swatchgirl puts it in action here— though I would recommend using less product to prevent the feathering mentioned in her review.)

Tip: Follow OCC on twitter. They frequently run 10-20% discounts or offer free shipping.

What’s next: Just in time for summer, OCC has launched their silicone-free tinted foundations and they are getting lots of buzz. As soon as I can hunt them down on the West Coast, I will acquire and report back. You know, for the good of the team. To tide you over, consider their sublime nail polishes. (I’m particularly fond of Swamp Thing and Hush but the all-new Echo is calling to me, too. A few colors beautifully swatched by Vampy Varnish here.)


Filed under Prettification, Products I Love

St. Barts in a Bottle

Though the abomination that is Disney’s desecration of Miss Marple has worked me into a bit of a tizzy, I promised a break from the grumping and a return to frivolity. So, this week, I present my favorite bronzer of all time, Revolotion by DuWop. I have tried lots of bronzers (I’ll cover a few more of them as we get closer to summer), but I keep coming back to Revolotion and here’s why:

1. Because it’s a cream and not a powder, it gives you a gorgeous, dewy glow that looks truly natural in any light. It won’t cake up or sink into fine lines and you can layer it without looking harsh.

2. It’s low on glitter. I love sparkle but so many bronzers go overboard (Benefit’s Hoola is a notable exception but can be tricky to apply). I want to look sun-kissed, not like Edward Cullen on a beach day.

3. It looks great on even the very palest skin.

I go through vats of this stuff. It’s great on face and body and can be a nice summer option in place of tinted moisturizer. You can apply it with fingertips or, my preferred method, a flat synthetic kabuki brush. Revolotion comes in Original (my go-to) and Deep (intense but still very natural color).  TIP: Revolotion doesn’t fully set– such is the price we pay for dewiness. So if you use it on your body or decolletage make sure to avoid light-colored clothing or you may end up with transfer.


Filed under Prettification, Products I Love

See me. Feel me. Retouch me.

"The skin of my upper arm is keeping it real."

Next week, I promise to stop grumping and get back to my glamour-loving, jewelry-coveting ways. There WILL be glitter. But today, I’m still feeling cranky.

Makeup Forever (a brand I like) just started running ads for their HD Foundation (a product I love) that claim to be the first ever unretouched cosmetics ads. They’re brilliant marketing, but they’re also the same old nonsense.

In one of the images, a girl holds up her camera to take a picture of herself. (You know, for the Facebook!) It’s a clever shot because it creates the illusion that the photo featured in the ad was just as spontaneous.

But what’s the message here? Our product is so amazing that it looks good on these 18 year-old models who we selected for their complete lack of pores and already flawless skin? Our product is so revolutionary that the expensive lighting, professional makeup artist, and personal styling team are just gravy?

You want to blow my mind, Makeup Forever? (I know you do.) Show us a teen with problem skin or a woman over 40 in your ads. Show us what your product can do for mere mortals.


Filed under Prettification

That “I sup on dewdrops and dine on dandelions” glow

In honor of Valentine’s day, I’ve decided to launch a new feature: “Products I Love.”

First PIL (not to be confused with PiL) designation goes to Benefit’s Posietint. This is a lip and cheek stain that will give you a dreamy, Pre-Raphaelite flush that lasts. For those of you intimidated by stains, fear not. Posietint has a little more “play” than typical stains, meaning that it stays blendabe and workable longer. And, though it looks like pink nailpolish in the bottle, it goes on sheer and the effect is 100% natural.

Use it over foundation, under bronzer, or, if you want to add a little sparkle, mix it with Benefit’s shimmering liquid highlighter, “High Beam.”

Tip: Posietint darkens slightly as it dries. Apply one layer and give it a few minutes to work its magic.

Deal: Try Posietint, High Beam, and Benetint (Benefit’s original lip and cheek stain, also gorgeous) for just $15 at Sephora.


Filed under Prettification, Products I Love

The Balm: Beauty Tips from the Icy Tundra

During my time on the tundra, I’ve heard a lot of talk about chapped lips. If you want to be ready to pout with fervor in all sorts of weather, just follow my lippy commandments (there’s only five and none of them involve adultery):

1. Use lip balm once or twice a day at most. Don’t become an addict. Use balm too often and your lips will stop producing their natural oils so you’re actually making life harder on yourself.

2. When your lips feel dry, don’t lick them. It just dries them out more. Gently press your lips together to stimulate oil production.

3. Use the right product: I’m partial to the reasonably priced, delightfully retro Smith’s Rosebud Salve (their web site is a wreck but I feel this adds to their charm), available many places including (unlike Sephora, they have all of the Smith’s products). Rosebud is the classic, but I use the Mocha Rose every night and could not do without it.

4. Avoid anything with menthol (I’m looking at you “medicated” Blistex). That cooling tingle can irritate chapped lips.

5. If you apply the Rosebud Salve to your lips every night, your lips should be in great shape. But if you’re going to be wearing a dark or bright lip color and want to guarantee a flawless pucker, exfoliate. There are a few lip exfoliants out there. I’m partial to Sara Happ’s lip scrubs. But if you’re in a pinch, a little brown sugar or even a regular granulated sugar packet will do. Use your finger or a disposable mascara wand to massage into the lips. Don’t go overboard, and remember to soothe with lip balm after.

Beauty questions? Send them my way and I’ll do my very best to answer.


Filed under Prettification