MY NEW MAMA MINIMALIST MAKEUP KIT

minimalist mama makeup.jpg

Time is short to get fancy these days, but as a makeup artist, I still like to whip my face into shape before I leave the house.

I'm aware that most people would not consider the above image a minimalist kit by any means, but for someone with a giant arsenal of beauty products for work, this is about as simple as it gets for me. I should mention that I don't wear makeup every day. When it's just me, Felix and Pearl at home I'm usually barefaced (or doing a face mask!) and some days I just stick to tinted moisturizer, curled lashes and lip balm. But with this mini kit, I can do a full face when I want to turn myself out a little more nicely for something special.

I thought it might be helpful to share the products that I've found are perfect for life as a new mama. Everything in here is chosen to help you look as awake and revitalized as possible, even after countless sleepless nights.

  • MAC Strobe Cream. I blend a drop or two of this with my moisturizer, or put it on alone as a luminous base under foundation. This basically makes me look awake after a long night.
  • Rouge Bunny Rouge Sketches on Water Tinted Moisturizer. This is by far the best tinted moisturizer I've tried. It tries down beautifully into a velvety finish, but isn't at all drying. The amount of coverage is pretty generous too, and it covers redness well. I wear this when my skin is looking decent and I just want to even out my skin tone a bit.
  • Josie Maran Vibrancy Argan Oil Foundation Fluid. I just started using this foundation a few weeks ago after a consultation at Sephora. I was looking for a natural foundation in a liquid formula, that was a bit quicker to apply than my beloved RMS "Un" Cover-up, which is a cream formula. It is the only foundation that's designated as a skincare product at Sephora, and indeed it's very moisturizing and soothing thanks to the base of argan oil. A little goes a very long way; the formula is lightweight yet a tiny half-pump is all you need for a medium-to-full coverage finish of the whole face. Special thanks to my friend Kate for sending me a Sephora gift card as a new mama present - so thoughtful! 
  • RMS Beauty "Un" Powder. I use this non-toxic, featherlight powder to set the Vibrancy foundation, which doesn't dry down completely otherwise due to the oil formula. This powder sets it perfectly.
  • Beauty Blender. I use this sponge to apply the foundation rather than use my fingers. With my dry skin, pressing the product on rather than blending with fingers is the best way to disguise any dry texture or flakiness.
  • NARS Blush in Gaiety. The most cheerful pink blush that makes all skin tones look instantly perked up.
  • Stila All Over Shimmer in Rose Gold. Sadly this has recently been discontinued. I would recommend NARS Illuminator or Fenty Beauty Matchsticks Shimmer Skinsticks as an alternative. Applied to the cheekbones, it gives a lovely luminosity that just isn't there when you're feeling exhausted.
  • Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade in Taupe. It's really hard to find a cool/ashy brow shade that doesn't warm up in tone as the day goes on, but this one nails it. It's waterproof and stays on like a dream.
  • Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler. I never skip the step of curling my lashes anymore, as giving them a quick crimp helps me feel that much more awake.
  • Amaterasu Ultra Volume Mascara in Black. I discovered Amaterasu via LUX Beauty Boutique and instantly understood why this is one of their bestselling products. This tubing style mascara coats the lashes, adding tonnes of volume. It is waterproof and doesn't come off with oil or sweat, yet is removed easily with warm water. I would recommend it to any new mama as it lasts through the sweat and tears of postpartum life, and also to brides or anyone out dancing all night!
  • Amaterasu Liquid Eyeliner in Black. This eyeliner doesn't budge! It's the only liquid eyeliner that I can wear without a primer and it will stay on all day. It even unseated my former favourite (Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner) from its throne. The applicator is also perfect and allows you to do a super thin or quite thick line. Also, if you have to layer it to fix mistakes, it doesn't gum up. It is perfection.
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Color Paint in I-80. This iridescent pink-beige cream color is the perfect daytime eyeshadow. It goes on super smooth, blends beautifully and creates a fully waterproof base for anything I'd want to put over top of it.
  • Skyn Iceland Berry Lip Fix. This is the most velvety and lovely lip treatment. I apply a thick layer after brushing my teeth in the morning and let it soak in while I go about my day.
  • Bridlewood Soaps Winter Rescue Lip Balm. This medicated lip balm is lovingly made by my friend Jen in Orangeville, Ontario. It is incredibly soothing and moisturizing and I keep one in my makeup bag, and one beside the bed to apply at night.
  • Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Fiore. I packed this in my hospital bag, and it's still a mainstay in my new mama kit because it instantly makes me happy when I wear it. Nothing zhushes up the face like a bright lipstick. My signature shade is actually "La Malicieuse" by Chanel, but that one is not nearly as long-lasting for mama life (ain't nobody got time to reapply constantly), which is why I choose the Stila one for this season of life.

Hope you found this useful!

EDMONTON PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER | DARBY

I recently photographed this lovely young lady, Darby, at my home studio. I had been itching to do a few indoor creative shoots during the tail end of this winter, so when I found Darby and her magnificent mane of pink hair, I was instantly excited to photograph her. I created a subtly mermaid-inspired makeup look with iridescent pastel tones using the Yaby Cosmetics World of Pearl Paint pre-set palette, which I would highly recommend. I wanted to let her naturally perfect skin shine through, so I used only a small amount of Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation. On her lips I used Sephora Collection Ultra Shine Lip Gloss in Reflex Frosty White.

Darby, thanks so much for modelling for me. I wish you the best of luck in all your adventures.

Many thanks to my friend Katryna Rae for lending me the beautiful ombré backdrop!

EXPLORING EDMONTON | MAISON CREME DE LA CREME

Maison Crème de la Crème is not your average beauty boutique. In both its opulent setting and unique product line, there is nothing standard about its approach. When owner Akosua Nyarko was conceptualizing her shop, she planned to offer products that couldn't be found anywhere else, which is what led her to focus on customized beauty goods.

For example, a customer can arrive at their newly opened beauty lounge in Sherwood Park, AB with a specific idea or even a vague imagining of a lipstick shade, and Nyarko and her team will whip up an entirely customized lipstick right in front of her eyes. They also offer custom face oils and self-guided fragrance creations, as well as nail glosses, hair extensions, ready-to-wear perfumes and a large variety of mink eyelashes.

The lashes, which were their first products, have developed a cult following through online sales before the opening of the beauty lounge. They've been worn by many celebrities, most notably by Rihanna (!!!) and are also stocked by Edmonton's LUX Beauty Boutique.

I recently dropped by the beauty lounge for a tour and to experience a custom lipstick creation. The process began with a conversation about what kind of lip colour I had in mind. I told them I prefer bold colours, but was open to anything they thought might look nice for the holiday season. One of Crème de la Crème's makeup artists, Sondra, began the design process with me by mixing together various "colour truffles" on a palette until she reached a desired shade. She created three options for me and invited me to try each on in turn. Keep reading to see which one I chose!

Yes, in the end I chose the darkest shade of the three, a deep berry colour. I loved the pink and nude tones, but this one seemed just right for an evening look for the holidays! Once we decided on the colour, I was asked to choose a scent that could be added to the lipstick. I decided on "sugared strawberry."

Above, you can see the colour applied at full intensity, straight from the tube. The formula is matte but very creamy so it glides on easily. Below, I've blotted is off a bit with a tissue for a more muted, stained effect, which has a lot of staying power. Sondra recorded the exact recipe she used to create my custom colour and stored it in my customer file, so when I am ready for a refill, (which I will be!) it's all in their records.

While Sondra completed the mixing and moulding process of the full-size lipstick, I had an opportunity to explore the space a little more. As I mentioned, nothing about Maison Crème de la Crème is ordinary, so it's not surprising that Nyarko had all the furniture and packaging custom designed to her specifications. The result is a rococo-inspired wonderland that is as comfortable as it is ethereal.

Aksoua, thank you so much for inviting me to visit your magical space and experience the joy of a custom lipstick creation. I can't wait to come back!

Maison Crème de la Crème 

Unit 182-150 Chippewa Road

Sherwood Park

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MAKE UP FOR EVER AQUA XL REVIEW

It's been a while since I posted a product review, but I had so much fun testing out this collection that I hope to post many more reviews in the near future! My friends at MAKE UP FOR EVER sent over their Aqua XL Eye Pencils, released in collaboration with singer Charli XCX. This collection contains 20 boldly coloured pencils in five different finishes: matte, diamond, satin, iridescent and metallic. The "XL" in the name stands for extra-long lasting formula, which uses a unique blend of ingredients to offer impressive durability, as well as a vegetable wax that gives strong colour payoff. I can definitely confirm that all the pencils in this collection have crazy staying power. They also apply and blend beautifully. 

Here's an image of the full range of shades:

Rather than show you swatches, which has never really been my thing, I thought it would be more fun to show you how the products look in context. My cousin Tara stepped in to model three different looks using this pretty fabulous collection. On her lips, she is wearing MAKE UP FOR EVER Natural Rouge Lipstick in N4 (a pink-beige) with all three looks.

First up, I did a very simple two-tone pastel look using the seafoam M-30 and lilac M-92 pencils. I also used the charcoal M-14 shade to tightline her eyes by applying it to the upper and lower waterline of her eyes. Anchoring pale eyeliners with a deeper tone along the lash line provides a subtle bit of contrast and actually helps show the pastel shades off much more than if you'd used them alone.

For the second look, I wanted a more lived-in look that allowed me to test out if the shades play nicely together. I combined the coppery M-42 and the aubergine M-80, blending them with my fingers for a smoky effect. Essentially, I smudged them enough that they became eyeshadow more than eyeliner, and they blended really smoothly under my touch.

For the third look, I decided to do a more graphic combination of colours. I started by lining the outer two thirds of her eyes with the taupe S-50 pencil. I layered the royal blue M-22 on top, on her top lashline only and added a bit of the chocolate brown M-60 just along the lashline at the outer corners of her eyes. I finished by adding the light turquoise M-26 in the inner corners of her eyes. The pencils go on silkily but dry quickly enough that the colours don't bleed into each other, which is key for super defined colourful looks.

I would recommend this collection to any makeup artist, as it has a bit of everything and the possibilities for different looks you can create with it are virtually unlimited. The quality is so high and colour intensity is great.  It was the sheer ease of application and blendability that actually impressed me the most. I look forward to playing around with these waterproof beauties all summer!