classic makeup

classic makeup: the modern pinup

This post is the final installment in my eight-part classic makeup series. Today we're looking at the Modern Pinup. I really adore this look. It has all the cheekiness of Vargas girls past, but is fine-tuned to match today's aesthetic sensibilities. What makes it modern? More natural skin, less contouring on the cheeks and eyes, and a simplicity that would have been considered borderline lazy back in the pinup's heyday. This streamlined version is perfect for anyone who loves all things vintage, but prefers not to apply makeup with a trowel. Mastering the modern pinup adds the perfect dose of va va voom into a makeup routine, or pretties you up perfectly for a special event.

The key element of this look lies in the playful flick of liner at the outer corners of the eyes. Sculpted brows and lightly flushed cheeks help out too. When it comes to the lips, you can choose to go nude or with a rich tone. Either will work well. For me, I like to go full-tilt when it comes to color, so today's tutorial features berry lips. Let's get started! 

Here are some examples:

Here's what you need:

Here's how to do it:

Start by doing your foundation. You might want to consider a tinted moisturizer or something with a nice, light formulation to keep your skin showing through. Feel free to skimp on powder or use one with a luminous finish to avoid the over-powdered really matte look.

Let's move on to brows. A strong, nicely arched, filled brow really adds to this look. I'm not the best example, as my brows have almost no natural arch, sadly, but there are certain tools and tricks you can use to fake or accentuate an arch. The absolute best would be Anastasia Brow Stencils. If your brows give you any kind of trouble, invest in these. They take the guesswork out of shaping perfect brows. Simply find the shape that's closest to your natural brow shape (I'm "petite arch"), hold it in place over your brows, and use a brow pencil or powder to follow the stencil and fill in your brow. Once you use them long enough, you start to memorize the shape, and can fill them freehand. I've seen these stencils transform the brows of many of my friends. They're so helpful. 

If you don't have access to the stencils, you can try this trick to lift your brows slightly. Or, if you are blessed with naturally perfect brows, simply use an angled brush with powder to fill in your brows using short, light strokes. I used MAC Charcoal Brown eyeshadow.

Next up, use an all-over colour on your eyes, from lashline to brows. I really like Covergirl Intense Shadowblast as it's both a primer and a shadow. Beige Blast is the perfect shade for lighter skin. Brown Bling works well on darker skin tones. A traditional pinup look would include some contouring in your crease, so feel free to add that if you like. For this look, however, I've decided to skip the shadow to create a more simple look.

The eyeliner, as I mentioned, is what really shines here. My favourite liner to use for a cat eye effect is MAC fluidline in Blacktrack. Apply it using a squeaky clean angled brush. I start by doing the outer flick first. Hold your brush over the outer corner of your eye. Angle your chin upwards and press the brush lightly at the corner of your eye, angling outward to the end of the brow. Repeat on the other side. Check to make sure they're symmetrical, and use a Q-tip dipped in moisturizer to correct the angle. Then, continue the line inwards from the flick, stopping at the halfway point. Finish the line by starting from the inner corner and working outwards until you meet the line halfway across your lid. Go over the line once more to clean up the edges. Curl your lashes, and load on some mascara. You can also add false lashes for more drama. Optional: line your lower lashline too for a bit more oomph.

Line your lips and fill them in using a deep red pencil. I used MAC lipliner in Brick. I then mixed a red (NARS Vesuvio) and dark berry (Joe Fresh Berry) lipsticks together on the back of my hand until I got the perfect deep red. Apply the colour using a lip brush.

For the last step, dust a pretty pink blush on the apples of your cheeks, blending upwards on to the cheekbones. I used NARS Gaiety. It's okay to apply blush higher than usual for this look as it mimics a natural flush and that's what we're going for here.

That's it! Final look:

Now that I've shared the final look in this series, feel free to leave a comment or email me (dallascurowphoto[at] with any requests or questions you might have. I'll do my best to include your ideas in future tutorials!

classic makeup: beach babe

Today's post is the seventh installment of my classic makeup series. It's a fun one, I think. What I love about this Beach Babe look is that it really suits everyone, and just looks so fantastic during the warmer months. It took me a while to get this look figured out for myself, because it's tricky to fake a tan when you've got alabaster skin. For me, faking is the only option because—let's be real for a second—I can't comprehend why on earth people are still tanning! We all know that it's not only hazardous for your health, but incredibly aging, so why do people do it? 

Just this week I met with a new dermatologist and he told me my skin is so pale and high risk for melanoma that I have to wear sunscreen indoors. "Anytime you're in sight of a window," he said. Wow. So here I sit now with SPF 60 on my face, inside, on a rainy day, while writing this.

Let's leave suntanning out of the picture for today's look, okay? Know that when I say beach babe, I actually mean beach babe (with adequate, responsible sun protection). To achieve today's sun-kissed look, we're faking it with the help of makeup. Thanks to a beauty intervention that was sprung upon me in San Francisco (more on that shortly) I now know some great tricks for applying bronzer and am excited to pass them on to you. Let's get started, shall we?

Here are some examples:

Here's what you need:

Here's how to do it:

Back to my beauty intervention: when I was on our honeymoon in California, I was walking through the makeup section of a Macy's, when a gentleman at one of the counters stopped me and asked if he could offer me a beauty tip. He asked if I was a natural redhead (this story sounds like it's taking a creepy turn, but it's not, stay with me). Anyways, when I admitted I was a bottle ginger, he suggested a way to make my eyebrows match my hair more convincingly: bronzer. After using an angled brush to powder my brows with a matte, red-based bronzer, he held a mirror up and I agreed that it looked much better. I asked him if he had any other tricks up his sleeve, and he showed me half a dozen ways to use bronzer. It was amazing.  His tips form the foundation of this tutorial.

"Okay, can I be honest with you?" he asked.

"Of course!" I replied, always eager to soak up more makeup knowledge.

"I see that you're wearing a bit of bronzy blush, but you're totally doing the Nike swoosh. This is a much better pattern for most people," he said, as he traced an inverted triangle formation on the apples of my cheeks. 

"The trick is to use a smaller brush blush, even a large eyeshadow brush, to softly outline the triangle shape [see my sketch above for reference] then fill it in and blend a lot to break up the obvious triangle shape. Then you want to use the same smaller brush to dust a bit at your hairline, just along the part, and some on your neck, too, to balance everything out."

He finished, I looked, and it was as if my face shape had been transformed to have more definition as well as a natural bronzy glow.

"A lot better than the Nike swoosh most women do under their cheeks and up along their cheekbones, am I right?"

I told him to hand over the bronzer immediately, and I've been loving it ever since. It was by Studio Gear, but other ones I'd recommend are Bobbi Brown Bronzer in Bahama, Stila Custom Color Blush in Self-Adjusting Bronze, or Bare Minerals Warmth All-Over Face Color.

So, once your foundation (preferably one with built-in SPF) is set the way you like it, dust on some bronzer following my makeup guru's instructions. Then, add a little more dimension by dusting a shimmery powder (I used MAC Mineralize) on your cheekbones, above your brows, along the bridge of your nose, and on your chin.

Sweep your eyes with a wash of a shadow only slightly darker than your skin tone. I used MAC Kid. Apply a second shadow, a shimmery nude one, on your lids (I used All That Glitters by MAC). 

Apply a bunch of brown eyeliner along both lashlines, smudging with your finger or a Q-Tip to mess it up a bit. Set the eyeliner with a shimmery brown eyeshadow in a similar colour (like MAC Mulch). You can then smoke that colour out a bit by blending it outwards. If you're fair, consider using a brown mascara. If you have a darker complexion, go for black. Fill in your brows with a tinted brow gel (Anastasia makes great ones).

For the final step, apply a sheer nude lip colour. One of my favourites is NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil in Buenos Aires.

That's it, you're ready for the beach, but don't forget to pack extra sunscreen! Final look:

I hope you enjoyed today's look, and benefitted from my makeup intervention!

classic makeup: bold & brazen

In this week's edition of my classic makeup series, we're getting into my home territory and amping things up a bit. While I keep it pretty natural for daytime, when it comes to any kind of evening or occasion, I'm one of those people who simply prefers wearing a lot of makeup. It's partly because I love to experiment with bold colour, but it's also because I have one of those faces that soaks up makeup. Did you know that's a thing?

Yep, through personal observation, research, and talking to fellow makeup artists, I've realized that makeup sits better on some faces than others. I don't know what determines this exactly, as it doesn't seem to be skin tone or type, but when you apply makeup to some faces, it will show up easily and clearly and stay that way.

On other faces, you have to apply multiple layers and use more highly pigmented products and then 10 minutes after you finish it looks like only 50% of the product stayed on. If anyone can explain this phenomenon, please do! At this point, all I know is that I belong to the second camp. For this reason, I like to use a heavy hand when going for a darker look. I'd encourage you to get acquainted with your skin's propensity to hold or reject/absorb makeup and adjust your technique accordingly.

When  I did my friend Jenn's makeup for these portraits and video, I was surprised by how much makeup she encouraged me to pile on. Usually I have to talk people into letting me apply more! Jenn is a very talented makeup artist who used to work at MAC, and she knows her face well. She even educated me on the the ideal blush/bronzer/highlighter combination for her skin and it was perfect!

Anyways, all this preamble is to say that you must know thyself--your comfort level and the way your skin interacts with makeup-- before going bold. Once you have a rough idea, you're ready to tackle this Bold & Brazen look. It's a go-to look for Beyoncé and people everywhere who like to bring the drama.

It's the perfect makeup look for a night where you want to go big or go home. So try out this look, then squeeze yourself into a great dress, slip into some great heels, and tease your hair up nice and tall, Texas style.

Here are some examples:

Here's what you need:

Here's how to do it:

Start with your eyes before anything else, as things are going to get messy! Prep them first with an eyeshadow primer (here I used Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer). While you wait for the primer to dry, fill in your brows with a pencil that matches their colour.

Line your eyes with a black kohl pencil. Tightline them, and also trace both the upper and lower lashlines. You can be a bit messy here. I used a basic Rimmel liner. I tend to like less expensive black eyeliners for looks like this, as you go through a lot of product with this kind of look. While I would usually prefer liquid, creme or gel liners with a waterproof finish, that's not what we need here. Kohl works best in this case because you use it to draw on your base, then blend the shadow overtop, and I find kohl plays nicely with powder.

So, once your liner is complete, use a flat brush and start pressing a matte black eyeshadow overtop of the liner along the top lashline. Once you've got it evenly covered, keep applying shadow up to the crease. Then smudge a little bit over the liner along your bottom lashline. Then, with a fluffier brush, apply a medium brown shadow overtop to blend out the black shadow so that it extends above the crease. Essentially, just blend like crazy until you soften the edges and diffuse the look. Do the same along your lower lashline.

If you want to go the extra mile, apply a set of false lashes. Add mascara to blend your own lashes with the false ones.

Once you're happy with your eyes, use an oil-free makeup remover and clean up any fallen shadow from your cheeks.

Apply your favourite foundation and set with powder. If you want to get a little fancy, you can use a taupe shadow (like the one pictured above) if you're pale, or a darker one if your skin tone is deeper than mine, to contour your cheekbones slightly. Use an angled contouring brush or a small brush blush to softly apply a bit of the shadow under your cheekbones and along your temples. The Beauty Department actually posted a simple contouring tutorial last week.

For the final step, apply a nice pink shade to the lips. I used Revlon's Stormy Pink. You could also use a nude shade of course, but I think a pretty pink is a nicer twist on the classic smoky eye/nude lip theme.

That's it! Final look:

As a final note, I'd like to add that I usually make a look be about 25% more dramatic than I want it to end up, as on most people the look will fade by that amount by the time they arrive at their destination. So picture this look being a bit more toned-down than it is in the final photos. Also, it would look way less dramatic in evening light rather than full daylight ;)

classic makeup: the starlet

Well hello! Today's post is the fifth in my classic makeup series, and it features perhaps the most classic of all the looks. I'm talking about The Starlet, otherwise known as the soft smoky eye, or the perfect (and most popular) red carpet look. Of course, there are a thousand variations on this basic look, but this is my own personal take on it.

A lot of people are intimidated by the smoky eye, because not only does it seem difficult, it also seems like it can be easy to go overboard. I'll level with you--it can. In fact, I now abstain from drinking even one glass of wine when doing this look on myself or my friends while we're getting ready to go out together. It takes concentration and precision, and a fair amount of restraint and those two things aren't always present when, say, a bubbly drink is in the mix. So, if you've got a big night coming up, pin this look for later, but make sure you do your makeup before you pop any corks!

Here are some examples:

Or this photo of Jessica Chastain, which I spotted yesterday via Suicide Blonde.

Here's what you need:

Here's how to do it:

Start with the eyes first before anything else to avoid getting black powder in your perfectly set foundation. Prep the eyes with an eyeshadow primer. Here I used Smashbox, but I've recently rekindled my love for Urban Decay's Eyeshadow Primer Potion. That stuff is the real deal. Don't forget to apply a little bit to your lower lashline for this look.

Apply a highly pigmented silvery shadow on the inner corners of your eye, blending upwards and inwards towards the brow and centre of the lid. Then, with a flat brush like this, press a matte black eyeshadow along your lashline, blending upwards carefully towards the crease. With the edge of the brush, apply a small amount of the black shadow to your lower lashline as well. When you're happy with the amount you've got on, Blend outwards with a fluffy brush.

To create further drama, tightline your eyes using a waterproof black liner. Curl your lashes, apply your mascara, and check to see if you need to add a little more black shadow now that your lashes are done. As an optional flourish, trace a thin line of glittery liner in silver along the top lashline.

Now it's time to clean up the mess. Using an oil-free makeup remover, remove any fallout (black powder that fell beneath your eyes). Once it's clean, you can do your foundation as usual.

Apply a peach blush, preferably one with a bit of shimmer, to the apples of your cheeks. To finish the look, slick on a sheer lip gloss a bit lighter than your natural lip colour. I used Turkish Delight by NARS, one of the few very light shades that look good on pale people.

That's it! Final look: