First Date? Look Great!

My friend Haylee asked me to do her makeup for a first date. The pressure was on because the date was scheduled for Valentine’s Day weekend. First impressions are important, so here are some tips that will help you “put your best face forward”:

Less is More, Kind Of: While men say they don’t like makeup, when asked to identify the most attractive faces in photos, they will always pick those of women wearing makeup. What they mean is that they don’t like it when you cake on products or wear overly bright eyeliners, shadows and lipsticks.

Play Up Your Eyes: This is where your date will be looking when he’s not admiring your other assets. Let your eyes flirt for you by achieving the perfect smoky eye. Invest in a good blender brush.

Don’t Forget Your Lips: Be kissable! My friend happened to be wearing all black, so I wanted her lips to stand out. Black can make you look intimidating. A touch of color will make you appear more approachable. I mixed the tiniest bit of red matte lipstick and a nude gloss. Use a hydrating balm before applying your gloss and/or lipstick for smoother lips.

Get the Glow: Moisturize, conceal, bronze and blush. Use a high definition powder over your foundation to soften fine lines and imperfections.

Haylee looks amazing, and so will you!


New Year, New Look Using Pantone’s Colors of 2016

The beginning of a year is the perfect time to try something new. For me, it was experimenting with different makeup colors. I decided to put together a look using Pantone’s colors of 2016. Pantone is the company that standardizes colors for manufacturers and retailers around the world.

This year’s colors are a pink and blue, Rose Quartz and Serenity. “Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace,” according to the Pantone Color Institute.

The final result:

looking at cameralooking down

A lot of my friends are terrified of using colors when applying makeup. They stick to browns and nudes because they worry that any other color would make them look like clowns. This just isn’t true. There are ways to work in colors to accentuate your features in a subtle way, as I do using pinks and blues with this example. Here’s how it’s done…

I used my go-to products for my face. This includes moisturizer, foundation, eyebrow pencil, bronzer and blush. I used the colors to play up my eyes and lips.

Directions for eyes:

  • Line with black eyeliner. I used a pencil for the inside and a liquid liner on top. Remember to line your eyes on the bottom closer to the lash line (not closer to the inside by your eyeballs) to make your eyes look larger.
  • Apply a creamy neutral all over your base, up to your eyebrows. I used the color in the bottom-left corner on the palette below.
  • Use the Rose Quartz pink just on the eyelid. I used the color second from the top, second from the right on the palette below. I wanted to play up the pink a little bit more, so added some of the color directly below this.
  • Use the Serenity blue on the crease and outside side of your lids. I used the color second from the top, second from the left on the palette below.
  • Use a flat brush to go over your eyeliner on the top and bottom with a complementary blue. I used the color second from the bottom, third from the left on the palette below.
  • Finish up with an eyelash curler and mascara.
  • Pro tip: As you’re working with your eye makeup, hold a tissue underneath your eye. This will prevent the shadow from getting beneath your eye when you’re using colors that can get messy.


Directions for lips:

  • I chose to also utilize the Rose Quartz on my lips.
  • Apply something to hydrate your lips. I always do this when I’m using colors. This helps them blend better. With this example, I used MAC Prep + Prime Lip.
  • Apply colored lip balm. I used Revlon Matte Balm in Elusive.
  • Lastly, top with pink gloss. I used Stilla Lip Glaze.


The beauty of Pantone’s color selections for this year is that they are flattering for all eye colors. For brown, green or hazel eyes like mine, use primarily Rose Quartz with a touch of Serenity. For blue eyes, do the opposite.


Best of Too Much Beauty 2014: Mascaras

The end of a year brings the perfect opportunity to review your makeup bag. It’s a time to reflect, and I say that reflection should be in the mirror – starting with your mascara.

Here’s a list of my 12 favorite mascaras you can rock each month in 2015. The 2014 Best of Too Much Beauty mascara awards go to…

Best of Too Much Beauty Mascaras

Not So “Basic” Basics:

Cargo Lash Activator ($25): This mascara has been proven to bolster lash growth and reduce lash loss over time.

Revlon Bold Lacquer ($7.99): A nice mix of volume and length.

Smashbox Full Exposure ($20): Also, a balance of volume and length, with a particularly flattering butterfly effect on your lashes.


Mascaras that will Break the Internet:

- Dior Diorshow ($25): The volume go-to.

Lancome Definicils ($27.50): Gorgeous length.

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes ($20): The mascara that does everything –lengthening, curling, volumizing and conditioning.  

The mascaras listed below have wands designed to comb through and add serious definition to your lashes.

Gucci Opulent Volume ($33): Just came out this year.

Avon Super Drama ($10): This particular mascara is discontinued as of 2015, but Avon’s Lash Act Build and Define Mascara brush ($12) uses the same technology.

-  CoverGirl Lashblast ($7.99)


From LA to Tokyo:

These Japanese mascaras are beautifully designed and are long wearing.

- Dejavu’s Fiberwig Extra Long for the upper lashes and the Tiny Sniper, designed to coat bottom lashes.

Little Witch’s Montemascara Limited for the ultimate curl.


Top Picks From The Makeup Sample Sale of The Year

Last weekend, I attended The Makeup Show in Manhattan. It’s a traveling beauty sample sale that also makes its way to Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and Orlando. I approached this year’s Makeup Show with two missions:

  1. Add useful additions to my already-extensive makeup collection.
  2. Find natural makeup and skincare products for my mom.

After navigating the space, avoiding the Makeup Forever line that seemed to go on forever and one detour, I was able to accomplish both goals. Here’s what I found and would recommend to anyone looking for similar products:

For me

  • Crown brushes. The right brushes can do wonders for your look. A crease blender. An angled brush and smudger, perfect for eyeliner. Lastly, a lip brush. All for $12.
  • Eight Stila lip glosses, including nudes, corals and browns. The package came out to $23 – the equivalent of $3 a gloss!
  • Smashbox limitless, 15-hour wear cream shadow in Quartz, lipstick in Whirl, which is a shade or two darker than pale pink and a lip liner in Fair. I’ve used this liner before, which works with any lipstick color. It matches your lip color, if you have fair to medium skin, vs. matching the lipstick color. These three products cost me $28.
  • If my makeup bag could talk…I got sidetracked at the Breakups to Makeup counter, where I picked up two statement pieces for $65 — a long-sleeved shirt that says, “This is New York City: Our makeup needs to look good” and a makeup bag that read, “Losing you hurt, but losing my makeup bag would be a tragedy.” They were too cute to pass up.


For my mom (who sometimes says I wear too much makeup, but actually loves makeup too):

  • A liquid precision eyeliner to make a very fine line and mascara from Pur Mineralsfor $11. Pur Minerals’ products are mineral-based, paraben-free, gluten-free and vegan friendly. They have also been developed free of irritating ingredients, chemicals and fragrances known to cause allergic reactions.
  • I scooped up the Mario Badescu peptide renewal cream and serum for my mom. I also got the ceramide eye gel and drying lotion for myself. The eye gel is great before bed and applying makeup to reduce under eye puffiness, and the drying lotion is “spot on” for drying up pimples. I got everything for $95, and they came with a ton of samples: AHA botanical body soap, collagen moisturizer, hydrating hand cream, cucumber tonic mask, hyaluronic eye cream, cucumber cleansing lotion and an enzyme cleansing gel.
  • I purchased the Nurturing Force makeup remover for my mom and myself. Each was $10. The foam formula for eyes, face and body is safe for sensitive skin and is free of oil, alcohol residue and parabens.
  • Finally, an Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics cream shadow in Discipline for $10. What mom doesn’t like discipline? This company is extremely funky. They often feature drag queens in their marketing photos, but this brown shadow is as natural and versatile as it gets. I love how their products are easy to use and that they stay put. You can use your finger or a brush to apply it. You can actually use it on your lips or cheeks too. It’s 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free.

A Do-It-Yourself Vampy Look For Halloween

All Hallows’ Eve will be here before we know it. It falls on a Friday, leaving no excuse not to celebrate!

Many of my friends have already started to discuss their plans for dressing up. I have some friends who are extremely creative and will opt for face paint, hair extensions and glitter, and others who will go for a simpler, yet still festive, look.

I sought out makeup artist Katie Bacon at MAC Cosmetics to devise a fun, doable vampy look. With this makeup, you can throw on anything gothic to complete your look. Both Lorde, who has a partnership with MAC, and Kendall Jenner, have worn similar makeup to achieve a “darker” look.

Below is the list of the MAC products used to develop my look, pictured here, but you can substitute any of these products for those in the same category (e.g., another bronzer, black eyeliner, shimmery pressed pigment, etc.).


Tips: As with any smoky eye, do your eye makeup first, followed by your foundation. Smoky eye makeup can get messy, so you want to clean up your skin around the eyes before applying makeup to the rest of your face. Use long-wear products, so you can spend less time touching up your look and more time scoping out cute guys at the party.

- Vintage Selection Long-Wear Paint Pot to prime your eyes: For this look, this product acts as a primer. You could also wear it alone as a basic shadow on the eyelid.

- Brown Eye Shadow in Saddle on the outside corner of your eyelids: Katie says most aren’t drawn to a brown eye shadow when they’re looking to achieve a sexy, smoky eye for nighttime. However, it is extremely helpful in blending out your other shadows.

- Black Eye Shadow in Typographic on the outside corner of your eyelids.

- Pressed Pigment on your eyelids: Katie recommends # 2, 4 or 15 at MAC.

- Black Eyeliner in Definedly Black.

- A Light Cream Base for the inner corner of your eyelids to create a “wet” look: Katie used a color that is going off the market, but any light cream base will work!

- 7s Lashes: Mascara is not necessary.

- Pro Long-Wear Concealer in W20.

- Refined Golden bronzer.

-  Pedal Power Blush.

- Living Legend Lipstick.

10-Min Look with Allure’s Best of Beauty Products

Beauty junkies rejoice. Allure magazine just announced its editor’s favorite products this year. There were bold products that made the list. Smoky shadows, bright shadows and lipsticks. But many of the products were as versatile as they come, perfect for any occasion. I picked my favorites to create this barely-there, go-to look that can be completed in less than 10 minutes. This combination makes your eyes look sexy, your skin glowing and your lips hydrated and is flattering for all skin tones.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Prep your skin with the cleanser, toner, moisturizer and under eye cream of your choice.
- Apply Bobbi Brown’s long-wear cream shadow stick in Sand Dune to your eyelids.
- Use Smashbox’s always sharp eye pencil in Sumatra to line underneath the eyes and across the lash lines. Advanced: use the pencil to line underneath the lash line.
- Apply Maybelline’s expert wear eyeshadow in Nude Glow to your eyelids using a large eyeshadow brush.
- Outline your eyebrows with Tarte’s Amazonian colored clay tinted brow gel using the color that’s appropriate, depending on the color of your eyebrows. I used Taupe, since mine are light.
- Apply Urban Decay’s Naked Flushed – Streak to your cheeks using an angled blush brush. This product is great because it includes a bronzer, highlighter and blush, which all look fabulous on the cheek bones. Use a bronzer brush to add just the bronzer to your forehead and jaw.
- Go over the cheek area with a powder brush using Make Up Forever’s high definition powder.
- Curl your lashes using the curler of your choice.
- Coat your eyelashes with Revlon’s Bold Lacquer in Blackest Black.
- Top off your look with Maybelline’s Baby lip balm.

See the full list of Allure‘s Best of Beauty products here. Product images featured on home page are also sourced from the same link.

“Getting Dressed” with NARS – How to Wear Color

I believe that it’s essential to have variety in your wardrobe. Some days you’ll throw on a t-shirt and jeans. Others, you’ll slip on a little black dress paired with a statement necklace. You can’t live without your basics, but also enjoy dressing up.


The NARS team applies the same philosophy to makeup. They start with “ready to wear” products, the everyday essentials. These are your go-tos when you’re headed to the office or enjoying a low-key day with family and friends.

Then there are your “fashion accessories.” These are the exciting additions that will bring your look to the next level. Reserve these for a night out with the girls, a date or when you know you’re going to be photographed.

When I think of NARS as a brand, an assortment of beautiful shades that blend easily comes to mind. I knew that I had to “get dressed” with NARS when I was inspired to create a softly sophisticated look that would be simple to do myself, but could be enhanced with strategic additions of bolder colors if I wanted to turn it up.

Maria Ramagli, the manager at the Soho location, did my makeup for the look pictured here. To replicate it, try the product combinations outlined below. Those with asterisks add color. The addition of color brightens your face and accentuates your best features.

The Look


  • Pure Radiant tinted moisturizer
  • Honey concealer
  • Light reflecting loose powder
  • Iraklion Soft Touch shadow pencil
  • Lost Coast eye shadow in lavender*** 
  • Lengthening mascara
  • Kalamata brow perfector
  • Laguna bronzer, a cult classic, with the NARS contour brush, which practically applies the bronzer in the right spots by itself
  • Sex Appeal blush***

Fashion Accessories 

  • Kauai eye shadow duo*** 
  • Rue de Rivoli Larger than Life eyeliner***
  • Jardin de Plantis Satin Lip Pencil***