Posts Tagged ‘makeup’

Halloween Tale–Makeup In The Lemp Mansion

I thought it would be fun for October (and Friday the 13th) to tell a story about a makeup job I did in a famously haunted building, The Lemp Mansion.

When I had come home from work that day, I wrote it all out so I would not forget it.  I never thought I’d have a Lemp Mansion story of my own, but here we are.

This is not a work of fiction. 

On Monday, October 17, 2016, I was doing makeup for a photo shoot at the Lemp Mansion. The photographers, the keyholder, and I arrived before dawn. There was no one in the mansion itself except for a guest in the bed and breakfast. The person with the key was one of the models, a friend of the owner who was getting an excellent favor granted. Though it was dark and empty, nothing spooky was going on whatsoever. We went up to the second floor and the two photographers left me to begin the model while they went to the studio to get more gear.

I quickly forgot about my location and set to my task. The room gradually filled with sunlight to help along the ring light and the overhead pendant lights. There were two of these pendant lights, dangling from chains under gorgeous ceiling medallions about 8 feet apart. With the march of time/progress over the decades, Lemp is now overlooking Highway 55, so while we heard a lot of morning white noise, like traffic and big trucks barrelling down the highway, it was nothing unusual.

An assistant and another model showed up, then the photographers, another model, and the office folk. Soon after the office folk, the downstairs dining room opened for lunch. It was broad, sunny daylight and the building was bustling with life. I was barreling to the conclusion of the models, at which time I was free to go home.

The middle model asked me what I knew of the history of the place. I’m a bit of a paranormal fangirl, though I told her I didn’t KNOW much for sure, other than the publicized suicides. I mentioned there was allegedly an illegitimate son who was born with some sort of impairment. Due to the practices of the day, unfortunately, he didn’t get proper care and instead was allegedly stowed away in the attic. I told her I had heard the story on the radio a few times before, but wasn’t sure what details were true and what were fanciful. I said he had a rather rude nickname that it was rumored he hated but I told her if he had hated it in life, I didn’t want to perpetuate it by saying it out loud. We sort of went about our business after that.

The photographer thoughtfully bought the group lunch between 12:30 and 1. I was almost done with my last model, too warm to eat, and pretty ready to go after being on my feet that long, so I declined. I figured if I worked through lunch, I could leave sooner. The photographers, assistant, and two models were eating at the table under the far pendant lamp, which was 8 feet from where I was standing under the other lamp, doing the face of the last model.

The model I spoke to about the son in the attic asked the model who let us in about him. She said the owners had told her it wasn’t real, it was just a story made up to titillate, and that he wasn’t one of the official spirits that were in the place. She also used the name he hated, “Monkey Boy,” as she dismissed his existence.

After a few minutes, I heard a continuous noise–really only noticed it in the background because I was focused on my job. It sounded like a large piece of machinery with a busted motor mount—a loud, metal rattling. I ignored it, figuring it to be a truck outside at a loading dock or something. It went on, though, and right about the time I was thinking, “Damn, that truck is friggin’ CLOSE!” one of the models exclaimed. I looked up and the pendant over my head was shaking hard, like someone above it was aggressively yanking on the cord/chain above it. It didn’t stop when we noticed it, either.

My model, the photographers, and another model whipped out the cell phones to record it. We were trying to figure out a practical reason for what made it shake (Actual conversation: “Can they land helicopters on the roof of the Lemp?” “No, they can’t land helicopters on the roof here.”) and chatting rather loudly over the noise. One of the models pointed out that nothing else in the room was shaking—no photos, furniture, nor even the other lamp. The one over my head finally stopped moving.

That was all rather interesting enough, but out of the four videos recorded, one showed no movement at all and one showed only the tiniest bit of sway (though you hear us talking super loud about how the lamp was moving, including the helicopter conversation). One disappeared off the person’s phone entirely. I never did get a chance to check in with the fourth model to know what her video looked like.

7 witnesses, broad daylight.

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Trendy Trending Trends

People frequently ask me what I think about various Insta/YouTube trends. This week’s request for the Hot Take™ is the squiggle brows, but there have been many in the past and will be many more to come. Basically, here is how I see such things–

1) If it is merely for clickbait, borne of the desperation of influencers to fill space/attempt to engineer the Next Big Thing (because there is nothing new under the sun), or dangerous in either ingredient or technique, I‘m probably rolling my eyes and giving a hard pass. Putting beauty blenders in condoms, using (insert object here) for random makeup application, giving a new name to an existing technique (ahem, strobing), using flour for powder, using random objects to try and create an eye wing, crushing oreos into mascara–all these things fall under that umbrella of “Baby, NO.”

2) If it is a look that is artistic, expressive, fun, creepy, etc. (squiggle brows, blue lips, glitter blush, metallic highlighter, unicorn looks, fx makeup, faded/feathered goth lips, etc), I’m pretty much in the camp of, “do your thing.” I’m all in for makeup as art and self-expression. Do it up, buttercup. If they are staring, you probably did it right.

3) If it is something you can’t do yourself but you’re going to side-eye and harangue your poor makeup artist if they don’t do it “JUST LIKE (insert name here) DOES ON THEIR CHANNEL!” then, again, baby no. Beauty makeup artists know their craft and know what beauty belongs in front of a backdrop/ring light in controlled positions vs. what is going to make you look beautiful when it moves. Furthermore, if you’re doing this nonsense in a store, double shame on you. Retail artists are there to sell makeup and bringing in your squiggle brows to waste 30 minutes of their Saturday when they have sales goals is just rude. If you want to squiggle, sugar, squiggle all day long…but leave the professionals and the sales people alone.

That’s pretty much that.

You Heard It Here First: Highlight Stacking

Okay, friends. I’ve just coined the term “highlight stacking” and yes, the technique (which is not as new as this afternoon’s term coinage) is just as extra as it sounds. Also, according to Instagram, I’m the first one that has hashtagged it, so if you hear/read it, you’ll know it came from me!

Makeup Over 40 (or 50 or 60 or…you get the point)

So many Folks Of A Certain Age balk at smoky eyes and lashes, saying that it ages them because that’s what the magazines have always told them. I’m here to say you’ve been utterly bamboozled by the beauty editors of the world, my darlings. The right smoky eye for your face and a false lash will actually take YEARS off…sometimes well over a decade.

No Shame In Your Game

You know how it is:  you see a picture of something on Facebook, then your mind wanders to something related in your own life, then perhaps you reflect on the past.  A post about makeup brushes today had me thinking about the first one I bought, which in turn had me thinking about you.  Yes, you.

Over many, many years I’ve had many, many clients say things like, “Oh, I don’t know how to do it like you do,” or, “Brushes confuse me,” or, “I’m embarrassed I’ve reached this age knowing nothing about makeup.”

(I would like to break away for a moment to address that–even though makeup is my business–knowing about makeup is not a life-requirement for anyone.  We could all live a whole life never knowing how to put on eye shadow and life would still happen joyously.  Makeup is fun and can be functional, but it is by no means necessary.  I definitely do not think anyone should feel shame for not being versed in it…at any age.  I’m specifically talking to the people who are interested in makeup and who want to learn about it.)

I cannot draw.  I cannot paint.  I have tremendous difficulty summoning a unique picture from scratch.  Where my specific Visual Arts talent lies is in being able to look at someone’s face and determine the best way to bring forth their features.  This is why I’m a beauty artist and why, though I have mad respect for it, I do not work in latex and F/X.   That is what gives me my ability to do makeup as a job, but my clients don’t even need that specific talent to be able to do their own faces.

Also, though I’ve always been drawn to the beauty industry as a consumer, large swaths of it puzzled me.  That first makeup brush I mentioned?  I bought it in the earliest of the 90s, back in those pre-internet days when Anita Roddick still owned The Body Shop and the only way my small-town Illinois self could acquire any was mail order.  I bought a brush from the Barbara Daly Colourings line.  I felt like such a big deal when it arrived, yet I had no idea what to do with it.  It didn’t seem to work with my shadows, and I was young enough to not be bothering with concealer at the time, so I sort of collected it.  It sat in my Caboodle looking all grown up, getting dirty from other makeup that would shed onto it–but never from actual use.  Makeup obsessed as I was, I was still using sponge-tipped applicators and my own fingers to put on my eyes, just like many of my clients do today.

I taught myself liquid liner by using a regular pencil as a guideline until I got the knack, but the cool, blended eye shadow looks eluded me.  It was not until I got a job in retail makeup that I started figuring out how to properly use brushes, what brush did what, and the difference they made.  I also did not figure out until then that my beloved Colourings brush was not useless–it was only useless with my thinly pigmented drugstore shadows at the time.  Who knew?  Not me, not until I was shown.

I was self-taught on a lot of different makeup techniques, but everything went a lot faster (and looked a lot better) when I allowed other people to explain things to me.  After that, it was a lot of practice.  I did not pick up that very first palette (Merle Norman, btw; it belonged to my friend Angie) and go to town expertly because I had some latent inner artist.  I had to practice techniques.  Even now, sometimes I’ll go to try something on myself and say, “Oh…no, no, no, not doing that today.”

If you want to learn how to put makeup on yourself, you can do it.  You may need to be taught and–sorry–you may have to practice a bit, but you’ve got it in you.  Brushes confound you?  They did me, too.  Techniques elude you?  They did me, too. I do not care if you are 18 or if you are 80.  If I can go from being flummoxed by my first brush to being a professional makeup artist, I promise you that I (or someone like me) can teach you how to do your own face.

Overheard In The Beauty Department (Or “Mean Boys (And Girls) Suck”)

Overheard in the beauty department, uttered by a high-ranking artist from a makeup brand I know you all know:

“Ask her what her favorite designer is. If she doesn’t have a favorite designer, well, she probably has no business wearing (makeup brand redacted), but we’ll sell her stuff anyway.”

I do not possess the vocabulary to adequately express to you how horrified I was.

Though I heard this particular fellow say this rather audaciously on the selling floor, I can name you at LEAST two other brands who have trainers and/or ambassadors who have said things like that behind closed doors.

It is this kind of unconscionable snobbery that is part of driving consumers to buy online. We all want to feel pretty and not be judged. The sad part is that there is some sort of longstanding badge of honor to be exclusive, especially among the executives in the cosmetics industry, so this sort of thinking winds up being encouraged instead of re-educated…then brands wonder why they aren’t getting their increases.

Including people feels a hell of a lot better than excluding them–on ALL sides.

Non-Touring? Give Me A Non-Break.

Don’t buy into the nonsense of new buzzwords to describe things that have been around forever. You know what “non-touring” is? Basic natural coverage foundation with a touch of highlighter, i.e. the stuff about 60% of my clients have been doing for years…and also what the good MUAs have been trying to tell people was best for their daily routine for the past year when they’ve been insisting, “but they used three contour products on Instagram!”