Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Santa, Baby. . . I'd LOVE these, please :)

This is one of the most splurge-worthy brushes I own.   It's MAC's #182 buffer brush (also called a "kabuki" brush).  At $47, it's a splurge, but it is SO worth it.  It's natural fibers provide the perfect dusting surface to apply mineral powders flawlessly.  EVERY ONE (as in 100%) of the clients I use this brush on, have commented on what a soft, luxurious brush this is.  With LOTS of hairs, and a huge fluffability factor, this brush ensures a sublime coverage.  This one needs to be on your Santa List :)

This Julie Hewett Los Angeles "cheekie brush" is my newest love.  It's still in my own personal makeup drawer. . . it hasn't made it to my kit yet.  I'm not ready to let it go, so that means I'll be purchasing another one soon (at $28, I find it quite reasonable for its specialized nature). Because I personally test each product I write about, that's how I gauge my standard for bloggage: do I want to move it over to my kit?  If I can't quite part with it, that's a sure sign I've got a winner.  So, I don't part with it. . . I go and purchase another one to use with my clients.  

The pictures above are right on with regard to size.  The cheekie brush has a small, densely-packed head of hairs.  The fibers are not bend-y like the MAC buffer.   The cheekie is meant to apply cream blushes which is one of my current faves.  I like to use this brush to collect cream blush, then dot it on the apples of my cheeks.  I use it with any of my NARS Multiples and my MAC Blushcremes.  

If you are looking to seriously up-the-amp on your makeup applications, these two brushes would make a spectacular addition to your tool arsenal.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Philips' DBA. . .Dead Battery Anxiety: a Corporate Makeup Gig

In the land of photo shoots and filming webisodes (online advertising campaigns), things move quickly.  I got the call on a Tuesday, and by Friday, I found myself fully ensconced in a 3-day shoot as STYLIST!

Slant Media, a boutique creative design firm here in Charleston, landed the Philips Consumer Lifestyle account for their new iPhone/iPod charger.  The creatives over at Slant (Christopher & Lauren) hired Alexander at Fox Media to do the filming for this campaign.  It was Alex Fox who brought me in on this project.

Dead Battery Anxiety or "DBA" is that generalized feeling of the-bottom's-going-to-fall-out when your iPhone or iPod battery goes dead in the midst of some important event (business phone calls, online shopping, filming baby's first steps, etc.).  It's that angst that makes us do crazy things like take advantage of the kid who's using the electrical outlet at the airport ("Plug Hawk") or when we miss those all-important "Baby's First Steps."  DBA will also cause the hottest of hotties to drop to her knees and "Hit tha Flo'" in search of an outlet to charge her iPhone in the middle of a night of bar-hopping.  DBA makes us do crazy things, indeed.  The product is Philips' ChargeOn system that enables iPhone and iPod users to charge their batteries anywhere. . . thus eliminating the anxiety of DBA.

Several case studies were examined in the DBA phenom:  The Queen of Snark; The Wedding Crasher; The Mattress Violator, and Mister Sensitive were a few of the profiles DBA looked into more carefully.  If we're really honest, each of us sees a little of ourselves in these people.

So, what's a stylist's role in all this?  Makeup and hair.  Need a 40-year old to look 65? Done.  Need tired, puffy eyes?  Can do.  Need businessman-losing-his-cool?  OK.  Need night-clubbing makeup?  No problem.  Need rocker-soccer mom angst?  You got it.  Need "plug hawk" just-been-tasered disarray?  No worries.  My biggest challenge was taking a beautiful 15-year old face and transforming it into an acne-riddled teen who has mom-issue: Accomplished!  A shoot like this let me think in and out of the box.  It was all laid out before me by a team of some of Charleston's most creative minds.  Art directors, campaign coordinators, photographers, videographers, sound engineer, . . . all I had to do was turn the talent into these anxiety-ridden people.

I've included a couple of behind-the-scenes shots, but please click on the DBA link and look closely, because you will recognize these looks.  Be sure to check out The Faces of DBA and DBA in the Media. Then take at look at this amazing product, Philips' ChargeOn System.

Showing Thanks and and my Attitude of Gratitude to:

Philips Consumer Electronics. . . (Kit, Karen, Katie, and Tom).  You guys are phenomenal.  You make me  proud to have been part of such a great team. . . you represent your brand, your company, and Charleston, brilliantly!

Slant Media. . . Christopher & Lauren.  Such coordination, such vision.  And the foresight and fortitude to get it done.  The production packet was amazing.  Be sure to check out Slant's blog on this syndrome.

Fox Commercial Media. . . Alex, thank you for the trust and communication.  You are tops and certainly got your shot!  You are an excellent director.

Tout Models and Talent. . . the actors who appeared in this campaign were prepared, professional, and a joy to work with.

Last, my friend Kelly Campbell of Charleston Makeup.  Your kind, generous spirit is your beauty.  Thank you for the confidence in recommending me for this job.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Eye Liner to Brag About. . .MAC's Fluidline

Blacktrack: Solid, flat black. . . the color I use most
Dipdown: Deep, dark flat brown. . . my favorite everyday color
Macroviolet: Deep smoked violet with red pearl. . . fun color, especially beautiful on green & blue eyes

#208 Angled Brow Brush (the small one)

Q:  What's a makeup artist/blogger to do when writer's block sets in?
A:  Open up her kit, take inventory, and figure out the products she's using most.

In my consistently-evolving world of PRODUCT, I use just about everything.  Whether it's on myself, or those fabulous ones that I've used and have promoted to my kit.  These are the tried-and-true products that I deem worthy of putting onto the faces of my clients.  My product today is not a new one.  It's just one I've not written about: it's been around for a long while, and that longevity qualifies it for one of the Gold Standards of my makeup kit:

MAC's Fluidline eyeliner.  It's a cream/gel-based eyeliner that has to be applied with a brush (more on that in a minute:)  Here is the short-list of why it's "gold standard":

1.  It's waterproof.
2.  It's extremely long-wearing.
3.  MAC offers this formula in wonderfully bold colors.

Fluidline is perfect for brides, and all-day photo shoots, as well as for moms-on-the-go, and that working woman who doesn't have time to touch up her eyeliner.   There are certain eye "looks" that require a liner that doesn't budge. . . such as the classic "Hollywood Glamour" look. . . you know, the single, winged-out line along the upper lashes (think Christina Aguilera or Audrey Hepburn).

One of my favorite uses of this liner is to help camouflage the nylon band of false lashes.  Now, that brings me to tell you how important it is to use the proper tool to apply this product.  My fave is MAC's teeny-tiny #208 brush.  MAC calls it an "Angled Brow Brush" but this tool is one of my multi-taskers.  The bundle of bristles on this brush are densely packed, very short, and therefore can be used to draw a fine, fine line.  And that's how I begin.  The fine line can always be built up to a thicker line if you want a more dramatic look.  Like the name suggests, it's wonderful for filling in sparse brows with very small amounts of product (makes for a more natural look), but it's my favorite for applying Fluidline or blending out any pencil liner. . . or for lining lips with lipstick, or helping "mush" in false lashes along a lash.  I use this brush in many ways.

At $16, this product is a steal: one container will last a very long time.  Just be sure to keep the top securely fastened for even more product shelf-life.  Yes, it may take some practice getting your line just right, but here are my tips for perfect application.  First, use small amounts of product on the brush.  Second, pull out the corner of your eye to make your lashline taut and therefore, easier to apply the liner to.  Lastly, stay very close to your lash line (it's ok for the liner to actually get into your lashes. . . stay that close).

Give it a try. . . it's a wonderful, product. . . Happy Lining!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Perry got Married!

Thank you to the wonderful Heather Forsythe Photo and Design for your wonderful eye, and sweet nature.  It's always wonderful to work with you.

What can I say about Perry that you can't glean from these photos?  She's got so much style, one of the most animated, expressive faces that I've ever worked with, and just oozes love.  Thank you for making this FUN and sharing your story with me.  I love my North Carolinians :)

Big hugs and love to Tanesha Dupree. . . your artistry with hair never ceases to amaze me.

Spectacular scenery courtesy of Mother Nature and Boone Hall Plantation & Cotton Dock.

(This is the real deal. . . Perry's late father was a decorated Purple Heart recipient)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What's Working for Me Now: TRETINOIN

During my last visit to the dermatologist I was asked, "have you considered using a retinoid product?"  My reaction was something like Scooby-Do. . . "Ruh-roh?"  It hit home with me immediately.  I knew from all my research that I was a prime candidate for using Retin-A or some kind of product that contained this powerful ingredient.  Not from an acneic sense, but from an anti-aging ("anti-wrinkle") perspective.  Retinoids are products that contain concentrated versions of vitamin A which help promote skin rejuvenation and cellular turnover.   I jumped on it, and I must say that in only 2 weeks of using it, I'm seeing results already.  

Let me be clear. . . my fine lines are still there, but I am witnessing a rejuvenation around my cheeks and jawline, and I'm waiting with baited breath to see some difference around my eyes.  I'm having a significant amount of peeling, which is very common and one of the first side effects of using this product.  By the way, Tretinoin is the generic version of "Retin-A".  I'm using the highest concentration at 0.1%, which is pretty heavy duty.   

I'm using this topical cream every third day.  Here's my routine:

Each morning, I wash my face with a vitamin C cleanser.  I lightly exfoliate and moisturize with an SPF 20 cream; then I apply makeup.  The SPF is vital because the vitamin A makes you very susceptible to sun damage as you are using it therapeutically.  If it were spring or summer, I'd use a 30+ SPF.

Each evening, I remove makeup with creamy makeup remover, then wash my face again with the vitamin C (foamy) cleanser.  Using a washcloth helps remove all traces of the makeup, and acts as an exfoliator without having to use an abrasive product again that day.  Every third evening, I squeeze about a half-inch of the cream from the tube, tap it between my fingers, and apply all over my face.  I pay special attention to areas where there are sun spots (my cheeks and top of nose), as well as those fine lines around my eyes (careful not to go too close).  The doctor said to be sure to use continual round rubbing motions, even when the product is absorbed; the longer you massage, the deeper it penetrates.  

On the nights I use the Tretinoin, I do not use any moisturizer.  My wonderful esthetician told me that using moisturizer on those nights could break down the concentration of the medication, which just makes sense to me.  However, as a person with dry skin, I'm heavily moisturizing on the nights I don't use it.

I'll keep you posted; my peeliness is making me believe that changes are a'happnin :)  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rainy Day Engagement Shoot. . . Lawyers in Love

It began as a beautiful SEC-football filled Saturday.  I should have guessed it would turn rainy when the Gamecocks of SC beat my beloved UGA Bulldogs.

However, that didn't dampen the spirits of the prep and party that was happening at a sweet urban loft on Charleston's King Street.  Heather and Tim were in from Pittsburgh, and enjoying a lovely visit to Charleston to wrap up some pre-wedding planning.  Including their engagement photo session with the divine Kim Graham.

One of Kim's many virtues is how she gets to know her clients.  She knew Heather and Tim's epicurean love of food and wine.  And that's what led to these series of photos.  As soon as I saw them, I was awed.  I left Heather that Saturday afternoon, and thought of her when the rain started pitter-pattering down.  I never imagined that Kim would harness the rain to her advantage.  But, as you can see, what she got was a very grown-up, sensory, and in my mind, sexy day.

Tonight, when I have my glass of red,  I'll toast these lovely people. . . Heather & Tim and their wonderful taste in photographers.

Wedding prep courtesy of the equally epicurean Luke Wilson Special Events. (Thanks, sweet Megan!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Apple Doesn't Fall Too Far From Her Tree

I want to gush.  You know, go on and on, but perhaps it's best to keep it simple.  

Emily was one of those brides:

Gorgeous to the point of being just nearly flawless
One of the best mama's girls I've come across.

However, this Daddy picture says a lot, too :)

It was a joy to work with this family.  
Peace, love, and blessings to you all.

Hair by

Makeup by

Photography by

On location at

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Big Time. In the Big Apple. A Dream Realized.

David working backstage at CMV's Fall Fashion Week Show
Backstage Makeup Area
Romero Jennings' Face Chart & Makeup Design for the CMV show
I love this. . . Romero's detailed plan on back of face chart
I really try to keep my braggart moments to a minimum.  But this only counts as a brag in the sense that it's trumpeting the company I keep.  And I must say that one of my biggest sources of personal pride is that I have a knack for keeping company with top shelf folk ;)

My best man friend, David, is the source of my inspiration today.  David is MAC's Southeastern trainer.  That means he trains all new makeup artists for MAC, as well as certifies and keeps all existing artists current in new MAC product and trends.  He attends "Train the Trainer" which is an international meeting of all the greatest minds of MAC (artistic and business).  And he does soooo much more.  Without going on and on, which I could easily do, suffice it to say, David possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of all things MAC and all things MAKEUP.

So, here's the condensed version of the long story I'd love to tell: David got a phone call from the one and only "Romero."  (Romero Jennings is the MAC Senior Artist who had been contracted by fashion designer Carmen Marc Valvo to do makeup for the models for his Spring 2011 show.  In New York.  At Lincoln Center.  For NEW YORK FASHION WEEK.)  Romero hand-picked his team of MAC artists, and called David to recruit him for this effort.  In the world of makeup artistry, particularly beauty and fashion makeup, this is a holy grail. . . to work backstage makeup for the uber-designers and models. . . a dream realized!  Kudos to Romero for a successful Fashion Week and having made the sage decision to include David Huebner!

David, I cherish you: the artist and the person.  You so deserved this.  MAC, and particularly your Southeast artists, are so fortunate to have you and your beautiful mind.  You inspire me daily, and I'm proud to call you friend and rejoice in your accomplishments.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Chloe was a princess bride from the moment I met her for her trial run.  A petite package of style, grace, serenity, and decisiveness, all rolled into one.  She is a true personification of her beautiful name.  Chloe was one of my naturalistas. . . the brides who want softness; "take it up just a half-notch" gals.   She knew from the get-go what she wanted. . . dress, face, venues, and entertainment!  I was struck by the prominence of the music of the day.  I love the recessional from the Confederate Home to Hibernian Hall. . . taking it to the streets, a la New Orleans. Wedding details below. . .  Thank you to Chloe and her wonderful family from NC.

Dress by Reem Acra

Ceremony & champagne reception at Confederate Home, Charleston, SC
Wedding reception at Hibernian Hall, Charleston, SC
Music by Lounge Cat from St. Petersburg, FL
Ashleigh Collins Events, Raleigh, NC
Photo #s 1, 2, 6, and 7 by Priscilla Thomas
Photo #s 3, 4, and 5 by Lee Hickman 
Hair by Tanesha Dupree
Makeup by Pamela Lesch

Monday, October 4, 2010

MTV's Made, "Pageant Queen"

I left my phone in the car this past March when I went into the Harris Teeter.  When I returned, there was a voice mail that said, "Pamela, this is Lee from the MTV offices in New York.  I'm a producer for the show 'Made'. . ."  My little mental voice asked, "is this really Ashton. . . and was I being Punk'd?  And so it began.

Understand, I'm a child of the 80s, when MTV was everything music-video.  So, in my karmic world, an old love was coming back around.  MTV???  Really???

My assignment: to transform the face of one female lacrosse-playing superstar at Wando High School into that of a rocker-chick.  Thoughts of Pat Benatar, Patty Smith, and Joan Jett came to mind.  I called my friend and fellow music-junkie Terry. . . "may I practice on you."  She came over in an instant.  On went the face, then came the smear of eyes and lips with the back of my hand.  Voila!  Look created.

The episode aired last Friday, October 1, and is titled "Pageant Queen."  Although my part in this process focused on the Rocker Chick photo shoot, it was an amazing experience to play a small part in this.  And I had a 2-second appearance on the show. . . AND my name appeared in the credits :)

Heartfelt thank yous:
Terry Tongate Ward for being my practice canvas and conferring with me on "rocker chic";
Lee and MaryKate at MTV;
Page Fortuna for being the beautiful girl (inside and out) and amazing WHS team mate you are;
Kenneth @ Carolina Model Project for the "formal" photo shoot;
Anna Welen, and the team from the Paul Mitchell School in Columbia; for the faux-hawk hair, and the behind-the-scenes photos.

All makeup by MAC. . . love those feather #42 lashes!!!