Natural Hair – The Struggle

A little while ago, I wrote about how happy I was to be going natural with my hair. In fact, when my one year “natural anniversary” came around in April – I felt like a new woman. I had made it a full year without putting any harsh straightening chemicals in my hair – I felt like I could conquer the world!

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Fast forward just under six months later, and my elation and excitement about being natural has begun to wane a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I am still very happy and proud of myself for staying off the creamy crack for such a long period of time. The problem is, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. Do I cut it and rock a short natural doo, or do I continue to let it grow and try to get like some of my hair crushes with long beautiful natural tresses. In the meantime, I am not doing my hair justice by keeping it in pinned up twists 24/7 that usually end up with fuzzy edges – BORING.

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Some days I am so close to walking around the corner to CVS and getting myself a Dark n Lovely relaxer kit, turning off the phone, closing the curtains and blinds and just slathering it all over my head . Other days I just want to break out the clippers, chop it all off and start over. In this journey, I am discovering that there is so much more than just going natural. I thought I would stop relaxing and that would be the end all be all of my story. But I am here to tell those of you just starting out or maybe considering it – that when these women talk about their “natural journey”, that is exactly what it is, a journey that is ever evolving.

Even though I have had my temptations to undo all the progress I have made,  I do not regret it for one second. No matter what style I embrace next or when putting in the extra work that I now realize is required for proper care, I have ultimately taken a huge step in rediscovering myself. I love washing my hair and seeing the true texture that God has blessed me with. When putting in the good smelling natural oils and creams that I make or buy, I know that I am nourishing my hair and scalp rather than stripping it.

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So yes, this is a journey that I, and I’m sure many others struggle with from time to time – but at the end of the day, I know it is an investment in myself and that I am revealing the person I was meant to be.

And I most certainly do not miss those chemical burns on my scalp due to my hair dresser running her mouth while I sat in the chair squirming!

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How to Find Work as a Makeup Artist (Part One)

I know, I know, it’s been far too long since I provided you with some beauty insights. Alas, I have been wrestling with a major bout of writer’s block… but that is now a thing of the past and I am back and brimming with new tips and tricks!

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For today’s entry, however, I want to talk to my aspiring makeup artists. This will be a several part series on how to go about finding work. Now, I’m going to present a scenario that I think may resonate with many of you: You’ve had some training in makeup artistry (whether it be at a beauty school or the university of YouTube), you’ve put together a decent kit, you may even have business cards and the like – but you have no clients and no idea how to obtain them. Sound familiar? Don’t sweat it ladies and gents, even established MUA’s experience client lulls from time to time, which when you’re working free-lance can put a major dent in your budget.

Fortunately, there are actually several ways to drum up business. This first part of my series will focus on business leads. Finding a company that can provide you with leads that are already looking for the type of work you do can save you a tremendous amount of time building up a client base. One site in particular that I have personally had much sucess with while dealing with slow work periods is Thumbtack. You can see my profile here: Makeup Artist.

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Brides to be, prom goers, photographers etc, will use this site to post jobs that they need a makeup artist for. Up to 5 artists may bid on the job and then the person hiring picks one of those bids. It does involve a small price to submit a bid, so if you aren’t picked you don’t get reimbursed. However, if your bid is not looked at within 48 hours, you receive your bid credit to be used on another job. You may spend a little over $3 per bid, but when you book a $100 – $600 job, you are more than compensated for a few lost bids.

I have booked weddings and in turn had a word of mouth wildfire that got rolling from one booked thumbtack job. We will be talking about word of mouth marketing in the next article in this series, but in the meantime go ahead and sign up: Sign Up Link. It is absolutely free to sign up and you only bid on the jobs you are interested in. It is a terrific way to immediately start building paying clients.

Be on the lookout for my next article in this series on the power of word of mouth. Happy bidding!

Spring Break Photo Shoot

Over the past 10 days, I had the joy of having my 21 year old niece visit me here in California while she was on Spring Break from school in Virgina. Although we had been in touch for quite a while, this was our first time meeting face to face. I wanted to provide her with a unique experience, so I arranged for her to have a photo shoot while she was here.

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In the above picture, she is wearing just a hint of makeup (remember the “no makeup” makeup?). As you can see, she is a beautiful young woman, however for her shoot she wanted to glam things up a bit.

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We had an opportunity to do two different looks; a bridal shoot (which almost brought tears to my eyes, she looked so beautiful) and an evening formal look. Having never modeled or worn that much makeup before, she was phenomenal and the shoot went extremely well.

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As she was getting ready for bed that evening, I made it a point to congratulate her on the day’s success. I also wanted to be sure to impress upon her that, although the makeup she wore was a beautiful enhancement, she was beautiful before we started the makeup process. It was important to me that she realized that her beauty came from within and that anything on top of that was merely icing on the cake.

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I am very proud of this intelligent, beautiful young woman and eagerly look forward to her next visit!

Workspace Organization

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The above picture is mainly meant for humor, but for me there is a very large element of truth in my quote. No matter how hectic the particular work environment that I find myself in, having a well organized work station never fails to provide me with a certain sense of calm. There are several key reasons – besides the xanax-like effects – why good organization at your work station is vital.

First, and foremost, maintaining a neat and tidy work station lends itself to good hygiene and santization. This should be the number one concern when working with someone else’s face. When you keep things organized, you can easily distinguish between what is clean and what needs to be cleaned, keep used disposables out of the way and discarded, and keep makeup and other tools sprayed and wiped down as you go.
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Second, you may be surprised to know how much of an impact the way you set up your station can have on the pace at which you work. What would normally be a 20-30 minute face, can quickly turn into an hour long face in the absence of a good organization system. Think about it this way, if you constantly have to stop every few minutes to locate an item you just put down or search through bags and cases for eyelash glue – wasted time is steadily ticking by. This will not only serve to frustrate and fluster you, but it will also throw off the schedule of the film or photo set and/or tick off the client who has likely planned their event carefully based on your quoted time frame. This will not help you book repeat business.

Lastly, an organized and clean station just screams professionalism. As they say, first impressions are everything – and when your client sits down in your chair you want an organized set up to be one of the first impressions they receive. Your clients will get the sense that you know what you’re doing and that they are in good hands.
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So no matter how large or small your makeup kit may be, if you keep it clean and organized it will make your life much easier. It will also keep your clients happy by helping you work more efficiently and keeping your surroundings hygienic – all of which leads to repeat bookings. And that, dear ones, is how we build our business – through good word of mouth and repeat customers.

Model Spotlight: Natalya Stanton

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When photographer Alex Ibarra hired me to provide makeup services for a portfolio shoot he was doing, I had no idea I was about to encounter the force that is Natalya Stanton. After setting up my work station, I awaited the arrival of my model for the day. Shortly thereafter, in walks this adorable young woman, with an inviting warm & unassuming personality.

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As I worked on her makeup, I started chatting her up – like I do with all my models – and found her to be very fun and entertaining to be around. She was the ultimate professional, instinctively knowing the basics of sitting for makeup (when to close your eyes, look down, tilt her head, etc) with little to no direction. Towards the end of the first makeup look, my nosey nature took over and I rather boldly asked her age. I knew that with skin as fresh and dewey as hers, she had to be young – I figured about 18 or 19. However, imagine my shock and awe when she stated that she would be turning 16 shortly!! I was utterly speechless (a rare event) to find out that this mature, gregarious,  professional young woman was only 15 years old!!

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It was an extreme pleasure to meet and have the opportunity to work with such a bright and talented model. The images she and Alex Ibarra created together (with a little help from yours truly) turned out amazing. I know that no matter what type of work Natalya decides to pursue in the future, she will no doubt be very successful, for she is already off to a fantastic start in this game of life!

To see more of Alex’s work, follow his Instagram photo stream: @cirka_88

“I woke up like this”: The No Makeup Look

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BeyoncĂ© has, without a doubt, influenced millions of women in many positive, female-empowering ways. BUT… this whole “I woke up like this” fad got me thinking. Do men really believe and expect their women to wake up looking like that?

Mrs Carter-Knowles was right on point when she put a spotlight on the fact that women really do have to work twice as hard as men only to get less pay and respect, and at the end of the day we are expected to show ourselves “flawless” and feminine. After giving some thought to the experiences I’ve had as a MUA, I realized that there actually are men (and a few women) who believe this hype about waking up flawless.
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I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard a guy say how he prefers the natural look – like Kim Kardashian (?!?). Or when a man uses a picture of a celebrity “without makeup” as a reference and says that he’s uncomfortable with me doing his wife’s/girlfriend’s makeup because he likes his women natural with no makeup – like so-and-so here in this magazine. I find faults with these viewpoints for two reasons: 1) Although they are not the client but usually a tag along, I often get the lecture about putting “all that junk on women’s faces” (their words, not mine) when they prefer the “natural” look. 2) The fact that they are using celebrities, who factor entire glam squads into their daily staff, as a standard of what is natural, shows how unrealistic and clueless some (not all) men are about women and their beauty practices. So just to set the record straight, I would like to give you an example and breakdown of what that fresh faced no makeup look is all about – and that it does, in fact, require makeup.
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The above picture shows some very natural, camera ready makeup I applied on this beautiful young model. Although both images are pretty similar, if one was just to look at the image on the right, it would naturally be presumed that it was how she looked without any makeup. However, as you can see when compared with the image on the left, I have added just a little bit of makeup as enhancement. This, is a perfect example of the No Makeup Look.

To achieve this look; First add a little concealer under eyes and onto cheek bone in a shade one step lighter than your skin. Next, pat on a little BB cream in your shade, as this is much lighter than regular foundation, yet will still provide a light coverage and even out skon tone. To bring out those cheek bones subtlety, use a contour shade 1.5 shades darker than your skin, very lightly blending it into the hollows of the cheeks. You can also take this contour shade and and blend a little around your hairline and jawline to enhance your bone structure. Optionally, you can dab a little bit of nude lipstick with a slight pink hue onto lips. You will now have a look using just enough makeup to enhance what you were already born with. Most people will likely think you simply got a good nights rest – and truly woke up like this!

Combating Stressed out Skin…With Oil?

This week has delivered more than its fair share of stress. I have had quite a large workload in addition to a FAST approaching menstrual cycle (ain’t it grand being a girl!) There has, however, been a silver lining to it all, because despite everything else going on – stressed, broken out skin has not once been something I’ve had to worry about. I attribute this, not to any pricey miracle skin care system, but to a few common ingredients that I always have on hand – oil.

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Yes, you heard me correctly. I actually take oil, and rub it into my face on purpose! It is really not as crazy as it may sound, for this is actually a tried and true skin care method that has been around for centuries. It is called the Oil Cleansing Method (or OCM for short). There are articles all over the interweb that go into laborious detail about this routine, its history, and the thousands of oils you can use – I do encourage you to take the time to read more about it if you would like to know the technical, chemical and historical side. However, so as not to stress YOU out with tedious details, I have chosen to give you the simplified version.

The Process
1. First mix about half a tablespoon each of Castor Oil & Olive Oil (I prefer extra virgin) in your hand and massage into your face.

2. If you have a Clarisonic brush, this would replace the little facial brush shown, however both will accomplish the same thing. Use the facial brush to massage the oil further into your skin using soft circular motions. This will serve to exfoliate and stimulate the circulation in your skin and dislodge any dirt or clogged pores.

3. Take a clean washcloth and run it under very hot water from the sink faucet (as hot as you can stand to hold). Squeezing out the excess water, place the heated cloth over your face to steam in the moisturizing oil. Once it cools, simply whipe away any excess oil.

4. Your skin should feel incredibly smooth, soft, and moisturized. However, for those who have more dry skin problems, you can dab on a bit of vitamin E oil in areas that feel a little dry. I also like to use the vitamin E around my eyes and on my forehead to prevent fine lines.

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And that, dear ones, is all I do to keep my skin in good working order. I would like to point out the side by side comparison photo above from October of 2013 to the picture I took this evening. It isn’t a drastic infomercial type difference, however you will notice that my pores are smaller and my skin texture has become much smoother. Oh and did I mention my cycle starts in 2 days! (No major breakouts)

No matter what your skin concerns, I firmly believe you will be very impressed with the effectiveness of this skin care regimen that has stood up to the test of time. Suitable for all skin types, not only will it save you a great deal of money, but you can also rest easier knowing that what you are putting on your skin is something natural,  chemical free, and safe enough to ingest – if you are so inclined (Note: Castor oil is a laxative, if you do feel like ingesting any of these oils – please keep that in mind!).