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Makeup Brush Cleaner 101

makeup brush cleaner
Makeup brush cleaner will extend the life of your brushes

Keep it clean

As a professional makeup artist I’m often asked by clients “How often should I clean my makeup brushes at home?” As often as you use them! Frequent cleanings prevent bacterial buildup (a potential cause of breakouts), ensures even color application and extends brush life. Do a bi-weekly brush washing with mild shampoo or cleanser. Between washings, try a spray-on or towelette cleaner such as Brush Off or Parian Spirits They do the job with just a spritz or a wipe.

Techniques to clean your makeup brush

Once you get in the habit of cleaning your brushes it will become part of your routine. When your makeup application is complete wipe or spritz your brushes with your cleaner of choice. They will dry almost immediately. Larger brushes can be wiped clean but require deeper cleanings bi-weekly as it’s difficult to get deep into the bristles without soap and water. To do this; wet your brush under warm water, add a mild detergent such as shampoo or hand soap to the palm of your hand and swirl your brush in it for a few minutes. Run under warm water until the water runs clear. Squeeze excess moisture out of brush with a clean towel and lay on the edge of a counter to air dry overnight. Avoid standing your makeup brush upright in your brush holder so as to prevent the moisture from seeping into the handle which can damage it over time.

Benefits of keeping your makeup brushes clean

Clean brushes equal smooth application! Besides the obvious benefit of hygiene, your finish will look smoother and the brush will feel like silk next to your skin. They will also last longer -possibly even a lifetime if cared for properly – and makeup brushes are expensive so why not take care of that investment in beauty. Not all brushes are created equal so make a good choice on a set and it’s likely to be the only set you’ll ever need to purchase.

makeup brushes in case
Quality makeup brushes are the key to a flawless application.

Buy a set of makeup brushes for keeps

Buying a new set of makeup brushes is a big decision and due diligence on quality is worth the time. If purchasing in person, gently twist the handle and the ferrule (the section holding the brush hairs). The slightest give in the handle is an indication that the two sections are not securely fastened. They could loosen further over time possibly separating completely. Watch out for dry, frizzy bristles that stick out from the other hairs. These will not improve over time. Buy the set that feels comfortable in your hand. Keep in mind, you’ll be using these tools everyday so get ones that you will enjoy using and brings a sense of beauty to the experience.

brush anatomy
Anatomy of a brush

Makeup brush must-haves and splurge specialties

Six must-have brushes

  1. Blush – Look for a slanted head, which will double as a contour brush, with loosely packed natural bristles to put down a soft finish.
  2. Powder – Go for a light and airy brush especially if you use powder all over your face. This will prevent a heavy, cakey look.
  3. Eye shadow – A combo of synthetic and natural hair fibers will achieve different results. Synthetic fibers deposit color accurately and natural fiber brushes with rounded bristles will blend colors with accuracy.
  4. Concealer – A small flat-headed synthetic brush is more likely to keep concealer on its target.
  5. Foundation – A flat top synthetic/natural bristle mix deposits color flawlessly and erases imperfections without a streaky application.
  6. Lip – A synthetic angled flat-tip allows for precision around the edges of the mouth and makes lipstick longer lasting.

Specialty tools rightly called task masters

  1. Silicone shadow brush – The silicone tip helps you pack on some intense color whether cream or powder.
  2. Sculpting brush – Large natural hair brush keeps blotches at bay when applying self tanners and bronzing lotions.
  3. Blending brush – Elongated oval bristles work to buff in powder or blush for just the intensity you want.
  4. Fan brush – A baby size fan brush can be used for clump-free mascara application and a large version works great to deposit a hint of powder highlighter atop the cheekbone.

Caring for your makeup brushes so they last a lifetime.

Treat your brushes like you do your favorite cashmere sweater and they will last a lifetime and take care of you too. Cleaning your makeup brushes regularly to remove buildup of oils, pigments and bacteria will prevent breakouts and eye infections and give you a lifetime of beautiful makeup applications.

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Rancho Valencia wedding

When best friends fall in love – magic happens.

airbrush makeup and hairstyling

This was one of the most relaxed and truly happy couples I have ever worked with at their Rancho Valencia wedding last October. I believe it stems from their love and understanding of each other and the adoration they were surrounded by from family and friends that day.

airbrush makeup and hairstyling

The day began with beauty and that’s where me and my makeup and hair team came in. Bridal beauty services on location. Beginning about 4 hours before the first photos took place and following a detailed timeline for each girl’s appointment we were able to efficiently have everyone glowing and happy before the celebration began.

airbrush makeup and hairstyling
airbrush makeup and hairstyling

The setting for the wedding couldn’t have been more beautiful and it all took place at the intimate
Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa.

airbrush makeup and hairstyling

The San Diego weather was perfect for this New York couple and all their guests with soft cloud cover blanketing the sky like a translucent sheath diffusing the sun lightly.

airbrush makeup and hairstyling

Tiffany and Kamron chose an understated color palette of grays and blues with green and white florals beautifully designed by Jennifer Cole florals

airbrush makeup and hairstyling
airbrush makeup and hairstyling

Their talented photographer Carmen Santorelli Studio
captured all the details artistically and this post wouldn’t have been possible without her gorgeous images.

The entire event was well organized and orchestrated by Susanne Duffy of Crown Weddings and Events.

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Webcast shoot

webcast shoot makeup hair

Makeup and hair for San Diego webcast shoot

Twenty five years in the beauty industry with lots of hard work and dedication to the craft has been both exciting and rewarding.  I’m fortunate to have worked on a wide array of jobs.  In a weeks time my career may take me from a Halloween catalog shoot one day, creating a gunshot wound for the real NCIS the next to a special event at The Grand Del Mar on the weekend.  I have earned many long-term, loyal clients in the process.  Projects include makeup and hair for photo shoots, press events, special occasions and anniversary celebrations.  And then there’s class reunions when making my client look fabulously years younger than everyone else is key!  Boudoir shoots allow me to create sultry lashes and bombshell hair; family photos, holiday parties, video shoots, webcasts and more.

This is a business where you never know where or who you’ll be working with from week to week so flexibility and preparedness is imperative.

Recent shoot

One of my talented and beautiful clients’, Sonia Stringer of Savvy Network Marketing Women, recently called on me to get her camera ready for a webcast video shoot.  I have been working with Sonia for four years and feel fortunate to have her call on my beauty services.  She is very successful and active in her industry which requires her to be on camera and stage frequently.  She is naturally gorgeous and fit but with hot lights that add glare and camera’s that add pounds it never hurts to have a professional makeup and hair artist on call.

I met Sonia at the Brandetize Studio in uptown to work with her in preparation for her webcast video shoot.  We met early for the initial makeup and hair.   The process typically takes about one to one and a half hours and I stayed with her throughout the half day shoot for touchups and wardrobe changes.  The shoot was productive and due in part to her foresight to include makeup and hair, the outcome was polished and professional looking.

Webcast shoot makeup hairWebcast shoot makeup hairWebcast shoot makeup hair

Professional makeup and hair is a key component to a great outcome

Which brings me to my next point… Many people think they can “get by” with their standard run-of-the-mill makeup for camera.  The reality is that “day” makeup will not hold up under intense lights without looking washed out.  High definition cameras are used on most sets today which is why good quality makeup is key.   The overall production value will be lost otherwise so if you’re going to do it -you might as well do it right!  I have been an airbrush makeup artist for over 20 years which is why airbrush is my go-to for a flawless, non made-up finish and looks great under the scrutiny of high-def.  My preference is, of course, AirPro Makeup which, as some of you may know, is my own line featuring airbrush systems and cosmetics.

Added value to your webcast shoot

Most professionals carry items that may otherwise be overlooked by a first-timer that can be real shoot savers.  Some items may include wardrobe tape for a gaping button, lint roller because the dog decided to curl up on your blouse the night before, even shoe polish or the like that will substitute in a pinch.

Professional makeup and hair is really affordable and can make or break the outcome of your project.  I highly recommend considering it for your next shoot.  And if you’re a man, this includes you too!  The tan lines giving away last weekend’s golf game or the razor burn on your neck could use a little attention.  And for those of you sporting heavy beards, it need not be unruly.  With a little grooming and some trusty beard wax you too can be camera worthy!  So while makeup and hair may be the least expensive portion of your overall bill, it is certainly one of the most important!

Stellar results

Professional makeup and hair will bring life to the final product.  Your end result can go from mediocre to outstanding with just a touch of aptly applied concealer here and a dab of hair gel there. Add to that a great conversation during the process to ease any pre-performance nerves and you could create an award-winner.  So I hope you’ll consider me as your beautifier and confidence builder the next time you will be camera front and center.

See you at your next shoot!

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Sun damaged skin home remedies

Sun damage home remediesSun damage erasers  

It’s a fact…  we Californian’s love our sun and while there are many things to love (Vitamin D and mood lifting benefits), and while you can supplement with products, the actual sun is the best source as long as you don’t overdo it.   The natural pigment of your skin will determine how long you can be out before damage starts to occur and since I’m fair skinned with freckles 20 minutes is my limit.  After that I will load up with a toxin-free sunscreen –my favorite– and /or a large brimmed hat and long sleeves.  I recommend that you always wear sunscreen on your face!  You’ll still reap the sun’s benefits as long as 70% of your body is exposed for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Banish brown spots and wrinkles

If you’ve spent a lifetime worshipping the sun and the damage has been done there’s a plethora of procedures that any dermatologist will gladly educate you on.  And while you should have a full body screening every year you may prefer a less dramatic and costly approach to erasing sun damage. Try these at-home skin care solutions for combatting dryness, blemishes and dark spots -all consequences of over exposure from one fall-asleep-in-the-sun too many or a lifetime of lax sunscreen use.

Problem: Dry skin  Solution: Ghee with essential oil available here

Ghee is loaded with antioxidants and fatty acids which act as a moisture barrier.  I like to add a few drops of lemon or grapefruit essential oil for an uplifting experience in the mornings.  Rub between hands to warm, then apply all over towel-dried body.

Problem: Sunburn  Solution: Black Cumin Seed Oil available here

Black Cumin Seed oil is excellent for reducing inflammation which is a direct result of too much sun.  Mix a 1/2 teaspoon or so with a bit of aloe vera to sooth the discomfort and apply regularly.  And don’t save it just for sunburns -combatting inflammation is always flattering.  You’ll also notice the benefits of softened dark spots and increased collagen with regular use.

Problem:  Post workout breakouts  Solution: Watermelon seed oil available here

And doesn’t it just sound right in the summer!  Watermelon Seed Oil works by unclogging sebum and cell build-up in pores.  A great benefit when summer workouts mean sweat and dirt can otherwise build up to cause breakouts.

Problem: Dark spots  Solution: lemon & yogurt

Lemon has natural bleaching qualities and yogurt, lactic acid for an exfoliating effect.  When combined and applied to dark spots for a minimum of 20 minutes you’ll help reduce spots with continued use.

Great overall hydrator for all skin types:  2oz purified water & 5 drops essential rose hip seed oil available here

Combine in spray bottle.  Shake and spritz for a hydrating pick-me-up anytime.  Can also be used in your AirPro airbrush system for a mini facial pre-foundation.

As a makeup artist much of my skill lies in covering imperfections (many caused by sun damage) with the help of great products and useful tools such as AirPro Makeup.  In an effort to reduce the amount of product required for a flawless finish I like to share my skin enhancing strategies, pre-makeup, so we can all be a little more radiant with less makeup.  I hope you enjoy!



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Choosing the right brush for expert makeup application

Choosing the right brush for the job is the key to an expert makeup application. 

Cosmetic brushes

One of the questions that I’m asked most often by my clients is what type of brushes I use so as I’ll explain here it’s more about the quality and variety than the brand when considering your purchase. As you probably know, the airbrush tool is my favorite for a super-smooth application on the face, neck and chest.  And while it’s the key to a well-blended contour -which is enjoying the spot light right now- sometimes a fine detail brush is just the ticket for eyeliner, lipstick or concealer.  Here’s my recommendation for the best brushes and how to care for them.  While many options are available and there’s more than one correct tool this will give you a good starting point.  Click here to read the article


I hope you find this no-fluff guide helpful!

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One of my favorite models

Working with one of my favorite models

At a recent catalog shoot at our studio in central San Diego, partnering with my husband and photographer Seth Mayer, we had a productive shoot with our client and tons of fun to boot.  One of the models hired for the shoot, Veronica, is not only a beautiful and talented model but she is full of vibrant and interesting conversation making what can otherwise be a long day, flow by quickly.  She recently made her movie debut in a comedy called Now What which premiered on March 10 and is set to release on April 3rd.

Mayer Studios model

Here she is in a collage image shot and composed by Seth.Seth Mayer Photography - Model VeronicaVeronica is also a AirPro Makeup owner, which I developed and am still owner of.  She uses it for many of her jobs to get that “picture perfect” skin!

Can’t wait to work with her again!