Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fine Art Makeup: Dali's "Galatea of the Spheres"

I've long been a fan of Dali and wanted to create a makeup look based on his work, but he's a tough nut to crack. Since he created surrealist works based on dreamscapes and symbolism, a lot of the imagery in his paintings is very literal and I've struggled to come up with a way to translate that to the face without being too literal. So, this is my first foray into using some of his imagery. Not quite as ambitious as I'd imagined, but it's a start!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Update: My Final Tropical Fish Halloween Makeup That Accidentally Turned Into Mystique/Avatar Makeup

Happy Day-After-The-Day-After Halloween everyone! We just hosted our party yesterday, and I've got photos of my final costume. I decided to ditch the green accents, and ended up coming with kind of a tropical fish/Avatar/Mystique meld, but hey, the more the merrier.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

From Sharp to Spooky: Last-Minute Vampire Halloween Makeup

Feeling a bit uninspired this Halloween? Or maybe you're not super into dressing up, but you're going to a party and don't want to be a total spoil-sport. Well, this is probably the easiest possible way to look a bit spooky with spending loads of time and/or money on a costume.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tropical Fish Makeup: My Halloween Makeup Test-Drive + Video Tutorial!

I'll be honest: I am kind of recycling an old costume for this year's Halloween. But hopefully with much better makeup.

About three years ago I was the Rainbow Fish for Halloween and I made my own dress using a blue tank dress from American Aparrel, a homemade scale stencil and purple & silver spray paint. I've kept the dress all this time, and wanted to challenge myself to go all the way with the makeup this time. In the last iteration of this look, I just drew on some super-circular eyes and called it a day.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Feeling Beautiful With or Without Makeup

Me in various stages of made-up-ness. 
Lately, women who I've known for years, friends and family alike, have been approaching me with the look of a child coming to confess to breaking the vase in the hall & be punished. The encounter starts nicely enough: "I love your blog..." And then it hits: "I know I should be [covering my under eye bags/wearing lipstick more often/curling my eyelashes] but I just don't [have time/know what color would work for me/know how]." While by no means does every woman react to my hobby this way, (and by no means am I reprimanding the women who do) it's been a source of concern for me. Why do so many women feel guilty for not wearing makeup?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Eyebrow Routine for A Natural Look

I've been long overdo to post an update of my eyebrow routine! The last time I posted about this, I used photos to explain myself and had some problems with my lighting. This time, I've posted a video on my still brand-new Youtube channel and I hope that a video format will do a better job of explaining how I do this. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Smokey, Hazy Blue and Teal Eye

My Youtube saga continues! Finally got to do a fun & colorful look for a video tutorial. Still getting used to the sound of my own voice (uggh) in the editing process. But I'm enjoying getting to talk through a look instead of having to type out all of my reasoning and thoughts. And I haven't gotten a troll yet (my biggest fear about starting to do videos) so there's that!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My 5 Minute Face

For my first video tutorial, I showed you how to create an everyday cat eye with a colorful twist. While editing that video down from an epic, half-hour makeup fest, I realized that while it was a standard day-to-day look for me, it might be too time-consuming for many people. So I decided to do the 5-Minute Face Challenge to show you that it's possible to create a quick & polished look. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Paintbrush Eye Makeup

By now, most of you know how much I love a bold eye; bonus points for artistic flair. So when I saw the below photo on Pinterest, I knew I had to try some variation of it.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Tribute to Ingrid Bergman: Effortless Glamour

Ingrid Bergman's birthday was this past Friday; she would've been 99 years old!

In an era in which movie stars' hairlines & skin tones were overhauled, their faces caked in makeup and their personal lives stolen, Ingrid went her own way. Upon arriving in Hollywood, she refused to change her name to something more WASP-y, pluck her eyebrows or wear the pounds of makeup most stars did. Her rejection of the standard "star-ification" of actresses at the time lead to her nickname, The Nordic Natural. Her strong will sometimes landed her in trouble with the public, (keyword: Roberto Rossellini) but in the end, she lived the life she wanted.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My First Video Tutorial, Guys! A "Colorful Neutrals" Everyday Look

You guys, I went for it! I'm extremely nervous to post this, mostly because in editing this I've now listened to my own voice way more than I ever hoped to, but I decided to try making a video tutorial for the first time. Think of this "colorful neutral" look as a more subdued version of my lavendy & navy eye from two weeks ago.

I've loved working on this blog for the past five months (wow, time flies!) but as I say in the video, I realize that there are a lot of techniques I use to apply makeup that can't really be explained in a photo, and let's face it, are probably pretty confusing when typed out. So I'm giving this a shot! Next time I plan to zoom in to show the work on my eyes better; please let me know of any other improvements I can make!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Green and Gold Halo Eyeshadow

I've seen halo eye looks many times before but was always nervous to try them, mainly because I don't have particularly wide-set eyes and I thought this style—in which you place a dark shadow both at the inner and outer corners of our eyes and a bright or shimmery shade in the middle—would make my eyes look even closer together. But I have to say, I really enjoyed how the look shook things up and can't wait to try more color combos. This style would be great if you're someone with very deep-set eyes because the shading really gives your eye socket an extra dimension and makes them pop.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Lavender & Navy Eye

I'm always looking for ways to sneak some bright pops of color into my day-to-day looks without looking like a clown. So lately, I've really been digging lavender makeup; it's soft and subtle enough for the harshness of sunlight while still shaking things up. I love this color teamed with navy, a softer yet equally dramatic cousin to black eyeliner. I've tried a couple different variations of this look this summer and have become really fond of it.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Essentials: A Winged Liner for Every Eye

This one's going to be a whopper, you guys. Cat-eye liner has been a part of my life for about a decade, and there are tons of way to rock it! So let's jump right in...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Klimt's "The Kiss" Makeup

I've been excited to create this look for a few months now, but kept putting it off because it seemed so daunting. And sure enough, this was by far my most time-consuming look to date. I started it at 11am, and began taking my final photos around 5:30pm, though I did take a few breaks here and there! It's also the first look where I strayed off my face with the makeup, applying the gold pigment to my hair, ears and neck for a more fully-realized makeup creation. I'm really pleased with it!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Essentials: Blending Your Eyeshadows

Pop quiz: what's the most important eyeshadow shade to have in your collection? Depending on your personality, your first thoughts might be taupe, violet, black, chocolate brown. While those are all great to have, none are The One. In fact, this is sort of a trick question because the most important shade of eyeshadow to own changes from person to person: it's a shadow that matches your own skin tone. That might sound boring, but trust me, this shade with unlock a world of beautifully blended eye looks, whether you love a dark smokey eye or neon brights.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Tribute to Diana Vreeland

"I shall die very young."
"How young?"
"I don't know. Maybe 70; maybe 80; maybe 90. But I shall be very young."
If you have any interest in fashion or style and haven't seen Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, you need to make a mad dash to your Netflix account and watch it tout de suite. In fact, forget whether or not those topics interest you. Just watch it.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Essentials: My Foundation & Concealer Routine

Today I'm going to walk you through my special-occasion-I'm-going-to-be-photographed-and-want-to-look-pitch-perfect foundation & concealer routine. This is a step or two more than I'd apply on a day-to-day basis. As I go through I'll note which steps you can drop for everyday. Of course, if you have naturally smooth & even-toned skin, you can just slap on some moisturizer and sunscreen, maybe a quick under-eye concealer and powder, and call it a day! But if, like me, your skin has more than a few imperfections, keep reading! Also, see this previous post on my skincare routine to start with the best skin possible.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Graphic Violet & Yellow Makeup

This post is a fun, celebratory look because of two milestones I've hit with my little blog: I now have my own domain name, and my last post pushed me past 5,000 pageviews! I'm so grateful anyone who's taken a look at my experiments here, and especially to my friends and family who've been so supportive. This has become such an important creative outlet for me, driving me to dream and push my limits.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Experiment of the Month: Mark Rothko-Inspired Makeup

Before that day in the MoMA in 2011, I had seen images of Mark Rothko's work in textbooks or online and was underwhelmed. But on that trip to their Abstract Expressionist exhibition, I saw Rothkos physically before me for the first time and was mesmerized. Rothko himself wrote about the importance of the size of his work, saying "I want [the paintings] to be very intimate and human. To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience, to look upon an experience as a stereopticon view or with a reducing glass. However, you paint the lager picture, you are in it. It isn’t something you command."And to stand before his work truly is to experience the painting, a point that is nicely illustrated further in this short essay.

Mark Rothko, No. 16, 1960. Oil on canvas.
Photo source:
Aside from the huge benefit of seeing Rothko's work in person, I also gained a much better understanding of his craft from quotations of his on the MoMA's wall panels. One of them brought a lump to my throat: "Often, towards nightfall, there's a feeling in the air of mystery, threat, frustration—all of these at once. I would like my paintings to have the qualities of such moments." Suddenly the colorful blocks of color that seemed so arbitrary in my art history textbooks enveloped me with memories of my childhood, of dancing in my grandmother's yard and catching fireflies at dusk; of sitting with my body half freezing and half warmed by a bonfire at summer camp; of leaning out of my bedroom window at night and wondering about the life I would lead. A bolt of emotion hit me. Somehow the artist himself giving me permission to feel the mood of his work rather than trying reason the logical explanation for it opened a new world for me. And I've been a Rothko-lover ever since.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Smokey 60's Eyes

A few weeks ago I posted a mini-homage to Katharine Ross' style in The Graduate. I mentioned that I'd love to do a look inspired by her flawless 60's makeup, and I wasn't kidding! There's a quality about the glamour of the 60's that makes it my favorite period of makeup to wear. It's way less stuffy and more liberated than the highly polished, untouchable perfection of 50's makeup, yet infinitely more wearable and universally flattering than the glittery disco looks of the 70's. The 60's dramatically sexy eyes paired with a low-maintenance face & lip are also a huge bonus for me; despite my love for a gorgeous red or burgundy lip, anyone who's tried to make it through the day with one know what a pain it can be to manage. I could go on forever, but you get the point: I love 60's makeup.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mermaid Eyes

A friend of mine recently gave me a stunning iridescent shadow from MAC's Alluring Aquatic Collection. It's their Extra Dimension Eye Shadow in Zestful, which looks almost cream-colored in low light but when the sun hits it, a gorgeous green sheen emerges. When I first saw it, I thought, "This is the product a mermaid would choose if she visited a MAC store," and I've been dreaming of this look ever since.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson: on "The Graduate," folk music & the open road

Katharine Ross, star of The Graduate. Photo Source:

This evening, I'll board a bus bound for Boston armed with cat eye sunglasses and an attitude. When traveling alone, I like to create a story in my mind of who I am and where I'm going, and for some reason (perhaps it's the gray, water-colored sky that always makes me a bit nostalgic; perhaps it's that buses are ubiquitous in the film), today I am channeling Elaine Robinson played by Katharine Ross in the 1967 film The Graduate. Ross' makeup in this film embodies why I love 1960's glamour. There's something about a bold eye paired with nude face & lips that's so clean yet dramatic, and just feels right.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Adele's Makeup: A Glamorous, Sculpted Look

In a recent post, someone commented that I looked like Adele, so I thought I'd see how close I can get! I paid tribute to Lauren Bacall in March, making this the second post in which I attempt to transform myself into a beauty icon. They're a lot of fun to do, so let me know what other celebrity's makeup you'd like to see me recreate! This look was a challenge because Adele's makeup is always so flawless; looking at it now, I think I could've gone even thicker on the cat eyes and contoured closer to my mouth. I also, of course, love Adele's music, and based on interviews I've seen with her, she seems like such a fun person to be around.

Adele's look is very classic, and the highly defined crease and cat eye recall 60's glamour to me. I chose her gorgeous 2012 Vogue spread in which she rocked dramatic eyes, a highly contoured face and nude lips as my inspiration. I used absolutely no shimmer and all neutral products, because Adele's face is like a marble statue in these images, all luminosity and smoothness. The cat-eye-with-defined-crease look is also a fantastic everyday look, but this version is just turned up to 11.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Essentials: My Skincare Do's and Don'ts

Can you tell which (crinkly) product is the most used & loved?

I want to start this post by clarifying that I am not a trained dermatoligist or esthetician, so if you're experiencing serious skincare issues, please visit a professional! These are all techniques that have worked well for me. Also, it's important to spot-test new products before using them on your face, because you never know what you could be allergic to.

Just to quickly sum up my daily skincare routine: In the morning, I splash my face with water & use a moisturizer and sunscreen before applying makeup. At night, I remove makeup with Bioderma, followed by a cleanser, Clarisonic every other day, moisturizer, eye cream and acne spot treatment as needed.

Below, I've listed my Do's and Don'ts of skincare; the Don'ts are things I used to do, thinking I was doing my skin a favor, and the Do's are the corrections I've made to those misguided routines. My skin mantra today is "exfoliate, moisturize, exfoliate, moisturize..." A friend recently told me that my skin was glowing, so I think it's going pretty well!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Experiment of the Week: Kandinsky-Inspired Makeup

I was hesitant to make this look because Vasily Kandinsky's paintings, though at first glance may seem chaotic and random, are actually extremely precise and rhythmic. Kandisky admired musicians and in many of his most famous paintings he sought to visualize music. I chose to focus on Bauhaus-era Kandinsky, when he taught at the famous German institution from 1922-33. This is the time when he experimented most heavily with a variety of purely geometric shapes, and I very much wanted to explore how these kinds of shapes can sit on the face. Also, the German post-WW1 and pre-WW2 world swirling around him at this time was particularly explosive, culminating in Hitler's 1933 closure of the Bauhaus and Kandinsky's move to France.

Photo source:
I use the photo to the left as an example of Kandinsky's work because it includes such a wide variety of shapes and colors (and intersections of the two). However, as you see, I formed a much simpler composition on my face for the sake of balance. My process with this makeup really got me considering the jump from having a blank, flat canvas on which to arrange a composition to having a blank face, which brings its own pre-existing features and three-dimensionality into consideration. But, that's a longer thought for a different post!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Stella, I Love You: My Fragrance Love Letter to Stella by Stella McCartney

An appropriately romantic sunset with my one and only fragrance

I first experienced the magical mixture of rose, mandarin and amber that is Stella by Stella McCartney when I was about 15 years old. I was in a Sephora with my friend Liz; I think she had smelled a sample of it in a magazine and wanted to try it. I immediately fell in love with it, and strangely recall a strong sense of envy and possessiveness at the idea that Liz might buy it (sorry, Liz! true life confessional blog post here). A bottle of Stella was too much of an indulgence for me to buy when I was 15, but you better believe that when I was 18 and had some of my own money to spend, this was one of my first purchases.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

5 Simple Ways to Spice Up Your Makeup

Anyone who wears makeup daily can attest that sometimes you find yourself in a cosmetics rut. You reach for the same black liner, the same sheer red gloss, the same peachy blush day after day. You may be too busy in the morning to try a different technique or anxious about trying something new, but wouldn't you rather your daily makeup application feel like an adventure than a chore? Join me in a tour through the looks I myself wore to work last week and see if any of the tweaks I made to my routine resonate with you. Some are definitely not for the faint of heart (or the corporately employed!) but I think the looks I wore on Tuesday and Thursday can work for any makeup comfort level or work environment!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Experiment of the Week: Pointillist, Seurat-Inspired, "Speckled" Eyes

Some of you may have seen the speckled cat eyes that have been making the rounds on beauty blogs & Instagrams sparked by Jkissa's tutorial, which I love. I decided to take that a step further and create a full-on pointillist-inspired eye look based the colors in Seurat's 1884-6 painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. I had so much fun doing this look; even though the basic technique is super simple (I think we can all make dots with liquid liner!) the approach I took was to create an overall sense of light on my lids with whites, yellow and greens and then create shadow in my crease with blues and purples, so playing with colors in that way was really the trick.

Photo source:
I don't have as big a collection of colorful liquid liners as I'd like, so I grabbed several of my gel liners and jumbo pencils to create the shades I wanted. Once I mixed the colors on a small palette (I just used a leftover mini plastic palette and spatula from a Jolen bleaching kit) I used pointed liner brushes to apply the dots. The dots applied in this way came out bigger and less neat than the liquid liner dots, so I applied the cream dots first and the liquid second so that the overall effect would look more polished. I also used the bright blue Sephora liner on both the lid and the crease so that the overall look would be more unified.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Essentials: Eyebrow Extravaganza

Eyebrows: shade-providing friend to our eyes; expressive anchor of our face; damn time-consuming to groom. Developing the eyebrow shaping and styling techniques that work best for you can take lots of time; I've been playing around with mine for years, and I'm still not totally satisfied. But I hope you'll find some of these things I've learned over the years helpful in your brow journey, remembering that nothing I've written below is a hard-and-fast rule. You just have to experiment and adapt the "rules" of eyebrows to what fits your face best!

As a general rule, I believe that the brows you naturally grow are pretty darn close to the brow that'll look best on your face. Of course, there are exceptions on extreme ends of the spectrum: girls with very bushy brows and those with very faint brows will need to do some more work to achieve a look that's polished and frames their face well.

If you have drastically altered the shape and width of your brows with plucking/waxing/threading/whatever, please consider leaving them alone for a month. They may feel unkempt during that time, but I really believe that your original eyebrow was your best guide, again, unless your brows are naturally very, very thick. Once they're grown out, you may want to go in and define your arch a bit more or get rid of some strays. If you've been removing hair from your brow for years via one of those aforementioned methods, there's a possibility that they won't grow back. If that's the case, there are lots of products out there that you can use to create a fuller brow including brow pencils, powders applied with an angle brush and waxes for unruly hairs.

My eyebrows circa December 2012. In retrospect, they 
seem too slim for my face. Not terrible, but I now go with
a more natural look.
When it comes to my personal routine, I don't trust anyone else with threading or waxing them; I pluck them myself. As you can see in the picture to the left, there have been times when I've gone for  a slimmer shape and more dramatic arch for my brows, and I usually ended up regretting that. I started getting too close to the mirror when plucking, debating every single hair and removing some I shouldn't have. It's crucial to remember that your brows add structure to your face overall; they aren't an entity unto themselves and should be considered in relation to the other features on your face. When plucking, take breaks to step away from the mirror every hair or two to see how your brows are looking overall.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Experiment of the Week: Easter Egg Makeup / Springtime Pastels

I live for dramatic, film-noiresque makeup colors like black, plum and emerald, but lately, I've been coming down with pastel spring fever! I think a turning point for me was watching this Lisa Eldridge pastel makeup look (she is my idol by the way; I highly recommend watching every one of her videos multiple times, unless you're not an obsessive superfan like me. In the latter case, just some of her skincare and basic looks are very helpful!). She mentions that unless you're a fair skinned blonde, you need to throw some soft neutrals like taupe into your pastel look to ground your face. Finally, I understood why pastels always made me look so washed-out! If your hair and face have a high level (or any level) of contrast like mine, your eyes and lips need some definition or this song will play every time you enter a room. As you'll see, there are three keys to defining features while letting the pastels shine: tightlining the upper lashline in brown; using a light taupe shadow in the crease; and lining lips with a color a shade deeper than their natural lips before adding a baby-pink lip color. So, let's jump right into this candy-coated, Marshmallow Peeps-approved, sugary unicorn confection of a makeup look!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hot-Weather Makeup: Dispatch from the Dominican Republic

I'm writing this from a peachy-hued room in the beautiful city of Santo Domingo. I've spent 7 days meeting new people, eating all the great food this city has to offer and, frankly, sweating up a storm. When I was packing for this trip, I tried to be very strategic about the beauty products I packed. I knew I'd be in a climate with high heat & high humidity, which are my skin & hair's nemeses. Yet, I was also meeting my boyfriend's family for the first time, so I still wanted to look polished. So, keep reading for my packing list, the products that sweltered through the weather with me & the ones that slid right off my face. I hope it's helpful as you revise your makeup wardrobe for the summer.

My Traveling Makeup Bag

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Experiment of the Week: Bird of Paradise

Flower photo source

This time next week, I'll be in the Dominican Republic! While it's finally getting a bit warmer here in New York, I still feel like I've only seen gray, black and brown for the last four months. So, to get myself in the warm-weather spirit, I decided to try a very colorful eye makeup look based on the bird of paradise flower. The petals of the plant mimic a series of eyeliner wings so closely (or vise versa!) that I could envision this look right away.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Essentials: Contouring & Highlighting

After my first two posts, a few people requested some tutorials on the basics, like contouring, brows and eyeliner. This is the first post in my series addressing these questions, The Essentials. Comment to request any other "essentials" you'd like to see me demonstrate!

A contour is just a fake shadow that gives the illusion of high cheekbones, a more defined jawline or a narrower nose. A highlight is, you guessed it, a fake highlight that pulls the highest points of your face, such as the center of your nose, forehead, your upper cheekbones, browbone, cupid's bow and chin, forward. Combined, these two techniques create a more 3-dimensional face with more highly emphasized (or faked!) bone structure. Depending on how dramatic of a contour/highlight situation you want going on, you can choose to enhance all of these features with the technique or just one or two, like your cheekbones and browbone.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Experiment of the Week: Tribute to Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall photo source

Lauren Bacall's adventurous spirit and regal beauty has inspired me for as long as I've been aware of her. As you can see for yourself in this deeply personal interview in which she was about 70, she's honest to a fault and has a powerful sense of self. She was an original when she burst onto the pages of Harper's Bazaar as a model in 1943 and she's remained one throughout her life.

Makeup-wise, I love that her signature look still feels so modern. I think it's largely because of how natural her makeup really was, except for that pop of a red lip. Of course, this look was the quintessential 40's face, before the heavier liner and lashes of the 50's came into fashion.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Expermient of the Week: Monet's Water Lilies

Cropped photo of Monet's Water Lilies, 1919, from WikiPaintings
Those greens! Those blues! That lavender! Claude Monet’s stunning use of color served as my inspiration this week. I chose the particular painting shown above as an example because it’s an example of some of Monet’s most vivid use of color. I find multiple colors difficult to manage in a single look, so this was a real challenge for me!

This look is all about color and luminosity, so I was bold with my color choices and liberal with Benefit’s High Beam. I also avoided harsh edges and when for a hazy effect around the eyes with no liner or brow pencil. I’ll be honest: I’m not completely happy with this look. I think I should have eliminated one of the bright colors because it looks a bit too rainbow-y, in retrospect. But I’m still working on my blending abilities so this was fun practice.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Led By The Moonlight: An introduction to a makeup blog that has a story (or several) to tell

A recent look featuring Makeup Forever's Powder Blush in Irish Green No. 93

Hello Beauty Blogger world. Welcome to my blog Led By The Moonlight, a place where risks will be taken and imaginations stretched! I want this to a be a place where I can share my pursuit of adventurous makeup. Once a week, I'll post a look inspired by anything from literature and film to nature and art. You can also expect posts on recent trends in makeup and my sources of inspiration.

I have a background in visual arts and history. My fine arts projects have mostly involved photography, miniature sculpture and some stop-motion animation with those sculptures. My love of history grew out of my love of storytelling as a child. 

My love affair with cosmetics started early. I can remember being in elementary school and being fascinated by the products in my mother's makeup drawer and the cosmetics aisle in CVS. I first wore makeup at the age of 4 for a dance recital, but my first product that I can remember was a silver/lavender eyeshadow duo. It made my eyelids look fairy-like. I was smitten.