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Author Archives: Leza The Makeup Artist

Ideals of Beauty – The Renaissance

The Renaissance, or ‘rebirth’ was a cultural movement that first had its roots in Florence, Italy, before spreading to the rest of Europe. This period of time lasted from the 1300s to the 1600s. It is believed that the Renaissance was born in Florencedue to the influence of the Medici family, who were patrons of the arts. They encouraged the commissioning of art and encouraged others to follow suit as well. The rethinking of arts and culture lead to a significant influence and change in the way people saw humans, art, religion and science.

The Female Ideal

Although there are some aspects of female beauty that are similar to today, there are others that are quite different. From what can be gathered, the ideal female had more flesh and thicker arms and legs compared to today’s ideal. The imagined woman would be voluptuous and have a full figure.  Her bust would appear full with no signs of bones. The ideal female would also have pale skin, much unlike tanned look that is popular in our modern era. To accompany this desired skin was blond hair, which made women appear more youthful than dark locks.

In terms of facial features, women with delicate features were prized. This included having soft features such as thin eyebrows, large eyes, a high forehead, pink cheeks and curly hair. Also, the female would typically have a well-defined nose and a small mouth.

Cosmetics During the Renaissance Period

Like during any other age, with a female ideal came the pressure for women to fit this ideal image. Since having a high forehead was considered beautiful, women whose foreheads were not high would resort to plucking their hairline to give the appearance of a higher forehead. Women also plucked their eyebrows and used lead pencils to darken their eyebrows.

Like in any other period in time, smooth skin was highly valued because it represented youthfulness and health. Women would use cold creams to moisturize their skin. These creams were scented oils made from olives. Unfortunately, there were also some harmful forms of skin moisturizers that contained mercury and sulfur, which were meant to be applied to the face.

During the Renaissance, well-born European women plucked out hairs, one by one, from their natural hairline all the way back to the crowns of their heads, to give them the high rounded foreheads thought to be beautiful at the time. Those who didn’t want to resort to plucking used poultices of vinegar mixed with cat dung or quick-lime. The latter often removed some of the skin as well as the hair.

Tip: For an even fairer look, you could also try the old Renaissance beauty trick of applying leeches to your ears. The leeches would drain the blood from your head giving you that I am about to swoon look.

Typically, white powders such as ground alabaster were spread on the face to give the appearance of fair skin. Rouge existed in red and pink colors for women to apply to their lips and cheeks to give a “glowing” look. Women during this time also used their Renaissance version of eyeliner and mascara. Kohl, a dark mineral based powder, was a popular substance for eyeliner. Also, women oiled their eyelashes in order to create the illusion of darker, thicker eyelashes.

Strawberry blond hair was considered the ideal hair color during this period of time. Women thus resorted to coloring their hair through bleaching methods. They used a variety of ingredients from saffron to sulfur and turmeric to give their hair the desired look. Firstly, they would apply a product with lye in it to rid their hair of its natural color before applying the dye. They would then spend long periods of time under the sun to bleach their hair. To avoid tanning their skin or getting freckles, women would wear layers of clothing and wear wide-brimmed hats with the top cut out to expose only the hair to the sun, which were known as the Venetian Hats.

Italian women also practiced putting drops of belladonna, an herb, into their eyes. This would create the desired effect of making their eyes sparkle and make their eyes look wider. Unfortunately, it also led to poisoning and permanently harmed their vision with extended use.

Renaissance Beauty Tips – Makeup

The Paler the Better
During the Renaissance, alabaster skin was the look du jour. The paler your skin, the more beautiful and healthy-looking you were considered.

If a woman was not naturally blessed with pale skin, there were a variety of ways by which they could achieve this look – often making use of compounds quite dangerous to their health. These compounds included lead oxide, hydroxide, carbonate, mercury, and vermilion. Over time, these compounds often contributed to various health problems (like muscle paralysis) and even to early death.

One beauty routine developed to really enhance that pale effect was to first apply raw eggs to the face as a “primer.” Next, lead and vinegar were mixed together to make a thick, ceruse-colored foundation which was applied liberally to the face and neck. If they really wanted to have that “dead” or “statue” look, ladies would use blue paint and a thin brush to apply thin “veins” to the forehead and breasts!

A Little Color in Your Cheeks
Even though an overall palor was desired, women of the Renaissance still used just a touch of color on their cheekbones. An often used rouge recipe was to mix mercury with a lead-based powder. This mixture would be applied lightly to the cheekbones, and – in some cases – to their chests in order to draw attention to the bust.

The Glazed Look
Women would brush their made-up faces all over with egg whites to create a healthy “glazed look.’ This was done to make them appear more like marble statues.

Bring in the Leeches!
Another Renaissance beauty trick was to apply leeches to the ears. The leeches would drain the blood from the head, giving them that much desired paleness. This practice was actually healthier than most of the other methods used!

Beauty Marks and Beauty Patches
The use of artificial beauty marks and fabric beauty patches came into favor in the Renaissance. Beauty marks were most often drawn in order to hide pimples or other marks. Beauty patches, small fabric patches cut into various shapes (stars, moons, and circles for example), to cover holes in the skin caused by the use of lead makeup!

The Strange Case of Signora Toffana
Late in the Italian Renaissance, around the time of the English Renaissance, an Italian woman named Signora Toffana took the concept of pale skin to a new high – or low. She developed a special face powder, made from arsenic, that she not only urged women to use to achieve that desired corpse-like complexion, but to especially wear it around their husbands. This arsenic powder is said to have resulted in the death of some 600 husbands! Eventually, Signora Toffana was arrested and executed for causing these deaths.
Royal Beauty Secrets
The royal women of the Renaissance were considered beauty icons and many women followed their beauty secrets to the letter. Two of the more unusual royal practices included Catherine de Medici’s use of pigeon dung on her face to get that dewy, young complexion, and the habit of Mary Queen of Scots to bathe in wine to keep herself looking young.
Do You Want that Renaissance Look?
Would you like to see how you might have looked during the Renaissance had you followed the cosmetic tips of the time? Here’s how to do it!

1. Apply the lightest color foundation that looks good on your skin.

2. To set the foundation, brush your face with a very white loose powder.

3. Being careful to apply color to your cheekbones only, brush your cheeks with a vivid red color.

4. Apply lipstick in a shade of dark, rich red. The darker and richer your lip color, the paler your skin will appear.

5. Using black liquid eyeliner, apply a thin line to both your eyelids.

6. Eyeshadow is not recommended, but if you must wear it make sure you use only colors which closely match your skin tone.

7. To finish, draw a beauty mark or apply a beauty patch somewhere on your face.



Beauty Through The Ages…The Fun Origins, The Scary And The Bizarre!

The term for a makeup artist in Egyptian hieroglyphic is derived from the root “sesh,” which means, “to write, to engrave.” Makeup application was taken pretty seriously back then: the same accuracy was needed to paint lips as to write out a text. (FYI: By “text” I mean etching symbols into a rock, not typing out a message on your iPhone.)

Perfume was central to Egyptian civilization and was used for both cosmetic and medical purposes. For example, Kyphi, one of the most famous Egyptian perfumes, made from flowers, honey, wine and berries, was also prepared as a drink to cure lung, intestinal, and liver problems. That said, don’t go chugging a bottle of Chanel No. 5 to cure your next hangover.

In ancient Greece, the most sought-after hair color was blond. Not many Greeks were naturally blond, so light hair was probably perceived as beautiful because it was so exotic. Women would lighten their hair using plant extracts or arsenic! They also washed their locks with a mixture of ashes, olive oil, and water.

People have been playing, “kitchen beautician” since the Middle Ages, when various foods were used as beauty aids. Curdled milk was applied to acne, cucumber juice removed freckles, while boiled nettles produced a smooth, even complexion. Women even attempted to remove wrinkles with the help of ointments made of wax and almond oil, or crocodile fat.

It’s a shame that extensions weren’t available during the Heian Period when a Japanese woman’s beauty was judged by the length of her hair, since the ideal was considered almost two feet longer than her waist. We’re assuming that ponytails were a popular hairstyle back then.

In Renaissance Italy women created the ultimate red lip and cheek stain by mixing cochineal, sandalwood or cinnabar with wax or grease. The application process was complex, but the red color lasted for over a week, even if she washed her face every day.

Despite being called the “Golden Age of Spain,” having a tan was a serious beauty faux pas back then. In an effort to maintain a porcelain complexion, young women would eat clay, even though it often caused anemia or chlorosis. In the late 18th century, members of The French Court such as Marie Antoinette also obsessed over having flawless alabaster skin. They faked it with thick layers of white powder (made out of everything from white lead and talc to pulverized bone) combined with wax, whale blubber, or vegetable oil to give the face makeup a greasy consistency that adhered to the skin.

Lipstick was considered an essential item for female nurses in the armed forces during the Second World War, both to remind women that they were ladies first and military second, and because it might have a calming effect on the male soldiers. (Although most experts now say that guys get really turned on when a girl wears red lipstick.)

Before L’Oréal launched the first mass market hairspray in 1960, women had to choose between slicking their hair down with a greasy brilliantine or using a mechanical sprayer to coat it with shellac dissolved in a solution of water and alcohol.

A 1991 study showed that female politicians who employed Hollywood makeup artists and photographers were 30% more likely to win elections, simply by grooming her eyebrows, wearing certain colored blouses, and smiling. Too bad that strategy didn’t work for Sarah Palin.

Drug Store vs. High End Makeup. Who’s Better? Ever Wonder Who Owns L’Oreal or Lancome?

As I walk through the department store or a drug store, I am always wondering if any of these products are truly unique in their elements or components and if these products will perform as well as advertised. I wonder is it worth purchasing a high end product, or can I actually find a drug store item that will perform as well? I hate spending a lot of money on cosmetics and makeup, so I’m always on the lookout for makeup dupes. What’s a makeup dupe? It’s a cheaper identical (or very similar) version of a high end makeup product. So why splurge on a super expensive lipstick or eye shadow if there’s a cheaper version waiting for you at the drugstore?

The price comes from the fact that you expect to pay a high price for a luxury brand. Don’t you often automatically assume that a gorgeous bottle of $60 eye cream sold at a Saks counter is going to work better than the $1.99 tube on the clearance rack at CVS? It’s all a psychological tactic to insidiously reel you into to a consumerist’s mentality.

Although some products are unique, from companies like Cover Girl (owned by Procter & Gamble) and Physician’s Formula (owned by Physicians Formula Inc.) by only owning those particular makeup brands, there are other cosmetics companies that do their best to feed into our vanity, ego, budget, demographic and social standing – not to mention our bank accounts.

Below is a list of Beauty Company Owership of Brands
L’Oreal Estee Lauder Revlon
Lancôme American Beauty Revlon
The Body Shop MAC Cosmetics Almay makeup
Maybelline Prescriptives Ultima II skincare
Biotherm Origins Mitchum deodorants
Kiehl’s Clinique Charlie perfumes
Shu Uemura Grassroots  
Cacharel Jo Malone  
Giorgio Armani La Mer  
Helena Rubinstein Michael Kors  
Dermablend Lab Series  
SkinCeuticals Tommy Hilfiger  
Vichy Laboratoires Coach Fragrances  
Kérastase Kiton  
Redken MISSONI  
Garnier Rodan and Fields  
Softsheen-Carson Sean John  
  Smashbox Beauty Cosmetics  

A company like L’Oreal, who is is the world’s largest cosmetics and beauty organization, certainly will put out similar products in different packaging for you to consume depending on your budget. Even though the same companies own many brands at different price points, the products still get manufactured at the same places/factories, and many of the formulas in prestige brands are nearly identical to their drugstore counterparts. Below is a quick chart of some Cosmetic Companies owning multiple brands.

You’ll get the same if not better results from Lancôme’s maker L’Oreal at much lower prices. If you need the fancy packaging, then just buy Lancôme. L’Oreal owns and makes Lancôme, and a little known ‘secret’ is that several products are essentially the exact same. This is not just an opinion – if you compare the ingredients you will find that many are identical, with the exception of a dye or fragrance component. For example, Line Eraser retinol lotion by L’Oreal is so similar to Lancome’s Resurface, but without the packing it comes in you would not be able to tell the difference.  Also, Rouge Pulp lip gloss by L’Oreal is the same essentially as Lancome Lip Brio, L’Oreal Eye Defense Gel equals to Lancome Primordiale Yeux.

So with that said, how do we test quality? Well…there are a few tricks of the trade to test the quality of the cosmetic.

  • The first trick is testing the pay off. What this means is testing the quality of the pigment. Low cost cosmetics can contain fillers, which dull the intensity and effect the performance. To test, simply take the product, and swipe a little on your finger, then onto your skin. The color of the shadow or blush should not be sheer or washed out unless that is the intended nature of the product. The color should come out fairly true to how it looks in the package. Shadows will come out more vibrant under a primer, so do take that into good consideration. It needs something to catch onto, and very dry skin isn’t a good surface to test on.
  • The same trick applies to foundation, concealer, eyeliner, and other creamy product. Apply a small amount on your skin and test the feeling of the texture. It should not feel heavy or greasy. It should blend easily onto the skin, and appear to “melt” into the skin if it a foundation related product.
  • Eyeliner should glide easily along the skin, not pull. Rub to see how it smears and moves. You do not want anything that will smudge too easily as it will run very quickly and fade off. As mentioned before, these products should have a good pay off. There is no point in getting it if you have to pack it on for coverage.
  • Lipsticks and glosses should be done with the same sort of test as the creams. How sheer or opaque the color is depends on the intent of the product. What to look for is the texture and staying power. It should not be too greasy, sticky or dry. These will cause undesirable results. A lip liner or stain will help with the staying power of the lip products.

So what have we learned? Here are some easy tips to follow while deciding, debating with yourself which products you should purchase high end or drugstore. Learn when to spend or not to spend.

  • Things you use on a regular basis, such as cleanser, moisturizer, & foundation you should invest in. Save on products that you aren’t going to use very often, or if you are experimenting. There is no need to spend $15.00 on a shadow you are only going to use three or four times.
  • Buy from drugstores that allow you to return cosmetics if the color or quality turns out to be wrong. Ask the salespeople first, or check company return policies online if the employees are not sure themselves. Many drugstores will allow you to exchange cosmetic products even after you have tried them.

For good quality brands and products available at drugstores, read the products credits next to photos in fashion magazines. Often, the pros use less expensive and readily available products.

Skin tone breaks down into two types, yellow based (olive skin), and pink based (pinkish, peach skin). Do not let surface redness confuse you; you need to look past it. Take a good look at your overall skin. When you tan do you turn olive, bronze, or golden colored? If yes you are yellow based. If you turn rosy, or red, or a reddish brown, then you are pink based.

To prolong your eyeshadow staying power use an eyeshadow base. A really good one is Urban Decay Primer Potion. Or you can use a good vitamin E cream (this also moisturizes your skin)

Beware, sometime you get what you pay for. Cheaper price, can mean cheaper quality

Some make-up products have been known to cause some side-effects that could be harmful for the skin, read and learn the ingredients contents of your makeup brand and product.

With that all said, the best way is just to try it, wear it and compare what best works for your and your skin type. Happy searching and shopping J. Good luck to all.

7 Super Foods that Reverse Signs of Aging and Wrinkles

1. Wild Alaskan Salmon and other cold water fish (salmon, sardines, herring, trout, etc.) are great sources of protein which is necessary to maintain and repair the body-including the skin on a cellular level. Protein cannot be stored in our bodies. For optimum health and cellular repair we need to have a good source of quality protein at each meal.

If we are rating a food group either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory, we will find that protein, on the whole, is neutral. However, some sources of protein, such as the fish listed above, provide powerful anti-inflammatory benefits for two reasons:

  • They are high anti-inflammatory omega 3 essential fatty acids which keeps skin radiant, supple and wrinkle free, moods upbeat and brain functioning at optimal levels
  • Wild salmon’s bright pink or deep red color, depending on variety, owes its pigment to the presence of astaxanthin, a super powerful carotenoid anti-oxidant with potent anti-inflammatory properties.

2. Green Foods. When we talk about “Green Foods” we’re referring to a group of foods that includes young cereal grasses like barley grass and wheat grass. Nutritionally, they are close cousins to dark leafy, green vegetables, but offer far greater levels of “nutrient density.” In other words, an ounce of these concentrated green foods contains much more of the beneficial phytonutrients found in an ounce of green vegetables. Green foods, such as Green MagmaTM help detoxify the body to keep skin clear and radiant.

The results of many experimental studies show that green foods have marked beneficial effects on cholesterol, blood pressure, immune response, and cancer prevention. These effects are attributed in part to their high concentrations of chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll, the phyto-chemical that gives leaves, plants, and algae their green hues, is the plant equivalent of the oxygen-carrying red pigment hemoglobin in red blood cells. Dietary chlorophyll inhibits disease bacteria and exerts therapeutic effects on bad breath and internal odors.

3. Beans and lentils. Beans and lentils are a superfood for a number of reasons in addition to their high fiber content. When it comes to maintaining beautiful skin and keeping unwanted pounds at bay, beans and lentils are a body’s best friend. The reason is because they are very low-glycemic. This means they will not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar when eaten, the way sugary, starchy food do. Beans and lentils are anti-inflammatory foods, and will keep your blood sugar stable-key in preventing dull, dry, wrinkled sagging skin and hard to lose body fat.

697352_oliveoil4. Olives and extra virgin olive oil. We need a source of good fats in our diet, fats that will help us absorb nutrients from our vegetables and fruits, keep our cells supple, our skin glowing and wrinkle-free, our brains sharp and our mood upbeat. We also need dietary fat to burn fat. Extra virgin olive oil contains oleic acid, which helps us to absorb the omega-3s and other vitamins and nutrients from our foods. Oleic acid is vital in keeping the outer portion of the cell, known as the cell plasma membrane, supple, thereby allowing nutrients to enter the cell and wastes to exit.

5. Green Tea. Green tea contains compounds known as polyphenols which help to eliminate inflammation-producing free radicals. Recently, researchers have found that these polyphenols protect healthy cells from cancer causing DNA damage, while ushering cancer cells to their death.

Another remarkable finding is the power of green tea polyphenols known as EGCG to reactivate dying skin cells. In fact, researchers consider this amazing energizing of dying skin cells to potential benefit skin diseases such as psoriasis, ulcers, rosacea, wounds-and yes, even wrinkles.

6. Blueberries. Blueberries have some amazing qualities including the fact that are one of the greatest sources of antioxidants. They also have great anti-inflammatory properties-remember inflammation is not just linked to disease-it is a major cause of wrinkling and sagging in the skin. Blueberries also increase brain power, restore balance and improve memory.

Anything that is good for the brain is also excellent for the skin because of the brain/beauty connection. In embryology there are three layers of tissue that develop into every organ system in our bodies. The same layer of tissue that is responsible for the production of the brain also produces skin. As a medical student I recognized that when something is therapeutic for the brain the skin improved.

citrus7. Sour Citrus Fruits. This includes citrus like lemons, limes, and grapefruit. All are rich in antioxidants known as limonoids and limonene’s which offer their own special benefits:

  • Protect lungs; alleviate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  •  Help prevent cancer, by boosting the activity of detoxification enzymes in the liver.
  • Lower blood cholesterol levels.
  • Inhibit cancer in human breast cells, skin, lung, stomach, mouth and colon cancer in laboratory animals.

Lemon bioflavonoids contain hesperidin as well as proanthocyanidins. Proanthocyandins are defined as a class of nutrients that belong to the flavonoid family. A study conducted for Bordeaux Médical found that proanthocyanidins (also found in teas, black currant, bilberry, cranberry, grape seed, and grape skin) have been shown to strengthen capillaries. They also play an important role in the maintenance of elastin and the stabilization of collagen-crucial for healthy, youthful skin.

Unusual & Wacky Beauty Treatments that Work!

Fix a Flushed Face – If you turn red and stay that way after exercising (like seriously red for hours, even though you’re healthy and hydrated), take an antihistamine like Benadryl when you leave the gym to reduce redness.

Ditch the oil slick. To keep shine in check, always keeps blotting papers on hand. But in a pinch, an unusual way to keep oil at bay put deodorant on your finger and dab under your eyes and t-zone to help create a matte look.

Go for sheer foundation Adding aloe to foundation gives it excellent slip. Sheer out your favorite base by adding a half a pea size of aloe to your foundation before you apply it. Also, you can apply aloe to your face and while still dewy, spread on a little foundation. You’re ready for summer.

Fill in fine lines. – Here’s a way to keep lipstick from feathering (a great trick if you have tiny wrinkles above your upper lip): Coat your mouth and go slightly outside your lip line with a clear balm ‑- like plain ChapStick — before applying color. Like invisible spackle.

Smudge-proof your liner – Apply it with a pencil or a tiny brush, then trace over the line with a matching powder shadow. To make it last even longer: Wet your shadow brush with Visine first.

Use Crisco Eye Makeup Remover and Moisturizer

Dry Oatmeal Hair Touchup – If your hair is oily and you don’t have the time or the place to wash it, rub dry oatmeal in your hair to absorb its excess oil. Remove oatmeal with a brush.

Put Vaseline on your lashes to make them longer and thicker.

Dryer Sheets – will de-static your hair. I use this trick all the time in winter. Run a dryer sheet over your hair to help get the static out.


Beauty from the Kitchen (Many Tips and Tricks)

Soften Your Bod with Avocado
 – Take a ripe avocado, remove the pit and skin, and mash it up in a bowl. Slather it all over your body, let it sit for 20 minutes, then rinse off. Your skin will be sooo soft — avocado is a natural moisturizer.

Avocado is great for dry skin. Mash it and cover your face with it. Wait for 15 minutes. Another thing you can do to create your own face mask is to mix a mashed half banana and combine it with egg yolk and olive oil. Bananas are good for your skin since they’re full of vitamins.

Buff with Baking Soda – 
If you find yourself streaking (not glowing) after applying self-tanner, put some baking soda on a loofah, and scrub away the stripes.

Amp Shine with Vinegar – Mix one part vinegar with four parts carbonated water, and soak dry hair. Leave on for 15 minutes before you shampoo to lock in shine and combat dullness.

For oily skin, whip some egg white until it gets foamy. This will take away some of the oiliness and might work against acne as well. Apply to your forehead, nose and chin.

To smoothen the skin on your body, try adding some whipping cream, olive oil and fresh mashed strawberries to your bath water. The oil and the cream will make your skin smooth while the strawberries will freshen it up. You will only need about a half cup of cream and a tablespoon of olive oil.

Too make tired facial skin look great again, try this kitchen face mask: Combining 2 tablespoons of yoghurt, 2 tablespoons of grated apple, 1 teaspoon of juice from a lemon and 2 teaspoons of potato flour. Stir thoroughly and apply to the face.

Tea and especially green tea or chamomile tea is another great kitchen beauty tip. It works fine against swollen eyes. Either let two teabags cool and put them on your eyelids for about ten minutes. Or soak two small pieces of cloth with tea and do the same thing.

Summer Ready Skin
 – To smoothen the skin on your body, try adding some whipping cream, olive oil and fresh mashed strawberries to your bath water. The oil and the cream will make your skin smooth while the strawberries will freshen it up. You will only need about a half cup of cream and a tablespoon of olive oil.

Too make tired facial skin look great again, try this kitchen face mask: Combining 2 tablespoons of yoghurt, 2 tablespoons of grated apple, 1 teaspoon of juice from a lemon and 2 teaspoons of potato flour. Stir thoroughly and apply to the face.

For facial cleaning, apple cider vinegar is great and is said to work against acne too. To be on the safe side, dilute it with water.

Fight Acne With 2 Simple Home Remedies

Baking Soda Mask to Fight Acne
This is so easy to make and can work wonders if your skin likes it. (Remember, not every cause of acne is the same, so you need to try different remedies and masks until you find the ones that work for you.)

All you need are two ingredients. Baking Soda (NOT baking powder) and water.

Mix a little together in your hands after washing your face with a mild cleanser  and apply gently to your skin. Once you’ve coated your face with the baking soda and water mix, let it sit while you do other things around the house, or relax and read a book.

Rinse the baking soda film off your face and feel how soft and clear it feels. If your skin enjoys this recipe, and your acne improves, then you may try it several times a week to help clear your acne.

Acne Tonic with Basil
2 to 3 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1 Cup boiling water
Steep basil leaves in water for 10 to 20 minutes. Cool, then apply to face with a white cotton ball. Let Dry. Don’t wash off. Repeat this treatment a few time a week.