A little while ago, a friend of mine and extremely talented makeup artist Nikita Pere, wrote an article called "Is the makeup artist for my wedding ripping me off?". If you haven't read it, I highly recommend you do, whether you are planning your wedding, or know someone who is, it gives you a comprehensive look at what we do, and why we charge what we do.

I don't need to recap on what Nikita wrote, but I do want to take it a little further and extend on the point. Working within the bridal industry, it never ceases to amaze me that kind of money that people put into their wedding, which is fine and now totally normal - it's your day so go as big or as small as you like. What I notice the most is that these same brides are lacking perspective when it comes to what they should and shouldn't spend their money on.

Do you know how often I get asked to lower my prices because a client has spent a little too much on their dress, their shoes, dinner, their lolly buffet, etc? ALL THE TIME. And you know what? It's insulting. It's insulting to every single makeup artist, nail tech and hairdresser that you ask, right after you've finished telling us that you spent $10k on a wedding dress, $500 on a pair of shoes no one is even going to see under you dress, $3k on a lolly buffet that is there for decoration. Oh, and let's not forget your $15k honeymoon. I get it, you've spent heaps of money on your wedding, you might have gotten a little carried away. You'll complain that your photographer is costing you an arm and a leg, and you can't believe that someone could charge $100+ just for bridal makeup, because "It's just for one day!".

Let me tell you why we charge so much for your makeup for one day, and why you should pay it.  In addition to all of the things Nikita listed in her article -
  • Because we are the very best at what we do;
  • Because in the months leading up to your wedding, you, your bridesmaids and probably your mother will call and email me at all hours of the day to ask questions you could have Googled yourself. But I will smile and answer politely, because that is what we do;
  • Because on your wedding day, you're going to be stressed and so is everyone in your bridal party. Do you know who is normally on the receiving end of that? Makeup artists and hairdressers. 
And the most important reason that you shouldn't try to haggle us down?
  • Because long after your guests are gone, your lolly buffet has been eaten, your honeymoon is over and your expensive shoes that you kicked off as soon as you got to the reception because they hurt your feet are gathering dust in the corner, what you have left is your photos and your memories. 
We are there to make you look good, to make sure your makeup stays put all day through extreme heat and cold, tears and laughter, and anything else that may get thrown your way. We know exactly how to enhance your best features and make your makeup look natural and elegant, but still show up in photos and make you look flawless. We are the ones who cover the dark circles under your eyes because you haven't slept for a few days, the stress pimples that are breaking out, acne scarring, tattoos that you're not so proud of anymore. All of these things and so much more.

You can spend all the money in the world on a cake, venue and dress, but would you really show up without makeup on or worse, in makeup that you will look back and hate? Because sometimes when you do it yourself and let your friend do it for you that's exactly how it looks. I'm certainly not saying that your makeup looks bad all the time, not at all, what I'm saying is that wedding makeup is very different to everyday makeup.

As makeup artists, we are well trained, we spend years finding the best products from all over the world, we spend a fortune on those products, as well as regularly attending classes to update our skills by working with renowned artists. We go to trade shows, listen to lectures, research, put in hours of unpaid practice - just to make sure that on your big day we have done our absolute best to make you feel like the queen you are supposed to be. 

It's an industry where you get what you pay for. Want to look like Kim K or Kate Middleton? No problem, but someone offering $30 makeups is going to make you look more Lindsay L after a big night than Kim  or Kate at their regal best.

So good luck, it's not an easy industry to navigate, I know. There are so many options, so many price points - where do you even start? My suggestion would be to get some trials done. Listen to recommendations of friends. Book in advance - I cannot stress this one enough. Great makeup artists are booked months and months in advance, they're in high demand for a reason. Don't leave your makeup to the last minute or you will have to get your friends neighbour's cousin who once worked in a chemist to do it.

Most importantly, pay your artist what they are worth and don't insult them by trying to negotiate or haggle. We've worked hard to get to where we are. You wouldn't ask a plumber to cut his costs because you spent too much on your table setting, would you? Your mechanic to lower his because petrol is so expensive? It's the same thing.

So there you go, a look at why a little perspective goes a long way when budgeting for your wedding. Hope this has been helpful, and feel free to weigh in below. If you disagree, tell me. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

I don't know about you guys, but more often than not, I want a lip product that applied smoothly, applies a subtle pop of colour that enhances natural lip colour and is easy to top up during the day. Low maintenance, cheap and cheerful and of course, super cute. I don't think I'm asking too much.

I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I'm sure many of you have noticed by now that glossy lip crayons are taking over the makeup sections in your nearby stores. So many brands, so many colours. So where does one start? You swatch them ALLLLLLLLL! All over your arm. And then forget about the line of colours up your arm and walk out of the store. Then about half an hour later you look down and realise your white top has turned into some kind of abstract coloured masterpiece. A smear of hot pink here, coral there, apple red a little bit further over. Yep, that happened. More than once. Just call me Becasso.

So, what did I find during my extensive research other than soaking said top in vinegar is the only way to get the colour (mostly) out? That my favourite ones were not the expensive high end pencils, rather the cheaper Glossy Lip Crayon by Face of Australia.

 They all have similar wear time, slightly different textures and some have higher levels of pigmentation, I guess it really depends on what you are after personally. It's much of a muchness with these products, so don't feel like you have to splurge on a Clinique Chubby Stick when you can get one that works the same for $5. Yep. $5.

Raspberry Coulis, Jam Fancy and Apple Crumble
 The FOA ones all have super cute names, which I love. And make me hungry. The ones I picked out - Apple Crumble, Raspberry Coulis and Jam Fancy (please excuse me while I take a sec to wipe the drool of my keyboard) are all totally wearable and appropriately pigmented to make them a must have handbag item. They apply smoothly, feel very moisturising and don't tend to highlight and lip nasties like dryness or chapped lips. One thing I will mention is that these do have a vanilla scent, so that is something to keep in mind if you react to things like that, or just plain don't like it.

L to R - Raspberry Coulis, Jam Fancy, Apple Crumble
I've been giving these a workout in my kit lately, giving them as a present to the flower girls of bridal parties I've been working on. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't agree with children wearing makeup beyond a bit of gloss, and I'll also lightly apply blush to flower girls so they don't feel left out. And can I just say how much the kids and their parents are appreciating the gift? It makes the kids feel grown up, and they then seen to mimic the lead of the grown ups behaviour wise. Pretty great deal for $5 I say. So if you are looking for a way to start introducing a teen to makeup, this definitely could be the way to go.  

These can be found at Priceline, Big W and Kmart for $4.99 each and the collection currently has 7 colours. 

So, who has tried these? Or a similar one? What are your thoughts? Love it or leave it?
We all want to be rocking luscious lips, all the time, but any girl who has ever flaunted a bold lip can tell you that wearing a statement colour over any period of time takes work, and good, reliable friends will tell you if your lipstick has travelled into no-mans land.

What if I told you that I have a product that is so pigmented and bright, and stays put for hours and hours. You can rub your face, change and try on clothes, drink and (still carefully) eat without having to worry about it wearing off? No way? Let me blow your mind.

These beauties are Lime Crime Velvetines. If you know your makeup, you would know this cult brand, and would absolutely know about their love for the bright and daring. You may have even heard about these bad boys. Velvetines. Ah, why have you taken so long to be in my life?

These apply like a gloss, but be careful not to use too much, and then dry to a spectacular matte finish. We all know how drying and unforgiving matte lip products can be, but these ones don't feel drying at all. It's like paint, for your lips. Once it's on - it's on!

Red Velvet

Pink Velvet

These are super opaque, you don't need a lot, and best of all - no touch-ups required! If you're like me, you'll keep checking the mirror the first time you wear these because you just can't quite bring yourself to trust a product this bright to just stay where it is supposed to go. Stinking hot day? No worries - still there at the end of the day. Going out for a few drinks with friends? Still there. Enthusiastic making out with a spunky boy - Ha! It's not magic, if you're doing this you're still going to need to check and touch up the colour. And maybe provide some makeup remover for the lucky lad - unless you're into the clown look, there's no judgement here. 

Want to see how they look on the lips? Of course you do! (Lips pics aren't mine - taken from the Makeup and Glow site - but I can assure you that the colours are spot on!)

So, now that you've decided you need these in all the colours - you can get them either directly through Lime Crime if you are in the US, or through the faboosh ladies at Makeup and Glow if you're here in Oz. Of course there are other retailers but I got mine from M&G, but go for what's closest to you.

Lime Crime have been teasing us devotees with three new colours - a deep red, a black and chocolate brown - due out next month. They've cutely names these Goth-a-tines.

So, who wants them? Or already has them? What do you think - do you love them as much as I do?
You guys seem to like it when I show you products on a budget that work as well as their pricier counterparts, so I think you are going to like what I have in store for you today.
I've spoken before about a brand called Ulta3 and how much I love their nail polishes and how surprised I was by the quality of them. They have recently revamped their makeup line and the first thing that caught my eye when walking past the new stands were the new lipstick containers. Gone are the cheap-looking plastic tubes and they are replaced with a sophisticated tubes with colour panels on the bottom which is what draws they eye.

You know what else is great about these? The price. $2.99 for the standard colours and $3.99 for the mattes. Yep, that's right, they have a range of matte colours. In a budget line. Awesome, right?

So you want to know how they look right? For the most part - they are terrific. A couple of them need a little work, but overall I was really impressed with the quality, opacity and the wear of them.

L-R: Vixen, Harem Pink(m), Lilac Glow, Orange Crush(m), Pure Chic, Pink Pout(m), Coral Reef

015 - Vixen
Terrific work appropriate colour if you like a little shimmer. Smooth, opaque and easy to work with.

030 - Harem Pink (matte)
This is the first of the three mattes and my favourite of them. While not a true matte lipstick, this can be forgiven because it also does not have the drying qualities most matte lipsticks do. Opacity is fantastic and it's a smooth cream finish.

007 - Lilac Glow
A blue based pink/purple, this one surprised me with it's wear-ability. Definitely not a colour for everyone but still a keeper.

029 - Orange Crush (matte)
Not a fan of this one. I can't say I expected a matte orange to be terrific or flattering but I was intrigued to see what the formula was like. The answer is terrible. Clumpy, a little drying, not opaque at all and building up the colour makes it look worse. There is nothing redeeming about this, and like Harem Pink, it's not actually a matte at all.

051 - Pure Chic
Again, another great work colour to add to the collection. No faults with this one, great application, opacity and wear.

033 - Pink Pout (matte)
This one is just ok, it's a little drying, not actually matte, great colour though.

040 - Coral Reef
I was so disappointed with this one. I was so excited about the colour and was so disappointed with the lack of colour payoff, the texture and the overall finish of the lipstick. Avoid this one.

I want to try a few more of these, definitely some reds, but I highly recommend these as a luxe option for less.

That's it from me today, I was thinking about putting together a post on contouring - is that something you would be interested in getting some insider tips on?
Ok, so here we are with part two of my guide to the best brushes you can get for the best price.

Today we are talking about the face. So let's start with the base. The base is the most important part of a makeup. If you don't have amazing looking skin, then no matter how much colour you apply on top, it's not going to look as good as it could be - so it's important that you are using the right tools to ensure you are getting the best out of the products you use.

You'll need a great foundation brush. You'll use it to apply moisturiser, primer, foundation, blend concealer, pretty much anything you like.

I have lots of these, because my needs change depending on my client, but the one I love the most is the Angle Synthetic Foundation Brush from Crown ($14). I particularly love that the angle of the bristles allows you to get right into the all curves of the face like the nose and around the ears.

A great concealer brush is is also vital. I tend to favour my Sedona Lace Flat Synthetic Brush ($8.95). It's the perfect density to work around the nose, chin and forehead. Around the eyes, I actually use the fluffy blending brush from Gorgeous Cosmetics that I mentioned in the last post. I do love a multipurpose brush, and I find the fluffiness of this one is great for softly blending in cream concealers without highlighting any fine lines.

If you like contouring with creams like I do, you're going to need an amazing buffing brush, and trust me when I say I searched high and low to find this one - the Sedona Lace FB07 ($14.95). The soft, yet extremely dense brush makes buffing and blending a breeze.

A big fluffy brush is always important for powdering down a look, I have two which I love, the Gorgeous Cosmetics Powder Brush ($63) and the Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman Powder Brush ($10). Both work just as well as each other, I prefer the Gorgeous one, because I just like the way it sits in my hand.

One of my favourite brushes is my blush brush which I use for blush, highlight, dusting powder - anything really. It's the Pro Blush 330 from Makeup and Glow ($25.90). It's so soft and fluffy and my my clients always comment on how gentle it feels on their face.

For brows, I always come back to my Royal and Langnickel Silk Brow Brush ($5.99). It's perfect for filling in brows with powder and blending out harsh pencil lines.

Lastly, lips. I use a combination of brushes depending on what I need, but what I'll show you is the one I use the most. The Royal and Langnickel Silk Lip C601-S ($4.99) is a medium sized bullet tipped synthetic brush that holds a great amount of product and provides solid even coverage.

So that's it. All the brushes you need to be a makeup superstar. You may not even need all of them - if you don't like to apply your lipstick with a brush, then don't. I do for hygiene reasons, but if it's just you using your tube of lipstick, then you don't need that one.

That's it for today. Next up I have the last few tools you should have for a flawless face. Once again, the links are below for the brushes discussed.

Angled Foundation Brush
Concealer Brush
Buffing Brush
Pro Blush
Powder Brush (Gorgeous Cosmetics)
Powder Brush (Real Techniques)
Brow Brush
Lip Brush

One of the things I get asked a lot about as a makeup artist is what tools I use, where I get them and why I pay so much for them.

The simple answer is - because you get what you pay for. Being a makeup artist, I can use the best makeup on the market on a client, but if it's applied with brushes and sponges that aren't soft enough, or that shed, or bleed colour, then what's the point?

Like anything in life, if you want quality and durability, you have to pay for it. Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule which I am going to share them with you, but if you are wondering why that set of 40 brushes covered in MAC branding that you bought off eBay for $40 aren't doing as well as you hoped, it probably because (a) they're fake, (b) they're made from the cheapest, harshest materials possible, and (c) you know you've been ripped off, even if it's only deep down.

Let me clear something up for you, if you see a brush set from a professional brand like MAC or Bobbi Brown on eBay like that, walk away. It's fake, substandard and it's going to be a pain in the ass picking off all the hair that will shed like crazy the very first time (and every time after that) that you use them.

While we are at it, let me let you in a on little secret - as a regular consumer, you don't need 40 different brushes. I have hundreds, but I have 5 of the same brush, because I know from plenty of experience that you only need a few brushes to make your makeup look amazing, and I'm going to tell you which ones.

I'm gonna break this down into sections for you guys, so lets start with eyes today.

Eye Brushes

You need to have a stiff flat brush to pack eyeshadow onto the lid - my personal favourite is the C208 Chisel Deluxe Fluff from Crown Brush ($5.45) - cheap and cheerful.

Then you need a brush to blend colour into the corner of the eye and the crease. I use the Pro Pencil Blender 149 ($5.99) from Royal and Langnickel.

You also need something soft and fluffy for blending a soft highlight under the brow bone. I have the B112 Shadow Blended from Gorgeous Cosmetics, but to be honest, that one retails for $41, and I don't love it enough to spend that much on it. I got mine as part of my brush role when I started training.

If I was having to buy another, I would probably go for the Master Pro Tapered Blender from Royal and Langnickel ($9.99)

So you've got all your shadows in place, and now you just need blend it all out right? I love, love, love my Sedona Lace Blender EB13 ($8.95) I know others swear by the MAC 217 ($37) but I've used them both and always go back to the EB13.

To finish off the look, you're going to need liner, but there are so many types of liner brushes out there...
Bent Liner (Sedona Lace EB19 $8.95)

Flat Liner (Crown Italian Badger $4.15)

Angle Liner (Crown Brush Italian Badger $4.35)

So which is the right one? I can't actually tell you that. This one really comes down to personal preference and what you are more comfortable with, I personally will usually fluctuate on what I prefer to use, so I have all three.

So that's it for eyes. 6 brushes, and they don't have to break the budget if you know where to look. If you were to pick up similar brushes from somewhere like, say MAC, you'd be looking at around $48 for the 239, $54 for the 224, $45 for the 219, $37 for the 217, $37 for 263, a total of $221. If you follow my guide, $39.33. That's right, less than $40 for the brushes that will make your life so much easier.

So I hope this has helped out, and I will put links to each brush below.

Angle Liner
Flat Liner
Bent Liner
Chisel Deluxe Fluff
Pro Pencil Blender
Pro Tapered Blender
B112 Shadow Blender
Blender EB13
Are you guys interested in seeing some of my work? Here is some of my really early stuff - a Disney Princess themed burlesque shoot (with a group of insanely talented burlesque dancers!). I'm pretty happy with how this one worked out. I love Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. And I love that they are all easily identifiable as their characters, depite the lack of costume.

So what do you guys think? Let me know if you want to see more of my stuff and I'll keep posting it!

Continuing on with Swatch-a-palooza, here is a glimpse into my pro kit. I have 25 OCC Lip Tars. I had more but they inevitably get stolen on shoots by models and assistants once they realise how awesome they are, the most recent casualty - my black one - Tarred. Very annoying.

I'm not saying you need all these colours, hell you only really need primary colours, a black and white and you can mix any shade you like. I just like having premixed colours so that I don't have to spend as much time mixing, since I can grab something close to the shade I'm after and just add a little to change it depending on my needs.

So lets jump straight into the pictures.

L-R - Feathered, Butch, Chlorophyll, NSFW
As you can see, Feathered is not opaque in comparison to the others and is prone to the mixture separating. I use it only in mixing colours so it's not an issue for me, but if you are looking for a solid white lip colour, this is not the one you are looking for.

Heads up - these stain. Particularly the red NSFW which great for your lips, not so much your arm. I maybe had this one for 3 mins max to get this level of stain.

Tone, Hush, Trick, Uber, Pennyroyal

Devine, Grandma, Kava Kava

Memento, Narcissus, Pretty Boy, Anime

Digitalis, Pageant, Demure, Katricia, Belladonna

The purples also stain and quickly.

The new-ish metallic Lip Tars - Triptych, Electric Grandma, Super NSFW, Authentic. Love these!

One thing I find about OCC Lip Tars is that they can be incredibly drying on lips. I always prime with something really heavy duty like Paw Paw ointment and scrub the lips to remove any dead skin before applying these as they will emphasise dryness. I love that they dry to a matte finish and that once dry, they aren't going anywhere. The downside to this is that some of them stain pretty badly, namely the reds and purples.

A lip liner with these is an absolute must, as is being so careful that you don't use too much. I know some people think I'm exaggerating when I say that I use a pinhead sized drop of product for the whole lip area. I'm not. If you use anymore then that, the product will run and feather and will be a nasty mess. I've found that the people who dislike using Lip Tars and claim they can't see what the fuss is about are the ones who use a little too much.

This is a superb product but one you have to know how to use properly to achieve an amazing look. You need to have prepared your lips, exfoliated, primed and lined, before application.

These are phenomenal value for money at $18 each here and cheaper in the US. These will last a really long time and you can't fault the colour payoff, as you can see above.

My one gripe is that the packaging has a tendency to randomly explode leaving you will a sticky, highly pigmented mess to clean up. Luckily this has never happened to me (touch wood) but I have plenty of makeup artist friends who have lost a tube or two to a colour explosion in their kit. It's a devastating thing. I never leave mine in my main kit for that reason, only packing them when I know I need them. And always in a separate snap lock bag - just in case.

Do you have Lip Tars? Do you love them? Any tips you want to share?