Don’t be afraid to go theatrical: Graftobian Cosmetics

In June 2009 Lisa and I were lucky enough to be able to go to California for the IMATS show. We had a blast at the show and with our makeup buddies that weekend. Besides oohing and aahing about our wonderful hostess’ home we also had to ooh and aah over her makeup collection. One thing we noticed was her Graftobian Stainless Steel Mixing Palette. Neither of us owned this and of course we needed to know what it was. And obviously we had to search for it right away at the IMATS show.  It’s easily the least expensive and most used item that she influenced us about. (Thank you Patty.) I use my palette every single day. I spray my Aerominerale foundation on it. I pump my liquid foundations on it before picking it up with my Beauty Blender sponge. I like pumping out some foundation and then adding a drop or two of Armani Fluid Sheer and mixing it on my palette. I’ve mixed colors on it (like OCC Lip Tars).  You’ll notice both Lisa and I mentioning it in passing in many of our blog posts. My only mistake with this 3 x 4.5 inch handy dandy stainless steel palette is not knowing that I should have bought the Flat Mixing Stainless Spatula to help mix cream products. It’s already on my list for next year’s IMATS or my next order from Graftobian.

Graftobian has been around since the late 70’s creating makeup for stage and special effects. I remember when my son was in his early teens and all he cared about was creating gorey, bloody scenes for his “movies” with his friends. Graftobian was the company that he begged me to buy from for all the adhesives, blood and trauma items.

Who knew that almost 20 years later I’d be shopping there for cosmetics! Graftobian is an American company that uses FDA approved ingredients that are fragrance free, lead free and formaldehyde free. No testing on animals. It’s a great company to support.

The prices of Graftobian are not to be believed. I’ve already blogged about the eyeliner pencils since they are great and so reasonably priced ($3.49)!  Now you need to know about the incredible Creme Rouges. I’m so impressed with these. They are only $4.49 and have the most exceptional pigment. They are about the size of a MAC eyeshadow. You need the tiniest amount so they will last forever. I’ve used these a lot since I got them but I need such a small amount that I still don’t have dips in the two I have (Warm and Rose) so I’m able to use my finger tip but once there’s a dip – well that handy dandy Stainless Steel palette will be coming into use! The Cream Rouges are very dry to the touch but they blend so readily. I have no problem at all blending these on my cheeks and they last wonderfully, even in this extremely hot summer. They don’t sink into my pores. Warm is a shade I can use any day, with any eye or lip look. It just looks like a natural blush shade on me. Rose adds a beautiful “out of the cold” look to my cheeks. Cream Rouge comes in 6 colors – there’s also Bronze Blush Light, Bronze Blush Dark, Coral Blush and True Red Blush. You could have a wardrobe of these for less than the cost of a single Nars blush.

But don’t stop with the palette and the Crème Rouges, add in some of the terrific eyeshadows. There are 3 different formulas that I’ve used and can recommend them all: Ultrasilk Matte, Mineral and FantasEyes. The most intense are the FantasEyes ($11.99 pot, $8.50 refill). The colors are bright and vivid yet very wearable. I have the tamest shade in Brown Café and it’s a great chocolate that I can use as a shadow or liner. Ultrasilk Matte Eye Shadows come in 10 beautiful shades and are great for picture taking since they have a non-reflective finish ($9.99 pot, $7.50 refill). There are only 6 shades of the Mineral Eye Shadows ($11.99 pot, $8.50 refill) and all are fabulous. I have this in Dusty Violet and it’s a winner.

We’ll be sharing a Graftobian eyeshadow, a lipstick and some liners in a future contest but until then I really think you need to investigate this line on your own.When you first hear that a line like Graftobian is a theatrical line you might be afraid of what you’ll find. Don’t be afraid! What you get is quality and long lasting color. — Marcia

Some items in this post were sent for review consideration. Please see our disclosure statement.

The Secret to Perfect Skin – and Perfect Cheekbones, too: Covermark

I think that Covermark is my favorite discovery of 2010 so far – it’s a fabulous niche line that doesn’t get nearly enough attention as it deserves.

Earlier this year I reviewed the foundation and the leg cover products, you can check that post out here.  Lately I have tried out a few more products, and I am extremely impressed with them.

Covermark is best known for their products that are able to camouflage any sort of  imperfection in a way that looks totally natural.  I was so impressed with the foundation, I had high hopes for the concealer.  Coverstik ($15) is made with the same formulation as the foundation, but it’s in bullet lipstick form which makes it easy to get to under eye circles and specific areas on the face.

It is waterproof and has a somewhat creamy texture, so it is easy to blend.  I find the coverage to be medium, which works well when you are also using a full coverage foundation.  I am a MAC NW23, and I f ound the True Beige to be a perfect match for me.  This is a great concealer, love the portable nature, I put this in my purse so I always have some concealer on hand.

If you are into contouring, you should check out the Shade Cream ($14).

Anyone who uses full coverage foundation basically erases their natural shades and contours.  The Shade Cream is a fabulous way to put some contours back into your face.  It’s a medium brown shade cream, and you just smooth some onto the hollows of your cheeks, or down the sides of your nose, or wherever you need some contouring.  I used to use MAC Cream Color Base in Root, but I found that to be a bit too sticky.  The Shade Cream is the perfect texture – super smooth so it’s easy to blend out, but tenacious enough to stick around for the day.

For highlighting, I really like Graftobian’s Medium Cream Highlighter.  It’s only $4.49, and for highlighting it’s fantastic.

Between this and the Covermark Shade Cream, you can highlight and shade your face to perfection – and it doesn’t take much time at all.    For reference, here is an excellent chart showing how to highlight and contour, just click the image to enlarge:

While it may seem complicated, it really isn’t.  You just need to take a half hour or so to practice, and once you find what works for you, it takes minutes to highlight and contour.  Have fun!  – Lisa

Disclosure: Items in this review were submitted for consideration. It does not affect the outcome of the review. Please see our disclosure statement for information.

Eye can see you

I am eyeliner obsessed. Even when I find ones I just love I can’t resist getting others that I’ve heard raves about. Here’s the latest that I couldn’t resist.

Avon GLIMMERSTICKS Diamonds Eye Liner: These were on sale for $2.99 (regularly $6) and I had just read a blog post raving about them. Once I found a good code for free shipping I ordered them in 4 shades: Twilight Sparkle, Sugar Plum, Black Ice, and Smokey Diamond. These are skinny eyeliners that are 5 inches long so they easily fit in a cosmetic case.  Glimmersticks don’t have to be sharpened since they roll up and are retractable which is another cosmetic case plus. The one problem is if you like a very sharp point you won’t get it after a while but they are so thin that I don’t find that to be a problem. Each of these has a  bit of shimmer to them. I think they are beautiful! Twilight Sparkle is more of a cobalt blue than a navy. I like this shade the best since it’s not like other blues I own. I like wearing it when I wear browns on my eye because it makes the color really pop. Black Ice is a deep dark black with silver shimmer, Smokey Diamond is charcoal with silver shimmer, Sugar Plum is a bright plum. These glide on and they wear beautifully. They also come in Brown Sugar and Emerald Glow. This is a rave!

At the same time I bought a regular Glimmerstick  in Cosmic Brown since the site didn’t have Brown Sugar in the Diamonds Eye Liner. It goes on just as smoothly and is great for everyday since it doesn’t have the glitz of the Diamonds Eye. Watch the catalogs for sales on these.

Milani Liquif-Eye is another  I couldn’t resist after reading about them. Milani is carried at CVS and I had some CVS bucks so it was a true bargain for me. I’ll go back for more. They retail for $5.49 and CVS often has specials. Liquif-Eye comes in 5 shades. I bought it in Brown. Even though it’s called a Metallic Eye Liner Pencil I personally don’t see the metallic in the color. But it’s a beautiful rich brown that applies so smoothly. Once it’s set it lasts beautifully on me. A lot of times with pencils I’ll find that they disappear on my bottom lashline during the day but Milani’s lasts wonderfully. It’s called Liquif-Eyes but it’s not a liquid, it just applies as smoothly as a liquid would. It’s also 5 inches long so another great one to carry with you. It comes in 5 shades: Brown, Black, Silver, Gold and Aqua.

Julie Hewett “Too Good to be True” Soot eyeliner is a very dark black eyeliner. It sharpens to a very precise point so it’s easy to get a thin line with it. When it’s freshly on it’s easy to smudge this eyeliner but it sets well and lasts well on my upper lashline. Since my eyes water often I don’t find this perfect for my lower lashline but that’s not a problem since I often use a lighter shade or eyeshadow on the bottom. If you are looking for precision than this is definitely one to consider.  Her eyeliners ($15) are available in Dahlia, Smudge, Fig, Patine, Aurora (white) and Soot. When ordering from Julie Hewett if you aren’t sure about the colors of these items, just call them. They are very happy to help describe shades.

Graftobian Eye Pencils are a bargain and a half. These are longer eyeliner pencils and are only $3.49. Graftobian makes theatrical makeup so you know these are made to last. I wear this in dark brown and it’s a great basic brown eyeliner. They also make some fabulous Luster Pencils for $4.49. These are so much fun to use. The colors are gorgeous: Silver Sparkle, Gold Glimmer, Copper Class, Lovely Lilac, Azure Blue.  Both the regular line of Eye Pencils and the Luster Pencils come in lip shades for the same price.

This is just an example of the many eyeliners I have and am obsessed with. I know you’ll hear from me again about eyeliners, maybe I’ll even share my nightmares about me and eyeliner some day! — Marcia

Disclosure: Some items in this article were sent for review purposes. Please see the disclosure for our policy.

Primed for Trish McEvoy

I don’t know about you, but I have some seriously oily eyelids.  If I put eyeshadow on without a primer, it’s gone gone gone by lunch time.  Eyeshadow primer is an absolute necessity for me.  I had one that was just perfect, and I loved it so much…but then it was discontinued.  Don’t you HATE that???  I have been floundering ever since to find a replacement that works just as well as my old favorite.

I have finally found what I was looking for – Trish McEvoy Eye Base Essentials ($24.00)  in Bare.  This product does everything that a good eyeshadow base should do – it evens out the eyelid skin tone, it holds the eyeshadow color true all day, and it prevents creasing.   Also, by evening the skin tone, it really brightens the eye area, especially for those of us with darkness around the eyes.

This primer comes in a tube with a sponge tip applicator.  I think a mistake that many people make with primer is they use too much.  Do this, and your eyeshadow will most definitely crease, even worse than if you used none at all.  I don’t apply the Trish primer with the applicator because it deposits too much product.  Instead, I just wipe the applicator on my Graftobian Steel Palette, which keeps the primer nice and hygienic as it’s not touching any skin.  Then, I pick up a bit of the primer with my finger and pat it over my lids.  You just want to have a nice, thin, even coat.  After that, I apply my eyeshadow, and it lasts all day with no creasing.

Here are my eyes with just the Eye Base on them:

Now, here are my eyes in the morning with the Eye Base and then eyeshadow over that (MAC All That Glitters, Tempting, and Phloof!, lined with MAC Black Russian):

And here they are, 14 hours later:

When I was testing this, I even tried it with Bobbi Brown eyeshadows.  My skin does not react well to Bobbi’s powder products – they oxidize on me like crazy, and the eyeshadows in particular end up blurring together and becoming a big mud pile by the end of the day.  So I used the Trish eye primer, then used Bobbi Brown Bone as a wash, with Chocolate in the crease.  I got home that night, looked in the mirror, and could not believe what I saw.  My eyeshadow was still perfect – great color, still perfectly blended, and NO creases!!

This is a really great primer.  I love how it comes in six different shades, so you can really get a good match to your skintone.  You can also use this as an eyeshadow for a great natural look.  If you have any issues at all with creasing eyeshadow or losing color, you should definitely check this one out.  – Lisa

Disclosure: Some items in this article were sent for review purposes. Please see the disclosure for more information.

Face and Leg Magic with Covermark

Here I am.  No makeup, nothing, completely bare faced.  A pretty frightening sight if you ask me!  But when I read about what Covermark Face Magic Foundation is supposed to do, I thought it was essential to show a true before and after, regardless of how humbling and embarrassing it may be.

Covermark is billed as the World’s First Camouflage Foundation.  I will admit, I prefer my foundations to be medium to full coverage.  I just have too much to even out – freckles, hyper pigmentation, dark under eye circles…a light coverage foundation just doesn’t do it for me.  So, I like to look like my skin is perfect – but not so perfect that it looks like a mask, you know what I mean?  I want something that can be built up, so I can get more coverage where I need it.  And, I want something that really lasts all day.  I also don’t want to be too matte or too shiny.  Pretty demanding, huh?  Oh, and an SPF of at least 20 is even better.  Covermark Face Magic does have an SPF of 20, and is highly pigmented so you only need a small amount to cover any sort of skin issue, including: blemishes, uneven skin discoloration, blotchy skin, freckles, age spots, bruising, broken capillaries, spider veins, Vitiligo, Lupus & even Rosacea.

Here I am, after applying just the foundation.  (I am MAC NW23 and I used True Beige).  As you can see, it evened out my complexion completely – freckles, hyper pigmentation, even the dark circles under my eyes.  I found it was easy to apply.  I put a little bit of the thick, creamy foundation on my Graftobian steel palette, then used my Beauty Blender and bounced, bounced, bounced the foundation onto my skin.  I found it to be easily buildable in areas that needed more coverage, and it gave me a great look – not too perfect, too matte, or too shiny.  Because this is a camouflage foundation, it can give you a bit of a one-dimensional look.  What I used to help with that was the Medium Cream Highlighter from Graftobian.

This is a terrific product for highlighting and sculpting, and  doubles as a great concealer – and it’s only $4.49!!

And here I am, with full makeup on.  I found that this foundation wore incredibly well throughout the day, needing absolutely no touch ups after 8 hours of wear.   I even had a chiropractor appointment where they put these heating pads on my back, and I was sweating like crazy from the heat.  I was sure my makeup would be trashed…but it looked just perfect.  The waterproof claim holds up!  If you have issues with uneven, patchy, blemished, or aging skin, you really should give this a whirl.  It’s in my top five foundations now.  And at $16.00 for a tube, it’s extremely affordable!!!

Next, I tried the Leg and Body Magic that Covermark sent.   This was just as amazing.  If you have veins, red marks, bruises, stretchmarks, or tattoos to conceal, look no further.  Here is a birthmark of mine:

And here it is after the Leg and Body Magic was applied:

Great stuff!  And again, super affordable at only $18.00 for a large 2.25 oz. tube.  Next I think I want to try the Coverstik and the Shade Cream.  I think this is my favorite find so far this year!  – Lisa

Disclosure: Some items in this article were sent for review purposes. Please see the disclosure for more information.

How I am able to blush all day

I have a really strange problem.  Blush just does not stay on my skin.  I mean it’s bizarre – even if I apply a blush with a heavy hand, half hour later the color is GONE.   After many years of trial and error, I have finally discovered a few tips and tricks to help make my blush last through an entire work day.

Here is what I have found that works for me.

1.  I need to have the right primer. Primer is essential if you have skin that doesn’t hold product well, and all primers are not made alike.  I have tried tons of primers, and I find that these two actually make a difference in terms of lasting power for my blush:

Kevyn Aucoin Primer – it’s a tiny bottle, and very expensive, so I use as little as I can get away with.  But when I use this primer, my blush lasts through the day ($42.00).

Lips2Kiss Fabulous Facial Primer – this company is amazing, they have the best products for those of us with thin lips/lines around the mouth, but that’s for another post.  A product this line carries that works  really terrific for me is the primer.  It does have silicone in it, so be aware – but it also is great at making your makeup last and last ($29.00).

2.  I need to use a gel or cream blush first. I apply my foundation, and then put on my gel or cream blush.  I love the Sonia Kashuk Synthetic Flat Blusher Brush ($14.50) the best for this, it’s the perfect size and blends like a dream. 

In my opinion, the very best gel blush is Origins Pinch Your Cheeks ($11.00).

You just need a teeny amount, and you have a fabulous glow that will NOT come off.  Great colors to choose from, too.  Put a tiny bit on a stainless steel mixing palette, my favorite is from Graftobian (such a bargain at $6.49, I use this all the time),

and dip the brush in the gel, then apply to the cheeks.  Don’t use your fingers with this gel, because they will get stained!

My favorite cream blush is by Mehron.

Mehron is a theatrical makeup line, so their products are extremely pigmented.  They are super affordable, too – one of these blushes is only $4.95.  I think Mehron Blushtone Cheek Rouge is a must have.

3.  I need to use a loose powder over the gel or cream blush, and then apply a complimentary powder blush over top. That is how I ‘seal the deal’ and truly make my blush last all day.  Even at that, some powder blushes work better than others for me.  I find that Nars blushes are the absolute best, with Shu Uemura running a close second.

It might sound complicated, but really it’s as easy as 1…2…3 – and then I am blushing all day long.  – Lisa