Lisa’s Top Picks of 2011 Part One

I believe it is important to celebrate and give thanks for everything that brings joy to my life.  2011 was a great year, so many things to celebrate!  Not only did Marcia and I get a beautiful new look for our website in 2011, I also discovered many beauty products that I truly love.  I already wrote about the top five cosmetics lines that were brand new for me in 2011 here.

Illuminare Beyond Black Everlasting Eyeliner

In this post, I am detailing my favorite color items for the year, as well as recognizing some of my favorite people.  I tried to be a good girl like Marcia and do a ‘top ten’…or even a ‘top eleven’ for 2011.  But I just wasn’t able to pare it down that far.  “Restraint” has rarely been a word used to describe me, in fact my reputation is a little more along the lines of ‘excess’.  So this is a long post, with lots of pictures…and tons of great recommendations.  (Geez, it was so long I had to break it into two different posts. There’s just so much to celebrate!)  My next post on Saturday will list my favorite skin care, body care, and miscellaneous items.

Here goes, let’s start with my favorite color products of 2011.

Favorite foundation:

My favorite foundation discovery of 2011 is the Dan Read Cosmetics Silver Screen Shimmer Foundation, and my favorite foundation of all time is the matte version.

dan read foundation

Dan Read Cosmetics FOD

To put it simply, nothing else makes my skin look as good.

Favorite blush:

My most favorite blushes of 2011 are the It Cosmetics Vitality Cheek Flush Powder Blush Stains.  The colors are gorgeous and have more pigment than I have EVER encountered, even blowing Nars blush out of the water.

Favorite loose powder:

Once again, It Cosmetics stole my heart with their Bye Bye Pores loose powder.  It’s the very first jar of loose powder I have actually finished!

Favorite concealer:

Wow, I guess 2011 was an It Cosmetics year for me.  The Bye Bye Undereye Concealer continued to be a fabulous choice for covering those pesky blue shades under my very tired eyes.

And I also found that the Full Cover Concealer by Make Up For Ever was perfect for me.  Great coverage, easy to apply, and no mineral oil to dry out the delicate under eye area.

Favorite eyeshadows:

My most favorite Dan Read Cosmetics eyeshadow – Cameo

I love many things from the Dan Read Cosmetics line, and this year I really got into their eyeshadows.  These are real finds – bigger pans than MAC, with terrific pigmentation, texture, and colors.

Ellis Faas eyes

I also loved my Ellis Faas eyeshadows.  The different textures are so much fun to play with, and the colors are amazing.

Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream Eyeshadow eyes

The new Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream Eyeshadows impressed the heck out me – finally, cream eyeshadows that don’t fade or crease on my oily eyelids!!

Vasanti eyes

My favorite loose pigment eyeshadow was by far the Vasanti Shimmer Powder, pictured above in Moon Dust.  Isn’t it a gorgeous color??  I never even put the jar away, it’s always front and center on my vanity because I use it so often.

Inglot eyeshadow look

I can’t neglect to mention Inglot eyeshadows.  Super affordable, amazing array of colors, fabulous pigmentation…what more could a girl ask for, except for maybe even more Inglot eyeshadows for my stash???

Favorite eyeshadow palettes

I definitely found some fantastic eyeshadow palettes this past year, but the one I reach for most is my Kryolan Variety 3 Compact Eyeshadow Palette.  It has everything I need to create a perfect neutral eye look.

Favorite eye liners:

Liquid eyeliners can be tricky, but this past year I discovered Make Up For Ever Aqua Liners and now I use them all the time.  The sturdy brush makes them so easy to apply, and the color is extremely rich and complex.  I love #6 (iridescent navy blue) the most.

My favorite pencils liners are the Tarte emphasEYES aqua gel eyeliner pencils.  They need no sharpening, and they have wonderful color and staying power, even on the waterline.

My favorite cake eyeliner was by far the Face Stockholm Cake Eyeliner in Navy.

Eyes with Face Stockholm Navy Cake Eyeliner

Cake eyeliner is fantastic for tightlining, and the Face Stockholm Navy is a true navy blue that works equally well on the waterline.

Favorite mascara:

I tried lots of great mascaras last year, but the winner was Dior Extase.

Dior Extase Mascara applied

It makes my lashes super long, super thick, and doesn’t smudge.  Plus you gotta love a mascara wand that looks like a medieval torture device.

Favorite lips:

Kryolan Sunrise lip gloss swatch

My favorite lip gloss was the Kryolan High Gloss Brilliant Lip Shine in Sunrise.  It’s just the perfect color for me, and I love the texture and feel of it.

Favorite Brows:

Youngblood Cosmetics Brow Artiste has everything I need for beautifully groomed brows in just seconds.

Youngblood Cosmetics Brow Artiste

I love this set.

Favorite Brush:

My favorite brush this past year was Cargo’s Magic Brush.

Cargo Magic Brush

I felt just like Goldilocks when I realized this brush was not too big, and not too small, but JUST RIGHT.  If I had to choose just one brush, this would be it.

Favorite makeup artist:

It was such a treat to meet Ulrike Bege at the Kryolan City Store in Chicago, and even more of a treat to get a mini-makeover and color advice from her.

She knows her stuff and is just the nicest, sweetest person ever.

Favorite web designer:

As I am sure you have noticed, Beauty Info Zone has a gorgeous new look.  It’s totally thanks to the amazing custom blog design by Cynthia, owner of NW Designs.  Marcia and I saw Cynthia’s designs when we were in Chicago and knew immediately she was the one for us.

She designed our new logo, redid our blog, vastly improved our Facebook and Twitter pages, and put up with a million questions and our general helplessness regarding computer matters.  If you are looking for a website design or redesign, or need a logo or business cards, trust me you want Cynthia!!!

Favorite writing partner:

Why, Marcia of course!  I wish I had the words to really describe Marcia and give you the full picture of just how amazing she is.  Whatever I write seems to fall short, but I am going to give it a shot anyway.

Marcia has the biggest heart of anyone I know.  She always thinks of everyone else, her kindness and thoughtfulness is pretty amazing.  She quietly and bravely suffered through me driving in Chicago, even when I stopped dead in the middle of a five-way intersection and yelled, ‘What the &*%#@!!!!”  She is extremely patient with me and my bazillion activities that leave me way overextended.  She has the best sense of humor, just about every day she says something that has me doubled over with laughter.  Marcia truly defines the word ‘friend’.  Thank you Marcia for yet another year of fabulous fun, I love being your blogging partner and I love you dearly!!!   – Lisa

Dan Read: Interview with a Cosmetic Rock Star

     Dan Read is a rock star.  Yes, he is the creator and owner of Dan Read Cosmetics, one of my all-time favorite cosmetics lines – but he is also a rock star.  For real.

      Dan was born to very creative, talented parents.  His mother was a portrait artist who also designed artwork for album covers in the seventies.  She created album cover art for stars like Eddie Arnolds, Buck Owens, and Elvis.  Speaking of Elvis, Dan’s mom had a real soft spot for him – so she married a man who looked and sounded just like Elvis.  Dan’s father, Ronnie White, had the very first Elvis tribute show.  He so closely resembled Elvis his act eventually opened for superstars like Tina Turner.  At age 16, Dan found himself playing drums onstage with his dad in Las Vegas.  That was only the beginning of a long career in show business.

Ronnie White, Dan's father, as Elvis

Ronnie White during an Elvis Tribute show

Dan went on to become a double bass hard hitting drummer in 1980’s big hair bands in Hollywood.  He was in the band Kingdom Come, and then moved to Bust’er Chops, managed by Eddie Van Halen.

Bust'er Chops - Dan Read is far right

Dan breaking some sticks in Bust'er Chops

Bust’er Chops was getting ready to go on tour, opening for the Stone Temple Pilots in the Monsters of Rock Tour, when the group decided Dan was too pretty. 

Early 80's Dan Read

So Dan was out, and a guy with a less perfect visage was in.  Dan thought he had missed his chance – and then he met up with a former band mate after the tour.  After a short conversation, Dan realized that the bands actually didn’t make a lot of money even with a huge tour (as Dan says, it was ‘rags to recognition’, not ‘rags to riches’).  He decided it was time to create Plan B.

     Dan answered a newspaper ad in the Los Angeles Times for a job cleaning beakers.  The man who placed that ad was none other than makeup legend Joe Blasco, who at that time was just starting his makeup line Joe Blasco Cosmetics.  Dan’s first job was on the Three Stooges lot in Hollywood, CA.  While he started out cleaning toilets, beakers, and sweeping, he was mesmerized by all the cool cosmetics – monster heads, arms, body parts, all the special effects.  Dan quickly graduated to learning how to create compound makeup, and he helped bring the Blasco line to the forefront with the marketing skills learned from playing in the bands.  Dan’s goal was to  promote the Joe Blasco line the way they promote a rock band.

     By 1988 the Blasco line went international.  Dan became the VP of Education, Joe Blasco Makeup Centers Hollywood, creating with makeup during the day, and still drumming in his rock band at night.  Dan worked as the Joe Blasco VP for over 12 years, eventually quitting his band to go to Orlando, Florida to work with Joe opening the Makeup Center East Corporation Headquarters.  Dan put together the very first makeup department for Universal Studios in Florida in 1992. 

Dan Read

     In 1997, Dan launched his own cosmetics line focused on what he knew was coming in 2000 – HD television.  For the past 13 years Dan has been doing his own HD-ready line, he really is the Father of HD makeup.  Dan’s philosophy is glamor makeup that looks natural, not overdone. 

     I asked Dan what he thought was the best part about being a makeup artist. His immediate answer?  “Making people cry.”  Of course he meant cry with happiness!  He loves making port wine stains, lupidermis, vitiglio, rosacea, or any skin condition that causes low self esteem disappear.  He lives to help people feel good about themselves, to be a part of that moment when someone really realizes how just how beautiful they are.   

     Dan has worked with tons of celebrities, including quite a few beauty icons. 

     He did Lauren Bacall’s makeup for the 61st academy awards.  He’s worked with supermodels like Kathy Ireland, with country music stars like Brooks & Dunn and Lori Morgan, and he even did makeup for Elizabeth Taylor.

     Dan has been in the business a long time, but he often feels like David versus Goliath.  He says, “There are far too many celebrity experts in this business who don’t know squat.  People listen to these quack experts and are frustrated when the products don’t work.  My products are based on logic, and they work.”  His DRC line features the famous HD-ready Silver Screen Series Foundation.  This foundation is revolutionary technology in Full Coverage, Clarifying, Comfort Foundation made with almost all powdered ingredients instead of oils and waxes.  It is highly pigmented, so it works as both a foundation and a concealer.  What makes it a truly amazing foundation is that it provides superior, long lasting coverage without powder, yet it’s sheer enough to look completely natural.  It’s also one of the very first foundations to use an organic preservative with no parabens. With Dan Read Cosmetics you will achieve the perfect match for your skin undertones.

Dan Read Silver Screen Series Foundation

      For women with visible wrinkles, Dan recommends using his foundation as both the concealer and the foundation.  The foundation clarifies the skin, it doesn’t settle into lines and it lets the skin breathe.  His foundation perfects the skin and de-emphasizes wrinkles.  When used in conjunction with his fine micro-milled setting powder it minimizes large pores.  To pick the correct shade, there is a great questionnaire on his DRC website.  Shades are based on ancestral background, so you should be able to find your match quickly – and if you can’t, just pick up the phone and give Dan, or one of his highly trained staff, a call. 

    Here’s a big secret for you – Dan is holding a huge celebrity party in Hollywood next month.  It’s by invitation only, and the guest list includes a wonderfully eclectic mix of celebrities like Loni Anderson, Billy Idol, Tommy Lee (of Motley Crue fame), and even George Clooney.  That’s an invitation list I would pay to be on!

     These days Dan is known as the ‘Modern day Max Factor’, and is one of the  most sought after makeup artists in film and television.  He’s continued his career in music too, he just finished his latest CD album with Russell and Hop.

Russell and Hop. Dan Read is pictured far left.

Dan Read is still a rock star, in every sense of the phrase.   – Lisa

Dan Read, still breaking sticks.

Zuca Pro: the ultimate cosmetics storage solution

Many Beauty Info Zone readers are professional makeup artists. And many readers have a personal stash that just rivals a makeup artist! Regardless, we all love cosmetics, and with that love comes storage issues. It’s not easy to find a practical, portable, easy to use system that works for both your professional and personal life. So I was absolutely thrilled when Zuca sent us a Zuca Pro ($295) to try – and it turned out to be even more fabulous than I could have imagined. 

Zuca Pro with cover

Storage is an investment. At almost $300, the Zuca Pro is not a casual purchase. As such, I have included tons of pictures in this review to show exactly what your hard-earned money will buy you. 

In the past I have wasted so much money on big makeup cases that ended up being huge, unmanageable buckets. Now, I am picky, picky, picky about storage options.

Top view, Zuca Pro with cover

The Zuca Pro is many things:  a train case, carry-on bag, storage organizer, and backless seat all in one. It’s a favorite of many celebrity makeup artists, including one of my most favorite artists, Victoria Stiles.  

The Zuca Pro comes in many different colors including red, dark blue, gray, Merlot, light blue, black, and pink. The two pictures above show the Zuca Pro along with its removable, washable cover.

Zuca Pro side view without cover

Here is the Zuca Pro without the cover. I love the stylish, uber-cool look. The nylon bag is surrounded by an aluminum alloy frame that is light-weight, yet strong – the bag can be used as seat holding up to 300 lbs. The Zuca Pro measures 19″ tall, 13″ long, and 10″ wide – and fits absolutely perfectly in an airplane’s overhead bin. Without any product inside except the empty accessories, it weighs a light 12 lbs.

Zuca Pro top view, seating area

Here is a view of the top. I actually use this as my seat for my vanity at home. When I go to freelance makeup artist jobs, I can bring all my products and my very own seat at the same time.

Zuca Pro with telescoping handle

It has a telescoping handle that extends up to 41 1/2″.  It’s easy to stack other carry on bags on top of this one, which is a very convenient traveling option. The 4″ light-weight polyurethane wheels roll silently and are great shock absorbers. Because the wheels are recessed, it meets FAA specs for carry-on baggage.

Zuca Pro large side zip pocket

The storage in this bag is just terrific. It has a huge zippered side pocket on two sides. Inside is a removable, washable insert bag made of water-resistant ballistic nylon.

Zuca Pro side small zip pocket

Above the large zippered pocket is a smaller zippered pocket.

Zuca Pro info/business card pocket

The back has two more storage pouches, as well as a clear pocket for your business cards. The cover is secured with velcro.

Zuca Pro inside mesh storage pockets

Here are the mesh pockets inside the front opening. These are simply perfect for brushes. I used to keep some of my brushes in old Stila cans (which left them vulnerable to  dust), as well as in various rolls and cases. Now, I keep them all in my Zuca Pro. I just unzip the door, pick out the ones I want to use that day, and then return them to their safe, sanitary storage.  Behind the mesh pockets is a removable, 1 quart toiletry bag that meets all FAA specs. 

Zuca Pro inside

Here is the inside storage space without the packing pouches.  It’s really an incredible amount of room.

Zuca Pro packing pouches empty

These are the five packing pouches that come with the Zuca Pro. They have two carrying handles, one on the longer side and one on the shorter side, as well as a side area for labeling.  The pouches stack like drawers inside the Zuca Pro. Two of the pouches measure 9.5″x10.5″x5, one pouch is 9.5″x10.5″x3, one is 9.5″x10.5″x2, and one is 9.5″x8″x3.

Zuca Pro packing pouches full of products

Here are my packing pouches after I filled them with my favorite cosmetics. I still have other storage drawers with products, but I put my most used items in my Zuca Pro. Every morning I just pull out what I want to use, and if I have a freelance job or need to travel, I am always packed and ready!

My Zuca Pro packing pouch for primers and concealers

I put my favorite primers and concealers in this pouch.

My Zuca Pro packing pouch for foundations

I filled this pouch with my favorite foundations, ones that are currently in heavy rotation for me.

My Zuca Pro packing pouch for blushes

This pouch has all my favorite blushes, both cream and powder, plus bronzers as well.

My Zuca Pro packing pouch for eyeshadows

I put some of my current favorite eyeshadow singles and small palettes in this pouch, as well as mascaras. 

My Zuca Pro packing pouch for eyeliners

And in my last pouch, I put my favorite eyeliners. There’s plenty of room for gel liners, pencils, and liquid liners of all shapes and sizes.

Zuca Pro with full packing pouches stacked inside

Here is what my Zuca Pro looks like with my full packing pouches stacked like drawers. The labeling area on the fronts of the pouches is easily visible. As you can see, even with all those cosmetics there is still plenty of room for other things like body products and hair care.

Zuca Pro information card

The Zuca Pro comes with great information cards. You can push or pull the Zuca, carry it by its top handle, and remove the cover for cleaning or to change its look. 

Zuca use and care card

Here you can see how the Zuca Pro is used as a portable seat.  Plus, it goes up and down stairs so easy, and it’s terrific for stacking other bags on top when traveling.

The Zuca Pro can obviously be used for other things besides cosmetics storage. It’s a great alternative to a backpack.  Hauling sports equipment is no longer a hassle. You can pack tons of clothes in this baby and not have to check a bag at the airport. No seats while you wait for your plane? No problem with a Zuca Pro. And best of all, it protects your back. Oh, and it has a lifetime warranty. 

Overall, the Zuca Pro is a real winner. Whether you need something for your professional jobs, or you just want a great organizer for home, the Zuca Pro is one terrific buy that I can’t recommend highly enough. – Lisa 

(Stay tuned, because it also looks like we may have a Zuca Pro to give away next month!!)

Learning from a star in the business

When I first went into selling cosmetics I was lucky enough to be trained by a star in the field. Her name is Monique Zafarana and at the time she was freelancing for Paula Dorf. In spite of my short time selling the line we remained friends and I made sure that I went to her for advice and sales pretty often. She is currently living in Arizona and working for Lancome. I’ve asked her to be a guest blogger so that we can all learn from her expertise.

Monique is working at the Neiman Marcus store at 6900 East Camelback Rd in Scottsdale, AZ. Her phone number there is 480-990-2100 Ext. 2119. You can contact her there to purchase anything that Neiman sells and I promise if you mention my name she’ll bend over backwards for you. (Won’t you Monique???) You can also see her work at She does fabulous work as a freelance artist. I can attest to that.  — Marcia

What made you go into the world of makeup artistry? How long have you worked in the field?

My first memory of make up was watching my mother apply hers in the 80’s. It was such a glamorous time, I was always mesmerized. As I got older I started experimenting on myself and friends. I was hooked. I have been in the fashion and make up industry over 15 years.

Which lines have you worked for?

I have worked for and freelanced for several lines over the years to name some:  Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier, Paula Dorf, MAC, Armani and Lancôme.

What are the products from Lancôme that you’d recommend to readers?

I have always loved Lancôme’s skincare. The entire Absolue family is amazing; Absolue Precious Cells is a great repairing line. The line is great for those who have kept care of their skin and for those that haven’t.

What is the most interesting item that’s brand new for Lancôme?

The newest addition to Lancôme’s skincare family is Genifique. Genifique is a youth activating serum that slows down and reverses signs of aging. Your skin gets some instant results and it works well with make up.

What are the must haves from Armani?

–         Luminous Silk foundation

–         Fluid Sheers (can be used as highlighters or blush depending on the color you choose)

What other products are ones that you personally can’t live without?

–         Bobbi Brown Bisque concealer corrector

–         Sisley lip and eye balm

–         Laura Mericier Sun Dust loose bronzer

–         Paula Dorf eye primer

–         Definicils mascara

If you could own any one product from any brand,regardless of price, what would it be?

La Mer the body cream…AMAZING!!!

Big thanks to Monique for turning us on to the best of the best.