How Life Coach Training Changed My Life

As a makeup and hair artist, I work with a lot of coaches. I’ve done beauty for hundreds of personal branding shoots for life, business, success, and health coaches. Every time I would work with one of these women, I would be amazed at how much they loved their work, and the positive and inspirational vibe I would get just from being around them. I was intrigued to learn more about coaching, but I wasn’t sure it was for me. I was an artist, and I didn’t see how coaching would fit into my business, or if I would be any good at it.

Then last year, as I was preparing to launch my photography business, my dear friend and client Sarah Jenks told me I should consider going through a coach training program. She felt it would really add to my work as an intimate portrait photographer, and help me work with my clients at a much deeper level. Plus, as you can imagine, being photographed, whether you’re in lingerie or fully clothed, can bring up a lot of shit you have around body image. She told me that having training around working with women through these challenges could be really transformative for them, and for myself as a photographer.

I still had doubts as to whether I wanted to be a coach, and if I would be good at it. But I decided to look into a program and learn more about it. A year prior I had talked to my dear friend Katie DePaola about her company, Inner Glow Circle. At the time I wasn’t ready to even think about becoming a coach, but now that I was open I decided to look into it further.

I felt drawn to Inner Glow Circle, or IGC because they were all about creating sisterhood and a supportive, empowering place where you could not only learn to be a powerful coach, but learn the business structures of creating your dream business. After many, many nights of wondering if I could really do this, I decided to jump in.
 

Going through coach training was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And not because the material was hard to learn, or there was so much work, or I didn’t enjoy it. But because it brought up all of my shit- all the things I had to face about my self doubts, fears, and negative thoughts about myself. And I had to be vulnerable in front of 9 women I had never met before. It seriously scared the shit out of me. 

I wanted to quit after the first month and go back to my ignoring my issues and fears. But Katie and Olivia, my trainer, were so great and supportive when I told them I wanted to quit. They helped me see that it was my fears and resistance to making changes that was making me want to quit. That by sticking with the training, I could address and release these fears, and make the changes I wanted to make in my life, even if I never even became a coach. They helped me realize that I could walk away from the program, but if I never took any big risks to growth and achieving my dreams, how long would it take me to make these dreams happen, if ever?

It had me realize that I had been playing it safe for way too long, and that I was going to have to shake things up if I wanted to make big, lasting changes for the better in my life. So I stayed in the program, and faced my fears of not doing it right, or not being a good coach, or not being able to help people.

And now, I am SO glad that I did, and got my Life Coach Certification in May. (Woo hoo!). Not only am I certified and trained to coach women to be happier, be more confident, and live more fulfilled lives, but I also learned so much about myself along the way. Because, along with all the training and knowledge you get about coaching, one of the benefits of the program is you get free coaching for yourself!

So here’s what I learned and how becoming a coach changed my life:

  1. It made me get clear on what wasn’t working in my life, and how I wanted to feel about myself. I was able to recognize and voice what wasn’t working anymore, and the negative talk that I had been sabotaging myself with.
  2. It helped me get clear on what I really wanted in my life and to dream big, like really big. I knew I wanted to live a life I loved, but I hadn’t really gotten clear on what that looked like. So I got clear with my vision, and dreamed bigger than I had allowed myself before.

  3. It made me trust myself and my intuition more. I learned that I didn’t have to know a script to use on my calls, or memorize all the right questions. I could trust my intuition on what to ask, and how to guide the session, and it would be exactly what my client needed.

  4. It made me realize all the things I was good at, and feel proud to share my gifts with others. I hadn’t ever thought about what I was good at, and admitted all those gifts out loud. Once I sat down and wrote out all of my talents, I realized that I had a lot to offer my clients, and I was gifted at many things.

  5. It helped me feel more confident in myself and have better self esteem. It helped me realize that I know enough, I am enough, and I have enough, just as I am right now.

  6. It gave me a deeper sense of fulfillment and meaning in my work. Instead of my work being about taking pretty photos, it helped me to guide my clients through a transformational experience, one where they walk away feeling beautiful, confident, and in love with themselves.

Going through my coach training really changed my outlook on myself and my life for the better. Even if I had decided I wasn’t going to become a coach, the training, knowledge, skills, support, and sisterhood would have been worth the investment as a way to grow and uplevel in my life.

If you’ve ever thought about becoming a coach, or are a coach and want to deepen your skillset and grow your business, or you want to have deeper tools to use in your corporate job, I invite you to check out Inner Glow Circle. Their Fall training classes start in October.

Plus, if you sign up before August 31 with the code FALLGLOW, you get all these amazing bonuses!

* $600 off the tuition price

* 1 month of early IGC mastermind access (sisterhood, training calls, and mastermind support!)

* 1 on 1 session with Founder and super coach Katie DePaola

* 2 different payment plans to choose from, or $300 off if paid in full.

Also, if you sign up through my link you’ll also get a 1 on 1  coaching session with me! (Just forward me your sign up confirmation and we’ll schedule your session.)

If you’re wanting to make big changes in your life, your career, or your existing business, and coaching is something that intrigues you, then check out Inner Glow Circle. It will seriously change your life.

Xo,

Melissa

P.s. If you have any questions about the program or my experience with it, leave me a comment below and ask your questions! I’m happy to help answer them as best I can.

*I am a proud ambassador of Inner Glow Circle, and I will receive a commission if you sign up through my link, at no extra cost to you. I only support and recommend products and programs that I have experienced first hand and truly believe in.

Love Your Breasts

If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw I posted a couple photos of my shoot with Sarah Jenks for a collaboration with True & Co bras. Sarah had just written a beautiful post about the relationship she has had with her breasts, and it made me think about my own relationship with my breasts and my body. (You can read Sarah’s post HERE.)

From high school and on, I always felt like I was fat and needed to be on a diet. My weight has fluctuated up and down for years, and I’ve yo-yo’ed from being on ridiculous diets to eating really unhealthy and binge drinking. The times when I felt like I was my “ideal weight”, I got there through extreme exercising, under-eating, and diet pills. When I was in my 20s, Hydroxycut and ephedra were my best friends. When I was in my 30s, I was in the gym 6 days and week and binge drinking and eating late night fried foods all weekend. And then I would feel terrible about myself for eating so bad. Needless to say, I wasn’t very healthy, and I still found things to pick apart about myself and my body.

After a few years of starving myself and taking too many diet pills, I swung the other way and went back to partying, eating fatty foods, and not exercising very much. Since then, my weight pendulum continued to swing back and forth for years. And as I continued to treat my body terribly, I was always telling her what was wrong with her and needed to be fixed. I hated my thighs, thought my breasts were too small and then too big, my stomach wasn’t flat enough, my butt too big...and the list went on. No matter how I looked, I always thought I could look better.

It took me years to be at peace with my body. And it started with meeting and working with Sarah Jenks though her Live More Weigh Less program. I learned to be kind to my body, to tell her she’s beautiful, and to feed her with healthy foods. I learned to love my body and my boobs at the size they are now, and not obsess over the size I wish they were.

When Sarah asked me to photograph her in her home, wearing her favorite True & Co bras to celebrate her breasts and her body, I was so excited. To do a shoot that was all about being comfortable in your own skin is always inspiring to me. And I love that it shows that wearing a bra that fits you and makes you feel like you look good gives you an extra boost of confidence to love yourself even more.

So here are some of my favorites from our shoot together. I hope they inspire you to celebrate your body in the size she is now, and treat her to some pretty and comfortable lingerie.

Hair, makeup and photos by me. Model- Sarah Jenks. Bras by True & Co. 

 

 

 

From Darkness to Light- My Self Portrait Series

Like many women, ever since I was young I struggled with feeling pretty or confident in myself. I would often look in the mirror and think of all the things I wanted to change. I would say things to myself like, "when my teeth are straight and perfect, when my thighs aren’t so big, when my boobs are bigger, when my hair is longer, then I’ll be pretty".

But even after the braces came off, my boobs grew, and I was at my thinnest weight, I would find other things to criticize about myself. I was never happy with who I was and what I looked like.

After a LOT of personal work, coaching, and changing the way I view my body, I’m in a better relationship with myself.

But these negative thoughts still enter my mind at times. Sometimes it’s after I see a woman who is super successful in her business and I feel frustrated that I’m not at the level that I want to be. Sometimes it’s when I’m scrolling through Instagram and see these young, gorgeous bloggers who look so fabulous in their photos and I think, I’m not as pretty or as young as her. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others when you’re looking at their pretty, shiny lives on social media. And sometimes the fear creeps in, that I won't be good at my art, or successful in my business.

During these times I remind myself that I’m on my own journey to happiness, and I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Even though I get frustrated that I’m not making the amount of money I used to at my soul sucking corporate job, or that it feels like I’m starting over again in my career as I’m transitioning to photography, I know that this is my path to creating the success and life that I want. Even when times are tough and I feel swallowed up by the darkness, I know the light is coming.

One of the ways I’ve been working through the doubts and negative thoughts about myself and my life was to start a Self Portrait project. It was my way to challenge myself to get comfortable being in front of the camera, and find beauty and peace in photos of me. And it’s also been a way to express my feelings and share a piece of myself.

This self portrait series I’m sharing with you today represents the last 6 months of my life. I wanted to show some of the chaos I’ve felt, and how the dark times that I was feeling stuck in finally gave way to light.

These self portraits are part of my journey and expression, kind of like a visual journal. As I do more, I’ll continue to share with you.

I've been feeling so much more positive about the future, and more confident in myself as an artist and a woman. I feel excited now about where I'm going, and the life I'm creating for myself.

Thank you for witnessing my journey.

I’d love to hear from you now. How do you get rid of negative thoughts and self doubts? And how do you express yourself and your feelings as a way to share your vulnerability with others? Leave me a comment below.

 

 

A Gift of Self Love

When I first started my journey as a photographer, I knew I wanted to focus on doing portraits of women. I loved doing fun, lifestyle type photos, but what really moved my soul was boudoir and intimate portraits of women. As a hair and makeup artist, I had seen the transformation happen during these shoots when the woman looked at herself in the mirror after her hair and makeup were complete, and also in the final images. The emotion and soul that intimate portraits can show is so beautiful and life changing.

As I was starting to build my portfolio, I began to think of inspiring women I knew that I wanted to photograph. One woman stood out in particular for me, my good friend Michelle Long of Bloom Retreat. Michelle is a beautiful woman who is not only an amazing business woman, but she owns a wonderful wholeness center where women can connect with themselves, their bodies and others in sisterhood. She is a firm believer in loving and taking good care of yourself, and finding a place where you can fully be yourself and have a tribe of supportive women.

Michelle’s mission is so similar to mine, and I knew she’d be the perfect woman to do this shoot with. Since Michelle is a yoga teacher, has done so much inner work, and is so naturally beautiful, I was sure that this would be an easy yes for her. And thankfully, it was a yes. But I was surprised to hear that she had some fears about doing the shoot.

She expressed to me how she wasn’t feeling confident in her body, and how she was feeling like her weight wasn’t where she would like it to be. She was nervous about being naked in the shoot and about her body being seen in the photos.

I realized that we all have the same fears, no matter the shape of our body, our size, or how confident we seem on the outside. It made me feel a little better about my own fears, but also sad because I hear these same words from most of the women I work with.

But despite her fears, she still said yes to doing something that felt bold for her. She said yes to doing something that was just for herself, not her husband.

When I sent her the photos I was nervous if she would like them. I was so proud of how fully and open she had showed up for the shoot, and thought the photos showed that vulnerable part of herself.

It made me so happy to hear that she loved them. That she cried when she saw them, and that she saw the woman she was striving to be, and the one she wanted her daughter to see. She saw strength, power, trust, softness, beauty, femininity, acceptance, and fierce self-love.

I want this for you. I want you to see the woman you really are. The woman who is strong and powerful, soft and feminine, beautiful, accepting of herself, and loves herself fiercely.

So on this Valentine’s Day, or just any day going forward, I want you to say yes to yourself. Yes to loving yourself. Yes to doing something bold. Yes to putting yourself first. And yes to letting that beautiful soul inside you express herself and be seen.

I want to be a part of that experience with you. If what you desire is to be fully expressed and seen, then I invite you to sign up for a boudoir shoot with me. Contact me HERE for a complimentary call to talk about how we can create this life changing experience together.

I can’t wait to show you how beautiful you are.

Xo
Melissa

p.s. If you want to read more about Michelle's experience with the boudoir shoot, you can read her beautiful post here

Photos, hair & makeup by Melissa Hoffmann

My 2017 Promise to You!

I've never really been into New Year's Resolutions. I mean, how many times have you set up a list of all these things you resolve to change/do/not do in the new year, and they last about 1 week? And then you're back to your old habits. That's me every year.

One thing I do know though, is I'm hopelessly devoted to serving you this next year.

I've been listening closely to you and my wonderful clients that I serve, and the number one request I get is to help women look and feel like the best versions of themselves.

That's why I declare 2017 to be the year of falling in love with yourself.

That's right! I'm on a one woman mission to help you rediscover what a fabulous and beautiful woman you are, as you are right now. Not minus 10 lbs later, when you make more money, when you have a love partner in your life, when you finally start your own business... but now!

Here's some of the hot stuff you can expect from me in 2017.
- Boudoir and empowering photo shoots with me
- Beautiful photos and inspirational stories about the women I work with
- Tips and ideas on how you can improve your self care and look as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside
- Tips on how to prepare and have the best photoshoot experience, whether it's with me or someone else
- A new self reflection visual project I'm working on. The details are a secret right now but I'll be sharing more soon!

I know in 2016 I haven't been keeping up with my weekly letters to you, and I've come to realize that weekly postings are hard for me. So I'm going to be posting here once a month. (There might be extra love notes to send you in the month though.)

In addition to the hot stuff I just mentioned? You can also expect lots of fun, helpful surprises from me. Kinda like this:

A playlist I created on Spotify to help you reconnect to your sexy, feminine side. Listen to you it when you're getting ready for work, a date, or just when you need a reminder of how fabulous you are. You can add it to your Spotify account here: Feelin' Myself. And if you don't have a Spotify account, you can set one up for free! Just go to www.spotify.com.

I'd love to know YOUR big plans for 2017. Tell me in the comments below.  "In 2017, I am totally committed to _____________ and I'm SO excited about __________."  

I can't wait to hear what gets your heart pumped for next year! Can't wait to rock & roll with you.

Here's to a very Happy New Year!

xo,
Melissa

photo by Majesta Patterson

photo by Majesta Patterson

The Evolution of My Business

7 years ago I was living life as a pharmaceutical sales rep. I had a job that paid well, with great benefits and perks. But I was miserable in it. I was constantly stressed out, depressed, bored and unfulfilled. I had this sense that I was a creative person, and I felt like there was no room for creativity in my current career (and trying to figure out how to best put my drug’s stickers on treats was not my idea of creativity). 

I decided I wanted to be a makeup artist, and set about learning everything I could about it. And 7 years later, here I am. I’m living a creative life, am able to pay my bills, and I have worked with hundreds of inspiring women. I finally feel like I’m making a difference in someone’s life. I may not be curing cancer, but I get to help women feel beautiful, which is really important to me. 

Last year I started to feel a little unsettled. Like something was missing. And even though I still loved what I was doing, I felt like I needed a new challenge. I started to pay attention on my shoots to what was happening in front of the camera, rather than how my work looked. I was getting ideas of what I would like to see the woman do, or wear, or how she could look. I was feeling a pull to be the one that was creating this special experience for the woman, rather than just the one getting her glamorous for it. I realized that I wanted to be a photographer.

And as I did with my previous desire to be a makeup artist, I started my journey to learn everything I could to be a photographer. I want to create transformational portraits and experiences for women. I want to help women see how beautiful they are, and to create a way for them to express who they truly are.

I spent the last year honing my technical skills, learning how to create the art I want to share with the world, and building my portfolio. And now I’m excited to launch my photography services!

As a hair and makeup artist, I have seen the power of professional photo shoots time and time again. I’ve seen regular women completely transform because of the work that I do, and the experience of being seen in front of the camera. They become who they really are because they are putting themselves in front of the spotlight.

And I’m so excited to be able to offer that transformation to you.

photo by me taken at The Blissful Maven workshop

photo by me taken at The Blissful Maven workshop

I want you to get that doing a professional photo shoot is the medicine you’ve been missing in your relationship, in your sex life, in how you mother yourself, and how you feel about yourself as a professional. I know you want to feel beautiful, confident and self-expressed, and like you’re on top of the world.

Maybe you’re going to acupuncture, yoga, getting massages, trying to spend time on yourself, but nothing is giving you that kick in the pants that you feel like you need to feel confident and beautiful in your own skin. This is what you’ve been missing. It’s one day, it’s being immersed in your own beauty. It’s the most effective jumpstart to confidence that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve witnessed it hundreds of times.

I know it may feel selfish to spend money on a photo shoot. I know you’re not used to spending a lot of money on yourself.  Think about how much money you spend on going to yoga, or the latest cleanse, or on your kids, or therapy. Your beauty and your self expression is just as important as those other things. In fact, I believe it’s more important. I want to take a stand for you being fully expressed in the world. And trust me, you’re worth it!

And because I want this to be a truly amazing experience for you, and so much more than a photo shoot, I’ve enrolled in a coach training program to eventually offer coaching sessions alongside my photography services, which I’ll be launching next year.

I have 2 different photo shoot options for you to choose.

One is a 2 hour photo shoot, with hair, makeup and styling by me.

Or you can choose to do a full day experience with me if you want to explore several looks and expressions of yourself.

If you’d like to learn more about doing a photo shoot with me, contact me here to set up a time to chat. I'M DYING TO KNOW MORE!

I can’t wait to show you how beautiful you are!

Xo,
Melissa

all photos by Melissa Hoffmann

Summer Proof Your Makeup

Picture this: you've just spent an hour getting ready to go to brunch with your besties. You've applied your makeup perfectly, with flawless skin and your eyeliner is on point. You meet the girls at your favorite brunch spot, and they have the perfect table waiting for you outside. You're catching up on everyone's lives while enjoying mimosas when you realize that you need to use the ladies' room. As you pass by the mirror you see... your makeup is running down your face and you look like a hot mess!

All your hard work that morning was for nothing, and now you have to figure out how to fix it!

Has this ever happened to you?

As a makeup artist who works with tons of brides during the hot summer, my job is to make sure my clients look amazing all day long, whether the temperature is perfect or scorching. So I've picked up some tips in all my years of experience to help summer proof (and cry proof) my clients' makeup so they never look in the mirror to see their "face" dripping off!

Today I'm going to share my top 5 tips to summer proof your makeup so you can look cool and confident no matter how hot it is.

1. Less is more. Summer is the time to show off your skin, and it’s easier to have sweat proof makeup when you’re not wearing a ton of it. Heavy foundation and powder is going to show more streaks or be more noticeable when wearing off, so wearing a foundation that’s lighter will be more forgiving. I love wearing a tinted moisturizer or sheer foundation in the summer. My favorite right now is Make Up For Ever’s Water Blend Foundation (formerly Face and Body). It gives a light coverage to even out your skin naturally and is water proof! MAC's Face and Body foundation is another great choice. Perfect for summer!


2. Use long wearing cream eye shadows and blush. Powders tend to wear off when it gets hot, so creams are your best bet for summer. There are so many great options now for cream shadows and blush! I love the Eye Caviar Sticks from Laura Mercier or Long Wearing Cream Shadows from Bobbi Brown. Choose a pretty champagne or soft taupe, apply over your eyelid with your finger and blend the top of it with a fluffy brush and you’re done. For cream blush, I love Charlotte Tilbury’s Beach Sticks or Nars’ The Multiple.


3. Use waterproof mascara and eyeliner. This one is kind of a no brainer, but I think sometimes we forget to grab the waterproof eye products in the summer. If they’re not waterproof, they’ll probably be running down your face in about 20 minutes if you’re outside. Make sure to grab an eye makeup remover that is specifically for waterproof products.


4. Add color to your lips with a lip stain or long wearing lip gloss. You won't have to worry about it disappearing after sipping cocktails or having to reapply it every hour. Stila's Stay All Day Liquid Lipsticks are seriously amazing- really pigmented, great colors, and they stay put through eating, drinking, and everything! For a more natural look, Benefit's Benetint is lovely for a rosy pout.


5. Set your makeup with a translucent powder and setting spray. I don't recommend heavily powdering your face in the heat, as it can get cakey. But I love setting a foundation with a light, translucent powder to help waterproof it, and finish with a really good mist of a makeup setting spray. The powder will help seal your tinted moisturizer or foundation, and the setting spray will help the powder settle into the skin and lock it into place. My favorite translucent powder right now is Make Up For Ever's Super Matte Loose Powder- I use it on all my clients. And I love Make Up For Ever's Mist and Fix setting spray, or Urban Decay's All Nighter setting spray. Both will help waterproof your makeup and make it last for hours.

I hope you're enjoying your summer and having all kinds of fun adventures! I'd love to hear from you in the comments below what your favorite tips are to summer proof your makeup, or what your favorite water proof must have products are!

Xo,

Melissa

How I Became A Professional Makeup & Hair Artist

I haven’t always been a professional makeup and hair artist. In fact, I’ve only been working professionally for 6 years. You might be surprised to hear this, and wonder what I did before my career in beauty started. I do get asked a lot about how I got started and what my story is. So I thought I would share it with you, in case you’re curious. Or in case you’re feeling restless in your career and wanting some inspiration for a change. Because if this is the case I know how you feel!

When you’re young, adults are always asking you what you want to do when you grow up. I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of asking kids I’ve been around this same question because their responses are so cute. But I have a strong memory of my grandma asking me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I gave her several answers: an artist, a hairstylist, a teacher, a writer, a counselor and a fashion designer. And I think I may have even thrown in doctor because adults always love to hear that. It’s interesting that in my career today I get to include a little of everything I wanted to do as a kid in what I do.

I’ve always loved makeup and hair. When I was young I used to play dress up and give makeovers to my friends and myself. My mom has always done her makeup, and was my first inspiration to playing with makeup. I had my own play makeup and chest of dress up clothes that I would play with daily. And one of my favorite toys was a Barbie head that I taught myself how to braid on.

When I was in 7th grade, my mom took me to the Clinique makeup counter to learn how to apply makeup and bought me my first “quality” makeup to use. Before that, I was obsessed with teal mascara and shadow, and frosty pink lipgloss, courtesy of Wet n’ Wild cosmetics and used to experiment with some crazy looks.

In college, I decided I wanted to be a psychologist. I still loved beauty, but thought I needed to do something more academic or “responsible”. Actually I had no idea that a career in makeup existed outside of the makeup counter or high fashion shoots in New York. But I knew I wanted to serve people, and help them feel good about themselves and their lives.

When I graduated from college, I tried a couple different jobs that fit in the field of psychology: a group home counselor, a group home teacher, and finally, a high school Special Education teacher. None of them felt like a good fit, were extremely stressful, and paid a shitty wage. I decided the most important thing in a job was money, so I set out to find a job that paid well. And was introduced to the world of pharmaceutical sales.

When I got my first sales job, I thought I had hit the jackpot: great salary and commission, travel, company car, expense account, and no office to sit in all day. But after 6 years of the high stress, controlling bosses, unrealistic expectations with sales goals and doctor's office visits, and feeling like I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, I knew I needed to make some changes. I wanted to do something I loved, and could support myself on. I wanted to do something that was meaningful, that made me feel like I was making a difference in someone's life.

For some reason, I kept going back to what I loved as a kid. And makeup and hair kept coming up as the answer.

And then I had a clear sign from the universe. While in Vegas at a company meeting, we were walking through the hotel and saw a fashion photo shoot in progress. I watched the makeup artist touching up the model and it clicked: that’s what I want to do. I remember telling this to my friend and she was like, YES!

So I started making my plan to make this a reality. The short version is I hustled my butt off. I researched everything I could find on how to become a makeup artist. I reached out to other artists to find how they got started. I went to beauty school at night to become an esthetician. And I spent weekends working for free, building my portfolio with other creatives to try to attract paying clients. My first 2 years in business were mostly working for free or for very little pay to build up my portfolio and gain experience. I spent most of everything I earned (and then some) on my makeup and hair kit, and classes to learn new techniques and grow my business.

And it finally paid off. At year 4 I was a full-time artist, with my sole income being my beauty business. I finally feel like an established artist.

It’s taken a long time to get here, and it hasn’t been easy. I’ve learned so much on being a creative entrepreneur, the power of community, and making my own path. I’ve worked with some amazing creative partners, and had wonderful clients, and even though I sometimes miss the steady paycheck and benefits, I’m glad that I followed my heart and went after my dreams. I still don't have everything figured out, but I feel much more secure in my business than I did 3 years ago.

And even though I love my job, I still feel there’s more for me to explore, and more for me to do. (More on that in a future post!) But I’m happy to be a working artist and making a living being a creative.

I’d love to hear from you now. Have you left behind a steady paycheck to follow your dreams? Or are you longing to leave your current job to pursue your passion? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

Stay tuned for my next post on the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this journey.

Are you following me on Instagram? I post a lot of behind the scenes and photos from my life as a creative entrepreneur.

Xo,
Melissa

Foundation Basics

Women often tell me that they are afraid of wearing foundation. And no wonder! We've all seen   women either wearing caked-on foundation, or having faces that don’t match the rest of their bodies. Or maybe you've had a bad experience with an artist who has put too much foundation on you and left your skin feeling like a mask. That happened to me a few weeks ago when I was looking to try a new foundation. Has this ever been your experience?

Foundation is actually one of my favorite items of makeup. I’ve struggled with acne most of my teenage and adult life. There were times that my skin was so red and broken out that I was embarrassed to leave the house.  My skin looks so much better now, but it’s still not perfect. So, foundation is my best friend. It evens out my skin, making it look fresh and pretty. And having beautiful looking skin makes me feel so confident!

Wearing foundation does not need to be stressful. Knowing what type of foundation will work best for your skin and your personal style, and wearing the right color, will help take the stress/fear out of wearing it. And, knowing how to apply it makes it even easier.

In today's post, I'm going to share with you the different types of foundations and what skin type they're for. And I'm going to share with you how to choose the right type of foundation for you. 

TYPES OF FOUNDATION
There are many different types and textures of foundation. I will talk about 4 of them and tell you why they may, or may not, be right for you.

Tinted Moisturizer/BB Cream/CC Cream:
These are all essentially the same thing: foundation with skincare in them. They typically have a sheerer, more natural look to them. Many leave the skin looking dewy, although some can have more of a matte finish. They often are limited in the color selection offered, so it may be hard to find your exact skin tone. They are great for normal to dry skin. If they say they have a matte texture, then they will be a good choice for oily skin.

Liquid Foundations:
Liquid foundations can range from sheer to medium to full coverage. This type of foundation is one of the most popular ways to wear foundation. Liquid foundations can have a dewy, semi-matte, or really matte finish to them. They are great for all skin types, depending on the type of finish they have.

Cream Foundations:
Cream foundations are usually medium to full coverage, but can sometimes be diluted with moisturizer to look more see-through. Typically, they have a dewy finish to them. Cream foundations are great for dry and mature skin.

Powder Foundation:
Powder foundations are usually medium to full coverage. Mineral powders would fall into this category, although not all powder foundations are mineral based; they have a matte finish to them.

HOW TO CHOOSE WHICH TYPE OF FOUNDATION IS RIGHT FOR YOU
I get asked this question all the time by my clients. There are so many choices out there, and it can be really hard to pick the right type foundation in the right shade for your skin tone and skin type. Making this choice really depends on your skin type, and the kind of coverage you are looking for.

To choose the right type of foundation, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your skin dry, normal, combination (dry in some places, oily through the t-zone or center of your face), or oily? If you’re not sure, then read my descriptions below to find your skin type

Dry Skin: Your skin often feels tight, pulled taut, and/or rough to the touch. It may look dull or flaky.
If you’re dry, you will want a hydrating tinted moisturizer, liquid or cream foundation.

Normal Skin: Your skin is perfectly balanced. It’s hydrated and not oily.

Combination Skin: Your skin may be dry in the cheek area, and oily or shiny through the t-zone or center of your face.

If you have normal or combination skin, you could choose any type of foundation.

Oily Skin: Your skin may be shiny from excess oil production in the t-zone or all over. You often find your skin gets shiny only a few hours after washing it in the morning.

If you’re oily, you probably want a more matte liquid foundation or powder. But be wary of mineral powder foundations for oily skin, they can make you look shinier than you are.

  • How much coverage do you want from your foundation?
  • Do you want it to be natural and see-through? If so, you probably want a tinted moisturizer or a more sheer liquid foundation.
  • Do you want it to cover up some spots or uneven skin tone, but still be able to see your skin through it? You probably want a liquid or powder foundation.
  • Do you have a lot of unevenness or blemishes on your skin that you want to completely cover up? You might want a full coverage liquid, cream or powder foundation.

It’s my personal opinion that you don’t want to completely cover the look of your skin with foundation, but rather even it out and cover blemishes or pigmentation only. I like to be able to see the skin through the foundation. But if you feel your skin has a lot to camouflage, then it may make you feel more confident to aim for a heavier coverage with your foundation.

  • What type of finish do you want?

If you are looking for a glowing, dewy finish, you’ll probably want to go with a tinted moisturizer, hydrating liquid or cream foundation. Look for the terms “radiant, illuminating, hydrating, luminous, and dewy” in the title or description of the foundation.

If you are looking for something that’s not super dewy, but not too matte, look for a liquid or cream foundation that’s semi-matte.

If you want more of a flat, non-shiny finish, look for a liquid or powder foundation that is matte.

The type of finish for your foundation is really your preference. Trends come and go, and you can decide to follow them, or stick with the look that works for you. I personally love having dewy looking skin, and think it looks more youthful. But you might like the look of having really matte skin - and that’s perfectly fine.

Once you’ve decided on the type of foundation you want to wear, you can look for the right color. To choose the right color of foundation for you, shop for your foundation during the day, and have access to natural daylight. You can ask one of the sales people or artists to assist you. Choose an artist who’s wearing makeup that looks attractive to you, rather than the first one who offers to assist you.

Make sure that you look at the whole picture of yourself rather than just your face. You want all the skin on your body that is showing to be one even color, meaning your face should be the same color as your neck, and the same color as your chest. I usually prefer to buy my foundation at Sephora or Nordstrom because of their excellent return policies, in case I find that the color doesn't work out when I get home.

I hope these tips are helpful for guiding you in finding the perfect foundation. You want people to notice your beautiful skin when they look at you, not your foundation!

Are you afraid of wearing foundation? What are your foundation challenges? Share them with me in the comments below! And stay tuned for my next post, I'm going to share with you my best tips for applying your foundation flawlessly!

Do you know a woman who needs help finding a foundation that's right for her? Then please forward this post to her. I love helping women embrace and express their beauty through makeup to feel like their most beautiful selves.

xo,
Melissa

5 Steps to a Flawless Looking Face

When I was in my late 20’s and early 30’s I had terrible acne. I had had acne as a teenager, but my adult acne was way worse. I felt so self-conscious about my skin and would either pack on the makeup to hide it or not leave the house on days it was really bad. I felt like I looked terrible and that people were staring at me and thinking I looked ugly. Or worse, "why doesn't she take care of her skin?"

I would never leave the house without wearing makeup, and if I was dating someone I wouldn’t let him see me without my makeup. It was not a fun way to live.

I remember wishing I had beautiful skin, and that I would be so much prettier if my skin looked good.

It took several years for me get my skin under control by taking better care of myself and reducing stress, and for my hormones to have balanced. Now my skin looks great. It's not perfect, but my acne is gone and it's clear. I often go without makeup and feel confident doing so. But I still love to wear makeup, and feel like I look even better when I have done at least my face makeup routine.

I often get compliments on my skin and how great it looks. I love hearing it, but I still get surprised when I hear it because I still remember how terrible I used to feel about my skin.

I know having great looking skin is something a lot of women struggle with. And I get it. When your skin looks dull, broken out, or sun damaged, it affects the way you feel about how you look. Even if you have clear skin, applying makeup to look flawless can be difficult. 

Is this something that you’ve struggled with?

If so, then you’re going to love this post! Because I’m sharing with you my top 5 tips to get flawless looking skin with your makeup!

Read below to learn more about my flawless face routine.

1. Moisturize and prep your face really good. Great makeup starts with great skin. So even if you have breakouts or oily skin, find a great moisturizer that works for your skin type and massage it into your skin so it’s completely absorbed. Your skin will look smoother and healthier.

After you moisturize, use a primer that's for your skin type. I love using a radiant primer to give my skin a glow from within before I apply my foundation. My favorite right now is Charlotte Tilbury’s Wonder Glow Soft Focus Primer. If you have oily skin, you can use a shine reducing primer to keep your skin matte and fresh looking. I love Make Up For Ever’s Step 1 Mattifying Primer.

2. Use a foundation that will give you the look you want. So often women just grab a liquid foundation without researching what kind of look or finish it’s going to give them. If you want a dewy glow to your skin, use a tinted moisturizer or foundation that has the words radiant, luminous, glow, etc in the title. Try Becca's Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation. If you want your skin to look just like skin (not too dewy, but not too flat), use a foundation that says semi-matte, nude or skin in the title or description. I love Make Up For Ever’s Ultra HD Invisible Liquid Foundation or Urban Decay’s Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Foundation. For a completely flat, non-shiny look, choose a foundation that says matte in the title or description. Make Up For Ever’s Mat Velvet Foundation or Chanel’s Perfection Lumiere Velvet Foundation are perfect for this.

Once you’ve found your perfect foundation, you want to apply it evenly and perfectly blended into your skin so people see you, not your makeup.  Apply a pea size amount of liquid foundation with a flat or buffing foundation brush. This should be the perfect amount to even out your skin without looking caked on. Put the foundation on the back of your hand and dip the tip of your brush into it. Then start in the center of your face and start sweeping it across your face in broad strokes towards the edges of your face. If you see streaks you can move your brush in circular motions to blend it more, or use a slightly damp sponge to blend it in. Make sure you blend the foundation down your jawline and neck so you don’t have a noticeable line where you stopped applying it. If you have areas where you need a little more coverage, you can dip your brush into the foundation again and dab it on the place that needs a little more.

3. Conceal dark circles and spots. You only need a small amount of concealer to brighten under the eyes and cover up acne and dark spots. Use a small stiff concealer brush to apply a thin layer over the dark spot/circle/blemish and use your ring finger to lightly tap around the spot to blend the makeup in. If you can still see the spot, you can add another thin layer. I love Laura Mercier's Secret Camouflage Concealer or Nars' Radiant Concealer.

*Pro Tip: Even if your skin is less than perfect, trust me, you don't want to pile on the makeup. It will only draw attention to it. The best thing you can do is get your foundation to even out your skin tone and then use your concealer to hide what you don't want to be seen. You need a lot less makeup than you think!

4. Use a translucent powder in your t zone to reduce shine and set your makeup. You just need the smallest amount, and make sure it’s a translucent or super fine powder. Sweep it across your forehead, nose, top of cheeks and chin with a large fluffy powder brush. My favorites are Laura Mercier’s Pressed Setting Powder and Charlotte Tilbury’s Air Brush Flawless Finish Powder.

5. Add color and dimension to your face with bronzer and blush. Once you have the perfect base, you need to add some color and dimension to your face so it doesn’t look completely flat or washed out. I love using a natural looking bronzer and pretty peachy pink blush to finish my flawless face. Sweep the bronzer across the high points of your face, where the sun would naturally hit you- forehead, nose, cheeks, chin, jawline and center of the throat. My favorite blush at the moment is Charlotte Tilbury’s Filmstar Bronze and Glow. The highlighter is also divine!

Dust a pretty, peachy pink blush on the apples of your cheeks and blend softly up the cheekbone. I’m wearing Nars’ Deep Throat right now for a pretty flush.

*Bonus Step! To set your makeup and get it to look like skin, I love to finish with a hydrating setting spray. It helps the powders set into the skin and look really natural. I like to spray a fine mist moving the bottle in a circle around my face. Spritz the spray as you’re circling, about 12 inches from the face. I love the setting sprays Make Up For Ever’s Mist and Fix and MAC’s Fix +.

Whenever I’m working with a woman, my focus for her makeup is always getting her skin to look flawless, and then everything else falls into place. Because when your skin looks amazing, you don’t need a ton of makeup to attract attention away from it.

I hope that these tips will help you get your skin looking flawless, and you’ll feel confident and beautiful.

Xo,
Melissa

 

The Top 11 Makeup Mistakes You Could Be Making

As a makeup artist, I often hear from my clients that they feel like they don’t know how to do their makeup. Either they’ve done it the same way since they were in high school, or they don’t have a clue where to start so they end up guessing at how to apply product. Does this sound like you?

I took some of complaints and challenges I hear about from my clients to create a list of the most common makeup mistakes you could be making when doing your own makeup. And because I want you to look and feel your most beautiful, I’m sharing my tips on how to fix these makeup “mistakes”.

1. Applying too heavy of a powder on top of your foundation. Powder can be great for setting your makeup and keeping you from looking shiny. But I often hear from women that they are using a powder foundation on top of their foundation, which can end up making your makeup look heavy or cakey. Yikes. Use a light sweep of translucent powder to set your makeup. If you're using it to reduce shine, just apply the powder in the areas where you get shiny- forehead, nose, center of cheeks and chin.

2. Too much or too thick eyeliner to try to make both eyes look the same. I get it, lining your eyes and getting them to look the same can be really hard. But instead of adding more and more to even them out, try cleaning up the eye that looks messy, rather than just adding more. Use cotton buds dipped in a little eye makeup remover along the top of your line or underneath to make it look clean and even, and then work on the next eye. You'll get the perfect amount on each eye, rather than just covering your whole lid to try to make them look the same.

3. Drawing a thick line underneath your lashes. I think this is one of the top liner blunders that I see. Just drawing a line under your eyes can look heavy or harsh and make you look older. Try blending your line with a cotton bud or small smudge eyeshadow brush to soften it and enhance your lower lashes. Or, just draw little dots between your lashes and use your cotton bud or brush to blend it and add a hint of shadow under your eyes.

4. Leaving the end of your eyeliner thick and blunt at the end of your line. When applying liner on the top lash line, many women don't know how to end it and usually just leave it looking unfinished. You want your line to come to a small point at the end, kind of like a short wing (as in winged liner, not an actual bird!). The end of your line should also be pointed slightly up towards the end of your brow rather than pointed down following your lash line. Having it pointed up will give your eyes a little lift and make you look younger.

5. Pumping your mascara in the tube to try to get more on the brush. You never want to pump your mascara wand in the tube. It can cause too much air to get into the tube, which will make it dry out quicker or get flaky. You can lightly swirl the wand around in the tube before you pull it out to get lots of product on it, or just give it a second dip. If you're not getting enough mascara on it doing this, then odds are it's time to get a new tube.

6. Contouring your face too much or with the wrong color. Contouring is super popular thanks to the Kardashians, and it's often done too heavy or with a color that looks unnatural. Contouring, or creating shadows on your face can easily turn clownish or fake looking in person. If you are going to contour, make sure you use a product that is specifically for contouring, or a bronzer that is matte and has a greyish or cool tone to it. And you want it to look barely noticeable in person. It should just look like there's a natural shadow there rather than a stripe or dark patch on your face. So if you can really see it in the natural light, then you probably put too much on.

7. Using too light of a concealer under your eyes. I know that some beauty tutorials tell you to use a lighter concealer under your eyes to brighten up the area, but too often it ends up looking like you fell asleep in goggles in the tanning bed. Or like you're taking makeup lessons from Donald Trump. And if you have puffiness under your eyes, it will actually accentuate it. Use a concealer that is the same shade as your foundation to lighten up dark circles or shadows. It will look more natural and less noticeable.

8. Using too much concealer under the eyes. Speaking of concealer mistakes, applying too much concealer can cause your concealer to crease or look cakey. You only need to apply concealer where there is darkness. Apply a tiny amount where there is a shadow or dark circle and blend the edges of where you applied it. If the area is still dark, then you can add another thin layer. Applying it in thin layers only where you need it will help your concealer look more natural, not crease and last longer.

9. Putting too much bronzer on your face. I love a good bronze glow, but how do you apply your bronzer so it looks sun kissed rather than fake-n-bake? Take a large, fluffy powder brush and dip it into your bronzer, and then sweep it across the high points of your face: forehead, bridge of nose, cheeks, chin, jawline and center of throat. This is where the sun naturally hits you when you get a sunburn or tan and will look the most natural when applying your bronzer. Apply one layer first, then you can apply a second for a deeper bronzed glow. With a clean brush you can blend all over your face so your bronzer looks like it's coming from your skin and not makeup.

10. Not wetting your sponge before using it. There are some great makeup sponges on the market now, but if you don't know how to use them you could be wasting your money. Your sponge will work the best if you use it wet rather than dry. Spray the sponge all over with a little water or hydrating toner, or run it quickly under the facet. Squeeze out the excess water so it's damp, not soaking. Then use a tapping or bouncing motion to blend your foundation or concealer to get flawless looking skin.

11. Ending your foundation at your jaw. You've done a beautiful job applying your foundation on your face, but then you're left with that tell tale line at the end of your jaw. To get your makeup to look more natural and have people notice your beautiful face rather than your makeup, make sure you blend your foundation down your jawline and down your neck, especially if your neck happens to be lighter than your face. You want your face and your neck to look even, rather than 2 different colors. And while you're at it, apply what's left on your foundation brush or sponge on your ears so they look the same color as your face. Ears tend to get red, which can look funny if they are a different color than your face.

What makeup “mistakes” that aren’t on the list are you making? What keeps you from feeling like you do your makeup well? Or do you have your own tips on how to fix these challenges? Leave me a comment below to share!

xo,
Melissa

7 Products Every Woman Needs For Spring

Every season I take notice of the latest trends and products to come out, whether it's for beauty, fashion, or even tech! Sometimes I follow the trends, and sometimes what happens to be the latest thing becomes a staple in my makeup drawer. (Yes, I only have a drawer for my personal makeup stash, probably not what you expected!)

For me, fresh and pretty makeup is always on trend for Spring, with the skin as the focus. So after some careful thought about favorites for me and my kit, I put together this list of must haves for every woman this Spring.

  1. Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer: I love this concealer right now. It's lightweight and creamy, and covers up everything from dark circles to redness to acne. (Sephora)
  2. Laura Mercier Paintwash Liquid Lip Color in Nude Rose: This lip product is like a cross between a lipstick and a lip gloss. It has great color payoff, stays put, and a pretty shine. And the color is gorgeous, like your natural lip color but better. (Sephora)
  3. Nars Blush in Impassioned: Nars just came out with this new blush color, a pink orchid shade, and it's gorg. It gives you a pretty pink, natural looking flush. If you have darker skin, try Mata Hari for a similar look. (Sephora)
  4. Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Skin Clay Mask: This mask is amazing. It cleans out and tightens your pores, hydrates your skin, and makes it softer than a baby's bottom. I put it on at night for 30 minutes, put on a great night cream after, and my skin is glowing and so soft the next morning. (www.charlottetilbury.com)
  5. Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Luxury Lift & Firm Hydra Gel Eye Patches: Sometimes a girl needs a little help to look like she's gotten 8 hours of sleep, and these eye patches will do the trick. They hydrate, plump and lessen dark circles and make you look awake and refreshed. Pop them in the freezer for 20 minutes and then put on and enjoy... BLISS. They are also amazing while traveling or hung over. (Sephora)
  6. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal: I love glowing skin for Spring, and this liquid highlighter will give you gorgeous, glowy skin. You can mix a bit with your foundation, or put it on before your foundation for an illuminating primer. If you have darker skin you'll love the color Topaz. (Sephora)
  7. Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour in Rose Gold: These caviar sticks are a must in any color! They make doing your eye makeup a breeze. They blend easily and are super long lasting. I use the color Rose Gold on pretty much everyone, and it looks amazing. It's a beautiful champagne color that adds brightness to your eyes. Pop it on your lid with some mascara and you can run out the door. It's great on darker skins too, but for something that shows up a little more try Sand Glow. (Sephora)

These products will help you look fresh and radiant for any event or for your everyday routine. Do you have any must have favorites for Spring? Share them in the comments below!

xo,

Melissa

Valentine's Day Sultry Makeup Tutorial

Valentine's Day can be such a fun event to get really dressed up for. Whether you're spending it with your sweetie, or your best gal pals, it's a great occasion to wear something that makes you feel gorgeous. And along with the perfect outfit, having a great hair and makeup look can add to you feeling hot and confident.

This Valentine's Day, I wanted to do a makeup tutorial that was different from the soft, romantic looks or red lips that you usually see. I wanted to do a look that was more on the sexy side, and had more fire than sweetness.

I always look to celebrities, fashion and beauty trends and the red carpet for inspiration for beauty looks. While checking out the stars at The People's Choice Awards, I became obsessed with Olivia Wilde's burgundy smoky eye, and thought it would be a perfect look for Valentine's day. I decided that I needed to create a makeup tutorial based on it that I could share with you, so you could bring some of Olivia's sultry heat to your own look for Valentine's Day.

I asked Emily Scott of The Refined Woman to team up with with me for this tutorial, knowing this look would be amazing on her. Plus I knew she would come up with perfect outfit to compliment the look.

Read on to see my tutorial for this Sultry Valentine's Makeup Look below. And don't forget to check out The Refined Woman to see Em's fun and flirty Valentine's Day outfit.

Step 1: Give yourself a fresh looking complexion. Since I wanted the eyes to be the focus, I kept Em's skin looking fresh and light. I used a light to medium coverage foundation, like Nars Sheer Glow on her skin, and used concealer to lighten up under the eyes and cover any spots. Then I applied Dior's Lucky Pink, a soft pink blush on her cheeks to give a little color without overwhelming her look. I finished her skin with a touch of MAC's Soft and Gentle highlighter on the top of her cheekbones to give a little radiance.

Step 2: Create a mauve base on your eyes. I love using a cream eyeshadow as a base for my eye looks. It helps the eyeshadow last longer and look more intense than it would on it’s own. I used Laura Mercier’s Caviar Stick Eye Color in Amethyst, a warm mauve color, all over the lid and into the crease. Then I took a MAC #217 fluffy eyeshadow brush to blend out the top edge of the shadow so it faded onto the brow bone. I also applied the mauve shadow under her lower lashes and blended it with the same fluffy brush.

Step 3: Apply a burgundy eyeshadow on top of your base. I used MAC’s Cranberry eyeshadow, a gorgeous shimmery burgundy color. Take an all over eyeshadow brush, like the Sephora Pro All Over Color #12 brush and pat your burgundy shadow all over the lid. Then use your base color fluffy brush to blend the top edge of your burgundy shadow. It should fade into your mauve base. Take a smudge brush like the Sephora Pro Smudge #11 brush, dip the tip into the burgundy shadow, and line underneath the lower lashes.

Step 4: Tightline your eyes with a dark brown eye pencil. Line the inside of your top and bottom lash line with a dark brown eye pencil, like Teddy by MAC. When you line the bottom inner lash line, draw a little in between the lashes, like you’re trying to connect them. Then dip your smudge brush into the burgundy shadow and blend the liner so it looks soft and smudgy.

Step 5: Apply lots of black mascara. Give your top and bottom lashes 1-2 coats of your favorite black mascara. I’m loving Benefit’s They’re Real Lengthening and Volumizing Mascara.

Step 6: Finish your look with a pinky nude lip color. I can’t get enough of Aerin’s Rose Balm Lipstick in Perfect Nude.

Splurge vs Save on Your Beauty Products

A common question I get asked by my clients is what should you spend your money on and what can you can you save on when it comes to your beauty products?

When it comes to my makeup and hair kit and my own personal stash, I’m more on the “splurge” side than on the “save” side. I charge a pretty decent amount when it comes to doing a client’s hair and makeup, and I feel that by providing luxury services for my clients, I should use the best of the best when it comes to beauty products.

During my VIP makeup shopping trips with my clients, I always take them to a Sephora or high-end department store that carries the best cosmetic brands. Mostly because I’m recommending the products I know well, but also because I want my clients to have amazing products that will give them the best results.

Most of the hair and makeup products I buy end up in my kit. I like to have the best and most luxurious items to treat my clients with. I also like to have the best products for myself, since I’m a walking billboard for my business.

But by experimenting with some high end and not so high end products, I’ve discovered that you don’t always need the luxury price tag on all your beauty items. So even though I mainly follow the “you get what you pay for” theory, there are some things you can buy cheaper if you’re looking to save a little money.

The important thing is to play with different brands to see what works for you and what you like. And if you try something new and you don’t like it, take it back. You don’t need to have a makeup graveyard sitting around in one of your drawers. Nordstrom, Sephora and Target all have great return policies.

Today I'm sharing with you what I think are the most important things to spend your money on, and what I think you can save a little money with. Whether you're an all luxury girl, or one who likes to be more conservative with her wallet when it comes to beauty products, I think you'll like these shopping tips.

Things to splurge on:

Foundation- For a really good foundation to cover what you want it to cover and not looked caked on, you need a quality one. You want a foundation that has good ingredients that isn’t going to clog your pores.

Bronzer- Good bronzers will make you look sunkissed, not like you spent hours in a cheap tanning salon. My favorites are by Nars, Laura Mercier, and Charlotte Tilbury.

Blush- I’ve found that many cheap powder blushes don’t always have enough pigment in them to show up on the skin and not look chalky. I like the ones by Nars, Bobbi Brown, and Dior.

Lipstick- Lipsticks should be creamy and highly pigmented, and should look pretty similar on the lips as they do in the tube. Your lips should feel hydrated and not dried out, especially since you’ll probably be wearing it all day. My experience with drug store lipsticks is they often look like a completely different lipstick when they are put on than you think they will. And I haven’t found a brand that feels as good on as the luxury lipsticks do. I love lipsticks by Nars, MAC, and Chanel.

Eyelashes- I use Ardell eyelashes in my kit, and they are actually from a drug store. The difference is they are a higher quality than many others that you get from drug stores, cheap beauty supply stores, or dollar stores. You want to make sure they eyelashes use real human or mink hair, and not synthetic hair. The higher the quality, the more natural they will look. If you really want to splurge on lashes, check out Velour lashes. They are sooo luxurious and pretty!

Skincare- Skincare products at the drug store are not going to be as effective as ones you get from a luxury or clinical skincare line. The reason is they are going to use cheaper ingredients so they can keep the price low. They are also not going to use as much of an active ingredient (like the ones that promise you’ll see dramatic results in your wrinkles or collagen) because to get the results you want to see safely you would need to be advised by an expert on how to use it and make sure it’s right for you. I always recommend to my clients that they visit an esthetician for regular skincare treatments and can recommend good products that they know will give results.

Nailpolish- There’s nothing worse than nailpolish that chips right away or needs more than 3 coats to show up on your nails. I love polishes by OPI, Essie, and Chanel.

Shampoo and conditioner- We can be so hard on our hair, with all the hot tools we use daily and sometimes rough brushing and teasing. So many of my clients complain about having dry or dull hair, split ends, or hair that won’t grow. Using high quality salon or organic shampoos and conditioners, in addition to getting regular hair cuts and using heat protectants will help keep your hair healthy and shiny.

Things to save on:

Mascara- While I do have some luxury mascaras that I love (Lancome Hypnose and Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash Extravagant), I often don’t see that much of a difference between the different mascaras. In fact, I use Loreal’s Voluminous Carbon Black and Maybelline’s Volume Express in my kit.

Eye shadows- This one is a maybe. I usually prefer luxury brands for my eye shadows because the pigment in them is usually better, meaning they actually show up when you put them on and don’t have specks that fall all over your face. I have found that Maybelline and Loreal as well as NYX Cosmetics have some great shadows at affordable prices.

Concealer- Concealer is also a maybe for this list. My favorite concealers are from luxury brands like Laura Mercier, Nars, and MAC, but I have found a few from drug store brands that work well. Maybelline, Revlon and Sonja Kashuk have some great options that look nice on the skin and cover up what needs to be covered.

Lipgloss- I typically use lipgloss when I want shine on my lips over a lipstick, or something sheer and glossy. I think there are some great drug store lipglosses that you can save on rather than having to spend a ton of money on something you’re probably going to be replacing every month or so. I like the ones from Revlon, Loreal, and Burt’s Bees.

Hairspray- My favorite hairspray is Elnet by Loreal. It’s a staple in most makeup and hair artists’ kits. It gives great hold but still feels soft and natural in the hair. It can be easily brushed out to change styles and you can spray a lot in the hair without it feeling stiff or sticky. I also like the ones by John Frieda, which are now sold at Target.

Do you have any great beauty product steals you can share? Or splurge products you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments below.

xo,

Melissa

How To Find Your Beauty Spirit Animal

Last year I discovered the idea of spirit animals. A few friends of mine had signed up to find theirs through an animal totem discovery session, and I couldn't wait to find out mine.

I filled out a questionnaire asking me a few questions about my daily life preferences, and how I relate I relationships (plus some other fun questions), and sent in a couple photos. A week later I got the results of my session. I discovered that the Dolphin was my spirit animal. And once I read the explanation of it, it made perfect sense.

Dolphins are playful, adventurous, and uplifting to others, which I've been told fits me. And they are a reminder of the beauty and joyfulness of life, which I need to be reminded of when I feel stressed or overwhelmed.

Those who believe in animal totems, or spirit animals, feel learning about your animal guide helps you to understand yourself better, and how you relate to the world. You may have similar traits or super powers as the animal. Your animal may teach you how you to play, enjoy life, engage in relationships, and live the life you were meant to live.

A style icon is just like a spirit animal. Just like your spirit animal helps you understand yourself better through the traits they have, your style icon helps you understand what it is about her style or super powers that you identify with and relate to. She can help you understand how to express yourself through your beauty and style, and how to gain confidence through it.

Finding your style icon is a little like finding your spirit animal.

Before finding your guide, you might feel like you're all over the place when it comes to your beauty and personal style. You might be unsure of what feels like you or what looks good on you. So you either try to do the latest trend you see on YouTube and cross your fingers you did it right, or you give up altogether and do the same messy bun you’ve been wearing for a year.

But having a style icon or beauty spirit animal, helps guide you with ideas and inspiration to look your best. It can help you show the best version of you, or even help you discover that version that makes you feel your best. And feeling like you look your best can increase your confidence and help you to really be seen in the world.

So how do you find your beauty spirit animal?

Ask yourself these questions:

1. What celebrity/thought leader/woman has a style that you feel drawn to? It could be a celebrity that you buy every magazine she’s featured in. It could be a woman who’s kicking ass in her business. Or your neighbor who you admire every time you see her. It can also be more than one. Look for elements that they have in common to see a pattern.

2. Of these women, do they have similar features/coloring/body type as you? It’s ok if they don’t, but if they do you can take clues from specific colors or types of makeup and clothing they wear.

3. What is it about the woman’s attitude or spirit that you relate to? Is she confident, fierce, life of the party, classy, bold, refined, successful…. Think about what it is that makes you want to be just like her. This attitude probably comes out in the way she dresses and does her hair and makeup.

4. Can you picture yourself wearing her style? Whether it’s long flowing skirts, minimalistic jewelry, bronzy makeup, etc. Imagine yourself in her shoes (literally) and see how it feels.

5. If she’s a celeb or well known, put together a pinterest board of photos you love of her. Make note under each photo of what it is you like about it to remind you.

This board will be your lookbook and personal guide to help you have your own memorable style. It’s not about copying everything your icons wear and do in exact detail, but rather taking elements from their clothes and beauty and incorporating it into your own style.

Now that you have your beauty spirit animal, you use her powers to increase your confidence and expression of who you are!

Once you find her, she may stay with you for several years, or just a season. You might find you want a new beauty spirit animal every year.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What did you learn about yourself by finding your beauty spirit animal? Care to share who she is? How can she help you express your own style and who you are? I want to hear all about it!

xo,

Melissa

p.s. Want to know who my Beauty Spirit Animals are? Right now it’s Blake Lively and Stevie Nicks meet the Olsen Twins. ☺