Dec 1

This past Thanksgiving I spent some time with my girlfriend Maria’s family. While I was there I was talking with her about my recent make-up dilemma. I have never been much of a girly girl. Never had a need or want to wear a lot of makeup. Well, I recently turned 40 and although people say “40 is the new 20”, in order to make that a reality, I need some help.  So I’ve been buying make-up, foundation specifically, and I CANNOT find a shade that works, even if I find something close, it seems like the makeup is always discontinued. It’s so frustrating! I either look like a ghost or am some sort of orange Snooki wannabe (no offense but the fake-n-bake isn’t what I’m looking for)!

I’ve known Maria since we were six and she was the ultimate girly girl. She always had a bag full of make-up ranging in products from Clinique to Avon. So I asked her to help me find the right foundation so that I could cover up all those years of sun damage while not making me look like I’m wearing some sort of mask. So while the turkey was cooking, she brought out her make-up bag. She had warned me that she had downsized since our teen years but she’d be able to give me something that would match my shade closer than any other foundation could.

She breaks out this clear plastic box with tubes of different colors in it: “By Jove Cosmetics Ultra-Matrix 3000 Color System”. Ok. This is interesting. She explained that the tubes are filled with primary colors and you use them to mix your shade. It comes with a book with all of the different shades you can make and instructions on how to adjust the color if it’s slightly off. This was really cool! I picked my card “Carol” and made my shade. It was close, I just needed a wee more blue. Maria’s shade was “Lupe” and it was exactly her skin tone and she let me know that during the summer, she gets darker so she is able to adjust for that. This is AWESOME! I had a blast making the shade and experimenting with the different colors. Maria’s daughter Angelica (who is 12 and NOT allowed to wear make-up yet) popped in and joined in the fun. Angelica was allowed to mix Maria’s shade for her and I was amazed at how easy it was. Quick and easy!

So yesterday in honor of “Cyber Monday”, I went to the website to order and it’s being shipped today! Maria says they are coming out with a blush and eye shadow kit. Can you imagine being able to make any shade that you want?! Think about all those favorite shades that get discontinued!! I’ll never have to worry about that again!

Oh wow! Have I become a girly girl at 40?!  You can buy the make-up through or directly from their website: Now I just need to drop that extra five pounds I gained over the weekend… 

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Aug 5

Terms like ‘mineral makeup’ makes us think of words like “Pure”, “Natural” and “Chemical Free”. Just entering the search term Mineral Makeup on the Internet brings back pages of hits of companies selling their version of mineral makeup. If you take the time to read through the various claims you’ll see how one company claims their superiority over the others by using various action verbs and catch phrases, “ Pure minerals” is perhaps the most overused catch phrase.  The truth is that regardless of what companies claim, they are not using pure minerals to color their powders, they are using synthetic iron oxide pigments, synthetic ultramarine pigments, titanium dioxide and other synthetic pigments; just like every other cosmetic company has for decades.


In the United States, the pigments that are allowed for use in cosmetics are regulated by the FDA. Regulated you say?  Yes I know that there are many natural cosmetic websites and political lobby groups that claim how the cosmetic industry is unregulated, this is an untruth, but that lie will be discussed in other blogs.  The FDA offers a great deal of information and guidance to educate consumers and cosmetic companies in the regulations and laws that manufacturers must follow. Following the link “FDA Color Additives” will provide you with information about cosmetic colors and regulations.

Regarding natural mineral pigments the list of acceptable pigments can be found directly in 21CFR part 73 subpart C    and     (D&C and FD&C colors). If you research further you will find that the pigments that are used in mineral foundations are made synthetically. Other than being a marketing untruth through, there is no danger in using these colors. Reading through the different websites would make you think that using synthetic colors is evil, bad and every other mean nasty thing you can imagine; all it really is are companies marketing on fear in order to sell their products.   21CFR part 74 subpart C


To substantiate how one mineral makeup company is better than another, customers write in their testimonials how this makeup line makes me break out or how that foundation makes me break out and each company offers up how and why their product won’t cause this and why other products make this happen.  The various answers will make consumers and anyone with knowledge of ingredients bang their head in frustration.  Notwithstanding other lesser, possible causes, from my experience of ingredients and formulas, one of the biggest reasons for breakouts from mineral makeup and powders in general are micro abrasions.  Many of these products don’t use talc (for no reason other than they make unsubstantiated claims of how bad talc is) and in it’s place use mica. Mica in its most inexpensive form is a flat, jagged edged platelet, which tends to lay flat on the skin when applied; but also because it does have jagged edges, will tend to catch onto the pores of the skin when applied (especially if applied when the pores are open, such as when the skin is warm like right after a shower or a bath) and cause a micro abrasion.  Applying a lot of powder under this condition, repeatedly, can cause a number of abrasions, which over the course of the day and under repeated application could become angry and look as well as feel worse. Provided that the abrasion doesn’t infect, by suspending the use of your mineral makeup or powder for a few days will allow the abrasion to heal.   


I first observed these micro-abrasions many years ago when working on powders and observing how the repeated application of certain powders throughout the day to evaluate color would cause the skin on my arm to become scratched and angry. I realized it was the mica making these micro scratches into my skin that was causing the irritation.


Now this doesn’t mean that mica is bad, however what it does mean is that how mica is used in the formula and what type of mica is used will impact how it reacts on customers. For companies that make mineral makeup, many of them choose to make it with the cheapest ingredients (regardless of the marketing claims) because of this, the mica tends to be less refined, being a larger particle size and having sharper jagged edges. These powders will more than likely, given the right condition scratch the skin.  However, if a company wants to create a finer feeling formula they would use treated mica, which depending on the treatment would smooth out the jagged edge of the mica, making it unable to catch on the pores of the skin and create an abrasion.  Sometimes you can tell if a treated mica has been used by looking at the ingredient list of the product and seeing ingredients like methicone, lecithin or sodium myristoyl sarcosinate, If you’ve ever spent money for a more expensive product you’ve known the feel of the difference between a cheap product and a more expensive product.  The texture would be the difference between sand paper and a million little ball bearings rubbing against your skin.


Of course, aside from the micro abrasions that can occur when using powdered mineral makeup, the performance of the product could also be an issue since the powder is just that. Powder in and of itself tends to have poor skin adhesion and easily wears off, either from perspiring or the buildup of oils on the skin.  One way to increase the wear ability of powder is to increase the binders in it. Binders would usually be in the form of zinc stearate or an oil, this however, could aid in causing the skin to breakout as a result of the pores of the skin becoming blocked by the oils in the powder or by the oils of the skin bonding with the powder.


With so many mineral foundations being available on the market and given that so many companies are going out of business due to the economic downturn of the last few years, the amount of discontinued makeup products in the market have been on the rise. As it may be difficult to find your exact color of discontinued cosmetic again the most cost effective alternative would be to turn to custom makeup.  Custom cosmetics have become increasingly popular with the introduction of products such as By Jove Cosmetics – Ultra Matrix 3000 custom makeup kit.  This makeup kit which retails as low as $29.95 enables people to be able to custom blend any skin tone as well as create any shade of concealer.  The high quality ingredients used to create By Jove’s makeup will allow you to experience the difference between inexpensive formulas and a high-end luxury.  By Jove cosmetics will be expanding their line of custom blend cosmetic products with the addition of a custom blush kit by late summer 2010.


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Jul 21

As I’ve worked in the cosmetics industry I’ve had the opportunity to work with makeup artists, makeup schools and professional makeup companies; living in Hollywood, California for the last 10 years has increased my exposure to those various companies. Throughout that time I’ve also had the opportunity to learn how to apply the makeup that I’ve been creating for years and even learn some of the fun aspects of makeup artistry including working with latex and silicone FX makeup.  I’ve been fortunate in that all the additional knowledge I’ve acquired has been a result of work that I’ve done with these companies. Many of the students I’ve met, haven’t been as fortunate in that they’ve had to pay full price (sometimes upwards of $30,000) for the same knowledge. At the end of their studies they are generally given the opportunity to venture out and apply their new trade for free, maybe if they’re lucky than can get a kit fee (usually around $45) for a day’s worth of work. I’ve heard the term “paying their dues” applied to this over the years, of course the people saying this were the same ones charging the 30 thousand dollars. I for one have always felt like the new makeup artists are being taken advantage of, perhaps it has more to do with my inner capitalist screaming at the thought of a person giving away their time. The old adage “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” comes to mind:  When you start down the path of giving your services or product away for free, it is incredibly difficult to ever break that cycle. Whereas it may take a little longer for you to be a makeup artist when you charge for your skills, I believe that when we earn payment for our work we carry our heads a little higher and the have more pride in our work in the end gain greater respect from our customers.


      That being said, I want to share with you some of the things that I’ve learned that can help you save a lot of money if your interested in learning more about makeup artistry.


A while back I listened to an interview that Denis Leary gave with regards to becoming a filmmaker, his advice was,” If you want to be a filmmaker, take the money you were going to spend on film school, go out, buy a camera and make your movie.”  Similar advice can be given for makeup artistry. 


With the filmmaking technology ever changing, and with all the needed skills required to be an expert shade matcher and makeup artist, it could seem overwhelming to start pursuing your makeup dreams without having to spend 10’s of thousands of dollars in instruction.  However if you have no experience in professional makeup artistry, perhaps one of the best books on the market for self-instruction has to be Richard Corson’s “Stage Makeup”. Available at, the current edition costs over $100.00 but you can still find the very informative 8th edition for under $60 dollars.


This instructional book provides a wealth of technical knowledge of how to manipulate light and color to achieve effects. These lessons can be applied not only to stage and effects makeup but also to all makeup applications. You will also find that many of the lessons being taught by Richard Corson, are the same lessons being taught in the makeup schools for thousand of dollars.


Having access to the knowledge is only part of the equation for being a makeup artist.  Another, potentially more expensive part is building your makeup kit. A makeup artist can very quickly spend thousands of dollars to build their kit and when you consider that most cosmetics have a maximum shelf life of 3 years (many have an even shorter shelf life and natural makeup has as little as a 90 day shelf life past the date of opening) it is very easy to spend a great deal of money on makeup over a short period of time.  When you also look at just the base make ups (foundation & correctives (neutralizers, shaders and highlights)) it is not out of the realm of possibility that you will buy upwards of 25 to 30 different shades of makeup, given the need to have to blend for lighter skinned and ethnic makeup, even though makeup artists will generally custom blend makeup by combining the numerous shades they have in their kit, they will still need to buy many shades in order to be able to create the many different types of skin tones they may encounter on the set. Given that many professional foundation brands may cost upwards of $15 to $20 per ½ oz. of makeup, you can very quickly spend up to $600 just for foundation. If you consider the frustration of discontinued makeup and other discontinued cosmetics, the benefit of being able to make your own makeup becomes apparent.  Being able to make truly custom makeup has been a desire of professional makeup artists as long as there has been the need for different colors. By custom blending your own colors you have the ability to carry less base materials and spend considerably less money to achieve the same, if not better end results.  Whereas you might spend upwards of $600 dollars for 25 to 30 individual makeup bases by purchasing a custom blending kit such as the Ultra Matrix 3000 custom foundation kit by By Jove Cosmetics, you could spend as little as $30 for their starter kit which would let you blend up to about 2 oz. of foundation and/or correctives. With the refill bases for By Jove costing as little as $10.50 an oz. in their discount program, both aspiring and professional makeup artists alike can see substantial savings in their makeup kits as well as the need to carry considerably less materials.


As companies like By Jove Cosmetics continue to expand their custom blending kits to include Blush, Eye shadow and Lip colors, any color in the rainbow will be achievable by everyone who can see color.


With free access to the internet being what it is, there is such a wealth of knowledge and networking access (via Facebook, Twitter and Myspace) that is available today that anyone who desires to be a professional makeup artist can do so from virtually anywhere in the world and you should not feel like you have to go to Hollywood or New York and spend tens of thousands of dollars to get your start.

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Jun 15



Many of us wonder why makeup makes some us look ashy and others look like they’re wearing an orange mask.  The truth is that few companies develop and manufacture their own products and many companies rely on contract manufacturers to develop and produce their products, this being the case, almost all foundations are developed using the following colors, iron oxide(s), red, yellow, black and titanium dioxide (white).


The problem arises because even though the used colors sort of look like the color of skin, they aren’t.  True skin tones are a combination of opacity/reflectance (white) and red, yellow and blue: Black, if used at all is strictly used to control tone. Since almost all of the foundations on the market use iron oxides and no blue, to get a darker color the black is increased and that is where the ashy-ness comes from.  Since black is not  a color in skin color, it will make skin appear ashy when used. Likewise with lighter colors, since blue is not used in most foundations, if you are not lucky enough to fit into the exact color that you are wearing, you will tend to get a yellow or orange cast to your foundation.


The reason companies use iron oxides and white is because blue is a difficult color to work with in foundations.  The use of this pigment costs more and requires skill on the part of the formulators and manufacturers.  The use of purple or green in foundations also requires skill in formulating/manufacturing and drives up the cost so companies generally use the pigments they are used to using and hope that the consumers will just accept a product that doesn’t really work for them.


Another trick companies use, is to create very sheer makeup formulas and claim that the colors will match up to 90 or 95% of their users. This method shows itself every few years and people will flock to try the new product, only to sadly discover that the color matches their skin color “sort of”, because the makeup is so transparent, most of their skin color shows through as does the color variations they are trying to equalize with the foundation in the first place. The cycle of trying to find the right product can be maddening. But solutions are beginning to become available.


By Jove Cosmetics of Hollywood, California has introduced their TRU2U foundation and especially their Ultra Matrix 3000 custom makeup kits.  These foundation and concealer products use blue, white and iron oxides to create their skin tones and as a result they have the most accurate colors for all colors available. With their custom blending kits any skin tone can be quickly and easily matched. For people looking for true color matches companies like By Jove will ultimately provide for them what so many mass market companies have been unable to.


When you search for a foundation, never feel rushed in your decision. Try the shade on your hand using a tester at the store and if you can’t find a sample there, request one from the brands website, usually samples are available from manufacturers for a minimal cost (usually shipping & handling).  When you look at the color try to do so in natural light. Store fluorescent lights tend to cast blue tones and will make a makeup look better on your skin than it really does; that’s why so often a color looks great in the store and looks off when you wear it later.


When you find a color that works for you and that product is discontinued try to save a portion of the discontinued makeup you have and research companies that do custom blending.  With a specific shade name or better yet a portion of your foundation, any capable color chemist will be able to match your shade perfectly, a search on the Internet for custom blended makeup or  custom blend cosmetics yield results for a number of companies. Typical custom blending usually costs between $45.00 to $75.00 per ounce of makeup and the By Jove Cosmetics foundation kits start at $29.95 for enough materials to produce up to 2 ounces of finished makeup.

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Jun 7

Makeup has become such an integral part of our lives and finding the ‘perfect’ shades and colors of cosmetics has always been a hunt for the elusive, especially after we find our prefect color and almost as if ‘they knew’ the company that makes that color discontinues it.


When confronted by the challenge of discontinued makeup we try our best to save what little makeup we have left, but ultimately we give up and try to find the next color that works great for us.


When you first discover that your favorite shade of makeup has been discontinued, you should try to find your color directly with the manufacturer.


Call the cosmetic company directly and ask their customer-service department about leftover inventory, or if they changed the colors name or better yet if they have a comparable substitute.


For reference here are a few of the main numbers for some of the larger companies:


Estee Lauder- 1-877-311-3883

Maybelline – 1-800-944-0730 

L’Oreal – 1-800-322-2036 

Lancome – 1-800-526-2663  

Revlon  -  1-800-473-8566

Cover Girl -   1-800-426-8374


When you’ve exhausted searching for your color direct with the manufacturers and if you don’t achieve your desired results, you can turn to custom blended cosmetics.


Custom blending was made popular by companies such as Prescriptives cosmetics which offered to give customers a new level in custom makeup. Prescriptives closed their counter service in January 2010. This has left customers who became accustomed to custom blend cosmetics searching for a new source for their custom blended needs.  A web search for custom blend cosmetics will bring up many companies and websites that offer information and services related to custom blending cosmetics. Beware though, there are some companies that offer custom makeup and advertise custom makeup when all they really offer are pre-blended makeup in a variety of colors. For customers who have a hard time finding the right shade of makeup, this can lead to an ongoing and costly exercise of trial and error. For customers who fall outside of the usual color blends (which is really most of us) we have little option but to find real custom blended makeup. True custom blending can easily cost upwards of $60-$100 per item.


Getting custom blended makeup can be a very expensive alternative to just accepting what the cosmetic companies offer us, but a web search for learn to make your own cosmetics will show that many people are looking for a more cost effective alternative.


The cost effective alternative for custom blending has come in the creation of at-home makeup kits. Companies like By Jove Cosmetics offer affordable makeup kits that let customers blend foundations, highlights, neutralizers and shaders. By Jove will be introducing a custom eye shadow kit at some point in 2010, and completing their initial line with a custom blush kit and custom lipstick kit through 2011-2012. A web search for custom foundation kits or custom makeup kits will list a number of products that are now available to us consumers.


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