Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hi!  Welcome to Blake Artistry!  My name is Chet Michael.  I'm a professional make-up artist I've worked with everyday men and women, brides, models, professionals, and actors for 20 years on the stage, television and runway for some of Paris' hottest couture brands.  One thing I've found, is we all want to feel better about ourselves.  I have committed myself to helping people of all ages and backgrounds do just that.

I will be answering questions, making suggestions, and just generally talking about skin care and make-up.  Please, feel free to join me and participate.

I look forward to talking with you all.

Blake Artistry
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Charleston, West Virginia
412 531-2083

How to get your bridal and wedding make up to last (Step 2 Prime)

Congratulations!  You're getting married or you are in a friends wedding!  Either way, it is going to be a lot of fun, a lot of work, some stress, and very rewarding.  The day of the special event you want to look as good when the reception is winding down (no easy task after a glass of wine or five) as you did when the procession music started playing.  I am more than happy to share some tips with you to make your make-up stay all day and all night!  We have previously prepped the skin by exfoliating, and now it is the day of our big event.  Next we need to prime the skin, choose all day wear cosmetics (and ones you will feel comfortable wearing all day), and set your make-up; Moreover, I'll share some tips from not accidentally damaging your face during the event to how to remove all of it in the end. 

We have already prepped the skin, so why now prime it?  Priming does a number of things.  First, it gives your make smooth surface, or canvas, to be applied to and gives everything a "smooth as glass" or "airbrush" finish.  Secondly, priming the skin gives your make-up something to adhere; Thereby, significantly increasing its wear. Third, priming your skin prevents your skin from metabolizing your make-up, also significantly increasing the wear of your make-up. Forth, priming helps keep environmental factors (such as 93 degree weather and 100% humidity) from decreasing the length of wear of your make up.  Lastly, some primers help to waterproof or provide additional benefits such as minimizing oily shine.  With all of this, you can certainly see that priming the skin is an absolute must for event make-up.

There are two primer categories.  Primers for face and primers for eyes.  I will discuss both.

When do I use a primer?  Primers should be applied after your skin care and before any make-up.  Additionally, through years of experience being a make-up artist, I can tell you, prime your eyes, do you eye-make-up, then begin priming your face and doing the rest of your make-up.  I know this is counter intuitive.  We perfect our faces, color our face and lips, and eyes (our focus feature) are our last show-stopping endeavor.  Any mistakes or eyeshadow fall-out could significantly increase your make-up application time and may result in you starting all over.  Who wants that?  So, moral of the story-- prime and do your eyes first, then prime the rest of the face and complete the rest of your
     1. Prep / exfoliate the skin  (days before the event)
     2. Prime / moisturize/hydrate the eyes
     3. Prime/ use eyeshadow primer on the eye area
     4. Complete your eye look (excluding mascara application)
     5. Prime/ moisturize your skin
     6. Prime/ use primer on the skin
     7.  Complete color application face and lips
     8.  Set you make-up
     9.  Mascara application
     10. Enjoy your event

What primer should I use?  My favorite primer without question is Hourglass' Veil Mineral Primer. I use this on all of my photo shoots and models. Yes, we all have our favorites, and I am not here to dissuade you from yours; However, this primer is so unique, versatile, and cutting-edge it at least merits a look.  Why do I love it?  Just touch it you'll see.  It's the lightest weight primer you'll ever touch.  I never thought primers were heavy or had a texture until I used this one.  Also, it performs impeccably.   It's versatile, it's approved for all skin types and can be used on both the eyes and the face.  It's great for sensitive skins and those of us that like to avoid controversial ingredients (it's oil-free, paraben free, phthalate free, sulfate free, fragrance free, gluten free, and vegan friendly).  Wow!  With all of those "frees" how can this possibly work well.  As if that weren't enough this Primer also helps to neutralize redness so your foundation has less work to do.  Give it a try, you will love it!  Any and all make-up (even powders) becomes water-proof when used above Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer and it comes in both a normal size and a travel size.  Please, do yourself a favor and check this product out.
     If this is not the primer for you let me help you select a good primer for you.
     Let us start with eye shadow primers.  All of these merit a look, but just about every brand makes a great one.
     Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer is light-weight, long wearing,  and photography-friendly.
     Benefit's Stay Don't Stray is light-weight and offers concealer like coverage above and below the
        eye.  Just be careful, the pump gives you too much product.
     Paula Dorf's Eye Primer is hard to find but it's a great heavy duty eye shadow primer that is made
         for photographic work and it neutralizes undesirable colors on the eye.  You will own this
         primer for a VERY long time (a little goes a long way).
     Lancome's Aquatique Nude Eyeshadow Primer is another heavy-duty, concealer-like eye-shadow primer and this one is water-proof.  It's been a fan favorite for years.
     Urban Decay's Eyeshadow Primer Potion is a light-weight easy to use eyeshadow primer that comes in colors and in clear.  Ulta and Sephora guests and cast members use this as go-to eyeshadow primer.,default,pd.html?start=3&cgid=509&q=primer%20potion
     Light-weight, high-performance and brand prestige are all part of Chanel's Base Ombre a Paupieres.
     Comes from nature, long-lasting, light-weight and very professional in performance-- Tarte's Clean Slate 360 degree 12-Hour Smoothing Eye Primer is a mouth-full to say but won't break the bank.
     A decades-old fan favorite.  Clinque's touch base.  Make sure you close the lid when you are done.

If you think there are a lot of eyeshadow primers to choose from, Make-Up Primers for the face are a huge financial driver for the cosmetics industry right now.  Every Company makes one and every company is vying to be number one in this category.  I still suggest using Hourglass' Veil Mineral Primer; However, if you still want to shop for other primers I recommend doing so by your skin type.

Oily skin may want to have a look at these primers to feel comfortable, extend the wear of their makeup, and help minimize shine.  Smashbox Photo Finish Light is a light textured 60% water formula and Smashbox has long been regarded for their pioneering of the Primer category.  Cargo's Blu-Ray Mattifier is made for photography and blurs imperfection so makeup is less necessary.  It'll also help keep down your shine during your event and is less expensive than other professional primers.  Also look at Urban Decay's Complexion Primer Potion-Pore Refining.  It's light-weight.,default,pd.html?start=23&cgid=4   Oily skins used to be able to depend on Lorac's anti-aging Aquaprime; However they just discontinued it.  Let's hope their new POREfection not only performs as well as the Aquaprime, but also sets a new standard.
  Another popular oil controlling primer is offered by Bare Minerals.  Bare Essentials Prime Time Oil Control Foundation Primer can be seen at:,default,pd.html

Normal Skin has a myriad of choices.  Of course, you already know my favorite, but ther are other nice ones.  If you need color correction, consider Smahbox Photo Finish.  There is a whole collection of primers here to help with neutralizing any excessive or undesirable colors of the skin.  They are ll made with photographic work kept in mind.
If you feel as though you would like your complexion to look younger definitely inspect Peter Thomas Roth's Un-Wrinkle Primer.  This primer has Peter's genius Peptide Blend including both repairing peptides and highly-desired-ground-breaking-instant-satisfaction nueropeptides.  You may want to check out the skin care in this same category.  Also, well known for her complexion prowess is Laura Mercier and her fans love her Foundation Primer.

Dry skins are getting more choices in this category all of the time.  If you skin is need of serious conditioning try Hourglass No. 28 primer serum.  This is a skin-healthy from nature option is also anti-aging and is built with 28 natural skin care powerhouses.  Your skin will positively radiate with this within using this primer, and you can use it as your serum at night and also as your hair/skin/nail oil.  Heads up Moroccan, Argan,  and Marajuka oil fans.  I love this on my cuticles.  Tarte is always a great choice for more sensitive skins.  Their Clean Slate Flawless 12 Hour Brightening Primer will feel great on dry or dehydrated skins.  If money is no option and you love luxury try Chanel's Base Lumiere Illuminating Make-Up base.
If your skin is dehydrated than it is dry consider putting water into the skin before priming.  Try a few drops of Philosophy's When Hope is Not Enough firming serum.  It contains sodium hyluronate a powerful skin healthy ingredient that binds and attracts several hundred times its weight in water.  Your skin won't be thirsty and it won't "drink" your make-up to compensate.

Wow!  Did I really have that much to say about primers?  You can guess this must be a very important step.  It's a big event and you want to look your best with minimal effort for as long as possible. First prepping your skin, and then priming will ensure you get the best results for the longest time.

I'm dying to know what you discover and what you think.  Please, join the conversation.

 Blake Artistry
Professional Make-Up Artistry
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Charleston, West Virginia

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How to get your bridal and wedding make up to last (Step 1 Exfoliation) all day (Step 1 Exfoliate)

Congratulations!  You're getting married or you are in a friends wedding!  Either way, it is going to be a lot of fun, a lot of work, some stress, and very rewarding.  The day of the special event you want to look as good when the reception is winding down (no easy task after a glass of wine or five) as you did when the procession music started playing.  I am more than happy to share some tips with you to make your make-up stay all day and all night!  Over the next several days I will tackle each step.  We will prep the skin, prime the skin, choose all day wear cosmetics (and ones you will feel comfortable wearing all day), and set your make-up; Moreover, I'll share some tips from not accidentally damaging your face during the event to how to remove all of it in the end.  This is too much to cover in just one article as you will see.

First, we need to prep the skin.  This will do two things for you:  1. It will allow you make-up to lie as flat to your skin as possible giving better cohesion and looking far more beautiful than skin that hasn't been prepped (this also helps to prevent the "caked-on" look).  2. This will allow your make-up's most maximized wear-ability and breathe-ability.  So how do we achieve all of this fabulousness?  Exfoliate the skin.
     If you are pregnant, please, check with your doctor and read ingredients carefully.  Exfoliation is a category where a lot of those ingredients you are recommended to avoid-- sneak in. 
     Exfoliate the skin?  You are either groaning or asking yourself 'what does that mean?' or 'why does everyone tell me this?'  Exfoliating the skin means to encourage dead skin cells on the surface that should be making their way to their final resting place, to go ahead and pack up and leave.  The dead skin cells on the surface are little dead sponges that like to absorb your make-up and then leave you at exactly the wrong time.  Also, dead skin cells are very "cliquish"-- they like to hang out in odd groups in random places and ignore everyone else.  This creates a blotchy or "caked-on" look  (Imagine if you covered your shower loofah in make-up how uneven it would appear).  So, already, we know we don't like them.  Let's tell them to get gone!  Let's exfoliate!   This doesn't have to be an arduous task or an irritating one either.  Plus, your skin will feel and look so much better you'll have less need of actual make-up.
      When is the best time to exfoliate?  Well, this depends on your skin.  If you have very sensitive skin  you may want to exfoliate 4 days out from the event and perform a sensitivity patch test a month out.  This will give any residual irritation time to subside or give you time to find another medium of exfoliation that suits your delicate skin.  Sensitive skin also should choose the most gentile form of exfoliation possible and you may want to experiment ahead of time to find out what works best for you.  If you don't have sensitive skin choosing a way to exfoliate  is as easy as choosing your favorite medium.  Regular skins should exfoliate 2 nights out from the event.  This way we know it has been done and is not interfering with our event preparations.  It may only take a few minutes; However, it is amazing how busy you will be those last few days.
     If you do have sensitive skin may I make the following recommendations?
     Philosophy Detox (Oxygen Peel).  What?  Are you crazy?  A peel for sensitive skin? This isn't a peel in the traditional sense. This  peel is not using an acid to burn off dead (and sometimes living) tissue.  In fact this particular treatment is great for just about anyone (men and women).  It is detoxifying, hydrating, antiseptic, gentle, and it exfoliates by "suggesting" dead skin cells find a new place to live. As the oxygen and the hydration benefits are accepted by the skin the skin's keratin bonds (these hold the skin cells in place) are gently broken and the skin cells fall off naturally.  I still recommend a patch test as with any sensitive skin, but I think you'll love the results.  This method takes about 10 minutes of dedicated "ME TIME".  Everything you need is in the box and you'll get enough for 10-15 treatments.  If it's just you open one of the capsules and pour half of it into the little test-tube like jar provided and replace the top of the capsule to save for next time.  If you and some friends are doing it together or you are doing more than just your face (this works on the back of hands, elbows, and the décolleté too, use a whole capsule.  If you are using half a capsule, fill the jar 1 quarter of the way with gently warm water, if you are using a whole capsule, fill it nearly half way.  Snap down the lid and shake vigorous for a few seconds (don't try to get the texture smooth it should be lumpy like pancake batter).  Apply this gel to the area you wish to treat and then follow with the cream foam in the large jar also provided.  The oxygen and water start to separate out and to work... Yes, you're are going to bubble up!  This is kind of fun.  The treatment needs 3 to 5 minutes to work, so enjoy and relax.  Do not worry this isn't an acid, it will not burn you if you leave it on too long.  In fact, this treatment shuts itself off.  Now, if you have very sensitive skin, splash what's left of the mixture off of your face and notice how bright and smooth your face looks and feels!  If you do not have very sensitive skin remove the mixture with the provided spatula.  This will help encourage those dead skin cells to leave!  Then splash off the remainder with warm water.  You will love this!
    Check it out!,en_US,pd.html
    Peter Thomas Roth Botanical Buffing Beads are fantastic way to get great physical exfoliation for any skin even sensitive and delicate, simply take a small frozen pea size amount and GENTLY (this is not a race ladies and gentlemen) buff damp (make-up free) skin for 90 seconds (sing your alphabet three times if you are not a person who likes to count).  The beads will dissolve as you buff releasing nourishing agents into the skin; Thus, assuring you don't over exfoliate the skin and the botanicals calm the skin.  You'll notice this product has won several awards in a lot of magazines. 
     Check them out!

Now, if your skin isn't sensitive or delicate, well then you have a wide array of ways to choose your medium of exfoliation.   I would suggest doing your exfoliation 2-3 nights out from your event. And you may want to practice once or twice a month or a few weeks out from the event to make sure you don't experience any surprise sensitivity.  We all know what happened to Samantha on "Sex And the City".  I recommend rethinking-- Over-The-Counter nonprofessional products that contain ground up shells or nuts or anything that may contain shards of something to cut the dead skin cells off.  I am in no way inferring that there aren't some great way to exfoliate inexpensively from the drug store; However, I don't recommend the use of shards of anything to improve anyone's health of anything.  One to try might be L'Oreal's Derma Genesis Skin Daily Exfoliating Wash.  I have not tried this product yet and I have not been able to see the ingredients yet; However, I do like the fact that says it uses beads and is gentle.
    My favorite ways to exfoliate and pamper myself are:
    Philosophy's microdelivery peel, this is great for getting the best of both chemical and physical exfoliation and you also get the benefits of anti-aging peptides and brightening vitamin C.  This smells and feels fantastic to those of us Veteran exfoliaters.
    Check it out:,en_US,pd.html
    Peter Thomas Roth's Clinical Peel & Reveal Dermal Resurfacer. This gives the best of physical and enzymatic exfoliation.  The pumpkin enzyme smells delicious.
    Check it out:
    Kate Somerville's ExfoliKate gives enzymatic and physical exfoliation as well.  Also, there are varying formulas depending on surface skin type. You can choose the one that works best for your skin for that time of year.  Sephora clients rave about this product.
    Check it out!
    Glamglow is a great way to get exfoliation out of a mask.  The mud purifies and detoxifies the skin while the 6 acid blend, green tea and other exciting ingredients exfoliate and protect the skin.  Sephora cast members are raving about his product.
    Check it out:

Once you have experienced all of the many benefits exfoliation can provide not only for your special event, but also for the overall health of your skin, you may find yourself seemingly addicted to it.  Please, keep in mind over-exfoliation of the skin is just as bad, if not worse than not exfoliating it enough.  Do what's best for your skin and remember your skin changes, listen to what it has to say!

If you have any questions, suggestions or comments I would love to hear them.  

412 531-2083

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fantastic Eyebrows

You know, one of the greatest things we can do for ourselves is promote good brows.  As sophisticated and supposedly evolved human beings we sometimes forget that we are predatory mammals.  As predators it follows logic that it is imperative we are able to read the expressions of our prey and our frenemy packs of fellow predators in order to forecast the possible actions of each.  Where do we look to read these hints?  The eyebrows and the lips are the most expressive features of any mammal, perhaps organisms on Earth.

Even if we do nothing else for ourselves, a set of well groomed eyebrows can take us above an beyond our classic 'fresh out of bed' look, and to the opposite end we all know too well just how frightening a set of over-wrought, painted up, truck-stop waitress eyebrows can be.  Ever tried a new Aesthetician only to return with a pair of McDonald's arches for brows?  I bet you were convinced your dating life was over for at least three weeks and dreaded the ever judgmental looks from your girlfriends and coworkers. 

I'll be posting some tips for great brows in the near future.  Be sure to check back for that.  In the meantime I also wanted to share some of my favorite brow beauty products with you.

If you already have plenty of hair on your brow and you just need to fill in and groom your brows, there's nothing better than Anastasia of Beverly Hill's Brow Gel.  It is so fast and easy.  It is light-weight and it isn't sticky.  It comes on a mascara wand... simply make sure there isn't too much of the gel on the mascara brush and comb through... fabulous brows in under 20 seconds.  The color stays put and I don't have to worry about you having those dreaded waitress eyebrows.
     Just a word to the wise on the colors.  Don't be afraid of them.  Yes!  They look shimmery, but they are completely natural on the eyebrow.  The shimmer is much more subtle than it looks in the tube and on the brow it picks up the natural (or unnatural in some cases) highlights in our own hair.  Making them much more natural than matte brow gels would be. The colors go on about 1-2 shades darker than they appear (but not to worry this is pretty foolproof product).  It also comes in clear for those of us that just need to keep what we already have in place.  Here's the downside-- you can not create brows where they do not exist.
    Check them out!

Perhaps you are not so blessed in the brow department and need to actually create portions or entire eyebrows?  Well I have a new favorite!  It's brand spanking new too!  Wait to you try this mostly natural, water resistant, vegan friendly product!  It's amazing!  Hourglass's new arch brow can be used to fill, groom, or create eyebrows or individual hairs.  It's the perfect consistency.  It isn't so hard that it hurts, nor is it too soft so you get the 'magic maker eyebrow' look either.  It is water resistant and once the color is on... it is on!  The wax is built in so you can do everything in 1 or 2 easy steps.  The tip, oh my goodness wait until you see the tip!  It's triangular shaped!  Yes, I know Smashbox has a tip the same shape, and it just so happens I love that product too.  With this shape, you can quickly fill large areas beautifully and naturally (use the largest side of the tip to lightly color both the skin of your brow and the hair of your brow) or mimic individual hairs with the thinnest part of the tip.  You will love this product!
     Downside?  Well, this isn't an inexpensive product, but it's well worth it.  Once this color is down, it's there and it isn't going anywhere.  Moral of this story, use a light handed touch until you figure out how this one works.  The good news is you never have to worry about your brow color moving or fading.
    Check them out!

We all know, Smashbox with their models on the covers of the world's most fashionable magazines are the world's experts on brow color.  Brow Tech To Go is a great way to fill in or create brows where they don't exist.  The formula is water-proof, but easy to remove when you want to and worry proof until you are.  The tip is a "powder-in-a-pencil" formula.  Triangular shaped just like the new Hourglass Arch Brow.  Use the same way; However, when you are done remove the mascara wand on the other end and set with a lightweight brow gel.
    Downsides to this product?  There are only two shades and while they are both pretty universal some of us may be left out of the perfect color crowd.  Also, there's two steps to this product. While, I don't mind this, some of us may enjoy a 1 step product instead.
   Check them out!

Of course I don't have the space to address all brow products and tips here.  Check this location for more tips, tricks and product reviews.  Feel free to join the conversation here.  Contact me with questions and comments.

Chet Michael
Blake Artistry
Professional Make-Up Artistry
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Charleston, West Virginia
412 531-2083