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Category : Makeup Trends

Brenda Christian Interview Pt. 1: The Universal Brow Definer

brenda christian cosmetics

Interview with Brenda Christian, President and CEO, Brenda Christian Cosmetics, Inc. 

Brenda Christian founded her eponymous cosmetics line in 1982 to offer women unparalleled solutions to their skin care and makeup needs. The company develops products based upon voids in the cosmetics industry that Christian identifies through client interactions. We talked to this inspiring female entrepreneur about her journey, creating her own line of products and much more!

What inspired you to develop your cosmetic products?

B.C.: Though my business is now 32 years old, it seems like yesterday that I made the decision to become a professional makeup artist. I was young and energetic, and within a few months was booked solid, traveling and doing fashion show work. Still, my greatest love was teaching a woman, one on one, how to apply her makeup…everything from how to hold a makeup brush correctly to selecting shades she could wear to achieve her best look. When I began developing products, I did so out of necessity.

Regarding my brow products, that is quite a story!

Early on I became the go-to person for brow shaping in Houston. I adored working with my clients, but felt weak in adding to eyebrows to fill voids, or even more terrifying, creating an eyebrow where absolutely no hair existed. I could not find a product that worked well, and felt insecure about my work.

About that time, I enrolled in a three day course for experienced makeup artists offered by Maurice Stein, a well-known Hollywood makeup artist. The first day of the course, he tested each student. After the practical testing, Maurice pulled me away from the rest of the class and asked me why I was working in Houston and not California!  I explained that my goal was not to become a television and cinema makeup artist, but to develop products formulated to work in extreme climatic conditions, like the heat and humidity of Houston. I told him I was working on a product to create eyebrows on women that had none.

For three days, Maurice worked with me, teaching me separately from the rest of the class, how to create beautiful eyebrows on women that had none. At the end of the class, Maurice asked me if I would show the products that I had been working on to Harry Blake, Director of Makeup for NBC Studios. I was happy to do so! Both men were excited about the potential of the new wax I had developed and encouraged me to share the products with them upon completion. Today, I am honored that Maurice sells my eyebrow products in his Cinema Secrets store in California, and I have always been grateful for his artistic training.

Your Universal Brow Definer is legendary. How is one brow pencil shade really universal?


B.C.:
As I worked with my clients without brow hairs – due to genetics, a bad tweezing or waxing experience, or loss of hair through aging – and as a perfectionist, I would attempt to create an eyebrow that looked just as natural as real hair. I tried working with pencils and brush-on brow products, but couldn’t accomplish a natural looking brow. I began to work with different types of materials; oils, gels, clays, pastes, etc., trying to develop a “three dimensional eyebrow”.

I worked with literally hundreds of clients trying to create an eyebrow “hair” that could not be distinguished from the adjacent actual eyebrow hairs. As I tested different materials, I noticed that one material in one color would actually change color depending upon whether my client had very dry skin or oily skin around the brows. I mention this because the wax would not change color anywhere else on the body.

brenda-christian-brenda-christian-cosmeticsMost natural blondes have finer hair and drier skin and most redheads have even drier skin. This affected the color of the Universal Brow Definer wax as I applied it to the skin. Clients with oilier skin would cause the wax to become very dark. It had very little to do with how much pressure was placed on the eyebrow. It had to do with the reaction of the formula itself, creating a specific color base on almost every eyebrow. This material was a tinted wax, and when applied on a blond, it would literally turn golden blond or ash blond to mimic the client’s actual hair color. The same color would turn a reddened tan shade when applied to a redhead, and amazingly on myself, with very deep brown hair, it would turn dark when it touched my skin. The wax was actually reacting to the pH of the skin’s surface.

This in itself was fabulous, but the strokes – whether I poured the wax into a pencil and applied it or used it with a brush – were flat, and I wanted a three dimensional appearance. In order to accomplish that, I had to thicken the wax base of the colorant (now Universal Brow Definer Pencil®) and apply it in extremely thin strokes, which meant I needed to design a special blade to provide an angled edge on the pencil. Knowing that some of the best knives came from Germany, I visited with a sharpener company and they developed a special blade to provide that very specific edge to the pencil. Next, I needed to provide the three dimensional texture that would have each stroke look like a brow hair. To do that, I needed to work with light to catch facets of the strokes. I developed a demi-matte gel which, when applied, intensified the color of the wax base of the pencil but absorbed and refracted light and simulated a circular appearance in the brow hair stroke. Because it refracted light, it also reflected the actual hair color that the client had on her head, causing the eyebrows to be truly perfected. Thus, the first eyebrow gel was born; I called it Perfect Brow®.

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Best Lipstick Colors & Tips from Celebrity Makeup Expert M.B. York

best lipstick colors and tips

Everyone can relate to the challenge of finding the perfect lipstick color. It is next to impossible, which is why many women mix 2 or 3 together to get the right shade. Some unknowingly just wear the wrong shade. As an opinionated professional makeup artist, I must say that very few women wear a flattering shade of lipstick. A major part of the problem is there aren’t many truly flattering shades out there, and there are too many available that shouldn’t be worn by anyone.

Finding the Right Shade of Lipstick

I constantly scour stores and beauty counters to find what I think is a great universal color that I would go to first for both myself and my clients. Unfortunately, I usually can’t find one! If I do find one I like, more often than not it ends up being really drying, or looks totally different once I get out of the department store lighting and see it in real light. So what is my idea of a perfect lipstick color? Something like a rosy-bronze-blush color that works with and balances out your other makeup colors.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a case for a bright red or fuchsia lip – and that would be New Year’s Eve or a black tie/red carpet event. I am talking about a color you can wear everyday, that works with almost everything in your wardrobe and makes you look beautiful and natural. We all know that the wrong lipstick can be as bad as the wrong haircut and can certainly age you by 10 years.

A Word About Dark Brown & Deep Burgundy

Unless you’re Lorde (remember, she’s under 18), there’s no reason for any woman to wear dark brown or deep burgundy lipstick – especially as she gets older. It looks too harsh and accentuates any fine lines around the lip area. This is a trend I see often in NYC, and the women wearing it seem stressed and angry! Their dark brown lips just amplify the harsh energy. When I see this, I can’t help but think how much a lighter lipstick would change their life! Or at least change how others perceive them.

Keep It Light and Simple

My best selling lipstick color is a pinky-peachy-bronze that is truly the perfect compliment to all skin tones. I will sometimes add a pink champagne gloss on top for added highlight. Any woman I put it this combo on buys it- or their husband buys it as a gift!

Men especially love how I do make up. They often tell their wives to go back and buy everything I put on them. That is because I do lighter, softer colors that make women look younger.

It is amazing how 5 minutes and a few strokes of the right makeup colors can transform a woman’s face. There is nothing more gratifying to me than seeing how happy I can make someone in such a short amount of time. We all want to look beautiful and makeup is the easiest way to make tiny adjustments that can take off years from your look!

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Proper Powder Protocol

expert foundation and blush tips

Perplexed by powder and bewildered by blush? Where do you begin? Loose? Pressed in a compact? Pressed with a sponge? Translucent? Bronzing Powder? Here are my tips for using powder with power.

Lose the Loose Powder

I will start with what I find doesn’t work. I dislike loose powder of any kind- it is messy and ends up all over your clothes and/or bathroom. You can get the same effect with a lot less mess with a pressed powder. Once you have the right formula, you need the right tools. When you have the right colors and are using the right tools, there is much less room for mistakes.

Guide for Great Results

  • The key is to use a giant powder brush to apply powder. The bigger the brush, the sheerer the powder application.
  • Using a sponge, like the ones that come with the compact, can be a disaster! It will apply the powder too heavily and you will see it sitting on top of your skin. The only exception to this is someone that needs extra coverage for some reason. If this is the case, apply the compact pressed powder with the sponge first, and on top apply liquid foundation. This will give a lot of coverage without a powdery finish.
  • Most women should skip the compact all together. Translucent powder can make you look sick. It is too light and does nothing for your skin tone.

Getting into Trouble

A huge challenge is always “de-orangeing” my clients. Most bronzers on the market are too brown, too orange and rarely look good on their own. Even if a celebrity makeup artist is using one on J. Lo, they are usually blending it with 3 other products. Keep this in mind. It is best to experiment and mix different shades together. Be sure to do this in a room with good natural light as this process needs to be customized to enhance your individual skin tone.

Finishing Touches

When applying powder, I always dust it on the brush and then either blow off the excess or tap the brush on a towel before applying it. I start with the neck first (you want your face and neck to match) and then your face. Now your foundation is “set” and the powder will hold it on all day, keeping it from being absorbed into your skin.

Blush Hour

Cream, stick or powder formula? Pink, Peach or Orange? Which to pick? Personally, I dislike cream and stick blush. It is very hard to work with and to blend, and usually the powder finish is more flattering. I like a pinky, corally bronze type color on everyone. It looks natural, gives a nice glow without being distracting and works with any other make up colors or clothing.

Using the Right Brush is Key

Using the right size and shape brush is essential. I like a chiseled angle blush brush because it fits perfectly under the cheekbone. The right size brush leaves little room for mistake. Too big of a brush and it will be all over, too small and it will go on in stripes (avoid the small ones that are usually sold with the blush in a compact). Again, a stiff brush will put the powder on very heavily, and too soft of a brush will not hold the color.

Knowing Where to Start

The trick is to start straight down from the center of your eye and feather it back, leaving approximately 2 fingers above and 2 fingers below (you may have to tweak this depending on facial proportions).

Knowing How to Finish

After applying the blush with your blush brush, always go back and blend it once more with a big powder brush for a smooth finish.

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Expert Tips and Products for Eye Makeup Application: Brows, Lashes & Lids

perfect eye makeup

Great Brows

Great brows are the first step to gorgeous eye makeup. When properly groomed and filled-in, they lift the eye and make you look years younger. To discover your ideal brow shape, lay a pencil next to your nostril reaching up to your brows. Brows should start at the spot where the pencil hits. Then angle the pencil to the outer corner of your eye to see where your brows should end.

Brow Shaping

It is crucial to get your brows shaped by someone skilled. After having them done professionally, you can tweeze new hairs as they come in. Tweezing is most precise, but I recommend at least some waxing, to remove the fine blonde hairs under the brow. Cleaning these up brightens the eye and helps shadow go on smoother.

Thin Brows

Many people’s brows are too thin and/or short. When thin was in, in the 60s and again in the 90s, women over-tweezed, and now their brows won’t fully grow back. You want them look thicker yet still natural. Many women use a pencil that’s too dark. A taupe pencil works on everyone. Brenda Christian’s Universal Brow Definer is a great choice! Follow this with her Perfect Brow Gel to hold everything in place.

Thick Brows

You may be attached to your full brows, but if they are too full they can look heavy and weigh the eye down. It is important to give brows proper shape and balance for your face.

Proper Eye Makeup Application

Many women don’t know how to do eye makeup. Either they wear hardly any for fear of doing it wrong, or they put on the wrong colors confidently, thinking it looks good. The biggest offense is sparkly, frosty shadow- it makes eyelids look wrinkled. Also, avoid cream shadow – it looks oily on the lids.

Powder Shadows are Best. Here is My Foolproof Way to Apply it:

  • Apply a base/primer on the lid to cover undertone colors and brighten the eye. I use my Camoflauge Eye Disguise Concealer (part of my Beauty Ammo Kit).
  • Apply base eyeshadow. Choose a base color that isn’t too light (think 60s dated light pink) or too dark. It should be close to your skin tone. A pinky-peachy-sunset color is universally flattering. Apply it to entire lid with a fat shadow brush that you use only for base shadow. If you apply other colors with that brush, the next time you apply base shadow the other colors will still be on the brush and the base color won’t go on properly.
  • Apply a crease color to the outer 1/3 of the eye and across the whole crease. Most women apply crease shadow too low, which ends up “closing” the eye. Using an angled shadow brush, sweep it up onto the brow bone, and blend it well after. My favorite crease shadow color is a caramel-light-mocha, more bronze than brown with a hint of peach. It looks great with any clothing, eye color and doesn’t distract from features.
  • Stay away from purple, green and plain brown for crease colors. Most purples make your eyes look red, greens can look dated and browns are just dull.
  • Navy works as liner. Line upper and lower eye with a pencil, then go over it to set it with a dark navy shadow. Use navy with some shimmer for nighttime, but only as liner applied with a stiff tiny angle brush.
  • For night, most women look best in the same shadows they use for daytime, but applied with a heavier hand and always well-blended. For a smoky eye, apply navy to the outer third and around the crease, then add black liner in pencil shadow or liquid. Because pencil liner can be oily, it is important to go back over it with shadow to set it and give more staying power.

No Eye is Complete Without Mascara

One of the best selling mascaras (not naming names!) is one of the worst looking on. I can always spot it on someone – their lashes look like frog legs! It is stiff, clumpy and requires several coats. I also dislike waterproof mascara as it is so hard to remove and so harsh on lashes. Use mascara that stays soft on your lashes. Always do a couple coats, and apply a lash conditioner/thickener underneath to make lashes look fuller, yet soft and conditioned.

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Foundation Information: Wear It Well

How to apply liquid foundation

To Wear Or Not To Wear?

Foundation is one of the most important steps of makeup application (after my Beauty Ammo Kit – more on that in a bit). Getting the color right is crucial. If you are trusting the wrong lighting, wrong salesperson, or wrong formula, there is a lot of room for error. In my 20 years of custom blending foundations, here is what I’ve found:

Many formulas are too yellow. One way to correct this is add a small amount of fuchsia toner to a foundation. Ideally, you want an equal amount of pink and yellow in your skin, and I often have to “de-orange” women’s foundation.

Most women don’t want to look too pale, and there can be added issues like rosacea or freckles, on top of fair skin. Do you go lighter like the base, darker like the freckles or somewhere in between?  Most women want some color in their skin, and look best with a slightly darker formula.

I prefer an oil-free liquid formula: They are easiest to apply and look most natural.

How To Apply

Another mistake women make is blending foundation in their fingers. It ends up looking and feeling too heavy on the skin, and if the color isn’t perfect to begin with, it will sit on top of the skin. It’s best to use a sponge to blend foundation in. You want to get the coverage you need while looking like you have nothing on. Dot the foundation formula on your nose, forehead, chin and on each cheek, and then blend it all in with the sponge. The right color liquid foundation, correctly applied with a sponge, is the secret to beautiful skin. When your skin looks great, you can get away with wearing a lot less make up. One more secret? My Beauty Ammo Kit.

Beauty Ammo Kit: Your Eye Area Arsenal

My 3 step Beauty Ammo Kit is all you need for a flawless eye area. Here’s why:

Most eye creams just absorb into your skin. If you follow with concealer, powder or foundation, the makeup collects in the fine lines and actually makes your wrinkles more pronounced.

  • Step 1 of the Beauty Ammo Kit, Collagen Eye Mask, is a thick, rich base that stays on all day. It contains collagen and shea butter to provide serious hydration.
  • Step 2, Line Putty, goes right on top of the Collagen Eye Mask, and fills in fine lines while it soothes skin with chamomile and witch hazel.
  • Step 3 is my Dual Action Concealer. Once you have the rich base provided by steps 1 and 2, you can use a lot more concealer to get the coverage you need without worrying about it caking, creasing and making fine lines look worse. You can also use the concealer on your eyelid as a great base for your eye shadow.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Travel Beauty Blog for more tips on getting great-looking skin.

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