Top Tips for a Natural Makeup Look

When it comes to makeup, most people want to look like themselves with a bit of “pop” - not as if they have on gobs of makeup. Sometimes you may want drama, but on most days, if you’re like most people, you probably want to look pretty natural. Here are some of my top tips for your bringing out the natural you.


If your skin is normal-to-dry or dry: 

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer

Use a sheer moisturizing tint such as Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 to even out skin without looking like you have anything on. I recently did makeup for someone who almost never wears any cosmetics. Because I didn’t want to scare her I used this product, assuring her that she would not look like a “painted lady".  And because she actually liked it, I gave her a tube so she can use it every day for moisturizing benefits, and, more importantly, sun protection. As I keep saying, never leave the house without sunscreen. If you don’t want to use a tint, still use something that has a sunscreen. I am currently moisturizing with LaPrairie Crème Biologie Marine Avancee Jour SPF 20 under my foundation - I always make sure my moisturizer and foundation have sunscreen in case I missed applying somewhere.

If your skin is oily:

Clean and Clear
Clean and Clear

For especially oily skin, try an oil-absorbing powder in place of a foundation. And carry oil-blotting papers with you so you don’t have to keep reapplying – if you continually reapply, the powder might start to cake up and not look natural at all. On shoots I’ve been using Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets – they are very affordable and great for every day too. Just press them right where you need to blot excess oil.


Bare Minerals Warm Radiance
Bare Minerals Warm Radiance

For the natural look image above I used a soft red-ish bronzer. If you’ve read my other articles, I don’t mean to bore you by recommending some of the same things over again – but I do love the tried and true and will only share the things I really like. This is Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals Warm Radiance – the shade is so versatile I use it on almost all skin tones. It’s a loose powder so you have to be careful or it can make a mess - dip the brush in lightly and then tap off excess before application. I believe Bare Escentuals recommends just dipping the brush into the top cap to avoid getting too much product on the brush. It’s a definitely good tip.


For a natural softness, use shades that blend into skin and hair tone. This is generally more earthy shades, such as soft beiges, creams and browns. Be sure to blend well.

Eye Shadow

  • A soft beige eye shadow with a touch of shimmer from lash to brow
  • A soft rust shade in the outer corners (a little rust shadow accent complements her natural hair color)

Eye Liner

Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara
Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara

I lightly applied brown eyeliner on top lash line. To keep it subtle, always apply right on lash line, not outside or inside of it. If you stay on the lash line it just makes lashes look fuller.


Try brown or black/brown mascara on top lashes only. I am still a big fan of Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara. It never clumps and always looks natural. I am also allergic to most mascaras but I can wear this one!


Clinique Brow Shaper is super-easy to use as far as brow shaping goes. The shades are subtle and it comes with a stiff brush that helps you shape without looking “drawn on”. Apply lightly and then step away from the mirror to make sure you’re using just enough product to lightly define brows.


On this model I used a sheer gloss with a bit of lip color. I like the non-sticky lightness of Clinique Almost Lipstick (one of their best-sellers and my favorite is a shade called Black Honey).

The shades listed here work for most skin tones. If you have a deeper skin tone you can use the same shades, just with deeper pigment. For example, instead of brown use a black eye liner and mascara. In addition, use brands that have more pigment-rich colors in general, such as MAC, Stila or NARSViva au naturale!


Photography, Chris Eckert

Model, Melinda Lennox

Hair, Kristan Serafino

Makeup, Robyn Tamura

Getting Reacquainted: Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer

Fluid Sheer 2It's not exactly a new product, but it's new-ish to me  (I think it's been around since Giorgio Armani Beauty launched). Someone gave me Fluid Sheer a couple years ago and I didn’t think much of it because I didn’t understand what it was. Was it a bronzer? A shimmer? A foundation? It stayed in my closet in its elegantly black Armani packaging.

Recently I became reacquainted with it. I still thought it might  look like your standard bronzer. Or maybe it’d look like a trendy shimmery foundation. Then someone showed me how to properly use it and I decided to give it a go. The next shoot I did was with a skin care company, and skin care companies – naturally - want everything to be healthy and glowing. It has to look good, but the makeup can’t be apparent because it’s all about skin.

For this model, I lightly applied it to her hairline and blended it on her cheekbones with blush. It made her skin glow in a way that a bronzer doesn’t. As Armani Beauty is all about glowing skin, Fluid Sheer is clearly its essence. Fluid Sheer Model

Maybe it won't make us look like this, but we all deserve to glow!

Fluid Sheer Glow Tip: As its name says, it is quite sheer so you can use more than you think without it looking like too much. Apply around hairline, right under or on cheekbones. Under cheekbones makes them more prominent; on cheekbones will highlight or brighten – it all depends on what you want and need. Blend with fingertips. Then watch yourself glow.

Well Traveled Beauty

I’m on a plane. I got up too early to get myself properly ready for the trip so I look a little haggard. (I always hear older people talk about the days when everyone dressed up for travel. I’m sure it made the occasion special but I’d never make it to the airport in time.) And I don’t travel as much as I used to so I don’t have the system down anymore.

But! I just discovered a store called Muju On the Go in JFK airport and am so excited about it. If you read my post on hoarding/reorganization you’ll remember I’m semi-obsessed with The Container Store. I haven’t spent enough time in Muji to see if it can match the love I have for The Container Store but definitely it has potential.

Their website says “MUJI is not a brand whose value rests in the frills and “extras” it adds to its products. 
MUJI is simplicity – but a simplicity achieved through a complexity of thought and design.” This is very Japanese concept and it's a Japanese store. Since I'm Japanese maybe there is a genetic component to my obsession simple, compact and clever things. I am kidding. Kind of.

Since I am currently traveling, now's the time to supply travel tips!


Check-in Bags

Beauty Products. For products you use everyday, get some of those little plastic bottles you can put your creams and lotions in so you don’t have to carry full sized products, especially if you want to carry them on the plane. Muji has some stacking containers that I like because you can keep all the products containers together.

Make sure you get a little spatula and/or a cone to help you get stuff in or you’ll find yourself pouring product on the sink or getting goo all over yourself (not to mention wasting the product).

Pack products in a plastic baggie, unless you want it to possibly explode all over your things. The cabin pressure expands air in the product, which can cause it to burst in your suitcase or later when you open it after landing. Have many times have I had lotion come out of a tube all over because of this? Many. So no matter what, be careful when you open it anything comes in packaging that has air in it (i.e., a lotion tube).

Carry Ons

Hand Sanitizer. I know some don’t believe in hand sanitizer, but I’m still going to say bring hand sanitizer to the airport. I forgot mine and am washing my hands like someone with OCD. There’s something about a plane or a bathroom airport that seems especially germy too me. It’s probably isn't germy-ier but that’s how it seems. "Please clean the wash basin after using it…" I actually do clean the basin to be considerate but doing that after washing hands is kind of gross.

Your Makeup Essential. For me personally, if I put nothing else on it’s lipstick. So it’s a lipstick and a powder compact to use the mirror for application.

Don’t forget about those TSA people yelling at you about the size of any bringing any liquid, cream or lotion on the plane. Always check what the standard is because I always thought it was 4 oz. or less but today I heard someone yelling t was 3.5 oz. (I think at most airports the the TSA people aren’t yelling…but at JFK, they definitely are).

They also prefer that your things be stored in a clear pouch. I also like clear pouches because it’s much easier to location things in general.

Hand lotion. Skin gets so dry on the plane. I just got a little tube of Burt’s Bees Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion but I’ve been using it on my hands and my skin feels immediately comfortable. Burt’s Bees probably has a hand lotion but since I can’t vouch for it I am recommending this one because I know it works.

Mints. I always carry mints in case my mouth feels parched too. Also isn’t that just considerate in case you wake up with not especially minty fresh breath? I’ve been carrying around a mini Altoids tin for years.

Water. You may or may not know that I always recommend water and staying hydrated as a beauty tip. I used to bring giant bottles of water with me on the plane. Now because they don’t allow water through security, I just bring an empty water bottle and find a water fountain. Because unless you want to spend $5.00 a bottle on water, bring the empty bottle.

I think that’s it for now.

Safe Travels!


My Favorite Multiple-Use, Fussy-Free Products

I love things that are compact and clever in a practical way. For example, I love those mini-umbrellas you can throw in your purse and carry as an every day staple so you never get caught in the rain. And I love products that are multi-purpose and fussy-free but don't compromise quality. In my purse, as well as my giant makeup kit, less is more. Here is a collection of the recently discovered as well as some beloved favorites that are cleverly compact.

Lorac Pro-Cream Eye Liner If you like a gel eyeliner, this one has brush that screws right in the handle. You don’t have to buy a separate brush and you never have to worry you'll lose it. If you carry it anywhere, you also don’t have to worry that the brush will get product in your purse or cosmetic bag. Just throw it in worry-free!

NARS The Multiple This is a cream stick that can be used on eyes, cheeks and lips. I just use my fingertip to apply and blend—application takes less than a minute. I know it probably benefits a company to have you buy a separate lipstick, eye shadow & blush, but I'm always still surprised that more brands don't have products like this one.

LaPrairie Skin Caviar Concealer and Foundation This product(s) is cleverly designed with a foundation in the bottle, two shades of concealer in the cap and a mirror inside the lid. It also comes with a concealer brush that sits in a stand. And it’s a good foundation that lasts a long time. It is definitely not inexpensive (it is very expensive), although I guess any product with “caviar” in its name would not imply it's a deal.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment I have always liked this product but not thought about it in a long time. Recently a most gorgeous celebrity told me it was one of her favorites and brought it out as I did her makeup, showing me the ways she likes to use it. It’s great as nighttime lip moisturizer, under a lip pencil, on your cuticles and as a body moisturizer if your skin is especially dry. It can also be used on most anything that's chapped - and even minor cuts, burns and skin irritation (although I'd say go to the doctor if you have anything less than very minor.)

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 A tinted moisturizer saves time by combining moisturizer, foundation, and SPF in one application. It’s also sheerer so you don’t have to worry about perfect application. Laura Mercier provides several options, including an oil-free one (for those with oily or acne-prone skin), as well as one with shimmer (for those who want to glow...I mean, everyone wants to glow but shimmery can look shiny on some people so find the one that's right for you). (There is a new cream compact but I have yet to try it). For shoots, if someone needs more even skin tone but I don't want to slather on foundation, I use this product first and then foundation or concealer where it's most needed.

So there they are. I'm a little obsessed clever and practical products, so if you have a favorite, please share it with me because I'm always looking for them!



Top 6 Things to Do About Your Dry, Chapped Lips

6. Avoid Super Long Wear. If you wear lipstick, don’t use one of those longwearing lipsticks that has a lip stain on one end and a moisturizer on the other. At least, I’ve not found one that works. Even with the moisturizing stick, lips still feel dry shortly thereafter so you have to keep using the moisturizer on top of the stain all day long. And I don’t even think the color ends up being super long wearing anyway. Or else I’d be wearing them. 5. Find a Moisturizing Lipstick. I personally hate reapplying lipstick so I wear the driest, most matte lipsticks that don’t ever come off. This causes people to constantly comment on what a great color I have on but that my lips look really dry. Which, again, if I have to trade one thing for another I’m not going to wear a lipstick I have to reapply over and over. The alternative for me is not wearing lipstick. But you, like most people, probably don’t have this hang-up. So find something really creamy and soft like Lancome’s L'Absolu Rouge.

4. Moisturize Nightly. Since I wear dry lipstick during the day, I moisturize at night. I like to use either Burt’s Bees Nourishing Lip Balm with Mango Butter or Nivea Lip Care Essential. For some reason I discovered Nivea years ago in Dubai. It was in my hotel room or something and I had not had it before so I bought a whole bunch while I was there, only to realize we have it here. But since then I have loved many Nivea moisturizing products.

3. Exfoliate Lips. Use a gentle face scrub on your lips from time to time. I like Clinique 7-Day Scrub Cream because it has a cream base and small, perfectly round beads that are gentle and buff off dryness. Do not use a chemical/cream exfoliant on your lips unless a company says it’s OK - if it’s not specifically made for lips it can be irritating (or worse).

2. Use a Lip Balm with a Lip Pencil. If you can’t find a moisturizing lipstick that does it for you, use a moisturizing lip balm with a lip liner. First apply lip balm; then line and fill in lips so you can wear it all as your lip color. Apply the balm first or else the lip pencil will probably drag and pull on your dry lip skin.

1. Drink Lots of Water. Cure that dryness from the inside out. Eight 8oz. glasses daily are the recommended but I find that I do best with 12 (glasses a day). This makes my brother to warn me about hyponatremia (water intoxication that can be fatal) but I rarely achieve 12 glasses anyway. I know if I did my lips would be soft and supple every day – without ever having to use any lip balm.


Making Makeup Last

Have you ever come home, looked in the mirror, and wondered where the makeup went? Or maybe you just can't be bothered to reapply throughout the day. If so, and you want to change it, here are tips to make your makeup last longer. Skin. For foundation, find one that's right for your skin type and also indicates longer wear. If you use a foundation that's not for your skin type you will not get the right results - if your skin is oily and you use a foundation for dry skin, it will look shiny and definitely slip off your skin;  likewise, if your skin is dry and you use an oily skin foundation it will make your skin look and feel even drier. Use a brush to lightly dust powder and set foundation.

Cheeks. Find a good, long-wearing blush tint or cream blush. For even longer wear, pat a matching powder blush on top. I like Becca's Beach Tint for several reasons. You can use it on cheeks and lips (I am always looking for all-in-one products because I won't spend a lot of time on my own makeup). It's a small, portable tube so you can throw it in your bag too. And I just like Becca's packaging. When I looked it up, I found out that this product is also one of Allure magazine's Editor's Picks. So me and the editors recommend it. The only thing about this product is that after awhile you have to massage the tube before squeezing because the product can separate. But it still always looks good.

Eyes. Try a cream eye shadow. For more intense color, add powder eyeshadow on top. Use an eyeliner that doesn't move. For over 20 years I have loved Clinique's Water-Resistant Eyeliner. I was devastated (OK that's  exaggerated, but I was a little unhappy) when it was discontinued. And I wasn't the only one because eventually Clinique brought it back. It's not waterproof but as long as it's dry it never comes off until you take it off. For lashes, look for a waterproof formula or water-resistant mascara. My fellow makeup artist friend swears by Trish McEvoy's Lash Curling Mascara. I haven't tried it myself but I know the type of formula it is - it will only come off by intentionally using warm water (meaning, a splash of water or tears that come when you watch Beaches will not remove the mascara or make it run).

Lips. Line and fill in with lip liner first; then apply lipstick. For longest wear, use a matte lipstick over the lip liner…although if you have dry lips it may make your lips drier so you'll need to moisturize lips well at night.

I hope these help! Here's to your long wearing makeup days.


My Favorite Products Fall 2011

I’m often asked about my favorite products. While some products are better than others depending on what you want to achieve, these are some of my favorites. Eve Pearl Salmon Concealer

A concealer that hides under eye dark circles and looks natural is rare. The shade undertones in this lightweight formula do just the trick! I use it on almost everyone.

Fun Fact: Eve Pearl is an Emmy-Award winning makeup artist and her products reflect this. Find her stuff at

Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Enhancer

I use this for really dark circles. Its thicker consistency requires a bit of skill to get just what you want—but worth it.


  1. Dab a bit onto the back of your hand.
  2. Mix with an eye cream for extra moisture and the consistency/coverage you want.
  3. Use a brush or your fingertip and pat over areas you want to cover.

NARS Foundation

NARS has some of the most natural-looking foundation shades anywhere—not too much pink, not too much yellow…just right. Years ago, I could never find a foundation shade that matched my skin—until I found NARS. If you have trouble finding the right foundation or powder, NARS is my go-to recommendation.

Chanel-StyloYeux Waterproof Eyeliner

If eyeliners leave smudges around your eyes, this is a must-have. For myself, it’s the only liner that doesn’t smudge. If you’re Asian—and I am—you probably share this problem and will want to share this solution too!