Water Nymph/Vegas Showgirl Tutorial

I'm finally writing a post about my most recent tutorial, an elaborate costume look heavy on the blue! I wrote a screenplay a while back (for fun and catharsis — it's damn good, if I do say so myself) and my protagonist is a trained theater performer who gets sidetracked as a cage dancer on her way to being in a Vegas show. So this look was imagined as something that she might wear in her role as a malevolent sprite.

Photographed by Luis Sánchez Saturno. He's a legit, Pulitzer-nominated photographer, but still doesn't have a website for some unfathomable reason.
This look is time-intensive, but it's really easy to achieve. And if you like my velvet crop top there, it's from American Apparel. I fell in passionate love with a $110 J. Crew velvet shirt, but I could not justify spending that much on a single item of clothing, especially one that's not machine-washable, so this is my consolation prize.

Products used:

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk
Maybelline Color Tattoo in Tenacious Teal
Urban Decay 15th Anniversary Palette (I don't think you can get this anymore, but Deep End and Evidence are available as eyeshadow singles)
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencil in Electric
Real Techniques Core Brush Set
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencil in Perversion
Illamasqua False Eyelashes in style 011
Duo Lash Glue
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in Anime
Sonia Kashuk Blending Sponge
You can get rhinestones at any craft shop. I went to Michaels.


Stila In The Know Palette Swatches and First Impressions

Today, I've got swatches of the Stila In The Know Palette. I went to Ulta undecided between this and the Lorac Pro Palette, but since the Lorac palette is half mattes/half shimmers, and I have so much shimmery shadow already, I decided to pick up the all-matte Stila palette.

I've really been loving mattes lately. I get a lot more use out of my Naked Basics palette than my Naked 2, but it's really all browns. The Stila In The Know palette has a beautiful range of earth tones. I was particularly drawn to Fire, the matte orange shade. It's unlike anything else I own or have even seen. Remember in Catching Fire, when Peeta said his favorite color was sunset orange? That's the best way I'd describe the shade.

Stila In The Know Eye Shadow Palette
The palette is a bit larger than the size of my outstretched hand, and has an inner mirror and a magnetic closure. It's thin and lightweight, and could probably fit in your purse if you really wanted to take it with you. Of the 10 shades, the lightest four don't show up that well on my skin (I'm a MAC NC30, for reference, and a 5.0 in Urban Decay's Naked Skin Foundation), but they do seem buildable, with Desert and Clay showing up a bit more and Air and Wind making good highlighter and inner corner shades. Clay, the pinkish shade, is my favorite of the lighter ones. It's what I'd hoped Urban Decay's Walk of Shame would be — on me, that one reads more beige than pink.

One of six looks in the included lookbook
The tiny lookbook has some nice, simple combinations. Nothing groundbreaking, but I love that it gives specific, numbered steps about what shadow to apply where. I am not a fan of other visuals that just have a numbered diagram.

Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner in Halfmoon
Another plus about the palette is the included eyeliner, seen above applied regularly and smudged. I haven't tested it out on my lids yet, but it glided on smoothly and it's a lovely dark gray shade, I'd say a touch darker than MAC's Grey Utility.

Top row, from left:Air, Wind, Desert, Clay, Earth.
Bottom row, from left: Driftwood, Fire, Rain, Smoke, Ebony.

Top row, from left:Air, Wind, Desert, Clay, Earth.
Bottom row, from left: Driftwood, Fire, Rain, Smoke, Ebony.

The shadows were easy to apply the first time I worked with them, and fallout wasn't an issue. I'll have to report back once I've used them a few more times, but right now, I'm glad I picked this one up first and decided to go back for the Lorac Pro later. The center three shades in the bottom row of the picture above are so gorgeous. Like I said, I had yet to see a good matte palette that had any sort of vibrant shades, and I can't wait to play with different combinations.

This baby will set you back $39. If you've got to have your glitterbombs and shimmery shades, the Stila In The Moment and In The Light palettes look pretty cool, too. I'll report back once I've played with this palette more, and once I decide to go back for the Lorac Pro (from what I swatched in-store of the Lorac palette, the colors are buttery and majorly pigmented. So many palettes, so little cash on hand!)

Pick it up at Sephora, Ulta or Stila Cosmetics.


Looking blue

I filmed a really fun makeup look for you today. A few months back, I finished my first screenplay. I wrote it for fun and it was very cathartic, and I laughed a lot while writing it.

My character is a Vegas showgirl who plays an evil sprite, so I decided I'd do something easy and fun that would work for a water nymph costume. I have 39 minutes of video to edit down to 8, though, plus photos my buddy Luis took of the makeup, so the video is going to be a while.

Until then, here's a preview.

I hope everyone's week is winding down nicely. This is going to really be a process to wash off!


Under the sea

I'm planning to film a very cool costume makeup tutorial this week. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, check me out on YouTube. It's the madnote:

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OOTD: Librarian in leopard print

These photos were taken by the wonderful and talented Luis Sánchez Saturno. My top is from J. Crew, and it's knotted over a White House Black Market dress. My tights are from Target, and my booties are Gianni Bini.


Don't mind the hair. The book recommendations are where it's at.

So I feel my emotions pretty strongly. If I'm angry or nostalgic or depressed, I can't think about much else.

Unless I'm reading.

I'm a book hoarder. I buy more books than I have time to read. I travel with multiple books at a time. I'm always reading reviews to find more books to read. I'll read a whole series in a week and then go and read literary criticism about it (I was an English major. Stop being so judgmental!). The deaths of beloved fictional characters send me into a frenzy. If a movie is coming out based on a book, I have to read the book first so I can dissect the differences. Comic books, novels, biographies about Marilyn Monroe, tech magazines — you get the point. I like words.

So to cheer myself up the other day, I filmed a book post. I talk about why I will never, ever read Fifty Shades and why you shouldn't, either, give a really inadequate summary of my favorite book, and more. Enjoy!

My picks:

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Exit to Eden by Anne Rice
Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatton
Personality Types

Oh, and if you are into my emolicious eyeliner, it's Urban Decay's Perversion and you can get it here. It smudges something fierce, so go big or go home if you want to try it. I have other shades of the 24/7 liners that I love. Perversion isn't an everyday pencil for me.

Spring brights tutorial in less than four minutes

For this look, I used pink and purple eyeshadows with similar finishes. But I think it would also look nice in blue and green or blue and purple.

Keep the face as natural as possible so the focus is on the eyes. Make sure to have a strong brow, because a bold eye look is a bit silly with unfinished eyebrows. If you don't want to wear a bright lipgloss, this would look just as nice with a balm or with a nude lipstick. MAC Ravishing is one that I've tried (it's more peachy than a true nude) that could possibly work.

Products used:

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

Rimmel GlamEyes shadow

Urban Decay Feminine Palette

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette

Real Techniques brushes: here and also here

MAC 217 brush

Milani Baked Blush (I used the shade Luminoso)

MAC Powerpoint Pencil in Grey Utility

MAC Eye Kohl in Fascinating

Revlon Colorburst lipgloss in Strawberry

Sephora Atomic Volume Mascara
(A Sephora mascara that I prefer but didn't have in my case: Outrageous Volume)


Coming up on le YouTube

Check my YouTube channel on Monday for a post about some of my favorite books, plus a quickie spring eyeshadow tutorial (four minutes, beat that! It took me a little longer than that, but you don't have to see me scrambling for the right eyeliner).

No fear, Julia

I'd guess most women ease into daring makeup. I think I did the opposite.

I was given a lot of free rein for self-expression with makeup. I was allowed to go to middle school with teal raccoon eyes and bright, glittery orange lipgloss. Did I look ridiculous? Yes. Did I know it at the time? Probably not.

Everyone has a different opinion on what's "out there" and what's normal and safe. But walking over to your version of the wild side, even occasionally, is liberating. All you need is a big smile and some strutting. If you seem confident, you'll give that impression -- it's only ridiculous if it's obvious you're uncomfortable. I tell myself Gaga wouldn't be nervous. Neither would Gwen Stefani. Or I picture Sarah Jessica Parker's SatC wardrobe. Almost anything looks tame next to that.

So I'm giving you permission. Red lips? Rock them. Bright green eyeliner? Go for it. Blue hair, leopard print pants, magenta pumps? You can pull it all off. Anything you want.

And if it's a horrible mistake, you can wash it all off. And pray there are no pictures -- something I learned when I unintentionally dressed as a pirate. I'm almost where I can laugh about it.

So be your sexy, hot-pink-lipped pirate self. It's good for you.


I ♥ Spring TAG!

I did this fun "I Heart Spring" tag video. I hope you enjoy it. Should you want to do it yourself, here are the questions:

1. Favorite spring nail polish?
2. What is your must-have lip color this spring?
3. Show us your favorite spring dress!
4. What's your favorite flower?
5. Favorite spring scarf/accessory?
6. What spring trend(s) are you most excited about this year? (makeup, fashion or both!)
7. Favorite spring candle?
8. Favorite body spray/perfume for spring?
9. What is spring like where you live?
10. What's your favorite thing about spring?
11. Are you a spring cleaner?
12. Any plans for spring break or an upcoming vacation?

Some of the goodies I mentioned:

Essie Playdate

Illamasqua Noble

NARS Heat Wave lipstick

Doctor Strangeknit: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Yarn

I am what you may call a serial hobbyist. Trying new things makes me feel intellectually stimulated, productive and creative. One outlet that I found more gratifying than I would have ever imagined is knitting.

Yes, knitting.

I am aware of the dorky/old lady associations knitting has. And I don't care (anymore). It was recommended to me as a way to deal with an unholy level of stress and anxiety. Like yoga, but just with your hands. With the help of books and YouTube videos, I became a knitting fiend.

I was surprised by how quickly I took to it and how good I got. Knitting is like listening to that Sleigh Bells song "A/B Machines" on repeat. It's hynotic. I could knit myself an adorable winter hat in a day and not realize how much time had passed with my mind totally, blissfully occupied. With knitting, you get into a soothing rhythm. The texture of the yarn is like tactile therapy. The colors are nice to look at. And best of all for me, I can knit while watching TV if the pattern is easy enough.

Aside from the amount of money I spent on yarn, (because the good, nonacrylic stuff and the self-striping Noro yarns are NOT cheap) only good came from picking up that hobby. The last thing I made was that scarf in the picture a few months ago, so I need to pick the needles back up.

Since I began knitting, I've gained so much appreciation for clothes as art. You can go to the store and buy something machine-made and mass-produced, and of course I still do. But when you knit something, you're in control of everything. Sizing, design, color, material. You start to look at clothes differently, recognizing stockinette stitching in T-shirts and seeing ribbed sweaters and thinking, "I could make that!" That to me is the opposite of dorky. It's badass.

Whether you knit, sew, or make one of those silly Capri Sun purses, take some creative control over some aspect of your wardrobe. You'll get such a rush when someone compliments your awesome new item and you get to say, "Thanks! I made it!"

(P.S. Vogue thinks knitting is cool.)

3 You Need: Makeup Brushes

I've kicked off my "3 You Need" series with the most basic of tools for anyone applying makeup: brushes. Makeup is art, and having the proper brushes will make it simpler to have a natural base and clean, blended lines while making the actual application pleasant. Good brushes also prevent waste of products.

The three brushes I mention are a foundation/buffing brush, a shadow blending brush, and a stippling brush. With just those three, you can put on your foundation, powder, blush and shadow. Of course, you can buy a ton of brushes for every advanced technique (trust me, I have far too many) but if you're just getting ready for work or school, these will see you through.

Brushes mentioned:

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush

Real Techniques Core Collection

MAC 217 eyeshadow blending brush

Sigma E25 blending brush

MAC 187 stippling brush

Real Techniques stippling brush