Taj Alwan, PR Director, The dFm

“My name is Taj Alwan [@Sabotaj] and I’m the PR Director at the agency The dFm. We work with clients in talent, fashion, music and tech, and I’m thankful to say that there’s never a dull moment. Part of my job is to stay on top of beauty and fashion trends—to say that doesn’t influence me is just plain naïve. I like to adopt a few beauty looks from editorials and runways every now and then. I’m pretty careless when it comes to seasonal looks, though…if a look works, I’ll rock it during any season.

The way I view beauty is totally influenced by what I do. I’m exposed to so many different typically beautiful, as well as unconventional, faces every day from working with our client, Ford Models, and their dynamic board. Currently, I live in Los Angeles, but I’m originally from Ethiopia and grew up between Vancouver, Canada, and LA. I’ve lived in five different countries—that’s influenced my routine, too. One of the reasons I moved to LA is because  I feel it’s important to have a healthy work/life balance. On weekends, I try to avoid working: I’ll either go to the beach or take a road trip and explore somewhere close, like Santa Barbara, Joshua Tree, Big Sur…there are so many beautiful places where you can go offline and do absolutely nothing in bliss.

My beauty motto for most days is to keep to the basics. I like to start off my routine with a dependable and effective face wash. I’m a big fan of Kate Somerville’s Gentle Daily Wash—it’s sulfate-free and helps keep my skin soft. Before I put on any makeup, I like to put on a protective layer of Kate Somerville’s Goat Milk Cream Moisturizer. I like that it has aloe, jojoba and avocado—I can feel it keeping my skin moisturized. I’ll either use Charlotte Tilbury’s The Retoucher Concealer alone, or MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid for ultimate coverage.

The best thing related to beauty that I’ve ever learned was from Naomi Campbell—indirectly, of course. She once told a magazine that the best makeup trick she’s taken from the pros was using a bit of bronzer on the bridge of your nose and cheekbones. Simple, easy, and makes a world of difference—I do it with MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Gold Deposit. Urban Decay Naked3 is also great for every day. I can use it everywhere from my lids to my brow bone to the bridge of my nose. There are a bunch of looks I’ve done recently—for fall I love an oxblood lip. I also tried a metallic lip, but I wasn’t a fan of the final look. I get inspired by everything. My favorite Instagram account is Pat McGrath’s…I mean, end of story.”

—as told to ITG

The #ITGTopShelfie series puts the focus on the lives and beauty routines of Into The Gloss’s lovely, accomplished, and loyal community of readers. Show us your own Top Shelfie on Instagram—tag us @intothegloss, and include the hashtag #ITGTopShelfie.

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Kasia Struss Directs Her Own Photo Shoot

You’ve heard of Kasia Struss. She’s been modeling for nine years now (and at the top of the game for most—if not all—of those years at that). So there’s no real point in introducing her to you. We’re all friends here.

But you learn new things every day. So when Kasia stopped by and, in the midst of chatting, casually mentioned, “You know I shot my own Vogue cover, right?” we paused a beat. Wait—did we miss something? Wouldn’t we have noticed that? But if you remember back to a time before Instagram (lol when?), back to a time when people were still into that thing called “Twitpics,” Steven Meisel shot a Vogue Italia cover story called ‘Meiselpic‘ as a take on the then-trend. Kasia, along with Gisele, Lara, and Christy, were given cameras and free rein to shoot all the selfies they wanted. Kasia shot hers in her bedroom and, poof, instant cover star. She’s been a commanding presence ever since—also, a bit demanding (in a good way). When suggesting a look for some shots, she nixed powder blush out of hand. “We’re shooting outside,” she said matter-of-factly. “It’s not going to look good when I get hot.” Valid.

Instead, she picked up an Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Eye Pencil in Coffee. “I only know how to do the smoky eye—I know how to do cat eyes with it. I do smoke that goes underneath, and I’m good with all-black around the eye…it’s simple. Here, let me do it.” She smudged the liner along her lower lashline, adding inner corner pops of iridescence and some general outer-eye blending with By Terry Ombre Blackstar Color Fix Cream Eyeshadow in 3 Blond Opal and 13 Brown Perfection. As she worked, she lectured (we were a captive audience):

“This makeup is very summer because it’s already smudged. I like when it’s a little bit wet. I think it’s kind of sexy when you have the sweaty look. I’m not a big brush person, but I have the Yves Saint Laurent Makeup Brushes. Let me just put the light in there—something to make my skin shiny. I’m just going to look old if it’s matte. When I’m done, the makeup is going to move, and skin always looks healthy with bronzer. I’m using Yves Saint Laurent’s Terre Saharienne Bronzing Powder in No. 30 Halee right now. Tom Ford’s Bronzing Powder is also really good.

‘Nothing is Perfect.’ That’s the title of the story. I don’t like perfect makeup because then it almost looks like a painting. I like when it moves with the face. I like flash and some shine. That, and I just have to fix my hair. I just tie it back and it pulls up my eyes—changes my whole face shape. Better than Botox. It’s better, no? Is it shiny? We like shiny. Everything changes in the summer.”

Kasia Struss (Women Management) photographed by Tom Newton. Daphne Groeneveld gets her hands on some Tom Ford without makeup-artist supervision. See what happens.

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Famous Brides: Bianca Jagger

Last week, Carolina Dali broke down the Priscilla Presley‘s wedding makeup, and keeping in with wives of rock stars theme, the logical next step in this progression is Bianca Jagger. Those amazing pictures of her at Studio 54 are nothing compared to the end-all be-all glamour of those taken at her wedding to Mick Jagger. Bronzed, dewy, and with a killer plunging blazer to boot. For the undeniably cool bride, who is unafraid to take risks and thinks of her makeup more on the natural side: a tutorial, featuring makeup artist Vincent Oquendo.

Prep the skin first, of course. Vincent suggests using Tatcha Radiance Deep Brightening Serum to hydrate, following up withe the eye masks of your choosing (because being picky is a virtue). Moisturizing properly is key to blending in bronzer for a believable tan a little later.

“The thing I love most about Bianca’s wedding make up look is the fact that it’s a perfect radiant complexion that’s not too overdone,” Vincent says. To keep the whole vacation vibe going, ditch the heavy foundation along with visions of a poreless, ceramic-like finish. This is the time to relish is something perfectly imperfect (it’s a cliché for a reason). Keep things breathable with tinted moisturizer like Chanel’s Vitalumière Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup. If you’ve got any blemishes that need covering up (OK, imperfect, but not too imperfect), go for concealer that blends easily, like Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer—but use your fingers instead of a brush.

Start by filling in your brows with a brow powder one shade lighter than your natural brow hair, followed by a brow pencil to perfect the shape. Vincent is partial to Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo and Anastasia’s Brow Wiz, respectively.

To get that tawny, no-makeup eye area, use a cream eye shadow like Bobbi Brown’s Long Wear Cream Shadow Stick in Taupe blended up to the crease with a fluffy eye shadow brush. “Think feather duster-type shape,” Vincent says. “The cream shadow acts as a base for the shimmery colors coming right after and applying a cream show first guarantees longer wearability.” Take the same brush and use it with a bronzer like Charlotte Tilbury’s Filmstar Bronze & Glow applying it all over the lid, mixing both shades. It’s kind of like what blush did for eyes this past NYFW…but with bronzer.

“Don’t put down that bronzing palette yet,” Vincent says. “Then I use it to sculpt and define the cheeks. Take the darker bronze color and dust it on cheekbones to create a contour and take the lighter shade and apply it on top of the cheekbones to highlight.” Vincent also recommends a non-powder blush for a more spontaneous looking color—Tarte Cheek Stain in Flush works.

Curl your lashes and apply the mascara like you mean it, but brush out clumps. Brown or black, whichever you prefer, both work here—it’s more about volume than pure color impact. If your lashes are feeling a little sparse, apply some individual lashes every two lashes or so on your natural lash line with MAC’s 30 Lash and Duo Eyelash Adhesive in Clear-White. 

Finish it off with a neutral, glossy lip but without the lip gloss. Too much shine can sometimes be a mess, so instead go for a hydrating lip balm like Butter London’s Lippy in Toasted Marshmallow. It’s more like a tinted lip balm, and with that name—who wouldn’t want a kiss?

Images via Getty. Read how to get Priscilla Presley’s wedding look here.

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A Bronzer For Every Skin Tone

There really is no “too pale” or “too dark” for bronzer, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that. Often, bronzer is relegated to the makeup products you have to know how to apply—so you’re stuck thinking, “How do I contour again? Where exactly does the sun hit me, theoretically, if I were to ever go outside?” And then there’s the color issue: No one wants to be left looking too orange. Or worse: looking the same as usual because your bronzer is too muted to show up, and now you’ve wasted your time. No fun whatsoever.

But! There’s another approach, one very lovingly dictated to us by makeup artist Ingeborg and then demonstrated on five separate ladies with five very different complexions. The simple way to think about it is thusly: Stop worrying about high points and realistic contouring, because if you lightly dust the right shade all over, you’ll look like you’ve just come back from the most satisfying vacation anyone’s ever taken since Kate Winslet borrowed Cameron Diaz’s mansion and met Jack Black in The Holiday. It’s so simple, too! Now all you’ve got to worry about is which color to pick. So, walk with us, from light to dark:

Tarte Amazonian Clay Matte Waterproof Bronzer in Park Avenue Princess: A light, rosy face dictates a light, rosy bronzer. When the goal is realistic color, think about how your skin reacts to the sun. “This one looks more natural on fair skin because if you’re out in the sun for long, you’re going to get pinker rather than more olive,” Ingeborg said.

Dr. Hauschka Translucent Bronzing Tint: Working with a liquid tint might seem vaguely terrifying if you’re not a paid professional, but that’s where your moisturizer comes in. “This one is very easy for someone who doesn’t know how to apply bronzer with a brush or tends to go too heavy and get streaks,” explains Ingeborg. “If you add a bit of moisturizer to thin it out, you can apply it with your fingertips for an all-over glow.” And because you can control how much you use, it works from light skin to medium seamlessly.

Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder in 00: When in doubt, go Guerlain Terracotta. It comes in eight shades, and even the lightest 00 is an easy way to look instantly healthier. “This one is more apricot, so it takes all the blue and grey tones of the skin almost like a color corrector, which is why it’s so universally flattering,” Ingeborg said. The lighter shades go on subtle, but the darker shades become a little more difficult to apply. But obviously not too difficult—it’s still the brand’s no. 1 best seller.

Vapour Organic Beauty Solar Translucent Bronzer in Simmer: Bronzer sticks and multiples are the exceptions that prove the “creams are easier to apply” rule. It’s probably best that you don’t rub the product directly on the face without warming it up on your fingers first—that’ll prevent streaking. Ingeborg actually used a foundation brush to apply the Vapour onto Gia for a little more definition. “But you don’t really have to worry about this one,” she says. “It’s super sheer and buildable, so very easy to control with a brush.”

Diorskin Nude Shimmer Instant Illuminating Powder in 002: Ingeborg had never worked with this particular shade, and upon first brush of the stuff, she declared it the chicest thing she’d ever seen. “This beige is super flawless,” she said, if you’re looking for that effortless, rich girl skin (and now that rich-girl hair is a thing, why not?). It’s got apricot, traditional bronze, and a rosier shades of brown to match and warm up olive skin tones without going orangey or fake—think of it as a multi-tasker product for anyone who wants a base powder, color, and mica particles in one. Instant Lauren Hutton face.

Nars Bronzing Powder in Casino: “I went for Casino instead of Laguna because with skin like Bruna’s, while light, it helped bring out her exotic-ness,” Ingebord explained. It’s in part thanks to the reddish undertones. Are you sensing a pattern yet? When looking for a realistic color, no matter your skin tone, warmer is the answer.

RMS Beauty Buriti Bronzer: “This is actually a bronzer that looks good on pretty much anyone, from very fair to super dark because you can blend it out on pale girls, but also let it transform darker, olive tones into something more rosy,” Ingeborg explains. It’s also got a hint of shimmer, so people with darker skin tones, like Brittany, won’t look dulled out or matte. Gleaming, though—not glistening.

Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder in Deep: a standby if ever there was one. Perhaps the most perfect shade for skin on the cusp of dark, but not quite deep, to sport a tan sans sun exposure. Lightly dust everywhere from forehead to décolletage.

CoverGirl Queen Collection Natural Hue Minerals Bronzer in Ebony Bronze: When darker skin tones take on bluer undertones, steer away from redder bronzers. “I never want to change anyone’s skin tone that drastically,” Ingeborg said. But with red undertones, like with Kimberlynn, a bit of rich, dark bronzer can liven up the face. “I applied this powder with my fingertips—sometimes I find that makes powder look a bit more natural.”

Nars The Multiple in South Beach: “She was already nice, beautiful, and sunny and dark in certain spots on her face,” Ingeborg said of Kimberlynn. “So I went for the highlight approach just to give some dew. I put it in a triangle from her eyebrow to her cheekbone, around her outer eye for a bit of a contour. It’s super sheer. Finish it off with a touch on the bridge of the nose, cheekbones, Cupid’s bow, and eyelids, just to tie it all together. You can’t go wrong.”

Jemma Baines, Gia Tang, Bruna De Bortoli, Brittany Depriest, Kimberlynn Parris (One Management) photographed by Tom Newton. Makeup by Ingeborg. For more makeup slideshows, click here.

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Sarah Lucero, Makeup Artist, Stila

“I’m the head makeup artist at Stila. I do all TV appearances, trend forecasting, and designs for each season. It’s a creative platform that I love, so I feel like I’m really calm even in the chaos. If it was stressful, I don’t know if I would want to do it—that feeling just gets in the way of your own creativity. I have responsibilities for work, and then I have a responsibility to myself to do what I love, so I think of it as weaving these responsibilities together to make something beautiful. I keep a loose-goose agenda if I can. If it’s too scheduled, I’ll never make time for going out. A makeup test can run eight hours long, and if you have too much to commit to, then stress affects your night. If I have a free night, I have a couple friends I’ll go see. It’s very much last minute—but I like that. I’m a great last minute friend because I am not going to be upset if you cancel or things come up. I think being open to changes and saying yes to something, even though it’s not on your calendar, is favorable because that’s when you meet new people or you might experience something you never even knew existed.

My ideal night out would be going out for sushi or just something easy and light in California, where I live. Nobu in Malibu has a good outdoor area, and you can sit for hours. We usually end up somewhere dancing, but I feel more comfortable at house parties with friends. I know more hip places in New York than back home because California is so mellow. [Laughs] I’m very chill and like to be alone. I feel like as I get older, I discovered that within me. When we’re in New York for something like Fashion Week, my husband films and edits the backstage and show footage. I’ve been married for 19 years. My husband gets along with my friends and can talk to anybody, but we never go out drinking together—that never ends well, no matter what! [Laughs] Girls Night is important, and Guys Night is important. It’s important to have your own thing and your own time. I will go all night. I am definitely the one who wants to keep the night going if we’re having fun. You have to be open for that element of surprise.

If I just got out of work, I usually change and put something comfortable on—maybe a robe or like an intermediate outfit! Then I can go and make myself a glass of wine or tea and have a hard boiled egg before I go out—you know, I don’t want to be starving. I don’t really do my hair. It’s always just a little messy, and it’s fine. Usually I’ll fake a blow-out with Percy & Reed Dry Instant Volumising Spray. Depending on where I’m going is how I’ll pick my outfit for the night. I just have to go to my closet and figure it out. I love to mix-and-match and anything fringe. I feel like I have to be comfortable, and I have to be me, so I just go in and see what’s happening. I like misting my face after a day at work to freshen it up. Caudalie Beauty Elixir is one of my favorites because it smells like a spa. I also like Avène Eau Thermale and Dr. Hauschka Facial Toner. When I use Dr. Hauschka’s, it makes my skin feel tight and ready in a good way.

I feel like I get tanner as the night goes on. It’s bronzer—I don’t know why I love it so much. I rotate my favorites. Stila had a bronzer that’s discontinued now, which I adored, called One Step PrimeColor in Bronze Babe. After bronzer, I tap on Stila Convertible Color in Poppy on my cheeks, the bridge of my nose, and a little on my lip. A dewy product like MAC Strobe Cream is amazing—very sheer and not super frosty. Madina Chic & Shine Highlighter Stick Illuminante is amazing as well, though I would say there is a little bit more of an iridescent pinkness throughout the MAC Strobe Cream. I’ll put it on my eyelids too and do a little here and a little there. There’s also the Charlotte Tilbury Beach Stick in Ibiza for shimmer. I don’t wear a ton of makeup, but when I do it’s different. I like clumpy lashes and things that looks a little imperfect, but I think that’s me.

I touch up my makeup, put on mascara, and definitely add more eyeliner to go out. I also like my makeup to look worn-in, so it works to my advantage if I’m adjusting the day’s makeup. I’ll do a little liner and then smudge it up a little bit—that’s my version of a smoky eye. I do a deep burgundy pencil in my lower lash line. Burgundy, to me, is like the new black—so very dense, but it’s got more of a warmth to it. Then I’ll do a black liquid eyeliner on top with Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner. Cat eyes are like the Little Black Dress of makeup—it always looks good, looks a little polished, and done. No matter how your eyes look, round or smaller, a cat eye can enhance your eye shape, but you can’t do the same technique on every one. I haven’t worn eye shadow in a while, but if I did, I’d do it in a way where it’s blocky, thick, and really not blending into the skin because I have really deep-set eyes. I’m obsessed with this Chanel Eye Gloss that they don’t make anymore! There’s a black, white, gold, and burgundy shade in there. I can dip in a liner brush, blot it, then kind of ‘ruin’ my makeup with this. It’s amazing.

After I do my eyes, I conceal my under-eyes with Charlotte Tilbury’s The Retoucher. It’s a pen like the YSL Touche Éclat, which is great, but this one is more of a foundation-beige while the YSL ones are more sheer and peachy—I’d use that more for brightening. I love anything that’ll give me full, thick volume so I apply Charlotte Tilbury Full Fat Lashes 5-Star Mascara continuously throughout the day to build. I have done lash extensions too. I think they could be amazing if done by somebody who is an artist. There’s a technique that I’ve seen where it looks good when they layer the medium, short, and long lashes. If they are all one length, I can tell and don’t like it. Otherwise, I would say just do some falsies. I love doing little clumps of the flares—I’ll drop a little flare in the edge of my eyelashes, and it widens my eye.

I stay away from bright-red lips. I feel instantly too-done if I have red lips on, so I’m much more comfortable with a neutral lip. I’ll just use the La Prairie Anti-Aging Eye & Lip Perfection à Porter. This is for lip and eye! It’s worth the money because it’s the first thing I reach for when I’m traveling on an airplane. The eye cream has such an interesting texture—you can put it on over makeup. Then I might do Kevyn Aucoin Flesh Tone Lip Pencil in Medium. It’s an easy color to wear because it mimics my natural lip color.

At the end of the night, I take my makeup off with Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water Cloths. I think there’s some type of astringent in them that makes my skin feel really toned. Some of the generic wipes are great, but they leave a residue, so I’m really picky with wipes even if I work with other people because it can change everything. These cloths are really durable, they take everything off, and it feels like I just got a facial or something. I guzzle a ton of water—especially if I’ve been drinking—just to avoid headaches the next day. And near my bed, if there’s a lip balm or hand cream, I’ll maybe put that on. There’s a lot of moisture masks, but I like Dr. Hauschka’s Hydrating Mask. Sometimes at the end of the night, I’ll sleep in it after I wipe my makeup off.”

—as told to ITG

Sarah Lucero shot by Tom Newton. Video edited by Atif Ateeq (The Wall Group).

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