Posts Tagged ‘favorite’




By now you know I like to streamline my kit often. Like quarterly. Okay, monthly! Ten years ago I had two big suitcases filled with everything and the kitchen sink and lugged them from job to job out of insecurity. Then as the years passed and my confidence in my skills grew, I felt comfortable enough to narrow everything down to the best of the best. And now I have one suitcase small enough to carry on the plane! But I still  love to go from counter to counter to see what new products have come out that just might be better than the staples in my kit and when I find one that is extra special, I swap it in. So without further ado, here is a list of the makeup that I’ve found exceptional this year that made my work so much better (my mother always says “we’re only as good as our equipment!”), as well as more budget-friendly versions and my favorite four breakthrough innovations:



  • Foundation (Splurge) — this one goes with me everywhere… in my purse! By Terry Light Expert Click Brush is so innovative because it comes in my favorite By Terry shades but I can do touch ups with just one click in my car, at work or in the bathroom of a restaurant. It has saved my life!
  • Foundation (Steal) — Covergirl Ultra Smooth Foundation comes with an innovative applicator that helps smooth over fine facial hairs and any tiny bumps.
  • Contour (Splurge) — Pur Minerals Cameo Contour Stick is a creamy formula that sets as a powder. It makes contouring and highlighting foolproof and comes with a blending sponge.
  • Contour (Steal) — NYX Wonder Stick also makes contouring and highlighting easy and comes in four shades. Technically, it’s $11.99 so if you want one under $10, try this one ($)!
  • Highlight (Splurge) — Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Palette is a limited edition that I plan to have and cherish for a very long time! It has three candlelit strobe highlighters, two blushes and a bronzer that make all together make you glow like you never have before.
  • Highlight (Steal) — Revlon Highlighting Palette comes in three palettes to look gorgeous on all skin tones and is sooooo pretty in a “I look sunkissed and healthy” kind of way!
  • Blush (Splurge) — Chosungah 22 Real Cheek Smoother Blush has fruit extracts in it, comes in three shades, is portable and really hydrating. I just love the way it looks on my clients and brings their canvas to life.
  • Blush (Steal) — Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Cheek Flush is also portable and instantly gives a pretty flush that looks real like my clients are in love and happy! And this powder blush ($) is always a staple in my kit.



  • Eye Shadow (Splurge) — Charlotte has been an idol of mine for years. She’s responsible for Kate Moss’s rock n roll looks, Amal Clooney’s wedding day makeup and many of the best runway looks ever. So when she came out with her own makeup line last year, I was first in line to get my hands on it. And quickly swapped out many of my eye shadow palettes for her Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palettes.
  • Eye Shadow (Steal) — I created the Amy Nadine Renewing Nudes Palette for a couple reasons. I almost always wet the brush before applying eye shadow on my clients so it’s more intense and lasts longer on the red carpet, but I can never get my clients to do it when they’re at home. Either they think it’s a pain to have an extra step or they don’t want a wet brush in their makeup drawer (I totally get it!). So I formulated these to be incredibly pigmented to go on as intensely as if they had wet the brush (but don’t with these!). And I wanted it to work with their skincare formulas instead of against them so I added bamboo silk, red raspberry seed oil, bilberry seed oil and clover flower extract to hydrate, smooth and power up with antioxidants. The palette retails for $40 but on the link above you can grab one for $15.99 even if you don’t have a membership (just leave that part blank when checking out!). You’ll love applying them with your fingers because they’re like nothing you’ve ever felt before.
  • Eye Liner (Splurge) — In 1995 I asked for Kevyn Aucoin’s The Art of Makeup book and started dreaming of living a life like his. So I’m not sure why it took me 20 years to get my hands on Kevyn Aucoin’s The Eye Pencil Primatif but better late than never! They blend and glide beautifully and I now use them on everyone.
  • Eye Liner (Steal) — I love L’Oreal Infallible Silkissime Liner because it glides on like silk then lasts for 16 hours. And I use this one ($) on the inner waterline.
  • Mascara (Splurge) — I’m so happy the Benefit Roller Lash was invented because it’s the first curling mascara that I’ve ever tried that actually curls the lashes then stays curled. I can’t keep them stocked enough in my kit because my clients always want to take it home with them LOL.
  • Mascara (Steal) — Rimmel ScandalEyes XX Treme is awesome because the wand builds volume and length. The formula dries very quickly though so don’t wait in between coats! And I love this black primer ($) on everyone!



  • Lipstick (Splurge) — I’ve yet to find another lipstick that beats Tom Ford Lip Color. It’s the most luxurious formula I’ve ever tried and I love offering my clients the best of the best.
  • Lipstick (Steal) — The L’Oreal Collection Prive Doutzen Edition is one of the prettiest nude collections out there and such a steal.
  • Lip Stain (Splurge) –Everyone that I’ve given the Chosungah 22 Dual Lip Tint & Gloss to has died over it as much as I had. It absolutely will not budge until you wash it off.
  • Lip Stain (Steal) — Ulta Double Duty Lip Stain & Balm isn’t drying like a lot of lip stains and the balm on the other end makes it feel really good too.



  • Cover Fx Custom Cover Drops — This magic bottle is filled with a super-concentrated and incredibly-thin liquid that comes in 24 shades and I add a few drops to anything I want to add more coverage to (foundation or tinted moisturizer) or to make my own foundation, I add it to a primer, serum, lotion or face oil. Or sometimes I use it as a spot concealer on its own. There is nothing out there like it.
  • Chosungah 22 Brow Maker — it looks like a magic marker but the wand has bristles that you can use to tint the hairs by brushing it through them and a pointed end that you can draw with. It comes in four shades and I keep all of them in my kit.
  • Cushion Compacts — Such an innovative product that I wish I would have thought of! So portable and such thin formulas. I love this one ($$$) and this one ($$).
  • Vera Mona Dry Brush Cleaner — Obviously clean brushes are a must for me in between clients and jobs. But sometimes I try a color and want to use the same brush immediately for another color. Instead of washing it and having to wait for it to dry, I just swirl it around this cleaning system and it’s instantly clean and dry!


photos/post/design: Kristin Ess

Over the past decades or so it seems like sources for beauty products (both pro and not-so-pro) have multiplied in a way that’s almost overwhelming. It’s hard to tell which spots have the goods and which ones just have a good facade. As professional hair + makeup artists we search high and low, online and offline, for the best products at all price points and we want to share our resources with you guys. Here we go!

(Click the name to be taken to the source!)

1. Favorite Nail Polish Sources:

  • – great range of polish brands in one spot. They always seem to have the ones that are hard to find.
  • American Apparel – plain + simple, they just have great color options.
  • Wilshire Beauty Supply – fave spot in LA for new trend releases when I want to see them in person. (They also have the best nail tools!)
  • Sephora – an obvious leader in the nail trends game.

2. Favorite Makeup Brush Sources:

  • Hakuhodu – some of the finest brushes in the world.
  • Cozette – Vegan! Love!
  • Make Up For Ever – available at, and Make Up For Ever Boutiques.

3. Favorite Bobby Pin Sources:

4. Best High-end, Middle-end + Affordable Products All In One Place:

  • ULTA– from Frederic Fakkai to Wella to Tresemme they have it all. It’s like hair, makeup, skin + nail heaven. They also stock a large range of Hot Tool curling irons which are our favorite. (BTW- We snag codes from Robot Oatmeal to get discounts + free shipping at Ulta!)

5. Best Fragrance Shop On Earth:

6. Pro Beauty Supplies (All great spots for hair + makeup artists specializing in TV/Film, or anyone who just wants to get in on the goods!):

7. Best Department Stores for Makeup: (We love big department stores because they let you try almost anything before you buy!)

  • Bergdorf’s – in-store + online.
  • Henri Bendel’s – in-store + online.
  • Bloomingdales – – in-store + online.
  • Nordstrom – in-store + online.
  • Macy’s – good source for Clairsonics + Brush sets, often on sale! In-store + online.
  • Neiman Marcus – in-store + online. Love their beauty replenishment service! If you run out of something (like foundation or powder) every month or two, you can set a date and they’ll automatically send you a new one!

8. Best Places To Shop Drug Store Brands:

  • Target – There’s nothing better for drugstore beauty, really. Have you guys checked out the new Target City’s that are popping up??? They. Are. Amazing! We also love that Target it expanding it’s natural lines like Burt’s Bees as well as their products for CURLY HAIRED GIRLS, like Mixed Chicks and Miss Jessies! HOORAY!!
  • CVS/Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • (go to the drugstore without leaving the house.)

9. Best Place To Find Cool New Trends In Beauty:

  • We’re going with Sephora because they usually lock down the cool new stuff first and make it available to all of us, no matter where we live.
  • Also check out all of the Pro Beauty Supplies listed in #6.

10. Best Place For Hair Chalks:

11. Best Place To Find Hot Tools:

12. Nail Art Wheels (good for practicing your skills before doing them on yourself, and fun to build a collection of nail art wheels!)

13. Best Airbrush Makeup Machine:

14. Best Travel Products:

  • 3floz.comthey carry travel sizes of most of the brands we use and love! No more mess with filling bottles!

15. Best Nail Brands For New Trends:

  • Zoyapixie dust + gold flakes!
  • Ciatecaviar nails, velvet nails, sequined manis!? Yes please.

Got a secret source you want to add? Please do so below! We want to hear them all, no matter where you live!


photo + design by kristin ess

We’re getting pretty flooded with emails about your upcoming holiday wish lists. We thought we’d help out by making a long list with some of our personal favorites. We’ve also saved you the time of hunting by including the links. Hopefully this will come in very handy for this week of heavy shopping! Or perhaps you should just accidentally leave this list lying around for a particular someone to stumble upon… xo



photo + post design: kristin ess

In the spirit of yesterday’s bangs post, I’ve decided to do a little beauty giveaway with some of my favorites. I’m passing out 5 of these “Big Bang” bags to randomly selected people who like this post on our FACEBOOK PAGE. Inside you will find the essentials for any type of bangs:

  • Blotting papers- absorbs the oils that get into your bangs and cause unwanted separation.
  • Japanese bobby pins in your color- these are the strongest bobby pins you’ll ever use! They’re my favorite and they never slip!
  • My favorite teal comb- one swipe with the fine side of this comb while on the go, and your bangs are perfection!
  • Paddle clips- holds your bangs out of your face while you do your makeup, but won’t leave a crease!
  • Ponytail holders- because bangs look really good with a ballerina bun, fun bun or ponytail.
  • Travel size dry shampoo- a mandatory purse product for anyone with bangs. Remember the story on dry shampoo?

Good luck!!