What Actually Is An Essence – And Why Does Your Skin Need One?

If your aim each day is to drench your skin with hydration, there is a product that can help you out. No longer solely known to the “skintelligent” (those who know their way around a multi-step skincare routine), the essence is fast becoming a formula that many of us rely on for a healthy, luminous complexion. However, it’s frequently misunderstood. Hailing from Korea, as many useful skin trends do, the liquid is often confused with a toner, but is actually an entirely separate product designed to be used after cleansing and toning, and before serum.

“An essence is predominantly used to assist all the other products in your routine,” says Julia Marinkovich, UK representative for the Korean brand COSRX, who describes them as a skincare staple. “They are multi-functional miracle workers that hydrate and rebalance the skin, housing many active ingredients that work to penetrate the skin much deeper, further enhancing subsequent skincare products and boosting the effectiveness of your whole beauty regime.” Marcia Kilgore of Beauty Pie is a fan too: she told Vogue recently that an essence is “the perfect power-magnet prep to heighten the performance of whatever you apply next”, highlighting its ability to nourish, smooth and pH balance the skin, softening the epidermal layers to allow faster penetration of actives – Beauty Pie’s Japanfusion Hydra Prep Essence Lotion is an unsung hero in the brand’s offering.

While essences are nothing new and have long been available via more niche brands, over the past year the beauty mainstream has cottoned on to their efficacy, thrusting them into the spotlight and making them more accessible to consumers. Take Elizabeth Arden’s Ceramide Micro Capsule Skin Replenishing Essence, which is packed with antioxidants to protect skin from external aggressors, and offers minerals to boost skin’s hydration levels, as well as lipids to bolster the skin barrier. It’s a multitasking product that really does work, particularly for older skins: “Ceramide levels drop precipitously as we age, and this formula contains skin identical ceramides that support the skin barrier and help improve texture,” says Dr Dendy Engelman, the brand’s consulting dermatologist.

La Mer is another well known brand that has recently added a Treatment Lotion to its much-loved skincare line. Utilising the miracle broth technology found in all its products, combined with softening waters, a revitalising ferment and a number of sea minerals, it’s designed to deeply hydrate the skin. Then there is Clarins’ barrier-bolstering Nutri-Lumière Renewing Treatment Essence, and Caudalie’s brightening and smoothing Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence.

Meanwhile, when Vintner’s Daughter – a brand that shot to fame by offering a single product – introduced a second, founder April Gargulio didn’t unveil a cleanser or a moisturiser, but an essence. “The Active Treatment Essence was created to be the perfect hydrating complement to [the original product] Active Botanical Serum’s multi-correctional moisture,” Gargulio tells Vogue. “In one perfectly calibrated formula Active Treatment Essence delivers many products in one – deep hydration, collagen-building vitamin C, two sizes of plumping hyaluronic acid, brightening plant stem cells, revitalising microalgae and B vitamins, pre and probiotics, 60 plus nourishing nutrients and micro-exfoliators for cellular regeneration.” An exhaustive list of skincare benefits, and yet more reasons to consider incorporating one of these multi-taskers into your routine.

Other notable essences to try are Skin Regimen’s Microalgae Essence, a near all-natural product which helps recharge and hydrate the skin thanks to energising unicellular microalgae; COSRX’s Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, which is loved by Emily Ratajkowski and, yes, really does contain snail secretion filtrate to repair damaged skin; and SKII’s Facial Treatment Essence, which is forever sold out, and for good reason. It’s achieved cult status thanks to its ability to lift, firm, hydrate, smooth, and generally make skin glowy as can be.

Unlike a toner or micellar water, your essence should be applied like a serum: “Instead of using a cotton wool pad, apply four to five pumps of essence into the palms of your hands and then press the product into your skin, avoiding dragging it,” says Marinkovich. Use it morning and night, post-toner and pre-serum, and enjoy. For the sake of an additional 20 seconds, it’s a no brainer – isn’t it?

VOGUE article

How To Get Gorgeous Summer Skin In 6 Easy Steps

Coaxing out our best summer skin as temperatures rise isn’t always easy. We all have fantasies of buttery bronze, dewy (but not too dewy!) skin at this time of year, but in reality find ourselves closer to the flushed red or oily mark, and with all of our determinedly applied make-up long gone by lunchtime. 

Whether it’s a Sophia Loren-esque olive, a J Lo glow, or a rich Rihanna bronze you’re after, this is your foolproof guide to nailing summer skin – courtesy of Chanel’s global creative make-up and colour designer, Lucia Pica, who says: “Summer skin is all about being more glowy and bronzy and sun-kissed – all of the stuff I love!” 

Here, your six step guide to effortless summer make-up.

Prep the skin

Pre make-up, look to lightweight hydrating serums and lotions to ensure skin is primed and ready to go for the subsequent base formula. After cleaning skin (Shiseido’s Waso Smart Water cleans, hydrates and primes), apply U Beauty’s Resurfacing Compound, a one-stop shop for all skin’s needs thanks to its cocktail of antioxidants, vitamins C and E, and a rather pleasing tightening effect that allows make-up to go on seamlessly afterwards. For those who like something ultra hydrating, Guerlain’s Super Aqua Emulsion Light is a must-try, and brilliant for all skin types. Always finish with an SPF.

Glow up

If you’re lacking a natural bronze glow, facial tanning has never been easier. James Read’s new Click & Glow Tan Drops deliver self-tan to the skin via a gel formula that’s designed to be added into your SPF or moisturiser – it also contains hyaluronic acid, soothing aloe vera and vitamin C to boot. Meanwhile, Isle of Paradise’s Hyglo Self-Tan Serum is also packed with hyaluronic acid and gradually tans skin, leaving it looking healthy and plump. And finally, Sisley’s Self Tanning Hydrating Facial Skincare is a lightweight, non-comedogenic cream that leaves skin both supple and protected against the environment.

First base

“For me, summer (and even winter) skin is about transparency,” says Pica. “That’s why Chanel’s L’Eau de Teint is my foundation. It’s excellent because it’s got this way of making everything really uniform and homogenous, but you still see your skin through it.” Beautiful, fresh-looking skin shouldn’t look like it has anything on it, Pica says, and formulas should just be used to cover what needs to be covered, rather than the entire face. Look to disguise any redness, uneven skin tone or blemishes, but leave your natural skin texture to shine through wherever possible. L’Eau de Teint is excellent and offers a fresh, dewy glow for all skin tones, blurring imperfections and staying put for hours. Plus, its watery, serum-like formula means it feels comfortable on even the oiliest of skin types. Pica also recommends using concealer on the areas that might need extra coverage – try Stila’s Pixel Perfect Concealer.

Bronze and blush

Advocating the use of lots of different textures to mimic real skin, Pica’s next tip is to deploy bronzer and blush where it’s needed. Take your cues from Bella Hadid’s recent Instagram post – in which her bronzer is expertly applied in a ‘W’ shape over the cheekbones and nose – and use either powder or cream formulas, buffing them seamlessly into skin. Chanel’s Soleil Tan Bronze Universel is a Vogue beauty team favourite thanks to its natural finish, while Anastasia Beverly Hills Powder Bronzer offers a good range of shades for all skin tones. Once bronzed, it’s time for blush. “When you’re bronzed, you still have that element of red skin coming through,” says Pica. “Yes, you get a little bit tanned and your skin starts to get darker, but you still have that redness from the first sun, and I love that redness.” To imitate that fresh-from-the-beach flush, she likes to apply a creamy blush either high on the cheekbones and lightly over the bridge of the nose, or on the apples of cheeks. Try Westman Atelier’s Baby Cheeks Blush Stick or Bobbi Brown’s Pot Rouge For Lips & Cheeks.

Add light

For an extra hit of glow, avoid powdery highlighters in favour of liquid ones, which are better placed to melt into skin seamlessly. “I would blend it in like a foundation to create a nice veil of glow,” says Pica, who recommends Chanel’s new Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Highlighting Fluid for the job. “Again, everything has to become part of the skin for me – you don’t want anything that feels like it’s sitting on top, it doesn’t give you that natural effect of the summer glow. It’s a bit too fake looking. You have to look like you’ve just been in the sun, and magically, you’re shining.” Another brilliant liquid option is Marc Jacobs’ Glow Away Dewy Coconut Face Luminizer.

Freckles are a go

To really up the ante on the sun-kissed look, look no further than a smattering of (faux) freckles across the nose and cheeks – as per Emily Ratajkowski who is partial to dotting some on herself. “I love that fresh, ingenue type of skin, and I think freckles are a good way to make any make-up look fresh and modern,” says Pica. Freck’s XL Faux Freckle Cosmetics are excellent – just dot on haphazardly and leave to dry. Other alternatives are Colourpop’s Freckle Pen & Lime Crime Freckle Pen.

VOGUE article

Maybelline Glass Skin Spray

Dewy. The New Glass Skin. K-Beauty trend made readily available.

Meet Maybelline New York’s 1st glass-skin makeup finishing spray. Now you can get that dewy, hydrated look with a glassy finish in seconds. Can be used by itself, or to set/refresh makeup. This bi-phase finishing liquid delivers an ultra-dewy finish instantly. It’s designed for even application and with its “cloud spray” pattern spritzer to perfect your look.

Buy it on ULTA’s website

6 Ways to Make Your Foundation Look Like a Second Skin

Parisian makeup artist Violette’s top secret for how to apply foundation? Execute it without a trace. “I want people to say, ‘Oh my god, your skin looks amazing!’ not, ‘Your foundation is so great,'” she explains. And while finding the perfect formula is half the battle, once you have it, making like Houdini and ensuring it vanishes into your complexion is just as crucial. Here, three in-demand makeup artists share their fine-tuned tips for how to apply foundation and achieve that ever-elusive, second-skin finish.

Create a Glowing Canvas

Clean and moisturized skin is a no-brainer, but to really supercharge your glow, begin with a hydrating mask and follow it up with a lymphatic facial massage. When makeup artist Nina Park works with clients such as Zoë Kravitz and Bella Hadid, she begins with a sheet mask specifically targeted to their skin type, with ingredients such as rose to combat oiliness, aloe to treat dryness, and green tea to soothe inflammation. After masking, gently massage your moisturizer into the skin to boost circulation and reduce puffiness. “It creates a natural flush that makes the face look more awake,” says makeup artist Kira Nasrat, who helps give Jessica Alba that perpetually luminous complexion.

Prime as Needed

To prime or not to prime? It’s an eternal question for amateurs and pros alike. While Violette typically skips the extra base step in the interest of using as little product as possible, when applied correctly, it can prolong foundation for all-day wear. “I use an anti-shine primer for hotspots like the forehead, hairline, sides of nose, and around the mouth, and then a sheer, illuminating one for the tops of the cheekbones,” explains Park, adding that she applies each with her fingertips.

Apply From the Center and Move Outward

Only apply foundation where it’s really necessary, insists Violette, who counts Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturizing Foundation with SPF 45 among her favorites. “Start in the center of the face, on the apples of the cheeks, and slowly blend out,” she instructs, adding that another key part of the face is the area around the mouth, which is prone to yellow undertones and shadows. To ensure the foundation looks as natural as possible, Violette often skips the bridge of the nose—letting freckles show through for those who have them—and the corners of the nostrils, so the pigment doesn’t cling to dry patches.

Don’t Paint, Buff

No matter what tool you’re using—a foundation brush, a BeautyBlender, or your fingers—buff (or bounce, if you’re using a sponge) the foundation into your skin as opposed to “painting” it on to build coverage smoothly and avoid streakiness, says Park.

Strobe Wherever the Sun Hits

For dimension, blend highlighter into the high planes of the face that catch light naturally, such as the cheekbones, temples, and Cupid’s bow. “I’m not a fan of powder highlighters because it looks a bit fake to me,” says Violette. “Creamy balm textures will give you a dewiness as if you’re not wearing any products.”

Blot, Then Set

First, sop up excess oil with blotting papers. Then, look to a featherweight translucent powder to seal in foundation and prevent unwanted sheen. “Use a brush to apply it very lightly and only to the areas that get the most shiny,” says Nasrat, adding that the leftover luster is what will really drive home that second-skin guise. Silky smooth and even-toned, with just the right amount of lit-from-within dewiness, that’show you execute believably perfect skin.

VOGUE article

Uh-Huh Honey (ft. ColourPop)

Products:
– ColourPop Uh-Huh Honey eyeshadow palette
– MAC Cosmetics Studio Fix Fluid & Studio Fix Powder in NC15, Bronze bronzer
– NYX Cosmetics Strobe of Genius highlighter palette, Butter Gloss in Sunday Mimosa, Epic Ink liquid eyeliner

Patrick Ta – the Major Glow of the Makeup Industry

Patrick Ta has become one of Hollywood’s top makeup artists, but it wasn’t always so glamorous for the San Diego native. Before touching makeup, Ta had explored becoming a culinary chef and even owned a nail and tanning salon in Scottsdale, Arizona. After his salon venture failed, he got a job at MAC Cosmetics where he found his love for makeup. “After my salon went bankrupt, my roommate at the time gave me my first job doing makeup at MAC Cosmetics and from there my obsession for makeup began,” explained Ta. Even though he didn’t have any experience, he started doing makeup on people for prom, events and weddings. Welcome to Artist Spotlight #14 series on my blog.

Instagram had just started becoming popular around the time Ta was becoming passionate about makeup so he started his own page uploading his work. “I was really lucky that all my girlfriends let me practice on them. They would share my work on social media which led me to grow my clientele and eventually led me to want to pursue makeup in Los Angeles,” said Ta. When Ta first moved to Los Angeles as a freelance makeup artist he didn’t know anyone in the industry. He took to Instagram once again to connect with influencers to do their makeup. Then one day Shay Mitchell started following Ta and slid into his DM’s. “I knew Shay was going to make a huge difference in my career. I am so grateful that she was one of my first celebrity clients because she allowed me to grow with her, and then I met Gigi Hadid which took my work to the next level in the world of high fashion,” stated Ta.

Ta went on to work with Olivia Munn, Adriana Lima, Jessica Alba, Joan Smalls, Ariana Grande, Chrissy Teigen, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Bella Hadid Kendall Jenner, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, and Jenna Dewan Tatum, among others. Patrick’s devotion to his craft has allowed him to develop a refined hand and keen eye for color and composition. Although his client roster consists of the highest profile models, celebrities, and influencers today, he believes that every person, no matter who they are, deserves to feel confident and beautiful every day. As his fanbase grew, so did the demand of knowing how he achieves that natural, yet sultry glow on his clients. That led him to work on creating his own beauty line which launched in April 2019 as an homage to the women in his life that have supported him and given him the confidence to be who he is.

Patrick Ta Beauty initially launched with Major Glow which included three highlighting mists, body oils and lip shines. “My first collection all about translucent glow for all skin tones; then my next collection was named Monochrome Moment which featured four blushes, lip liners and lip cremes. I love monochromatic looks because thats what I do for my clients when they hire me for an everyday look. Simple browns and bronzes to give that natural glow” explained Ta. 

Ta is set to expand Patrick Ta Beauty with more makeup and color. His masterclasses are always full and his insights and techniques are extremely unique.

Patrick Ta Beauty is exclusively sold at Sephora and online at patrickta.com

FORBES article
REFINERY29 article

Pregnancy Glow

Beautiful Farrah for a maternity photo shoot!

Products:
– L’Oreal ProGlow foundation
– Maybelline Fit Me concealer & loose powder, MasterChrome highlighter in Rose Gold
– Physician’s Formula Butter Blush in Vintage Rouge & Butter Bronzer
– Urban Decay Naked 3 eyeshadow palette
– NYX Cosmetics Butter Gloss in Fortune Cookie

(Disclaimer: I do have Farrah’s consent to post her images on designated websites including Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, and use in my digital portfolio.)

To Prime or Not To Prime? (Face)

The definition and meaning of makeup priming have changed overtime, in some cases to be more confusing. However, as a professional makeup artist, you have to know what it means to prime the face for makeup application, whether a separate primer is needed, what skin concerns you are trying to address, etc. 

While some makeup artists swear by skincare as priming alone to be just fine, others argue that a makeup artist should have a variety of primers in their kit to address specific skin concerns such as redness, dehydration, large pores, uneven skin tone, dull skin, oily or dry skin, sensitive skin, and more. 

In my opinion, moisturizer is non-negotiable, and has to be freshly applied before makeup application. Then, I carefully assess the client’s face by asking questions and gently pressing with my pinky finger to see the skin response. From there, I decide whether to apply a specific primer that would be beneficial to the client, and not just another layer.

That said, often times either one of these three techniques are used post moisturizing:

  1. On top of moisturizer, one primer is applied concentrating in a specific area, with purposes to smooth the skin, correct redness, provide a healthy glow, mattify, or further hydrate. The best example of this is using a moisturizer suitable for the client’s skin needs, with, for example, an oily T-zone being covered with a mattifying primer, but the rest of the skin left alone.
  2. On top of moisturizer, two or more primers are used to correct more than one concern on a client’s face. Same skin concerns as above, using specific primers in specific areas. 
  3. Lastly, as I mentioned in the beginning, some makeup artists feel as though the moisturizing step is enough to prepare the client’s skin for makeup, and if it’s still fresh and active – carry on with makeup application.

Here I’ve listed some great options for common skin concerns:

– Redness: Smashbox Photofinish Reduce Redness Primer
– Dryness: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Hydrating Primer
– Oiliness: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Mattifying Primer
– Roughness: Becca Skin Love Brighten & Blur Primer, IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Makeup Primer +
– To provide glow: Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer – Illuminating, Becca Backlight Priming Filter Face Primer
– To reduce pores: Smashbox Photofinish Pore Minimizing Primer
– To prolong the wearing time: MILK Makeup Hydrogrip Primer

If you’d like to read more about this topic I highly suggest reading the Adore Beauty article, and Allure article.

NYX High Glass Collection

Glass skin, defined: Evolving from K-Beauty’s dedication to a healthy, glowy, hydrated-looking complexion, “glass skin” refers to skin that looks translucent, smooth and reflective—just like a pane of glass.

High Glass Face Primer – creates a perfect base for an all-day luminous look, the formula is infused with light-reflecting pearls to create the illusion of translucent glass skin. Silky to the touch, it glides on smoothly, creating a fresh and healthy look that can be worn alone or under foundation for glowy, prolonged wear. Available in three flattering shades for a wide range of skin tones.

High Glass Finishing Powder – blurs imperfections and keeps skin glassy all-day long, this versatile formula was designed to be worn over High Glass Face Primer or the foundation of choice. Available in three light-reflecting shades which stretch across light to deep skin tones (light, medium, and deep), each shimmering setting powder sets your makeup and gives the complexion a sleek and polished glass-like glow.

High Glass Illuminating Powder – spotlights the features in a gorgeous, glass-like glow, this pressed-gel highlighting powder is packed with luminous micropearls that catch, reflect, and refract the natural light for a multidimensional, mirror-like sheen (formula similar to Colourpop’s Super Shock Cheek). Specifically designed to go with the Korean glass skincare regimen, this highlighter comes in three inclusive shades (light, medium and deep) to highlight and complement a range of skin tones.

The collection also comes with a primer brush & radiant setting spray.

Have you tried anything from this collection? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

Glow + Red Gloss = Yes Please

I had an incredible opportunity to collaborate with Matte & Glow Edmonton to create this absolutely gorgeous makeup look with some of the industry staple products.

Products:
Kevyn Aucoin & The Balm base & sculpt
OFRA Pillowtalk highlighter & foundation in 0.25
Kevyn Aucoin Essential Eyeshadow Set in Palette #1
OCC Makeup Lip Tar in Deep Burgundy.

This is what my dreams are made of!