Make up

5 Makeup Tricks That Changed My Life Forever


I’ve been playing with make-up for the better part of 4 decades, so didn’t think there was much left to master in my bag of beauty tricks.

Until last spring, when I had a professional make-up artist take stock of my face.

Faced with a school fundraising event that night and 3 hours of sleep, I found myself barefaced and haggard.  The only weapon within reach was an old lip balm with a missing cap at the bottom of my bag.

So in a desperate act of financial tomfoolery, I threw a beauty Hail Mary and scheduled a blow out and professional make-up application at Sharon Dorram.   Gabriele is my regular go-to blow out guy for special occasions, but this was the first time I blindly paid someone a small fortune to freshen my face.

“I’m going to a school thing (you know, other mothers and teachers), so I want to look rested and pretty.” I told her.  “But not hot pretty, nice pretty. Inspiring a little envy would be nice though.  Can you do that in 45 minutes?”

Clearly no stranger to the landscape of New York City moms, she looked me squarely and said, “Are you kidding? I can do that in 35”.

She wasn’t a just make-up artist; she was a beauty Fairy Godmother.  Faster than I could say bippity-boppity-boo she transformed me from dreary urban working mom into a luminous PTA Goddess.

Better yet, she taught this old dog some new tricks that changed my make-up life forever:

I’ve shared this tip before, and it’s still one of my favorites.  The trick here is blending the two different types of foundation and the Beauty Blender.

  • Begin with a good primer (we know this).
  • Dilute a drop of foundation with a few drops of tinted moisturizer and blend.  This also helps customize the color, but she also mixed two different shades of foundation to get the shade just right.
  • Apply with a lightly moistened Beauty Blender sponge.  Press and dab, press and dab all over your face until it’s well blended.
  • Lightly press with a tissue to bind it to the skin for the most natural look.
  • My go-tos: Beauty Blender SpongeLaura Mercier Primer, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in Nude, Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk in #5 and not pictured here but equally loved is Koh Gen Do foundation.

In olden times, I would do this with a white pencil to theoretically brighten the whites of my eyes.  But you know what?  I looked like a crazy racoon with scorching white around the inside of her eyes.  The trick is to do this with a peach pink, not white.  My go-tos: Nars Larger Than Life Pencil in Rue Bonaparte or Benefit Eye Bright.

Keep in mind, I’m a brown-eyed girl so keep this may not work as well all you hazels, greens and baby blues out there.  Still, my eyes looked ginormous, bright and stayed that way until midnight.

This is my favorite trick of all time for looking awake and 5 years younger.   Doing this cleans up the smudges nicely and gives you a clean lower lash line.

  • Put on all your shadow, liner and top lash mascara.  Lightly line your lower lash line with shadow if needed
  • Apply a color corrector with a concealer brush if your eyes need a little boost.  Personally, I look like a Twilight extra without concealer so I always need the extra help.
  • Then, lightly apply a concealer with the brush and blend, blend, blend, blend, blend.  I skip the powder because it can make my eyes look crepey.
  • As the final touch, lightly apply your lower lash mascara
  • My go-tos: Bobbi Brown Color Corrector in Light Peach and Creamy Concealer in Warm Beige.

It’s no brainer that nothing screams early 90s like a visibly lined mouth, but I’ve noticed the older I get, the more my lips lack definition so I need a little help.

  • Apply a pinky sheer lipstick with a lip brush (the color guidance applies to girls over 35+ more so than the youngins)
  • Then, carefully fill in the areas of definition you think you need with the pencil in a color that’s as close to your natural lip color as possible.
  • Top with gloss as needed.
  • My go-tos: I like Cle de Peau Beaute Lip Luminizer in Fig Tart and their gloss in their Lip liner in 101.

I left the salon ready to rule the world provided I could get a glass of liquid courage in my hand the moment I walked into the event.  I would bid at the silent auction with confidence and navigate the slurry of alpha moms, recalling that oldie but goodie from Billy Crystal:

“Nando, don’t be a schnook, it’s not how you feel, it’s how you LOOK”


  • Reply
    bohemian spirit
    November 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    What a treat–I desperately need a make-up and hair fairy!! I love Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer but never get the primer because I am afraid of breakouts? What do you do with the new Benefit white eye pencil? Still line inner rims? The only great idea I ever have is to go to the MAC counter and they put on lashes for you! Thanks for all the product/use tips!

    • Reply
      November 19, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      Oh there’s nothing better than having your eyelashes professionally applied!

      For the Benefit liner, it’s actually a peachy pink color and you line the inside of your lower eyelid with it. You can also use Nars in Rue Bonaparte and this brand called Buxom makes one as well. The big learning for me though was to use a peachy pink, not a white. And to be sure the pencil is safe for use around the water line which these brands are. Can be a little
      irritating if you wear contacts though.


  • Reply
    November 20, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    I use very little make up on a daily basis so, when I have a night out or something that requires some serious dolling up, I have resorted to make up videos! There are so many on Youtube that have made my life so much easier. I love the Laura Mercier primer and I use G. Armani foundation but I never thought of blending it with a tinted moisturizer. Also I used to apply the concealer after foundation but before eye-shadow – will have to try this innovation. I apply a little bit of light pink to my cheeks (my complexion is fairly dark for a caucasian) to brighten my face and, in the evening, I put a slightly darker shade under my cheekbones to give them more definition. It works.

    • Reply
      November 20, 2012 at 3:35 PM

      Huge fan of pink cheeks. I’ve got this pale yellow complexion thing going on so I need it to make me look alive. Make-up videos are awesome! I would have done one myself to demo some of this, but thenI realized it wouldn’t make anonymous anymore:)


  • Reply
    November 23, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    I was wondering why you didn’t do a demo video. Maybe you could pluck a stranger mom who needs help and do a makeover video, because as great as your verbal instructions are I’m pretty sure if I tried this myself I would end up looking like Krusty the Clown!

    • Reply
      November 24, 2012 at 8:40 AM

      That’s actually a great idea and think I’ll do that next time, I know most of my friends would jump at the chance to get a free make-over. Thanks for the idea!


  • Reply
    Marissa D.
    March 11, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    Hi there – thanks for these tips! I was actually thinking of combining the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer with my Armani Luminous Silk to sheer out the foundation and get some of the dewiness from the TM, but I’m concerned about how it will photograph because of the SPF 20 in the LM TM. What has your experience been with combining these two and flash photography?

    • Reply
      March 12, 2013 at 8:07 AM

      GREAT question! For flash, I would actually use Koh Gen Do foundation, it’s my new favorite formula. The only watch out here is that I find picking the colors to be difficult because they come in pink and yellow undertones (and I’m an unfortunate blend of the two). It took a lot of experimentation with the make-up artist at Barneys to get it right. Long story short, I wound up buying two colors, but it photographs beautifully.


      • Reply
        Marissa D.
        March 17, 2013 at 12:07 AM

        Thank you! I’m dying to try Koh Gen Do foundations (have heard awesome things) but don’t think they have it here in Canada! So, if locating that in time fails, do you think the Laura Mercier TM will photograph nicely, or do you think it’s best to leave it out of the mixture and just use the Armani LS foundation? I personally like how my skin looks better with the LM TM, but I want my pictures to turn out nicely!

        • Reply
          March 18, 2013 at 10:04 AM

          I think you still combine the LM and GA nicely and look great. Are you shooting in natural light or in a studio??

      • Reply
        Marissa D.
        March 25, 2013 at 3:16 PM

        Hi again – what shade do you wear in the Koh Gen Do foundation? The Laura Mercier TM in Nude is also a good match for me. It seems like a lot of Armani LS shades work for me – I have both 4.5 and 5.25. Thanks!!

        • Reply
          March 25, 2013 at 9:09 PM

          I use PK-2 (pink) and OC-3 (yellow) in Koh Gen Do, but, it took a lot of trial and error for the make-up artist to find the right blend which I think is the downside to the line. In Armani I used between a 4.5 and a 5, but I find their shades easier to match. I too am a nude in Laura Mercier.

          Good luck and let us all know which one you chose!


  • Reply
    Marissa D.
    March 18, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    Great, thanks! Natural light and indoors at an evening event (which is where I’m hoping the flash doesn’t make my face look funny!). Thank you!

  • Reply
    November 8, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    I am overwhelmed reading this. My normal make up is some lipstick and mascara and I use clear sunscreen on my face. I’m not nearly as pretty as I was when in my 20’s and 30’s and I consider starting to use makeup, but when I read this, I decided to stick with what I do now. Isn’t there anything easier in terms of the face makeup?

  • Reply
    November 26, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    wow, this is golden! I am particularly excited about trying the brown powder/blue pencil idea in the upper waterline. I currently use Bobbi Brown’s gel liner in chocolate shimmer for that area, but must say i am not crazy about it’s tendency to form little flakes after application, which always get stuck under my contacts. Anyway, I will use that on some days and then just a blue pencil there on other days. But combining the two? Pure genius! (Mind you, I will use the brown powder as suggested, not the gel liner). Also, kind of surprised about your choice of concealer…..have you tried Cle de Peau’s concealer? It is simply the finest thing on this planet.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    Hi Becca,
    Love your blog! Would you specify which Cle de Peau lip liner and gloss

    you mean. There is a lip liner in 201 not 101 and which number gloss?

    Do you like this expensive lip products for the colors or the textures?

    Thanks, claire

    • Reply
      December 30, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      Hi Claire – I love this line for it’s texture which is half lipstick, half gloss that doesn’t dry out my lips. Here’s what I use:

      1) Enriched Lip Luminizer in #205 Rhubarb and custard, #206 Sweet Watermelon and #204 Bellini
      2) Lipgloss in N4
      3) Lipliner in 201 (my bad).

      Cle de Peau doesn’t make it easy for customers to find the colors they love which is a pain. But, there’s a pretty good line up at Saks.

      Among my other go to is Bobbi Brown in Uber Pink. It’s the perfect everyday lipstick and a fraction of the cost.

      Oh and my new favorite mascara is Benefit “They’re Real” (and they’re spectacular).


  • Reply
    January 3, 2017 at 10:26 AM

    I have really enjoyed reading this and the rest of your website, very refreshing.

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