Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Into Your Blackest Eyes

So I realized recently that I am incredibly fortunate to know some insanely talented people, and they are the inspiration behind a new segment I'm introducing. Periodically I will be poking and prodding at the brains of aforementioned talented folk over seven questions for your reading pleasure, and to kick off this series I present to you my go-to lady for drop dead gorgeous eye makeup and dear friend Kenia Melinda (pictured left.) so without further ado, I present to you the first installment of Seven Questions.

1.) What types of art did you draw from (i.e. books, films, music, etc.) when developing your signature artistic style?
I drew inspiration from movies and old art nouveau pictures. Edward Scissorhands, Legend, Dracula, you get my drift. Some dark comic books I own as well. I love big, smudgy eyes as well as very defined, symmetrical lines..sometimes I get creative with a bit of victorian filigreed influenced linework and such.
2.) All artists need skill but they also need the best tools. What are the absolute staples of your makeup kit?
I HAVE to have at all times: A hard bristled angle brush, eyelash curler, black shadow (cheap stuff works just fine whether you want glittery, glossy or matte), a deep port wine lipstick, and of course lots of every kind of eyeliner you can name..pencil, liquid, white, green, purple, felt..etc..
3.) Which makeup artists, if any, have influenced your technique?
No makeup artists have influenced my style, really.
4.) You create a lot of subtle highlights with color on top of your signature black . What are some of your favorite colors to mix, and why?
 I use mostly black and blend it into the lid in the middle to make it grayish. People always think it's a different color but nope, it's just good ol' black shadow! I love to mix purples and greens with it too, and purples really make light colored eyes pop as well! Browns work well with just about any eye color too..but it's totally boring in my book ;-)
5.) Do you have any tricks for creating the perfect 'cat eyes'? I know a lot of people ask about this.
Hmmm...this can be tricky because it's really about just creating a shape that looks different on everyone, but the result is always stunning. I use a short handled liquid liner for the lining, all around the lashlines, top and bottom. Make a little point on the inner corners as well if you wish for a sort of cleopatra vibe. Then just glop on the mascara or fake lashes if you have them. The key is to create the darkest outline possible, and mascara is VERY important.
6.) Famous person you would most like to do makeup for?
I would absolutely LOVE to do Kristen Stewart's makeup. She is so gorgeous with amazing yet subdued features that you could really get creative with!
7.) Famous person whose style (makeup or otherwise) you'd like to borrow for a day?
I'd love to just BE Rachel Brice one day! Style, makeup, you name it!


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hips of Steel

Far from being skin deep, real beauty comes from good health. Some of the topics I plan to address include skincare, diet, and exercise. A wealth of tight, toned muscles can do wonders for one's posture, carriage, and general face to the world.  I can think of few more serpentinely acrobatic sets of such muscles as those belonging to Rachel Brice, founder and choreographer of The Indigo, one of the most famous tribal fusion bellydance companies dancing today. Bellydance has been part of my workout regimen for the past four years, especially the darker, snakelike movements of tribal fusion with its earthy textures and sharp locking punctuations. Tribal in particular will develop one's abs, glutes, and arms into steel traps if practiced frequently. Bellydancers often practice yoga and pilates for flexibility and posture, which brings me to the DVD I am going to review for this segment, entitled Yoga, Isolations, and Drills: A Practice Companion with Rachel Brice. (For those not familiar with the hypnotic feats Ms. Brice can perform with her abdomen I am including a short video for your viewing pleasure.) The DVD's menu is broken down into three practices.....15, 30, and 45 minutes. Each segment begins with a yoga warm up consisting of sun salutations, lunges, and locust pose. Then Rachel conducts the video in voiceover format in a very matter-of-fact, instructional manner which has gained a lot of criticism for coming across as 'not very warm.' I say screw that, I want to be molded and shaped by the best, not invited over for tea and crumpets. A dancer's 'warmth' factor means little to nothing to me. Anyway, depending on which length practice you selected, she will break down hip locks, chest locks, chest slides, bellyrolls up, bellyrolls down, hip circles and pelvic locks. I think the main misconception about this dvd is that is for beginners because the information is very 'basic' which is a really skewed idea about who this is intended for. This was actually the first bellydance dvd I ever did, but it really isn't for beginners. Anyone interested in learning beginning bellydance would do well to try out classes with live instruction first so as to be corrected and adjusted so you don't form bad habits right off the bat, but barring that I will include a list of dvd titles at the end of this topic. The audience this is intended for is someone who already takes classes and wants a practice COMPANION to do drills and more drills to build the muscle memory necessary to execute the building blocks of tribal movement to perfection. Many other reviews of this instructional lament in all caps that "OMG this is sooooo basic OMG I expected more from Rachel OMG my five year old chinchilla can do these moves." These are all wildly missing the point. She is showing you how to drill your basics so you can build upon them. She has been quoted as saying her secret is simply to drill moves until she has them so well they begin to look otherworldly, which is a mild way of putting what it is that she does with movement. The practice comes to a close with a yoga cooldown. All in all I am a big fan of this work. Ok so let's say you think that's great and all but are just looking for a good intro and are not quite ready to practice with the Brice machine....I am a big fan of Ariellah's dvd for tribal ( because it is very thorough in its instruction and breaks down the movements in detail. She also takes you through some combos and yoga practice. Some of my very favorite bellydance dvds include: Rachel Brice Arms and Posture, Tribal Fusion Bellydance with Sharon Kihara,  Tribal Drum Solo Choreography with Zoe Jakes, Tribal Fusion Fundamentals, the Suhaila series and Fat Chance Bellydance Advanced Workshop. Stay tuned for more posts on various fitness topics, including Jivamukti Yoga and Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred.
And now, a small treat for you!:


Friday, April 16, 2010

Art of the Rip

Well Nico looks about as stunned (or perhaps just stoned) as I was as of my last Brazilian wax experience. For the uninitiated, the Brazilian takes it all off....and then some, leaving just a strip if you choose, or totally bare for the bravest of bitches. Alright, so I have had this experience before in Florida from an enthusiastic Polish woman named Gosia so I vaguely knew what to expect...lots of pain and flinching and grunting 'Jesus Christ' under my breath. I am pale as hell obviously and with that comes sensitive skin that does not take well to hot wax brutally tearing out coarse hair. I am Italian, what can I say.....
So a new waxing place opened up in my area, entitled European Wax Center and they were giving free waxes for a training. I was going on vacation so I signed up for a leg wax and a full Brazilian. I was led into an absurdly well lit room that closely resembled a dental office, which I liked because it looked clean and professional unlike my double-dipping Polish mistress of pain. So my waxing tech is explaining the type of wax they use to me, which is a hard wax. Hard wax is better for sensitive areas and is stripless, meaning they slather you with electric purple goo, let it harden, and then rip it off for all it's worth. So my leg wax was first. Holy hello pain. The tech smeared about three inches of wax on my legs which was entirely too much and proceeded to rip and tear at my skin for about 45 minutes, after which there was still a bunch of, you know, hair on my legs. "Do you want me to go over that again?" she asks me. Well.....I don't want to have searing pain on my legs AND still have hair there, so YES I say I would like that very much. When there is still yet hair on my legs she calls in her trainer because I have apparently very problematic hair that is a stubborn bitch and wants nothing but to stay rooted to my body. The trainer comes in and it's like night and day. She finished my wax in two minutes, got it all out and started on my Brazilian. Let me just put it out there. This shit HURTS. But it only lasts a few minutes if your tech knows what they are doing. Kristy from Fort Lauderdale knew what was up. "This is REALLY going to hurt" she would say before the particularly painful spots. Hey, I can appreciate the honesty. "I hope you don't hate me right now," she says to me. "Oh I don't hate you," I reply, "but my crotch might." So then after the worst is over, she flips me over and prepares to wax allllll the way to the finish line. "Let's live dangerously," I say and she laughs and comes back with "Oh, the worst is over, you already lived dangerously." And so like a science experiment I roll around on the table under laboratory lighting naked from the waist down smiling in spite of myself at how utterly invasive and painful the whole thing is, and why we subject ourselves to such things in the name of looking and feeling good. I have to say though I love my Brazilian and smooth legs, it's worth the pain, but holy hell I was walking crooked for a day or two afterwards. My verdict is out on the actual waxing center, I would be willing to try again with a more experienced waxer but I might start over with a brow wax or something less terrifying overall.

Paint it Black

Minus a brief stint into the world of fire engine red, I have colored my light brown hair black for over ten years. I definitely know a thing or two about black hair and all its charming nuances, in a way that only those who actually possess artificial raven locks can know. Yes, I really want it that dark, no it will not come out as easily as you think. My favorite is working at the salon and clients tell me they want 'black hair' and point to a warm brown. Or the time a rather rude fellow insisted that his new honey blonde shade was black. "If your hair is black," I said evenly, "then what color is mine?" Unfortunately he didn't find it nearly as entertaining as I did. 
Black hair is not for the faint-hearted, commitment phobic or timid. Dark brown is for the masses, black is only for the guts. The so-positive-you're-positive crowd. I had red hair for 6 months, the day I drenched it back in Black No.1 I sighed with relief and said hello to my old friend staring back in the mirror at me. 
So, what's the big deal about different kinds of black hair dye, you ask? Well, I'll break it down for you, starting with the big NOs. Before I became a stylist I was pounding Feria's 'Starry Night' down my cuticles which is not only bad for your hair but is just really. shitty. color. It does it's mulitfaceted shimmer thing for all of one washing and then swirls down the drain leaving your hair with a vague purple sheen and double-bonded dye molecules that refuse to ever leave your hair which leads to matte, inky looking color over time. Double bonded dye means that one molecule penetrates the hair shaft, while the other sits on top of it, making it extremely difficult to remove. Feria also contains metallic salts in its formula which equals doom and disaster if any bleach should come in contact with it if you ever want to *attempt* to get it out.
Moving on, to the color I used for a few years after that. Paul Mitchell 1N. I really don't like Paul Mitchell color even though I used it on myself and clients for many moons. It has a beeswax base and it doesn't spread well in my opinion, even with clear developer, but I digress. A fun experiment occured one day when my salon was out of 1N, and so mixed 2N with a purple kicker....I looked like a brown rooted eggplant. These days I am using Wella 2/0 which for reasons unbeknownst to anyone outside that company is their version of black even though it is NOT a level one, but IS in fact as black as it comes. It is one of my favorite black staples, it's not too matte (green) and not too blue (which I think is pretty, but not on me) but it's not without usual haircolor issues. When the sunlight hits it right it looks flaming red and purple.....but I have other issues with Wella at the moment. I am a huge proponent of animal rights and as many people know Wella is now owned by the Proctor and Gamble who are renowned for conducting animal testing and their unwillingness to explore other options.
I am rapidly gaining interest in a haircolor line from Spain called Lakme. The couple of times I have used it and seen others use it the color looks just brilliant and their bleach is some of the fastest-lifting on the market. Best of all, you guessed it, they don't test on animals. Stay tuned for further evaluation. Oh god now there is sad shelter dog Pedigree commercial on TV, I am done. Please visit
Questions, comments, concerns? Got a black hair experience to share? 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Why Hello....

....and welcome to my new blogging project, pale bones beauty. In a nutshell it is the result of spending far too much time in the shower. On a broader scope, its main intention is for me to share with likeminded people who have a taste for dark glamour and aesthetics a virtual scrapbook of all of my favorite products pertaining to my industry and occupation, which is the business of looking your best. From hair, skin, nails, waxing, plucking, food, fitness, bellydance, and whatever the hell else I feel like, these are a few of my favorite things....