Close Encounters!

High Definition, High Def, HD, what ever you call it, the denotation of these words or initials means only one thing: close encounters!  In the professional makeup industry, shooting in HD has become standard.  Every production company, television and photography studio or film sound stage is able to shoot in high definition and makeup artists have spent many hours perfecting their craft in order to answer this call.

What does High Definition really mean?  In television terms, high definition means that a television sees more lines per picture than standard.  525 lines per image was the average for American television until recently when high definition became the norm, bumping the number of lines up to 1000 per image.  Talk about a moment of clarity!  Literally!

Initially, professional MUAs panicked when forced to work on high definition and celebrities reacted in the same manner.  Airbrushing, which was originally used for body painting, tanning, special effects or tattoo cover, started to become a popular tool for face application when working in this medium.  However, our industry has learned that it is truly the artist’s technique whether utilizing an airbrush or traditional applicators and the use of exceptional skin prepping products that enhance the look of an actor, actress or model and not necessarily if the makeup brand is made for HD use.

It is also important to understand that a makeup artist works closely with the DP (lighting director), as well as with other key crewmembers and conducts several camera tests prior to shooting, which makes for a successful high definition production. 

We have also learned that because high def is really an intense sharpness of an image, a makeup artist’s traditional bag of tricks needs to be “tweaked” slightly.  Cosmetics need to be more translucent and have a modest reflective quality.  An extremely heavy product will show on the surface of the skin in HD unless blended properly or made more opaque and “built” onto the skin with a light hand in order to cover discoloration.

So, how does wearing high definition makeup benefit the consumer?  First, I think it is important to remind the shopper that the majority of cosmetic companies are under pressure when it comes to innovation.  The beauty industry is saturated with products and a cosmetic line must find a niche that can be filled and set them apart from the others.

Naturally, with all the hoopla about HD, major cosmetic brands jumped on the bandwagon and now offer an alternative to standard cream, liquid or powder foundations, concealers and face powders, which they claim will mimic the effect of a professional makeup artist’s technique.

When you hear the term HD what do you think?  This Pro thinks “perfect skin!”   But, because I am a Pro, I know that no one has perfect skin!  My job is to create that illusion and I have several tricks up my sleeve that I use in order to achieve this goal.  

Several cosmetic brands on the current market offer their version of HD products and here is a list of this Pro’s favorites:

Make Up Forever: Danny Sanz is the brain behind this brand and it’s HD product line.  She is a professional makeup artist with a resume and portfolio that screams “A-Lister!”  This line was originally created for actors and actresses to keep their complexion flawless in 6X magnification and it comes in a three-part series: Primer (which are colored for correction purposes), Foundation (for improving the skin texture) and Powder (with Silica which is more translucent than talc).  This product is also packed with nourishing ingredients that help to minimize pores, which improves the overall appearance of the skin and will correct issues effectively.

Dior: Capture Totale is a foundation that is manufactured differently than standard liquid foundation and the pigments used in creating the color of this product are unique, in that they are more genuine to natural skin tone.  Have you ever noticed that certain foundations seem to have a “grey” hue to them?  That is because of a mixture of pigment and the manufacture’s formulation called for “black” – too much black pigment = a grey undertone.  Do you know anyone who is of good health that walks around on this earth with a grey undertone?  Neither do I.   Dior’s Capture Totale Foundation while expensive is worth the money.  It is also a treatment (hence the price tag) and helps reverse the signs of aging skin.

Smashbox: High Definition Healthy FX Foundation is a product that this Pro has found to be great alternative to the higher priced cosmetic lines.  It offers wonderful antiaging ingredients, is oil-free and feels weightless on the skin, plus it contains a built in SPF 15, which provides extra sun protection.  This product is offered in a variety of skin tones so finding your perfect match should be easy.

The benefits to using one of the above lines is that you are ensuring that your skin is receiving proper nutrients and protectants while your imperfections are being covered.  Thus, giving you the vehicle to produce perfect skin like a Pro MUA, but you must make sure you apply the product correctly.  Bad application of a good product will make you look horrible and feel as if you have wasted your money.

Here is the how-to for HD makeup application:

1.              Prep with skin care accoutrement (serum, moisturizer, eye cream, primer, sunscreen, etc.) and let absorb into the skin.  Remember: primer is what erases lines and pores on the skin so apply last and prior to makeup.

2.              Apply foundation and blend into the skin (make sure that your foundation is an exact match to your neck color).

3.              Apply concealer if needed and blend.  Remember: concealer is used on extreme discolored areas of the face and only if the foundation did not cover up the imperfection.  You don’t always need it!

4.              Apply setting powder with a light hand to absorb excess oil by buffing the product gently into the skin using a circular motion and powder brush.

5.              Blend, blend, blend – everything!! All makeup must be blended so as to create the illusion of perfect skin and to erase any heavy lines of demarcation!  This applies to foundation, concealer and all powder products (eye shadow, blush, etc.).

You will want to invest in a great brush line.  It will benefit your application technique and cut blending time in half.  Please see archive post entitled Brush Off for this Pro’s recommendations.

If you are attempting the use of a Make Up Forever color primer/corrector here are the rules:

Neutral – adds luminosity to the complexion

Green – minimizes redness (rosacea)

Mauve – cuts sallow undertones

Caramel – combats ashiness in dark skin tones with golden undertones

Blue – adds radiance to fair skin

Yellowlightens dark complexions

Pinkbrightens complexion and counteracts sallow undertones

It is strongly suggested by this Pro that you seek the advice of a trained Make Up Forever sales professional prior to purchasing this product for proper matching and application technique.

Good High Definition Cosmetic products offer amazing skin care, coverage, luminosity and protection from the elements in one bottle!

So…I guess the real question is, “do you need HD makeup?”  I don’t know…do you?  Do you feel that you are living your life in HD?  Obviously!  We all are…everyday! Our eyes see the world in HD!  Every wrinkle, line and imperfection!  Is that such a bad thing?  The answer lies within you!


When working in high definition there is one more rule that a skilled MUA will never forget - NO GLITTER!  HD picks up every sparkle, twinkle and dazzle so we leave the glitter for more special-effect type of photo shoots.  Instead, this Pro will opt for a slight shimmer in a product and will place that shimmer in areas of the face that light would naturally "bounce" off of, such as the highlight of the cheek or brow bone.


Up next on IMPO:  Baby it's hot ouside!  With summer closing in learn how make your cosmetics last all day!  It's no sweat!

Flaunt Your Face!

What do Sharon StoneLindsay LohanKate BeckinsaleBrittany MurphyJessica Alba and Scarlett Johansson have in common? They all share the same makeup artist!

Tricia Sawyer began her career at The Joe Blasco Makeup School in Los Angeles at the tender age of 18! After graduating, she honed her skills working as an artist with Roger Corman’s Concorde/New Horizons and on several music videos for Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osborne and Janet Jackson.

In 1992, Tricia was asked to work with Sharon Stone on the movie “Where Sleeping Dogs Lie,” which turned out to be the first of twenty feature films they would collaborate on together. She is a sought after makeup artist by some of Hollywood’s A-List celebrities and in 1995 Tricia became the spokesperson for Prescriptives Cosmetics where she was responsible for the re-design of the existing color line up, along with the design of new collections; most notably the “Magic” line. She would work as a spokesperson for four-years and stayed on with Estee Lauder Companies as an independent development consultant.

The obvious next step for this Pro MUA was to develop her own cosmetic line and that naturally came to fruition with the birth of Tricia Sawyer Beauty. Tricia used her knowledge of the film and television industry along with her expertise in product development and came up with a cosmetic brand that is highly pigmented, versatile and easy to use. Having her finger on the “pulse” of the needs of the everyday woman, Tricia brings a unique and exciting line of beauty and lifestyle products to the consumer.

I first discovered the TSB line when searching for quality product to stock in my professional makeup kit. You can imagine how intense it is to research forty different cosmetics brands, only to discover that on a film set, television show or photo shoot, only a few products from the line really “work!” It is a frustrating and expensive experience. I was determined to find one makeup line that “had it all!”

This Pro is a palette girl and can’t have hundreds of individual eye shadow and blush colors floating around in my kit, so when I found TSB the very first products I purchased was the entire palette line. Tricia cleverly designs her palettes during her post-production phase when she is hired on as an actress’ personal makeup artist. They collaborate together on a certain “look” for the character that the actress will be portraying in the film and Tricia takes those colors and develops the palette. She decided to bring that idea to the mainstream and now the consumer can benefit.

Currently, each TSB Icon Palette consists of 6 eye shadow colors and 2 full-size blush colors. Named after iconic beauties that have had the pleasure of working directly with Tricia, here is a list of this Pro’s favorites:

Sharon – based on a movie shot in Las Vegas during the time period of the 1960’s, these colors translate into modern life. This palette is incredible for a smoky eye look full of drama!

Lindsay – based on a movie where Ms. Lohan portrayed twin sisters, these colors are fresh, but bring definition to the eyes and cheeks. Incredible natural blush colors bring a warm flush to the skin. Great starter palette for teens!

Regina – combining soft and dramatic colors together reflective of Ms. King’s Oscar-winning performance in “Ray,” this palette will take you from day to night. This Pro’s all-time favorite highlight color called Voluptuous is housed in this palette.

Scarlett – based on a movie where Ms. Johansson portrayed a college student at NYU, this palette captures youth and beauty. If you have similar coloring then this palette will make your eyes “pop!”

Brittany – based on a “little” movie in which Ms. Murphy’s character was a young career minded girl looking for love, these colors are polished and professional, yet more natural in tone. Great palette for the busy executive!

Kate – based on a movie character that was an artist, these colors are fun and extremely pigmented. Packed with a gorgeous range of purple hues, you can create a beautiful look for day and a glamorous look for evening.

Essential and Essential Pretty – containing the 4 most “essential” colors a Pro MUA carries in their kit, these universal shades can be used for eye shadow, blush, contour, highlight, eye brows and liner. I use the Essential palette daily both personally and professionally.

Another plus to these palettes is that Tricia understood that some colors will be “loved” more than others, so she made it convenient to refill these components. Incredible for travel or on-the-go, you can slip them into your cosmetic bag for easy touch-up or to take a look from daytime to nighttime!

When a Pro MUA sets out to manufacturer his or her own product line, the concept usually started because of a “lack” in the industry. A “need” the makeup artist can’t fulfill by purchasing a product from a mass-marketed beauty line, the artist will usually mix up their own brand of foundation, primer, eye shadow color, lip color, etc.

The next step is the artist will “stumble” upon a great concept never before seen in the cosmetic industry. Those Pro tips and tricks turned “specialty” products are my favorite! The TSB line has two such creations in the collection that stand out from the crowd; Eye Slept and Smoke and Mirrors.

Eye Slept – hailed as the “instant good night sleep in a jar,” this product can be used over or under makeup, but it is NOT a concealer! It is a skin “brightener” with a creamy marshmallow consistency. Used to bring lightness to the dark areas of the under eye, nasal labial folds, chin or cupid’s bow, you need very, very little to give your skin an instant pick me up. Applied with your fingertip, this product will absorb quickly and blend easily.

Smoke and Mirrors – the smoky eye look is the most popular eye look of all time! A Pro MUA uses approximately 6 different shades to create a “traditional” smoky concept, consisting of black, charcoal, grey, silver, purple and sometimes, blue hues. Smoke and Mirrors is a smoky eye in a bottle making it easy to achieve the look with one product and one step. All 6 hues are combined into this product and you apply with the wand tip applicator. Use alone or layer it over your existing daytime shadow to transform your look for night.  Pro tip: tap off excess before applying to eye lid.

Giving “good face” is most important to the Pro Makeup Artist so making sure that an actor, actress or model has perfect skin is first on the list. Much like a painter preps a canvas, the MUA must prep skin before working their magic. The TSB Skin Balancing Water Primer is an incredible oil-free product infused with aloe leaf, to soothe and cool and sodium hyaluronate to help reduce the appearance of fine lines. Silicone is added to maintain your natural moisture levels by trapping water next to the skin’s surface. It is also perfect for men after shaving to provide extra moisturization and to calm the skin.

Full Potential Foundation is what Tricia uses to cover discolorations and imperfections on her client’s skin. Highly pigmented, cream foundation that offers the best of both worlds: coverage with minimal amount of product used to allow for correction of issues with a soft, transparent appearance. You don’t have to live your life on the “big screen” to have a perfect complexion.

In order to apply this foundation like a Pro, use what the Pro’s use; the Tricia Sawyer Beauty Foundation Brush. Unlike flat brushes that can leave “streak” marks, Tricia’s foundation brush has a unique rounded shape, which allows you to “buff” foundation into the natural curves of your face, creating a flawless finish.

You must “set” any cream or liquid product applied to the face prior to applying powder blush or eye shadow (if you don’t, then you will look worse than a “hot” mess!). Tricia Sawyer Beauty’s The Powder is a loose, translucent, setting powder made of finely milled cotton, which soaks up oil and will control shine during the day reducing the need for touch ups. This product won’t settle into the fine lines or wrinkles around the eyes and forehead and it won’t clog pores!

Tricia Sawyer Beauty products are sold online at,, and they are sold at selected Sephora store locations.  

INSIDER INFO:  Tricia is constantly adding to her extensive cosmetic line and on Saturday, May 30th, watch Tricia live on QVC's Saturday Night Beauty!  She will be debuting her new Brow Define Pencils and believe me, you will want to get your hands on this amazing product!  Check the QVC Program Guide for show times in your area and don't forget to set the DVR or Tivo!

Tricia has several how-to videos on YouTube, iTunes or on her website.  The video below highlights tips and tricks for using the Eye Slept product.  Check out her tutorial collection featuring her Foundation, Icon Palettes, Essential Palettes, Smoke and Mirrors, plus tips on how to clean and preserve your brushes and much more!

Up next on IMPO - High Definition, what's the big deal? Confused by all the new High Definition cosmetic products? Don't miss the next post from IMPO as we go undercover and investigate the world of HD!

* All photos courtesy of Tricia Sawyer Beauty & IMDB except Regina King promo photo.

Teen Queen!

Back when this Pro was a young teen, I spent a lot of my time digging through my mom’s makeup bag and stealing her lipstick, blush and mascara. I would secretly use all her skin care products and pretend that I had no idea why the jars and tubes were almost empty (but she knew).

I was lucky that genetically, I didn’t have to worry much about my skin, but my girlfriends were not so lucky and I remember that by high school, most of them were packing on the product and popping pimples with their Lee Press-On Nails! It was the 80’s and big hair full of Aqua Net, shoulder pads that could poke an eye out and crap loads of makeup were “rad!”

Today’s teenagers (and tweenagers) are way more savvy and they have done their “homework” when it comes to skin care and makeup, but this Pro has found that what they usually want is expensive, colorful and sometimes…unrealistic.

Personally, this Pro feels that it is up to the parents to decide when their daughters are ready to jump into the amazing world of makeup. However, I will say that “in my professional opinion” I think it is very unfair that cosmetic companies are targeting our young girls by enticing them with product lines that are “kitschy” sporting the latest Disney star or cartoon character!

Speaking from experience (I have two teen daughters) some girls are not mature enough to understand the importance of taking care of their skin and can’t remember when an assignment is due, let alone to remove all their makeup before they fall asleep.

When my girls came to me and wanted to begin wearing cosmetics (at around age 13) I told them that I would embrace their need however, I was going to be a “stickler” when it came to cleansing and applying sunscreen. I also made it extremely clear that I would not tolerate turquoise eye shadow, bubble gum pink blush and black lip gloss all worn at the same time. They would have to go through a few makeup classes with yours truly and that it would be “my” way or the “no makeup” highway!

Let’s start with skin care. Most teens should use a mild cleanser and gently wash twice a day concentrating their effort on the hairline and t-zone area. If your daughter (or son) suffers from extreme acne or dry skin then you will want to consult a dermatologist.

Using a cleansing machine like the Clarisonic can be beneficial and give the teen a better advantage. Remember, you want them to remove makeup, dirt, oil and bacteria effectively. They spend a lot of time sweating: during tests, in gym class, flirting, walking home from school. They devour food that we would consider to be more than unacceptable and who knows how much water they actually drink!

Besides the grease and hormones, add the fact that most teens can’t help but touch their less-than-clean hands to their faces a hundred times a day and you can bet a break out will happen at some point. Don’t be a status quo and fall into the “my parents just don’t understand” category. Your child’s complexion is one of the most important things to them and how they look makes or breaks their confidence.

Teen skin care products with this Pro’s seal of approval:

Proactiv Solution

Dermalogica (the new teen line)

Clean & Clear

Makeup is another “beast” and this Pro believes that this is were the “battle” really begins. As a parent, I have found that I must give my girls a little creative outlet and so I do allow them to wear more vibrant eye liner with light, matte, neutral eye shadow, light blush colors and pale lips. Or I will allow a stronger lip color as long as the eyes and cheeks remain neutral.

Make sure that your teen’s makeup does not contain oil – adding to an acne problem by putting oil-based products on top of skin issues is not recommended! In fact, this Pro does not endorse wearing a foundation if your child is under 16 and you should seek the approval of a dermatologist before covering up any major issues.

The choice is up to you, but remember that you were their age once and how did it feel when your mother told you “no” or thought you were not old enough or that you didn’t “fit in” at school. Makeup washes off; purchase quality product, especially in the foundation, concealer and powder categories and you can rest assure you won’t clog the pores!

List of this Pro’s teen makeup must haves:

Purely Cosmetics – incredible mineral line suitable for teen skin - foundation, powder, eye shadows, blushers and bronzers.

tarte Cosmetics – natural line with fun packaging – I recommend the eye shadows, cheek stains, mascara, lip gloss and foundation/concealer/powder products.

M.A.C. – good “color” line for eye liner, eye shadow, lip glosses and their wipes are great for removing eye makeup.

CoverGirl – good and inexpensive “color” line for neutral eye shadows, soft blush pigments and mascara.

Consider investing in a decent set of brushes - I said "decent," not expensive!

Here is the how-to for teen queens:

1. Prep skin with moisturizing sunscreen SPF 30 (oily skin does not need moisturizer, but will need the sun protection).

2. Apply light coverage of foundation and concealer (or spot conceal the occasional pimple). If acne is more severe please consult a dermatologist prior. Use a sponge if skin is oily or foundation brush to blend. Choose foundation that is an exact match to your skin tone and powder foundation is better for younger skin. If you use a cream or liquid then be sure to "set" with face powder. Again, this Pro does not feel it is necessary for a very young teen (under 16 years old) to wear a foundation or concealer.

3. Light dusting of bronzer to cheeks or soft application of cheek stain and blend.

4. Neutral eye shadow (taupe and/or vanilla). Apply taupe to lid and vanilla to brow or just use vanilla shade all over. Line top lash line only with chocolate brown or more vibrant color; plum, green, blue and smudge. If you are going to wear a more colorful eye shadow then keep the liner to a light brown. If you decide to line your lower lash area use the taupe eye shadow lightly and blend. Please do not fill in the eyebrows!

5. Light coat of mascara on top lashes only.

6. Lip gloss - soft pink or nude with a colored eye - a more vibrant lip color should be paired with a very neutral eye and cheek.

Most teens have a natural pink tint to their cheeks so don’t add to that color with more pink. Opt for a bronzer in a light hue. Also, purchase your teen blot papers and teach them to use these to “mop” up excess oil during the day instead of resorting to a face powder! That little “puff” inside that compact will eventually be full of bacteria that your teen will “dip” into the powder contaminating the product and then apply it to her delicate skin! YUCK!!!!

Up next on IMPO: Enter the world of Tricia Sawyer Beauty and learn how to...Flaunt you Face!