Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Whose steal? Whose splurge?

You can update your beauty stash for spring without breaking the bank

Best Bargain Beauty Buys
This is a budget products article
Have your lipstick and wear it too with this expert guide to scoring cheapie, hot-for-spring hair, skin and makeup products that rival the pricy prestige brands.

Friday, April 23, 2010

An interview with makeup artist and beauty entrepreneur A.J. Crimson, Part 1

AJ Crimson

Makeup artist and beauty entrepreneur AJ Crimson has worked on projects with many artists and celebrities, including Fergie (more about her in the interview), Sean "Diddy" Combs, and Missy Elliott. His work is featured in fashion and lifestyle magazines worldwide. He is also founder and designer of Kissable Couture, a line he founded in association with co-creator and business partner Keisha Whitaker.

Of all things I do on the blog, I derive the greatest satisfaction from interviewing makeup artists and other creatives in the beauty business.  I am pleased to present AJ's responses to my questions:

1. Could you tell our readers more about your life than what is provided on your website ( For example, where did you grow up? Several other makeup artists whom I’ve interviewed told me that growing up in a family of women fostered their interest in makeup. Did your family inspire your interest in makeup?

I grew up in Detroit, but think this may be common knowledge; I have quite a few siblings. Although I was raised as an only child for many years. I have a really great family who are a lot of fun! I have always been imaginative, creative, and analytical. So the mix of creativity and business comes natural to me. I never set out to be a makeup artist but I do believe it was and still is a natural progress for me when compared to the many positions I have held within the entertainment industry. It all plays a role in the overall goal to be one of the leaders in business to revolutionize a new way of execution and delivery of personal interest services.

2. Your website says that you were “creatively self-taught” in the art of makeup. Tell us how you got involved in makeup and taught yourself how to do makeup.

After working for years as an artist development assistant, I often found myself in an art directing capacity. In that role, I need to make sure the vision for the shoot or project was coming to life. This sometimes meant re shopping for the stylist or asking that makeup changes be made. Eventually I went on to work as a stylist then makeup where I found the most relaxation and peace. I was just creating in silence. I never really had to speak which was calming, I became better at it and it grew to be a passion of mine. To transform someone into a striking beauty is an amazing journey from start to finish. The key is allowing the person to still shine through. I really have mastered it. You will see the difference with and without makeup but you will always see the client’s true self.

3. What do you consider to be your first big break as a makeup artist?

The first job that I keyed was with Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas for “Where is the Love.” I learned so much on this project from negotiating fee, hiring hair and makeup staff, working on set, learning to please the artist and the label all at once. Sometimes it can be hectic because everyone has opinions on what the visual should be.

4. Which is your favorite: editorial, celebrity, or video? Why?

I would have to say my 10 page story in Vogue. What a great experience to be on set with the greats in fashion. Anne Leibovitz, Gucci Westman, Grace Coddington, Natalia Vodianova, and Sean “Diddy” Combs. I respect them all so much for their contributions. Their stories and legacy in the industry is living history. I was a part of that moment. My credit in inscribed in a piece of history.

In Part 2 of the interview, AJ talks more about Kissable Couture and his other activities.

An interview with makeup artist and beauty entrepreneur A.J. Crimson, Part 2

5. How did you enter into partnership with Keisha Whitaker (wife of Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, Best Actor, Last King of Scotland) to form Kissable Couture?

I knew that I wanted to create something, I looked at my kit each day, and then it hit me. The product I spent the most money on for my clients was lipgloss. One day while I was sitting with Keisha I mentioned the idea, and she loved it. It wasn’t long after we began taking meetings to make it happen, and the rest is history. We launched in September of 2007.

6. What new launches from Kissable Couture might we expect in 2010? Are there plans to expand the number of retail outlets?

Kissable Couture has many line expansions in the works but it’s all about timing. We are entering to the QVC retail family which is an exciting time for our brand. We will continue to open in new stores across the country.

7. There is a placeholder for “A.J. Crimson” on your website for products you think that we should buy. Could you give us a sneak peak of the products you plan to sell under A.J. Crimson?

I opened a store called [Beauty Statements] by AJ Crimson which carries a collection of all things I love including moisturizer, hair care products, home must haves, and makeup of course. I also have a section called consignment and there are sure to be some unbelievable pieces there! It’s fun! It’s all an experience of what people tell me they need and love and think others should try or must have. I survive because of all the people that support me. With [Beauty Statements] by AJ CRIMSON we help each other out. It’s all about sharing.

8. What do you enjoy doing besides makeup?

I love lying in the park and watching the clouds. I also love the beach and definitely want to spend a month in Europe. Maybe Tuscany or Paris and learn to paint on canvas. I like spending time with close friends but I love to see my businesses grow. My passion is building businesses.

9. Lastly, could you share some of your favorite makeup tips with our readers?

I feel like I never have enough tips. Lol! Use mascara every day, use an eyelash curler, and don’t wear too much powder. Make sure you always have at least one tube of Kissable Couture in your purse. Everyone will want to know what you’re putting on your lips. It’s still a girl-in-the-know product and not everyone has one.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Beauty from Aldi

You have got to be joking! Aldi – the warehouse grocery store often situated in lower middle class neighborhoods where you bag your own? Believe it.

Aldi has exported Lacura Beauty from Germany to its U.S. stores (Aldi itself is headquartered in Germany). Lacura features a wide range of products, including foundation, compact powder, blush, lipstick, lip gloss, nail polish, and eye shadow duos: all at less than four dollars apiece. The products are contained in unpacked crates, so it can be difficult to find the shades you want.

I sampled Lacura lipsticks. These are emollient lipsticks: the principal ingredients are castor oil, candelila wax, and jojoba.

I love nude lips, but Cool Sand, a beige with shimmer, drained color from my lips and face. If you’ve dreaded red lipstick, then try Lacura lipstick in Red Velvet as your initial foray into red. A pricier option is Besame Cosmetics Enchanting lipstick in Merlot. Lacura also carries a lipstick in Deep Red, which I didn’t try.

Altogether, you can’t beat the price of Lacura, and there are some worthwhile options to look into.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Twi-hard with a vengeance

I started reading Harry Potter to understand what the phenomenon was all about. I also had the incentive that my nephew was reading the books, which would give me something to talk about with him on our overseas calls. After reading Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, however, I decided that I had enough and didn’t follow up on reading the other six books in the series.

Similarly, I began reading Twilight to understand what the phenomenon was all about. This time, however, I got sucked in (ouch!), and while I didn’t become a vampire, I certainly became a Twi-hard. Perhaps the appeal of Twilight was romance and courtliness. I took every coupon I had through Borders Rewards to buy the next installment.

What if you’ve read the entire Twilight Saga and want more?