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  1. Posted: March 27, 2013

    Tools of the Trade


    Photographer: Monica True

    Hi everybody!

    Lately my email, twitter, and facebook inboxes have been inundated with messages about makeup tools. There must be a lot of spring cleaning going on in yall’s makeup kits because everyone wants to know what tools are a MAKEUP MUST and what tools they can live without! Instead of trying to respond to each of you individually, I thought it would be easiest to just a blog about it…so here ya go. 

    There are four primary tools that I use for applying makeup:

    1.       Fingers - The natural warmth of your fingers make them the perfect tool to use to apply cream form makeup products, including concealer, lip stains, blushes, and eye shadows. When you use your fingertips to apply and blend products, the makeup adheres to your skin in an impeccable fashion that cannot be achieved with brushes. Always remember to eliminate the spread of bacteria by cleaning your hands thoroughly before dipping your fingers in products or touching your face. 

    2.       Sponges – Ok, please know this: I, CARL RAY, LOVE MAKEUP SPONGES. Not only are they cost effective, quick, and easy to keep clean, but they come in so many sizes, textures, and shapes that it is hard to not find the perfect sponge to solve any makeup application quandry. Looking for a more sheer application of a product? Simply wet the sponge before dabbing it in the makeup and then apply. Conversely, if you are looking for more coverage, then leave the sponge dry. I find myself using egg shaped sponges the most (see photo below) because they effortlessly help me get makeup in the nooks and crannies of my client’s face. Every makeup lover should have a few bags of sponges in their kit for quick one time uses!


    3.       Airbrushing – One of the newest and quickest ways to apply foundation, blushes, and some eye shadows is airbrushing. The high definition/small pixel quality of airbrushing has made it my go to for applying makeup on clients who will be appearing on television or when I am prepping models at photo shoots. I have to be honest though, in person airbrushed makeup can look and feel dry. As a result, I stray away from using it on my clients who will be interacting with others “in person” while in their makeup. 

    4.       Brushes – Now, brushes are the makeup tool that I get the most questions about…so let’s take some time to break them down. 


    Hair Type:  

    Makeup brushes typically come with either synthetic hairs or natural hairs. All powder makeup products (e.g., eye shadow, blushes, shimmer, etc.) should be applied using a natural hair brush because it will pick up more of the product for you to deposit in a single application.

    Bristle Length:  

    When choosing makeup brushes, also pay attention to the length of the brush’s hairs. Similar to natural hair brushes, brushes with a shorter hair bristle length (e.g., angled brushes)  will allow for more pigment to be deposited in a single application (thus making shorter length brushes with natural hair perfect for applying powder brow makeup, eye shadow, and powder eye liner). Conversely, longer hair bristle brushes are better for blending makeup!

    Brush Handle:   

    I personally have no bias against any brush handle length. When I buy short handle brushes, I do so with traveling in mind. However, that does not mean that you have to do the same. If you find a travel sized brush that you adore and gives you the perfect coverage or pickup, use it whenever you see fit!

    Brush Cost:        

    The reality is that high quality brushes are more expensive than low quality brushes. Ultimately you are going to get a greater return on your investment when you purchase higher quality brushes because, if cared for properly, they should last you a very long time. 

    Brush Care:        

    First and foremost, you must take care of your brushes. Clean them after every use or after every other use. Makeup brush cleanser can be purchased at any makeup counter. A more affordable alternative is baby shampoo which works great because it is pH balanced. Remember to always shape the brush hairs while they are wet so that the hairs lay down once dry.  Also, remember to share your makeup brushes as little as possible. Let’s be honest, makeup brushes are consistently in the crevasses of your eyes, nose, and mouth. Accordingly, bacteria can be easily spread when sharing brushes. If you must share your brushes, make sure to clean them immediately after! 

    Have more burning makeup questions? Email them to me at with the subject “blog.”

    Happy spring! 

  2. Posted: February 27, 2013

    Hi loves!

    I am so sorry that I have been M.I.A. – I was on the road all summer/fall/January and am just coming up for air. Although I haven’t been publishing blogs, I have been jotting down notes of my favorite trends, tips, ideas, and products so stay tuned!

    Today, I want to talk “seasonal transition.” You KNOW that I am a firm believer that your makeup routine should literally change with the weather. As we wrap up winter and move into the rainy,foggy, and misty spring, use these simple tricks for consistently flawless skin, a flawless face, and a flawless YOU. 

    1.       Lock Moisture In!

    It’s critical to keep your skin supple, moisturized, and healthy if you want to avoid dry/flaky skin. Bi-weekly exfoliation is your first step to fighting this is, since it sloughs off dead skin and exposes a beautiful pallet for you to apply your makeup (allowing you to avoid your makeup looking “caked on”). Start your makeup application with a creamy SPF infused moisturizer, followed by a heavy face primer and foundation to perfectly prep your facial canvas for makeup application.

    2.       Impeccable Cheeks

    Creamy blushes on the apples of your cheeks look and feel perfect in fickle weather. Sweep a matte bronzer atop this layer for a natural/sun kissed glow.

    3.       Nourish Your mouth

    Apply vitamin E (easily found in a liquid or stick form at your local pharmacy) to lips to keep them moisturized between your lip exfoliation (see my blog on yummy lips a few entries back). Add a natural pink lip liner and nude lip gloss for an effortlessly sexy pout. 

    4.       Stunning Eyes

    Keep away dark raccoon eyes from runaway eyeliner and mascara by using waterproof products. Waterproof mascara and gel eyeliner are lifesavers for eyes that tear up in the brisk winter and spring months! Use a dependable eye shadow primer before applying, to keep makeup in place. 

    Pretty simple, right? Here’s my favorite Carl Ray transitional face:


    Photographer: Yvonne Taylor

    Gorg, right? Going to get started now on a blog about my Engaged Spring/Summer Cover Shoot that I ADORE. Two words: Downtown Abbey. Get ready!

    P.S. - I promise to never stay away this long ;)

  3. Posted: October 29, 2012

    Bronzing 101: How to Achieve a Natural & Season Appropriate Fall or Winter Glow

    Photographer: Yvonne Taylor 

    Here is one of my favorite Carl Ray signature winter brides! Isn’t she stunning? Although summer was far gone by the time her wedding day rolled around, I made sure that her radiant glow did not disappear with the heat!  While it is SO easy to use makeup to create a refined fall/winter glow that looks natural and is also weather appropriate, too often I see brides and day to day women inappropriately OD’ing on their favorite bronzer after Labor Day. It is without doubt that bronzer is a product that can be used year round, but it must be done so thoughtfully and correctly. How does one do that? Check out my step-by-step guide below…

    BRONZING 101


    1.       Wash your face and apply a light face cream (always remember when using bronzer that moistened skin is the easiest way to ensure a smooth finish and avoid the product caking on your face)  

    2.       Add a second layer of moisture by using a foundation brush to apply a non-luminous moisturizing liquid foundation (also known as a tinted moisturizer).

    3.       Using your fingertips, dab concealer around your eyes and over any blemishes. Blend the concealer with your concealer brush.


    NOTE:   Your bronzer should be two shades darker than your current skin tone. I always recommend that my clients keep two sets of bronzer – one, for fall and winter and one, for spring and summer. Alternating appropriately between the two shades will help ensure that your makeup looks natural and suitable for each season. 

    4.       Swirl a large powder brush in your bronzer and tap the brush to get rid of any excess powder.

    5.       Take your brush and apply one swipe of bronzer across your forehead, chin, down the bridge of your nose, and over the cheekbones (see picture below).  I often am asked why bronzer needs to be applied in these locations. The answer is pretty simple - these are the places where the sun will naturally hit your face when you are outside. Consequently, adding bronzer in these places further accentuates your natural glow!  


    NOTE:   For the fall and winter, you want to use a rosey colored matte blush for a naturally flushed look.

    6.       Using your blush brush, sweep the blush over your cheekbones - blending the blush in with the bronzer.


    7.       Use a luminous highlighter stick (preferably one with a pink undertone) and sparingly apply the product over your cheekbones as well as at the inner corner of your eyes. Use your fingers to blend.  


    8.       Subtly play up the rest of your facial features with one coat of mascara, a shimmery beige eye shadow, and a natural lip color.

    Alright peeps, it’s your turn to try! Make sure to leave a comment below letting me know how it goes :)

  4. Posted: October 11, 2012

    FALL Under the RED Spell

    As the foliage turns colors, so do my bridal makeup pallets and let me tell you, fall brides are MADE for RED LIPS! While a lot of makeup artists categorize the various types of red lips by hue, I do so by texture. Although red lip shades can be found in every form – from glosses to glitters, wands to tubes, and opaque to metallic – here is a quick rundown of my favorites:

    1.       Sheer Red Lipsticks – this is my go to texture for my fall brides’ & clients’ daytime events (think brunches, lunches, bridal showers, etc.). This lighter texture will give you the perfect effortless pop of color without making too big of statement.

    2.       Cream Red Lipsticks – what I love about this texture is that it provides the ideal amount of moisture for lips’ transition from the warm humid summer weather to the harsher fall weather. Additionally, I am absolutely obsessed with the flawless coverage it provides so I use it a lot in my fall photo shoots. 

    3.       Matte Red Lipsticks – Nothing is more classic and gorgeous than a matte red lip. This texture’s consistency provides for a long lasting application, thus making it ideal for evening occasions (did someone say DATE NIGHT?!).

    Pick up some red hues in the textures listed above and play around with them this weekend. When contemplating different shades of red, be sure to keep your skin tone in mind. If you have cooler toned skin, you should look for blue-based reds and opt for pinkish shades over orangey shades. Conversely, if you have warm toned skin look for yellow based reds and opt for orange hues instead pink ones. If your skin tone is somewhere between the two, go with true reds!

    Oh! I almost forgot to tell you…my FAVORITE red lip trick is to line the lips using a nude liner. It is way too difficult to accurately match a red liner to a red lipstick. Nude liner makes for a seamless blending process and prevents the color from smudging or budging.

    Want me to help you find your perfect red lip for the fall ? Click HERE to make an appointment with me!

  5. Posted: September 21, 2012


    Hey peeps -

    I’ve been getting a lot of facebook messages and emails asking about lash recommendations and specifically, whether I prefer strip lashes over individual lashes, and vice versa. I know everybody is busy, so I will keep it brief - I generally do not prefer one type over the other, you know my mantra - THE CAMERA LOVES LASHES (no matter the type)! There are, however, pros and cons to utilizing both. Here are my thoughts:


    Strip lashes are much more dramatic than their individual counterparts so I generally use them for photo shoots, TV appearances, glamorous nights out, or on a bride’s wedding day. Strip lashes are definitely much easier to self-apply than individual lashes and they come in a variety of colors, textures, and lengths that allow you to experiment and express your personal style. (My personal fav’s are mink lashes!) While in person they may not look completely natural, on camera they give the perfect amount of “pop!” to any face. 


    Individual lashes give off a much more natural flair than strip lashes and, as I mentioned above, are difficult to apply yourself. Typically, I use this type of lash on my clients who are attending day functions, classic date nights, brunches, and various other daily/weekly activities where my clients want to look effortlessly gorgeous. As a makeup artist, I love that individual lashes grant me the opportunity to control the fullness and overall appearance of the lash line. The tiny clusters of hairs allow me to customize my client’s lashes in a way that strip lashes obviously do not.


    The secret to any false lash is in the glue color! Lash adhesive generally comes in either a white hue or a dark gray/black hue. Always opt for the darker color – it is easier to manage when the glue spreads since it dries black. Also, it totally darkens both your lash line and your liner which intensifies the sparkle in your eye! And that’s the point of adding lashes, right?

    Until next time…

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