Brushes That Won’t Make You Look Like Alex Mack

Disclaimer: I AM NOT A MAKEUP GURU. I only write about them in books.

One of the things that happens to my main character, Lacey, in The Intern Diaries, is she gets to work with Hakuhodo brushes. She’s incredibly excited about this (though things don’t go exactly according to plan…) The point is, I have never even so much as touched a Hakuhodo. They’re ridiculously expensive. But I’ve watched enough YouTube IMATS hauls to know the elitism of these brushes, and the emotions they evoke in the gurus that get to try them out, or even purchase one.

This video in particular stands out when I think of Hakuhodo, because it’s the first time I ever heard them mentioned. It’s at the very beginning, and Ingrid and Tanya just make the brushes sound so magical.

But I am perfectly content with the variety of brushes I DO own.

Everyone has their own method of applying makeup. I absolutely ALWAYS start with my foundation/bb cream and then move along to eyes while the foundation/bb cream sets. Once eyes are done I go back and do blush, highlight. Then I go back and curl my lashes (something I only mastered last year as it terrified me–still does) and then apply mascara. Lipstick/or gloss is always last.

Some people prefer to do eyes first, then move on to face so they can clean up any fallout from the eyes, but this has been my method forever and I’m comfortable with it.

Here are my most used brushes for when I do a full face of makeup. Most times i get my makeup done in 5-10 mins and keep it light, but this is my routine for any special event:



Left to right: my trusty MAC 239 shader brush (it packs the color on so perfectly), a Sigma shader brush is for any extra color I need to apply after I’ve used both sides of the MAC 239, then of course my MAC 217 blending brush which I use to apply crease color. The big fluffy Sigma is my favorite for blending. The gold brush is a Real Techniques detail brush for highlighting the inner corners, and the last one is a Smashbox eyeliner brush. The bent shape is supposed to help control the application, but liner is something I still suck at and probably always will. Applying liner takes me about five minutes of intense concentration. Per eye. I just keep it as close to my lashline as possible, I don’t tightline because I’m terrified of it, and if I wing it out I keep it small.




These are all foundation brushes. I tend to lean more toward the Real Techniques buffing brush for foundation, but if it’s dirty I’ll choose one of the others shown here. For the record, the Real Techniques line is by Samantha Chapman (half of the Pixiwoo sisters), a huge YouTube guru. I love her line because the brushes are soft, apply makeup beautifully, they clean really well, and they’re super affordable (and available in Ulta!)



These are my blush/highlight brushes. The two pink ones and the gold are Real Techniques. Left to right: a Multitask brush, which, as the name implies, is good for just about anything. I use it for blush usually, sometimes highlight. The stippling brush is great for cream blush or cream highlight. The whole idea with stippling brushes is that they pick up minimal product, so they’re perfect for anything super pigmented or creamy where you only need a bit. The center brush is my MAC 129 blush brush, and it’s super soft and applies my powder blushes perfectly. The green one is new, and it’s a Senna pointed brush. This is the closest I’ll probably ever get to a Hakuhodo, because it’s one of the softest brushes I own, and the pointed tip makes it great for small areas, like highlight. The last Real Techniques gold brush is another brush I use for highlighter.

Notice a pattern here? I love highlighters, and can’t have enough of them, nor can I have enough brushes to apply them. It’s an addiction. Remember that scene in the first episode of The Secret World of Alex Mack when she’s doused with the chemical that gives her super powers and she’s glowing gold? I still think that wasn’t glowy enough.

What are your favorite brushes?? Or your favorite guru who talks brushes?


#TBT: Conan Wrap Party

Wrap party

The Late Night with Conan O’Brien wrap party was the only buzz around the office for the last couple of months of shows. As an intern, it sort of felt like being the uncool freshman listening to the glossy seniors all talking about the coolest party of the century.

We didn’t know until the week before if us lowly interns would be attending or not. Our intern advisor, who hated making us do stupid runs and genuinely always wanted us to be happy and enjoy our time there, was so upset every time one of us asked if we could go. We’d approach his desk in twos and threes and ask quietly with sad eyes if we could please, please, please go?


As if that would help our case. It only made him feel worse about saying he wasn’t sure. It wasn’t his decision. We didn’t even know who made the final decision.

In the end, we were allowed to go! Not because the staffers saw the error of their ways, realized how indispensible we all were, and couldn’t imagine the wrap party without our wit and charm. It was because the big A-listers never RSVPed so there was a lot of extra room.

Anyway. We got to go, right? The whys and hows don’t really matter.

It was held in Studio 8H (SNL’s studio) the night of the very last taping, February 20th, 2009. Me and my intern friends didn’t want to be the losers that arrived too early, so we hung around the offices as long as we could, trying to stay occupied.

Then we decided to mosey on down to SNL. Our plan was to act all cool and mature. We were really excited about being unfazed and nonchalant! Unfortunately, we were in fact the first people inside, which was a little embarrassing to say the least.

And I didn’t help matters when a waiter laden with appetizers, happy to have some people to serve, approached us and I screamed out “Mini grilled cheese on a stick!!!???” and proceeded to yank it off his tray along with a Crantini (which I may have almost spilled on him).


It was an amazing, bittersweet party and I got to meet a lot of awesome people, including my childhood crush, Macaulay Culkin, and his little brother Kieran (it’s still completely unclear why they showed up, but still awesome.) and Jack MacBrayer from 30 Rock (nicest guy!) and Lonny Ross from 30 Rock (also nicest guy and also a former Conan intern! Had so much fun swapping intern stories with him).

Of course I took a picture pretending I’m hosting SNL




Fun fact about this pic with Andy Richter: Jack MacBrayer snapped it with my camera!

Birthday Haul!



If you’re a YouTube beauty video addict like me, you’ve not only heard of Lush, you’ve been dying to try it. Mostly everything is made from food, so the ingredients are completely natural. They’re also vehemently against animal testing. So if you’ve got super sensitive skin (me!) and are a huge animal lover (*waves hand around wildly*) it’s perfect.

It’s also kind of pricey. Your best bet is to walk into a Lush store where you can get some samples and try the products out. They finally opened one at my local mall, so I went on my birthday. I got the King of Skin moisture bar, which is made of avocado and bananas, a sample of a coconut almond shower smoothie, and a full size hand and body cream called Sympathy for the Skin. It’s apparently Lush’s best seller, and I CAN SEE WHY. It smells amazing.

Lush haul

If you look closely, you can see the little bits of vanilla bean in the moisturizer. It’s made from bananas and vanilla, and smells kind of like vanilla iced banana bread. And heaven.

There also happens to be a Sephora in the same mall, so I may have gone in there too.

Believe it or not, I only got one thing in Sephora, even though I spent close to an hour wandering around, waiting for something to jump out at me. It’s not that I didn’t see anything I wanted, it’s just that I already own everything. But then I saw the single Urban Decay shadows. I have a palette I’ve been working on filling up, so I got a color called Maui Wowee.

Lush haul

It’s the color all the way on the right. You can’t tell from the pic, but when I swatch it it’s a really pretty greenish gold.

Some other presents included this incredible, amazing, perfect Laura Mercier rose gold highlighter that I didn’t know existed, and a new Benefit Blush called Rockateur blush (also rose gold, also something I didn’t know existed–thanks, Mom and Dad!).

Lush haul


Then of course there’s Hanson merch I’ve wanted forever. An acoustic DVD/CD of Middle of Nowhere, their first album from 1997, but it’s recorded live in 2007 (it’s yet to arrive, but knowing it’s on its way makes me happy! Thanks, Scott!), an “I Took The Walk” shirt, and a documentary called “Strong Enough to Break” about their struggle to start their own label. These are all things I’ve wanted and felt like such a bad Fanson for not owning but I either a) didn’t have the $ or b) hadn’t taken The Walk yet to actually buy the shirt.


Also, Hanson sizing is kind of schizo, and believe it or not that is actually a medium. I may have to belt it and wear it as a dress.

That’s pretty much the extent of my birthday haul!

#TBT: Walker Texas Ranger Lever

Conan’s recurring “Walker Texas Ranger Lever” bit was a classic. If you’re not familiar with it, I suggest watching the above video. It involved Conan pulling a lever and showing a random clip from the show Walker Texas Ranger. It’s not supposed to make an ounce of sense. But every time he pulled that lever and showed a clip with horrible acting and slow-mo fight scenes, the audience went wild. Conan loved it too.

The second to last day of shows, I spent over an hour in the prop room playing with the toys and taking pictures with friends. Sadly, the lever was being used that night and it wasn’t around to play with. The prop master said that it was most likely being packed up immediately after the show that night and shipped to L.A. I was devastated. One of my life goals was to get a picture with that lever.

But then on the very last day, I snuck in the prop room again early in the morning. It was a miracle, but there was the lever. They hadn’t gotten around to packing it up yet. It stood smack in the middle of the floor, all shiny and waiting to be posed with. The prop master knew exactly what I came in for and simply pointed to the lever and said, “knock yourself out.”

So I did. I took so many pictures with that lever. In one I’m even hugging it. I won’t be sharing that. But here’s a normal one.


Birthdays, and Crying in a Dressing Room

So, this Tuesday is my 30th birthday. I’m really excited about it! Probaby because I already spent some time freaking out about it, so that’s all out of my system. I realized freaking out is a waste of energy and kind of boring. It also can potentially cause premature lines. It’s better to be excited! Plus I reached all my “Must Do Before 30” goals. Intern for Conan (check! although, let’s be real: it’s not like I could really do that after 30 haha), communicate with Lindsay Lohan via Twitter (double check!), write a book (check!), sign with dream agent (check!). It’s hard to freak out when you can put concise little check marks next to your life list.

And I love concise little check marks.

When it comes to my birthday, it doesn’t take a lot to make me over-the-top excited. Some new clothes, Hanson merch, and makeup is really all it takes to get me like

taylor swift gif photo: taylor tumblr_l9t2hpcWsw1qa0bqi.gif

Add on the fact that I managed to pick up two pair of Mossimo jeans from Target last week, and I was like

taylor swift gif photo: Taylor Swift tumblr_lchhx8oW1l1qa0bqi.gif


I’ve always been drawn to Target jeans. They’re super cute and affordable. But for some reason, I’ve never been able to figure out how to calculate their sizing.

If you’re in a bad mood, I highly suggest staying far away from the Target dressing rooms. Even if you’re in a good mood, steer clear. Because standing in there and trying to fit into their brand will put you in a bad mood. I have never had an ounce of luck in Target dressing rooms. The cut of all their jeans and shorts, combined with the huge mirrors and lighting is recipe for a tearful disaster.

But then back in May I fell in love with these cute striped shorts they had in bright pink. I knew once I tried them on, things would take a horrible nose dive. So I tried them on without actually looking in the fitting room mirror and went only by how they felt. Then when I got home, lo and behold, they looked really cute. This also worked last week for my new jeans. This is how I will only ever try on clothes from now on. It’s a great system.

Next week, I’ll be doing a birthday haul kind of blog post, like all the YouTubers do. I’m excited to play beauty guru for a day!

Throwback Thursday: Conan Edition

Since my book, The Intern Diaries, is about a makeup guru who winds up falling for a late night talk show internship, I thought it would be fun to do some Throwback Thursday intern related posts on the blog.

The Late Night dry erase board:


It’s pretty self-explanatory. The main purpose was so we could, at a glance, know who and what was going on for the week. The sketches changed every twelve seconds or so, so it helped to have a quick way to erase and re-write and shift stuff around

Fun fact about this picture: The last week at Late Night, everyone was an emotional, excited, buzzing mess. Staffers and interns were walking around taking pictures of everyone and everything. I got caught up and posted all of my pictures one night mid week, forgetting that the final guests were top secret. I had the picture on my Facebook for about an hour before I realized I was revealing classified info.

Luckily no one pays interns much attention, and no harm was done. But when I remember the fear I felt that entire night, and the lack of sleep I got until I knew for sure my intern coordinator wouldn’t be upset, it still freaks me out. As much as I loved my time there, sometimes I remember those fearful moments, all those mini ulcers I got over such ridiculous things, and I’m glad I’m not working in TV anymore.

At the very end of the board was a narrow little area sectioned off for us kids to post silly pictures and drawings, and goofy private jokes. We were allowed to call dibs on a ton of stuff around the office when the show ended, and I really wanted the header magnet for the intern board. Thankfully, my amazing boss kept it hidden away for me and I was able to take it home for my collection.



Face Melting Heat and Perfume

Sometimes plans fail.

Remember in my last post how I mentioned I was Taking the Walk with Hanson last weekend and I seemed to have my makeup routine all worked out? Well, I took The Walk with Hanson all right. On the most humid day of the entire summer.

My hair and my face didn’t hold up too well.

I did manage to achieve my dream of 16 years, which was to somehow get a picture with Hanson. Granted, it’s a photo bomb, and it’s not all three brothers, only Ike and Zac. But still! I’m pretty happy with it. My brother (a newly converted fan) got in the picture too. That life-changing pic (and a few others from the day) are on my Twitter page.

On another note, the NARS Smudge Proof Shadow primer must be made of miracles and super glue, because my eye shadow didn’t budge the entire day/night, despite the face-melting heat.

Another thing that didn’t seem to budge was my pefume. It never does, because I wear it all the time. I did think long and hard about wearing it for The Walk since mosquitos come from miles just to bite me, but that tends to happen regardless of whether I’m wearing perfume or not. Also there’s the fact that I don’t feel like myself unless I’m wearing my Ralph Lauren Romance. Which made me realize something: I never change up my perfume with the seasons. Ever.

I’ve been wearing Romance since I was about fifteen. It’s my signature. I know some people who like to go lighter fragrance-wise in the summer, or maybe just use those seasonal body sprays from Bath and Body Works. But for me, it doesn’t feel natural to wear anything else.

Am I the only one who is completely incapable of changing with seasons, or do most people switch it up??

As you can see, despite my fairly extensive perfume collection, I have three bottles of Ralph Lauren Romance, a mini sample bottle. Oh, and that pink body spray is–you guessed it–Romance.


Perfume is clearly so subjective. I can understand and appreciate why YouTubers do perfume collection videos (they are highly requested).

I enjoy these videos. It’s so interesting to me to see what people gravitate to and why. If I do decide to check out some of the gurus’ suggestions, I’ll go to Ulta and spray those little paper sticks, flapping them around till the notes have settled.

More often than not though, I end up just sniffing the coffee beans the store keeps out in little glass bowls because I think that smells better than most perfumes.

Taking the Walk



Tomorrow is my long-awaited Hanson concert. Usually they take place at New York City venues, and I always worry my makeup won’t last long enough (as I always do for any event longer than a few hours.)

Foundation doesn’t oxidize on me, but obviously it can never look as fresh as it does when I first apply it.

So, being the type of person who likes to have every single thing planned out six years in advance, for the first time I was so happy. It was all working out great. The venue is 15 minutes down the street from me! I know the area well, so I have local restaurants all mapped out! I don’t have to pack too much with me since I won’t be gone the whole day! My makeup will stay fresh all night, because I can apply it at home, an hour before doors open–no touchups!

Then I got the email that Hanson are bringing “Walks” back for this tour. First, I squealed and danced around with excitement. My very first “Walk” with Hanson! 14 year old me, who had to go to massive ampitheaters to see them, would never believe it. If they tried to walk down the street with fans back in 1998, the city would have declared a state of emergency. But–ha!–it’s 2013 now, and no one really knows they exist anymore! A nice, intimate walk with Hanson, and then a great concert. It all seemed like it would work out great.

Then the reality set in: to participate in a Walk that begins at 3PM, I’m going to have to be at the venue about five hours before the show (which is over two hours in itself). Makeup was not built to last that long, despite the empty promises brands tout of “24 hour wear.”

Maybe it’s ridiculous and shallow to get all worked up over silly things, like my outfit and makeup, when this is all about something so meaningful. It’s not really about makeup though; in general I get uptight when things deviate from my schedule.

The Walks began in 2007 when the guys went on their Use Your Sole tour. Basically, it’s a charity started by the guys, and every mile walked raises funds for five different causes creating challenges in Africa. Fans can meet Ike, Tay, and Zac outside the venue, and walk one mile with them before each show on the tour. Walks are registered, and a dollar is donated in our name to the cause of our choice.

I have ALWAYS wanted to Take The Walk. It’s a great charity and a great experience. But I did have to reconsider my carefully laid out plans. Like, does my foundation have a high SPF? (not as high as I normally prefer, but it has some, and the finish is like silk), and, how can I optimize its staying power for the whole day? (I’ll probably just dust some powder on at some point). How will I slather sunscreen on my arms and not get any globs of it on my black top? (still fine-tuning this one). And don’t get me started on the Great Shoe Debacle (solution: Walking in not-very-cute-but-very-comfy shoes, but I’m packing a pair of very cute Gladiator sandals in the car to switch into for the show).

Now that I have it all mapped out according to plan, I can enjoy a fun, meaningful, and very spontaneous day with my favorite band. Good thing I don’t overanalyze and can go with the flow.

This is also a great tutorial on how to make your foundation last: Any other MakeupByAlli fans out there? I don’t think she gets enough YouTube credit. Love her videos and tips.



Fall? No. Just…no.

Confession: I haven’t purchased any new makeup in a while. A really long while, actually. I’m just not that into the fall colors. Maybe it’s because (brace yourself, internet) fall is my least favorite season. Actually, that’s putting it sort of lightly.


It’s weird. I seem to be alone in this opinion. I’m not sure when things shifted, but growing up, fall was simply the worst thing ever, and everyone hated it right along with me. The last few weeks of August were treasured and mourned all at once. Fall meant starting school again, which absolutely everyone I knew dreaded. But if social networking these days is any indication, I’m currently very alone in my love of summer and my never-ending wish that it will…well…never end. Or at least extend until winter, which I also enjoy.

People can’t stop talking about it. Every status update and tweet I see is all, “go away summer, bring on boots and scarves, and pumpkins and cider, and I’m all



So once September rolls around, I lack makeup motivation. Usually I need to have specific, concrete reasons and events to wear fun eye makeup, and summer is one giant reason and event. However, this September, I have two fun things: My birthday (technically I’m still a summer baby. Only by a few days. But still. Thank God.) And I have tickets to a concert.

If you read my 10 Random Facts post you’ll know that I am a massive Hanson (yes, Mmmbop, yes they’re still around) fan. I’m seeing their show on Long Island, so I’ve been swatching colors and trying to figure out what look to wear for the show. I go so crazy you’d think I’m the one performing onstage, but I think it’s fun to have an outfit and makeup look planned out in advance.

I always go through the same cycle before a fun event. I watch a bunch of makeup tutorials and tell myself I’ll do something super elaborate, with lots of shimmer and sharp lines.

and then the day of, I freeze up, get fallout and glitter particles all over my face, and it gets a little…

So to avoid all that, I’ll be sticking with neutrals. Most likely a simple look I can whip up using my Urban Decay Naked Palette. Call me unadventurous, but I’d rather be cautious and stick with my fool-proof makeup for next month (notice how I said “next month” and not “fall”???)

Stupid, stupid fall.


Winter Pink and Gothic Summers

Beauty gurus are always talking about the next trend while we’re still in the midst of the last one. Just when everyone’s finished up going broke on feather extensions it’s on to ombre hair. (I only hope the feather extensions don’t become something fashion decides to revisit–I could never get on board with it. I’d always think a spider was crawling up my arm).

I can appreciate why YouTubers always wants to get buzz going for a new trend though–life would be boring without something new to look forward to.

It’s the rules I have trouble with. Like, coral always equals spring, and hunter greens are only ever associated with fall.

Then there’s me, who wears turquoise blue nail polish year round and flips flops as long as I can get away with it (usually Thanksgiving).

I also think the new trend should be mixing it up and doing whatever you want. Besides, we waited long enough and the “No White After Labor Day” thing seems to have gone away, and now there’s a little something called “Winter White.” I think more people do what they want nowadays regardless of beauty rules and regulations.

Should we tailor our look to the season, or do you have no problem with a black pedicure on the beach?