Friday, February 26, 2016

Milonga-ready Make-up Part 1 - The Primers

Before starting tango, I was never much of a believer in primers - now, I'm a total believer. Especially since so many of the products I use are waterproof and transfer-resistant, getting skin smooth before application is essential because once that make-up is on, it's not moving.

For dancers, the benefit to using primers is basically just keeping make-up where you put it. I would have thought using the above-mentioned waterproof and transfer-resistant formulas would be enough, but I found that many of those products applied unevenly or didn't stay as true to color as I would have liked. Whenever I danced outside, even the waterproof stuff didn't always hold up.

A fellow makeup artist suggested a primer to keep my color products in place, and at first I scoffed. Most of the primers I had seen on the market were just overly-shiny silicone lotions that did little for my skin or for the performance of my makeup. My friend made it clear that I needed to be updated on the far more sophisticated products that are available now. So I asked her what she recommended, and asked a few other makeup artist friends, hit the stores and read reviews. (Two sources of reviews I really enjoy are for makeup artists and Paula Begoun's .) Here are the results of my

Primer Tips

- For photography: Avoid high SPF/titanium dioxide formulas unless you absolutely have to have it for outside wear. Titanium dioxide and other mineral based sunscreens/sunblocks tend to flash white or ashy in pictures. If you have to wear a high SPF primer, you may want to consider going slightly darker in your foundation, just for the photo shoot. Always do some test shots to see how the color actually looks under the lights and in the picture.

- Always apply primer according to directions. Some go on as a first step in your skin care regimen, some go one right before your foundation, and some can even be applied after you've put on your foundation and powder. Read the directions carefully for best results.

- Try to match formulations. You'll usually get the best performance by pairing oil-free skin care with oil-free foundation and vice-versa. Some products, particularly "oil-control" products, will actively break down oils in the other products or treatments you might have used on your skin.

Favorite Eyelid Primers
Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer Potion Original, Greed (gold), Sin (champagne-pearl) and Eden (Nude): Eden is the most useful option if you have discoloration or darker eyelids - though it seems to take a little longer to set than the original formula. I go between Nude and Original depending on how much coverage I want - Greed is a bit too shiny for my no-longer-20-years-old eye lids, as is Sin, but they're a beautiful option if your eyelids are smooth. The formula is oil-absorbing and now finally comes in an easier-to-apply tube.

Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer The Smashbox lid primer has only one color, but works very, very well. The color starts off a little dark on my fair skin, but blends out completely natural looking. The consistency is slightly thicker than the Urban Decay, but the texture feels a little silkier (though still matte) to me. It's probably best for oilier eyelids, rather than drier skin types.

MAC Prep + Prime (available in Light, Medium, and Medium-Dark): Great texture that can be used under cream, liquid and powder eye shadows. The Light color isn't really light enough for very fair, or porcelain skin tones.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance (Original, Candlelight, and Glitter Glue): The Original and Candlelight are both oil-absorbing and keep a silky texture that you can still blend eye shadows over. Glitter Glue is best saved for the glittery (rather than shimmery) eye shadows, as it stays fairly tacky feeling to really grab "chunkier" eye shadows.

Mass Market Alternative - L'Oreal De-Crease Eye Shadow Base: talc-based, cream-to-powder no-frills, but still very reliable, eye shadow base. It only comes in one (peachy) shade and doesn't have quite the silkiness or ultra-gripping qualities of some of the other options, but it still holds its own against the pricier competition.

Complexion Primers
Cover FX Skinprep FX: Basic, though very reliable, silicone-based primer with a few key skin care ingredients to round out the formulation. It's not fancy, but it is very reliable.

Laura Geller Spackle Under Makeup Primer: A make-up artist and beauty editor favorite! This formula camouflages large pores and fine lines, keeps foundation very smooth, moderately controls shine, and comes in an airless pump that keeps the product fresh.

OC Eight Mattifying Gel: One of the more expensive options, but truly outstanding for very oily skin. It can leave a slightly white cast if not blended carefully and well, so I only recommend it for seriously oily skin - and not for photography makeup.

Urban Decay Brightening Potion Complexion Primer Lotion: Silky texture with ingredients that not only smooth the skin, but have (a few) ingredients to improve skin tone. It doesn't replace a good tone-evening treatment, but it can enhance the effect of another one if you've already got one in your regimen.

M.A.C. Prep + Prime Brightening Serum: Similar idea to the product above from Urban Decay, but the usage is a bit different. This product actually goes on before your treatments, not as the last step before foundation. I've noticed that this one not only improves the clarity of my skin (after about 6 weeks of use), but the hydration, though minimal, keeps my skin from trying to pull the moisture out of my foundation. (If you end up with slightly powdery streaks in your foundation by the end of the day, your skin may need more hydration - even if you have an oily complexion.

Make-up Secrets for Tangueras Part I

In my previous life, I was a makeup artist. I worked for over 20 cosmetic companies, both as a freelance make-up artist and as a full-time counter make-up artist. When I started my own online, and for a short time print, beauty magazine, I worked as the editor, photographer and make-up artist with 3 models and 2 contributing writers. It was fun - which was lucky because none of us made a dime. Chalk it up to one of those character-building experiences. I also did make-up for events, worked on teams with artists for pageants and runway shows. Sometimes I still miss the job. I don't miss being on my feet for 8-10 hours a day and I certainly don't miss the selling aspect of some of the jobs. But the artistry and creativity, I miss that.

Back to the topic at hand - I've gotten to use some of my cosmetics/skin care problem solving skills while preparing for milongas, and as I've been asked for some advice a few times, I thought I'd put to virtual paper some things that have been very helpful. I'm also going to divide this piece into social/milonga make-up and performance or stage make-up. These are distinctly different techniques.

Part I: For the Milonga - Make-up for Social Dancing

If you dance close embrace, temple or cheek to cheek, wear as little make-up as possible. This isn't just a matter of make-up coming off on your leaders, but also that up close, makeup is much more obvious. Choose items that are as sheer and transfer resistant as possible. Also choose unscented products whenever possible.

My favorites:

Face and Complexion

Complexion primer makes makeup look very smooth and even, and less "make-up like" up close and from far away, so I use it pretty much every time I apply make-up. It also prolongs the wear and "trueness" of the colors. I use Smashbox's in Photo Finish in clear, but there are many varieties and most work pretty well. Photo Finish comes in correcting colors, but I don't use those for dancing up close and personal. It comes in its original form, and in a light version. If you go to shops like Ulta and Sephora, you can try it first to see which formula suits you better.

If you have to wear foundation, wear as little as you can get away with, and choose one that's transfer resistant. In the mass market, I prefer Revlon's Colorstay foundation. They have several varieties now, each one appropriate for a different skin type. I highly recommend purchasing mass market foundations and concealers in stores with a no-questions-asked return policy. you frequently can't check the colors on your skin, so there might be some trial and error. In the department stores, I prefer Lancome's Teint Idole not only for it's natural look, and superior wear but also because it you don't have to move quite as fast before it "sets" and becomes hard to blend.

For concealer, which again I recommend keeping very, very minimal, I like L'Oreal's Infallible line. Their concealers blend and wear well. Their foundations in that range don't have the best colors, and I don't find them to be as transfer resistant as Revlon's. But they can be slightly less drying for very dry skin types.


Waterproof mascara. From the drugstore, I prefer L'Oreal's varieties even though they do sometimes have a very faint scent. Waterproof mascaras can be harder on your lashes, more drying and harder to remove. L'Oreal's varieties seem to be the least damaging out of the bunch. If you curl your lashes, it can be especially important to use high quality mascaras. One thing that's helped strengthen my lashes was L'Oreal's Eyelash Boosting Serum (that I got to try thanks to as part of a marketing effort.)

In the prestige market, I prefer L'Oreal's subsidiary, Lancome, for the same reasons. The main difference between L'Oreal and Lancome's mascaras is that Lancome's are less drying and wear a little better. It's not a big enough difference for me to pay twice as much however, so I stick with L'Oreal.

For eyeliner, by far my favorite, in mass market or department store, is Maybelline's Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner. It has a gel-paste texture, a lot of pigment and still manages to go on very smoothly. It wears all night long through hours of dancing and sweating without budging. You can also blend it out to work as a softened "eye shadow" line along the lashes.

Lips and Cheeks

For lips and cheeks, I recommend using tints and stains whenever possible. They wear all night and don't rub off. If you prefer something more opaque, L'Oreal's Infallible line will do the trick. Their lipsticks (liquid and stick) are very transfer resistant and come in beautiful colors. The gloss in that range is much too sticky for my liking, however.

Take away tips:

1. Wear as little make-up as you can feel comfortable doing. Remember that your partner is going to be looking at your make-up efforts very up close. Less really is more.

2. Choose options that have little to no scent and are transfer resistent.

3. Refrain from glitter products which rarely stay where they're put and will most likely end up on your partner's face or clothes.

4. Keep products as sheer as possible - gels, stains, and tints look more natural, especially up close, and don't end up decorating your partner's cheek or clothing.

Milonga Make-up: How-to's and Reviews

In my previous life I was a makeup artist - a career I still occasionally miss. It seems in my transition from 16-products-a-day-using makeup maven, to administrative assistant for a university, I went from one extreme to the other. For a few years at UT, I wore no make up at all. I wanted a break from fretting over lipstick colors and coordinating blush/nail polish/lip liner etc. etc. etc.

I also noticed that I needed to adapt my make-up routine for the milongas, because what I had worn for everyday wear didn't cut it in the heat and a full face of water-proof makeup sounded awful. So I developed a routine using very effective waterproof makeup around the eye area and lips - while developing a workable solution to face make-up.

Problem 1:

It's hot in Texas a good deal of the year - and it's extra hot in the milongas. Within an hour I was wiping off most of my carefully with the sweat. It just wasn't worth it. Worst of all, if I didn't wipe it off, I risked getting it on leaders. Which leads to . . .

Problem 2:

I dance close embrace, frequently in apilado/weight sharing embrace. Depending on my partner's height, my cheek or forehead is most likely resting against his cheek or jaw.
  • Point 1 - leaders don't want to wear your make-up on their skin or their clothes. I always feel so bad for the fellows who have tan (or red from lipstick) streaks on their collars. I've been told that many leaders wear black or other dark colors to "minimize the damage".
  • Point 2 - you know how you can smell their aftershave if they've recently applied it? They can smell your foundation if you have one of the more perfumed brands (L'Oreal and Lancome can be particularly strong).
  • Point 3 - beware the trail of glitter that, while it was so pretty around your eyes, has now marked every man you've danced with.
Solutions that work for me
(Remember, your mileage may vary.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Little Time Off . . .

This page is on hiatus while I take care of some medical concerns. I hope to be back and updating again soon. Thank you so much for your support and patience. --M

Monday, July 29, 2013

Applying your own Suede Soles to Street Shoes

Adrienne Vittadini high heels with ankle strap, undercut heel, and very accommodating toe box - if only it didn't have a plastic sole!  Well, let's fix that!

The materials - first, water soluble leather glue (and super glue for touch-ups later). The water soluble glue gives you a little more time to work than the more commonly recommended Barge Cement that dries faster.

Pigskin suede which you can get from Tandy Leather, here.

Tracing the sole onto the leather with a ball point pen.

Making the cut - use the sharpest scissors you have to make the job easier.

Trim against the soles to make sure they will match exactly.

Clean then lightly abrade the sole of the shoes to get the best adhesion.

Apply glue and remove excess with damp paper towel.

The finished product!

If you're not sure your hand is steady enough, if you're in a hurry - or if you're traveling - this kit from Soles2Dance works very well. The suede doesn't have quite as much nap - but it still does a pretty good job and the soles are precut.

If you're up for doing it yourself, which is far more economical, you can get the leather from Tandy leather online.

Monday, June 24, 2013

UPDATE: Tanguera Garage (Practica) Sale!

I'm almost there - with the last sale, I reached $220 total in sales. (See the thermometer on the right side.) Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement!

This coming Sunday, June 30th, I will bring everything left - so many scarves, skirts and accessories!! - for one last sale.  After that I will give up the floor and open the space for other tangueros and tangueras to sell their new or gently used tango-related items. Contact me at infinitetango (at) if you would like me to set up space for you to sell your items at the next Practica de la Leona!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tanguera Garage (Practica) Sale!

Short story - I need to raise funds to go to Denver's Labor Tango Festival and clear out my closet of stuff I'm not wearing/using. So to take care of two birds with one stone I'm holding a tanguera garage sale (minus the garage) at my next practica. All of these items will be available for viewing and purchase at the next Practica de la Leona, Sunday 6/16.  

Here's a quickie preview of the items I'm going to bring to for sale.  Comment here or send me an email at infinitetango (at) if you have any questions.

Items include several colorful wraps/scarves/shawls, a peach Haori (half kimono) with gold embroidery, silk camisoles, lace shrugs, leggings, two leather skirts, and more!

Assortment of hosiery, plus Nip-Fab Stiletto Balms

Shoes from Jorge Nel (Mr.Tango Sz 8, Made in Colombia) - - sorry - only the shoes are left.

A gift set of Goatmilk, Rosewater, La Source and Summer Hill from Crabtree & Evelyn

An assortment of shoe clips and hair ties from Buenos Aires, vintage shoe clips from Musi Bows, and jewelry from Judy Coyote etc.