You know what time it is? Hmm, well. Time for sneezing, planning summer vacays, drinking outside and stepping up that bronzer game. All of which I’m currently doing. And, importantly, it’s almost time for The Makeup Date at Bloomingdale’s North Michigan Ave. Yassss, honey! I’m back at it next Saturday, May 16, to host the semi-annual beauty runway show. You may remember it as that early morning beauty immersion – which it still is at 8:30 a.m. – but there’s a new show time added at 10:30 a.m. More beauty, brands and giveaways are always a plus. I had a blast doing this last November and know that this will be double the fun. The show flow is balanced with peeks at new products coming to counters for summer and also tried and true tips from the brands Also, giveaways. There’s about a dozen or so per show and they are so good that I get genuinely emotional when I pick a name out of that bucket. For a tiny moment, I feel like Santa. Basically, the energy is incredibly positive and you should be there, assuming you are a Chicago dweller. If you are able to attend (hope so!), reserve a ticket today by emailing Mi Lee at Mi.X.Lee@bloomingdales.com There is a $25 reservation fee and it is 100% redeemable towards a beauty purchase following the show.
I’ve been scouting the best of summer beauty at Bloomies and there are a few products that I’m especially jazzing over.
There’s a special group of people that wake up in the wee hours of Saturday to talk beauty. I call them my kindred spirits. You know who you are. This Saturday, November 15, I will be putting on my party best and taking the stage at Bloomingdale’s to host The Makeup Date. Oh, get ready. Me and a microphone coupled with some of the best makeup artists in the biz and more than a dozen raffles to award? Oh, it’s on. The party officially gets started at 8:30 a.m. If you’re a newbie, the way it works is you snag a ticket in advance ($25) and redeem the value in product at the makeup counter of your choice after we party it up. I don’t like to play favorites but Jake Broullard from NARS is in town and I credit him with some of the best makeup advice I’ve ever received. Oh, and I’ve got the inside scoop: I’m giving away some NARS during show time. Also, did you know that Armani Beauty just launched at Bloomingdale’s this month? I’m all about the Maestro!
It’s not every day I get to have face time with the founder of the fastest growing makeup brand in history, so when I do, I make the most of the experience. Julian Kynaston, founder of Illamasqua, made a stop in Chicago recently to celebrate the brand’s expansion in to U.S. Bloomingdale’s stores. He is a vision at what must be nearly 7 feet tall and was rocking a fierce black smoky eye when he greeted me at Bloomies. Julian spoke at length to me about self-expression, the core of the brand. He built a brand that celebrates the unique. It’s not about looking like everyone, rather, about looking like you. His passion and sincerity on this topic especially came through when he described his work with The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, a charity that Illamasqua has supported for years.
Perhaps the most impressive point of differentiation for Illamasqua is that they’ve risen to cult beauty status without traditional advertising. Rather, the brand relies completely on the power of social media.
For those (like me) who make a sport of studying seasonal makeup releases, you’ll notice that Illamasqua’s are never dictated by the “it” color of the season. Take Sacred Hour, Illamasqua’s fall collection—which, p.s., happens to include the most perfect rosy pink velvet blush. As Julian tells it, the collection is about releasing your inner warrior and finding courage. What that means in terms of color is up to YOU.
My gateway into the world of Illamasqua was a nail polish called Bacterium. It was everything during my greige phase. From there, it just took one bright pink cheek color (who can resist those black compacts?) for me to realize that there was so much more to this brand. And while they may have a flair for theatrics and drama, there are just as many neutrals and classic shades within the line. Case in point: this taupe-filled eyeshadow palette from Sacred Hour. It’s beyond.
Skin Base Lift concealer and White Light brightener
After chatting with Julian and oogling the Reflection Palette, one of the artists gave me a little refresh with new Skin Base Lift. It’s a brightening concealer that has warm peach tones to help cover any hint of darkness. Shade 1 made me look like a brand new girl. And, when I thought his work was done, he used a tiny angled brush to trace the White Light right above and below my brow bones. After he blended, it was like WOAH. No shimmer or obvious highlight, just better skin.
I believe there’s just a handful of Bloomingdale’s stores in the U.S. with a full Illamasqua counter at this stage, so let’s consider ourselves lucky in Chicago. There’s something to be said for getting the full on counter experience. Especially since our Bloomie’s just got a major beauty floor upgrade.
Extreme makeover, Bloomingdale’s North Michigan Avenue edition is now complete. And the big reveal is all sorts of pretty. I finally got to check it out last night with a few of my fellow Chicago blogger gals and strolled every inch of that iconic black and white tile soaking up all of the beauty real estate. It’s like 15 mini boutiques in one. When I’m in the Bobbi Brown space, I feel like I’m in a Bobbi Brown store! There’s LED screens with videos playing, right now it’s all Bobbi + Katie, and spacious counters to give you a little more room to play. Beyond flashy upgrades, there’s also more cosmetic brands, including NARS, Illamasqua—available in about a dozen total Bloomingdale’s stores now— Sisley, SK-II and four fancy private spa rooms, one solely dedicated to Chanel. Oh, and my fav part, the first Space NK apothecary in the Midwest! Space NK carries Rahua, Jin Soon, African Botanics, Tata Harper, Oribe, Lipstick Queen and other brands you don’t see in stores as often.
Gisele greets you upon entry!
Now that everything is fresh and shiny, Bloomingdale’s has a busy social schedule for the coming months. Tonight, The Everygirl is hosting a grand opening bash and the founder of Illamasqua, Julian Kynaston, will be making an appearance and hosting a “beauty crossfire” of sorts. Think ready-to-wear makeup looks vs. creative and colorful works of art. Oh, and….Space NK will have one of theirridiculously amazing gift-with-purchases available. Seriously, I can’t even believe all that is packed in this GWP. The good news? It’s available online if you’re not able to visit a store. The bad news? Quantities are super limited.
I’m rolling out a new feature here, fittingly called 312 Beauties. I’ll be tapping some of Chicago’s most fabulous women to tell me of all of their beauty secrets and dish on makeup must-haves. I’m excited to kick off the series with Rachel Gillman, a PR Specialist and Freelance Writer for NBC, Michigan Avenue and Serious Eats. Rachel is the ultimate media pro and knows all when it comes to BYOB and gluten-free dining in Chicago. She also has the most enviable lashes you’ll ever see. Lucky for us, she tells all.
How do you start your mornings?
I’ve learned that I do better working out in the a.m. Two mornings a week at 6am, I’ll do the elliptical or an Insanity or P90X video in the living room. On those mornings, I’ll wash my hair. I usually aim to wash my hair every other day. A trick — which you taught me! — is to go to sleep with my hair twisted on top of my head in a clip. It’s a game-changer! It makes two-day hair full and fresh looking. It’s a major time saver in the morning.
You have flawless skin. What is your skin care routine?
I use Cetaphil cleanser, though if I get something in a Birchbox, I always try it out. I use Lancome Bi-Facil to remove my eye makeup. I stock up on it when I buy mascara, whenever there’s a free gift at the counter. I was really hooked on Chanel skin care, the Hydra Beauty Crème, but I haven’t made the effort to splurge all over again on a new tub. Occasionally, I rotate Retin- A into my routine. I recently got a facial at Cellular Intelligence spa and bought the Lumiere Bio Restorative Eye Cream on a recommendation. It’s very light, and I use it every morning. I use Neutrogena SPF 50 as well, especially if I know I’ll be out in the sun. I’m more concerned about protecting my skin lately.
How about your everyday face?
I use a concealer from Benefit and then follow up with this Pür Minerals powder I got from Birchbox — it’s more matte and it helps even my skin out. A makeup artist at the Chanel at Bloomingdales, Ana Oveido, sold me two of the Quadra Eyeshadows in Mystic Eyes and Prelude and taught me how to use all four shadows together or take it down with just one or two. She is fantastic. I’m pretty particular when it comes to my makeup being done because you know what looks like you and what you’re comfortable wearing. She takes everything I do and improves upon it. I use those eyeshadows pretty much every day. And when I feel like I’ve done a good job and I’m near the Bloomingdale’s building, I’ll go and visit her and she’ll tell me how I did!
I also use Chanel eyeliner, in the shade Cassis. You twist it up, so it’s not a true pencil. It’s precise, lasts and really lets you get in between your lashes. My blush is Laura Mercier Pink Lotus and I use NARS Risky Business Lip Gloss. I also carry around a CO Bigelow tint with me always. A great makeup artist Jenny Patinkin (of Dollface Beauty) coached and shopped with me for makeup. I trust her judgment. She helps you create a better version of yourself. I fill in my brows with an Anastasia Powder. Jenny helped me pick that out as well. I just use a little bit.
Now about those lashes…
I am obsessed with Lancome mascara – completely loyal to the Hypnose Drama. I buy it two tubes at a time because I never want to be without. I’ve used something from Tarte and another from Sephora but I always go back to Lancome. The amount of time I spend on my lashes could be considered comical. I curl them to start and put on a coat. Not a wimpy one, either, but from the base and I coat every lash. I let it dry, do some other makeup and then come back. I’ll curl my lashes again, use a lash comb to separate and then apply one more coat. It never clumps. The Lancome brush is magic.
Rachel’s lip wardrobe
I love Birchbox, too. What are some of your favorite discoveries?
Let me tell you, this $10 a month service fuels my beauty routine. Some of my favorite items have come from Birchbox. I love the Jouer Lip Enhancer – I need to buy a big tube! Also, I love this chubby Tarte lip pencil in a coral shade. I also got the Benefit primer, POREfessional, and I’m pretty hooked. It helps smooth my skin before makeup. I love anything skin-related they send.
What is your beauty splurge?
I really have no problem spending money on my hair, but for some reason I do on my skin. I should probably reverse that! I love my hair stylist. I get my hair cut about every three months by Ingrid Trevino at Nancy Angelair on Rush Street. I’ve followed Ingrid around to three salons. Her blowouts are second to none and she cuts wavy hair so well. I can’t go much longer than three months because my ends get so damaged from heat and styling.
I’ve been using this donut lately to create the perfect bun. It requires a little effort but is so worth it. I was a bridesmaid in a wedding recently and they styled my hair with it so I just held onto it after the wedding. I don’t like too sleek of a look. Just a little bit messy when I wear my hair up.
Where have you been eating lately?
I probably eat out about five nights a week (research!) My favorite sushi restaurant right now is Kai Zan. It’s BYOB, which is one of my favorite ways to dine. Yuzu has really good maki rolls. I’m on a whiskey kick at the moment, and am enjoying cocktails in a new way with darker spirits. I had this drink called Cocktail at Billy Sunday – potent but very drinkable.
Grange Hall Burger Bar has a gluten-free bun. When I want a true burger experience, that’s my go-to. Bountiful Eatery in Lakeview is a great, healthy gluten-free cafe. They have these pita wraps with portabella mushrooms or bison burgers inside. It’s affordable and tasty. Prasino is my favorite brunch right now. They have a hippie omelet that is worth looking forward to all week!