Thursday, May 29, 2014

Occ Airbrush Makeup is BACK! - Joyous ramblings of a makeup sleuth.

OCC Skin is one of the best airbrush makeup products ever made, period. I could end my review here, but I'm going to elaborate a little further to explain why this product has become hard to find of late, causing some panic among its devotees. In other words: we love it, but where is it? 

2015 UPDATE: We are very sad to report that a few short months after this article was written, OCC Airbrush Makeup was finally discontinued by the brand. We remain hoping that they will eventually reintroduced what was for us one of the best foundation lines we ever tried. In the meantime you can read the rest of this post as a testament to a much beloved product.

Occ's fabulous Lip Tar range
 Obessive Compulsive Cosmetics was founded in 2004 by young makeup genius David Klasfeld, who designed his first products focusing on the quality and purity of the ingredients, and with a strict commitment to vegan and cruelty free standards. Before a little thing called Lip Tar became the most popular and celebrated lip product in the US,  the company earned a fantastic reputation for its airbrush makeup line, simply called Skin, which quickly came to include foundations, blushes and adjusters, all waterbased, and an alcohol based line as well called OCC Ink for body art and FX. The Skin line quickly became a star in many an airbrush makeup artist's kit, because it had everything that many other water based lines seemed to lack: a soft, matte yet dewy texture that never felt tight or dry and that remained movable for several minutes after application. In short, it defied most of the prejudices that are commonly applied to water based foundations. Like everything else at OCC it was also formulated to vegan, cruelty and bad chemical free standards, and to top it all it was super easy to clean from your airbrush, leaving practically no residue.  Cut to 2009: Lip tar is launched at the LA Makeup Show, and everyone goes crazy. Over the next three years Sephora steps in, OCC hits the big time, their website is redesigned, and everyone is happy but the airbrush makeup aficionados, who start getting "sold out" and "out of stock"notices every time they try to buy their Skin products. We finally find out that the packaging is being redesigned, and readied for a new launch. I panic a little. Are they going to change my beloved formula? 

The Occ Flag Store at 174 Ludlow St.
  It's 2014, I am visiting New York, and although I know I will see them at the Makeup Show, I decide to head over to OCC's show room in Ludlow Street, on the east side, see for myself what's going on and ask whoever I will find in charge a few questions. The store is not very big, but it is roomy enough to showcase the whole fantastic line and some cool artwork from OCC's latest campaign featuring some of Rupaul's Drag Race stars. Inside, associate Brittney kindly settles the matter for us, and there is good news and bad news. The repackaging is complete, and the Skin line is still available in all its 17 glorious colors (6 yellow based shades and 6 red based, plus 5 skin tone correctors), which is good news. The formula is exactly the same as before, which is great news. The only size available is now 4 oz bottles, but they are the same price as the 1 oz used to be, which is FANTASTIC news. 

The newly repackaged OCC Skin airbrush makeup range, 2014
 The INK line, however, has been discontinued forever, and this is a bit of a shame, but the sadness for its demise is quickly replaced by the joy of knowing that the original formula is alive and kicking. The distribution of a new product is almost always a lengthy affair, with quite a lot of factors at play, and this is why the product is still missing from a lot of resellers, especially here in Europe where the import process adds extra time. However we can all breathe a sigh of relief, because Skin is on its way back on the shelves. With its unique texture, Skin is my go to product for that extra pick me up factor. Its formula, makes your skin look remarkably healthier and radiant, while remaining completely undetectable, if applied correctly. I know this sounds like any old classic beauty claim, but in this case it's true, it's just that good

US BUYER TIP: Until your preferred supplier is restocked, you can order this directly from OCC's website.

EUROPE BUYER TIP: Some vendors still stock the original 1 oz sizes, in varying quantities. The Genie Cosmetics website still seems to have all the colours in stock. 

Willam Belli of Rupaul's Drag Race for OCC

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Airbrush Makeup Guru Profiles: an interview with Sheila McKenna

We are very excited to bring you the first in a series of interviews with the world's leading and most inspiring airbrush makeup artists. We couldn't have hoped for a better opener than this chat with Kett Cosmetics founder and creator Sheila McKenna, who personifies the best combination of amazing talent and great entrepreneurial skills.  

(Please click on any photo to enlarge it. Sheila was kind enough to provide captions that list all the airbrush products that were used in the making of these amazing looks. You can visit the Kett website or refer to the resellers on our directory to purchase these fantastic products.)

Sheila McKenna
Passion, creativity, energy and commitment are the first words that light up like big neon signs in a writer's mind when meeting Sheila McKenna. If the writer happens to be a beauty enthusiast with a love for airbrush makeup bordering on the obsession, the term uber guru will follow up shortly. We are in New York City visiting The Makeup Show, one of the top beauty industry events in the world. Sheila McKenna is right here with Kett Cosmetics, the brand that she has created and directed to become one of the most highly regarded and recognizable names in HD makeup worldwide. Kett offers an unparalleled synergy between crème products, airbrushing, and ultra fine fixing powders that work together to meet today's strict high definition standards. The extensive Kett booth is running like clockwork in the background, with a team of skilled makeup artists demonstrating both beauty and fantasy makeup for a crowd of spell bound onlookers. In the midst of everything that is happening Sheila is radiant with enthusiasm and kindly available to answer my questions.

Above is an image of Lorianna Izrailova. Her skin is airbrushed with Hydro Foundation. The reflection on her lips and collar bone is airbrushed with the Shimmer called Zircon. She is contoured with the color Shadow. Her blush was airbrushed with Sunkissed.
-I know you have a background in art and design. What made you decide to become a makeup artist?
As a young girl, I remember watching my mother do her makeup and thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Wanting to paint my own face was a natural step. Choosing makeup as a career was inspired by my father’s advice to do what makes you happy. It will never feel like work whether you are making money or not. The choice was easy.
-Who or what inspired your interest in airbrush makeup?
After 18 years of actively doing makeup, I hit a creative wall and began my quest for artistic growth. At the time, I found a group of motorcycle and car painting enthusiasts that were teaching airbrush classes and registered immediately.  I didn’t expect the passion to ignite as quickly as it did.

This image is one of my favorites because we had Audio Slave blasting in the studio while shooting. Joan Jett was the inspiration and the names of the colors are all Rock n Roll inspired. Kristin Cruz is airbrushed with Hydro Foundation. Here eyes were airbrushed with Iron Maiden, Purple Haze, Mercury and Star Dust. The rest is Rock N Roll history. We also have a video of this look on our website and youtube.
 -Building your own company into a success must have required amazing courage and great instincts. What is the secret behind such a remarkable achievement in such a competitive industry?
I wouldn’t use the word courage to describe what fuelled the fire. It was more like a passion to do what made me happy along with the support of my family. The secret behind Kett’s continued growth is to create high quality products that stand on their own along with a team of passionate employees.
-Where does the name Kett come from?
It’s not a very exciting story but is dear to me so if I told you, I’d have to kill you.
 The model is airbrushed with Kett FX colors in Bone and Varicose. The side of the veins were highlighted to create a concave effect with Hydro Proof White. She is contoured with Kett FX Darkest Brown and a layer of Liquid Metal in Star Dust is all over. The bite marks were hand painted with Kett FX Artery and Trauma
-How would you sum up the best advantages of airbrush makeup for a makeup artist that may be new to the technique?
The greatest advantage to airbrushing a face or body is the ability to alter the skin in any direction with ease and seamless perfection. When layering makeup with an airbrush, you have the ability to color correct and neutralize without creating unwanted secondary colors. It’s also like placing a filter on a camera creating a soft focus on the skin. Technique is key. The application is only as good as the artist with the airbrush. I strongly emphasize the need to get proper training. At Kett, we teach visual and illustration art techniques so every artist attending a workshop will walk away with the ability to understand how to use the airbrush and paint anything from a face and body to t-shirts and murals. We happen to use makeup as our medium.
-What do you think may be the biggest misconception or myth concerning airbrush makeup today?
The biggest misconception about airbrushing makeup is that it’s heavy or cakey. The opposite is true. The artist controls the amount of product and layers on the skin. Once the technique is mastered, the option for sheer to full coverage is in the artists’ hand. Some products have more opacity than others so choosing the right makeup is also key to a beautiful application.

The model above is Emily Dann. She is airbrushed with Hydro Foundation R1, Contoured with Shadow and her eyes are airbrushed with the Liquid Metal Iron Maiden.
 -What new product are you presenting here at the Makeup Show?
Our latest creation is Fixx Crème Correctors. This is an abbreviated collection of Light, Medium and Dark crème colors that have an orange/salmon base. They are perfect for neutralizing blue and brown whether it is under the eyes or around the mouth area. They are waterproof and contain skin care benefits which is always a plus when wearing a product on a daily basis.
-Do you have new additions coming up for your airbrush makeup or equipment lines?
We are working on some new colors for the Hydro Foundation Series that will be vibrant and fun. It’s always evolving but only at a pace that is controlled by quality, not quantity.
-Educating about your product is a significant part of your company's activity, with a busy schedule of national and international workshops throughout the year. How do you enjoy teaching?
In the event that I do teach a class, it is always filled with laughter and fun. Airbrushing is playing and who doesn’t want to play for a living? I try to find the fun in everything that I do.

This image was done in an extreme makeup class. Courtney's brows were blocked out and airbrushed over with the colors in our Hydro Color theory collection.
-How would you sum up the most distinctive quality of your product and company?
Kett Cosmetics provides a level of product, equipment and education that is focused entirely on the professional artist. Attention to ingredients and performance in front of the HD camera is what sets us apart.  In 1998, I started product development on our first liquid makeup. Having contacts in the industry and freelance jobs provided the arena for me to test the products live and make adjustments to the formula before launching in 2003. We continue to test all new products on camera in our HD Studio. When it comes to airbrushing, we believe that it should be a professional service and not promoted as a “do it yourself at home” type of product. The bar is set high.
-What is the next dream in line for you?  
Continuing to grow as an airbrush artist, creating new products and taking care of my parents would be a dream come true.
Meeting Sheila was a real treat, and I admit to being a little star struck. She represents her brand with kindness, humanity and a winning "hard rock" charm that is quite unique. I look forward to getting to know Kett even better, and to meeting her again.

Just for fun: This is my latest portrait of Salvador Dali using black and white airbrush paints on steel

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A visit to the TEMPTU PRO Showroom New York: airbrush makeup heaven!

A doorway to Airbrush Heaven
You simply cannot talk about airbrush makeup without mentioning Temptu. This brand has been at the forefront of airbrush innovation since it created its first airbrushable colours for temporary tattoos in 1981. Today Temptu is simply the most recognized airbrush makeup brand worldwide, with a superstar silicone based line, an incredibly wide range of alcohol based colours for body art and special effects, and a water based line. Temptu also offers some of the best equipment in the market, which is constantly updated to offer the best and most cost effective options available.
Just over a week ago, during our visit to New York City, we went to visit Temptu East Coast headquarters, the show room at 26 W. 17th St.  in the Flat Iron district.

Welcome to Temptu
A wall of Temptu delights
The show room is located on the third floor of an elegant commercial building, so we knew not to expect a flashy store front, and yet as soon as the door opened, "airbrush makeup heaven" was the first definition that popped into our minds. Other airbrush companies we have visited (and we have visited a few) have retained a quaint, family business outlook. Not Temptu. Here everything is designed to match the image of the dynamic company to perfection: modern, spacious, streamlined and high-tech.We were welcomed by a lovely receptionist, and our attention bounced quickly from her smile to the wall of products displayed next to her. It was so great to see the complete line in one single place.  
The newest version of their 2.0 kit was displayed in a range of vibrant colours on a fixture on the opposite wall. This kit comes with the popular Pod system, or in the new "starter" version with the newly released SP-40 airbrush, which can also be attached to any pre exixting compressors in the line, creating what we have long considered to be the ideal kit combination.

Temptu new 2.0 kit in vibrant colour.
Senior marketing manager Hallie Feigenbaum came in shortly after and very kindly gave us tour of the premises. There are other meeting rooms in which special editions of the compressors are displayed for décor, and ample offices where the creative minds of the company are busy at work.
The Makeup Show was just a couple of days away so the team was busy organizing the many events related to this important trade show of which the brand was one of the main sponsors this year.  In spite of their busy schedule, the guys in the team were very nice to us, and we got to take a sneek peak into some new products that they are about to reveal to the press. We are sworn to secrecy as to what they are, but we can tell you that they will surprise you and that they are of exceptional quality. We thanked the guys and move to the training room,  fully equipped with professional lights, where lessons and seminars take place. This is another great feature at Temptu that should not be taken for granted: anyone who buys a kit from them can participate in a free introductory class that will show them how to use it.
The Training Room at Temptu
There is another Temptu showroom in Los Angeles, and perhaps we will be lucky enough to visit there also. For now, we couldn't have enjoyed our visit more, and we could not thank Hallie enough for making us feel so welcome. In the next few weeks we will publish much more on Temptu. An in depth review of their new starter system is in the works, and a video tutorial featuring their latest colour collection is also planned, so as always... stay tuned!

Some highligts from  Temtpu timeline (please visit this page for a complete timeline):

1981: Dr. Samuel Zuckerman invents the TEMPTU DURA formula and tattoo ink transfer system for the cult classic film, Tattoo.
1990: TEMPTU’s ink transfer system becomes the gold standard in Temporary Body Art, appearing on Johnny Depp in the John Waters classic Cry-Baby.
1996: TEMPTU launches professional airbrush formulas Aqua™ and DURA™.
2000: TEMPTU PRO DURA™, makeup transforms Rebecca Romijin into X-Men’s bodaciously blue-bodied Mystique.
2002: TEMPTU goes hi-def with their ground-breaking silicone S/B™ formula and its unparalleled flawless finish.
2003: Key Makeup Artist Bernadette Mazur uses TEMPTU to create Nicole Kidman’s porcelain look in The Stepford Wives.
2009: TEMPTU introduces the AIRbrush Makeup System with AIRpod Technology, created for easy, at-home use and quickly becomes the beauty breakthrough of the 21st century.
2011: Makeup artist, Will Lemon III and the TEMPTU artistry team turn Lady Gaga into the "living dead" for her Born This Way video.

The Patricia Fields Compressor Designs
More Collectible Designs
Temptu Mission Statement

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Airbrush Makeup at The Makeup Show New York 2014

Makeup by Darren Borkel for Kett

I was still organizing notes from my 4 day long visit of Cosmoprof (Italy), when almost on a whim I decided to attend The Makeup Show in New York City, held at the Metropolitan Pavillion in the Flat Iron district of Manhattan last Saturday and Sunday. The Makeup Show is one of the most celebrated makeup events in the world, taking place also in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Orlando and in Europe in 2015. This event may not be huge in terms of square footage if compared to other beauty trade shows, but it certainly packs an incredible amount of content, with multiple hands on workshops, business forums and seminars by some of the best contemporary artists covering the latest topics, a career orientation event and many other networking opportunities for both new and established Muas, not to mention the two floors where you can shop all the best brands at discounted prices.
Airbrush makeup was undoubtedly one of the brightest stars of this event, with Temptu being a Platinum Sponsor. 

Dani Fonseca for Temptu
The seminar schedule on the first day started with a very interesting class by multi talented Kaye Tuckerman of Inglot Cosmetics called "Traditional application Vs Airbrush", giving airbrush newbies some very useful tips and ideas, and encouraging them to add airbrushing to their set of skills. Later on Dani Fonseca for Temptu held another unmissable talk illustrating the potential of airbrushing beyond beauty makeup, on body painting, temporary tattoos and eve temporary body bronzing.

Other beautiful demonstrations where held nearby at the Kett extensive booth, where the new Fixx Creme Correctors were being presented, and where I had the great pleasure of meeting the brand founder Sheila McKenna (and I nearly imploded with pride when she told me she is a reader of this blog). We are very excited to be featuring Sheila in our upcoming Airbrush Guru Profiles series.

The Graftobian Kit
Just a few yards away from Kett I was finally able to meet in person with Eric Coffman and the team behind his legendary Graftobian brand, which will soon get an extensive review on these pages. 
Another brand also present on the first floor of the exhibition was elementwo, a new company based in Taiwan and Las Vegas whose product I look forward to trying.

On the second floor I was excited to meet the lovely team behind Belloccio, the established brand for consumers that we will review in detail on these pages soon, and then again downstairs I was able to say hi to the makers of the excellent Nurturing Force line, and to pick up another couple of products for a future review.

In hindsight there was so much going on at this event the I definitely should have planned to visit both days, but a least I don't have to wait a whole year before I visit the next one: after all, the other cities hosting the next editions are only a plane ride away...

Element Two

The First Floor at TMSNYC