Monday, April 30, 2012

So You're Listening To... Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams

Sometimes I put on a record and just know that my experience would be so much better if I had a certain lip color on or a certain cocktail in my hand. Have you ever listened to “A Little Drop of Poison” by Tom Waits? Tell me that would not sound better in a lacy garment, sheer robe and lots of sauntering. We ALL know that any kind of warm beach is a perfect fit for a Herb Alpert and the TJ Brass record and that New Kids On The Block just sound better when the listener is wearing a custom made “Homeboy” Donny Whalberg homage tank top (I will neither confirm or deny that I have said “homeboy” tank hanging in my closet). Like fine wines and stinky cheeses, some things are just a good fit. Songs, albums, books and films just beg for you to take them in as an experience. Welcome to the “So You’re...” feature of Primpin’ Ain’t Easy.

There is no doubt that Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker is a force to be reckoned with; it's a very raw and relatable record. Let me just preface this by saying- I really love music. I love all music. I’m not going to High Fidelity anything on this blog. I am not a Nick Hornby style neurotic protagonist who feels the need to document my life in lists and cultural reference superiority. I am a feisty nerdette who can appreciate the Biebs and the Beatles. I have the ability to meet things where they are at and appreciate the genius and the mindless simultaneously- i.e., I can enjoy both the book and the movie.

“Loving You” Fringed Loose Cardigan / Billabong
Brick Red Long-Wear Lip Color in “Exhilarating” / Stila
Flower Garden Vaquero Cowboy Boot in “Cinnamon” / Tony Lama
Vintage Black Cat-Eye Glasses / New Old Stock (Etsy)  
Bronzed Dusty Rose Blush / “Dallas” by Benefit   
Raw Hem Denim Shorts / Mossimo Supply Co.  
Chunky Turquoise Ring / BORA

The South (particularly Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas) holds a very special place in my heart. One of my best friends (Erica) lives in Atlanta and I try to get out to visit her whenever I can. There is a unique brand of quirky swag in the South and I always think of it when I am listening Heartbreaker. Erica introduced me to Ryan Adams’ music a long time ago, but only in the past couple years have I really listened to him regularly- so yes- I did miss the glorious summer of the Dr. Adams Tumblr. Somehow I think I'll survive. When I’m listening to the jams on Heartbreaker I get an intense urge to throw on a pair of boots, chunky retro glasses and nurse a beer. Seriously, if you haven’t heard this record- it’s a must. I can (and frequently do) listen to “Come Pick Me Up” and “Oh My Sweet Carolina” on repeat. For whatever reason, I just associate Ryan Adam’s brand of country hipster cool as a blend of southern classic, Nashville love with a little dash of Empire Records employee.

Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams by Rachel DeSimone on Grooveshark

Bubblegum Alley

This weekend I headed up to the San Luis Obispo with my best friend, Hayley for a friend's wedding that we were both attending and that I was doing make-up and hair for. One of the places we were told we must see is Bubble Gum Alley. The name is pretty self explanatory, but essentially, it's a small corridor with about sixteen years or so worth of gum plastered everywhere. It's equally fascinating and gross. So much DNA, so many CSI episode possibilities. We ended up having a pretty quiet night- managed to grab some pizza and drinks before heading back to the hotel for some rest.

Hornrim Glasses: Derek Cardigan Brown Leather Hobo Purse: Banana Republic / Dark Denim Jacket: Gap / Leopard Chiffon Blouse: Old Navy / Deep Teal Colored Skinny Jeans: Old Navy / Bronze Gladiator Sandals: Seychelles / Gold Hoop Earrings: H&M 

Chew on this- talk about wanting to really be sure to not touch anything.

It's a wind-tunnel, ya'll

Act like a woman, drink like a man. Take that Steve Harvey. Tullamore Dew, neat.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Festival Goodness.

I frequently find my job taking me to very interesting places with very interesting people. Somewhat ironically, I found myself at Coachella this year. I say ironically, only because at least five times I've said things like "It's so hot. There are so many people. I would only go there if I was being paid." As luck may have it, I ended up at Coachella weekend 2 with Fuse. I'm no stranger to the festival circuit, as a rag-tag little rock-n-roller in my youth I found myself in many crowded and hot fields for days at a time spending insane amounts of money on beverages and relishing in the tunes of my favorite bands. As a matter of fact, the first time I ever bought a long wear lipstick was for a 3 day festival in Illinois (it was also the first time I realized that regular make-up remover does not take off said long wear lipstick.) That being said, since many of my clients are music industry- I end up at a lot of festivals.

Backlight? Tortoise Wayfarer XL Glasses / Ray Ban

Hillbilly feet and a sandals tan. 

As much as I’ve hated on Coachella in the past (seriously, Native American headdresses, crocheted shirts and no pants- no thanks!), I found myself become more and more excited to go. Two of my best friends are long-time Coachella goers and have spun many yarns about good times had and "spicy pie" feasts. I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to go to the actual festival, since the Fuse Coach House was off-site and we were all staying in Palm Springs. Let me just say, I didn't realize how much I LOVE the desert. I want to be a fabulous Palm Springs old lady who is up at 6 am in a glamour turban walking my dogs and wearing green eyeshadow.
Give me all your headboards.  College Brown Glasses / Glasses USA

It's like a race to see how quickly I can destroy a hotel room. 
Super dope graphic pieces all over the hotel. 

The majority of the trip was spent working and hanging at the Fuse Coach House, watching over my hosts, Elaine and Esteban. Which, to be honest, those two cats are so cool and I love my client so much- it never really feels like work. 

The Fuse Coach House- I can think of worse places to be. 

The house was sponsored by Kind Bar, PopChips and Vita Coco.  Seriously, heaven. 

This Coco Cafe was the drink of the GODS. Seriously, so freakin' delish. 

My girl, Elaine, interviewing The Hives.

Urban Decay, Murad and Enzo Milano were super kind enough to provide product, and let me tell you- I am so impressed with how well everything held up in 100+ degree heat. The Urban Decay 24/7 products and Cannonball Waterproof Mascara are legendary and truly stay on all day and the de-slick powder is a force to be reckoned with and don't even get me started on how bomb the Baked Bronzer is. I used Murad's Essential-C Day Moisture SPF 30 on myself and my host every day, it's very rare to find a combo product with sunscreen that still performs optimally, once again, very impressed. I've been using the Enzo Milano wand irons for months now and they just make such easy work of loose waves. 

(Left to Right) Murad Essential-C Day Moisture, Urban Decay 24/7 Eye Pencil in Pervesion, Urban Decay Super Saturated Lip Pencil in Lovechild, Urban Decay Baked Bronzer in Baked, Urban Decay Cannonball Mascara, Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch SPF 30 Sunscreen. 

On Saturday night, my friend Jenn drove up and we took advantage of the sweet hotel room and went out to karaoke at the Crazy Coconut in Palm Springs. The Bar was mostly full of young Marines and bachelorette parties- no correlation there, I'm sure. But we were determined to bring the fun, and totally did. Whenever I'm drinking or the vibe is really good, I pretty much only want to rap at karaoke- so there was a lot of Ludacris, Salt-n-Pepa and Nick Minaj. I was offered a "record deal" on two separate accounts that night both a Marine and a dude that I'm pretty sure was a drug dealer who rolled into the bar drinking a glass of chardonnay. 

I have a mantra, if you always take a silly picture- you can never take a bad one. 

Marines in sunglasses and tourist shirts. 

The best morning we headed over to Bit-O-County for some breakfast where my eyes proceeded to be about ten times bigger than my stomach and I thought I could finish three hotcakes that were about the size of a frisbee. Jenn ordered her breakfast in what seemed like a tapas fashion and seriously had one of everything on the breakfast sides menu. After that we headed back to the Fuse house for the final day of Coachella and the final day of shooting. After we were done shooting, we got to enjoy the pool and barbecue. As luck would have it, my friend Carrie was able to hook Jenn and I up with passes- so we actually ended up going to Coachella for the last night. I was really excited because I love me some Dre and Snoop. I also got a chance to see Justice, GirlTalk, Florence and the Machine and At The Drive-In. All amazing performances and definitely worth the two days of smoke related athsma attacks from all of the weed smoke that engulfed the entire venue. 

Wristbands unite!

Left to Right: Jenn, Me, Carrie

All in all- it was a pretty great weekend. I feel so fortunate to have the best job in the world and great friends to spend good times with. 

To check out the work I did for Fuse at Coachella- check out the Fuse YouTube Channel and


I Heart Oils, You Should Too.

If I had a dime for every dumb beauty myth I’ve heard on a regular basis I would be a billionaire. Well not a billionaire, but I'd have a lot of money. But would it be worth it, having all of that fake money if it meant the myth of using oils in the beauty regimen were perpetuated? I don't think so and in the words of Damon Wayans' beloved character on In Living Color: "Homey don't play that."

Oils are where it’s at and they are some of the best and most balancing products on the market. I’m not talking about Pam or "miracle" hair treatments that rely on insane amounts of dimeticone and silicates. Real oil based products might not immediately get that Pantene commercial super-sheen or the immediate effect of a peel (which I am totes obsessed with, more on that later) but you will get long term balancing and healing benefits that will lead to great results over time. Some of my personal favorite straight-up oils are argan oil, olive oil, coconut oil and jojoba oil.

One of biggest misconceptions I’ve heard is the idea that oily skin requires an “oil-free” lifestyle or that it needs to be “dried out” somehow. First off, if you have oily skin- give yourself a high five. It’s one of the best natural youth preservation systems the magical mystery tour of the human body offers. I have encountered so many clients with oily dehydrated and freaked out skin because instead of becoming one with the natural state of their skin- they try to fight against and make it way worse. When oily skin is sucked dry it goes into a state of trauma- and while the surface might de-shined temporarily it will actually cause the sebaceous glands to start overproducing sebum (what we’d identify as “oil”) to compensate causing an uncomfortable, slick, tight and oily surface that you’ll have a helluva time correcting if you keep stripping your skin. I am personally an a-ok with being oily/combination- so I like to use organic extra-virgin olive oil as a treatment whenever my skin needs some TLC.

Some of my favorite oils are:

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: great for dry spots, deep moisturizing of skin and scalp and personally, I like to use it on my face and my feet when either are in need of serious balancing. Sidebar- I just rub it on my feet and throw a pair os socks on- I have tile and curious dogs, so I would just end up falling, hitting my head and waking up to my dogs trying to eat my toes because they are just weirdos like that.

Argan Oil: The basis for all of the magical middle-east inspired treatments, but the beauty is in the oil itself. I like to use organic argan oil in my beauty regimen, I swish it lightly in my palms and use it to control frizz after I blow out my hair, and I also like to use it on my elbows to combat the dryness when my psoriasis gets the best of me. A little bit goes a long long way.

Coconut Oil: An old wives tale (a.k.a. here let me google that for you) claims that coconut oil is a miracle dandruff cure- I don’t have dandruff, but if anybody wants to test it out and get back to me- it would be greatly appreciated. What I can vouch for is that as a conditioner it helps to stimulate the scalp and my fried hair seems to LOVE it and it’s also way great as a moisturizer for the body.

Jojoba Oil: A natural non-comodegenic wax ester (gotcha! Just because it looks like an oil and feels like an oil, doesn’t mean it’s technically an oil). Absorbs into the skin quickly and doesn’t leave a residue and it’s one of the closest in composition to human sebum (oil), so it helps to quickly balance the skin.

Fish Oil/Omegas: This isn’t one to rub all over your face, but it is one to take as a supplement in your vitamin regimen. It keeps the heart healthy, and my friend Susan who is forty and looks twenty and swears by it. I've learned to trust her in all matters relating to the elusive fountain of youth.

Of course there are loads of other great oils and products that are infused with them. If I’m buying straight up oils, I like to go organic whenever possible. In Costa Mesa we’ve got an awesome place called Mother’s Market & Kitchen that has an amazing selection of all things hippie goodness- but I suspect any kind of hippie market will yield amazing finds as well and I also her that is good for such things. If you want to get all fancy and buy some pre-made products, I highly recommend the following.

(1) Ren Omega 3 Night Repair Serum ($60): Remember when I talked about the benefits of a fish oil regimen? Yeah, well this one IS topical and it’s got rose oil as well which is known for it’s soothing and toning properties.

(2) Emtage SILKtáge Rejuvenating Styling Serum ($39): A champagne supernova of, like, every good oil ever including argan, monoi, jojoba and coconut to name a few.

(3) NARS Monoï Body Glow II ($59): When you want to smell and look like you’ve just had a tropical vacation- hit this stuff. It utilizes both coconut extracts and Monoï de Tahiti oil and it looks, smells and feels all kinds of fancy.

(4) NUDE Nude Lips ($7): Enriched with vitamin E, Coconut Oil and Shea Butter. For under $10, just do it.

(5) Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil ($32): Consider your mind blown. This will free your skin of all the make-up and environmental gunk without stripping it.

So go forth and fear oil no more. You’re skin and hair will thank you for it.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Peeling the Onion: An Introduction

Greetings and Salutations, earthlings. Consider this first contact. Well, I suppose it's not REALLY first contact as I've had blogs in some way shape or form since I was a senior in high school. Anyhow, I'm sure you are wondering just who this chick is, allow me to re-introduce myself....


My name is Rachel and I'm a 28 year-old lady from Southern California. If this were 1998 and we were on AOL Instant Messenger, it would go something like this: 28/F/CA. I am a professional make-up artist by day and a woman of many interests always.  The purpose of this blog is to showcase life, style and beauty form a girl offering a different point of view than most life and style bloggers. I’m navigating life as a single, professional woman in love with my career, with an amazing set of friends and a unique outlook on life. I promise to share my experiences candidly and enthusiastically, as long as you promise to keep on reading what I have to say.

Let me just share a bit of my personal story. I grew up in a small town in a small valley in Southern California called Lake Elsinore. The majority of my youth was spent marching to the beat of my own drummer, wishing that I could some how become Clarissa Explains It All and riding horses with my friends to the other side of the lake to grab a burger. I was always a bit of a showboat, but I suspect that to be something that comes along with being an only child- or at least an almost only child like I was (I have older brothers but they were already out of the house by the time I was born). I had a pretty great childhood and didn't want for much- but those were the days before ten year olds knew what Louis Vuitton was. I grew up in theater, dancing, riding horses, playing sports, running in circles, playing hopscotch and having Little Mermaid "sing-offs" on the playground. Just your average middle class childhood.

I'd always marched to the beat of my own drummer and that became more apparent when I was in High School and I just kind of came to terms with the fact that I was just DIFFERENT that most people. Not that I was some sort of special snowflake princess- but my brain just worked different, I wanted different things and I was a bit more comfortable in my own skin. I spent the first two years of school, not sad that I didn't fit in with the cool kids, but sad that I just didn't WANT to. I also have the strong belief that my impression of high school was muddled my the brooding very grown-up eyes of Dylan McKay and the frustration that there just will NEVER be a cool after school hangout like The Peach Pit. Once I realized that being a cheerleader held no social standing, I just kind of stopped doing what I thought I was supposed to do and just started to be myself.

I had always had my own style and had been finding treasures at thrift stores since I was a kid. Once I figured out that life was just better lived in my own skin- I really started to find myself and my style as a person. I spent the majority of my high school experience, just having a blast. I would spend my nights at various shows (my town was small so people kind of transitioned between genres with ease) or at friends houses. I took a lawn flamingo to my prom, you know, the usual stuff.

I graduated from Elsinore High School in 2001 and moved to Costa Mesa that summer to begin my adventure as a college student. I attended Vanguard University of Southern California for my entire undergraduate career and graduated by the skin of my teeth in 2005. I originally thought I wanted to go into the music industry and spent a little over a year interning for Vagrant Records and then managing a friends' band. As much as I loved the music business and I'm sure I would have excelled at it- it just wasn't for me. I had figured out around 2002/2003 that being a make-up artist was actually a legit career path and started to focus on that in my spare time. I attended make-up school at the Make-Up Designory in Burbank, California in 2005 and entered the world of professional make-up artistry shortly after. The rest, as they say, is history.

There are lots of things that have happened in between- but I think I'll save that for future posts- gotta keep 'em wanting more, right?

There are a few things I am certain of now, today, at this very moment- I'm happy to be here and I am happy that you are here too.

Let's get to know each other.