Michelle Obama Turns 50: How to Apply Makeup as an Older Woman

It may be the official start of middle age that many women dread – but turning fifty doesn’t have to mean that you have to give up. It is still possible to look the bomb and feel great too, with some of our ILLUMIN8 beauty tips. Toy boys – form an orderly queue!

Michelle Obama, America’s leading lady and the most popular first lady since Jackie O, turns fifty this week. This strong and confident woman has to look great at all times, and pulls it off with apparent ease.

She always looks great with her makeup perfectly suiting her outfit, whether she is at a White-House press conference or out with the kids. Any claims of surgery have been strongly denied by the Obama family, so how does she do it?

Healthy eating and regular exercise aside, your makeup routine will change greatly as you age. Skin becomes less elastic and drier, causing you to be forced to change the failsafe makeup that made you look good for so many years, and trade them in for different products.


As previously mentioned, you probably need a change if you are still using the same foundation as you did when you were twenty. Even the subtlest skin changes can alter the look of your skin, and new makeup needs to be bought to accommodate this. What looked stunning and suited your skin perfectly ten, or even five years ago, now looks cakey and settles into fine lines. If this happens, it’s definitely time for a change.


Eyelashes and eyebrows thin as we get older. Choosing a volumising mascara, or perhaps one that is specifically designed for older eyes, is a great way to make sure that your eyes stay looking lovely and full.


When choosing a liner, ditch the old favorite of liquid, as this can settle in the creases and look uneven; it is also more likely to smudge and appear harsh on aging eyes. Pick a pencil in neutral browns instead for a more understated and classic look.


Drooping upper eyelids are another problem – making their appearance hooded. This can be made worse by heavy eye shadow, so avoid that except for on a special occasion like a night out.


Lips are another feature of the face that tend to thin as we get on in years, and lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking can further exacerbate this problem. Special steps can be taken to prevent your lips showing their true age.


When picking out new makeup, always look at the colour and try it on if you can. Do not choose a lip colour or liner that is too dark for your face – that doesn’t look good at any age. Best off to seek advice about colouring in store, or perhaps ask for samples to take home and try.


Going overboard on the lip liner is a sure fire way to make yourself look dated. The mouth is a problem areas for wrinkles, and too much makeup will get caught in the fine, feathery lines. One to be avoided at all costs, only ever buy lip liner that matches your lipstick perfectly.


If you suffer from dry, chapped lips, make sure you invest in a good lip balm to keep your lipstick looking its best.

Let Your Positivity Shine

Whilst it’s true that Michelle Obama has a team of people to make her look good – and all the money she wants to spend on products – there is a lot that us regular ladies can learn from her. Beauty is beyond physical – it is confidence, it is passion and it is excitement. Anyone, of any age, can look beautiful.


We believe that all women should grow old gracefully – and look good doing it! ILLUMIN8 have private classes that are available to teach you how to deal with your skin as it changes with age. Our team of experts can show you the best products to use, and some professional advice that will revolutionize your makeup routine.

5 Must have products for your hair!

5 Must have products for hair

Written by: Samantha Goddard

Over the years of my hairdressing career I have experienced many products, some salon professional brands and some high street brands- Here are my ultimate must haves:


1-     Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum- This serum is fantastic for any hair. No matter what type of texture you have – The technology of the super skinny range is to ensure that it penetrates the hair and disperses water molecules, therefore cutting down on blow drying and styling time. It will leave any hair type smooth, shiny and frizz free – especially when the humidity is high!


2-     Batiste Dry Shampoo- Whether you suffer from greasy hair, don’t have time or you just can’t be bothered with the task of washing your hair- Batiste is a must have! The waterless formulation will absorb any excess grease that is built up on the hair and scalp. This product is also fantastic on clean hair that is fine and limp in texture- a light mist of this product at the roots will help you achieve volume. It is also available in many different fragrances – there will definitely be one from the range to suit you!


3-     Phillip Kingsley Elasticizer- Is your hair damaged, brittle and frizzy and in need of a bit of TLC? If so this is definitely the most essential product for you to have. This pre-shampoo treatment is super rich and concentrated. Its elasticising effect improves elasticity, strength and shine whilst leaving your hair softer, less brittle and manageable. Wet your hair and massage this product into the sections of hair that is needed, leave for 2-3 minutes (10-15 for extremely damaged/brittle hair) then rinse well and shampoo and condition as normal. Use this once a week and your hair will look and feel healthy and shiny. This product also has ‘sunscreen technology’- what a great added bonus!

 Philip Kingsley elasticizer

4-     Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray- This product will give you that ‘just stepped out of the sea look’ or help add texture to any style without the stickiness or crunchiness of heavier products such as mousse. It will leave your hair feeling nourished, smooth and shiny and it also brushes out very easily- leaving little to no residue. This is probably one of the most versatile products that I have used as you can use it on wet or dry hair. You don’t need to use a lot of this spray to make a difference to your style making this very cost effective!

 BandBSurf Spray

5-     AVEDA Control Force Hairspray- I LOVE this hairspray- by far the best on the market. This spray gives a great hold without the typical hairspray feel- It’s airy, will help you achieve volume with any hair type and never leaves residue on the hair, allowing you to restyle your hair again and again. Another major plus with this product is that it’s fantastic in humid climates!


Create the Perfect Valentine’s Day Makeup

Valentine’s Day is coming up and love is in the air! Make sure the day goes perfect, and that you look your best, with these handy makeup tips from ILLUMIN8.

Whether you have a hot date in a restaurant or are going to see this year’s favourite Rom Com, everyone wants to look their best on Valentine’s Day. It is a time for us girls to be treated, and also a great time to try something new with your makeup routine.

And even if you have no plans, treat yourself to these makeup tricks anyway, and leave yourself looking, but more importantly feeling, fantastic.

Here are some makeup tips to get you started – pick one, or all, this February 14th.

Focus on the Eyes

The eyes are the window to the soul. Accentuate your fabulous features with a thick black eyeliner on the upper lid, to increase the look of your lash line. Apply it with a liquid liner to create a seamless look, and if you are feeling daring add a flick to really make your eyes pop.

Curling your eyelashes can really open up the eyes, make them seem larger, and the lashes will appear longer and fuller. Adding dark mascara and false eyelashes can further increase this look.

Strong eye makeup is seductive but demure, and suits all eye shapes and colours. It is a classic makeup look that everyone from Audrey Hepburn to Angelina Jolie has rocked over the years.

Vamp it up

Red lips are a daring choice for Valentine’s Day, but it is important to make sure that your lips are in good condition before using a lipstick. Bright hues tend stick unflatteringly to chapped and dried lips, especially if you choose a matte colour.

Use sugar as a light lip scrub once a week, and it will remove all that dead skin from the top layer of your mouth. Finish with lip balm, wait five minutes and apply a lip colour or tint.

Bright red lips have been a beauty staple since the 1920s and it is as popular as ever as a celebrity red carpet favourite.


Give your face cheek bones that Kate Moss would be jealous of with some great contouring tips.

By focusing on the highlights in your face on the main areas; the cheeks, the forehead or the nose, it is possible to create the illusion of striking bone structure on all face shapes.

You can give yourself a sculpted look by enhancing your natural features.

  • When applying contouring to the forehead, apply a darker colour to the temple and a highlighter lightly in the middle to give your face a lovely upper shape.
  • Lightly line each side of your nose if you want to create a thinning effect.
  • Run the highlighter slightly above the hollow of your cheek bone, this can be followed by blush underneath.
  • Add a little dot of highlighter in the centre of your cupid’s bow to make your lips seem larger.
  • Don’t forget to blend!

Kim Kardashian is the self-proclaimed queen of contouring. This makeup technique is a great one to try for those that are perhaps a little more experienced with makeup, because it can be a little tricky to get right. When done correctly, it can look incredible.

Have a romantic Valentine’s Day with these ILLUMIN8 makeup tips. If you want a more professional approach to your makeup routine, visit our website and book in for one of our private makeup classes or workshops.

Antioxidants play a key role in skin care

Written By: Alessia Donato


Does food affect the skin? What does it truly mean to eat the rainbow? Let’s take a look at how the Key vitamins A, C and E also known as Antioxidants play a key role in skin care.

Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Although there are several enzyme systems within the body that fight off free radicals, the main antioxidants are Vitamin A,C and E. Free radicals can be caused by smoking, excessive sun exposure, stress, and an unhealthy diet of junk food and not enough fresh whole foods. Antioxidants can be found in all colorful fruits and vegetables especially yellow, orange and red. Lots of minerals can be found in the greener vegetables and the more you consume raw the better your body will absorb them. Eating from the rainbow truly is the key to youthful skin and a healthy glow.


Antioxidants broken down by vitamins and how they affect your skin.

Vitamin A (Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Dark Leafy Greens, Butternut Squash)

Many face creams contain Vitamin A, and drugs derived from Vitamin A are used to treat severe acne. As an anti oxidant, it neutralizes free radicals (which destroy collagen), which in turn prevent the formation of wrinkles and pre mature ageing. Also helps fade age spots and pigmentation. Retinol is rejuvenating, anti ageing and helps with pigmentation due to sun damage. Retinol when applied to the skin is thought to work both by stimulating new collagen formation as well as preventing the breakdown of existing collagen. It appears to have a stimulatory effect on the fibroblasts that produce collagen as well as an inhibitory effect on enzymes that break down the collagen support structure. What makes retinol unique is that its molecular structure is small enough to allow it to penetrate the skin which is a limiting factor for some skin care ingredients. If a substance can’t penetrate the epidermis and gain access to the dermis, it’s not going to have any real effect on skin aging. Thus, one major benefit of retinol that distinguishes it from other skin care ingredients is its ability to reach the areas of the skin where it can actually have an effect on collagen production and breakdown. Retinol also appears to have the ability to counteract some of the solar damage inflicted by the sun, although retinol shouldn’t be used if you spend time in the sun since it can increase sun sensitivity.

Vitamin C (Red/Green Hot Chili Peppers, Guavas, Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Dark Leafy Greens, Kiwi, Oranges, Strawberries)

A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C is involved in a number of biological processes, which is so essential to health. Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen, a key structural protein of the skin. Adding vitamin C to a culture of skin cells (fibroblasts) dramatically increases the synthesis of collagen. Secondly, vitamin C is an antioxidant and can help reduce skin damage caused by free radicals. So, when vitamin C is properly delivered into skin cells, there is a good chance to reduce wrinkles and improve skin texture. It moisturizes the skin, softens, exfoliates and cleanses and helps to smooth out wrinkles and fine lines.

A number of skin care companies offer highly concentrated stabilized Vitamin C products, which (at least in theory) are supposed to be consistently effective. However, these products are usually quite expensive. Furthermore, even stabilized Vitamin C products may be at least somewhat oxidized by the time you use them. When Vitamin C oxidizes, it eventually acquires a yellowish tint indicating an advanced stage of oxidation. Interestingly, some manufacturers add coloring to their Vitamin C products, in which case it becomes hard to spot advanced Vitamin C oxidation. So it is advisable to pick a trustworthy source when buying or consuming Vitamin A skin care products and be careful with expiration dates and storage of products.

Vitamin E (Tofu, Spinach, Nuts, Avocados, Sunflower Seeds, Fish, Shellfish, Olive Oil, Broccoli)

A key antioxidant, Vitamin E is particularly good for a healthy heart and blood supply since it is an anticoagulant which reduces abnormal blood clotting but it also very good for skin. It works in conjunction with Vitamin A therefore helps to improve the activity of Vitamin A. Vitamin E added to lotions, creams, and other skin care products, as well as taken orally, plays a role in the anti-aging of skin. It helps skin look younger by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin E lotions provide some benefit in preventing and treating sunburns. These lotions protect the epidermis layer of the skin from early stages of ultra violet light damage. Vitamin E preparations also increase the effectiveness of sunscreens. Such lotions do not work immediately. Vitamin E can aid in the treatment of various skin diseases or skin conditions. Topical applications such as those used to treat psoriasis is one of the benefits of Vitamin E. Orally ingested Vitamin E can help treat erythema (a skin inflammation that results in reddish, painful, and tender lumps). There are a variety of other benefits of Vitamin E for skin care:

  • Vitamin E products help reduce the appearance of stretch marks
  • Vitamin E can help prevent the appearance of age spots
  • Helps maintain the skin’s oil balance during the cleansing process
  • Reduces transepidermal water loss from skin and strengthens the skin’s barrier function

Overall for skin care, more benefit is obtained from topical application of Vitamin E through creams or lotions rather than taking Vitamin E orally. Skin is able to absorb natural Vitamin E effectively. However, taking Vitamin E orally is important for the good health of other areas of the body.

at home facial

At home facial masks with Vitamins

Facial masks should be an integral part of every woman’s beauty regime. Not only do they replenish our skin, but they force us, in an unobtrusive way, to take time for ourselves and relax; after all, it’s impossible to get much of anything done with a layer of creamy goodness slathered over your face, and cucumbers over your eyes.

Here are my favorite do it yourself at home facial masks that can instantly boost your skin and give you that healthy glow. Remember that these ingredients are natural, and although great to put on the skin nothing beats actually eating them so your body can absorb the nutrients and therefore feed your cells and in turn feed your skin.

Banana and Vitamin E healing mask: we know how healing vitamin E is so try using some of those vitamin E capsules break them open and mix them in with some bananas. Make sure to avoid the eye are and this mask can be calming, soothing and moisturizing for anyone with dry sensitive skin. The banana is great for wrinkles!

Vitamin C pumpkin facial mask: Pumpkin makes an excellent face mask ingredient for all skin types, especially environmentally damaged or sensitive skin. High in Vitamin A (skin healing), C (anti-oxidant) and Zinc, the pumpkin soothes, moisturizes and acts as a carrier, assisting the other mask ingredients to absorb deeper into the skin and intensifying the results. Combine the pumpkin pulp with honey, and milk. Mix pumpkin in with whipping cream for dry skin or for oily skin mix in some apple cider vinegar which is a great astringent.

Avocado treatments: Avocado is super rich in vitamins A B C and E as well as the mineral phosphorus. So if you want, create a homemade mask, try mixing avocado with some honey for some serious moisture benefits. It super rich and will give your skin a soft supple texture and glow.


As a makeup artist, it is so important to understand and have knowledge of skin care. Prepping the skin before makeup is the key component in achieving a flawless foundation base and application and amazing makeup to follow suit. Always have a good rich moisturizer in your kit, such as Embryollise lait crème concentre. It suits all skin types and leaves the skin fresh, moisturized, and gets rid of flakiness. A good cleanser such as Bioderma H20 removes all traces of makeup without stripping the skin and it is especially good for dry and sensitive skins. To quickly exfoliate without the use of water, the Dermalogica daily resurfacer is great for those days you’re on set and you need to quickly exfoliate the model’s skin. Always have a good eye cream, we love MAC fast response eye cream. It contains caffeine which helps to restrict the blood vessels helping to tighten fine lines and wrinkles.

Never skip the skin care part of a makeup application!! It is so important and really makes the difference.

Your Makeup Artist, Alessia Donato


I Want a Career in Makeup

Makeup is an everyday part of most women’s lives. The cosmetics industry is worth an estimated £15bn in the UK alone, and employs almost a million people. Beauty sells, and those that are talented at the work and have the correct training, stand to make a lot of money.

As a cosmetics professional, you are in charge of styling makeup onto your client in a variety of different ways depending on the job and situation. There are makeup artists for memorable occasions like weddings and proms, or for more publicised events like television and magazines. You can also work on the upmarket beauty counters for companies like Mac or Dior; a lot of these premium boutiques only employ qualified beauty therapists to ensure their staff are incredibly knowledgeable in order to offer customers a top quality makeover at any time.

There are also other career choices within the industry; it is possible to become a skin camouflage expert and help those who feel uncomfortable in society due to facial disfigurements accept themselves, and gain the confidence to go outside and face the world.

Makeup artists have to be creative souls that are willing to collaborate with styles at the client’s request, alongside with what they know will look good. If you have passion and love for all things makeup, and have patience and a willingness to learn, then a career as a makeup artist could very well be perfect for you.

Ruby Hammer, creator of successful cosmetics brand Ruby and Millie, explains why she enjoys her career choice so much; “No two days are the same, I still feel challenged and excited by my job…You have to be professional at all times, be able to get on with lots of different people and build relationships in a short space of time, which can be hard. You’re only as good as your last job.”

Being passionate about cosmetics is a key aspect of any makeup artist’s life. As a career it can be very rewarding helping people to look beautiful and feel good all day long. You also have the option of going freelance once you have received proper training, which has great flexibility and can easily be arranged around family life.

Building up a steady portfolio of clients is key, and the first step towards that is by receiving professional training from an expert in a workshop or class. Lessons like these can create a great base of knowledge, perfect for those who want to make the transition into the makeup business as specialists.

This industry is very competitive so it is important to arm yourself with the best knowledge in the business with expert classes. Taking a course like the one offered by Illumin8 is the perfect answer for training within the makeup industry. Just fill out the enrolment form to start beautifying your career.

Be on trend with heavenly brows for 2014

How important are your eyebrows? The answer is obvious looking at this picture of Katy Perry!


So what do our brows do for us? They draw attention to our eyes, making them appear larger, while framing them perfectly. They can balance the features and give expression to the face.

After discovering this shocking picture of Katy Perry it got me thinking about my brows I have been neglecting for some time. So with the new year upon us I thought it was time to revamp my sparsest redundant brows.

Brows are in for 2014, down the runways at New York Fashion Week designers Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors to name a few rocked the natural brows, bushy, wild and slightly groomed. A come back of Brooke Shields boyish unkempt look of the 1980’s but with an edge, a perfect example is Cara Delevingne.


Or natural with a more dramatic arch like Rita Ora or Megan Fox, More to my liking it’s feminine and seductive.


Now let’s focus on shaping your brows with make-up tips to evoke the Megan Fox brows in you! You will need the following tools:

  1. Spooly brush or disposal mascara wand (Mac Brush 204)
  2. Sharpened brow pencil in your shade (Mac Retractable Brow Pencil)
  3. Clear setting Gel (Mac Brow Set)

Now let’s do this together! I found a fab picture on Instagram of a 4 step simple demo to achieve those trendy naturally arched brows.


Step 1. Brush your eyebrows into shape with the spooly brush.

Step 2. Draw the desired shape with sharpened brow pencil at the bottom of the brow.

Step 3. Draw in the shape at the top of the brow.

Step 4. Fill the brow with the brow pencil and use the spooly brush in upward strokes’ to give a more natural slightly bushy look and to blend.

See you out there ladies with those fearless brows! I’ll know who you are.

Your Makeup Artist, Sonia Merlo


8 Beauty Resolutions to keep in 2014


As we roll in this new year, we must begin to get comfortable with change…because it is inevitable. So let’s change for the better and charge into 2014. We say start with easy resolutions before you tackle the BIG ones, like making beauty goals and sticking to them! Here are 8 to get you started:

1. Clear out old clutter in your makeup cabinet.

Check dates, check cleanliness, and check to see if you still like it or have even used it. How many times have you gone to the store, saw a product you loved, and when you put it on hated it? So you put it away thinking you’ll try it again…but it’s never the right time, right look. Either donate it to a friend if sanitary, or ditch it!

2. Switch from drugstore mascara to makeup counter mascara.

Why? Have you tried Benefit’s THEY’RE REAL mascara? This product is the number one selling mascara in the UK, and for good reason. The product helps to create long healthy lashes that stay looking that way all night without the clumps.

3. Learn a new tip or trick from a professional.

It’s a new year, and so, it’s time for a new look. The professionals at ILLUMIN8 offer a Personal Makeup Workshop that is designed to teach you how to create the perfect day – to – evening look effortlessly. Next Workshop 11 January, runs 10am – 5pm, and if you bring a friend you get a deal!

ILLUMIN8 Media Make-up Studio

4. Try a new product once every three months.

This way, at the end of the year you have some fun, new items in your kit that you would not normally have. Have you seen these Miley Makeup, STICK ON LINERS? Fun & Funky!


5. Promise to wash your face every night before bed.

We all say we do it, we all try to make it a habit, but when we wake up to see yesterdays mascara smudged all over our tired eyes…guilty! Makeup is basically a form of dirt, especially mixed with the daily oil and toxins exposure. Be kind to your skin. 3-5 minutes is all it takes.

6. Give your body a good exfoliation once a month, and for more mature skin, once a week.

Body scrub can be found in many stores around UAE, but you can also make some fun options at home! Here’s a quick recipe that is sure to soften your skin and make you smell divine.

  • 1 Glass Jar to store scrub
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1-2 drops vanilla extract depending on your love for vanilla!
  • 1/3 cup mineral salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • -Mix Sugar, Vanilla and Salt together, then add Coconut Oil. Voila! Your first at home Body Scrub!

7. We blow-dry, flat iron, curl, spray, tease, brush, then wash, rinse and repeat. But where is the hair love?

Mark your calendar’s monthly for a good hair treatment. Consider Redken’s ALL SOFT Heavy Cream Hair Softening Treatment. It’s made with argan oil and targets dry/brittle hair for intense, inside-out softness, sleekness, and brilliant shine!


8. Most importantly, Rest & Hydrate. Nothing is more important to skin than H2O and sleep. During the night, your body naturally enhances its ability to fight environmental and natural damage, which translates into a better and brighter complexion. Sleep can reduce the appearance of thinning skin, stretch marks, discoloration, age spots & fine lines. And most of us are aware the skin is the largest organ in the body, but did you also know that water will reach all the other organs before it reaches the skin? So, it’s important to apply water to our skin and keep it there – through drinking lots of it, this will not only show a visible difference in hydration, but it can prevent wrinkles, as well.