Makeup Artistry & Photography

gilded lily makeup artistry

Because You’re Beautiful Contest Winner!

Earlier this Spring, we were inspired by Dove’s newest video as part of their campaign for real beauty. It showed how hard it is for women to see, express and embrace their beauty; we saw an opportunity to give at least one woman the chance to celebrate her beauty!

We ran a contest and asked women to tell us what makes them feel beautiful. We got some fantastic responses from, “the wind blown hair, and rosy cheeks from playing outside with my little girl” to “putting on makeup, a dress and heels.”

By random draw, we chose Kirston to win a makeup application and lesson and a photo shoot from the gilded lily, and we were so excited to be able to give this to such a deserving person! Kirston is a busy mom (with another one on the way in less than a month!) and  she runs a home daycare, so she doesn’t get a whole lot of time to focus just on herself.

Here are some of our favourite photos from the day!

Makeup artistry by Kate McIntosh, Photos by Crystal Mackay


blue shirt


red door





Congratulations Kirston!


Because You’re Beautiful Contest

We were recently inspired by Dove’s newest video showing how differently we view our own beauty than those around us do.   We thought because our namesake means to unnecessarily adorn something already beautiful, and because we firmly believe that every woman should embrace her own beauty (and even shout from the roof tops about it!), we wanted to give you the chance to do just that!

We will be randomly drawing for the opportunity to have  a professional makeup lesson  and application focusing on highlighting your natural beauty and then a half an hour photo shoot to show off your gorgeous self!

All you have to do to enter is “like” the gilded lily on facebook and leave a note on our wall telling us what makes you feel beautiful.

Contest Closes May 12, 2013 so head on over there. . . right now!

Sandra & Reg – New Year’s Eve Glam!

Sandra & Reg had a fabulous New Year’s Eve wedding at the Lamplighter in London that was all glamour! From the disco ball centre peices, to the fabulous black cocktail dresses, and her unbelievable handmade “brooch bouquet,” this wedding was all about the details.  And what a fun night for a wedding! It was the perfect evening for these two because they love to have a good time and we didn’t stop laughing the entire day!

Here are just a few of my favourites!


The gilded lily also had the pleasure of doing the makeup artistry for this gorgeous bride and her ladies. Here’s one of Katie putting on the finishing touches:

Sandra and Reg decided to see each other before the ceremony – so here are just a few of them seeing each other as a bride and groom for the first time ( I love these moments!)

A new way to do MAC eyeshadows

It’s been a long time since I posted anything…the whole ‘getting married’ thing got in the way of doing a lot of things!  Turns out weddings are a lot of work (fabulous work, but work all the same).

So, what I’m saying is that I’m back and I have a long list of posts I plan to write!  I’ve had lots of time to think about ideas…so here we go!

Today it’s all about a little MAC secret (not really a secret…just something we’re new to here in London now that we have a MAC store) that is making me very, very happy.  Turns out that MAC stores sell their eyeshadow in the form of ‘pans’; they come in all the same colours as the regular shadow in pots, but they cost only $11.00!!!  That’s right – ELEVEN DOLLARS!!!  It’s the same amount of product as the pot (which costs around $18.00), but is only the little pan with the pigment in it, rather than the bulky pot.  If you choose to go with the pans, you need to purchase a palette to house the pans. Palettes come in either quads (space for 4 shadows), or fifteens.  The pans are magnetized and so they slide right in and then are easily removed if you wish to switch them up for different colours.  Check it out.

The really fun part is still to come – I spent last Friday mastering the art of “depotting” my old MAC eyeshadow pots so that I could have all of my colours in the palettes.  The palettes are very flat and wickedly convenient for both travel and for viewing all of your colours at once.

I had become very tired of the few shadows that were on top of my, well…who are we kidding…giant pile of pots!  I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about; as soon as you have 10 or more shadows, and assuming you don’t have some fabulous makeup display area, they get piled one on top of each other, and all of a sudden you’ve worn only Gleam for an entire year!  “Boo” is what I say to that; why have all these fabulous colours if you’re not going to use them?  I don’t really believe in the concept of ‘day colours’ and ‘evening colours’…if you feel like wearing purple eyeshadow to work, do it; however, there is something to the manner in which you apply the purple eyeshadow that helps it appear ‘appropriate’ for either the office or the pub.  This is a topic for another day.

The palettes are quite inexpensive ($5 for the quad and $14 for the fifteen), and are really great for becoming inspired by your current inventory of colours.  Having all the shadows laid out together really makes it easy to see new colour combinations, and can help you learn to love old, tired shadows – I have recently rediscovered Vex after purchasing it 8 years ago and am loving it!

The process for depotting your old shadows to add to the palettes is a bit daunting – but you’ll just have to trust me here that once you get going, it’s super-duper easy.  You will need a rag/old towel, pillar candle, some tongs, a cheap ballpoint pen, some sticky-back magnet paper, and a cheap paring knife.  The best place to do this is in the kitchen because you’ll want a well ventilated area, and I found that the vent fan over the stove was perfect.

Step 1 – lay out the towel on your kitchen counter and cut up small pieces of the magnet paper (you can buy it at Staples meant to stick to business cards so they can become magnets) approximately 1cm x 1cm

Step 2 – hold the pot by the edges and gently push the tip of the knife in the connection seam where the lid latches (you’ll see a small indentation that’s perfect for wedging in your knife tip); the pan of shadow along with the plastic casing should pop right  out.  You’ll want to be gentle here – if you push too hard or flip your wrist while you do it, you’ll watch you beautiful pan of Satin Taupe go flying across your kitchen.  Nothing more depressing then MAC shadow crumbling into a pile of pigmented dust!

Step 3 – pick up the pan in its plastic casing with the tongs; light the candle under your stove vent or near a window; hold the pan over the flame (right at the tip) until you see the plastic start to bubble and melt.  It usually takes about 10 seconds in the heat, give or take…

Step 4 – allow the scary black smoke to be sucked up the vent/out the window before moving back to your soft towel; place the pan upside down on your towel and use the pen to push through the melted plastic to pop out the pan from underneath. This is the trickiest step – if you use the knife to pry upward on the plastic casing while pushing through the melted plastic with the pen, the pan of shadow separates easily from the plastic.  There will be a lot of glue on the back of the pan – try to pull it out of the plastic without spreading the glue around.

Step 5 – place the now depotted pan upside down on your towel ( so that the glue doesn’t adhere it to the towel); take a  piece of magnet (cut into 1cm squares) and peel the backing off and stick to the back of the pan. Take the partially melted casing and snap it back into the pot; put aside.

Step 6 (optional) – I like to have the original label from the pot on the back of my pan so that I can recall the name of the shadow and the finish (i.e. satin, frost etc.).  Take the empty pot and hold it at an angle above the candle flame, NOT directly in the flame, but 1 cm above the tip of the flame; wait for 5 seconds until you start to see the edge of the label lift; move back to your towel and slowly peel off the label.  I find that they come off very easily with the little bit of heat.  Stick the label to the back of the pan of shadow, over the magnet, and then your pan is ready to place in your palette!

Sounds complicated and messy, right?  Well, trust me – it’s not hard and I can’t say enough how much I am loving all of my shadows in the palettes.  And, I haven’t even mentioned the most exciting part of this whole process…once you’re finished all your depotting, you can return your empty pots to MAC for the Back to MAC program.  For anyone who is not familiar with this program, it is a recycling effort put forth by MAC.  Once you have 6 containers saved up of any MAC product, you can take them into a store and exchange them for either an eyeshadow, a lipglass, or a lipstick.  I was a little worried that they wouldn’t take my partially melted and mangled pots, but they had no problem with it!  The only glitch it that the maximum you are allowed to exchange in one trip is 24 empties (i.e. 4 free items).

If you have any questions about this process, or about shadow colours/combinations, let me know through comments on this post, or you can email me directly at

I apologize for the sketchy photography work on this post; it really shows why Crystal takes the pictures!

I hope this post gave you something to feel excited about during this dreary, cold, wet month!  Boo November; yay eyeshadow palettes!!!




gilded lily promotionWe are (very obviously!) excited to offer our blog-readers 2010 pricing if you book your 2011 event before Oct. 31st, 2010. . .

and as a special bonus (because we love to work together so much!) if you book both gilded lily makeup artistry and gilded lily photography for your 2011 event, receive an additional 10% off.

We look forward to working with you! Contact us at

Crystal & Kate

A little word about wedding gowns…

Blog numero deux…this one is for all those girls out there about to start the potentially endless search for the ‘perfect dress’.  I had the distinct pleasure of joining my “cottage sister”, along with a few others, on her first dress appointment since her recent engagement in late May.  Now… it needs to be said that this girl, who I will not name in order to preserve her refreshing modesty and penchant for privacy, is one of those true blue natural beauties with a body to die for and a soul to strive for; she is a tom-boy through and through, although she has discovered the world of flatirons and lipgloss over the past few years.  When I first heard that she was engaged,  I started with feelings of sheer excitement and happiness for her future, and then instantly became overwhelmed with ideas of what dresses I would put her athletic 5’10” frame into, and the fabulous things we could do with her classic hair style and clean decolletage.  To my extreme delight, my friend called me last week and asked if I would accompany her on her first dress appointment. I would like to add here that I am certain she indulged my desire to help her shop for big white dresses only because she wants to support this new alternate profession…she’s that kind of friend. Awesome!  Just to give y’all a slight idea of my obsession with the world of wedding gowns, I experienced several wedding gown dreams all last night as I awaited this appointment…and it WASN’T EVEN MY APPOINTMENT!  Sick, yes….happy, indeed!  We went to the appointment with her mom and godmother. I had tried to give my friend some small pieces of advice prior to the appointment, well attempting to not overstep my boundaries or to seem too sad and obsessed with this whole process.  My main point for her was to not dismiss any one style off the bat – “just try one of each…you never know…you’d be amazed what looks good on different body types”.  She agreed, as she does to all comments and suggestions, and so I did my best to subtly remind her of this plan once we arrived in the lovely shop.  She nodded…and then the sales assistant proceeded to pull out sheath after sheath, completely ignoring all other sections.  I didn’t want to dominate the appointment, but I could not deny my urge to take over the appointment and suggested that we look at a few different gowns.  To clarify, by ‘gown’ I mean a garment made of layers and layers of fabulous, glorious, luxurious fabrics that have been stitched and married together to make up an ivory confection fit for a diva.  My friend is the furthest thing from a diva…in fact, if there was an anit-diva, it would be this friend.  She has taught me how to make Birks cute, and how to turn a hoodie into bar-appropriate garb.  My friend appeared somewhat unsure of these large -and heavy- dresses; I gave her a supportive and encouraging smile, and then gave the sales associate a confident nod.  She took the beaded gown, along with a fist full of sheaths, into the dressing room and beckoned my friend in with her.  The morning continued to reveal my friend looking beautiful in about 5 different simple, column-style dresses; I was loving her in all the samples she was modeling for the crowd, but I couldn’t put away the desire to see her in the dress.  I am not an emotional person – I may tear up when that Irish version of Auld Lang Syne backs the scene with Carrie running through the snow to spend New Year’s with Miranda…I know you all know what I’m talking about – but I must admit I had an emotional reaction to my friend in this gown.  Even more so, her mother, who up to this point had been discretely explaining that she didn’t think her daughter suited ‘blingy’ dresses, was silent.  We all felt it…she was perfect in this dress.  The line it created with her svelte figure was stunning; the dipping v-line of the back of the dress made her muscular shoulders look like gold…it was just friggin’ beautiful.  The best part of the whole experience, which I had been predicting in my bridal gown imagination since last week, was when I noticed the look on my friend’s face; she was clearly as smitten with this gown as the rest of us.

That was a long-winded way to share my opinion of the week – don’t ever peg yourself  as a certain type of bride.  I have heard it countless times before – “I’m really not into big dresses or  bling”…”I know I don’t want my hips to show”…”I want a dress with straps because I don’t look good in strapless”.  Ladies listen up – don’t limit yourself!  This is your chance to try on the prettiest, fluffiest, most delicious gowns you will ever get close to (unless you start to frequent red carpets)…why wouldn’t you take it!?! Try them all on! Don’t approach your first appointment with the assumption that you know what you want…chances are you’ve never had hundreds of beautiful, beaded gowns at your disposal, nevermind a one-on-one sales assistant to dress and undress you!  It makes me so sad to see bride after bride in essentially the same dress; there are so many styles, designers, fabrics, cuts, necklines, and price ranges out there.  If all these brides are truly happy with the same dress, then they made the right choice.  Do I really believe that they tried on all styles?… no.  I think the world of tulle and lace can be overwhelming, and perhaps intimidating to a non-shopper, but it is also one of the most exciting fashion industries out there. Don’t let it get to you – try on the big white one, or the slinky champagne one, or the open-back lace number that you dog-eared in the magazine.  And don’t forget to try a veil!


Mascara – why so complicated?

Ok – let me start this with the oh-so-common remark – I’ve never written anything like this  before, so go easy on me!  This whole word of ‘blogging’ is so not my style, but my brilliant and motivated colleague has convinced me it’s the way to go.  So, here we go.

Mascara – this is something that evokes a significant emotional response out of me – a makeup enthusiast, artist, researcher, and…well…lova of all things powder and cream.  Why is it so complicated, you ask.  Well – the range of products available to the average consumer of everyday makeup is staggering…and confusing on the best of days.  Furthermore, the constant changing of the mascara guards is extremely frustrating.  I have just recently experienced the trauma of having my go-to mascara disappear off the shelves (note — Maybelline, you made a seriously poor choice the day you picked Lash Stiletto over Lash Stylist.  Boo).  I continue to tear up every morning when I catch a glimpse of my dwindling stash of the fabulous product.  The day I first tried Lash Stylist – a marriage of a voluminous product with a fine comb applicator – I had the distinct feeling that my eyelashes were finally complete!  They had met their perfect counterpart; it gave me the volume and body I was looking for, with the length and precision needed by all mascara wearers.  Well, once I discovered it was being discontinued, I began the journey of testing new products and trying to find a replacement.  The only problem was that I didn’t want to find a replacement.  I had recommended this product to countless friends and clients over the past 5 years; now I was single-handedly responsible for leaving 20 women out in the bright sun with bare lashes!

My search started at the Dior makeup counter in The Bay; Bonnie Brookes’ deep, throaty voice coming over my radio in the morning had enticed me to invest in a tube of Dior Show mascara.  The way she told it, this product was going to change my life forever.  The way it actually happened, I spent $30 for a tube of crap.  Really…crap.  Hard to use, way too expensive, and died after 8 weeks.  Dior – you have let me down.  Over the next 3 months I trialed a whirlwind of different mascaras, both high-end and drugstore.  I was left feeling disappointed and broke.  This story has yet to find a happy ending; I am currently using my very old and clumpy Lash Stylist for getting into the lash root, and then finishing with Benefit Bad Gal Lash.  I would define this combination as satisfactory, but not overly exciting. This act of desperation is an indication of my borderline addiction to mascara…well…who are we kidding – full-blown addiction.  I find myself looking at other people’s lashes, longing to get a well-coated wand and sweep away!  I continually plead with my guy to let me try some of the staple on his ginger-coloured lashes…I’ll let you know if that ever happens!

Ok,  now on to the really important take-home message of this post – ladies, regardless of whether you have a tube of mascara that you love with all your cosmetic soul, or whether you are in a transient, promiscuous phase of many tubes in your makeup bag, please oh please just put something on your lashes in the morning.  I am a big believer in amplifying the beauty of the natural variation that Mother Earth gave us, and mascara is one of the easiest paths to take.  It plays such an important role in waking up your eyes, contrasting your skin colour and framing your face.  It takes seconds, comes in every shade, texture, size, and shape, so no excuses!  And, when I find the perfect and affordable product out there, I’ll be sure to blog my little heart out!


p.s. I am always open to people’s opinions of products out there – if you have a mascara you love, please let me know!