Makeup expert A.J. Emery handpicks best value cosmetics.

Smashbox Makeup Brushes

6 Best Makeup Brushes + 2 Top Brands To Buy

Allison Emery selects 6 must-own makeup brushes—and shares her two favourite brush brands, one expensive the other not.

Smashbox Makeup Brushes


As a makeup artist, I’ve accumulated a variety of brushes. Because I often do multiple makeup applications in a short period of time, having two or three of the same type of brush means I don’t have to cleanse and disinfect them between clients. The average woman, however, is not applying makeup to several different people, so she really doesn’t require a multitude of brushes.

So which brushes do you really need? PICTURED BELOW are the essential brushes to have in your collection—plus my picks for the best brands to buy. Read more

Cropped image of an attractive female with a creative hairstyle

How To Polish Your Skin To Perfection

Cold, dry weather makes skin look dull; microdermabrasion can restore its glow. Here’s a top product that mimics this polishing procedure at home.


Winter is upon us, and while we welcome the sunshine instead of the usual dark, gloomy Vancouver weather, sunny days are cool and crisp. You may have noticed your skin feeling dryer, tighter and lackluster at this time of year. Even oilier complexions feel dryer and tighter than usual. As a result, we often reach for heavier creams and moisturizing masks, which can help, but the best solution is a good exfoliation or polishing of the skin. Read more

Angelina Jolie, eyeliner

The Perfect Eyeliner Pencil + how To Use It

Allison Emery shares her secret to applying perfect eyeliner, plus picks the ideal product to pull it off.

Angelina Jolie, eyelinerIf I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it dozens of times: “My eyeliner smudges all over my face and by the end of the day I look like a raccoon.” These women have confessed to me that they would love to be able to use an eye pencil but are intimidated by the application or worried that they won’t be able to make a straight line. Fear the eye pencil no longer! I’m going to let you in on a secret to applying an eye pencil:

STOP—trying to draw the perfect line.
START—applying the pencil in the centre of the upper lash line. Starting the line at the centre of the lash line as opposed to the outer or inner corner allows you complete control over how thick you want your line to be, and it’s much easier to ensure symmetry. Read more

Jessica Biel - Just Bitten Lipstain

Lip Stains: The Best Ones At Every Price Point

Glamorous berry-stained lips are the fashion this fall. Allison Emery picks the top products that deliver the look.

Jessica Biel - Just Bitten LipstainThis fall the trend is smoky, metallic eyes and velvety smooth berry-stained lips. The look is very retro, yet classically cool. One of the great things about this look is that you don’t even need the dramatic eyes to pull off the sexy, colourful lips. In fact, with a very glamorous lip colour, it’s better to keep the eyes soft and simple—neutral shadow, lightly smudged liner and mascara are perfect complements. Smoky eyes can be challenging, but trying a new lip colour is easy—all you need is the right product in a suitable shade. The easiest (and surprisingly affordable) option is lip stain. Read more

Reese and the blush/lipstick ratio

Blush Buyers Guide + Our Top Product Picks

What you need to know about buying and wearing blush, plus Allison Emery’s top blush picks.

Reese and the blush/lipstick ratioBlush is an essential part of a balanced make-up. In fact, the more make-up you wear, the more important it becomes, though blush also completes the colour story of even the simplest looks. It can be neutral, natural or glamorous. It gives life and health to any complexion, making us look well-rested and ready for the day ahead. Read more

Brighten Up: Our Fave Under-Eye Concealers

“Help! What can I use to hide these dark circles under my eyes?”

Smashbox faceThis is by far the most frequently asked question I have encountered in my career in cosmetics. Dark under-eye circles can surface for a number of reasons —lack of sleep, stress, poor diet/nutrition—and for some of us they are hereditary. There are many treatments we can use to keep the darkness at bay such as eye creams and serums, as well as facial massage and even the classic cool cucumber slices.

Lucky for us, there are some excellent concealing products on the market, so regardless of our budget, we can look fresh and ready for whatever life brings. For best results, I highly recommend using eye treatments in conjunction with make-up solutions. Bright, well-rested eyes are always in style. Read more

Get Gorgeous With Sun-Kissed Tanners

Our top three self-tanning products give your body a beautiful, healthy glow.

When we are tanned, we feel more attractive. Why? We are full of the sun’s radiance, making us feel happier, healthier and sexier. A tan can help minimize the appearance of spider and varicose veins, balance uneven skin tone and even help to camouflage cellulite and stretch marks. Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to the sun and UV radiation can cause wrinkles, brown spots, blotchiness, leathery older-looking skin and, in the worst cases, melanoma.  Lucky for us, we live in a world where we can achieve a tan in the comfort of our own homes, sans prolonged sun exposure. Read more


Mineral Makeup Is Magic

Who couldn’t use affordable, flattering, virtually undetectable foundation?

Mineral-MakeupEvery day people ask me, “What’s so great about mineral powders?”

Mineral makeup has an amazing affinity with the skin—it looks like bare skin but better. It is non-comedogenic (will not block pores) so even the oiliest, acne-prone skin can use it. There are no talcs, filters, chemicals or dyes in the product, and there is virtually no risk of allergy so even the most sensitive skin can use it. In fact, mineral powders contain zinc oxide, an anti-inflammatory, which soothes and helps to reduce skin sensitivity. Mineral powders tend to wear extremely well and are quite water-resistant so won’t run. Depending on the type, concentration, and quality of the minerals used, mineral powder can also act as a physical sunscreen. Read more