Award winning makeup artist, Christa Ponzio, shares her proven tips on how to be the most beautiful version of yourself in all situations – even in a face mask!
Christa Ponzio is one of Chicagoland’s most loved and well-respected makeup artists, especially amongst brides and their tribes. With her incredible talent, she’s not only an amazingly skilled makeup artist that has traveled from NYC to LA working on famous faces including Julianne Moore and Mel Gibson, but she’s also the founder of Total Image Hair and Makeup, an award winning, on-location makeup and hairstyling company that creates signature looks for the runway, print campaigns, television, and special events.
For the past eight years, Christa and her company have accumulated awards placing them in the top two percent of all wedding beauty vendors in the country. In 2020, she received her third consecutive Best of Weddings Award from The Knot, in addition to being inducted into their Best of Wedding Hall of Fame, placing the company in the top one percent of wedding vendors.
I had the good fortune of meeting Christa my freshman year at Eastern Illinois University where we bonded on the love of voluminous hair and hairspray. Ever since, it’s been an inspiration to watch her success in the bridal makeup industry. I have learned how makeup, as a creative form of self-expression, can boost an individual’s confidence and improve mood, outlook and self-esteem – similar to the effects I see when one gets a great night’s sleep.
I recently had the chance to chat with my wildly talented BFF, Christa, to discuss her beauty tips from preparing for your wedding day, to how to look your best when you only have five minutes to get ready in the morning! The advice she gives her brides is the same advice she would give you. Here are some of her secrets on what you can do for yourself each day to look and feel your best:
What are the top three tips you give to brides preparing for their wedding day?
Anytime you want to look your best, especially before a big event, the first step is to get quality sleep the night before. This is huge. It is very hard to cover tired skin with no sleep. Next, I advise my brides to hydrate the night before so their skin is ready to go. I also tell them to exfoliate using a micro scrub two to three times a week. People don’t realize how important exfoliation is. It takes off all the dead skin, leaves you with fresh skin for makeup to be easily applied, and leaves you with a youthful glow.
What wellness techniques do you advise to brides to improve their beauty routine?
We usually meet with our brides a few months before the wedding in order to explore makeup and hairstyle looks. We do this not only so that she is assured she will look her best on her wedding day, but these meetings are also important so we can provide some suggestions on how to prepare leading up to the day. Makeup is not magic! We can cover a lot, but there still needs to be a lot of preparation on the bride’s part leading up to the day as well. I usually advise checking with your doctor, and get their recommendation on a daily multivitamin or vitamin D supplements to help with improving hair and skin. I also recommend an exercise regimen and proper amount of sleep to be implemented at least three months beforehand, as these benefits need to accumulate over time.
What are the top things you can do for yourself to make your face look more alert when you are feeling a bit tired?
When you are tired, the main thing to focus on is the eyes to make them look more bright and awake. The first thing that is most important, is prepping your face before you start any makeup. Using eye patches or a cooling gel mask for the eyes will really help brighten them up and get them hydrated. Use concealer to get rid of dark circles and even out your skin tone.
Is there a certain shade of lipstick or eye shadow that makes you look brighter and more awake?
Yes! For eye shadow, any lighter color such as white or a bright color with a shimmer will really open the eyes. Dark colors will make your eyes look smaller, and that is not what we want when we are already tired. As far as lipstick, especially for the summer, I recommend a pink tone or a mauve color to wake you up. Nothing too dark – especially if you have on a light eye. Something light and bright will appear fresh, awake and summery!
What is one must-have for makeup that you should do for yourself every day?
Well…it is impossible for me to pick just one thing! I guess if I had to choose one thing, it would be lipstick for me personally. I do not leave the house without it on! If I could choose two or three things, I would say eyebrows, mascara and lipstick. Those are the three important makeup necessities to make your face look complete. Eyebrows frame your face, mascara makes your eyes pop even if you have no other eye makeup on, and lipstick makes your face look finished.
What are the most important beauty tips for hot and humid summer days?
Even in the summer heat, I suggest to keep your makeup how you would normally do it, but always wear a sunscreen of at least 50 SPF. If you are sweating or dressed up, carry a paper towel with you to blot. Tissue and toilet paper will leave behind lint, but a paper towel will allow you to dab sweat and still leave your makeup behind. A good setting spray can also help with sweat, but not necessarily with oil. If you are oily, I recommend using blotting papers if you are outdoors. You do not want to keep reapplying powder because then you will start to appear cakey.
Do you have any beauty tips in the time of COVID-19 and face masks?
In 2020, you now have to smile with your eyes when in public! The focus is on the eyes right now more than ever before. Make sure you have mascara on and your eyebrows are filled in. Your eye must be a finished piece now, even if you do nothing else with your face! I also recommend a matte lipstick if you are wearing a face mask so that it’s still there when you remove it. Matte lipsticks are more likely to stay-put, rather than be absorbed into the mask fabric.
Any overnight tips to keep you looking fresh and youthful in the morning?
I recommend to wear an eye patch overnight. If you have any lines on other areas of your face, you can place patches on those too to hydrate the skin while sleeping. A night cream is another option because it is thicker than regular moisturizer, and it is designed to be used only at night without any other products on your face. When the morning comes, always apply moisturizer, but wait 15 minutes to allow the moisturizer to dry before applying your makeup for the day!
Do you have any favorite products right now that you recommend?
Right now, I love the Bliss Mighty Marshmallow Mask. This mask is top-notch for brightening, and you can get it at CVS. In the summer, I don’t recommend too many oils unless you have very dry skin. SPF, however, is huge in the summer. You need an SPF of at least 50 in your moisturizer and in your makeup, and it should be applied to your face and décolletage. Any hair spray that has anti-humidity in them are huge for me in summer as well. I really like the Mario Badescu sprays such as the rose water one. This can be somewhat of a setting spray, and is also really nice to take with you to the pool or elsewhere to cool you off!
Tips on how to be Instagram-ready and capture the best selfies?
To be camera ready, do not use a mineral powder or a shimmer powder for pictures because they have flash back and will not look good on camera. One thing I definitely recommend is investing in a ring light! I always use ring lights when working with my clients because this is the most flattering lighting. You can get reasonably priced ones on Amazon that have various settings and a stand.
What is the most important thing to remember when thinking about beauty and self-confidence?
At the end of the day, makeup and hair is just one component. Each person has their own insecurities, and we try to make them feel better about those. For example, I have helped clients cover cancer radiation scars or thyroid removal scars that they had never seen covered before. If I can do something to help someone feel good about their appearance and boost their confidence, I will, because I love helping others! However, I think it just takes time for us to feel comfortable in our own skin. There will always be someone that is prettier, smarter and funnier than us, but you cannot compare yourself to others! It takes a lot of self-growth and a lot of time, but eventually you just have to be confident and headstrong enough to say to yourself “this is who I am, and I am comfortable with who I am, and it is what it is.” Always remember it is more important to have more inner beauty than outer beauty!
What kind of sleeper are you and how do you wind down at the end of the day?
To wind down at the end of the day, I go for a walk with my fur babies, Lexi, Kiki, Izzy and Zoey, and try to get some quiet time in. My bedroom is my sanctuary. I have high quality comforters and pillows because sleep is one of the most important things to me. I am a person that needs a good 8 to 10 hours each night. Beauty sleep very important! I also integrate essential oils and pillow mists.
About Christa Ponzio, Founder of Total Image Hair & Makeup
Christa is an energetic and fun-spirited makeup and hair expert who founded Total Image 22 years ago. Her 13 years of experience in television makeup gave her a leg up on the competition, and has turned her into one of the most prestigious makeup salons in the Chicagoland area. Ever since she was a young girl, Christa has been obsessed with makeup, and after college she turned her passion into a flourishing business where she could help others look and feel beautiful, too. Total Image does on-location hair and makeup for wedding parties, and they have received glowing reviews from publications such as Today’s Chicago Woman, Skin Inc. and The Knot. One of their awards includes the prestigious award of the Hall of Fame from theknot.com – only one percent of wedding vendors in the country possess this award! Total Image has done the hair and makeup for the cover of Wedding Guide Magazine for over eight years, as well as the Union Station for Moda fashion show for two years, doing the hair and makeup for over 80 models! Christa has achieved her high level of success by valuing customer service, responsibility, and offering a high quality service without the high price tag. You can learn more about Christa and Total Image at http://www.totalimagebridal.com
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