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An exclusive behind-the-scenes look into Milwaukee’s hidden gem of a studio + event lounge.

Okay, so it’s confession time. About a year and a half ago, I was checking the mail when I noticed a sign just outside our main lobby that read, “Northern Lights Photography Studio + Events”. How cool!! A new photography studio–and in the exact building I live in–of all places!!

The studio is located right next to Screaming Tuna, so to get there from the outside, you just go in though the main lobby and up the stairs, and down the hall. (The hallway walls are reserved for photographers who would like to display their own work!)

I’ve heard and seen great things coming out of this studio on their Instagram, but decided to reach out to see what the space was all about for myself. David Bernacchi, the studio’s booking agent followed up with me the very same day (on a Saturday), and we had a tour set up that very next week.

As David put it, this place feels like a spaceship. With its wireless remote controlled lights, backdrops, and window shades, the state-of-the-art ceiling drop lights and cyclorama walls instantly make this studio a modern photographer’s dream. Even the bathroom is aesthetically gorgeous, encompassing dual-rainfall shower heads.

I was particularly in love with the amazing make up room!! The vanity sets have color temperature adjustable LED lighting. There’s even a clothing steamer and curling & straightening iron holders. They really thought of everything!

Not to mention, a fully furnished kitchen and lounge, surrounded by a gorgeous view of the Milwaukee River make Northern Lights Photo Studio perfect for wedding shoots and all kinds of events.

Robert Popp, the studio owner is an all around awesome guy and studio host. He really goes the extra mile to help photographers feel comfortable in the space and is happy to suggest light set ups for some fantastic results. I loved watching Bob work with Bryan in our test photo shoot last week. I couldn’t believe how many shots we got in such a short amount of time:

Click here for some fun behind-the-scenes out-takes from this shoot!

The part that I think photographers will love the most is how quickly everything can be set up. Simply push the drop lights from the ceiling to where you want them, pull them up or down, and press a button on the remote to select from an array of backdrops, (or use the always freshly painted white Cyclorama wall) and you’re ready to go!

Want to test it out for yourself? Come join us on Thursday, May 2nd any time from 6:00-9:00PM at the Northern Lights Photo Studio Open House & Networking Event. This free event will be an awesome night of test shoots, networking, and collaboration with complimentary refreshments and hors d’oeuvres. You can reserve your free tickets HERE, and check out the Facebook Event HERE.

Can’t wait till then? Book the studio and save 15% off your total booking session when you use promo code: CYNFLUENCE

There’s a million reasons WHY and a million reasons HOW you can #WearRed during the month filled with love! Did you know that February is recognized by the American Heart Association as “Heart Month”? February 1st, (Heart Day) starts the kick off to bring awareness to Cardiovascular Disease, which is the leading cause among women. Now though February 23rd, you can make a donation at your local CVS Pharmacy to help support research to end Heart Disease.

Not to mention, February is Filled with events! For me, February is quickly filling up with fashion & blogger events, band gigs, agency shoots, and of course…Valentine’s Day.

If you’re not so keen on rocking the red in your typical daily life, now is the time to do it! Here are my favorite ways to pop the red:

Red Purses

I firmly believe that red looks fantastic on every woman.

Red Purses

Let red be your wardrobe pop of color this month! A bright red bag is a quick way to brighten up your wardrobe without even having to think about it.

I can fit 2 pairs of heels in this bag

You won’t believe the price of this bag.
And, it comes in 3 other colors!
Yes…I’m a sucker for Kate Spade
THAT BOW THOUGH

Red Shoes

These have a cheetah print bottom!!
And they’re completely my favorite…
These are practically pairable in every way
What if I told you these are only $15?

Red Blazers & Jackets

Love the gold buttons on this one!
This one is available in regular and petite
This one is so fluffy!

Red Dresses!

This red sweater dress is literally perfection.
This one is so classic! I love the subtle shine.
Make no apologies in this sheer goddess gown

Red Lip

Red Velvet Lime Crime

Lime Crime liquid lip color is my absolute favorite lip collection. I may not have close to every color…

It lasts SO long and it doesn’t move! Not to mention, the colors are extremely vivid, and stay bold for hours! If you’re looking for the perfect red lip, I highly recommend Red Velvet.

Want to jump in on the fun? Click here for upcoming events in Milwaukee, and here for the full show line up of my band, Down 2 Dance.

Shoutout to Omniverse Media for these awesome studio shots!

Could your skin care routine use a little VAMP? Not to worry, We’re going to break down what can become an overly complicated process into a simple regimen that ANYONE can follow. I am straight up writing this blog for all of you who are too busy killen’ it and don’t have time to have a fancy, over-the-top skincare routine.

Skin care is SO IMPORTANT…not just because you will want a flawless camera completion, but to also prevent and minimize long term damage from UV exposure and aging. Plus, all of the skin care products I’ll be linking will each be around or under $10. YAAAS.

Daily skin care should be simple & inexpensive! Let’s get into it:

Morning:

1. Cleanse

Having a daily cleanser for your skin type is important! This is a product you use multiple times a day, so you will want to get one that is made for your skin type (Oily, Dry, or Combination). If you have sensitive skin, you will want to opt for a cleanser that is gentle and does not contain a high amount of alcohol, sulfates, or parabens, which will dry out and irritate the skin.

This oil-free Neutragena cleanser is perfect for sensitive skin that gets oily from time to time. If you tend to fall more on the dry-skin side of the spectrum, you would probably benefit from Neutragena’s hydrating gel cleanser with hylauronic acid (vitamin C) for locking in moisture & adding softness. Fighting acne? No worries. Neutragena’s oil-free, micro clear wash will help you cleanse and treat acne on a gentle, every day basis. For under $5, you couldn’t ask for a better product!

2. Toner/Astringent

Combo to oily skin people will benefit from a toner that will absorb access moisture in the “mask” part of the face. (Forehead, nose, cheeks). If your skin gets pretty oily, you will definitely want to try out Neutragena’s oil-eliminating toner. Combination skin would benefit most from a toner that contains zero alcohol, but will still minimize oil from emerging mid-day. This hypoallergenic, alcohol free toner is perfect for sensitive and combination skin.

3. Moisturizer 

There’s a reason we don’t use regular body lotion on our faces. Our faces contain lighter, thinner skin that is more sensitive and prone to damage than the rest of the skin on our body. Most skin types will benefit from this oil free, light weight moisturizer for sensitive skin, which can be used morning and night. This moisturizer is perfect for men, as it relieves razor irritation, contains SPF and provides extra hydration for dry skin. Want to fight the sun in addition to locking in moisture? Good idea! This moisturizer, specially formatted to even out dark spots and imperfections contains SPF 30 in addition to hypoallergenic properties for sensitive or damaged skin.

Night:

1. Make up remover

We all know taking make up off at the end of the day is an absolute MUST. What’s equally important?

Taking off the make up remover.

Make up removers contain chemicals to help break down make up particles. When left on the skin, they can cause dryness and irritation. Doing this repeatedly will lead to excessive dryness and hyper-pigmentation of the skin! Take your make up--and make up remover off!

Neutragena make up wipes are super convenient and easy to use, especially if you are traveling. (They also make oil based make up remover which works just as well.) Some people prefer to use coconut oil or coco butter, which works too!

2. Cleanse

Yeap, you can definitely use the same cleanser that you use in the morning or after a work out. No need to over complicate things. Never harshly rub. Use circular motions with the tips of your fingers over your face and forehead. Be very gentle around your eyes.

3. Moisturizer: Night time edition

While there’s really no harm in using your daily moisturizer once again at night, while you sleep, your skin rebuilds and sheds dead skin cells. I always recommend using a night time moisturizer that contains retinol. Retinol, (especially when combined with vitamin C) works extremely well to boost collagen regeneration. While retinol can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, it is perfect to use while you sleep. You can return to your daily moisturizer (that hopefully contains SPF!!) again during the day.

4. Eye Creams/serums

If you are using any specialty serums (anti wrinkle, tightening, or eye serums) now is the perfect time to apply them. They only “serum” I currently use is my eye gel. The skin around our eyes is the most sensitive skin we have on our faces. I like to use this tightening eye cream packed with nutrients like vitamin A & B to fight fine lines.

5. Zits:

Got a nasty zit that you want gone or drastically minimized come morning? My secret to fighting volcanic zits is my Mario Bedescu drying lotion. It’s pink and smells like sulfer, which is why I often refer to it as my “satan salt.” But trust me, it will smite your zit overnight. Hazahh.⚡️

Okay, this is the only item on the list that is a little over $10, but it’s totally worth it because IT WORKS.

Do not shake the formula–the pink mineral composite is supposed to settle at the bottom. Take a cotton swab and dip it into the thick, pink sediment and blot a small amount on top of the zit.

Don’t forget–there are several important skin care steps that need to be done once a week. Read the next blog, “Do These 4 Things Once a Week and Your Skin Will Love You Forever”

Wanna stay up to date with all the latest details? Sign up for the newsletter and I’ll brighten up your mundane and boring inbox🔥

Want to glow through the winter without all the UV radiation from tanning beds? You don’t have to let go of the glow just because winter says so.

Okay, my lame poetry has officially gone too far.😅

ANYWAY…

Skip the dose of cancer and add  a simple self tanner to your skin care regimen. I’ve put together a step by step guide to make sunless tanning super simple:

Exfoliate

First thing’s first. Let’s get rid of all the dead skin cells. This step is key to helping the tan last as long as possible. I like to use this Shea Moisture sugar scrub for full body exfoliation. It smells wonderful, and is gentle enough to be used multiple times a week. I also love the fact that it contains no parabens, sulfates, or synthetic fragrances. With aloe and imbe oil, these nourishing properties will make you want to exfoliate every day.

Moisturize Joints

I like to use a thick coco butter for those spots that self tanner likes to absorb to the most: kuckles, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, and the top of your feet/ toes. If you plan on applying it to your face, be sure to get your nose and chin. Make sure to apply an even layer to these spots. For the rest of the body, spray a light cucumber aloe spray instead of doing a full body lotion. (This will prep your skin without placing a thick barrier between the skin and the tanning agent, allowing more tanner to be absorbed into the skin.)

Tip: Shave the night before applying the tanner. If you apply the tanner to freshly shaved skin, you run the risk of the tanner sinking into your pores and unevenly staining your skin for weeks. It probably won’t happen with this particular brand (I actually tested it, and nothing happened) however it has happened to me before with other types of self tanners. (Skin staining is more likely to happen with a lotion based tanner, which is nothing like the one I’m about to show you:)

Use the Best Foaming Self Tanner

St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse is hands down the best self tanner I’ve ever used…and trust me, I’ve used a lot of them. The faux tan looks SO FREAKING NATURAL, and it fades evenly just like a natural tan would. So many other tanners have left my skin feeling dry and tired, but not this one. It’s a very light, foam product that evenly coats the skin in a sun kissed glow. St. Tropez is super quick to apply and simple to maintain.

This  streak-free, foam formula blends so effortlessly. What I especially love about this formula is that it doesn’t have a strong or really potent scent, especially in comparison to many of the other brands out there. To be honest I weirdly like the scent of this one, and being that it is self tanner…that certainly says a lot!

Pull your hair back

Do this now so that you won’t have to do it when you’re half way through applying the tanner and you realized you forgot to. A High pony or bun is perfect so that it is up and off of your shoulders/neck. You will definitely want to wear a headband or sweatband if you plan on applying the product to your face. (I always do, it makes the tan look much more natural and consistent.)

Prep the Mit & Apply

St. Tropez comes with this little sponge-mit. USE IT. DO NOT USE YOUR HANDS.

Make sure that your sponge-mit is pre wetted. Then, apply a ping pong ball sized amount directly to the mit. Gently start rubbing the formula in small circular motions to the opposite side of your body that you are wearing the mit on . (With the mit on my right hand, I will focus on the entire left side of my body up to the top of my shoulders.) The circular motions will blend out any streaks or lines. The non streak foam formula is fantastic, so you really won’t have a problem with streaks as long as you blend well.

Applying to the Face

Apply a quarter sized amount to the top of the mit and blend in mini circles while avoiding the lips and eyes. Since your hair is pulled back in the headband, it will be easy to blend the product onto your forehead. Be sure to blend slightly up into your hairline. If you don’t…when the product dries you will look like you’re wearing a face mask.

Unfortunately I know this from personal experience. 😑

Drying

I usually do my weekly self tanner on a Saturday or Sunday in the morning. I don’t like to do it before bed because it can rub off on bed sheets. Pick a morning when you know you won’t have to be anywhere for at least 2 hours following the application. That way, you can chill in full nude around your house in peace.

Mid-Week Facial Application

We cleanse our faces multiple times a day, so the color fades from the face the fastest. (Read Picture Perfect Facial Skin Care to up your skincare game!) You will want to do a quick facial application mid week. Since you only need to apply the product to your face, you do not have to wait too long for it to dry. (It dries pretty quickly anyway, especially when only applied to the face.)

Tip: Take care of the mit!! After you are finished applying St. Tropez, rinse out the mit with hot soapy water in the sink. I always let the mit dry off the side of the bathtub.

While you will see an immediate difference, the color will take another 10 hours to fully develop.

Be Wise: Moisturize.

Ba dum, TSS. Okay really though: make sure you are using a fantastic moisturizer to keep that color lasting as long as possible. If you let your skin dry out, the color will fade faster. I recommend using a shea or coco butter both morning and night. (I use the same one that I apply to my knees/elbows etc. before applying the tanner.) This Hawaiian shea butter is perfect because it compliments the scent of the tanner really nicely, and is super hydrating.

 

Find this article helpful? Have a question, or just want to share a funny story? Leave it below in the comments section–I’d love to hear it!

⭐️Cynthia

WORD IS OUT. We are gearing up for Milwaukee’s  GATSBY PARTY OF THE YEAR presented by The Iron Horse Hotel. And yes, we certainly #giveaglam when it comes to embracing the risque fashions of the most flapper and dapper era of the past century.

The 10th annual event will feature some of the finest era inspired cocktails, vintage remixed beats by DJ Paul H, with a costume contest and plenty or risky business. Click here to get the full skinny on the what’s its and the who’s its.

My all time favorite place to shop  my go to stage looks is Akira. Whether I’m singing with Down 2 Dance or looking for corporate classics with a twist, Akira has the most unique, boutique-style collection of the fringiest, flashiest styles. I didn’t think twice about where I was going to find the perfect Gatsby glam. And–with their amazing staff of stylists–all of my impulsive decisions were validated by experts who are way too good at their jobs. When you walk into Akira, your fashion mission becomes their fashion mission. Special shoutout to Cassie, the Brookfield Akira Store Manager, who helped me find the perfect look!!

Misbehave in the perfect dress

Let’s go over the four main fashion components of the roaring twenties:

  • Sequins & Sparkle
  • Fringe
  • Lace
  • Feathers

Whether you choose to rock just one element or all of them at once, this is the twenties. They were #extra before it was even a hashtag, so you have full permission to be full out “togged to the bricks”. Click here for the go-to page of Akira Gatsby Glam dresses!!

Nifty Kicks

A timeless mary jane heel, classic oxfords, or a sassy pump would do the trick. OR…you can leave it to Akira to modernize these signature styles with a twist. The best part? They’re all currently HALF OFF:

$15

Under $25

Under $25

Under $25

Under $25

Under $25

$15!!

Okay, and then there is this one pair in particular that left us totally speechless.

Yo wassup I’m only $50

Look at me and all my fringworthiness

Bee’s knees accessories

A cascading choker necklace and dramatic water-fall earring combo adds the perfect touch of drama to a sultry silk mini dress.

Under $15



What’s your favorite era of fashion? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!!