Name: Amber McKinnon
Location: Kansas City, MO
Occupation: Beauty Blogger and Social Media/Blog Developer
EBONY: Can you tell us a bit about your background and what prompted you to start your beauty blog?
Amber McKinnon: I’ve always been obsessed with beauty and makeup artistry, and my background is in the arts (I performed in theatre and music for many years and studied at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University), so I’ve always been drawn to things that are creative. When I decided to take a break and leave NYC, I really needed a creative outlet. I’d long been a fan of beauty blogs and I’m always the one friends and family have come to for beauty advice, so it was a no-brainer.
EBONY: What does your makeup counter look like, and just how many bottles of nail polish do you own?
AM: One most days, like a hurricane hit it! I usually keep the products that are a part of my regular rotation out for easy access, along with any new products that I’m testing out for review on Brown Bombshell Beauty. There’s quite a bit of product, so I’m always looking for the best way to organize everything. I’m almost embarrassed to say how many bottles of nail polish I own—they’re like irresistible, brightly colored candies to me! I haven’t taken stock recently, but I probably have around 300 bottles. Some I have because they are personal favorites, some for review purposes and others because they’re limited edition shades that are like collectors items to us beauty girls.
EBONY: Can you describe your personal style? Who’s style do you admire most?
AM: The whole reason I named my blog Brown Bombshell Beauty is because I’ve always admired the undeniable glamour of brown bombshells like Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Premice and Diahann Carroll. I always try to integrate an element of glamour in everything I wear whether it is statement jewelry, clothing with a dramatic silhouette or a bold lip color. Right now, I most admire the style of Kerry Washington. Her looks are always very glamorous and elegant, but in a very modern, understated way.
EBONY: What is your summer makeup routine?
AM: We’ve had 100+ degree temps everyday here in Kansas City, so I’ve really been keeping my makeup simple. On most days I skip foundation and opt for a tinted moisturizer or concealer instead. Mattifying powder and a pop of blush are essential, and I never leave the house without applying bronzer for a golden glow. I keep the eyes simple and smudge on a bit of shimmery eye shadow in a natural brown-bronze shade and swipe on a couple of coats of mascara. Summer is a great time to play with bright shades, so I’ve given my usual red lip a rest and have been rocking lots of coral and bright pink shades.
EBONY: We recently became enamored with BB creams and see that you recently worked with Smashbox on a promotional video for their BB cream. Can you tell us how this collaboration came about?
AM: BB creams are having a major moment in the US this year but very few of them include shades for deep skin tones. I made a point of reviewing the ones that do on the blog and Smashbox was one of them. They saw the blog post I wrote, liked it and asked if I’d be interested in creating a short promo video for their BB cream. I thought the concept of the video was really cute so I was glad to participate.
EBONY: The occasional beauty splurge is great, but what would you say is your greatest drugstore makeup find to date?
AM: My greatest drugstore find of the last few years is Wet ‘n Wild Color Icon Eye Shadow, hands down. The rich pigments, smooth texture and color payoff are incredibly impressive. I’ve recommended them to girls on a budget and they’re always stunned at how great they are. The best $5 you’ll ever spend at a drugstore!
EBONY: What advice do you have for women of color who may be a little apprehensive to experimenting with different color palettes?
AM: I tell women not to be afraid of makeup because they can always wash it off. Nothing earth-shatteringly bad ever happened to a woman who wore an unflattering color. The key is to experiment because you never know what you’ll end up loving. If you’re a bit hesitant to try a new color, ease yourself into it by trying the color in a sheer formula. That way you can get used to seeing yourself in the shade, but in a much more subtle way. Our gorgeous brown skin tones are the perfect palette for wearing practically every shade under the rainbow, so I say, “go for it.”
EBONY: If you could only have one cosmetic for the rest of your life, what would it be?
AM: That’s a tough one! It’s hard to narrow it down to just one, but I’d have to go with concealer. A good concealer can disguise a multitude of sins, from a blemish to under eye circles after a long night. Even if all my other products were gone and I didn’t have a lick of color on my face, at least my skin would look flawless!
EBONY: If we emptied out your makeup bag, what would we find?
AM: I’m an over-packer by nature, but I really try to keep it to the essential products that will keep me looking polished in a pinch. Inside my makeup bag you’ll find lip balm, golden brown and pinky-nude lip glosses, a couple of matte lipsticks in bright shades, pressed power, blotting papers, hand cream, tissues, breath mints, natural hand sanitizer, compact mirror, cocoa brown lip liner, ponytail holders and hair pins for the box braids I’m currently wearing.
EBONY: What’s your beauty mantra?
AM: Beauty products aren’t about hiding something or trying to be something that you’re not. For me, it’s about enhancing your natural beauty to help a woman look and feel her best.
People often write off beauty products and people who love them as being superficial, but they’re missing the point. I can’t tell you how many women whose makeup I’ve done or recommend a product to, who then have an added bounce in their step because they have an added confidence that they hadn’t anticipated. When you look good, you feel good. Never underestimate the power of a little pampering!