kelly dillon

Kelly Dillon at Pretty Suite Studios

Celebrity makeup artist Keira Karlin has spent over two decades working in the television and film industry and now she is bringing her talent to NJ to help women across the state look and feel their best. Karlin opened Pretty Suite Studios, a beautiful makeup studio, inside Integrative Wellness Advisors Center in Summit just last month.

She offers clients professional make up services for events like weddings or a girls night out, and she also provides application lessons. In addition, Pretty Suite Studios offers hair styling for special events, an in house certified massage therapist, and a personal shopper/stylist. Their Integrative Wellness partners can work on your inner beauty with hormone assessment testing and create a custom supplement system based on your individual needs.

Karlin has quite an extensive background in the industry. She has lent her artistry to television shows such as Boardwalk Empire and Saturday Night Live. Her extensive celebrity client list includes Debra Messing, Lucy Liu, Former President Bill Clinton, Harrison Ford and Kevin Costner.

I stopped by Pretty Suite Studios to have Karlin work her magic on me, and to learn some of her expert tips and tricks.

How long have you been doing makeup for?

I have been doing makeup for TV, film and, special events for 25 years and counting. Its been a dream career and I’m so happy with all the amazing projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on. I always wanted a beautiful studio just for my private clients to experience the same exclusive beauty experience as the celebs, and to have a place to come and feel totally pampered, inside and out. Pretty Suite Studios was created for just that reason.

How did you get into the industry?

I got into the makeup industry by following in the footsteps of my mom. She worked in TV makeup as well, and was always having so much fun that I knew this was a great career and that I would always come home with a good story!

What is the most memorable job you’ve done?

The most memorable job I’ve done is hard to say. Working on Saturday Night Live was a big thrill because I had been a fan since I was 10 years old. But I’d say my best job was working on the show Are We there Yet? with Ice Cube, Terry Crews, and Darrell Hammond. We shot 100 episodes and it took about 16 months. It was very intense, and lots of fun.

Who are some of your favorite celebrity clients to work for?

I loved working with Debra Messing. She’s as gorgeous on the inside as the outside. Bill Clinton has always been an honor to work with. He’s truly brilliant. Also Christopher Reeve was my client for 3 years after his accident. It was extremely challenging work. He was such an inspiration to millions. Being able to work with him and his wife Dana meant the world to me.

What products should every woman should have in her makeup bag?

Products every woman needs to have in her makeup bag are concealer, lip gloss, mascara, and a translucent powder. As the day or night passes your makeup can absorb, smear, and you’ll need to touch up. These items are essential for touch ups. The concealer can touch up circles and spots, the lipstick can actually double as a blush if necessary. Mascara tends to need a pick me up after a bunch of hours. If you’re oily you should carry a translucent powder. My faves are either Makeup For Ever HD or Bare Minerals.

What are your thoughts on contouring and strobing?

Contouring and strobing are all the rage and have been for a long long time. They seem to be more in the limelight now because of one pseudo celebrity who’s name rhymes with Bim Porpashian. What’s most important to remember is NOT to overdo it and to choose the correct colors for your skin tone. For example, if your contour powder or cream is too dark you can look very stripy and if you choose a highlighter that’s too white…well you can look like a disco ball! My advice is to consult with a makeup professional to find the products that work best for you, then you’re good to go!

What are some of your favorite brands?

My favorite brands are Nars, Makeup For Ever and Face Atelier.

What do you use to help makeup last longer?

There are two products that are crucial to keep your makeup on longer. First is primer and last is setting spray. Primer evens out skin texture and creates a smooth layer to apply the rest of your makeup and setting spray does just that…it sets your makeup and helps it to last longer while adding a nice finish. My favorite primers are from Laura Mercier, L’Oreal Miracle Blur, and Tarte. The best setting sprays that I’ve tried are from Face Atelier and Urban Decay.

What are some of your favorite drugstore finds?

L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara, Rimmel Scandalize Liner/Shadow Crayons especially in Bad Girl Bronze, Neutrogena Oil Free Makeup Wipes, and Lash Trios from Kiss.

What is a common mistake women make when applying makeup?

Women tend to make some common mistakes when applying makeup. One is they don’t blend enough. Blending is the golden rule in makeup application. Hard lines and blotches don’t create that flawless look that we strive for. Another mistake is over doing it during the daytime. Very often there isn’t good lighting in which to apply your makeup. Try to find natural light if possible. This will give you the best chance to control the intensity of the application. Finally, take your time and think about what you’re trying to achieve. Less is more lovelies!

Lipstick vs. Gloss? Who wins?

Gloss vs. Lipstick is a very personal thing. It’s really about texture and what feels the best to you. What I can say is that gloss can ride into lip lines and the use of a product like DuWop Reverse Lip Liner is essential to prevent feathering and bleeding.

What is one product every woman should splurge on?

Foundation. This is the number one splurge! A bad foundation can actually bring out flaws in the skin and ruin the rest of the makeup application. Bonus splurge is a good eye lash curler. The brands I prefer are Shu Umera and Japonesque. Everyone should curl their lashes before applying mascara, it opens the eye. A lower quality curler can pinch, crimp, and actually pull lashes out which is never a good thing.

What products did you use to create my look?

I used many different products on you to achieve this polished daytime look. I primed your skin with L’Oreal Miracle Blur, then applied a peachy concealer to hide some darkness under the eye from Graftobian. Then Motives eye shadows and Make Up For Ever eye liner, followed by L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara in carbon black. We filled in your brows with aqua liner from Makeup For Ever, and used Nars Orgasm blush on your cheeks. I contoured your face with the Motives contour palette, which is my absolute go to for contouring. Highlight cream was from Face Atelier as was the foundation that I matched to your skin tone. Finally for lips I used Makeup For Ever lip liner #51 and filled the whole lip and coated them with Nars lip gloss.

pretty-suite-studios-12How amazing do Kelly’s eyes look?!  To book an appointment, visit  For more on Kelly’s beauty picks, log on to

jersey city

Detour: Jersey City by Michele Jacobson

You’re traveling due east towards the Holland Tunnel on a Saturday evening and traffic grinds to a screeching halt. Dinner that sounded tantalizing at 6:30 now seems like a push for 8. The signs for Jersey City at Exit 14 are so familiar that you almost miss them, passing them as you do on your way to New York City time and time again.

Slow down just a minute.

Edge out of traffic at the Columbus Drive exit looming just before Exit 14-C; alternatively you can turn right on Marin Drive just before the tunnel, and weave your way into Downtown Jersey City. Why wait another hour for dinner? Jersey City has got what you’re looking for; you just don’t know it yet.

Divided into a myriad of distinct neighborhoods, Jersey City serves up an array of exceptional restaurants. No chains or franchises here, instead you will find scores of unique eateries, many of them featuring organic and locally-sourced ingredients on the menu.

On the corner of Jersey Avenue and Wayne Street is 30 Acres, once hyped as a Brooklyn transplant but which is now rooted firmly in Jersey City. Eclectic and bold, expect inventive and daring seasonal fare. Seared squid with chili shrimp sauce, anyone? You may have to wait in line. Indeed, 30 Acres received a “Don’t Miss” recommendation from the New York Times.

Razza Pizza Artigianale on Grove Street is scrupulous about sourcing their ingredients locally. To that extent they proudly display their entire food processing model, start to finish, on blackboards throughout the restaurant. (To say my husband and I are addicted to Razza would be an understatement. You can frequently find us at the bar enjoying the house specialty, their incomparable bread and butter, so scrumptious it too has been written up in the Times!).
Taqueria, on the corner of Grove and Grand, serves dishes that are so authentic you will wonder if you ever ate true Mexican food before. A downscale and trendy neighborhood hotspot, Taqueria is no Tex-Mex wannabe, so be prepared for a menu devoid of nachos and flavored margaritas. You won’t miss them.  Orale Mexican Kitchen, on Grove north of Columbus, has imaginative food and a party atmosphere that makes this a regular destination when friends come to visit.

Head west on Newark Avenue for ramen at Union Republic, another restaurant committed to organic and sustainable practices, not to mention a menu with many surprise dishes, such as Nose to Tail Ramen (take a look!).

A slate of recent newcomers have made the downtown restaurant scene even more exciting. The long-awaited Carrino Provisions and sister restaurant Talde Jersery City finally arrived from Park Slope this past winter and settled in on the corner of Erie and Bay Street. Though Talde bills its fare as Asian-American, they use that phrase with a broad stroke. With plates such as Pretzel Pork and Chive dumplings, Crispy Oyster and Bacon Pad Thai and Blue Crab Fried Rice, Talde is likely to blow your mind. Italian more your style? Adjoining is Chef Dale Talde’s Carrino Provisions, a market, coffee bar and cafe, complete with Italian salumeria and fresh pasta that is sure to delight.

New kid on the block, Raval on Newark Avenue, adds to Jersey City’s culinary diversity with their tapas, paella and sangria. It’s a party!

At the southeastern tip of the city lies the quiet nook of Paulus Hook. With stellar views of the New York skyline and Lady Liberty, it’s a special place. Have a drink at Bistro La Source, where the bar has an ex-pat vibe and the food is an amalgamation of Belgian and French. Further east on Morris Street is another neighborhood favorite, Sky Thai, which draws you in with their unique cocktail and food specials that are chalked on the blackboard outside the door.

Satis, a bistro and charcuterie with a European flair, is a walk around the corner on Washington Street. Three seasons of the year this corner of Jersey City takes on a festive atmosphere amidst twinkling lights and friendly faces, with pups lying at their owners’ feet as they dine al fresco (yep, most restaurants are very welcoming to dogs at outside tables and will even serve them…water, that is!).

You can view the Freedom Tower across the Hudson from virtually every vantage point, but especially from Rumi Turkish Grill on the corner of Sussex and Greene Streets. The area feels more like a seaside resort than the second largest city in New Jersey.

Drive west to Jersey City Heights where there has been a resurgence of cafes, bars and restaurants, from coffee to catering. Of note is the profusion of authentic Latin eateries (15 on Central Avenue alone!). Try El Sabroso or Rumba’s Cafe for Caribbean and Cuban food.

In the Journal Square section, on Newark Avenue between Tonnelle Avenue and JFK Boulevard, is a block so crammed with Indian restaurants you will think you have landed in Mumbai. Indeed, the area is known colloquially as “Little Bombay.” If truly authentic Indian food (and atmosphere!) is what you are craving, this is the area to find.

Quite a few Jersey City eateries have been reviewed by the New York Times and The Huffington Post, their writers bucking traffic in the opposite direction just to sample what the “other” side of the Hudson has to offer. What are you waiting for? Instead of a last ditch detour, make Jersey City your next food destination!

jersey city

Michele Jacobson is a Certified Nutritionist, author and food writer for various Edible publications nationwide. A member of the NOFA-New Jersey Public Policy & Advocacy Committee, she lives and works in Jersey City. She lectures on GMOs, how to eat and shop for healthier food in the American marketplace, and on health benefits derived from traditional diets of the world. In addition to her books, her 2 blogs – Nutrition and GMOs – can be found at

Michelle Foti’s Boutique Faves

As you open the door and step inside, you enter a state of euphoria. You kindly dismiss the employee working the floor as you head over to rack one before you glide over to the next, hearts shining in your eyes the entire time. For the shopping experience that makes you feel like Gisele Bündchen cascading down the catwalk, the black belt shopper knows to ditch the mall and head for local Jersey boutiques!

Unlike any franchise store like Forever Twenty-One or H&M, boutiques cater to a particular style. Once you identify the boutique that vibes with your fashionista instincts, it will be a match made in fashion heaven.

Here are some of my favorite Jersey boutiques:

Once Upon A Skirt
850 Route 3
Clifton, NJ

Once Upon A Skirt is the one stop shop for the ultimate Jersey girl! With daring and bold picks lining the racks, this boutique will allow for a fairytale shopping experience. High leg slits, plunging necklines, and open-back garments are just a sneak peek to what they have to offer.

That Little Black Dress
179 Glenridge Ave
Montclair, NJ

“Romantically edgy,” is the mantra of That Little Black Dress. As you may have guessed little black dresses are among the many bold prints and patterns they merchandize. From flare skirts to two piece sets to the palazzo pant ThatLBD is the place to go! And their accessories are fabulous!

Gypsy Warrior
125 East Ridgewood Avenue
Ridgewood, NJ

If your style is fearless and flirty with a dominant edge, you are most definitely a Gypsy Warrior! This trend haven has a dark color scheme and a grunge vibe with looks that are totally feminine. Patterned skirts and shorts, awesome graphic tees, and turquoise jewels…you should probably head over to their location like now!

Island Gypsy
504 Grand Central Ave
Lavallette, NJ

If you’re a gypsy at heart and your heart belongs to the sea, Island Gypsy is your boutique match. An Island Gypsy wardrobe will make you feel like life is a beach and you’re just styling in it. For looks that look effortless, fresh, and nautical shop Island Gypsy!

D. Monaco Designs
640 Arnold Ave
Point Pleasant Beach, NJ

The style compass now points north down the beach to Point Pleasant Beach, it’s D. Monaco Designs. With lasting nautical feels, they showcase softer hues with cutesy and conservative cuts for elegant garments. D. Monaco screams sweet!

Happy shopping, boutique beauties!

boutiqueMichelle Foti is a junior journalism major at Seton Hall University where she is also the Arts and Entertainment Editor of the university newspaper “The Setonian.” Michelle has appeared on SHU’s TV station as a Pirate News anchor and as the host of SHUdent Style Watch, a show she created. She also writes for Seton Hall’s chapter of Her Campus. Michelle is a fashion enthusiast and an aspiring broadcast journalist.

Live Hard, Work Hard, Play Hard.