When the Battle of the Brushes channels Candy Land, the competition gets sweet

Pour some sugar on me: Jennifer Howard turned to the candy shop to transform model Noelle Naone.
Photo: Joe Pic

These chicks looked good enough to devour. Actually, you almost could. Blush’s semi-annual Battle of the Brushes—with its Walking in a Winter Candy Land theme—had the glitter and sugar flying on December 16.

Judging the Rain Cosmetics-sponsored event were Miss Nevada USA 2011 Sarah Chapman, the hottest thing on the sidelines—sports broadcaster Molly Sullivan—and … me. Go figure.

Battle of the Brushes @ Blush

Contestants Cole Rispoli of the Salon at the Wynn, Jennifer Howard with Encore’s salon and Sammie Taylor of Rio Spa and Salon were given one hour to use models’ faces as their canvases while clubbers looked on. “How much prep work did you do in advance on costume, body makeup and hair?” I shouted over the music. “Did you have help?”

As someone who once spent four hours getting body-painted from head to toe by a team of three artists, I wanted to make sure these folks were playing fair and flying solo for this contest. Indeed they said they were. Oh yes, I take my judging duties seriously. This is a battle after all.

Finding inspiration in a pastel-swirled lollipop, Rispoli transformed model Heather May into a wispy dream, complete with cotton-candy-like wig, masking tape stenciled lines and light-up tutu. Taylor went the festive holiday peppermint route as model Michelle Hernandez was a vision of red and white with ruby rhinestone lips. It was a close call between the two.

But ultimately it was Howard who most impressed the judges, earning high creativity points. The Encore artist not only made over model Noelle Naone with a look channeling Candy Land’s Princess Lolly, but used actual candy as her medium in lieu of just makeup. Howard explained she was thinking of what the princess of a candy-filled world would have readily available for cosmetics. Cream eye shadow? Not so much. Instead, Howard adhered Candy Buttons along Naone’s lash line, mixed colored sour sugar for eye shadow and topped it off with edible accessories. (Howard also seemed to be having the most fun, rocking out to the music and eating the leftover candy in the process.)

Though the competition was super-close and each artist excelled in different categories—which included technique, theme adherence and overall appearance—the first place trophy and $400 in Rain cosmetics went to Howard’s candy cosmetic creativity. All in all, it was a pretty sweet night.

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