Why Choose Allison Barbera Beauty?

You’re getting married? Congratulations! It’s such an exciting time, and I really hope you get to enjoy planning your big day.

If you are looking for hair and/or makeup services in Rhode Island, Massachusetts or Connecticut, we would love to work with you! (We also go outside of those areas whenever possible.) You may have already started looking for a hair stylist and/or makeup artist for your wedding day services and found that there are a lot of companies to choose from. Chances are this is your first time planning a wedding, so all of the choices–for one vendor alone!–can be overwhelming. Please allow me to put forth a compelling case for why you should choose Allison Barbera Beauty.

Before I get into my reasoning, I want to make it very clear that this post is in no way intended to insult any other companies, or imply that they are doing things wrong. I don’t know the inner workings of other companies or what their numbers are, and that is not my concern. I have had zero issues with beauty industry pros, and you won’t see me hinting at anything negative on social media or a public forum. It’s not my style, and it never will be. I have seen and worked alongside some talented artists and stylists, I won’t deny it. But this post is not about them. This post is about Allison Barbera Beauty, and why you should choose us for your wedding day hair and makeup services. There is no disrespect or snarkyness intended.

If we had a mission statement–and shit, maybe we should–it would say “Allison Barbera Beauty strives to make every bridal hair and makeup service as professional, seamless, and beautiful as it can be. We put our clients first and do everything we can to make sure each person has an exceptional experience, both on the wedding day and during the time leading up to it. “

As the owner of the company, I personally handle all client communication. Every phone call, every email, every text is answered by me. I create the invoices, the schedules, and handle the complete booking process. I coordinate the trials and work with your other vendors as needed. Even though you might have one or more talented people from Allison Barbera Beauty on your wedding day, all of the communication is filtered through me, so it is one stop shopping.

Am I qualified to do this? Do I know how to run a business? I can answer that without hesitation: Yes! I have been working in small businesses since I was 15 years old. My first business card–my 16th birthday present–said “Allison Barbera, Administrative Assistant.” I opened my father’s Massachusetts real estate company with him, then went on to be an Office Manager at two small companies in Florida and one in Rhode Island. In college, I majored in American Studies (basically Liberal Arts) with a concentration in Business. If you have any doubt about my love for small businesses, please know that my favorite make-believe game as a child was “Small Business Owner.”

So what does that have to do with your wedding? A lot. Wedding hair and makeup services, especially when done onsite, require a ton of organization. We don’t just show up the day of the wedding, saying “Okay, we’re ready. Nice to meet you. Now who is first?” From your initial contact, which I always answer the same day (typically within hours, often minutes) until after I have followed up post-wedding, you will experience nothing but professionalism from me. You won’t have to worry about your contract being received with no confirmation. Your invoice will be done well ahead of time, and your services will be scheduled so your Maid of Honor–who flies by the seat of her pants–knows when to show up. There are no surprises with Allison Barbera Beauty. No hidden charges, no undisclosed policies. You will get all information up front, in writing, and can ask me as many questions as you want at any time during the process.

Any questions you have during the process, from “Can my mother bring her own favorite lipstick?” (Sure!) to “It’s two days before my wedding and I have a zit–what should I do?” (Salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide spot treatment and don’t pick!) will be answered quickly and clearly. I know that you have 8 million things on your plate. Allison Barbera Beauty is not going to be the vendor who makes you wait several days for an answer, especially knowing that it likely impacts other things. I realize that many brides are planning their weddings during lunch breaks and precious free time on weekends, so unless I am with a client or on set, I get right back to you. This is my full-time job, I don’t take days off, my phone is always on me, and I work stupid hours so that you can get the answers you need without delay (or limited delay, anyway).

I’m not tooting my own horn here. I have simply benefited from many years of working in small businesses, and having a wealth of knowledge (via my entrepreneurial and administrative family) at my fingertips. This business savvy is, I believe, a big part of what separates Allison Barbera Beauty from the crowd. I am also a licensed Esthetician and have had a makeup addiction since childhood. I love doing makeup and learning everything I can about it, from the history of eyeliner to the current runway trends.

The other major factor that we have on our side at Allison Barbera Beauty is the talented, professional and creative makeup artists and hair stylists who make up our wedding team. Every single one of them has blown me away with hair and/or makeup looks they have created, and I could not be happier to have them on the AB Beauty team. They love what they do, and it shows. The are not factory hair stylists and makeup artists, pumping out wedding updos and makeup services in 15 minutes. They are genuinely interested in talking to each client and creating the look they want. We have no singular Allison Barbera Beauty look, because we take each person’s face, hair and preferences into consideration. If you see a portfolio for a company and every single bride or bridesmaid has, for example, shimmery eyeshadow, glossy pink lips, and a messy side updo, that might tell you that that is all those artists and stylists know how (or want) to do.

Because I take care of the business side, my artists and stylists are able to completely focus on your hair and/or makeup. They are constantly learning new techniques through classes they take, salons they work at, and photoshoots they do. (I do the same, just with some business seminars thrown in too!) They are professional and fun to work with. Walk into an Allison Barbera Beauty wedding while hair and makeup is being done and you will hear lots of animated conversations and laughter. But never former-bride-bashing or gossip. I made sure that each artist and stylist I hired was not into the gossip thing that is unfortunately pretty prevalent in the beauty industry. Everyone on my team genuinely likes each other, and we work together seamlessly.

As an Allison Barbera Beauty bride, you can sleep well (no wedding day nightmares!) knowing that I will be there to guide you from start to finish. I have been involved in several hundred weddings in my 6+ years in business, and I know how to make this an experience that will be easy, clear and will exceed your expectations. There really is no substitute for experience. Between weddings, films, photoshoots, television and corporate jobs, I have applied makeup to over 1,000 faces. I have encountered every skin type, color, issue, eye shape, brow color, etc. I have learned so much in the past 6+ years and as an Allison Barbera Beauty bride, you will benefit from my experience and knowledge.

I love what I do (both the business side and the makeup side), and I hope that comes across. This is my dream job, and I am incredibly happy that so many brides have chosen to work with us over the years. I hope you will too.

If you need more proof, check out our reviews on WeddingWire.com, TheKnot.com and on our Allison Barbera Beauty Weddings Facebook page (sorry, it’s not letting me link). I also have a list of past brides who volunteered to be references, so I am happy to put you in touch with them too.

I can be contacted at AllisonBarbera@AllisonBarbera.com and at 774.696.4546. Our website is http://www.AllisonBarbera.com

Please Baby, Give Me a Second Chance!

Oh come on, we’ve heard it before. They made a mistake, they’re sorry, they’ll change. Just give them another shot! I say hold onto your dignity, woman, and cut it off. Unless we are talking about makeup. In that case, you’re talking to a total softie here.

I feel that it’s my duty as a makeup artist to be honest with you about beauty products and techniques. And the truth is that there are some makeup colors that are not going to flatter you. Luckily, there are a ton that will! But some of the colors that you think don’t work on you actually do, so allowing a do-over is worth it in this case.

Chances are that at some point in your life, you have bought or have been given a lipstick, eyeshadow, blush or eyeliner that at best, does nothing for you and at worst, looks like crap. But before you toss it, please read this post. They are some factors you may not have taken into consideration which can turn a product you don’t like into a product you love. I’m sure you have given second chances to people you’ve dated, so you can at least extend the same courtesy to a product that has never stood you up or sent you confusing texts.

Because my life is almost entirely composed of lists, that’s my tried and true blog format. So here.we.go. Before writing off a product, have you…

Tried it with a top in a different color? The clothing color that is closest to your face strongly impacts how your makeup looks. Don’t believe me? Try on a black shirt, then apply your favorite lipstick. Then try on a white shirt. One of those shirts looks better with that lipstick–don’t lie to me. This has a lot to do with your overall coloring, including hair color. I have long, almost black hair (with blue at the ends), fair skin, brown/sometimes hazel eyes and dark eyebrows. When I wear a black shirt and dark lipstick, I usually look like Morticia Adams. But if I change to a lighter colored shirt, all is good in my world.

Tried it with jewelry? If you apply a lipstick, blush, eyeliner or eyeshadow and it looks more blah than good or bad, put on whatever jewelry you are going to wear. A pair of earrings or a necklace can tie everything together.

Tried it with your glasses on or off? If you wear glasses, you will find that some makeup looks better with or without them. When I wear my glasses, my contour powder or bronzer really stands out, and certain red lipsticks look only okay when I have my contacts in but awesome when I have my glasses on. The color of glasses frames adds another color component to the face, so it does impact how the rest of the makeup looks.

Tried switching your hair? If you do your makeup and it doesn’t seem to be working for you, try changing your hair style. If it’s up, take it down. If it’s down, put it up. I’ve found that especially with lipstick and bright or intense eyeshadows, hair styles really make a difference.

Tried changing the texture of the product? If you try on a matte lipstick and don’t like it, it may be the matte part, not the color, that you don’t like. Add some gloss or lip balm and re-evaluate your feelings.

Tried it in combination with other products? Many colors will only look good if the rest of the makeup works with that color. For example, if you tried a purple eyeshadow and a pink lipstick, it may be too made up or Barbie-ish for you. But try that same eyeshadow with a nude lip, and you’re will probably feel differently.

Tried using it for something other than what it is intended for? That lipstick color that you don’t love can become your new favorite cream blush. That eyeshadow that you found to be too intense when used all over your lid could be just what you are looking for in an eyeliner. That bronzer that was a little too sparkly for you? That might be your go-to summer eyeshadow. Be a rebel and break the “rules” created by the marketing department for those products.

Finding the right makeup looks for you is all about playing around. There are several factors that influence how a color looks, so try to take all of them into consideration before giving up on a product. You owe it to yourself and your relationship with your makeup bag.

Here’s Why You Are Totally Normal

I’ve noticed that many women develop complexes over physical things that are actually very common. Sitting in a makeup artist’s chair seems to bring out this need to apologize for imagined physical defects. Honest to God, I usually do not even notice these perceived flaws until a client points them out. And when I do, I never even think they are bad. That’s real talk, not ass-kissing talk.

Listen, we all have our imperfections. And not to sound cliche, but I think they make a face more interesting and human. Of course it drives many of us nuts when it’s on our own face, but have you ever truly not wanted to talk to someone or associate with them because of a crooked smile or uneven eyebrows? If you answered yes, you’re an asshole. Get off my blog.

I know how it feels to look at something on your face and hear your brain whisper “Is that normal?,” so let me help you out. Below is a list of things that are totally normal. (I may have forgotten some, so I apologize in advance.) I’ve also included a makeup “fix,” if any of these totally normal things bother you. I don’t think you have to fix anything, but several people have asked me how, and when I get repeat questions, I take it as a sign to post a blog to address them.

1) “My eyes are different!” Don’t worry, this is very common. Our faces are not symmetrical, so having one eye that is bigger, rounder, longer, etc. is completely normal. You may come across the asymmetry when you’re doing an eyeliner flick. You do it on one eye and it is perfection, but on the other eye, the flick looks more straight out than flicked or it seems to be pointing downward. Not your fault. It’s just bone structure, and pretty much everyone who attempts an eyeliner flick encounters the same frustration. Makeup Fix: If the eyeliner flick is driving you crazy, try doing what my MUA friend Jennie Kay Plumb suggested to me years ago–start with the eye that you have more trouble with. For some reason, it is easier to make the liner match when you do this. If one eye is longer than the other, pull your eyeliner out a little bit further on the top lashline on that eye, which extends the look of the eye. If one eye is bigger, apply eyeliner at the top lashline on both eyes, but make it a little thinner on the bigger eye.

2) “My neck is lighter than my face!” Many people have lighter skin on their neck than on their face, and being one of these people, I can assure you it’s not because we only wear turtlenecks. Because our jaws shade our necks, we get less sun there. Also, many people have pigmentation, roseacea or uneven skintone on their face, but their neck doesn’t have any of that. So the contrast between the two can make the neck appear lighter, when in reality, the face would be the same shade if there was no pigmentation, roseacea or uneven skintone. Makeup Fix: Simply bring your foundation/tinted moisturizer/BB cream down onto your neck, blending well. And if you use a gradual tan face product, make sure to apply it to your neck too.

3) “My lips are uneven!” Again, symmetry. You may find that your top lip is a lot bigger or smaller than your bottom lip, or one side of your lip is lower than the other. This is very likely one of those things that only you will notice, but if you are someone who regularly wears lipliner or dark or bright lipstick, it may be something that bothers you. Makeup Fix: Use a lipliner that matches the lipstick you are going to use and correct your lipline so that your lips are even. Use that same liner to fill in your lips, then apply lipstick over that.

4) “My eyelashes grow straight out!” Due to genetics, some people’s eyelashes grow out straight rather than curled upwards. This can happen regardless of lash length. Makeup Fix: An eyelash curler will instantly solve the problem. It takes a little practice, but once you get used to it, you’ll probably love the effect. If your lashes don’t stay curled for long, you can blast your curler with hot air from your hair dryer for about 15 seconds before curling. The heat helps mold the lashes into a curl.

5) “My eyebrows are different!” Like they say, eyebrows are sisters, not twins. One may be longer or thicker than the other, or may have a higher arch. This is just another symmetry thing, in combination with genetics, which can make hair thicker on one side. Makeup Fix: Your best bet is to first get a professional brow shaping. Ten bucks says you like one brow more than the other, so tell your esthetician/threader/brow shaper which brow is your star pupil so that he or she can shape the other brow to match. You can also thicken or extend a thinner or shorter brow with brow powder or pencil.

6) “My eyebrows have a bald spot!” Probably half of the clients I work on have a patchy area on their brows, usually at the front (close to the nose). Especially if you consistently over-tweezed this area at one point (hello, freshmen year of high school!), you’ll probably find that the hair doesn’t grow there anymore. Makeup Fix: An angled brush + some brow powder/pencil. Super easy fix.

7) “My skin  is dry and oily!” That’s called combination skin, boo, and it’s very common. People with combo skin often have an oily forehead, nose and/or chin, but the rest of their face is dry. Makeup Fix: You have to first address skincare. I recommend using an oil cleanser, because it works for both dry and oily skin. It’s not a bad idea to have two moisturizers–one for oily skin and one for dry–and use on the corresponding areas. As far as face makeup, use a mattifying product or pore minimizer on the oily areas. I recommend a liquid foundation over a powder, since powder can catch on dry spots. Just use a setting powder on the oily areas.

8) “My cheeks/nose/cheeks are red!” Redness can be caused by roseacea, sensitivity or genetics. The sun, alcohol and spicy foods can further aggravate the skin and worsen the redness. Makeup Fix: A green color corrector will be your new best friend. Apply a thin layer to the red areas and blend well. Apply your foundation/tinted moisturizer/BB cream over that.

9) “My pores are huge!” Contrary to what you may have heard, you can’t actually shrink your pores. You are born with your pore size, just like you are born with your father’s laugh or your mother’s aversion to people who chew loudly. When you have blackheads or clogged pores, they do expand as they fill with junk (yes, that is the scientific explanation) and they shrink back to normal size when they  are clean. But there is no such thing as shrinking them any less than that. Stop trying to make your pores diet–it’s not going to work. Makeup Fix: A pore minimizer (my favorite is POREfessional by Benefit) fills in and kind of blurs the appearance of pores while mattifying the skin. Applying a primer has the same effect. Using both (pore minimizer first) seems to be the best route.

So that’s it. Those are the most common complaints I hear as a makeup artist. If you have one of these tiny and totally normal imperfections and they don’t bother you, then go on with yo’ bad self! But if any of these things bother you, hopefully these tips helped. I don’t think we should all look the same way–how boring would that be?–but I’m all for dispensing beauty knowledge if it’s going to help someone feel a little more confident or comfortable with how they look.

Make a Wish!


You did that thing with dandelions when you were a kid, right? Snatch one out of the ground, make a wish and blow on it. Nature’s birthday candle or some shit. I don’t remember any of those wishes coming true, but as an adult, I’ve found a dandelion that actually does something. It’s Benefit’s Dandelion cheek color, and I love it.

Benefit calls it a pressed highlighting powder, but I mainly use it as a blush because I am a rebel. It’s a gorgeous pale pink with a little bit of shimmer. It’s not bright, but not so light that it doesn’t show up. I find it to be really flattering on light and light-medium skin tones as a blush, and on medium skin as a subtle highlighter. It’s not the best color for dark skin, unless you only want a very, very subtle highlight.

I also think it is great for light skin with pink undertones and for people with rosacea on their cheeks. A bright pink blush on someone with pink undertones or rosacea can emphasize the pink/red tones, but Dandelion doesn’t have that effect because it is such a soft pink. Because it is meant to be a highlighter, it is subtle, so it’s also a good choice for someone who is wary about cheek color or likes a very natural look.

My only gripe with the product is that it fades more quickly than other powder cheek colors, but that’s nothing a little touchup can’t fix. And I have noticed a big difference with Dandelion’s staying power when I use a primer under my foundation and a setting spray on top. When I do that, I really don’t even need to touch up.

Benefit makes several boxed blushes/highlighters/bronzers, and I have liked all of them that I have tried. They used to have covers that completely came off, but now the covers are attached, which I like. I am prone to losing caps and covers, and if you are too (or if you like to have your blush with you for touchups), the cover is a good feature. All of the boxed products come with small square brushes, which I don’t recommend using, unless you are really in a pinch. The line of bristles is thin and the handle is short, so it’s easy to end up with a line of product on your face. You’re better off using a fluffy brush or contour brush, depending on what you product you are using and what effect you are going for.

The packing is cute and fits the image of the product, which is something Benefit excels at. There are many lines that have the same packaging for all of their products, but Benefit tends to customize the packaging for each product. If you like to use products that look good on your skin and are pretty to look at, this is a great line to check out.

Dandelion is $28 and can be purchased at Sephora. The product would probably last for 8-12 months, depending on how often you use it. If your wish is for a subtle, soft pink cheek color, give Dandelion a try.




Look Breakdown


Foundation: Sheer coverage. Concealer under eyes and where needed.
Powder: Matte powder minimally where needed.
Highlighter: Yes, on browbone.
Contour/Bronzer: Bronzer at hairline and tops of cheekbones.
Cheek Color: Small amount of a rosy color, possibly with some shimmer. I would use a cream blush for this look.
Eyebrows: Filled in with brow powder. The ends were extended to elongate the brow. Front of brows slightly brushed upwards.
Eye Makeup: Copper shadow on lids, cocoa shadow in crease, color a few shades lighter than skin on browbone (see “Highlighter”). Lighter/goldish color in inner corners and at lower lashline. Thick black pencil liner at top lashline, smudged out and layered with black eyeshadow. Liner is extended out past corners of eyes, but not flicked upwards (although it’s hard to tell considering the angle of her head in this photo).  Thin black pencil liner at bottom lashline, smudged into the shadow. Black pencil liner on top and bottom waterline.
Mascara: Yes, top and bottom. Heavy on bottom lashes.
False Lashes: Yes, strip lashes on top, or at least on outer corners.
Lipliner: Most likely, same color as the lipstick. It is softened around the edges.
Lipcolor: A matte purplish pink lipstick. Looks like Candy Yum Yum from MAC.

That’s Messed Up

little-miss-messy-300x300Barbie. Martha Stewart decor. Roses for Valentine’s Day. Perfect is a bit boring, isn’t it? When it comes to makeup, I personally like a look that is a little undone. Not the whole look, because that easily becomes The Girl Who Had Too Much Tequila When She Saw Her Ex makeup. But some elements of messy-ness, I think, make it interesting and more modern. If the word “messy” bothers you, substitute it with “imperfect.” But I’m going with Messy. I’ll even capitalize it to make it more legit.

I want to clarify that there is a time and place for Messy makeup. I don’t do this style for wedding clients, because polished makeup usually goes better with wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses. I would never do it for any type of corporate or commercial job, or for film (unless that was part of the character’s look). But it’s a look that can work for day or night, depending on your outfit, the occasion and your confidence level. So much of makeup is about wearing your look with confidence. Please know that. Breathe it in, say it as a mantra, tattoo it on your wrist, whatever you prefer.  You can wear Messy makeup…or a red lip..or an orange eyeshadow. Just figure out the right product(s) and application for you, and rock it proudly.

Back to the Messy thing. In my book–and again, I am not referring to the aforementioned situations that Messy may not work for–there are certain products and applications that work, and certain that don’t. Here’s my guide to getting messed up, makeup-wise.

Can I Wear…

Messy Lipstick? Yes, yes, 1,000 times yes. My new favorite way to wear my MAC Lady Danger (orange red) lipstick is to half-ass apply it to my lips directly from the  tube, rub my lips together, then pat over my lips with my finger (like a lip stain, but without out removing so much of  the product). No lipliner, no lip brush. I let it blur at the edges of my lips, which actually makes them look bigger (God knows I need that). With this color, it looks like I ate a cherry popsicle, which we all know is the best flavor.  Messy lipstick feels so much more modern to me, and it’s easy to do and touch up.

Messy Lipgloss? No. Because if you go too far outside the natural lipline,  it’s going to be sticky on your skin, and will look like you were drooling or your nose was running.

Messy Lipliner? Negative. Lipliner is used to outline or correct lip shape, so it has to be precise. If you aren’t purposeful with it, it’s going to look like a child applied it.

Messy Foundation? Hell no. If you haphazardly throw foundation onto your face, letting it streak where it will and leaving it un-blended, it’s going to look like crap. There is a reason this has never been a trend or a runway look (to my knowledge). It’s Sloppy makeup. There is a difference between Messy and Sloppy. It’s like the difference between Tipsy and Wasted. You know which one is a better look, both on your face and at Happy Hour.

Messy Blush? Nah. Blush placement should flatter your face shape, so there’s really no going outside of those parameters. You don’t want it to be two-circles-perfect though. The point of blush is to bring some color onto your face and flatter your face shape, but it needs to be blended so you can’t tell where it starts and ends.

Messy Bronzer? Nope. If you are bronzing your skin, it should go where the sun hits. Like blush, it’s all about placement and blending.

Messy Contour? No way. Have you ever seen any of those crazy striped Kim Kardashian-y “Before” contour photos? The placement is very deliberate. Yes, it needs to be blended. But you can’t just go putting stripes wherever you want, like some kind of abstract tiger painting. However, skipping contour will make you look more natural/less done up, so on some level, not contouring is a nod to Messy makeup.

Messy Powder? No ma’am. Powder is meant to do one or more of the following things: set your makeup, eliminate shine, or even skintone. It’s not supposed to be seen, so messing it up isn’t going to do you any favors. It will just make your skin look partially shiny or patchy–not cute.

Messy Concealer? No. This is for the same reason as powder–it’s not meant to be seen. Messy concealer would be akin to over or under-concealing, which just looks obvious,  in the “She doesn’t know what she is doing” way.

Messy Highlighter? Nope. Again, strategic placement and blending are key. Stripey or unevenly applied highlighter will make your face shape look all wonky.

Messy Mascara? It depends. Some people like a more clumped up or textured look, which could be considered Messy. Messy mascara is basically extra mascara, paying minimal attention to lash separation. I’m all for it, as long as the lashes are full. When the lashes clump into three or four distinct sections, I don’t think that looks good. But if there are a lot of lashes with some extra texture, I think it looks edgy and cool. I’m not big on running-down-the-face mascara, but if you want to channel your inner 1990s Courtney Love, go for it.

Messy Eyeliner? Yeahhhh, buddy! If it’s a pencil eyeliner, I say do it to it. Draw a medium-thick line as close to your lashline(s) as you can get, then smudge it out with a pencil brush or an angled brush. You don’t want it halfway down your face, but if it migrates a bit, so be it. Messy eyeliner is supposed to look worn in. Unless I’m doing a retro look, I’m really not into defined liner. I even do a Messy eyeliner for weddings, but it’s more of a Messy Lite or Soft Focus Effect eyeliner. I use a pencil (or sometimes a gel liner) to line the top lashline. Next I lightly smudge it, then trace over and slightly above it with an eyeshadow. I tend to just use a  thin line of liner or shadow at the bottom lashline and while I may soften it, I don’t make it Messy. But in other situations, full on Messy liner looks awesome, I think. It’s a go-to look for me.

Messy Eyeshadow? Kind of. Eyeshadow does not have to be perfectly contoured every time. You don’t always need a crease color, a browbone highlight, an outer V color, a center lid highlight, etc. I mean, keep it so it’s not noticeably uneven on your eyes, but don’t drive yourself nuts.

Messy Eyebrows? No no. Brow powder or pencil above or below your brows isn’t going to look good, but on the flipside, overdrawn or harshly filled in brows are equally unflattering. Your best bet is a softly filled in brow (which is why I tend to use powders instead of pencils).

Messy False Lashes? Possibly. If you are using strip lashes, then no. They need to sit at the lashline, placed not too far in towards the nose and not too far out towards the temples. They should line up with your natural lashline. But with flare lashes (individual clusters of 6-8 lashes), you have some flexibility. You can use different lengths, placed in slightly different areas on each eye, to get kind of a fluttery look.

If you choose a Messy makeup look, I recommend keeping it limited to one area. Messy eyeliner, mascara, lipstick and false lashes at the same time will turn Sloppy. But a Messy lipstick with a contoured eye? That’s a win. Pairing something polished with something messy is, in my opinion, updated and un-stuffy. Think jeans with heels, a white tank top with a pencil skirt, or a Biggie Smalls t-shirt with a blazer (my personal version of Business Casual). And because Messy makeup is generally easy to do, it’s a time saver. So if you haven’t already, why not give the Messy look a try? Be a borderline makeup rebel–you know you want to.

Have a beautiful day :)

Brush It Off

There are some makeup artists who do not use brushes. I’m not one of them. I use a combination of brushes and my hands to apply makeup, depending on the client I am working with, the look I am creating, and the products I am using. When it comes to brushes, I do have my teacher’s pets. Read on, as I share my faves.

1) Flat Foundation Brush. I use my hands when applying moisturizer, primer and foundation on my own face, but on clients, I use a flat foundation brush. The one I reach for most often is from Crown Brush, but I bought it so many years ago that the exact name has rubbed off of the handle. I can tell you that it is a medium-sized, flat, non-angled brush. I use foundation brushes to paint on products, then I buff/blend them in with either a buffing brush, a sponge, or my hands. This is similar to the one I have: http://crownbrush.us/ss003-deluxe-medium-foundation-p-231.html

2) Buffing Brush. I am very serious about using only my best tools on my clients, so sometimes I put the brushes that don’t make the cut into my personal kit, because I know I can adjust to make them work on me. But the Real Techniques Buffing Brush is so good and so versatile that I bought one for my personal kit. I have used it to apply cream blush and foundation, but I most frequently use it for blending. After I apply foundation on a client or my own face, I use this brush to blend it in. It helps give a flawless finish, and who doesn’t want that? I use it to blend the edges of bronzer, contour powder and blush, and to push powder onto the skin to set foundation. I have also used it to buff skincare products in. This brush is, in my opinion, an essential. It is not sold by itself, but the Core Collection four piece kit it comes in (which contains another two of my favorite brushes) is $17.99 at Ulta–totally worth it. http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?productId=xlsImpprod3220069

3) Small Concealer Brush. I like this one for concealing blemishes, because it is small and easy to do detail work with. It can also be used as a lip brush. It comes in the Real Techniques Core Collection kit too. http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?productId=xlsImpprod3220069

4) Large Concealer Brush. I like the Bare Minerals Large Concealer Brush for applying eye primer, cream shadow, and undereye concealer. A larger brush covers a larger area, so think about that when you pick up a brush to apply a product. http://www.sephora.com/maximum-coverage-concealer-brush-P61042?skuId=748020

5) Contour/Blush Brush. Another Real Techniques fave from the Core Collection. The pointed shape makes it perfect for contouring, but the soft bristles make me want to use it for powder blush too, so I just turn it on its side to do that. So many of my clients have commented on how soft the Real Techniques brushes are, and that’s important to me. I like soft brushes for the same reason I like products that aren’t sticky or strongly scented–I want my clients to feel relaxed during a makeup application, not like they are being accosted. http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?productId=xlsImpprod3220069

6) Fluffy Eye Shadow Blending Brush. The MAC 217 is a makeup artist favorite for a reason–it blends like no other. This is the brush to use to get those blurred lines (I know you want it), and it also works great under the browbone. When I want more of a wash of color, I use the 217 to apply shadow to the eyelids. If you buy no other eyeshadow brush, this is the one to get.  http://www.maccosmetics.com/product/145/380/Products/Brushes/Eye/217-Blending-Brush/index.tmpl

7) Dense Eyeshadow Brush. For packing eyeshadow onto the lid, the MAC 239 Eye Shader Brush is my jam. It’s soft, but the bristles are tightly packed, allowing for an even application.  http://www.maccosmetics.com/product/145/383/Products/Brushes/Eye/239-Eye-Shader-Brush/index.tmpl

8) Fluffy Angled Brush. For detailed crease and outer-V work, I like a fluffy angled brush. The e.l.f. Essential Defining Eye Brush is the perfect width and fluffy-ness, and it’s only $1! Makeup artists, stock up. http://www.eyeslipsface.com/elf/brushes/single-brushes/defining_eye_brush

9) Angled Eyeliner/Eyebrow Brush. I multi-task my angled brush because I have found that in most cases, the angled brush that can be used for eyeliner (to apply or blend it out), can be used on the brows too. One of my favorite angled brushes comes from Michael’s Craft Store. It’s a thin, soft angled paint brush, but I can’t find it on the website. My other favorite angled brush is the MAC 263 Small Angle Brush. http://www.maccosmetics.com/product/145/823/Products/Brushes/Eye/263-Small-Angle-Brush/index.tmpl

10) Pencil Brushes. I like to use a small pencil brush for smudging eyeliner lines and to apply shadow to the inner tearducts, and a large pencil brush for outer-V work. My two besties in this category are both by the CVS Essence of Beauty line. They call them Crease Brushes and although I often use the larger one for crease work, I don’t think I have ever used the smaller one for that job. You can cop these–so affordable!–in this two pack: http://www.cvs.com/shop/product-detail/Essence-Of-Beauty-Crease-Brush-Duo-Eyes?skuId=306093

11) Gel Liner Brush. When I want a super thin line of gel liner (often when lining close to the tearducts) I reach for another brush from Michael’s Craft Store. It’s the Spotter Brush by Simply Simmons, a line sold at Michael’s. It works well with gel liner and although I have had it for a while, it has not frayed yet, as fine brushes tend to do. For makeup artists, this a great brush for creative detail work (think designs, freckles, or beauty marks). http://www.michaels.com/simply-simmons-spotter-brush/M10472914.html#q=simply+simmons+spotter&start=1 

12) Lip Brush. I don’t have a favorite regular lip brush, but I can tell you that I use ones from e.l.f., Essence of Beauty, Sonia Kashuk and Michael’s. I do have a favorite retractable lip brush though. Retractable lip brushes are important to me professionally, because a big part of my job on photoshoots, television and film sets is touching up lipstick. I keep the products I would need for touchups in an individual small, zippered bag, with their own lip brush. And a retractable lip brush, which won’t transfer lipstick onto everything else in the bag, is the smart choice. (I have to give credit to my makeup artist friend, Katie “Puff” Middleton, for this one.) I like the e.l.f. Studio Retractable Brushes for this. http://www.eyeslipsface.com/studio/brushes/single-brushes/retractable_lip_brush

13) Small Fluffy Brush. It’s technically an eyeshadow brush, but I use the MAC 224 Tapered Blending Brush to blend concealer and powder under the eyes, and to spot powder (yup, coined that term) other areas of the face. I like a fluffy brush for doing work on the undereye area because that skin is so thin, and, I think, more sensitive. And because the brush is small, it’s easier to control. Some people–rightfully so–will flinch if you come at their undereye area with a big fluffy brush, but the 224 is not scary. This is another one of the brushes I keep in my personal kit. http://www.maccosmetics.com/product/145/265/Products/Brushes/Eye/224-Tapered-Blending-Brush/index.tmpl

14. Spooly Brush. Honestly, I’m not picky with these. But a spooly brush (to brush through eyebrows and mascara clumps) is an important part of the essential brushes I use. It is basically a standard mascara wand, so even a clean disposable wand will do the trick.

None of the brushes I love are pokey, rough or in any way uncomfortable. When properly taken care of, they won’t shed or otherwise disintegrate on you. These are my personal favorites, but they are not the only ones that work. I just wanted to give this info because so many clients and beginner makeup artists ask me about brushes. And as I’ve said before, I don’t believe in keeping beauty secrets. If I know about a product or tool that could help someone else, eventually it will end up on this blog. You’re welcome :)

If you have any awesome brushes that you think I should try, please leave a comment! Have a beautiful day. 

Are Those Real?

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, eyelashes are the window treatments. Good lashes make your eye-windows look better–it’s a fact*. I’ve yet to meet a client who doesn’t want long, full lashes and if that wasn’t the case, the false lash market would be non-existent.

I’m not bragging here, but I have to be real with you. At least once each week, I get asked if I am wearing false lashes (I very rarely am, and no one has ever asked me when I actually was!). I don’t have eyelash extensions, and I don’t use Latisse or any other lash growth product. Without mascara on, no one would compliment me on my eyelashes–I feel confident about that. But because I do get these compliments, and because I have applied mascara to thousands of eyelashes, I feel qualified to at least share my tips. So here.we.go.

Tip 1: Don’t regularly use waterproof mascara. This stuff is fine for cry-y occasions, but most waterproofs are harsher than regular mascara. When used frequently, waterproof mascaras can cause lash breakage.

Tip 2: Be oh-so-gentle when removing your eye makeup. I cleanse my face with an oil cleanser, and lightly massage a small amount of it onto my lashes. I do a lot of rinsing, but I never rub or scrub the eye area. After that, I dry my face and use a cotton ball soaked with Bioderma Crealine makeup remover to take off the rest of my eye makeup. With my eye closed, I gently hold the cotton ball (cotton pads work too) over the lashline for about 20 seconds to let the remover break down the makeup, then I–also very gently–wipe away what is left.

Tip 3: Eat clean. I am not a scientist, and the Internet research I should do would probably be full of contradictions anyway, but I believe that my healthy diet and the supplements I regularly take (including fish oil, which I have read many times is beneficial to skin and hair), is part of the reason I have decent lashes to start with. There is a good chance genetics is involved too, so I may have some nice lash DNA, but I do think a healthy lifestyle truly does make for better skin, hair and nails.

Tip 4: Dry yo’ lashes. Damp lashes–from washing your face, eye makeup remover, eye drops, etc.–make eyelashes clump together when mascara is applied, and clumped lashes can never look full. Before I apply my first coat of mascara, I always make sure my lashes are dry. To do that, I hold my index finger horizontally in front of my eye, then I blink. If the lashes are very damp, you will feel water, product or eyedrop residue hitting your skin. If they are just a little damp, you will be drying them on your finger-towel as you blink. Either way, do this a couple of times or until your lashes feel dry.

Tip 5: Get your eyeliner involved. The right kind of eyeliner (or even a shadow as a liner) can give the illusion of fuller lashes. I prefer a dark brown at the lashline, because sometimes when you use a black liner, the blackness of your mascara can fade into the liner, and actually make your lashes stand out less (dark eyeshadows on the lid can do the same thing). You can, however, use a black liner to tightline. (This means applying it to the upper waterline). This makes the upper lashline look fuller.

Tip 6: Use a volumizing mascara as a base. If I had to get a tattoo, it would need to be one of the two things I know I will love forever–Biggie Smalls or Dior Diorshow mascara. I have tried dozens of mascara in the last few years alone, and nothing has come close to the volumizing effect of Diorshow (the original). I know that there are some people who this doesn’t work for, but everyone I have personally used it on has loved it. So here’s the trick to getting volume–hold your lash wand horizontally, wiggle it at the lash roots, and then lightly blink into it. I concentrate on two areas for this–the center of the lashline, and the outer two thirds. As far as how many coats to apply, that’s really a personal choice. I just stop when my intuition or makeup spirit guide tells me to, and I suggest you do the same. I do this step on my top lashes only.

Tip 7: Comb through those bad boys. I won’t disclose what I use to comb through my own lashes, because it is bad and wrong and I should be ashamed. On clients, I use a spooly (or clean disposable mascara wand) to separate and remove clumps. You may find a plastic or metal lash comb works better for you. Whatever you use, just make sure you use it before your mascara has dried.

Tip 8: Apply a second mascara. The second mascara is like the supporting actress, which is just as important, in its own way. I skip around to some other makeup steps before I do this to make sure the top lash mascara has completely dried. When I’m ready, I apply a super black, inky mascara to intensify and lengthen the lashes. I am currently using Dior Diorshow Extase for this, but I have also used Make Up For Ever Smokey Lash and Clinique High Lengths Mascara. I do the wiggle-at-the-lash roots thing again, as well as the blink-into-it step. But with this blink, I pull the wand upwards as I blink, to get the lengthening effect. The pulling upwards is important because many of us have blond-tipped eyelashes (even brunettes–I’m in this category), so if there is no mascara there, the lashes will look shorter than they actually are.

Tip 9: Give some love to your bottom eyelashes. They are important too! Applying mascara to bottom lashes defines the eyes. The trick is to apply the mascara at the roots of the bottom lashes. Unless you are going for a 1960s or other specific look, full–but not overloaded–mascared lashes tend to look better than long, spidery lashes. Depending on the wand shape and your level of comfort, you can either use the wand horizontally or vertically to reach the lash roots. I usually use whatever my second mascara is, but I have also used Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara before (it is a beauty tubes mascara with the most adorable tiny wand.)

Tip 10: Don’t compare yourself to actresses, models, or Kardashians. They are usually wearing false lashes or have lash extensions (sometimes both), and if you are looking at anyone in a magazine, their photo has been retouched. Their lashes are about as Real as a Housewife, so please keep that in mind.

Hope this post helps you on your journey to fuller, longer looking lashes (if that is your journey). Would love to hear your tips and recommendations. Thanks for reading this silly little blog of mine :)

*I sometimes make up my own facts, based on my professional experience.


The blurry, unflattering photo is of me–which marks the first time I have ever posted a photo of myself on this blog. But I think it is a good lash shot, so I am doing this for the people.lashes

Look Breakdown


Foundation: Medium to full coverage, possibly airbrush. Concealer under eyes and where needed.
Powder: Thin layer over whole face.
Highlighter: Minimally down bridge of nose.
Contour/Bronzer: Light contour under cheekbones and at hairline.
Cheek Color: Light bubblegum pink.
Eyebrows: Lightly filled in with brow powder or matte eyeshadow.
Eye Makeup: Matte camel eyeshadow on lid. Black gel eyeliner at top lashline, starting thinner at inner corners and getting thicker towards the edges. Winged out. Black liner on top waterline. Matte brown eyeshadow pushed into lower lash roots for definition.
Mascara: Yes on top, very sparingly on bottom.
False Lashes: Yes, strip lashes on top.
Lipliner: No.
Lipcolor: Nude pink lipstick with gloss in center of lips.

I Got Plenty of Sleep Last Night! or How To Make Undereye Circles Disappear

“You look tired.” Unless that is followed by “Let me take care of your workload/children/commitments for you while you sleep,” that statement might make you want to clock somebody. And I feel you, I really do. But I am a peaceful, soft-serve loving, bookworm makeup artist, so I can’t advocate physical violence. What I can do is help you cover dark circles.

A dull complexion, red eyes, and lack of color in the lips are all factors that can make someone look tired. But the biggest physical indicator of exhaustion seems to be dark circles under the eyes. If that is an issue you face, we can get through this together.

Let’s first clarify that there is a difference between dark undereye circles and undereye puffy-ness (or “bags”). Both can be caused by lack of sleep (and by genetic or health factors), but they need to be addressed in different ways. On a positive note, dark circles are generally easier to correct with makeup than under eye puffy-ness.

What the hell causes these things anyway? Well, there’s not just one offender. And if you are lucky, you might have a combination of causes.

Dark circles are often apparent on people with deep set eyes (one of the hereditary factors). That’s a bone structure thing. People in this group (I’m one!) have eyes that are set further back into their face. The placement of the eyes leaves an noticeable hollow under the eyes (trying my best to explain this here), and that hollow appears shadowed. The undereye skin is super thin, and the veins in that area are (hopefully) always pumping your blood through, so you can actually see this biological process at work. If undereye skin was thicker, the concealer market would be smaller. I want to take a second to point out that although I’m sure you are surprised by this–as my medical jargon seems so professional–I am not a doctor, scientist, or even a former Biology major, so this is all information I have researched and/or learned in Esthetics school.  Also, the word “veins” makes me queasy.

Allergies or pollutants can also cause or worsen dark circles. People with environmental allergies often tell me that their dark circles are significantly less noticeable when they take allergy medicine. This is my personal belief/experience here, but I think food sensitivities and allergies can cause or worsen dark circles as well. A lot of food issues can show up on your face, whether in the form of breakouts, rashes, or, I think, dark circles. I have always had dark circles, but when I starting eating the right foods for me and taking supplements, I swear they got better.

If you are dealing with any of these causes of undereye circles, lack of sleep can make them worse, as some doctors say your body produces more cortisol to keep you awake, which makes the blood vessels enlarge. Larger blood vessels under thin skin shows up as darkness, so there you go.

Dark undereye circles can also be due to pigmentation of the skin. In this case, melanin production has been amped up, so what you’re seeing is darker skin, not shadows from eye placement or blood under the eyes. These kind of dark circles usually need to be corrected via a dermatologist. Makeup can only cover them to a certain extent, at least in my experience.

If your dark circles are from pigmentation, you can try these steps, but you may not find them as effective. If your dark circles are from any of the other causes, these suggestions may work better for you. Here’s what I have learned in the dark circle covering department.

1) Get more sleep. Now, I understand this is not always a possibility for some people (mothers of young children come to mind). If you are losing sleep because of a baby at home, a crazy, inconsistent work schedule, major stress, or construction on the apartment under you until 2:00am (this happened to me), these are factors that are difficult to get around, so skip ahead to suggestion #2. But if you are not getting enough sleep because you insist on staying up to watch every Bravo marathon, or you just have to party until dawn every day, then hey, you’re making your own choice. My point is, if dark undereye circles are a concern for you, and you can get more sleep, do it.

2) Make sure all of your eye makeup from last night is completely removed. This is actually the first step in my own makeup process. As thorough and consistent as I am with my makeup removal and face washing routine, there is always a little bit left of eye makeup left in the morning. So before I do anything else, I put some eye makeup remover on a cotton ball and lightly wipe the area under my eye. If you don’t do this, you are potentially mixing in some of yesterday’s eye makeup with the concealer you are going to apply, which is going to make it ashy and bring more darkness to the area.

3) Put a thin layer of moisturizer under each eye. Whether you apply color corrector and concealer or just concealer next, having this layer of moisturizer as a base will allow the makeup to absorb more evenly into the skin, and will keep it from caking up.

4) Consider a color corrector. When circles are very dark, a concealer only will not do the job. You need a color corrector to cancel out the darkness first. Depending on your skin color, you’ll want something that is in the peach (light to medium skin), salmon (medium to dark skin), or orange (dark skin) families. Bobbi Brown, Eve Pearl, and Make Up For Ever all carry good color correctors. Color correctors are normally pretty thick, so your best bet is to scrape out a little, put it on the back of your hand, and let it sit for about 30 seconds while your body heat breaks it down. Using your ring finger, apply a thin layer of the corrector to the areas that are dark (normally from underneath the inner corner to about halfway or 2/3 out). Blend it with a makeup sponge or fluffy eyeshadow brush.

5) Apply a concealer a half a shade or a full shade lighter than the rest of your face. (If you have already applied a color corrector, let it sit for a minute so it can blend into your skin). Using your ring finger, apply the concealer and blend with a makeup sponge or a fluffy eyeshadow brush. You can use a brightening concealer, like Clinque Airbrush Concealer, but I wouldn’t recommend using one if you are being photographed. The undereye concealer I use most often (it doesn’t flash back) is MAC Select Coverup.

6) Set your concealer with powder. I wait about 5 minutes to do this after applying the undereye concealer. I found that if you apply powder right away, it can get caked up. Letting the concealer(s) absorb for a few minutes first keeps that from happening.

7) Avoid smudgy eye makeup looks. If you are really concerned with darkness, and you are not one for touchups, I would avoid wearing dark, smudgy, eye makeup looks. If there is any darkness you were not able to conceal, the darkness will be accentuated by dark shadow fallout or smudges under the eyes.

8) If your circles have a purple undertone, stay away from purple eyeshadows. If you are completely confident that your dark circles are covered, ignore this rule. But if you can still see a slight dark purple tinge, some purple eyeshadows may enhance it. This is one of those things you will have to play around with to see if it actually affects you.

9) Use an eye cream with retinol. Retinol thickens the skin, and when that happens, the darkness from blood under the eyes becomes less visible. Retinol also boosts collagen production, which is a bonus if you have fine lines around your eyes, because that diminishes them.

Like anything else in the beauty world, lessening dark circles takes some effort. But if it is something that bothers you, it might be worth it to take some of my suggestions into consideration. This is an issue that I personally have (if my eyes were any more deep set, I’d look like a demon), and I know how much better I feel having it under control.

Good luck! Please feel free to leave any questions, or your own suggestions, in the comments.