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.




August 30, 2014. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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.

July 30, 2014. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

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 :)

June 13, 2014. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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). 

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.

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.

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. 

May 27, 2014. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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

May 4, 2014. Uncategorized. 4 comments.

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.

April 12, 2014. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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.

April 7, 2014. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Well, Naturally

Oval Nails

“I just want to look natural.” While it sounds simple, the true Natural Look is one of the hardest to do. Why? Because it is about perfecting the skin. When my clients request the Natural Look, 9 times out of 10, they want glowy, flawless skin–but in a way that will make people think they are born with it. If you are 10 years old or a model (and trust me, not all models have perfect skin), then I take it back–this is an easy look. If not, read on!

In other looks, the focus may be on the eyes, lips, cheeks, lashes, etc., so the skin does not have to look so flawless. But for a truly natural look, the skin needs to appear clear, contoured (but not in an obvious Kim K. way), even, smooth, and glowing.  It’s a tall order, but it can be done.

Your first step is to get your skin in good shape (ideally this is done consistently, not just for this look).  The better your skin is, the easier this look will be to do, and the better it will look. I wouldn’t attempt this look if you are in the middle of a huge breakout. In fact, if you are currently dealing with acne, hold off on this. It will take a lot of time and product, and probably frustration. If you are currently not dealing with breakouts, starting by cleansing and exfoliating your face. And if you were out last night, make sure you finish removing that eye makeup that you were just too tired to get to…

First, apply an eye primer, like Too Faced Shadow Insurance. You will be applying eye makeup, and you want it to last, so an eye primer is key.

Then, apply a moisturizer with luminizing properties. A tinted moisturizer, like Jouer Moisturzing Tint, or even Jergens Natural Glow for Face mixed with a little of your regular moisturizer, will work well. Really massage the moisturizer in. This is going to rev up the circulation to the skin which will help give you some glow.

Next, apply a matte eyeshadow in a color as close to your skin as possible. This should go on your lids and into the crease if you have deepset or hooded lids. If not, keep it on just the lids.

Apply a matte shadow that is a shade or two darker than your skin to the crease of your eyes (skip if you have deepset or hooded eyes).

If you have large pores, apply a pore minimizer to those areas.

Take an angled eyeshadow brush and the same crease matte shadow and apply it as close to your eyelashes (both top and bottom) as possible. The point is to give subtle definition to your eyes, not to make it look like you have eyeliner on.

Now, take a matte eyeshadow that is a shade or two lighter than your skin and apply a small amount under your browbone. If you have deepset eyes, skip this step.

Apply face primer if you have oily skin and/or will be wearing the makeup for a while.

Apply a couple of thin coats of mascara to your top eyelashes. This is one of the few times I will say go ahead and use brown mascara if your lashes are blonde. If not, black mascara is good, just don’t load it on. Comb through it to remove any clumps. If you are staying true to this look, it’s not about the lashes.

If you have redness, apply some green color corrector to cancel it out.

Add an off-white liner to your lower waterline. Make sure it is off-white and not pure white, because that will be too obvious. The off-white covers any red, pink, or brown tones on your waterline, making you look well rested.

Apply a sheer foundation, like MAC Face & Body or Make Up For Ever Face & Body, using your hands. After you have applied it, take a few seconds to press it into your skin with your palms. This will give you a really natural finish.

If necessary, fill in your eyebrows with a brow powder. If they are full will no sparseness, you can skip this step, and just give them a brush through.

Apply concealer to under the eyes and any areas you may need it.

Add a cream blush to your cheeks, using fingers. I like a peachy pink for light to medium skintones, and something slightly orange for darker skin. No matter what you choose, it should be muted. Nothing too bright or shimmery. Ideally you want it to mimic what you look like when you are naturally flushed. MAC and Sonia Kashuk make great cream blushes.

Use a cream highlighter sparingly on the tops of cheekbones. You don’t want something super shimmery, but a tiny bit of shimmer is okay. If your collarbone is showing, add some highlighter there too. Blend well.

Apply a thin layer of loose powder to set your face makeup and undereye concealer. Unless you are oily all over, you can apply the powder just on the t-zone and undereye area if you prefer.

Apply a small amount of mascara to lower lashes, concentrating it at the lash roots. You don’t want much here. Again, it’s just about defining the eyes.

Use a contour brush to lightly shape your face with contour powder (this will vary depending on your face shape). Make Up For Ever Sculpting kits are great for this. If you prefer a cream contour, do this step after highlighter.

If your skin is oily or you prefer a bit more of a flushed cheek, apply some powder blush in the same shade as the cream blush you already have on.

Line and fill in your lips with a liner that is the same color as your lips. Pat in the liner with your finger.

Top with a lip balm. Don’t use a gloss if you want to stay true to this look. At their best, lips are smooth and even colored, but nobody’s lips are naturally glossy.

Now, look at yourself. THAT is natural makeup. This can be a beautiful look, but if you are someone who is used to wearing a lot of makeup, you may feel naked. And I wouldn’t recommend this for a special event or night out. It can be gorgeous in photoshoots and during the day, but it might look a little off if you are wearing a cocktail dress or going to a holiday party.

But, at the same time, if this is your look, and you love it, rock it. Rock it with pride. I’m all for wearing what makes you feel good, and if the Natural Look does it, then by all means, go for it! I just wanted to give the disclaimer because I think many people think the Natural Look is Jessica Alba on the Cover of Allure. It won’t turn you into her anymore than wearing heels will make me 5’6″ for real. I hope this blog post will help you if you do want to try this look. And if you like the look after that, then even better!

Have a beautiful day :)

March 19, 2014. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

My Faves

I do a “Favorite Things” post every once in a while, and I think it’s time for a new one. This post includes both beauty and non-beauty faves of mine because, hey, isn’t a makeup artist with varied interests more fun to talk to? :)

A Few of My Favorite Things


* Nivea A Touch of Smoothness Lip. Ugh, cracked lips. One of the many gifts of cold weather and indoor heating. I get dry, peeling lips every winter (except when I lived in FL), and they drive me nuts. I am constantly trying new lip balms, but many seem to exacerbate the problem. I picked up this Nivea one on a whim (not from personal recommendations or online reviews) and I love it. While my lips are still peeling a little, they are considerably better than they usually are this time of year. This balm is colorless, unscented, and contains SPF10, so it’s good for anyone.


* Meditation. I have been really putting in an effort to meditate regularly, and I feel like it has made me a happier, calmer person. I’m not awesome at it–some days I can not quiet my mind, no matter how much deep breathing I do–but other days, I’m like, I got this. Even on the days when I suck at it, it at least brings my attention to all of the completely unnecessary thoughts I have. I didn’t realize how many future and past conversations I have with people in my own head! When the worries invade my thoughts, I tell myself,You don’t need to think about this right now. It won’t achieve anything. I’m nothing if not goal-oriented, so my little self-scolding/reality check does the trick.


* ZICO Chocolate Coconut Water. My friend, Erika, sent this to me in the world’s best (and totally unexpected) care package. It’s like Chocolate Milk Lite (only 120 calories), and it is going to replace my usual hangover drinks (which, sadly, I now need the morning after 2 drinks).


* Survival of the Soul by Lisa Williams. I think I have mentioned this book before, because it is the shit. Lisa is a psychic/medium (you may have heard of her or seen her on TV), and in this book, she talks about what happens to our souls when we cross over, and what happens in the afterlife. Believe it or not, I am skeptical about this kind of stuff (Lisa said she is as well), but she referred to a lot of things I have experienced, or have heard friends/family say they have experienced, so I believe her. If you are at all interested in matters of the soul, keep an open mind and read this book. I credit it as the book that pulled me out of a rough time three years ago, and seriously changed the way I look at life.


* Oval nails. I have never thought that square-shaped nails were flattering on my child-sized hands, but it somehow never crossed my mind to do anything about it. But with age grows wisdom, so now I file my nails into an oval shape, sometimes with a slight point, and they look their best.


* P Tracker app. My friend, Julie, told me about this one (the one and only app I have on my phone). It allows you to track your period, symptoms, moods, etc. and tells you when you are ovulating, fertile, and when your next period will be. So whether you are trying to get pregnant, trying to not get pregnant, trying to figure out irregular periods, or just when you get certain symptoms each month, it can help you out. I use it for other stuff too. When I had stomach issues recently, I used the Notes section to record the food I ate each day, so I could narrow down what might be causing the problems. I prefer it to written notes because while I might forget to bring a notebook with me, I never forget the celly.


* This list My friend, Lindsay, posted this on her Facebook page, and I think it is awesome. It is a good reminder, for me at least, of some of the things I take for granted. I really appreciate lists like this because they help put me in my place when I’m in a bad mood or entering Pity Party Territory.


* Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt. This novel about the ruin of an old Southern family is a page turner, for sure. Each chapter is told in the voice of a different family member, and I love that. I don’t read many novels anymore, because I have found many of them to be cheesy or predictable, but this one was neither.


* Make Up For Ever HD Elixir. If your skin is looking dull, try applying this serum underneath your face makeup. Really take a minute to massage it into the skin, and you will notice a difference. It adds radiance and makes your foundation or tinted moisturizer apply more smoothly.


* Three Olives Grapes Vodka. I consider myself to be somewhat of an authority on flavored vodkas, and Three Olives makes some of the best. I have been especially loving their Grape flavor lately. I’ve introduced this to people who don’t like flavored vodkas, or aren’t big on grape flavored anything, but so far, they have all loved it. It’s borderline dangerous, so beware…


* Pssst Dry Shampoo. My hair doesn’t get too greasy, but it does go flat after a few days. Dry shampoo helps revive it (it absorbs oil too), and definitely gives it back some of the volume I have the first day or two after I wash it. Everyone can use a good dry shampoo, and this one is cheap!


* Goddess Workout Bellydance DVD. I bought this years ago, did it for a few months, then forgot about it. I rediscovered it this past summer and have been doing it a few times per week since. It’s a hard workout, and I haven’t even mastered the Intro/Disc 1 yet. I like having a few indoor workout options for the days when I can’t/don’t want to run. The bellydance workout has shrunk my waist down to a size even I can’t deny is small, and it’s fun to do! It’s a good something different if you are in a workout rut or need an at-home option.



*My crazy colored hair. If you are not on Facebook or haven’t seen me during the past few months, you may not know that I have been playing with different colors on the bottom half of my hair. I went from teal to electric blue (which was my favorite) to emerald green to the current aqua. I LOVE having the colors in my hair–I feel like it’s so me (which is weird to say for something that is clearly not natural, I suppose). It’s not for everyone, but I’m gonna rock this look for a while.

I love reading about other people’s favorite things, so feel free to comment with your’s!


January 29, 2014. Uncategorized. 4 comments.

2014 Wedding Wire Couples’ Choice Award Winner PRESS RELEASE

Newport, RIJanuary 25, 2014 – WeddingWire, the nation’s leading online wedding marketplace, named Allison Barbera Beauty as a winner of the prestigious WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014 for Beauty Services in Rhode Island!

The WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014 recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. The esteemed awards are given to the top local wedding vendors in more than 20 service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers, based on their professional achievements from the previous year.

While many industry award winners are selected by the host organization, the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ winners are determined solely based on reviews from real newlyweds and their experiences working with Allison Barbera Beauty. Award-winning vendors are distinguished for the quality, quantity, consistency and timeliness of the reviews they have received from their past clients.

“There’s no better way to start the year than by honoring the hard work, commitment and success of the top-rated wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Network,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “It is exciting to celebrate a sixth year recognizing businesses whose clients believe they are committed to quality, professionalism and all around top-notch service. We are honored to recognize Allison Barbera Beauty for their impressive achievements within the wedding industry.”

As a Couples’ Choice Awards™ winner, Allison Barbera Beauty is highlighted within the WeddingWire Network, which is comprised of over 200,000 wedding professionals throughout North America and abroad.

Allison Barbera Beauty is proud to be one of the top Beauty Service providers in Rhode Island in the WeddingWire Network, which includes leading wedding sites such as WeddingWire, Project Wedding,, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Weddingbee. We would like to thank our past clients for taking the time to review our business on WeddingWire. We value all of our clients and truly appreciate the positive feedback that helped us earn the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014.

For more information about Allison Barbera Beauty, please visit our WeddingWire Storefront today at

To learn more about the Couple’s Choice Awards™, please visit

About WeddingWire, Inc.
WeddingWire™, the nation’s leading marketplace serving the $70 billion wedding industry, is the only online wedding planning resource designed to empower both engaged couples and wedding professionals. For engaged couples, WeddingWire offers the ability to search, compare and book over 200,000 reviewed wedding vendors, from wedding venues to wedding photographers. WeddingWire also offers a comprehensive suite of online planning tools for weddings, including wedding websites and wedding checklists, all at no charge. For wedding professionals, WeddingWire is the only all-in-one marketing platform for businesses online and on-the-go. WeddingWire offers one simple solution to build a professional network, improve search visibility, manage social media and reach mobile consumers. Businesses that advertise with WeddingWire appear on, and other leading sites, including (NYSE: MSO), and

January 25, 2014. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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