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. http://www.drugstore.com/nivea-lip-care-a-kiss-of-smoothness-spf-10/qxp191226


* 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.tastes.so.good. 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). http://zico.com/2013/our-products/zico-chocolate-14-oz/


* 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 http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/11/28/19-signs-youre-doing-better-than-you-think/. 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.   http://www.amazon.com/Lookaway-A-Novel-Wilton-Barnhardt/dp/1250020832


* 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. http://www.sephora.com/product/productDetail.jsp?keyword=MAKE%20UP%20FOR%20EVER%20HD%20Elixir%20P240602&skuId=1144880&productId=P240602&_requestid=182598


* 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…  http://www.threeolives.com/all-flavors/


* 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!  http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?productId=xlsImpprod3900585


* 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. http://www.amazon.com/Goddess-Workout-Bellydance-Fitness-Dolphina/dp/B0002C4IT0/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1386533518&sr=8-12&keywords=goddess+workout+bellydance



*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, Brides.com, 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 http://www.weddingwire.com/biz/allison-barbera-beauty-newport/faq/2fd8029397da9264.html.

To learn more about the Couple’s Choice Awards™, please visit www.weddingwire.com/couples-choice-awards.

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 WeddingWire.com, ProjectWedding.com and other leading sites, including MarthaStewartWeddings.com (NYSE: MSO), Brides.com and Weddingbee.com.

January 25, 2014. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Jergens Natural Glow for Face Tips

Genetics are a funny thing, aren’t they? I am 75% Italian and only 25% Irish, but I’m usually the second or third lightest shade in a foundation line. Throw my dark hair and eyebrows into the mix, and I look even lighter than I am. (When I’m wearing black, my father likes to call me Elvira. Can’t say I like that.) I’m not saying light skin is a bad thing–look at beauties like Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, and Dita Von Teese–but I think I look best with a little color on my face. I don’t sunbathe or use tanning booths, and I don’t find it practical to spray tan regularly, so I use Jergens Natural Glow. I use the face and body versions, but for this post, I will be talking about the face version.

I’ve picked up a few tips along the way that I thought might be helpful. Here goes:

Exfoliate. Before your initial application of the product, exfoliate your face and neck. Any kind of tanning product will work better if you have sloughed off the dead skin cells first. If not, the product may “stick” to the cells, leaving you with a very attractive patchy look.

Moisturize twice each day. Jergens Natural Glow for face will last longer if you moisturize morning and night. This is a skincare essential anyway, so unless you are targeting a specific issue that requires more or less moisturizing each day, two times is the magic number.

Avoid applying to smile lines, if you have them. I’ve found that any product I put on my face will eventually settle in to my smile lines, and something about the shimmer and pigmentation in the Natural Glow accentuates the lines. It’s any easy fix though–just don’t apply it to those areas. Smile lines–this is the punishment we get for being happy, huh?

Mix with moisturizer when applying to your neck. Necks are tricky. Many of us have some lines or creases there, and much like the smile lines, this product can settle into those lines. Applying a thin layer of moisturizer first takes care of the issue.

Apply it at night, or well before makeup. I don’t use this as pre-makeup moisturizer because I don’t think it’s moisturizing enough, and I’m not sure it will react well to all face makeup. It’s not a problem if it’s completely absorbed, but if it’s still tacky, wait a little longer. That’s why I tend to do it at night.

Adjust your foundation/tinted moisturizer. This is a tanning product, so your foundation shade is going to change. That’s one of the reasons I always suggest having a couple of foundations in your bag. That way you can darken and lighten the shades (by mixing them) if your skin changes from sunless tanner or the sun. It’s not a drastic change with Jergens Natural Glow for Face, but you might go up a half a shade or a full shade.

That’s it! Not too complicated, right? I think it’s worth it, and I really do love the product. After a few days of using it, I always feel like my skin looks good enough to forgo face makeup if I want to. The shimmer that it contains is subtle, but true to its name, gives you some glow. And something about being tan seems to even out the skin (although a real tan actually does the opposite, in the long run). If you are feeling winter pale or feel like your skin is looking dull, give this a try.

Have a beautiful weekend :)

January 18, 2014. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number

Helen Mirren. Susan Sarandon. Diane Lane. Andie MacDowell. Mary Steenburgen. These are all beautiful actresses over 50 (or very close to it), and although I can’t say for sure, it appears that none of them have had any major cosmetic surgery done. I think they all look amazing, not just for their age, but for any age. I personally don’t think “young” translates as “beautiful,” and I think there is a lot to be said for non-physical characteristics that make people beautiful. So this is not a Twelve Ways To Look Younger post (Subtext: 20 Year Olds Are The Prettiest, So Try To Look Like Them). This is about doing, or not doing, certain things that can make you look older than you are.

I have looked at many photos of the aforementioned actresses, and they seem to be avoiding some of the makeup mistakes I see a lot of women make. I’m talking about the mistakes that age a woman, especially one over 40. I’ll get into that below, but first I want to tell you my philosophy on aging, as it relates to makeup.

I don’t think wrinkles are the biggest aging factor on a woman’s face. I think it has a lot more to do with an even skintone, flattering eyebrows, skin texture, lip fullness, undereye puffy-ness and dark circles, fullness of the cheeks, and how “current” someone’s makeup is. Fortunately, there are a lot of fixes you can do to correct any of the issues that bother you (or those that you might not realize are making you look older!)

Re-Assess Your Foundation. Skin loses some of its natural oils as we age, meaning that the majority of women over 40 have skin in the dry or normal to dry range. (The good thing is, less oil in your skin means your makeup will stay on longer!) Fine lines and wrinkles also tend to creep up as the years pass. For those two reasons, I find that liquid foundations are more flattering on mature skin. Powder foundations don’t typically add moisture to the skin, and they tend to settle into lines, making them more obvious. A good liquid foundation–particularly one with luminizing properties which brighten the skin–well make the skin look its best. MAC Face & Body foundations are a good option, and I recently tried Stila Stay All Day 10-In-One Beauty Balm (Sephora) and thought it would be good for mature skin. I only tried a sample so I can’t totally vouch for it, and it strangely only seems to come in one shade, but swing by Sephora and get a sample if you’re interested.

Consider Cream Blush. I love cream blush for all skin types (I just layer powder blush over it on oily skin to make it last). There is something very youthful and glowing about the texture, which makes it perfect for mature skin. And if you are dealing with dry skin at any age, cream blush is definitely the way to go. The MAC Creme Blend blushes (MAC stores and MACcosmetics.com) and Sonia Kashuk cream blushes (Target) are my faves.

Think Twice About Contour. If your face has lost a lot of fullness–and especially if you already have a long or even oval face shape–I wouldn’t recommend contouring the cheekbones. Instead, focus on using blush on the apples of your cheeks, just blending slightly upward. This will make your cheeks look a little more full and youthful.

Line Those Lips. As we age, our lips lose collagen, making them thinner than they were in years past. Lipliner (in the same color as your lips or lipstick–darker than that can actually age you) is a good fix. It brings back definition to the lips, and if you are confident with it, you can slightly overdraw your lips. And when I say slightly, I mean it! Don’t go all Pamela Anderson and think no one will notice. I love the Aqua Lip Liners by Make Up For Ever (Sephora) because they are waterproof (read: long lasting) but any lip liner will do. Lip liners are one of the products I don’t think you have to spend a lot on. Many of the drugstore ones are great.

Plump It Up. For the same reason, lip plumpers can be a good temporary fix for lips that are, let’s say, losing some weight. My favorite is Lip Venom by DuWop (Sephora). It’s a little tingly/stingy, but it does the job.

Highlight Above the Cupid’s Bow. A little bit of highlighter (like NARS The Multiple in Copacabana) above the Cupid’s Bow will give the illusion of a fuller top lip. Use a concealer brush or your pinky to apply it, and lightly blend.

Apply Makeup with a Light Hand. Avoid applying too much foundation, concealer, or powder near fine lines. The product will sink into lines, highlighting those areas. Fine lines near the eyes, around the lips, and on the forehead are common, and usually, those are areas that don’t need much coverage or powder anyway (unless the forehead is oily). Using a primer (like Laura Mercier Face Primer, Sephora) first will help temporarily fill in the lines and keep your face makeup from settling. Having moisturized and hydrated skin will help diminish the lines too, so as always, a good skincare routine is key.

Pay Attention to Your Eyebrows. Brows that are too thin or overdrawn can easily age a face. Brow growth does slow as we age, and especially if you over-tweezed in your teens or twenties, you may find yourself with thinner brows than you would like. A good brow pencil or powder can help fill your brows in. And if you have a few gray hairs in your eyebrows, a tinted brow gel (like MAC Brow Set) can temporarily change that. A brow gel also adds texture/fullness to thin brows.

Update Your Every Day Look. If you are still wearing the same type of makeup you wore 20 years ago, it’s time to re-evaluate. Styles have changed and your face has changed, so your makeup needs to evolve too. So please, toss that that forest green eyeliner from the 80s, or that matte brown lipstick from the 90s. Sure, those have come back as trends, but unless the rest of your makeup, your hair, and your clothing are on trend too, it’s just going to make you look dated. It’s the cold, hard truth, but someday has to tell you!

Beware of Shimmery Eyeshadows. As we age, our eyelids lose their elasticity. The makeup term is “crepey eyelids,” but you can refer to them however you want. It’s okay to use an eyeshadow with a little shimmer in it, but something too shimmery or (please don’t) frosted is bad, bad, bad. It will sink into the small folds on your lids, making them considerably more noticeable. If this is a concern for you, try a cream eyeshadow (Laura Mercier makes good cream eyeshadows). Much like a cream blush, it is flattering on a mature face.

Try An Off-White Eyeliner. If your lower waterline is pink, which I often see in women 60+, a bit of off-white eyeliner there will cover the pinkness and make you look more awake. I like MAC Chromagraphic Pencil in Nc15/NW 20 for this.

Avoid The Number One Eye Ager. I see this A LOT, on women of all ages, but it especially detrimental to those concerned with aging–dark pencil liner at the lower lashline. Especially when it is thick or black…it makes me cringe. It instantly pulls the eyes downward, and, other than it’s very short shelf life as a makeup trend a few years back, it is dated. I know this is a hard one for many women to give up. I can just hear you saying “But I feel naked without eyeliner!” So, can we strike a deal? First, please switch to a dark brown or gray eyeshadow. Use an angled brush, and make sure to apply it at the bottom and top lashline, so that it balances your eyes and keeps them from looking dragged down. Using a shadow with an angled brush gives a soft focus effect, which, trust me, is infinitely more flattering. You can still use a pencil–go easy with it!–on top of the shadow if you want more definition, but make sure to blend it with that angled brush.

Or, just do what you want. Seriously. If you aren’t concerned with how your looks have changed, then ignore all of my suggestions. I created this post for the hundreds of 40+ women who have said “Make me look 10/20/30 years younger, please!” But if you don’t care, then honestly, good for you. I know that I will still be rockin’ Biggie t-shirts and the occasional pink wig when I’m 60, so if you want to use navy blue eyeliner and a frosted pink lipstick everyday–or no makeup at all–then go for it. I’m not being sarcastic (for once). I’m all for people wearing whatever makeup makes them feel good, but I also know that this post might be helpful to those who may be looking to change things up. Again, I’m not trying to imply that looking younger is the ideal, but most women I know and have worked with don’t want to look older than they are.

So, hopefully this post has helped those who needed it. And for those of us born in the early 80s or earlier, let’s take a second to be thankful for everything we have learned since we were in our 20s :)

Have a beautiful day!

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

Makeup FAQs

There are a few things I always love to talk about–soft serve, Biggie Smalls, owning a business, and makeup. Being that I am a makeup artist, I get asked a lot of beauty questions. And I am happy to answer them! I’ve noticed that I get many of the same questions, so I thought I would compile them into one neat little blog post. These are my personal opinions from my experience in the field, but in makeup, there are a lot of different “right” answers. These are just the the ones that make sense to me.

What is the best mascara?

For volumizing, I don’t think Dior Diorshow can be beat. For length, I love Clinique High Lengths and Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash. When using regular mascara, I always layer one of those over the Diorshow. For waterproof, Maybelline The Falsies Volum’ Express is my jam. And if watery eyes are a problem, but you don’t want to wear waterproof every day (which I wouldn’t recommend anyway), Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara is amazing. When you are just talking watery eyes (not tears), typically the smudging is coming from the bottom lashes only, but that doesn’t happen with Clinique Bottom Lash, because it is a beauty tubes mascara, so it encapsulates the lashes and does not come off until you remove it.

What do you think of airbrush makeup?

For an event or a long day, I think airbrush is great if you are someone who has very oily skin, acne, acne scarring, or wrinkles. Otherwise, I think there is a good traditional (non-airbrush) foundation out there for everyone. I think airbrush gets hyped up, and although I have seen and experienced beautiful results with it, at this time, I am still partial to traditional foundation.

What are your thoughts on mineral makeup?

I think it’s okay for everyday use, but for photography, I have yet to find one that doesn’t flash back. I think it can get too easily caked up, so I wouldn’t use it for anything being filmed either. There are some mineral makeups that look gorgeous on normal to oily skin, but I would stay away from them in general if your skin is very oily, very dry, or mature. On very oily skin, I have seen mineral makeup get discolored or streaky once the natural oils come through. On dry skin, I have seen it catch on patchy areas, making them more obvious, and it seems to just sit on top of the skin even if there are not patchy areas. On mature skin, it has a tendency to settle into fine lines, making them more obvious. Some makeup artists swear by mineral makeup, but I’m just not one of them!

Should I apply my liquid foundation with my hands or a brush?

It depends on the foundation you are using, and the coverage you want. A flat foundation brush will give you more of a full coverage finish, and a buffing brush will give you something closer to an airbrush finish. I like using my hands for a lighter coverage foundation or tinted moisturizer, and when I want a more natural look.

How can I make my lipstick stay on longer?

A lip primer, like MAC Prep & Prime Lip, is a good start. Once that has absorbed, line your lips, and–this is the key–completely fill them in with a lip liner that matches your natural lip color, or the color of the lipstick you will be using. Aqua Lip Liners by Make Up For Ever are great for this, because they are waterproof.

Where do I apply bronzer?

Bronzer, as opposed to contour products, should be applied where the sun naturally hits (sometimes referred to as the “high planes of the face”). So temples, hairline, tops of cheekbones, bridge of nose, and a dot on the chin. Don’t apply it on your entire face, unless you are going for the Jersey Shore look.

How do I make my eyes look bigger?

This is going to have a lot to do with your eye shape, but in general, an off-white eyeliner on the lower waterline will make eyes look larger. Any liner at the lower lashline should be thin, soft (I prefer a shadow to a pencil), and not too dark. Mascara will open up the eyes, but don’t be too heavy-handed, as that can just draw attention to the size of your eyes. Unless eyes are wide-set, a shimmery light color at the inner corners will help too. I also suggest having well-groomed eyebrows. If your brows are too thick, they may overpower small eyes, but brows that are too thin may look disproportionate in relation to the rest of the face. If you are not sure about your brows, get them shaped professionally.

What’s the trick to making my eyeliner the same on both eyes?

Oh darling, don’t stress yourself out too much here.  No one’s eyes are exactly the same, so eyeliner is never going to be 100% the same on both eyes. Just have some patience (and maybe a cocktail, if that will make you care less). It’s a lot about practice, so cut yourself some slack. My fellow makeup artist friend, Jennie Kay, once suggested to me that when I was struggling with my own eyeliner even-ness (I find it easier to get it almost perfect on others), start with the “tough” eye first. You know, the one that makes you swear and want to start over completely. Starting with the tough eye definitely takes some of the frustration out of it.

How do I conceal dark undereye circles?

First off, stop staying up until midnight to watch the Millionaire Matchmaker marathons. Sleep, as anyone with dark circles knows, does help the circles diminish. As far as makeup goes, if the circles are very dark, you will need to correct them with a color corrector first (peach, salmon, or orange, depending on how light or dark your skin is). Follow that with a concealer in a shade lighter than your skin tone. You can use one with brightening qualities, like Clinique Airbrush Concealer, but if you are going to be photographed, take a test picture first. Some brightening concealers will flashback in photography, making the undereye area look super light and obvious.

Those are the most common makeup questions I get asked, but I will add to this post if more new ones start cropping up. If you have makeup questions for me, please feel free to comment on this post or on my Allison Barbera Makeup Artistry Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Allison-Barbera-Makeup-Artistry/215339210231?ref=hl

Have a beautiful day :)

January 3, 2014. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

It’s a Crime Not to Prime

It’s no secret that I love eye primer (specifically Too Faced Shadow Insurance). Eye primer gives you a good base, keeps your eyeshadow and eyeliner on longer, and minimizes creasing. Unless I am going to change someone’s eye makeup soon after (like for a photo or sometimes film shoot), I put this ish on everyone.

Like with any product, how you do it is as important as the product itself. The eye priming routine will take you roughly 10 seconds, but let me break it down so you get the best results.

1) Dispense enough product for both eyes. An amount the size of about half a grain of rice should do it.

2) Use your ring finger to apply and blend it in. The ring finger is the weakest, and the skin around the eye is some of thinnest on the body, so using a gentle touch–pat, don’t apply it like you are trying to remove an ink stain–will prevent tugging. Repeating tugging on that gentle skin can cause premature wrinkles.

3) Concentrate the primer on your lids, but carry it into the crease and onto browbone too. Even if you are not going to put shadow on those areas, it will even out your skintone (especially important if you are fair-skinned and can see veins or discoloration on your eyelids).

4) Let your primer dry completely before applying your eye makeup. This is a very important step. If you do not wait until the primer has dried (absorbed into your skin), you will be wiping it off as you apply your eye makeup, canceling out any effect. That is why eye primer is always my first step in my makeup routine. I apply that, then face moisturizer. The time it takes to apply the moisturizer (I don’t just slap it on, I massage it in) is the amount of time needed for the eye primer to absorb.

5) As a final step to make sure you primer has dried, run your finger or a brush lightly over it. This will smooth it down and wipe off any excess that may be hanging around, which could actually backfire and cause creasing.

That’s it! Easy, right? Using a primer and applying it correctly will make a big difference in your makeup routine.

Have a beautiful day :)

December 23, 2013. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Eye Makeup Smudges, Be Gone!

I like a bit of a messy eye makeup look, I really do. But it has to be done right, and it’s not for everyone, or for every situation. If you are working a professional job outside of the beauty industry or something creative/artistic, you might need more of a clean makeup look during work hours. And nothing kills an otherwise polished face like an eye makeup that looks like it is slowly melting off.

So many of my clients tell me they are fighting a losing battle with chronic smudged eyeliner or migrating mascara. Many give up and abandon eye makeup altogether. But ladies, ladies, ladies–you need not despair! There are a few factors that could be causing the issue, and some things you can do to fix it. I would like to help you identify the root of the problem and win this battle.

Let’s start with eye primer. I think anyone who wears any type of eye makeup should use an eye primer. It is the first step in any makeup application I do (unless I know I will be changing the eye makeup soon after), and I wear eye primer every day. The natural oils on your eyelids can make eyeliners become slippery and smudge-bound, but having a primer there creates a barrier. I have tried a ton of them, and my favorite is still Too Faced Shadow Insurance (at Sephora).

If you wear eyeliner, and think it may be the source of smudging for you, let’s talk about that. Is it a liquid liner? Gel? Pencil? If it’s a good quality liquid or gel eyeliner (and I will address that in the Crappy Products section), it should not smudge once it has set. If it’s a good quality pencil liner, try tracing it with an eyeshadow in the same color. This will set the liner, keeping it in place.

For those of you who like the look of eyeliner and mascara only, this part is for you. Even with a good primer and eyeliner, you may still experience smudging if you don’t wear eyeshadow (usually just with pencil liners, especially when they have not been traced with an eyeshadow). This smudging is something us makeup pros call “transfer,” and the transfer I am referring to happens on your eyelid, not underneath the eye. Depending on your eye shape, the thickness of the liner drawn, and the amount of oils on your eyelid, your eyeliner can transfer from your upper lashline to the crease of your eye. Super easy fix though, don’t you worry. After applying your eye primer but before applying your eyeliner, apply a matte eyeshadow that is the same color as your skin all over your lid and into the crease. Apply your pencil liner, then set it with an eyeshadow.  If you don’t do those two things, the oils from your eyelid may breakdown your eyeliner when you look up, and that causes the transfer. Having a primer and eyeshadow there blocks those oils from wreaking havoc on your eyeliner. And choosing a matte eyeshadow in the same color as your skin will still give you that no-eyeshadow look.

Many people think that their regular mascara is what causes the smudging, so they switch to waterproof. Waterproof may solve the problem, but it’s likely to cause another one–eyelash breakage. Waterproof mascaras tend to be harsh, and in my opinion, are not made for everyday use. If you find that your mascara migrates, whether from watery eyes or unknown causes, try using a beauty tubes mascara (like Blinc Mascara or Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara–that one is obviously just for the bottom lashes). Beauty tubes mascara is applied exactly like a regular mascara–it’s just the formulation that is different. Instead of coating your lashes, beauty tubes encapsulate them. It’s the difference between a cardigan and a wetsuit, you feel me? The point is, beauty tubes mascara stays on until you physically remove it with water and a gentle pressing motion.

If you switch to a beauty tubes mascara and that still doesn’t work (I have never seen or heard of that happening), I give you permission to wear waterproof mascara on your bottom lashes only. Unless you are full on crying (like when watching Long Island Medium or thinking about the current state of hip hop), any tearing will most likely only effect your bottom lashes. So using waterproof mascara on the top lashes on a daily basis is probably not necessary.

There is another big culprit for smudging, which could be root of the problem if you wear undereye concealer. Undereye concealer, unless it has been set with powder, eats at away at mascara, causing the mascara to smudge when the lower lashes touch the concealer. Applying a thin layer of powder over the undereye concealer before applying lower lash mascara could be the fix you need. The powder becomes a barrier between the concealer and mascara, so no damage can be done.

Do you regularly line your waterline with a dark eyeliner? If so, this could be causing the smudging. Our eyes naturally water during the day, so even the best waterline liner will eventually wear away. But where does it go, you ask? Check your tearducts, and if they’re clear, look under your eyes. Find it? You can stop this runaway liner from journeying to under your eyes by applying a very thin line of eyeshadow in the same color family at the lower lashline, as close to the lash roots as you can get. This shadow will “catch” the waterline liner, absorbing it before it gets any further.

If you have tried some or all of these tips and your eye makeup is still smudging, you may have a case of Crappy Products. Crappy Products can be found in all makeup lines, both low and high end, but not surprisingly, the cheapest of the cheap are often Grade A Crap. (However, I have found that drugstore waterproof mascaras–Maybelline Falsies Volum Express is my fave–outperform the higher end waterproof mascaras.) Crappy eyeliner pencils seem to be the worst offenders, but there are some gel and liquid liners that flake off then melt into little smudges. If you suspect you might be using a Crappy eyeliner pencil, I recommend switching to Top Shop Kohl liners; a Crappy liquid liner could be replaced by MAC LiquidLast eyeliner; and a Crappy gel liner could be replaced by MAC Fluidline or Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Liner.

You do not have to resign yourself to living with smudged eye makeup, nor do you have to give it up completely. It may take some time to pinpoint the cause, but once you have done that, you can turn things around. Don’t know where to start? I would first try the eye primer (use it even if it doesn’t solve the smudging problem–more about that in a future post). If you wear dark liner on the waterline, try the eyeshadow-at-the-lower-lashline trick next. Still smudging? It’s time to start powdering your undereye area after concealing. Issue not resolved? Go ahead and get yourself a beauty tubes mascara. If all of these methods fail, it’s time to look inward and ask yourself, Do I buy Crappy Products? If so, get yourself some quality products. They might be more expensive than what you normally use, but if you want or need to have a professional image, I think it’s worth it.

I do want to add that even if you are using the best products in combination with the right techniques, you might see a tiny bit of smudging after 10-12+ hours. That’s why God gave us pinky fingers–to wipe away any trace of rogue eye makeup. No one looks perfect all day, folks. Touchups are necessary. Your 6:00am makeup will need to be refreshed at 6:00pm, and you may have some small smudges that only you can notice. That’s normal. What I want to do is get you away from those super obvious smudges that distract people when you are talking to them. And hopefully this post can help with that. Because, dear Lord, people are going to have a hard time listening to your flawless presentation/perfect sales pitch/inspired lesson plan if you look like Ke$ha.

Questions? Get at me.

Have a beautiful day :)

December 17, 2013. Tags: . Uncategorized. 4 comments.

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