Founders Story Podcast

I’m going to save you some eye strain this week and just give you the link to a podcast I was recently interviewed for. This interview happened in September so I’m feeling a lot more positive about the 2021 wedding season now, but everything else is current.

Thanks for watching!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Patchwork: Why Patch Testing Beauty Products Is Essential

Please do some patch work before you commit!

If you’ve never had a reaction to a beauty product, you really haven’t lived. (Kidding.) Even if you don’t have any known ingredient allergies or aren’t generally sensitive to products, chances are you’ve met a product or two–or will in the future–that your skin is just not that into. That can cause breakouts, redness, itchiness, a burning sensation or other types of irritation. Not exactly what you want on your face, right?

There is a way you can stave off a bad reaction though: patch testing. Patch testing means applying a small amount of product to the skin to see if you have a reaction. This is an important thing to do with any product that’s going to be on your face for a while (so basically anything other than cleansers, although the super sensitives may want to patch test cleansers too).

I do a multi-phase patch test and overall test because, girlfriend, I’m nothing if not thorough. I first test a small amount of product behind my earlobe so that I can see if my skin reacts but it’s also mostly hidden. I leave the product on for as long as I would if I was actually using it on my face. So if it’s a moisturizer, I leave it on all day then wash it off at night. If it’s a treatment that you’re supposed to leave on for 15 minutes then wash off, I do that. If it’s a sleeping mask, I leave it on overnight. If I don’t see any irritation after that test, I move onto Phase 2. But if I do see or feel irritation at any point, I stop using the product.

For Phase 2, I put a small amount of the product on the back of my jawline on the left side of my face. I do the second patch test on my face, because that skin is different–and generally more sensitive–than the area behind my ear. I choose the left side of my jaw because I wear my hair parted on the right, so it covers or shadows the left side of my face. If you wear your hair down or if you have bangs, you can find your own hiding spot! I once again leave the product on for the directed amount of time. If I’m irritation-free after Phase 2, it’s onto the final phase.

Here’s where shit gets real. In Phase 3, I apply the product to my entire face (or whatever the full area you’re supposed to apply it to is). That’s technically not a patch test, but it’s part of my process, so I’m including it. But here’s the catch–I don’t leave it on for the full amount of time. For example, with a sleeping mask, I’ll leave it on for 15 minutes instead of overnight. I did this with a sleeping mask yesterday, and even though I had no issues in Phase 1 or Phase 2, in Phase 3, I ended up with two angry red welts on my face. With moisturizer or serum that’s supposed to be left on all day, in Phase 3, I leave it on for an hour.

If a product gets through the first three phases without issue, I use it regularly for a full week (or for a few weeks if it’s not meant to be used daily), but I make sure not to introduce any new products during that time. Because if I do introduce another new product and I get a reaction that’s anything other than immediate, how will I know which product my skin doesn’t like?

Occasionally, a product will cause no irritation for me during the three phases, but once I start using it regularly, it causes a breakout or even just one blemish. Breakouts can be a sign of sensitivity to a product, so when that happens, I stop using it.

80% of the products I try don’t irritate my skin, and with the 20% that do, I catch the irritation early on before I experience any widespread bad reactions. That’s why when someone tells me they had a bad reaction to a product, I ask them if they patch tested first or went full force into using it. Guess what I hear most of the time? They didn’t even do a Phase 1! It can much harder to calm down skin or clear a breakout when a product has been used as directed right from the start without testing. Why put yourself through that?

If you want to save your skin from potential bad reactions, you now have a tried and true system to follow. Your dermis will thank you for it.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Things I Love: The Fall 2020 Edition

While I may not love 2020 (who does?), I’ve found things I love about this fall. To not share them with you would be wrong, don’t you think? So here we go, my little leaf-peeping, sweater-wearing friends.

Vegan Rob’s Turmeric Crisps. I’ve tried turmeric chips before, but these bad boys might be my favorite. I don’t know if it’s the black pepper or the Pringles can, but I’m really feelin’ these. Props to Vegan Rob.

Coconut Oil Pulling. Whenever I have sugar (really just in my Coffeemate) or alcohol (which I’ve had maybe a little more of than usual, in that pandemic way), my tongue turns either a little or a lot white. Weird, right? I mentioned that to a friend, and she said the same thing used to happen to her. She started oil pulling with coconut oil, and it got rid of the problem. So I got me some coconut oil, starting pulling, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work. I do it every day now, and it’s really made a difference.

Fur Ingrown Concentrate. I’m super prone to ingrown hairs, and nothing has ever helped. When I saw an ad for the Ingrown Concentrate, I thought it looked interesting, so I did my own research. It had great reviews across the board, so I went for it, and I’m glad I did.

My ingrowns are down by probably 80%. It started working within days. The Ingrown Concentrate contains coconut oil, tea tree oil, tamanu oil and chamomile extract, and the moisturizing-astringent-antimicrobial-calming combination, along with the adorable mini-exfoliating mitt it comes with, really does the trick. This little bottle of smoothness has earned itself a permanent home in my post-shower routine.

InBooze Spicy Margarita Cocktail Kit. I’m into tequila and I’m into spicy, so the Spicy Margarita Cocktail Kit from InBooze was a no brainer. It’s almost too easy to infuse your tequila with this dried orange, lime, grapefruit, pineapple and jalapeno magic. You simply put the pouch in a covered container (like a Mason jar), pour in some tequila, let it sit for a few days, and you’re done. It’s easy, tastes fantastic and allows you to support a black-owned, women run small business. What’s not to love?

Total Blackout Window Film. During the day, give me all the natural light. My Newport apartment has lots of windows and skylights in every room, and I thrive in that shit. But at 6:30am, when I’ve only been asleep for five or six hours, my relationship with natural light is much different. I don’t need to see the sunrise because there are enough pictures of it on Instagram, and I certainly don’t need it to rudely interrupt my slumber.

Back when I used to be a big Amazon shopper (I try to avoid it now), I bought the Total Blackout Window Film. It took me about a year to remember to ask a friend who was visiting to help me, but I finally did recently (thanks, Jenn!). You cut out the size you need, spray the window and the back of the paper with a soap and water mix, press it on, smooth out the bubbles, and enjoy a later wake up time. My eyes have not opened before 7:30am since the window film went up, and a couple times, I even slept until almost 9:00am! A well-rested Allison is a happier Allison, and that’s worth the $15.99.

UnREAL. I had heard good things about this show a while back, so when I stumbled upon it on Hulu, I figured I’d give it a try. I’m so glad I did, because I love it. It’s a drama about the filming of a The Bachelor-like reality show. It’s dark, it’s suspenseful and it makes you kind of like characters you know you should hate. I’m on the last season now, so I’m bummed about that. All shows should have unlimited seasons waiting for us until this pandemic ends.

My New Favorite Salad. I’ve been on watermelon kick since mid-summer, often eating it with a little salt, which is a gamechanger. I had a watermelon, jalapeno and some kind of cheese salad at Mezcal in Worcester, MA that I loved and I’ve been recreating it, with some changes, at home. I use arugula then add in watermelon, japaleno, feta cheese, mint and sometimes grilled chicken. I could eat this every day, and some weeks, I do!

That’s all for now. We’ll see what other little joys this fall brings. A new show? A new skincare product? A new president? Only time will tell…

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Our One Month Peak Wedding Season: The September Recap

We don’t have any pro photos from our September weddings yet, so I’ll use this stock photo of a bride trapped in a parachute.

In normal years, our peak wedding season starts at the end of April and ends in early November. We still often have some weddings before and after that, but the bulk of our weddings happen during that time. This year, our peak season started September 1 and ended September 30. Thanks, COVID!

We still have weddings in October, November and December, but September had almost double the amount of any other month this year. It’s been nice to be back into our normal weekend schedules, even if “normal” now includes PPE, spaced out setups and extra sanitizing.

We’ve been pretty busy with trials and new 2021 wedding bookings too, which is great.  No new corporate or commercial shoots yet, but since some film and television shows are now back in production, that’s a good sign.

Personally, I got to see some friends and family this month and got to hold my baby niece for the first time. She wasn’t too thrilled about that, but I was!

The weather is starting to get cooler, which normally bothers me, but this year, I’m looking at it as a sign that 2020 is starting to come to a close. I know it’s not like everything will go back to normal on 1/1/21, but I somehow think putting this shitshow of a year behind us will at least give some temporary mental and emotional relief.

And now, I’ve got some fall and winter trials to schedule.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

All Eyes On You: An Eye Makeup Post Roundup

It’s mask season until further notice in participating (aka “smart”) US states. That means in public, we’re mostly seeing people’s eyes and not much else of their face. So this is your peepers’ time to shine!

Keep reading and clicking for my most popular eye makeup posts.

Eye Makeup Hacks: How To Make Those Soul Windows Look Even Better

Eye Makeup Smudges, Be Gone! 

Green (Eyed) With Envy

Blue Eyed Baby

Brown Eyed Girl

Under Eye Love: How To Keep The Thinnest Skin on Your Body in Good Shape

The Eyes Have It

My MAC Eyeshadow All Stars

The Easiest Eyeshadow How To You’ll Ever Read

Eyeliner Assistance: Tutorial Roundup

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Some Things I Need to Get Off My Chest: The Beauty Edition

I’ve got some things to say.

The title says it all. Let’s get right into it.

Beware of Lash Serums. We all want long, full lashes, but at what expense? There are some lash serums out there that cause the whites of the eyes to turn yellow. I’ve seen it happen to several clients, and I don’t know that the yellowing goes away after you stop using the product. I personally feel safer using castor oil on my lashes, but you do you, Ol’ Yellow Eyes.

Stop Highlighting The Tip of Your Nose. I don’t know who started this trend, but I hate it. When you highlight an area, it looks bigger. Why would you want the tip of your nose to look bigger? If your answer is “I like the bulbous nose look,” then proceed. Otherwise, skip this foolishness.

You Don’t Need That Much Product. Eight pumps of foundation is too much for a human face. Twelve different eyeshadow shades are unnecessary. Five layers of highlight? Get outta here with that disco ball shit. If you put on drag queen amounts of makeup and you’re not performing, you’re going to look crazy in broad daylight. If that much makeup makes you happy, then go for it. But if you’re trying to enhance your features and let your skin show through, cut down on the product amounts.

Learn to Recognize Photoshop. We can all recognize an obvious editing fail–an extra hand in a group shot for a magazine cover, an impossibly small waist on a model in a clothing ad–but in my experience, few people can recognize editing done in makeup and skincare photos on social media and in ads. So much of what I see on social media is heavily, heavily edited. Those photos then get shown to makeup artists, with the expectation that we can duplicate what was essentially created by editing software. It’s very frustrating. I imagine it’s equally frustrating for the consumer who purchases a beauty product, thinking it will give them the same effect they saw in the ad, only to find out they can’t even get close to that. I guess the moral is this–know that what you often see is unattainable, and lower your expectations of what beauty products and makeup artists can do.

This is not a natural look. Neutral tones, but not natural.

Know What “Natural” Means. I can’t count the amount of clients who’ve told me they want a natural makeup look, then have shown me a picture of a Kardashian. Or someone with a black winged eyeliner. Or a beauty guru with lots of full coverage foundation on. To a makeup artist, natural means using a sheer foundation that lets the skin show through, with neutral toned eye makeup that enhances eye color and shape, no strong contour and certainly not loads of shimmery highlight. It’s okay to want more of a full-on makeup look, but just know that heavy foundation, a glittery eye, a winged liner and an ombre lip are not natural.

 

And that’s all I have to get off my chest…for now.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

In Celebration of Our Mini-Wedding Season

2020 started off great for AB Beauty weddings. We had two weddings in January, then at least one wedding booked for every month except February. 2020 was shaping up to be our busiest season ever, and we were ready!

Everything of course came to a screeching halt in March. We lost all of our booked weddings from March until August, either to postponements or cancellations. It was painful and the whole AB Beauty team was sad for our brides whose plans were changed so unexpectedly.

We did some minimonies once hair and makeup services were allowed to start again in June and July, but our full weddings didn’t pick up until August. Our peak wedding season–normally late April until early November–is now August until mid-October, and we’re only doing a fraction of what we would have done had COVID not ruined everything.

But still, I’m grateful for the weddings we do have this season. Back in May, I thought it was very possible that we might not end up with any, so this is a much better outcome.

Thank you to all of the 2020 brides who initially booked with us, whether or not we get to work with you this year. Thank you to the 2020 brides who booked with us after the pandemic hit, either for minimonies or full weddings. Thank you to everyone who referred a 2020 bride to us. And thank you to the AB Beauty makeup artists and hair stylists for their flexibility, responsiveness and cooperation in regards to the constant changes we’ve encountered since March.

We’ll likely end up doing about 100 less weddings than we would have, but at least that number won’t be 100% less than we would have! Look for the good, right?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

In The Red: My Favorite Red Lipsticks

All red everything (including, apparently, my eyes).

In the makeup world, there’s nothing more showstopping than a red lip. There’s a red out there for everyone, and a red for every type of look. Red lips can be powerful, flirty, retro, summery, vampy–really anything but natural. I often say that I wear red lipstick or no lipstick at all, which isn’t entirely true but it is mostly accurate. (I’ll wear a non-red color maybe five or six times a year.)

Red lipsticks can differ greatly by undertone, shade and finish. My favorite reds are a mix of undertones, shades and finishes. Want to meet them?

CoverGirl Exhibitionist Lipstick in Hot. I bought this lipstick in February during my drugstore haul, and was pleasantly surprised. Hot is a warm toned red, meaning it has orange undertones, but it actually looks pink-red on. It feels very 1950s pinup girl red to me. It is incredibly long-lasting, especially for a drugstore lipstick. I’m quick to return a drugstore makeup product if it doesn’t meet my standards, but Hot earned a place in my makeup bag.

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot.

Lipstick Queen Saint Rouge. Lipstick Queen has several shades that come in both sheer (Saint) and opaque (Sinner) shades.  I find myself reaching for the Saint shades more for clients, and this particular shade works so many people. It’s a subdued red, in part due to the finish. It looks almost deep pink-red on some and berry red on others. I’m just now learning it has been discontinued but I’m including it here, because a) Sometimes discontinued shades make a comeback and b) Just because you can’t find a shade online doesn’t mean it won’t pop up in store, maybe even in a sale bin. Saint Rouge is a great starter red for those who are a little wary of a bold red lip.

MAC Lady Danger. She’s an orange-red if I ever met one! Lady Danger is the summer red lip, in my world. Because it’s a warm toned red, I find that it generally looks better on those with warm undertones, or those with cool undertones who have a tan/have applied self tanner. This is the matte red lipstick I keep in my purse all summer.

MAC Russian Red. You’ve got your orange-reds and your blue-red reds, and Russian Red is as blue-red as they come. This was supposedly Madonna’s favorite red shade in the 1980s, if that tells you anything. I love this particular matte red on those with fair or light skin with cool undertones.

MAC Ruby Woo. Ruby Woo is like the brighter, more matte cousin of Russian Red. I find it’s more flattering than Russian Red on medium and deep skintones. Ruby Woo has a 1940s/early 1950s feel to it. Because it’s so matte and can be drying,  I recommend prepping your lips first with a good balm.

Don’t try to woo me, unless you’re a lipstick.

Marc Jacobs Lip Creme in Dashing. Another discontinued red! This day has been very discouraging. Dashing is/was another blue-red, but seems less blue than Ruby Woo and definitely less than Russian Red. If you come across Dashing, it’s worth considering if you want a pigmented red. It’s long-wearing but moisturizing and leaves the lips with a gorgeous sheen. Very Old Hollywood, dahling.

Whyyyyy would they discontinue such a perfect red?

I know this isn’t the ideal time for a post about lipstick, since we’re wearing masks for much of the time, but I’m doing it anyway. It’s fun to think about when life will be normal again and lipstick won’t be hidden by masks. In the meantime, there’s nothing that says you can’t play around with colors at home and find the red (or two) that you love.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

 

Busier Than Expected: The August Recap

August is normally a very busy month for AB Beauty. Weddings, trials, shoots and frequent inquiries for the next season usually have me working 12-14 hour days and thinking, Why do people say summer is such a relaxing time?

In February, we had around 15 August weddings booked and were on track to book 5 – 10 more. By July, due to all the COVID postponements and cancellations, we were down to two. By September, we will have done eight August weddings. Let’s hear it for last minute bookings!

In August, we also did a ton of trials and one wedding proposal hair and makeup. And we booked a TON of 2021 weddings, as well as a few new September weddings. I’ve been a lot busier than I expected this month.

AB Beauty celebrated 12 years in business in this month, which is crazy. Can’t say it’s our best year in business, but we will make it through.

On a personal note, my month was good because I became an auntie! My niece was born earlier this month and boy, is she perfect. I look at pictures of her 19 times a day.

Unless something insane happens–which is entirely possible–September will be our busiest weddings month of 2020, so I’m gearing up for that.

And now, back to my inbox. The craziness awaits.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Green (Eyed) With Envy

I’m jealous. Photo by Carol Oliver on Unsplash

Green is the rarest eye color in the world, with only 2% of the population lucky enough to have it. I’ve been willing my hazel eyes to turn green for years now. It’s not working out well, but a girl can hope.

Like with any eye color, there are eye makeup shades you can wear to really bring them out.

Ready to bring out the green? Let’s go.

Emerald green eyes look really pretty when gray and purple eyeshadows and eyeliners are used.

Khaki colored eye makeup can make forest green eyes pop.

Jade green eyes look gorgeous with brown shadows that have red undertones.

Bronze and copper shadows really bring out sea green eyes.

Like with any color, you can wear black liner on the waterline to enhance the green, but it will make your eyes look smaller. Also, black can look a little harsh on green eyes, especially if they’re a lighter shade of green, so I would pair black waterline liner with either a gray, dark brown, bronze or copper shadow to help balance it.

If you want to do a bold lip and bring out your green peepers at the same time, try a berry, plum, aubergine or deep red lip color. Red and purple tones are complimentary to green, so the right lip color will make your eye color pop.

That’s all I’ve got! Enjoy your rare eye color, and please send some green vibes to the hazel people who want to be you.

Have a beautiful day 🙂