Slough It Off

Exfoliators

Regular dental cleanings. Oil changes every 3,000 miles. Monitoring my bank accounts and credit card statements for fraud. These are a few of the things I do consistently to keep my body, my car and my financial life in good shape. Are they fun or exciting? Nope. But they are part of what I do to keep my life running as smoothly as possible. I figure that if I can stay on top of the routine stuff, I’ll be much better equipped to handle the inevitable unexpected challenges that will be thrown my way. I’m a big proponent of having your shit together so you can better weather life’s storms.

If you want your skin to have its shit together, you have to consistently take care of it, as I discussed in The Basics https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/shes-so-basic/. I said then that I would elaborate on exfoliation, since it’s a key player in good skincare. And I never make a promise I can’t keep.

Exfoliation is the removal of the oldest dead skin cells from the outermost layer of the skin. When those dead skin cells are left on the skin, they can make skin feel rough, cause makeup to cake and prevent skincare products from absorbing properly. If buy good quality moisturizers or serums but don’t exfoliate, you are wasting money. That’s real talk. I don’t sugarcoat things on this blog, my friend.  Products can’t penetrate the layers of the skin like they need to if they are being blocked by dead skin cells. Also, unexfoliated skin often looks dull and makes it harder to blend makeup. Makeup looks considerably better on regularly exfoliated skin–that’s a fact. Unless exfoliation is contraindicated for you–which I will get to–you should be doing it 2-3 times a week.

There are two types of exfoliation–physical (or mechanical) or chemical (or enzyme). Depending on your skin type and preferences, one type may be better for you.

Physical exfoliation involves using an abrasive product or tool to manually remove the dead skin cells off that top layer of skin. You apply product, rub it in, then rinse off (or use the tool as directed) to shed the dead skin cells. Physical exfoliants include microfiber cloths, scrubs made with sugar, salt crystals or other granules, microdermabrasion and tools like the Clarisonic. Microbead exfoliants were popular for several years but have been banned because the beads pass through sewage treatments without being filtered out. There are some scrubs that contain crushed apricot kernels or almond shells, but I recommend avoiding using those on the face, next, chest and hands as they can cause microtears on the delicate skin of those areas. (I’m looking at you, St. Ives Apricot Scrub). Repeated microtears make the skin’s texture rougher and uneven looking. It’s fine to use a more abrasive scrub like that on the rest of the body where the skin is thicker, so don’t go throwing all of your products away. Physical exfoliation may sound harsh, but it’s not when done correctly. However, any type of rubbing the skin–even in a gentle way–can be irritating to truly sensitive skin. If that’s what you have, chemical exfoliation might be a better choice.

Chemical exfoliants break down the “glue” that binds dead skin cells to the outermost layer of the skin. Once that glue is dissolved, the dead skin cells fall off. I consider chemical exfoliants to be the passive exfoliant because typically you apply them to the skin, wait for a specified amount of time, then rinse off. Chemical exfoliants usually contain some type of acid or combination of acids (like alpha hydoxy, beta, lactic, glycolic and malic acids) or fruit enzymes (papaya and pineapple are two of the most effective). As mentioned above, chemical exfoliants are generally a better choice for sensitive skin (just do a patch test first). They are also better for acneic skin because rubbing or massaging the skin can spread oils from acne, causing more breakouts.

Oh, you want me to shut up and give you my pro recommendations? I see how it is. I’ll do it, not because I am a pushover but because I want to help you get your skin in better shape.

For physical exfoliants, I recommend Dermalogica Skin Prep Scrub http://www.dermalogica.com/skin-prep-scrub/10,default,pd.html?cgid=exfoliants&start=5&cgid=exfoliants

For chemical exfoliants, I like Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant http://www.dermalogica.com/gentle-cream-exfoliant/9,default,pd.html?cgid=exfoliants&start=3&cgid=exfoliants. It’s technically a mask but it is an exfoliating mask, so it still counts.

For the indecisive types, I recommend Kate Somerville ExfoliKate. It is a scrub that contains fruit enzymes so you can use it as a physical or chemical exfoliant. http://www.sephora.com/exfolikate-gentle-exfoliating-treatment-P232925?skuId=1201763&icid2=search_search_p232925_image

There are some contraindications to exfoliation, so take note.

  1. Waxing. On its journey to eliminate hair, waxing also removes the dead skin cells from that outermost layer of skin. If you exfoliate prior to waxing, you are exposing the equivalent of a fresh layer of skin, which is more sensitive. Using hot wax on that area can cause burns. If you exfoliate right after a wax, you will likely cause irritation to that sensitive layer. I recommend doing any exfoliation 48-72 hours before waxing or 48 hours after to avoid burns, irritation and redness.
  2. Retinoids. Products containing retinoids naturally exfoliate the skin. As a regular prescription Retinol user, I do not exfoliate my face. Doing so can cause irritation and redness.
  3. Accutane*. This anti-acne prescription makes the skin thinner so exfoliation can be especially irritating.
  4. Double Exfoliation. I don’t know if this is technically a contraindication, but I’m including it here. Don’t use a physical exfoliant followed by a chemical exfoliant or vice versa to get extra exfoliated. It’s not going to make your skin glow or feel softer any quicker and is likely to have the opposite effect. There is no “get rich quick” equivalent in skincare. Exfoliation works best when it’s done consistently but with enough time in between exfoliation treatments to prevent irritation.

I hope that I’ve convinced you that exfoliation should be an integral part of your skincare routine. It really makes a huge difference in the look and feel of skin, and it is not especially time consuming or expensive. Any dermatologist, esthetician or makeup artist would agree with me on this. So listen to us, okay?

Have a beautiful day:)

*Accutane now only exists in generic versions, but this is the name most familiar to people.

 

Celebrity Makeup Looks: A How To Guide

It’s helpful when a client shows pictures of celebrity or model makeup they want for their wedding or an event. The pictures are sometimes all over the board in terms of similarities, but with a proper breakdown, I can always pinpoint what they have in common (i.e. glowy skin, black winged liner, berry stained lips, etc.) In this way, inspiration pictures are great because a client may not know how to explain what they want in makeupese but I can figure it out from the pictures and a thorough consult.

The problem comes in if the client expects me to make them look exactly like the celebrity/model in the picture. Sometimes the client has a completely different skintone, eye color, eye shape, bone structure and/or hair color, so even the exact same makeup used on that celebrity/model is not going to look the same on the client. And beyond that, that celebrity/model has access to or income for things the average person does not. Let me say that again–celebrities/models have access to or income for things the average person does not. It’s unfair and pretty ridiculous to compare yourself to someone when you are not starting out on a level playing field.

Still convinced you can look like Gigi Hadid? Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. I’ll tell you how you can get there.

  1. The Basics. You have to do all of these things. https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/          Consistently. These are do-able, but what follows probably isn’t for most people. You’ve been warned.
  2. Open Up Your Wallet. I don’t believe most celebrities are totally honest about their beauty regimens, but sometimes you get a peek into what they do. I recently read an article about a 16 part face and body anti-aging skincare treatment that Jennifer Aniston does. This is some of what it includes:
    • Pre-treatment skin evaluation
    • 45 minutes wrapped in a full-body heating pad to sweat out impurities
    • Cleansing and facial massage
    • Hydrotherapy tub treatment
    • Body massage
    • Wrinkle-reducing LED therapy
    • Skin-firming collagen mask
    • Body contouring treatment to smooth cellulite

    Each session takes about three hours, costs $900 and should be done once a week. That’s $3,600 a month.

    So when you see celebrity makeup/model you like in a picture, on TV or in a film, remember those many of those people have access to treatments like that as well as the Botox, fillers and cosmetic surgery they don’t talk about.

  3. Hire a Team. If you see an editorial photo, be it in an article or ad, know that the woman had her makeup done by a pro artist who might have taken 2-3 hours to do it–which is more time than most people want to budget for their wedding or event makeup. If she is an actress or model, she may have started out with genetically good skin (many models do) and/or have access to stupidly expensive beauty treatments like mentioned above. A makeup artist is there for constant touchups during the shoot. The lighting and film is used to further flatter the actress/model. Then, the picture is passed on to someone who retouches it. They might enlarge eyes, whiten teeth, make lips look fuller, make cheekbones more pronounced, make pores disappear, straighten a nose, etc. What many people think is makeup is actually Photoshop. The cost for this team will make your $3,600 monthly skin treatment budget look paltry.
  4. Maybe It’s Maybelline? Doubtful. The makeup that is used on celebrities and in advertisements is usually high end. If you want to look like Jennifer Lawrence did at the Oscars you are not going to get there with all CoverGirl makeup. I find that a lot of people want a celebrity makeup look but they want it on a budget. Here’s a secret–they often don’t use the makeup from that line in the ads that you see for drugstore makeup. And it gets edited like crazy anyway. I have a few drugstore products I like but overall, the color payoff, longevity, texture and packaging is not as good as higher end products.

So when you see celebrity makeup you like in a picture, on TV or in a film, remember they have access to high end skincare treatments, lighting (don’t underestimate the power of this one), frequent touchups from makeup artists and some serious retouching if it’s in print. Even if you are consistent with your own skincare routine, you can’t compare yourself to the Beyonces and Scarlett Johanssons of the world if you aren’t doing what they do. I’m not suggesting that you do, I’m just saying it’s an unfair comparison.

I understand wanting to have the clear skin or full eyelashes that you see on a celebrity/model, but remember that it took effort and money for them to look like that. If you can’t put in the same effort and money, then you don’t compare yourself. I know I am being repetitive, but that’s because I don’t think most people really understand these huge differences.

And can we as a society stop trying to look like certain celebrities or models? How about we applaud true talent and sure, appreciate beauty, but not try to look exactly like them. I think it’s much more interesting (and genuine) when someone has their own look and doesn’t follow trends. I say take care of your skin, play with makeup until you find what looks good on you and then be done with it. Be happy that you can walk outside with no makeup on and not end up on the cover of a magazine with the headline “Is She Dying Today? Sure Looks Like It*.”

Have a beautiful day:)

*That would be me on less than 6 hours of sleep or the morning after I’ve had three drinks. 

 

Product Review: REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial

Flash Rinse
Ren Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial

It’s no secret that I’m a believer in good skincare. So when my cousin, Saint Maria, gave me a sample of the REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial, I was of course excited to try it. REN has a great reputation among legit pro makeup artists like Lisa Eldridge, so I considered it pre-approved.

Flash Rinse claims to rejuvenate, firm and smooth skin. You apply it to dry skin, massage it in, add water to activate the Vitamin C, and let it sit for one minute. The directions say to do this every three days. So another reminder to go in the Google Calendar…

Other than following the directions, I like to go into trying product samples blind, meaning I don’t read any reviews or do product research first. I’m afraid I can be an impressionable little makeup artist who is easily swayed by the written word. So I prefer to try a sample without really knowing what it’s supposed to do or what others thought of it.

The sample size allowed me to try the Flash Rinse three times. Here’s what I thought of it:

  1. It’s Got Grit. The formula is oily and gritty, which surprised me as I was expecting a cream. There’s nothing wrong with a little grit but if you have a spray tan, I would avoid this as grit = exfoliation, and you’ll lose color if you exfoliate.
  2. Hibachi Craving. I read reviews after I used the product and it’s described as having a metallic scent. I don’t know what the problem is with my sensory synapses, but I thought it smelled like soy sauce. I don’t mind the smell of soy sauce but my brain was having a tough time connecting that smell with a beauty product. It’s like if you went to eat some chocolate cake and it smelled like roses. Even if you like the smell of roses, that’s not what you are used to chocolate cake smelling like so it might throw you. There was also a vitamin scent to the Flash Rinse, which makes sense since it contains Vitamin C. Ah, something my brain can accept.
  3. Feel The Burn. After I rinsed off the Flash Rinse the first time I tried it, my skin felt like it was on fire. Oh, shit, I thought, I’ve had a bad reaction. I put a cold compress on and waited for some angry, red skin to show up, but I was fine. It was then that I realized how powerful this product is. The Vitamin C in higher end products is more concentrated and potent than what is in most Vitamin C containing drugstore products (10% Vitamin C in this one). The first night I used the Flash Rinse, I applied it within minutes of cleansing my face. The second and third times, I waited 20 minutes to apply it so my skin’s acid mantle (basically a ph balanced protectant layer over the skin) had time to come back. I had no issues with burning, at least at that level, when I waited for 20 minutes.
  4. Yo, That’s Tight. My skin felt super tight after rinsing off this product. I don’t like that feeling, but it’s nothing a little face oil didn’t fix. I have combination skin but I know many oily skin people like that tight feeling. It may be more bothersome to those with dry skin but again, a little face oil will solve the problem.
  5. Time Sensitive. You’re looking at about 90 seconds total for this product (30 to apply, 60 to let it do its thing). That is a perk for those of us who already have 8 million things to do every day and zero time left for anything else. I appreciate an efficient product the same way I appreciate a cashier who has my stuff wrung up before I even have my wallet out or an oil change that’s done in the time it takes me to answer three emails.

The Verdict: I know some of these things sound negative, but none of them were enough to turn me off from the product (after I confirmed that I wasn’t having a reaction to it, anyway). My feeling was if my skin looked considerably better after the Flash Rinse, it would be a winner. So was it? You’ll have to read next week’s post to find out….

I’M PLAYIN.’ Although my skin looked good after the Flash Rinse, I wasn’t blown away. My skin is already in good shape, but my beauty intuition tells me that someone whose skin doesn’t get much attention and looks dull would benefit from this. I would not recommend this for anyone with sensitive skin (REN says the same thing in their product description) because of the potency, but if you are not sensitive and your skin needs a serious pick-me-up, this could be a great match for you. REN recommends doing a patch test on your inner arm before applying it to your face.

I suspect I would have seen more of a difference if I had a full-sized bottle of the Flash Rinse and used it every three days for a month. But I normally don’t buy a full sized product based off a sample unless that sample really impresses me. I would definitely consider buying a full sized bottle if my skin goes through a rough patch (or gets rough patches on it) in the future.

I am posting this review because I know that many people don’t have a consistent skincare routine, sometimes because they don’t have the time. But 90 seconds every three days? Everyone has time for that. If you go from doing nothing to regularly cleansing, moisturizing and using the Flash Rinse, I predict a noticeable improvement of your skin. You can get it at Sephora, $48 for 2.5 oz.

Have a beautiful day:)

 

 

 

Product Review: Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base

My mother is a fantastic cook. People request her chicken parm, they eat six slices of her pizza and they know whatever meal she puts in front of them is going to be delicious. She is not, however, a baker. I thought things that happen in the kitchen are all part of the same category, but Mammamia says she doesn’t like baking because she has to follow recipes. (We’ve got rebel blood in our family.) Substitutions, she says, work fine in cooking if you know your stuff, but you can’t go rogue with baking. (Hence her recent banana bread fiasco–turns out whole wheat flour should not replace regular flour.)

So when I see a primarily makeup company create a skincare product or vice versa, I don’t have high hopes.  Many makeup companies excel in their products–eyeshadows, lipsticks, foundations, etc.–but that doesn’t mean they understand skincare. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by the Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base.

This product is meant to be both a primer and a moisturizer. It contains shea butter and vitamins C and E. Shea butter has become very popular the past few years due to its moisturizing properties, and vitamin E is known to have a healing effect on scars and marks. Vitamin C is a winner in the anti-aging category. So that trio is impressive, especially coming from a cosmetics company.

Face Base comes in a plastic black and white jar. I have a sample size (.24 fl oz) but the full size is 1.7 oz. The packaging is simple and classy, like every other Bobbi Brown product I have seen. The lid closes tightly and stays on. My only issue with jars is that if you use your fingers to retrieve the product, you are introducing bacteria into the product. When you seal the jar, you are basically throwing a bacteria party. You remember the “warm, dark and moist” breeding ground thing from Bio 101, right? Bacteria can cause breakouts and skin irritation so especially if you are acne-prone, use a clean tool of some sort (makeup spatula, scoop, even a cotton swab) to retrieve the product.

The formula itself is–say it with me–like buttahhhh. But it absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave an oily residue. To borrow a term from Lisa Eldridge, one of my makeup artist idols, this product is nourishing. It made my skin feel considerably softer. I am a combination skin gal and I tend to get more oily as we get into the warmer months, so I think this could be a little too heavy for me and others like me during the summer. It’s not the heaviest cream I’ve ever used, but anytime you see shea butter listed as an ingredient, you can assume the product is geared more towards a normal, normal-to-dry or dry skin. As a moisturizer, this product does a great job. I used it on my neck overnight several times and woke up with crazy smooth skin.

Face Base has a moderately strong grapefruit scent. That doesn’t bother me, and the scent disappears after you apply it, but if you are sensitive to scented products, this might be a turnoff. It’s not perfume-y though. It has more of a fresh scent, which I know many people like.

Primers are supposed to do one or two things. One is to prep the skin to allow for a smoother makeup application. A good primer in this sense will allow your makeup to glide on, and can give a little glow to your skin. The other priming factor is longevity. In that arena, a primer should extend the wear of your face makeup. It does that by forming a kind of protective layer between your skin and your face makeup so the oils from your skin–the culprits behind makeup fading–can’t sneak through as easily. Face Base excels in the skin prep area. My foundation sat beautifully on top of the Face Base and I did see an undeniable glow. (What’s up now, JLo?) As far as extending makeup longevity, I saw no difference. I prefer that my primers take care of both prepping the skin (although I often use moisturizer first) and extending the wear of face makeup, so this isn’t the right primer for me. Longevity is important to me because I do a lot of wedding makeup, which needs to last all damn day. Face Base might be fine as a primer for someone with dry skin, since they don’t have as much oil coming through, but I don’t consider this a good longevity primer for my oily or combination skin peeps.

There is no SPF in Face Base, so if you use it during the day, make sure to use a separate SPF. If you use it only at night, you don’t have to worry about that (unless you live in Alaska and sleep outside during the summer).

Overall, I do like this product. I think it’s great day cream and primer for anyone with dry skin (just make sure to use SPF too). For someone with combo or normal-to-oily skin, you might like this during the winter (still use SPF) or as a night cream.

Feelin’ it? You can get it at Sephora, Bobbi Brown or Bobbi Brown counters. It retails for $58. I realize that’s not cheap but I can see this being a game changer for people with normal-to-dry or dry skin who want a smoother foundation application and some glow.

Have a beautiful day:)

 

 

 

 

She’s So Basic

Which one of these scenarios do you think is realistic?

  1. Your college roommate loses 20 pounds and 8 inches off her waist in one week by working out and eliminating gluten.
  2. A former coworker opens a new business on a Monday and is millionaire by Friday.
  3. Your funny neighbor does three open mic nights and has an HBO comedy special by month’s end.
  4. Your sister, who sporadically uses moisturizer and sometimes washes her face, takes 5 minutes to apply her makeup and has the dewy look Jennifer Lawrence had at the Oscars.

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight will admit that it takes a lot of time, discipline and effort. Entrepreneurs understand that you are lucky to turn a profit after a year in business, never mind a week. And if you’ve ever known an aspiring comedian or seen interviews with someone who made it big, you realize it’s often a decade before they have a solid career. I think most people would agree there are no overnight successes in these areas.

But when it comes to beauty, many people expect results quickly and with little effort. In a world of celebrities who don’t disclose their actually beauty routines and Instagrammers who use filters and editing to achieve perfection, it’s not surprising that many people think it doesn’t take much to look flawless.

There is going to be a follow up to this post to help you understand what goes into red carpet makeup, the photos you see in magazines and all kinds of advertisements. But for now, I want to talk about what non-celebrities can do to get good skin.

If you want your makeup to look great, you have to start with The Basics. Amazing in-person makeup always starts with good skin. There is no way around this. A picture, as we all know, can be edited into perfection but I think most of the readers of this blog want skin and makeup that looks good during actual human interactions.

Unless you are someone who is genetically blessed with soft, even-toned skin and no undereye issues (aka the unicorns of the beauty world) you are going to have to put some effort in. I want you to re-read that sentence and let it sink in. If you are not willing to put some time and effort into your skincare routine, this is not the post for you. But before you leave, please know that your makeup will never look its best if you don’t take care of your skin. Okay, bye!

For those of you who know it takes work to get results in life, this is for you. It doesn’t even take that much time out of your day, so you can drop that excuse. Here is the bare minimum of what you need to do to keep your skin in good shape.

  1. Cleanse Your Sins. You absolutely have to remove your makeup and cleanse your skin every night. Sleeping in makeup–or even just the dirt, oil and other junk that makes its way onto your face every day–is a great way to cause breakouts. And sleeping with eye makeup on can contribute to undereye puffiness and cause eye infections. If you are not using an oil cleanser, I recommend using an oil makeup remover, like Dermalogica PreCleanse, first. Then use your cleanser. In my opinion, nothing breaks down makeup like oil. You can also save a step and do what I do–use an oil cleanser. My favorite is NUDE Perfect Cleanse Nourishing Cleansing Oil. Unless you have very oily skin, cleansing once a day before you go to bed is enough. Total Time Needed: 5 minutes.
  2. Be A Softie. Your skin needs moisture. Dry skin peeps often inherently understand this, but if your skin is oily or normal, that doesn’t mean you can skip this step. When oily skin is stripped of its oils (which can happen during cleansing, especially if you are using an oil-free cleanser), that sends a message to the skin to produce more oil, thus making the skin even more shiny. If you have oily skin, use an oil-free moisturizer like Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture with SPF 35 to make sure that you nourish that epidermis. That’s a great moisturizer for combination skin as well. Dry skin benefits from a thicker formula like Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre, and normal skin does well with a moisturizer like Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. In terms of makeup, a dewy look will never work on un-moisturized skin, nor will a matte look, as the foundation will cling to dry patches and not apply evenly. Apply moisturizer once a day and you can check it off your To Do list. Total Time Needed: 30 seconds. 
  3. Protect Ya Neck.  And your face. If your moisturizer does not contain SPF, you must must must apply it separately. Skin cancer is real–take it seriously. And in terms of beauty, nothing ages a face faster than sun exposure. UVA and UVB rays break down collagen, which is what keeps skin smooth and firm. When collagen diminishes, skin sags and fine lines and wrinkles form. The sun also causes hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation (that’s light spots and dark spots). Uneven skintone is just as aging as fine lines, so keep that in mind while you’re people watching at the beach. I live in an area of the country where we have seasons, so the sun is merely an acquaintance during the winter. Even so, I use a moisturizer with at least an SPF 15 to guard my skin during the three hours of daily sunlight we get in January. Come springtime (oh, joyous springtime) I bump it up to an SPF 35. In the summer, I sometimes use a separate sunscreen with SPF 30 (SPF 50 if I’m going to the beach). I currently use Aveeno Protect + Hydrate which absorbs nicely and does not cause me to breakout. Total Time Needed: 30 seconds. 
  4. Slough It Off. Skin cells die. It’s a fact of life. But unless you remove them from your skin, they hang around like that last party guest who just doesn’t get it. And when they hang around, they absorb your moisturizer, which is meant for your living skin cells (so rude!). They also grab onto makeup, causing it to be uneven. Dead skin cells give an overall dull look to your skin, which does you no favors whether you are barefaced or wearing makeup. Luckily, there is a super easy solution–exfoliation. This really deserves its own post, so I’ll put that on the list. Until then, please get yourself an exfoliant and use it twice a week. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate is bomb, as is Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant (that one is a mask but does the same thing). Disclaimer: If you use prescription retinol or any other product that is contraindicated with exfoliation, skip this step. Retinol exfoliates on its own so you’re not messing anything up by omitting this. Total Time Needed: Anywhere from 3-15 minutes, depending on the type of exfoliant you use. An enzyme exfoliant usually needs to sit on the skin for a bit to work, but the only active work you have to do is apply it and rinse it off.
  5. Oil Based. Unless you have truly acneic skin, you will benefit from using a face oil. The exact oil you use is going to depend on your skin type and needs, but I believe that like soulmates, there is one out there for everyone.* Check out this post for more info on face oils: https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/how-about-an-oil-change/   Total Time Needed: 1 minute.
  6. Treat Yo Self. I’m going to heavily generalize here and call everything that is not mentioned above a skin treatment. The treatments you use are to address your individual skin concerns. That could be rosacea, fine lines, dull skin, pigmentation, etc. I suggest finding a product that addresses that concern and use it consistently. Vitamin C is a great choice for someone who doesn’t have a specific concern but wants their skin to look its best. Total Time Needed: Varies by treatment. 
  7. Cut the Crap. Even if you do all of the things I mentioned, your skin will never look its best if you smoke, regularly overindulge in adult beverages, skimp on sleep or eat unhealthy foods. You may not want to hear that, but I speak the truth. Total Time Needed: N/A. This isn’t so much a time thing as an effort and lifestyle thing. 
  8. Pay Attention. Often times, the things not working as they should inside your body will show up on your skin. The skin is an organ that can outwardly show there is a problem on the inside. A breakout, for example, can indicate a hormonal issue or a food allergy. So if you notice changes, get your ass to a doctor. Skincare can address what I consider surface-level issues (i.e. dryness, dullness, some types of breakouts) but a systemic issue can not be resolved with salicylic acid or a good moisturizer. Total Time Needed: N/A. This is my way of sneaking in some information I wanted to relay.

If you do not fully remove your makeup and cleanse your face every night and you never use moisturizer with SPF (or moisturizer and a separate SPF), you should really lower your expectations for how your skin and therefore makeup will look. Consistently doing all of the steps I recommend doesn’t guarantee your skin will be in great shape, but it will give you a solid base. As you can see, none of these things take a huge amount of time but they do make an impact. Very few good things in life come with no effort and no time spent, and your skin is no different. (That one should be in fortune cookie.) But you can definitely do it. I have faith in you!

Have a beautiful day:)

*Not sure I actually believe that. My personal jury is still out on soulmates, but I stand behind that theory for face oils.

Product Review: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eye Pencil

Bobbi Brown eyeliner

Topshop Kohl Eyeliner in Saddle was the one that got away. Or at least the one that got discontinued. That was my favorite eyeliner to wear and I used my last one until it was a tiny nub. It was the perfect brown for my hazel eyes. Saddle did a standup job of enhancing the green I desperately try to bring out thanks to its reddish gold glitter flecks. Those tiny particles didn’t look like glitter or worse, act like it (no glitter fallout with Saddle).

I’ve been on the hunt for a new brown pencil eyeliner ever since I laid Saddle to rest. I was open to trying different browns and thought I would go in the dark brown direction. When I saw the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear in Pencil in Mahogany, my broken heart felt hopeful. Could this be the one?

Mahogany is a deep, dark matte brown. No glitter here, Mariah. It’s a standard eyeliner pencil with a solid plastic cap that stays on. The cap of an eyeliner pencil is important because if it is flimsy and cracks open or slides off easily, it exposes the pencil to air, which can dry it out. Even the best eyeliner pencil can’t survive the elements.

My favorite thing about this eyeliner is the color. It is a rich, saturated dark brown with great color payoff. It’s different from my beloved Saddle but I love this color just as much.

Unfortunately, it feels waxy and hard when lining the eye. It definitely drags on the skin, which I think is a universal makeup hate. I try to be so gentle on the eye area since that skin is very thin but it’s hard to be gentle and get the liner to draw on with this pencil.

The tip of the pencil is on the thicker side, even when sharpened, so it’s impossible to get a thin line. Even though it feels hard and pulls on the skin, the tip of it somehow also falls off easily. Usually that happens if a pencil feels soft (like most kohl pencils) but this one does not. It may be because it is on the drier side so the tip eventually dries out and cracks off.

I haven’t experienced any smudging or fading with this eyeliner so I think it lives up to its Long-Wear name. I realize this is a huge plus because many people have issues with eyeliner staying on.

I should have known this going into it, since most long-lasting products don’t blend well, but this eyeliner is impossible to blend. Once it’s on, it sets immediately. If you like a medium thick defined line, you’ll probably love it. I personally prefer a smudged out, blurry line so I don’t like that it sets so damn fast.

The liner is decent on the waterline. It doesn’t stay for hours, but it also doesn’t disappear right away. Some pencil liners– specifically the waxy longwear or waterproof ones–don’t even show up on the waterline so I was surprised that this one did. I didn’t experience any problems with it flaking off, which is important when you are lining the waterline.

The Long-Wear Eye Pencil did not quite do it for me. If Saddle taught me anything it was not to settle. I believe I’ll find my match someday, and I won’t stop looking until I do.

Have a beautiful day:)

Ever Wonder Why…

Could a kid growing up in the 90s love hip hop as much as she loved mystery book series? Damn straight. I was into Biggie Smalls, Li’l Kim and DMX as much as I was into Babysitter’s Club Mysteries, Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew. The former because those flows though and the latter because I like a good mystery solved by a pro.

And I’m in still into both. People come to me with their makeup mysteries and I solve ’em (often while listening to hip hop). I’m going to tell you about some cases I’ve cracked so you can look even more fly.

  1. Why do my lashes look so much longer after I put on mascara? You may think well duh, it’s the mascara. Part of it is product, but if you see a major difference with any mascara you use, it’s probably because the tips of your lashes are blonde. Even if your lashes grow in dark, the very ends of them could be blonde. So if you’re a brunette and your lashes are mostly dark, you can now nod your head knowingly when someone says “Blondes do have more fun!”
  2. I wear the same foundation as my sister but her’s stays on so much longer. What the hell? I’m pissed. Chances are your skin is more oily than your sister’s. Oil breaks down makeup so if your skin is producing more oil than your sister’s, your foundation will fade faster. Try using primer first and setting everything with a setting spray, like Urban Decay 24/7 All Nighter.  Primer gives the added benefit of making your foundation apply more smoothly, so now you’re winning the foundation game. Not that sisters ever keep score.
  3. The lipstick that I loved in the tube looks way different on my lips. What am I doing wrong? You’re doing nothing wrong, boo. It’s just that your lips have their own color which effects the color you put over it, especially when you use a sheer lip color. The more matte (opaque) a formulation is, the more it will cover your natural lip color. But if your natural lip color is darker than the lip color, even a matte lip color might not do it. If you want the true color in the tube, run a tiny bit of foundation or concealer (like the amount left on your brush or sponge after applying to your face) over your lips prior to applying lip color. There’s your blank canvas, just waiting for its perfect lip color soulmate.
  4. Why do I get dark circles when I’m tired? Annoying, right? You’re already tired from binge-watching Master of None and you look like hell? Life is so unfair. There is of course a biological reason why this happens and ways to hide your dark side from the world, which I’ve addressed in this blog post. https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/i-got-plenty-of-sleep-last-night-or-how-to-make-undereye-circles-disappear/   And next time, don’t “Just one more  episode” yourself. I know how you do.
  5. I’ve been using face oil but it’s making my makeup slide off. What’s the deal? You’re either using too much, not massaging it into your skin enough or applying makeup immediately after. Typically, 1-3 drops is enough for oily skin, 2-4 drops is good for normal skin and 4-6 drops is ideal for dry skin. Apply it after your moisturizer has absorbed but at least 5 minutes before primer or foundation. I prefer to really massage it into my skin which revs up circulation and helps it absorb more quickly, but go with a patting motion if you’re on the oily side.
  6. Why does liquid foundation always look so weird on me? I think I know what  you mean by “weird.” If you went from nothing or a tinted moisturizer to a full coverage foundation, you probably aren’t used to seeing your skin without the variations in skintone, lack of redness, freckles, etc. Backtrack and try a sheer foundation like MAC Face & Body, which will let your skin show through.
  7. I tried prescription retinol but it made my skin peel. What should I do? This shit was not cheap. Don’t give up yet! Read my blog post and watch your life improve. https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/forever-young-my-retinol-journey/
  8. My undereye concealer gets really caked up, no matter what kind I use. How do I make that never happen again? First things first, dab a little moisturizer under your eyes prior to applying your concealer. That primes the area and keeps product from gathering on those tiny bumps of skin. Let it sit for a few seconds, then apply concealer. A rice-grain sized amount should be enough to do both undereyes. Concentrate your concealer in the center and towards the nose, as that’s where most darkness is. After about 5 minutes, apply a very light layer of translucent powder to set the concealer. If you are not using too much concealer, this process should eliminate your problem. My favorite undereye concealer is MAC Select Coverup and Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in Transparent is my favorite translucent pressed powder.
  9. Why won’t my eyeshadow stay on? Is it afraid of commitment like every guy I date? I’m not sure what’s wrong with those jokers, but if your eyeshadow is fading fast and you’re not already using one, get yourself an eye primer. Too Faced Shadow Insurance is the gold standard, says this girl. And know that in general, drugstore eyeshadows don’t having the same staying power as higher end brands. MAC eyeshadows are fantastic and when they are paired with Shadow Insurance, you’re talking all-day strong.
  10. Why don’t I look glowy when I use the products magazines tell me to use? Because this: https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/the-truth-about-the-dewy-look/

Now you can go about your day with a better grasp on the beauty world. It makes it less intimidating when you know how to navigate it, right?

Have a beautiful day:)

 

 

lip gloss

Product Review: Laura Mercier Lip Glace

Finding the perfect lip gloss is like the quest for the Holy Grail. I think I speak for many people when I say that all we really want out of life is a lip gloss that is pretty, pigmented, long-lasting, not goopy (that’s the technical term), non-sticky, non-drying and doesn’t smell like burnt plastic. That is a tall order and the reason why I constantly try new lip glosses.

I have a few of the Laura Mercier Lip Glace glosses in my kit and while they might not be the Holy Grail, they are solid fo sho’.  Here’s how I think they stack up on my ratings scale.

The Pretty Factor: This is a preference thing because everyone has certain colors that they like and certain colors they would never wear. So I think a product line that has a lot of options ranks high in this part of the competition. There are currently 28 Lip Glace shades–a more than respectable number. So I’ll give them a 10 out of 10 for this one.

The Pigment Factor: Some people like a super sheer lip gloss, but I’ve found most want a gloss that has a decent amount of pigment. Buying a super sheer gloss can sometimes feel like you are not getting enough product for the price. The Lip Glace glosses have, in my humble opinion, a near perfect amount of pigment. There is enough color payoff to be visible but they are not as opaque as a liquid lipstick. I give them a 9 out of 10 here.

The Longevity Factor: Have you ever been ghosted by someone you liked? What about by a lip gloss? You put it on, it’s there and then it disappears without even a halfass text. The nerve! When I apply a lip gloss, I want it to stay in place for at least an hour or two. The Lip Glace glosses are pretty good at sticking around. They are not superstars in this category, but they are also not the kind to bounce after five minutes. This ties into the stickyness factor, which I will get to. I give them a 7 out of 10 here.

The Goopy Factor: There are glosses that slip and slide and glosses that lay it on thick. I’ve yet to find anyone who likes a thick gloss. I don’t find the Lip Glace glosses to be thick but after reading several reviews I know that some people do, so I will give it an 8 out of 10. I realize that I may have more of a tolerance for a gloss that is a little thick because I know that means its longevity and pigment will be stronger, but I understand that not everyone thinks that way.

The Stickyness Factor: Sticky icky icky, right? (You with me, Snoop?) Most people agree that sticky glosses are not comfortable to wear and God forbid you do so when your hair is down. The thing is, the ingredient that makes a gloss sticky is, as far as I can tell, the same one that makes a gloss long-lasting. So, are the Lip Glasses glosses sticky? A little bit, but not overpoweringly so. I give it an 8 out of 10 here.

The Drying Factor: It doesn’t matter how otherwise fantastic a gloss is–if it dries your lips out, you probably don’t want it. I’ve experienced this with so many lip glosses that I almost expected it to happen with the Lip Glace glosses. But it didn’t! Good work, Glaces. 10 out of 10.

The Scent: I’m not big on heavily scented products, which I think is the case with the majority of people. The Lip Glaces glosses definitely have a scent, although I wouldn’t call it overpowering. I think they smell like a smoothie made with vanilla and cardboard. The scent is not horribly offensive unless you hate the smell of vanilla (or strangely, cardboard) but I wouldn’t say it is appealing either. So I’ll go right down the middle and give it a 5.

Overall Rating: All things considered, I give this product an 8. That’s right–I know how to do math and get an average.

I think the Lip Glace glosses are a good buy for any personal makeup bag or pro kit. You know I wouldn’t lead you astray.

Have a beautiful day:)

 

How About An Oil Change?

Neutrogena Body Oil Light Sesame Formula. If you were a teen in the 90s, you know what it is. If not, all you need to know is that this stuff is the OG of body oils. But for a long time, oil–especially when it came to face products–was in the Untouchables caste of the beauty world. Oil-free moisturizers, oil-free foundations and oil-free cleansers reigned supreme. The popular belief was that all products containing oil caused breakouts and were therefore to be avoided. You might have read magazine articles about Italian women using olive oil as a moisturizer, but the average American woman thought “Oh no, that wouldn’t work on my skin. But I am thinking about chicken parm for dinner now.”

But times have changed. Oil products are the new It Girl of the beauty world. From oil cleansers to face oils to hair oils, a lot of people–including most dermatologists–are pro-oil. But I realize some people are still skirred. They think any oils used on their face will cause breakouts and hair oil will make their locks look greasy. Some oils do cause breakouts, but that’s not the case for all oils and all skin types*.  I  have combination skin and have struggled with breakouts before. I wouldn’t say I am acne-prone, but I do break out from waxing and every time (on the extremely rare occasion) that I fall asleep with makeup on. If the oil products I love were to cause breakouts, it would have happened to me–which it hasn’t. And hair oil, if used correctly, won’t make your hair look greasy. You can have an oily scalp and dry ends so those ends are crying out for hair oil.

This is my take on oils from my own experience and the experience of estheticians, clients and hair stylists I know. You may find contradictory information from other makeup artists, estheticians, dermatologists and hair stylists. And again, some oils do cause breakouts. It has to do with the size of the oil molecules and the other ingredients in the product, so do your research and choose wisely. Or use my cheat sheet below.

Oils I Have Known and Loved

  1. Neutrogena Body Oil Light Sesame Formula. This oil gives you silky smooth skin. Most body lotions sting my legs if I put them on right after shaving, but that has never happened to me with this oil. It absorbs quickly, the scent is not overpowering and it makes my skin so soft. And at under $10 for 8.5 fl oz, it won’t break the bank. http://www.neutrogena.com/product/body+oil.do
  2. NUDE Perfect Cleanse Nourishing Cleansing Oil. I have tried many oil cleansers and this is the one I always go back to. It removes even heavy makeup without feeling like it’s stripping the skin and it doesn’t leave a film–two of the common problems I’ve had with other oil cleansers. You only need a small amount so one bottle lasts forever. Just try not to get it in your eyes, because as with any cleanser I’ve ever used, that shit stings. Eyeballs don’t need to be cleansed, okay?  http://www.sephora.com/perfecting-cleansing-oil-face-eyes-P375431?keyword=NUDE%20SKINCARE%20Perfect%20Cleanse%20Nourishing%20Cleansing%20Oil%20P375431&skuId=1635473&_requestid=206127
  3. Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil. This face oil was one of the first well known ones. I use it before bed and at least 20 minutes before I apply my makeup in the morning (you can also mix it into your moisturizer to save time). I had some peeling on my chin this winter–partly from retinol and partly from the cold–and when I started using this face oil, my peeling disappeared in two days. That’s fast and you know it. http://www.sephora.com/100-percent-pure-argan-oil-P218700?keyword=JOSIE%20MARAN%20100%20percent%20Pure%20Argan%20Oil%20P218700&skuId=1121797&_requestid=180017
  4. Sachajuan Intensive Hair Oil. I mentioned this product in one of my recent blog posts. I started using it twice a day about two months ago and my hair has never looked better. I apply it to my hair from mid-shaft to ends–never at the roots–and let it work its magic. It takes about 20 seconds to apply so you anti-high maintenance ladies have no excuse. http://www.dermstore.com/product_Intensive+Hair+Oil_48226.htm

So, what do you think? Want to make your skin and hair look and feel healthier? I’d say you are ready for a change.

Have a beautiful day:)

*If you have true acneic skin, I would avoid oil face products until your acne is gone. It’s hard to tell which products–oil based or not–will cause more breakouts on acneic skin, so I would recommend cleanser and moisturizer for sensitive skin along with an acne treatment instead. Also, massaging anything into your skin–which you want to do with face oil–stimulates the oil glands which can aggravate acneic skin.

 

The Lash Trifecta

My father has Trilogitis. It is the compulsion to say the same thing three ways so that “people understand you.” (I have argued that saying something once clearly does the job, but he disagrees.) You won’t find Trilogitis in the DSM-5 because I made it up.

Here’s my go-to example of this disorder which affects dozens of people–who congregate in groups of three–worldwide. This conversation happened after I told my father how much I weigh.

Dad: “I’m twice your size!”

Allison: “Yup.”

Dad: “I mean, two of you would be one of me!”

Allison: “Yeah…”

Dad: “If there were two Allisons sitting in this truck right now, that would equal one Ray!”

Allison: “I UNDERSTAND WHAT ‘TWICE YOUR SIZE’ MEANS!”

My father says things are better in threes, everything should be a trilogy and three ways is ideal. In some cases, I have to agree. Destiny’s Child; Pop, lock and drop it; Tito’s, club soda, splash of cran. They go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. I myself have a beauty trio–a lash trifecta, if you will–and that’s what I’m here to talk about.

After a separation from Dior Diorshow Mascara, my one true love, we are back together. But like any couple giving it another go, we decided to try different things. So we brought Dior Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum into the mix.  I top it all off with L’Oreal Telescopic Mascara and the “Are those your real eyelashes?” questions are back.

With any beauty product, timing and technique are just as important as the product itself. So here’s what you need to know, in a step-by-step format to please my fellow Type A-ers.

  1. Apply a thin layer of  lash serum to the top lashes on one eye. (I like to start with my left eye, in tribute to TLC.) The serum is white and on the thicker side so you will need to comb it through. Do this with a metal lash comb, not a pair of tiny scissors like I use on my own lashes.
  2. Immediately after, apply mascara and comb through. You need to work fast here–no stopping to text your sister or Facebook wish someone you’ve never met a happy birthday. Once the serum dries, you’re dealing with hardened lashes that don’t play well with others. I keep my serum and mascara open during the process so there is no time wasted. It’s serum, comb, mascara, comb. Don’t get it twisted.
  3. Repeat on your other set of top lashes.
  4. Next up is the final coat for top lashes (which I don’t do right away–I’ll post about my makeup steps another day). Take out the L’Oreal Telescopic Mascara, hold the wand up to your lashes and lightly blink into it. This mascara adds length and inky blackness to your lashes.
  5. Apply Telescopic to your bottom lashes. You don’t need to dip back into the tube for this. The amount left on the wand after applying to your top lashes is plenty. The goal of bottom lash mascara is to add volume–not length–to the lash roots, which gives definition to the eyes. If you focus on adding length, you head into spidery territory.
  6. Sit back and let the compliments roll in.

This trifecta has made me very happy. It seems like a lot of steps but you know what? Some things take effort. You’re probably not going to get the best overall makeup results in 3 minutes with all drugstore products. That doesn’t mean you need 45 minutes each morning and an insurance policy for your makeup bag, but I would be doing you a major disservice if I told you everything was quick and wallet-friendly. I suggest that you decide what is most important to you for your everyday look–maybe it’s lashes, even skintone or concealing undereye circles–and put the most time and effort into that area. This post is for the Lash Girls out there, in hopes that this trifecta will improve their beauty lives too.

Have a beautiful day:)