Things Are Looking Up: The May Recap

I’ve been trying on dresses from my closet in anticipation of going somewhere where I can wear them. That’s optimism.

I know May isn’t over yet, but it’s close enough! So let me have this one.

In comparison to April, May really flew by. I don’t know if was because restrictions started to loosen up in my state, or because I got to (safely) see my immediate family and two friends, or because I received some grant and loan money or because May is my birthday month, but May kicked April’s ass, as far as I’m concerned. I felt much more optimistic this month, and other than my mid-May eardrum rupture that put me in the (very empty) ER, I’ve physically felt good too. The vestibular/balance issues I’ve been battling for over a year and a half have been good more days than they’ve been bad in this Taurus-Gemini month, and I’m in the low end of my weight range, which always brings me joy ๐Ÿ™‚

A lot of 2020 AB Beauty brides sadly had to postpone their weddings this month, but we’ve still been able to accommodate 100% of our reschedules, which I am SO HAPPY about. We’ve booked worked with some new brides too, which the whole team is grateful for. We cannot wait to get back to weddings, whenever that may be.

I’ve been busy with The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors, and I’ve come up with a new business idea that you may hear more about in 2021. Even though I had no makeup clients or shoots this month and our next wedding isn’t until mid-July (if we’re lucky), I’ve been a busy little birthday girl.

This summer is going to be a lot different in several ways, but I’m still looking forward to it. The weather will get warmer, restrictions will loosen, and I’m going to be an Auntie for the first time in July! To me–and I realize I’m lucky in many ways–this was the best May could possibly be, all things considered. I’m looking forward to life continuing to get better over the next few months, and I hope life improves for you too.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

You’re Blushing: My Favorite Cheek Color Products

A blushing bride.
Photo: Joe Laurin Photography
Makeup: Allison Barbera

Blush, rouge, cheek color–call it what you will, and wear it if you want. (I’m going to go with “blush” because it’s quicker to type than “cheek color,” and a little more current than “rouge.”) Blush has been getting slightly more love in the beauty world the last few years, but I think it’s still an underrated product. Blush can make you look healthier, younger and it can even help with emphasize your bone structure or downplay things you don’t love about your face shape.

We don’t lack choices in the eye makeup, foundation and lipstick worlds, and blush is no different. There are several blush formulations to choose from. You’ve got your powder blushes, cream blushes, liquid blushes and stick blushes. I generally consider anything that’s not a powder blush to be a cream, in terms of when to apply it and who I would use it on. I work with powders and creams and usually use both on a client and when doing my own makeup.

I’ve become quite fond of several blushes during my career as a makeup artist, and I think it’s time I share those with you.


I’ve been using MAC Powder Blushes since I started doing makeup, and I still use them today. They are long-lasting, well pigmented and come in a huge variety of shades. My favorites are:

Burnt Pepper. A dirty tangerine that looks beautiful on deep skintones.

Fleur Power. A soft bright pinkish-coral that is pretty on those with medium skintones.

Gingerly. A bronze shade that works well on medium and deep skintones.

Melba. A soft coral peach that works well on medium skintones.

Peaches. A pure peach that is beautiful on medium and medium-deep skintones.

Pinch O’ Peach. A peachy pink that I use on many of my clients with light skintones.

Pink Swoon. A soft candy pink that looks great on fair and light skintones.

There are also a couple MAC Mineralize powder blushes that I use. I typically don’t like shimmery blushes, as I think they have a tendency to look fake, and bigger shimmer particles will settle into pores. But Mineralize blushes have just the the right amount of subtle shimmer.

Dainty. This light yellow pink with gold pearl is a favorite of my clients who love blush. It works best on light and medium skintones.

Warm Soul. When I have a client with rosacea, I don’t use anything with red or pink in it on their cheeks because that only brings out the redness I’m trying to cover. So this midtone beige with gold pearl is the perfect choice.


These pigmented, blendable gel-cream blushes come in pretty packaging and man, does a little bit go a long way.

Storm. I’ve used this warm rose on all different skintones. I find it easiest to work with on medium and deep skintones but I’ve used it on light skintones as well (just with a small amount of product).

Dawn. This sunny coral looks pure orange when you first apply it, but then it calms down a little. It’s stunning on medium and deep skintones. I wouldn’t use it on fair or light skin.

Puff. This light cool pink is so pretty! It’s gorgeous on fair and light skintones, as well as light-medium skintones.

Beam. I mainly use this soft peach on light and light-medium skintones. It gives a nice glow without being overpowering.


I discovered these pigmented stick blushes in December, so I haven’t had a chance to try them on clients yet (because I was in Charleston for the winter, then I came back to RI and beauty businesses got shut down).

Halo. A pink shimmer that gives my skin a beautiful healthy glow. The shimmer particles are so fine that they’re undetectable, but they leave a little sheen on the skin.

Flare. A coral shimmer that I like better when I have some self tanner on. Again, I don’t notice the shimmer in this one because the particles are so fine.

I’m sure there are other great blushes out there, but these are my go-to’s. If you don’t already wear blush, give it a try! It can really bring a makeup look together.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚



My Current Makeup Routine: Step by Step

A full face of makeup. And I loved doing it!

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but I’ve had several people over the years ask me how I do my makeup. Some of the products change, but the process has stayed the same. If you’re wondering how I do the damn thing when I wear a full face of makeup (very rare these days), keep reading.

Step 1: Eye primer. I have combination skin and my giant Glo-Worm eyelids are on the oily side, so without this eye primer, my eyeshadow fades off almost completely within a few hours.

Step 2: If I haven’t previously applied my moisturizer, I do it now. But it usually goes on post hyaluronic acid, which I apply after I shower, since it needs to go on moist skin.

Step 3: Even though my moisturizer contains SPF, I don’t use enough of it (half a teaspoon of sunscreen is the recommended amount) to get the full benefit. So if I’m going to be outside for an extended period of time, I add sunscreen to my routine.

Step 4: By now, my eye primer has completely absorbed so I can start my eye makeup. My base/lid shadow goes on first.

Step 5: Since my moisturizer and sunscreen (if needed) have now absorbed, I can do some pore minimizing. I apply a pore minimizer it to any area where there are visible pores, and well as to the fine lines on my forehead and around my mouth. Sometimes those fine lines are barely visible, but if I’m tired, dehydrated or my skin is dry, they’re out full force.

Step 6: Back to the eyeshadow. I finish that up and add eyeliner. Most of the time, I use eyeshadow as an eyeliner, but occasionally I use a gel liner at the upper lashline and/or a pencil liner in the waterline.

Step 7: It’s foundation time! I use a liquid foundation, applied with my hands and blended with a buffing brush.

Step 8: I fill in my brows next, using a matte brown powder eyeshadow. I do brows after foundation so that they are not disturbed while I’m blending the foundation on my forehead, as sometimes the brush will lightly hit my brows as I blend.

Step 9: I erase any shadow fallout from under my eyes with micellar water.

Step 10: While the residue from the micellar water is drying off, I apply my cream brush. The shades I choose vary, but I typically go with a pink or light peach.

Step 11: I apply a thin layer of moisturizer under my eyes to prep. I blend that in with a fluffy eyeshadow brush, then I apply some concealer. If I need to conceal anything on the rest of my face, I do so now.

Step 12: I apply a volumizing mascara to my top lashes.

Step 13: I set my foundation with pressed powder, pushing it into the skin with a buffing brush.

Step 14: I apply a beauty tubes mascara to my bottom lashes, because the tubes don’t smudge.

Step 15: I apply a thin layer of powder under my eyes to set my concealer.

Step 16: I apply a matte bronzer to add some warmth and lightly sculpt my face.

Step 17: I apply an inky black, lengthening mascara to my top lashes.

Step 18: I apply either more cream blush or some powder blush.

Step 19: If I’m going to wear lipstick (I often don’t), I apply it now.

It sounds like 19 steps would take forever, but this whole process only take me 15 – 20 minutes, and that’s usually with multiple email and text distractions. If you have the products and the tools but don’t know when to apply what, hopefully this post has helped.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚


Time Killers: The Comedy Edition

I think many of us are watching TV/Netflix/Prime/Hulu, etc. a little more than normal. Do you agree? Sure you do.

As you may know, I love to laugh, and laughing feels extra needed right now. So if you’re like me and looking for something funny to watch, take a little looksee through this list.

YouTube Shows & Clips

I have Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime for comedy shows and standup specials, but there’s also a lot of comedy gold to be found on YouTube.

Lights Out with David Spade. I love David Spade but you don’t even need to to like this show because each episode features different comedian or comedic actor guests. It originally only ran on Comedy Central, then they started posting full episodes on YouTube. Once corona hit, David began doing episodes from home and video chatting with guests. Comedy Central recently canceled the show for the next season, but it may end up on Netflix or somewhere else where the decision makers understand good comedy. This was one of the great pre-COVID episodes, and here’s what things are looking like now.

Something’s Burning. This show is hosted by comic Bert Kreischer, who has two comedian guests on each episode as they attempt different recipes. I thought the funniest episodes were with Theo Von and Andrew Santino, Chris D’Elia and Bobby Lee, and Colin Quinn and Nick DiPaolo.

Jake & Amir. This show from the College Humor YouTube channel ended a while back, but I still sometimes watch episodes. The two coworkers have often absurd conversations mostly due to Amir’s ridiculous character. The episodes are usually three or four minutes long, so the perfect amount of time if you just want a quick break.

Good Talk with Anthony Jeselnik. There are clips from this Comedy Central show on YouTube, which is the only way I can watch it since I haven’t had a TV since the early aughts. Anthony is one of my favorite comics, so watching him with other comics I love–like Tig Notaro, Kumail Nanjiani, Natasha Leggero, David Spade and Nick Kroll–is enough to make me happy. It’s worth a try, especially if you’ve never seen a deadpan-off.

Under a Rockย with Tig Notaro. Tig is another one of my all-time favorite comics. She’s been in the industry for a long time, but has almost no pop culture knowledge or ability to recognize most celebrities. On this show, Tig meets and questions celebrities she doesn’t recognize to try to figure out who they are. If that premise sounds funny to you, give it a shot with this Tony Shaloub episode.

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard on Taste Buds. In this Ellen segment, two celebrities are blindfolded and one is supposed to describe what the food they are eating is to the other. I don’t remember any of the other people who have been on this segment, but this Kristen and Dax one makes me cry laughing every time.

YouTube Video Podcasts

I only ever watch video podcasts (you won’t find me just listening, unless that’s the only option) and I also only mess with podcasts hosted by or featuring comedians. Especially with certain comedians, facial expressions are part of what makes me laugh, so why would I just listen if I can also watch?

Congratulations with Chris D’Elia. Hands down my favorite comedy podcast. I’ve never missed an episode and I truly look forward to each one being released. If I were you, I would start with Episode 1 and work your way up (they turn into video podcasts starting at episode 33), because there are a lot of jokes and kind of a language that you’ll only understand if you start it from the beginning.ย  I’ll help you out: click here.

This Past Weekend with Theo Von. There’s something about a funny person who also has a Southern accent that makes me laugh extra hard. Theo is naturally funny, and the way that man’s brain works is unreal. I especially love the episodes where he has guests on (like this one with Sebastian Maniscalco), as Theo interacts with people like no other. And his Anthrax Challenge videos–where he opens gifts from fans and hopes they don’t contain anthrax–are hilarious. I would start here and then work your way up to Anthrax Challenge #10, which just came out.

Tiger Belly with Bobby Lee and Khalyla. I’ve loved Bobby since his days on Mad TV, and he makes me laugh just as much on this podcast he does with his girlfriend, Khalyla. I especially like this episode with comic Brent Morin.

Netflix Shows

Thank God forย  Netflix, right? From comedy series to sketch shows to standup, they’ve got a solid selection.

The Fix. I don’t know how this show is not more popular! I’ve watched the entire season three times so far. The panel show, hosted by comic Jimmy Carr, features D.L. Hughley, Katherine Ryan and two rotating comedian guests each episode. They talk about serious issues–like gun control, global warming and the wealth gap–and then try to to fix those issues with solutions that will make you laugh, but sometimes think “Could some of that actually work?”

Grace & Frankie. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda star in this series about two women who are brought together when they discover that their husbands are in love with each other. I’ve laughed out loud at every single episode, and I’m sad the series is done after the next season. Lily Tomlin is, in my opinion, one of the funniest people in Hollywood.

Parks & Recreation. If you haven’t watched this, get on it! This is a classic for a reason. It’s the kind of show where you can go back and watch any episode and it’s still funny.ย  You’ll fall in love with the characters and when you finish the series, if you’re like me, you’ll cry because it’s over. Still worth it.

The Office. Please see: everything I just said about Parks & Rec.

The Good Place. Such great writing on this show about a group of people in the afterlife. I found Ted Danson’s character, Michael, to be especially hilarious. This show is too easy to binge.

Netflix Standup Specials

I’m just going to name the comic, as some of them have several Netflix specials and I don’t have all day here.

Amy Schumer

Anthony Jeselnik

Bill Burr

Brent Morin

Chris D’Elia

Christina Pazsitsky

Craig Ferguson

Daniel Tosh

Demetri Martin

Donald Glover

Fortune Feimster

Hannah Gadsby

Hannibal Buress

Hari Kondabolu

Hasan Minhaj

Jim Gaffigan

Jimmy Carr

John Mulaney

Kumail Nanjiani

Maria Bamford

Marc Maron

Michelle Wolf

Mike Birbiglia

Moshe Kasher (also has a special with his wife, Natasha Leggero)

Nate Bargatze

Nikki Glaser

Patton Oswalt

Ricky Gervais

Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Sloss

Lucas Brothers

Theo Von

Tig Notaro

Todd Barry

Todd Glass

Tom Papa

Tom Segura

Trevor Noah

Sarah Silverman

Wanda Sykes

Zack Galifianakis


I’m new to Hulu (started my free one month membership in February then decided to do a paid membership once that was up), but I’ve been making my way through it.

The Mindy Project. This show created by and starring Mindy Kaling was originally on Fox, then was picked by Hulu after Fox cancelled it. This is a cult favorite type of show that really deserves more widespread recognition. The writing, the characters, the storyline, the acting–everything is as good as it gets. I still think about certain lines of dialogue and start laughing, even months after I finished the series.

Community. The six season series about a group of friends at a community college is the most recent series I watched, and one of the funniest. The actors on this show–including Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Chevy Chase, Alison Brie and Ken Jeong, among others–are so good. I find it hard to picture anyone else playing their roles, because they were so perfect for each one. If you watch this series–and I really recommend that you do–please comment with your favorite scene with the dean, because I have one that I think about pretty regularly and it makes me laugh out loud, by myself.

I could keep going, but I have to end this post somewhere. If you’re in need of a laugh, hopefully this helped. I know it can feel easier to cry than to laugh lately, but you can’t be sad while you’re laughing–which is exactly why we need comedy.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚


April Showers Were The Least of Our Worries: Last Month’s Recap

Anytime I left the house in April.

By late March, I was dreading April. I knew we were looking at a full month of quarantine, and my close-contact business was not allowed to operate (in terms of in-person appointments, anyway). The first half of April went by painfully slow for me. I was having a hard time dealing with being alone 24/7 while also trying to keep my business afloat as more and more summer weddings rescheduled.

On April 17, I created The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors Facebook group, and everything changed. I now have a purpose–helping my fellow vendors as we work through issues related to losing (currently) a minimum of four and half months of income due to rescheduled weddings.

Other than that, I’ve been crazy busy with said wedding reschedules, applying for unemployment (success!), applying for loans (more success!) and talking to my attorney, accountant and others who I’ve consulted with about my business. I have had no real in person socialization for 6.5 weeks, which is hard for my Gemini side (the Taurus in me is fine just touching soft things, and you’ll get that joke if you’re into astrology).

By the end of March, I knew April was going to be tough, but I didn’t know I would be interviewed by local news channels four times. I didn’t expect that weddings as far out as August would reschedule. And I had no idea I would be as busy I normally am this time of year, but that my job would not be what it normally is.

I’m so glad April is behind us. I know I’m biased because my birthday is in May, but I’ve always found May to be a great month. It’s probably because where I live this time of year, the weather starts to get warmer and town starts to get busy as we move towards our summer season. That won’t be the case this May, but our state’s stay-at-home order could be lifted this month, so at least we have that to potentially look forward to.

I hope that there will never again be a month like April 2020, which was a bad month for so many of this planet’s inhabitants. I’m looking forward to things getting better, and that’s what I will focus on as much as I can.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors

It’s been a whirlwind eight days! I’ll tell you how it started.

I got back to Newport on March 18, prepared for the fact that AB Beauty would not have work during the rest of March and all of April due to stay at home orders, group size restrictions and the closure of close-contact business. I also knew that I would not be leaving my house much for that whole time and wouldn’t be able to socialize with anyone in person.

I braced for it, but by mid-April, I buckled. I felt really hopeless and was crying a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. All of our shoots for the foreseeable future were cancelled, and most March, all April and some May bridal trials had been cancelled or rescheduled (RI mandate currently prohibits the operation of close contact businesses, which applies to everyone in the beauty industry, until at least May 8). Not only had March, April and early May weddings been rescheduled, but the remainder of May, most June and some July weddings had rescheduled, many of which to 2021 (and hardly any new inquiries were coming in for 2020 or 2021). Having the majority of our revenue delayed for two or three months was one thing, but having the majority of it delayed for a year plus? That can kill a business.

I was really struggling emotionally and my financial future wasn’t looking too bright either. I had been checking in with my wedding vendor friends to see how they were doing, and on 4/16, I spent an hour on a call with a wedding planner I love and work with frequently. We vented, cried and talked about how hard we were being hit as an industry and how we needed help. Later that day, I talked to my father, who got me laughing for the first time in days. He also suggested doing something to make the state aware of the impact COVID-19 is having on the wedding industry. I spun those two conversations around in my brain and decided to email a very intelligent friend who has worked in politics to see if he thought a letter or petition could be effective. He suggested a letter signed by as many RI wedding vendors as possible and sent to all state representatives.

I figured a Facebook group would not only help me collect signatures for the letter, but it would serve as a forum for those RI wedding vendors looking for guidance, input or wanting to share something they learned. So I started The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors on 4/17. I invited the 35 or so wedding vendors in my Facebook friends and encouraged them to do the same. Eight days and 555 members later, we are a force. With the help of my intelligent friend, a second intelligent attorney friend and my mother (who has written letters to many a state representative), I came up with a letter that I then shared with the group. Whoever wanted to sign it could do so. I sent emailed that letter individually to all 75 state reps, our governor, the head of the Department of Health and some senators. Due to the connections of Intelligent Friend #1 and two group members, three local news channels interviewed myself and some other members of the group and ran stories on the impact of COVID-19 on the wedding industry. I was also part of a conference call with a RI senator yesterday to discuss what is being done on a federal level.

We are still very much hurting as an industry, with little to no revenue coming in and weddings as far out as October being rescheduled. Many of us don’t qualify or aren’t getting approved for the business loans–big or small–out there, no to mention that those funds have been getting depleted very quickly. Some of us have been able to get unemployment, but the payments are a small percentage of what we would normally bring in during our busy season, yet many of our expenses remain the same. That math doesn’t work out.

I realize that we’re not the only industry being affected, and I know that those of us who have our health and our loved ones are very lucky. But for now, other than staying home and following all state mandates, the only thing I can do is try to help my industry (which of course helps my business as well–that is not lost on me). So that’s what I’ll continue to do. It’s given me a purpose and made me so busy that between that and the daily wedding reschedules or back up date checks, I’m as busy as I would normally be this time of year!

And now, back to it. I’ve got emails to read, new wedding contracts to send and maybe, if I’m lucky, an episode or two of something funny to watch.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚



Your Burning Beauty Questions Answered

I’m almost 12 years into being a licensed esthetician and a makeup artist, so I’ve been asked countless beauty questions, and I’ve gotten many repeat questions. In case you share some of the same questions, I’ll post them here.

Bear with me, please. This won’t be my most well-written blog post because I just don’t have it in me.

Where does bronzer go?

If you want to use bronzer for its intended use–to make your skin look sun-kissed–it should go on the “high planes” of your face, aka where the sun naturally hits most. This can vary by person, but in general, the sun hits the tops of cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, the center of the forehead and the center of thin chin. So if I’m trying to create a sunkissed look, those are the areas where I apply matte–not shimmery–bronzer in a shade one or two shades deeper than a person’s skin.

How often should I wash my face?

If you have anything other than truly oily skin, you can wash your face at night only, as long as you use a good cleansing balm or oil cleanser than both removes makeup and cleanses the skin. If you have oily skin, you can add in a morning cleanse to remove some of the excess surface oils, but I would use a gentle cleanser for this cleanse.

Do I need to wear foundation?

You don’t need to wear any type of makeup! But if you want to even your skintone and can’t get the desired results from a tinted moisturizer/CC cream/BB cream or concealer on its on, you might want to try foundation.

How do I cover a zit?

The real answer is that you can’t. Makeup covers color, not texture. So you can color correct the red (from an active blemish) or brown (usually from a blemish that is healing or from an acne scar), but you can’t cover texture. Properly erasing the color will make the blemish barely noticeable, but it won’t make it disappear.

What’s the best way to do mascara?

For volume, hold the wand horizontally as the base of your lashes and wiggle it up towards the ends. For length, hold the wand horizontally towards the tips of your lashes and blink into it. For optimal results–and this seems obvious, but a lot of people don’t know this–use a volumizing mascara for the volumizing wiggle and then a lengthening mascara for the lengthening blink.

What color blush should I wear?

I could tell you by looking at you, but my best advice for you to figure it out on your own by trying different shades. Try a peach, a light pink, a bright pink, a deep pink, a terracotta, a berry, an orange and a red. I’ll give you some guidance: In general, peach will look better on warmed toned skin and pinks and reds are tough for those with rosacea. Oranges and reds are best for deeper skintones. The right blush color will make you look awake and may even make the whites of your eyes look whiter.

Why does my eyeliner always smudge?

I’m going to answer that question with this blog post.

How can I make a matte lipstick not dry out my lips?

Matte lipsticks are often drying, but the formulations have improved over the last few years. Still though, the best way to avoid this is to start out with smooth, moisturized lips. If you know you are going to wear a matte lipstick the next day, use a lip scrub that night, and apply a thick layer of lip balm before bed. Apply more balm in the morning, right up until it’s time to apply your lipstick. Blot off what’s left of the balm, then go for the lipstick. It won’t catch on any dry patches because you’ll have exfoliated them off, and you’ll have some moisture there from the balm so the lack of moisture in the matte lipstick won’t have as much of an effect.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for today.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚


Time Killers: The Beauty Edition

Trying to make the days go by faster so we can get back to normal life when we all didn’t have time to do anything? Beauty distractions can help.

It’s safe to say that some of us are finding ourselves with extra time on our hands this month. You might not be in that position if you work in an essential business (thank you) or have children at home (God bless you), but I know I’m not the only one who is looking for some ways to kill some time. I can only work so much (literally–I have a vestibular disorder that prevents me from looking at screens for too long) and my apartment is already clean and organized, but these days feel long as shit, and I need to make the time pass by quicker and/or keep myself distracted. So naturally, I’ve been upping my beauty game.

I’m going to first tell you about the things I’ve been doing, then give you some other suggestions of things I’ve done in the past or don’t need to do now, but think they could be helpful if you’re looking for some time killers or distractions that will also make you look better or improve your beauty life.

Brushing Up On It. I’ve been using this bath brush on my body a couple times a week before getting into the shower. Dry brushing is supposed to rev up circulation, which I am half sold on, and exfoliate skin, which I am fully sold on. Here’s some info on how to do it. This video doesn’t show it, but I recommend doing your stomach and back as well. I personally skip the chest area because that skin is more delicate, but you do you. Time It Kills: Two minutes.

I’d say there’s about a 50% chance that you own one of these.

Put The Lotion in the Basket (Or On Your Body). Normally, I’m the valedictorian of face moisturizing but am a solid C student when it comes to body moisturizing. I come up with all kind of excuses for myself not to do. “It’s too cold when I get out of the shower!” (in the winter), “I don’t want to to attract bees to my scented lotion!” (in the summer), “I don’t have the time!” (up until mid-March 2020). I did get a little better with it in Charleston this winter because I have more time during my Charleston months and it’s usually not cold, but I’ve been extra good with it since I got back to Newport. I don’t think I’ve missed one day. I’ve been using The Body Shop Body Butter in Coconut, and once I finish that, I have half a tub of their Mango Body Butter to get through. You can’t really see it in my pajamas and hoodies, but I know there’s soft skin there. Time It Kills: Five minutes.

It’s like buttah.

Olaflexin’. I get my roots colored to cover the gray (I don’t have a ton of it, but enough to be obvious), the bottom third of my hair is blue (and needs to be bleached twice a year to get there) and up until recently, I blowdried my hair straight once a week (now I mostly let it airdry and be curly, because no one sees it). That’s a lot of damage to my locks, so I keep them in the best shape possible by using Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 every other time I wash my hair. It’s like a suped up leave in conditioner, but it does more than those do. It rebuilds the broken bonds that are caused by heat styling and hair color. My hair looks and feels considerably better whenever I use Olaplex. It says to leave it on for a minimum of 10 minutes, but I usually do 45+ minutes, and I know people who leave it on for hours or overnight. I sometimes don’t have time for this extra step during my busy season, but since things have changed, I certainly have the time. Olaplex 3 is really a miracle worker, and is one of my all time favorite hair products. Time It Kills: It only takes a few minutes to apply and a few more to wash out, and you can do other things while it’s on. I’ll call it a 10 minute total time investment, since you can multitask while it’s processing.

The good stuff.

Multi-Masking. When I’m being my best self, I do a face mask once or twice a week. I guess I’m being my best self now (minus the daily crying), because I’ve been great with the masks. I alternate between the FRESH Rose Face Mask and Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. I can tell the difference in my skin when I’m regularly masking it, so the effort does pay off. Time It Kills: It depend on the exact mask you use, but the whole process will probably eat up about 15 minutes.

Good cop/good cop.

Keepin’ It Tight. I used the NuFACE Mini 5 – 6 times a week for three months as directed, but now I’m past that and into the maintenance phase, where they say to just use as needed. Once or twice a week seems to keep my face tight and toned, so that’s what I do. Time It Kills: Five minutes to use the device, plus a minute or two before to apply serum or aloe and a minute after to remove it if desired.

Personal training for my facial muscles.

Then there are things I already do regularly but you might not. I’m not calling you out, but as a beauty professional, I do some things now that I didn’t do before I was a makeup artist, so I get it.

It’s Come to an End. No, not the world (although it sometimes feels like that). Some of your makeup and beauty products are expired, and you need to get rid of them. If you don’t know when to toss what, have I got the blog post for you! Time It Kills: I’d say 15 – 30 minutes, depending on how much of a product hoarder you are.

Sort It Out. Now that you’ve thrown out the products that are older than your kindergartner, you’ve got something o work with. I suggest sorting them into two piles–the I Use This and the Forgot I Even Had This pile. Sort your makeup brushes and skincare devices too. I’ve got a project for you after this. Time It Kills: I’ll give you 15 minutes.

Play Time: Part 1. Look at that pile of makeup you don’t use. No, really look. Open each product and ask yourself “Why?” Maybe you’ve got a vampy merlot lipstick you’d never wear, but try it on. Now try it on with a different color shirt. Now try it with your hair up or down. Now blot it with a napkin to make it a stain. Does any of that make you like it? If it’s still not you, try layering a nude or pink lipstick over it to make a new color. You might find a way to wear it that you actually like. You can do a similar thing with eyeshadows and blushes. You can mix two colors together to make a new one. You can play around with eyeshadows and eyeliners, using a light shimmery color that’s too much on your whole lids on just the inner corners, or applying a thin line of the electric blue liner at the bottom lashline but using your regular black liner on top.ย  Makeup comes off, so go crazy! You might find a new way to wear a product you didn’t think you’d like, or you may just realize that no matter how hard you try, terracotta blush does not look great on you. Knowledge is power, boo. Time It Kills: I can see a whole hour disappearing while you play around with makeup.

Go ahead. Have some fun!

Play Time: Part 2. Now it’s time to attack your skincare products, brushes and devices. I’d start by sorting them into three files: Doesn’t Work, It’s Okay and Not For Me. In the Doesn’t Work pile, put your splayed and shedding makeup brushes, your cleanser that never gets all of your makeup off and that Clarisonic that you dropped and has never quite worked the same since. Toss all of that while saying “You’re dead to me.”

The It’s Okay pile should be products and device that work fine, but you don’t really love. So maybe a face oil that makes your skin soft but you’re not wild about the texture, or a body lotion that does the job but takes for ever to absorb. Ask yourself “Can I re-purpose this?” Maybe you designate that body lotion as a foot cream that you use then put socks on, so you can’t really tell how long it’s taking to absorb. And how about using that face oil on your hands, which are dry and cracked from excessive hand washing and will be happy for the healing properties of the oil and won’t care about the texture? (Yes, I did just make your hand sound like their own people.) You can move these products to other places. It’s not a bad idea to have cleanser at the office for a night when you’re working late and know your future self will be so happy not to have to cleanse when you get home, exhausted. Or maybe keep that body lotion at your sister or parents’ house (if they allow it) if you ever spend the night there. Less stuff to pack, you know? If a product or device is good enough for occasional use, keeping it somewhere else (even if it’s just in the downstairs bathroom that you don’t often use) where you may use it is worth it.

The Not For Me pile is for products and devices that you know you will definitely never use or they work but you really can’t get past the scent or texture. If they haven’t been contaminated, you can try passing them off to someone you deem worthy. That’s means don’t give anyone an eyelash serum with a wand that’s touched your lashes or a tub of moisturizer you’ve dipped your hands into, but if you’ve got something that you’ve only touched the outer packaging to–like a bottle of moisturizer with a pump dispenser or a squeeze tube face mask–then go for it. They can disinfect the packaging with a wipe or alcohol, but most beauty products themselves can’t be disinfected. Time It Kills: A good 45 – 60 minutes, depending on how many products you’ve accumulated.

Tubby Time. You should be washing your brushes every 7 – 14 days if you’re using them. You can use a specific makeup brush cleaner or baby shampoo if you only use your brushes on yourself. After you wash your brushes, put them on a counter top or table with the bristles hanging over the edge so they don’t dry with one side flattened. While you’re at it, sanitize any tweezers you have with alcohol. Time It Kills: 10 – 15 minutes.

So fresh and so clean, clean.

New Look. Who Dis? Always wanted to try winged liner, a smokey eye or a red lip? This is the perfect time to practice and perfect! If there’s a technique you want to perfect, there’s a tutorial out there for it. Just make sure you watch tutorials from professional makeup artists, not beauty gurus who aren’t pros. I recommend checking out the YouTube channels for Pixiwoo, Lisa Eldridge and Wayne Goss. KatieJaneHughes on Instagram is also fantastic. Time It Kills: Between watching the tutorial and doing the look, you can easily kiss 45 – 60 minutes goodbye.

Get Buff. Going polish-less while in lockdown? You can still show your nails some love. Buffing is an easy way to make your nails look better without having polish on. Time It Kills: 5 minutes.

It’s your time to shine.

Now Hair, Hair. A leave in conditioner or hair mask can work wonders on dry or damaged hair. If you’re home all day and you’re not in a Zoom meeting and don’t have children climbing on you, maybe you can help your hair out with some repair/moisturizing/color enhancing. There are lots of different hair masks and leave in conditioners out there, so if you don’t have one but want to try one, see if your salon or any local salons have one that you could have shipped to you, dropped off or picked up curbside. Then you can support a local business and improve your hair. A win-win. Time It Kills: 30 – 60 minutes, depending on the products.

I don’t know about you, but I feel better when I look better. I’ve barely worn makeup since March 18, but my skin, hair and nails are looking and/or feeling healthy. And any non-work project–whether it’s using a hair treatment, applying a face mask or buffing my nails–is a distraction and a way to make the day seem a little shorter and a little more enjoyable. That’s reason enough for me to keep up these habits.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Monster: The March Recap

I’m sorry, the post title isn’t accurate. The beginning of March was great for me. I was still in Charleston, having a grand ol’ time with my friends. My parents were in town the first week of March, and we had lots of delicious meals at Charleston restaurants. It was warm enough for me to wear open-toed shoes most days, and that’s one of my favorite things. So March was more “in like a golden retriever” for me.

Of course, things started to change around mid-March. I was supposed to leave Charleston on March 31, but due to the uncertainty of flight cancellations, I left on March 17. It’s heartbreaking for me to leave Charleston each year even when I’ve planned to, so cutting my winter short was really sad. However, it was the smart thing to do, and it’s nothing compared to what a lot of people are dealing with. I got a credit from my cancelled flight and I’m hoping to use that to make a late spring or early summer trip to Charleston once things are back to normal.

So, I’m two weeks into being back in Newport. I’m doing my part and staying home. I’m happy to be back in my awesome Newport apartment (which is 4x the size of the place I was living in in Charleston) and I’m grateful that I can run my business from home. I’ve been dealing with a lot of reschedules for spring weddings and man, do I feel for those couples, as well as for the couples who are holding out hope that they can still have their wedding as scheduled. We’ve been able to accommodate 100% of our wedding reschedule requests, and hopefully it will be the same case for our rescheduled corporate shoots. We’ll take some hits, as all small businesses will, but I do feel that we’re one of the lucky ones in comparison to many other small businesses.

It was quiet for a bit with new wedding inquiries for 2020, but fall inquiries are starting to trickle back in, as are 2021 inquiries. The wedding industry will recover, and those of us who are wedding vendors will likely have a very busy late summer, fall and winter!

There’s no denying that this is a shitty time in the world. But I refuse to believe it’s the end of civilization. So that means that each day is one day closer to things being back to normal, even if that normal is a little different than it has been. Businesses will re-open, postponed weddings and events will happen, and people smarter than me say that the stock market will eventually stabilize.

If you’re in the medical field, work at a grocery store, work for a delivery company or doing any other essential job, thank you for your dedication. This is a scary time to be interacting with the public, and I’m sorry that your job requires you to do so. If you or a loved one are sick, I hope that you recover soon. And if you’ve lost someone, I am truly sorry for your loss.

I’m looking forward to the day when things start to get better for everyone. Hopefully it will come by the time I do my April recap. Until then, I’ll be staying home, keeping as busy as possible and thinking about throwing a summertime combined birthday party for all of my spring baby friends whose birthdays got corona’d.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

Don’t Be Intimidated: A Foundation How To

Getting that foundation perfect for my bride. Photo: Rupert Whiteley

Let’s talk about something else–anything else–than the “C” word. (Takes on a different meaning in spring of 2020, doesn’t it?). You’re in the right place/looking at the right screen! This is primarily a beauty blog, so let’s talk beauty.

If I were to pick the makeup product people are most scared of, it has to be foundation. From choosing the correct color match and formulation to how to best apply it, I understand why it can seem like an overwhelming product to start using. But listen, I’m here for you. I’m going to guide you through each step of the process so by the end of this, you’ll have a great foundation–and I do mean that literally and figuratively.

Let’s get to it!

What’s Your Type? The first thing you should consider when buying a foundation is your skin type. Do you have dry skin, oily skin, normal skin or combination skin? Certain foundations work better on certain skin types. Foundations that have a dewy or luminous finish are typically better for dry or normal skin, as oily skin already has its own shine. Matte foundations are normally better for oily skin, as they tend to be a heavier formulation, which can latch onto dry areas. Because they are heavier, it’s hard for the oil to get through the product and because they are matte, they don’t add shine to already shiny skin.ย  I’m not a huge fan of powder foundations (I normally only use them in place of my usual setting powder to get more coverage on clients with acne), but I definitely avoid them on dry skin, as they can cake up when they encounter dry patches. You can check beauty blogs and reviews for the best foundations for different skin types, but I’ll tell you what I like.

For normal and dry skin, MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation is the bee’s knees. For oily skin, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundationย  or Armani Luminous Foundation (it’s not that luminous, so it’s fine for oily skin) with Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer underneath does the job. For combination skin, I use MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation with Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer underneath and MAC ProLongwear Concealer on the T-zone or oily areas. I realize I’m recommending more than just foundations for two out of four of the skin types, but in my eyes, makeup is a team player situation.ย  Knowing the right kind of foundation for your skin type will help keep your foundation from looking too shiny or cakey.

Throwing Shade. Finding the right foundation shade is key if you want your foundation to look like skin and not makeup. So, here’s how you find that right shade. First Step: Eyeball it. If you look at a row of foundations, you know roughly where you fall. I have faith that you can rule out some shades that would be too light and/or too dark for you.

Second Step: Get samples of 3 – 5 shades that you think could be your perfect match. Stores like Sephora will give you samples, and most chain drugstores will let you return opened beauty products so you can sample by buying a foundation then returning it if it’s the wrong shade. Just keep that receipt, boo boo.

Third Step: In natural light, apply a vertical stripe ofย  foundation on your jawline (not om your neck or your hand, which can each be a different color than your face). If you’re testing a few shades, stripe them next to each other. The right shade for you will disappear on your skin when you step back and look in the mirror. You might find that some shades are not darker or lighter than your skin, but look too peach, pink/red, yellow or olive. That’s an undertone issue, so your best bet is to try to find out which undertone the “off” foundation has (some makeup companies will list the undertones of their foundations on their website) and then avoid that undertone when testing foundations going forward, if you can find out that information.

Following these three steps should help you find your Prince or Princess Charming of foundations, but if you’re really stuck, booking a makeup lesson with a pro makeup artist (when life gets back to normal) is an option.

When your foundation is undetectable, you’ve done it right. Photo: Sarah Bastille Photography
Hair: Emily Buffi for Allison Barbera Beauty
Makeup: Allison Barbera

Tools of The Trade. Okay, so now you’ve got the right foundation for your skin type and it matches you perfectly. Congrats! You’re doing better than a lot of YouTube beauty gurus. To really get this right, you have to make sure to apply it in a way that will even out your skintone without overloading the skin with product. There are a few ways to go with this, but I’ll tell you what I prefer to do, as a makeup artist who likes skin to look like skin.

When using a liquid foundation on clients, I use a flat foundation brush to apply the product to the forehead, cheeks and chin. I apply a big dot of it on the center of each area, then use a buffing brush to blend it outwards. On myself, I use my hands to apply liquid foundation, then I use a buffing brush to blend it out. In both cases, I use what’s left on the buffing brush to go over the nose. The skin on noses is different than the rest of the face and it can get quickly overloaded with product, so I typically don’t apply a dot of foundation there. I have combo skin and I get pretty dry in colder, non-humid climates, so when I’m dry, I take a few seconds to press my (clean, washed) hands on each section of face to help the foundation further absorb into my skin via the body heat and the pressure from my hands. I don’t do this when I’m in warmer, humid climates because the oils from my skin already help my foundation absorb.

When I use powder foundations on myself or on my clients, I apply them with a sponge (sometimes the flat one that came with the foundation if I like it, sometimes a wedge sponge). I dip the sponge into the foundation and use a stippling motion to apply to one section of the face. I repeat until I have all of the areas covered. I’ll sometimes lightly go over it with a buffing brush if I think it needs a blend, but I rarely use a brush to initially apply powder foundation, as that can lead to an uneven application.

If you choose the right foundation formulation and shade for your skin and you apply it correctly, you’ve mastered it! Want a job with AB Beauty? ๐Ÿ˜‰ With a little bit of trial and error (and isn’t this a great time to try things out at home?), I know you can do this.

If you need help, comment away.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚