Product Review: Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micelle Solution

micellar water, Bioderma

I wear a lot of eye makeup and I don’t care who knows it. But at the end of the day, it has to come off. All of it. Sleeping in eye makeup can lead to puffiness and irritation and can cause the lash follicles to become clogged. Those clogged follicles can then form styes, which everybody loves. And if you don’t regularly remove your mascara, that can make your lashes brittle, in turn causing breakage.  Breakage means that your eyelashes become short and stubby, something that no mascara can remedy.

Have I convinced you that your eye makeup needs to be removed every night? Good. So let’s talk about the best way to do that.

My personal process is to first cleanse my face using an oil cleanser. This both removes the makeup and cleanses the skin. If I have a lot of makeup on, I will occasionally double cleanse with an oil cleanser, or I’ll use an oil based makeup remover followed by a cream cleanser. I don’t apply the oil cleanser or makeup remover to my eyes, but I do splash water onto them as Phase 1 of the eye makeup removal process. During this process, I also hold a warm washcloth up to each eye to help break down the eye makeup. Some of it comes off just with water, so this is a good start.

After I pat my face dry, I put some Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micelle Solution (formerly Bioderma Crealine H20), a makeup remover, onto a cotton ball and hold it over one eye for about 30 seconds. (Some people prefer to use a flat cotton pad for this.) That gives the Bioderma a chance to break down what’s left of my eyeshadow, liner and mascara. I repeat the process on the other eye. I put more Bioderma on the cotton ball and use it to very gently remove any traces of makeup left on my lids or under my eyes.

I know this is technically a product review, but I couldn’t do this particular one without my how-to. Because if you buy this product based on my recommendation but don’t know how to properly use it, you’re not going to love it and you’ll think I’m a jerk. And I am sometimes, but never when it comes to beauty tips. I take your face very seriously.

So let’s talk about the star of the show. I refer to this gem as “Bioderma,” which is the company name, not the product name. But I feel that we are good enough friends to give each other nicknames. It is a micellar water, which has tiny molecules of cleansing oil that attract dirt and oil but don’t dry out the skin. Micellar water has been around for a long time but didn’t become mainstream until a couple of years ago.

Bioderma is the OG of micellar water. Because it’s so gentle on the skin, it’s been a staple for makeup artists who need to do quick makeup changes on set or for the runway. It removes face and eye makeup without leaving any residue, which allows an artist to quickly do a new makeup look. I would bet money that the true makeup artist pros–Lisa Eldridge, Pat McGrath, Charlotte Tilbury, Mary Greenwell, Billy B, etc.–all have a  bottle of Bioderma in their kits.

That being said, I wouldn’t recommend Bioderma as an everyday face or waterproof makeup remover. It does not fully remove foundation or waterproof mascara (I know you don’t wear waterproof mascara every day though, right?). But for quick makeup changes, it’s ideal.

I think Bioderma’s best use is as an everyday eye makeup remover. It’s gentle so it’s ideal for sensitive eyes. I don’t consider my eyes particularly sensitive–that’s kind of my stomach’s thing–but I have tried many eye makeup removers that made my eyes sting, burn or water up. I’ve been personally using Bioderma for years and it has never even slightly irritated my peepers. When the skin around eyes gets irritated, it can get dry and cracked, which is not something that makeup can cover (and may even further irritate). So using a gentle eye makeup remover is key.

As gentle as it is, Bioderma is also a thorough eye makeup remover. As mentioned, it doesn’t remove waterproof mascara but it removes non-waterproof makeup like it ain’t no thang. And as you now know, sleeping with eye makeup on is bad, bad, bad and you will never do it again.

I buy my 16.7 fluid oz Bioderma on Amazon, where it is usually around $16. That size bottle lasts me a good six months. If you have suffered from eye makeup remover irritation or your current eye makeup remover is doing a crap job, check out Bioderma.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Balancing Act

 

work life balance

Hi, my name is Allison and I’m a workaholic. I started working at age 15 and caught a real high off opening a company with my father. For my birthday that year, he got me business cards with my name and “Administrative Assistant” printed on them. If you think anyone in my sophomore class didn’t have one, you are dead wrong. My senior year of high school, I got out at 12:00pm every day for an internship that I was supposed to do for five hours a week. Instead, I did five hours a day and got paid for it.

I worked selling real estate during my college years. After graduation, I moved to FL where I instantly found a job (and then another one…then another one). I busted my ass as an Office Manager for two years before moving back to New England. I did a couple stints as an unemployed 20something, but those were always short-lived. In my mid 20s, I spent some time working two jobs, which I continued doing until I went full-time with my business. The days of taking time off or working short 40 hour weeks disappeared, and my new schedule of seven day weeks, 365 days a year began. (Yes, I count answering emails for an hour or two on Christmas or Thanksgiving as a work day.)

The addiction is real. Being an entrepreneur put me on another level, and I’ve started to realize it’s not always healthy. I still don’t take full days off, but in the past eight months, I’ve been working on getting some balance. (I know a lot of people think that term is too lifestyle blog-ish, but I can’t think of a better one.) It’s impossible to be truly balanced, which I recognize. When I’m working crazy long days, I think, I should be spending more time with my family and friends. When I make plans with family or friends, I think, I shouldn’t. I have too much work to do. There is no way to do it all, unless I can figure out how to clone myself. (That’s something I think about more often than I should, as I know it’s not possible. But 50 years ago, no one would have thought that cell phones could be possible, so maybe…)

But less talk about clones, more talk about balance. Us workaholics (and anyone taking care of a ton of things, like kids, parents, school, health issues, etc.) will eventually burn out if we don’t take breaks. And a burnt out workaholic is no good to anyone. I am not only the best entrepreneur and makeup artist I can be when I feel balanced, but also the best daughter, sister and friend.

My quest for balance started after I had a mini-breakdown early last summer. Looking back, I think part of it was from the workload but also probably because of my stress level due to my father’s year-long battle with pancreatic cancer (he’s good now, thank God). It all hit me one day in mid-June when I felt particularly buried in work, and I thought, This has to stop. So I started doing these things, which have helped make me a workaholic on the road to recovery.

More Family & Friend Time. I know, I know–this one is a no-brainer. It’s not only my favorite thing to do but one of my two main goals when I opened my business (the other was/is to be cold as little as possible by snowbirding it in the winter). I’ve historically been better at family time, maybe because I can plan ahead for a lot of it (birthdays, holidays, the annual family reunion) but have still missed out on some get-togethers over the years. Friend time can be tougher because I have a lot of them (I don’t know how!) and they are spread out across the country, plus everyone has different schedules. But I’ve made a solid effort to see my people as often as possible and continue to do so. I even do this new thing, which I never consistently did before: I try to meet a friend for lunch or a cocktail after a wedding job. (Not every wedding, but usually after one a week during wedding season.) My old way was to do a wedding job for three to five hours, go home, eat something, then do admin work for another eight or nine hours. Now I take a few hours to hang with a friend post-wedding to decompress. I live in one of the best summer towns in New England (fact) so it’s silly to pay rent here and not enjoy it with the people I love to be with.

Hitting The Snooze Button. I’ve never actually hit the snooze button because if I’ve set an alarm, there’s a damn reason I chose that wakeup time. But I do prioritize my sleep, because I am shitty at life when I’m tired.  On the days when I don’t have a morning appointment, I let my body wake up when it wants to. I had a two week stretch over the summer when that time was 5:45am, but lately it’s around 7:00am. I have given myself permission to sleep in if that’s what my body needs. Sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep at night or a nightmare about being late to a wedding wakes me up at 2:00am and it takes forever to fall back asleep. On those mornings, I let myself stay in bed until 8:00am or 8:30am, ignoring the commands from my brain to Get up and work, lazy! The option to sleep in if I feel like it is one of the benefits of being an entrepreneur, but the choice to actually do so is part of my balancing act.

Cutting Out Early. One of the strongest parts of my addiction has been stupidly long work days. Two summers ago, I had a sickening schedule. I would wake up around 8:00am and immediately start working, stopping only for the occasional errand or to go for a run. I would end my work day around 12:00am or 1:00am, go to sleep and repeat. The following year, I decided that work schedule was ridiculous, so I started ending my day at 10:00pm or 11:00pm (but also started waking up earlier). Now I try to end my workday by 8:00pm, sometimes earlier. And I take a lot more breaks during the day. I even take quasi-half days at least once week. (That’s when I stop at 2:00pm or 3:00pm to meet a friend, get home four or five hours later, and only address time sensitive issues after.)

I Plead Not Guilty. I have a guilt thing. I used to be really hard on myself for staying in bed until 8:30am or watching two hours of Netflix in the middle of the day. I don’t do either one of those often, but until recently, I would scold myself for doing so. I would think, What are you doing, Allison? Look at your To Do List! But now, I give myself a break. I don’t shirk my responsibilities to watch “Shameless,” but if I’ve responded to all client calls, emails and any time sensitive issues and I feel like intensifying my crush on Lip Gallagher instead of entering receipts in Quickbooks, I do it. And if I start to feel guilty, I tell myself, You are allowed to take breaks without feeling bad about it. It actually makes me more focused and efficient when I get back to work. The guilty-conscience-for-no-reason thing was not doing me any favors. Although it’s not completely gone, I have quieted the voice considerably.

Taking Care of Number One. I saw a quote recently that resonated with me. It said “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” I have struggled with this philosophy before because it seems so self-centered. And it is, but not in a bad way. I’ve learned that I am no good to anyone when I’m overworked, overtired and not feeling well. So besides getting enough sleep, I try to take care of myself physically by eating well, working out, taking supplements, not drinking like a college kid and being on top of any health issues. I am super preventative with my health and very aware of any changes in how I look or feel. (I’ve caught four pre-cancerous moles in the last year. Booyah!) I do this in part for Future Allison–so she has a better shot at not being saddled with health issues by age 65–and partly for Present Allison. Present Allison does better makeup when she is healthy and feeling well. She’s more clearheaded and therefore better at client and team communication and admin tasks. She’s also more apt to drive an hour or two to visit a relative, help someone move or look over a friend’s resume when she doesn’t feel sick, tired or worried about a health issue. So although putting a focus on self-care (lifestyle blog term #2, if you’re keeping count) may seem selfish, I’ve found it actually provides me with the energy and clarity to be more giving when it comes to my personal life and more focused when it comes to my business. Yes, getting a dental cleaning or going for a run takes away time from work, but I’ve decided these things are essential for me. If being a sluggish, fatigued person with plaque-coated teeth and a constant cold is the price you pay for an empty inbox, then no thank you.

My business has changed me for the better and I can’t see myself doing anything else. I am always going to be a hard worker, because I honestly know no other way. But my family and friends are my heart. You know when you’re on a date and the guy asks “So, what do you like to do for fun?” (Ugh. Please don’t.) I don’t have a list of hobbies to rattle off. My answer is “Hang out with my family and friends.” (Also, “Not date.”) It doesn’t matter if we see a movie, go out to lunch, or sit uncomfortably on the one loveseat that fit through my apartment door and talk for hours. The time I spend with the people I love is what keeps me going. I am passionate about my career but being a workaholic isn’t the best way to go through life. I will keep trying to balance things out so I can enjoy my life and be the most productive entrepreneur I can be. I welcome any advice from recovering workaholics.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: MAC Eye Kohl in Teddy

MAC Teddy
This right here is good people.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you know I have been on the hunt for the perfect brown eyeliner ever since Topshop discontinued my beloved Saddle. I’ve tried some liners that were too dark, some that were hard to blend and some that didn’t have enough red undertones to bring out the green in my eyes. I haven’t Goldilocks-ed myself out of this one yet, but I have found a liner that’s almost “just right”.

The weird thing is, I’ve had this eyeliner in my pro kit for several years. It’s been my go-to brown waterline eyeliner from the beginning. (I’m pretty sure it was a recommendation from the Pixiwoo sisters.) It’s MAC Eye Kohl in Teddy. MAC describes it as an “intense bronze,” but on me, it comes out more as a chocolate brown with red and bronze undertones.

Teddy is easy to blend, as any kohl eyeliner pencil should be. Because it’s a kohl, I usually set it with some eyeshadow in a similar shade so it doesn’t transfer on my crease or smudge under my eyes. But I’ve applied it to the lower lashline sans shadow before and it barely moved. (I did get some transfer on the upper lashline though, which I always get when I don’t set a kohl liner with shadow. That’s partly due to my eye shape, and partly because of my oily lids.) If you want an eyeliner pencil that does not move, don’t go with a kohl. That’s a general makeup rule.

If you want a good waterline liner though, Teddy will not disappoint. This liner goes on smoothly and is pigmented so you can actually see it on the waterline, unlike some liners. (I won’t give names.) It’s moderately long-lasting on the waterline, which is normal. If your eyes have moisture–and for your sake, I hope they do–eventually that will break down any waterline liner.

Because it’s a kohl, Teddy is easy to smudge out. I like to apply a thin line then smudge it with an angled brush or a pencil brush. This is big for me because I don’t usually like a defined liner on my peepers.

Teddy lasts all day for me without any touchups (at the lashlines, anyway). Longevity is also essential for me, because I don’t always have time for touchups. Some kohl liners I have known go on smoothly and are nicely pigmented, but they don’t hold up. Teddy won’t back out on you by mid-afternoon, and that’s an important quality in a liner.

Teddy is my makeup equivalent of that guy I grew up with who I never thought too much about then started to see in a different light. (For the record, I have no such guy.) Is this eyeliner the one I end up? Or am I settling? It’s hard to tell, but Teddy is a solid choice who I’ve grown to love. I’ll keep passively searching (aka swatching every brown eyeliner in Sephora on my hand when I’m there), but I’m happy for now.

If you want to give Teddy a try, you can get it at MAC stores, counters and online.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Don’t Be So Sensitive!

Office Space, sensitive skin tip
If you haven’t seen “Office Space,” go watch it now.

Skin sensitivity is a bitch. It can make your skin feel dry, itchy and like someone has lit a fire on your face. Some combination of redness, dry patches, rashes, hives and breakouts usually crops up when skin is truly sensitive. It’s typically caused by allergic reactions or irritation to a product ingredient or ingredients, but can also be brought about by environmental allergens (plants, pollen, trees, etc.) and food or medicine allergies.

If you suspect your skin sensitivity is related to product ingredients, the best thing to do is the skincare version of the elimination diet. Forgo your face makeup for a week and use nothing but a gentle cleanser like Dermalogica Gentle Cleanser and a fragrance-free moisturizer like Cetaphil Fragrance Free Daily Moisturizer. After a week, add in one of the products (i.e. a primer, foundation, face mask) you normally use. Wait a day and see if you experience redness, itching, hives, rashes, dryness, breakouts or any other type of flare up. Continue to do this until you have incorporated all of your regular products back into your routine. If the offender makes itself known, you have your answer (kind of). It could be any of the ingredients in that product, so I suggest finding out what they are, noting them, and comparing that list to the ingredients list on any products that irritate your skin in the future. You’ll eventually be able to pin down the ingredient(s)you are allergic to. You can also go to a dermatologist who specializes in testing for skin allergens.

Sometimes people think they have sensitive skin when they really have rosacea, eczema, or even certain types of skin cancer that show up as dry, scaly patches. There is also something called dermatographism, which is when the skin is extremely sensitive to physical touch. In those people, their skin cells release histamine at the slightest touch, causing redness to appear. If you have sensitive skin and are unsure of what’s causing your sensitivity, definitely see a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

If you have truly sensitive skin, there are some things you can do to avoid further aggravating your skin. Like:

  1. Don’t rub, scrub or otherwise manhandle your skin. Doing so will aggravate it and cause redness, splotches or dryness. Avoid using at home mechanical cleansing brushes, laser devices or acne treatments.
  2. Use fragrance-free products. Fragrances are a very common irritant for sensitive skin. Luckily, the beauty industry is aware of this and many lines carry fragrance-free products. Beauty Without Cruelty, Dr. Hauschka, Burt’s Bees, Almay, Clinique and CoverGirl all carry some fragrance-free products.
  3. Patch test everything. Before committing to any skincare or makeup product, first apply a small amount to your neck and wait 48 hours to see if you have a reaction. If you do, return that product and try again.
  4. Avoid physical exfoliants. Any kind of exfoliant with granules or beads will only further irritate your skin. Chemical exfoliants like Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant are best, but always patch test first and only use once a week. Some skin may be too sensitive to tolerate any exfoliants, so you may need to skip this step altogether.
  5. Don’t assume natural is best. If you have environmental allergies and your skin is sensitive, you may have better luck with products that contain only synthetic ingredients. Most people assume that products with natural ingredients will be more gentle, but that’s not always the case. Think about it: If you went out into a field of flowers and couldn’t stop coughing and sneezing, why would the pollen from those flowers not affect you if it was an ingredient in your moisturizer?
  6. Use gentle cleansers. Anything too strong will strip your skin and likely cause irritation (so skip the foaming cleansers). As mentioned, Dermalogica Gentle Cleanser is good, as is Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser. These cleansers will not thoroughly remove makeup though. If you wear makeup, you’ll need to remove it with an oil makeup remover, like Dermalogica PreCleanse, or micellar water, like Bioderma Sensibio H20, before cleansing. If your skin can tolerate some light rubbing, an oil cleanser like NUDE Skincare Perfect Cleanse Cleansing Oil will both remove makeup and cleanse your skin.
  7. Read my post on the acid mantle.

If you take care of your sensitive skin, you can minimize or erase any physical signs of irritation. So do right by your dermis, okay?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Label Conscious

Beauty blogger

I’m a First Born, Only Daughter and Sibling of One. I’m a Two Time Maid of Honor who was voted Most Considerate[1] in high school. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies and graduated Magna Cum Laude. I’m an Entrepreneur, a Makeup Artist and an Independent Contractor. I’m an INFJ[2], HSP[3] with Type A tendencies. I’m a Temini[4] who is either a Generation X-er or a Millenial, depending on your source. I’m a licensed Esthetician and a Class 10 Driver who has let her real estate license lapse. I’m 75% Italian, 25% Irish and 100% not doing DNA testing because I need to attribute my emotional outbursts and stubbornness to my genetics. I’m a Bad Boy Magnet[5], an Old School Hip Hop Head and a Runner. I’m a Gluten-Free[6] Vodka Drinker, formerly a Vegetarian and Bacardi Bitch. Not into labels? Wait, I’ve got one more: Makeup Girl. And that’s the most important one for this blog.

I’ve been inconsistently doing blog posts for almost six and a half years, and I recently realized that my new followers might want to know a little about me. (Should I add “Self Important Blogger” to my labels?) Maybe I’m alone in this, but I like to know why people blog about the topics they choose. Is it part of their job? Or are they writing because they are passionate about certain subjects or think they have information that could help others? (All of those are my motivating factors.) If it’s not a work requirement, I want to know what got them interested in the industry, hobby or part of life they write about. If you’re like me and want to know about this little blogger, read on.

I started “A Pretty Addiction” because I am a Makeup Girl. Yes, I’m also an Entrepreneur who knows every good business has a blog, but that wasn’t my main motivation. This blog allows me to combine two of my biggest passions: beauty and writing. As a born Makeup Girl, I have always loved trying new products and techniques. There is nothing quite like feeling of opening a new product and wondering if it will be my new perfect lipstick/mascara/eyeliner. That moment of hope and anticipation is so sweet, and when the product meets or exceeds my expectations, I’m damn near ecstatic. And writing is my favorite way to communicate, so why not combine the two passions?

I’ve also always loved reading about beauty. Production recommendations, application techniques, new ingredients and product technology, how looks were started and evolved over the years–all of that and more. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. There are a ton of beauty publications (both magazines and online) and the US beauty industry brought in $62 billion in 2015.

But what I noticed once I started working as a makeup artist was that there is a huge gap in consumer knowledge. People are buying products–often blindly–but they don’t know how to use them. Many people don’t know their skin type or how that affects not only the skincare products but the makeup they use. They don’t know where to test foundation to see if it’s a color match (on the jawline), how to apply mascara (run the wand back and forth at the lashline for volume, blink into it for length) or why they need a color corrector for dark circles (because the darkness will show through the concealer if you don’t cancel it out first). As a licensed esthetician and makeup artist, I think I can help fill in this knowledge gap. It seems crazy and selfish to not share what I have learned over the past eight years.

So if you like product recommendations, application tips and look how-to’s, you’re at the right place. I also do some posts about entrepreneurship, as the idea that almost everyone needs to be a 9-5 employee is changing, and some of us are meant to ride that wave. I love to hear about other business owners’ experiences and I know I’m not alone with that.

If you are new to “A Pretty Addiction,” you may notice I throw in a healthy amount of hip hop references (or you may not notice and wonder what the hell I’m talking about sometimes). You have to know who you are dealing with here. I am an old school (90s and early 2000s) hip hop girl to the core. I sometimes think in rap lyrics so it’s natural for me to communicate that way. Much like I was born loving makeup, I was born loving rap. It is as much a part of me as my deep set eyes or my freckled arms.

I hope these posts are informative, helpful and fun to read. If you’re a Makeup Girl: Welcome, soul sister. And if you’re not, maybe you do have an inner Makeup Girl who needs to awakened. Let’s bring her out to play!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

[1] I suspect that was because I had a big pool party every year that people wanted be invited to.

[2] INFJ is my Myers Briggs Personality type. It’s Introverted iNtuition Extraverted Feeling.

[3] Highly Sensitive Person. It’s a thing! Look it up.

[4] It’s what they call those of us on the Taurus/Gemini cusp.

[5] But I think they are really just “jerks” after age 22.

[6] Legit allergy, not a diet choice.

 

You’re On Acid, Man

Sensitive skin, breakouts, acid mantle

When I first heard the term “acid mantle,” I thought, Is that a metal band I have no right listening to? Or a shelf above a fireplace stacked with LSD? Turns out it’s neither. It’s a very fine, slightly acidic film on the top of the skin. It acts as a protective barrier against bacteria, viruses and contaminants that might have otherwise penetrated the skin. It’s made up of the water, sebum and perspiration that our bodies naturally produce.

You’re probably thinking “Why are you telling me this, Allison? I read this blog for product reviews, makeup how-to’s and your brilliant writing, not biology lessons.” I’m telling you because knowing what the acid mantle is and how an unbalanced one might be causing your breakouts, dry skin or skin sensitivity could be helpful to you. Even if you have normal skin, it’s important that you know about the acid mantle, as you are stripping it off every time you wash your face (which I know you now do regularly, as I’ve repeatedly suggested), and that can make you sensitive to products that otherwise wouldn’t irritate your skin.

You know how your skin can feel a little dry and tight after cleansing? That’s the feeling of the acid mantle being stripped away. Your more likely to get that dry, tight feeling–some people call it the “squeaky clean” feeling–when you use cleansers that contact astringent ingredients. A healthy skin has a pH balance of around 5.5, which makes it acidic. When the skin gets too alkaline from being stripped (or from systemic issues), that can cause the acid mantle to thin out. A depleted acid mantle makes it easier for bacteria, pollutants and allergens to penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. That means an increased chance for breakouts, allergic reactions and overall skin sensitivity. If you have sensitive skin, there is a good chance your acid mantle is on the fritz. And since a messed up acid mantle can cause breakouts, it’s something to think about if your blemishes seem to be coming from nowhere.

In normal function, the acid mantle rebuilds itself after it has been stripped away, but it takes a little time. That’s why I suggest waiting 15-20 minutes after cleansing before applying most products. Some moisturizers or hydrating masks are fine, but with something more potent like retinol or Vitamin C, you should wait before applying. If you’ve ever experienced stinging or irritation after applying a product, and you’ve applied that product immediately after washing your face, it may not be the product that’s the problem. If you’ve had a major reaction, don’t use that product again, but if it was just minor temporary discomfort and redness, it may be worth trying it again but doing so 15-20 minutes after you wash. (I recommend applying to only a small area so you see if your skin reacts.)

If you wash your face with bar body soap,stop that right now. That stuff is super alkaline and will really strip your acid mantle and dry out your skin. Please switch to a facial cleanser, which will be way more gentle on your skin.

Repeatedly using harsh products and stripping the acid mantle, especially if you then immediately apply a product, will likely set you up for skin sensitivity, dryness and/or breakouts. It’s so easy to not use bar soap and to wait 15-20 minutes to apply products after cleansing. These are pro tips I’ve giving you, folks. I like for people to be able to put their best face forward, and it all starts with skincare. So be nice to your acid mantle! It’s only trying to protect you.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Breakout Star

Acne, acne treatment, blemish treatment

I like a little imperfection. A crooked smile, a beauty mark, or two different colored eyes can make a face more interesting and beautiful. I think a lot of people are with me on this. But there is one imperfection that everyone hates–a blemish. One zit can be a bummer and widespread acne can take a real toll on a person’s confidence.

Luckily, there are ways to prevent and treat all types of blemishes. The culprits are always either dirt, oil, bacteria or a combination of them. Hormonal imbalances can spark breakouts, as can food allergies, sleeping with makeup on and using the wrong products for your skin. Let’s talk about the different kinds of blemishes and what you can do to prevent and treat them.

Whiteheads

Whiteheads are small blemishes with a raised white surface. There is little or no redness associated with whiteheads. They are caused when excess sebum (aka oil) and dead skin cells clog the follicle (aka the pore). Whiteheads have a thin covering of cells that trap the sebum and dead skin cells so that they can’t oxidize. Because of this covering, they are also referred to as closed comedones. They can appear anywhere on the face or body. You also might see whiteheads on area that has been recently waxed because the follicles are temporarily opened post-wax and if you touch the area, you can easily transfer oil into the follicles. And if the esthetician uses an oil-based treatment after the wax, that can cause whiteheads.

Treat Them With: A combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is the only acid that can penetrate the follicle and exfoliate from within and benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria inside the follicle. You can get this combo by using a cleanser with salicylic acid, like Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser, in the morning and a spot treatment like Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion at night.

Blackheads

These blemishes look like tiny black dots. They are most common on the nose and chin. They do not have any inflammation or redness associated with them. Blackheads are caused when excess sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria get trapped in a follicle and oxidize. In normal function, that bacteria can make its way out of the follicle, but when excess sebum is present, it clogs up the follicle so the bacteria has nowhere to go.  The melanin in the dead skin cell oxides and turns dark, then essentially peeks through the follicle. There is no layer above the trapped dead skin cells but they can’t be naturally pushed out of the follicle because the sebum has clogged it up. Because there is no layer between the trapped matter and the top layer of the skin, blackheads are also called open comedones.

Treat Them With: Salicylic acid. The chemical exfoliation powers of salicylic acid break down the sebum and push the bacteria and dead skin cells out of the follicle. Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Eliminating Spot Gel is a great salicylic acid spot treatment. Extractions done by a licensed esthetician are the way to go if you prefer to outsource.

Papules

These buggers are red, inflamed and often painful to the touch. They can appear anywhere on the body but are most common on the chin, neck and jawline. They do not have a white head so they can not be extracted.

Treat Them With: A combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is the only acid that can penetrate the follicle and exfoliate from within and benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria inside the follicle. You can get this combo by using a cleanser with salicylic acid, like Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser, in the morning and a spot treatment like Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion at night.

Pustules

Pustules are like whiteheads on steroids. They have that same raised white surface, but the area around that surface is red and inflamed. They are typically bigger than whiteheads and may appear more yellow than white.

Treat Them With: A combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is the only acid that can penetrate the follicle and exfoliate from within and benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria inside the follicle. You can get this combo by using a cleanser with salicylic acid, like Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser, in the morning and a spot treatment like Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion at night. Don’t attempt to pop these bad boys. Let a licensed esthetician do it, as they have been trained to properly do extractions without causing scarring.

Severe Acne: Cysts, Nodules and Acne Conglobata

Nodules are hard acne lesions which can be felt deep under the skin. They appear on the body, most often on the back and chest, and are painful to the touch. They are red and inflamed and take a long time to disappear.

Cysts, like nodules, start deep below the skin’s surface, but they are softer because they are filled with pus. They develop when the contents of blackheads and/or whiteheads leak out into the surrounding area. The immune system sees this spillage as an attack and forms pus.  Cysts can also take several weeks to fully go away.

Acne conglobata can affect the body and face. It is the most uncommon type of acne and has no known cause. It consists of abscesses and scars caused by cysts and tracts under the skin.

Treat Them With: A visit to the dermatologist or other specialist. Severe acne requires a customized treatment plan that sometimes includes antibiotics. If you don’t want to go that route, try consulting with a naturopathic or homeopathic doctor or an Ayurvedic practitioner. I personally have great results when I go the holistic route for most issues I have experienced, and I did have breakouts that were only eliminated after taking Japanese herbs. Eastern medicine and holistic methods typically treat the systemic root of the problem instead of just the symptoms. I’m no doctor, but I suggest doing what feels right for you.

Tips for All Types of Acne

  1. Wash your damn makeup off… If you don’t consistently and thoroughly remove your makeup, you have no right to complain about acne. Even if you don’t wear makeup, you still have to wash your face every night. If you think your face doesn’t get covered in oil and microscopic debris from pollutants every day, you need a reality check. If you have acneic skin and are not on any prescription acne medication, I recommend removing your makeup first with a makeup remover like Dermalogica PreCleanse then following with Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser. If you are on acne medication, please speak to your dermatologist about what cleanser you should use.
  2. …But don’t over-cleanse. It may feel like overcleansing gets your skin cleaner and removes the oil, but when you remove too much oil, your body kicks into overdrive to produce more oil. That excess oil can easily lead to breakouts. Unless you have an extremely oily skin, cleansing only at night is enough. If you are very oily, I recommend using an anti-acne cleanser at night and a gentle cleanser, like Fresh Soy Cleanser, in the morning.
  3. Clean your phone. Your phone screen gets covered in dirt, oil and bacteria every day. When you talk on the phone, you are putting that dirt and bacteria onto your face. Oh, you only text? Unless your hands are always squeaky clean and you never touch your face, you are still transferring that dirt, oil and bacteria. If you have a landline phone at home or work, make sure to regularly clean that off too.
  4. Change your pillowcases regularly. Oil and sweat from your face and scalp can absorb into your pillowcase, creating a wonderful place for bacteria to breed. A fresh pillowcase every few days may help prevent blemishes.
  5. Spot treat correctly. If you are using a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide spot treatment, only use a small amount on the actual blemish. Do not use spot treatments on unblemished skin, as they will likely cause redness and irritation. Spot treatments are best if you only have a couple of blemishes. They are not meant for a full face breakout.
  6. Mask your feelings. Maybe don’t do that, but consider face masks. If you have combination or oily skin and are prone to breakouts, using a charcoal, sulfur or clay based mask once or twice a week will absorb some of the excess oil that could be contributing to your breakouts.
  7. Exfoliate chemically. As you read above, some types of blemishes are partially filled with dead skin cells. If you regularly exfoliate, you are removing some of the dead skin cells that could otherwise end up inside a blemish. Chemical exfoliants are generally more effective and gentle, so most dermatologists and estheticians will recommend those over physical exfoliants. (If you use prescription retinol, that exfoliates for so you can skip this step.)
  8. Do not pick or pop. The best way to create acne scars is to pop and pick at your blemishes. A licensed esthetician can do extractions for you if you have a blackhead, whitehead or pustule, but you really should not mess with that yourself. Acne scars can only be corrected by laser treatments, and sometimes those don’t even fully do the job. Those treatments can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars so take a look at your bank account next time you are tempted to pick or pop.

If you have acne, I really feel for you. I have been there before and know it’s a serious confidence killer. But there are ways to treat all types of acne and ways to prevent it. Hopefully this post has been helpful for those of you struggling with acne and for those who just want to minimize the chances of getting a blemish.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

 

Your Dream Job Awaits

Hair stylist, makeup artists jobs

If you are a licensed esthetician or cosmetologist (or will be after completing school and passing your exams) and you are looking for a job doing wedding hair and/or makeup in RI or MA, have I got the blog post for you!

I own Allison Barbera Beauty, a beauty services company based out of Newport, RI. I have been in business since 2008 and currently have 11 regular Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists on my team, primarily for wedding and event services. Thanks to my talented team, the fantastic people who refer us and our stellar reputation, we have more business than we can handle. I am always hiring for Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists and I have a strong need for at least two more makeup artists and one hair stylist at this time. Like I have work for you right now. Seriously!

Because the wedding industry is seasonal in New England, this is a part-time job. But it can be a very lucrative gig that requires little of your time. If you love doing wedding hair and/or makeup and want to make money on some of the weekend days during the spring, summer and fall, this could be the right fit for you.

I realize there are a ton of companies in the area who hire Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists. I don’t know the inner workings of these companies and really, it’s none of my business. What I do know is what I can offer you as an Independent Contractor for AB Beauty. From what I can see and what I’ve been told, this combination of things is not available at other companies. Interested in what AB Beauty brings to the table? Read on.

I’ve Got It Covered. I get all of the jobs and handle all of the client communication from initial inquiry to photo posting and the million things in between. I do all of the scheduling, trial coordination, invoicing, follow up, etc. I am organized and detail oriented to a fault. I will tell you where you are going for a job and make sure you have contact numbers, know where to park, which hotel room to go to,  if there is a certain elevator to use, etc. If you work for AB Beauty, my goal is to make sure you get to do what you love without stressing about locations, schedules and other details.

I Will Bust My Ass For You.  I work seven days a week. I have no kids, no husband, no pets, not even a houseplant that I need to water. My energy is put into making AB Beauty run smoothly and grow exponentially. I want to get my artists and stylists as much work as possible and I want them to enjoy working for me. I am always open to feedback and doing whatever I can to make the job easy for each artist and stylist. When someone on the team contacts me, I respond as soon as I see the call, email or text. I refuse to hold up people’s lives by making them wait a couple days for an answer or information they need. This is not a side project or hobby.  This company is my life and I take it very seriously.

I Mean Business. My favorite game as a child was a little something I made up called “Small Business Owner.” No joke. I come from a business background. I opened my father’s real estate business with him when I was 15, and went on to be an Office Manager at other small businesses. I graduated with a degree in American Studies and a concentration in Business. I take business webinars, frequently consult with other business owners and am always reading at least one business book. I have great relationships with my accountant and attorney, so everything at AB Beauty is run as it is supposed to be. I constantly network, promote and make valuable business connections. You might not think this matters, but trust me, it does. And you may not realize that until you work for someone who has no business background. They could be the nicest person ever with an impressive makeup kit and an jealously-inducing hair portfolio, but if they do not know how to run a business, they will inevitably crash and burn. If you are working for them when that happens, your income is immediately reduced. Someone can be an insanely talented hair stylist or makeup artist, but that doesn’t mean they can run a business. And do you want to work for a business that is not run effectively or efficiently? I’m going to bet that you don’t.

Do Your Thing. As an Independent Contractor, you are legally allowed to work for other companies. I have had people who work at salons, spas, makeup counters and beauty supply stores as well outside of the beauty industry at office jobs, restaurants and even as a dental hygienist. I understand that as an Independent Contractor, you have to piece together your work. I hope to someday have full-time employee positions with benefits and trust me, I have plans in the works. But until then, you can work other jobs and work for AB Beauty, building the schedule that you want.

I Respect Your Time. When you work for AB Beauty, you will always know your schedule for a wedding one month in advance. If any change requests are made by a client after a wedding schedule has been finalized, I first ask you if you can accommodate the change–even if it is only by ten minutes–before committing to it. I know that as an Independent Contractor, you may have other clients scheduled before or after a wedding, and the jobs for those clients are also part of your livelihood. I also recognize that people have personal commitments and childcare arrangements to consider. I would never want you to lose out on one of your own clients or be late picking up your son because I didn’t confirm a schedule or forgot to tell you it changed. I am also an Independent Contractor (for corporate and commercial work) and I often don’t know get schedule until the night before a shoot. That makes it hard to plan anything, but that’s part of that world. However, I can prevent that from happening with jobs you do for me not only because of the nature of weddings and events, but because of the policies I have for AB Beauty clients.

Experience Is The Best Teacher. There is nothing like experience and I’ve got over eight years of it in the wedding beauty industry. (Eight years of weddings also means we have a huge and steady referral base from past clients.) I also have almost 20 years of overall business experience, as I mentioned above. How does that benefit you? The client interacts with me and is always responded to quickly and clearly. There is no confusion that spills over when you are doing their hair or makeup. That means you walk in to work with a happy client, not one who is mad that I neglected to tell her about hair extensions pricing until that day or never sent her invoice. I frequently get asked about Bridezillas, but I’ve never encountered one. I think that’s partly because angry, high maintenance clients can be created when they consistently get confusing answers or a lack of information from their vendors. I long ago figured out what clients want and need from their wedding beauty service provider and I built my company around those wants and needs. That knowledge and experience is invaluable and impossible to find in a company who hasn’t experienced it yet. AB Beauty has done hair and makeup for hundreds of weddings and events. I don’t remember the last time I got a question that I had never heard before. There are some things that no matter how a good a new company is, they just have not experienced yet. Do you want to work for a company that has already been through it all and worked out the kinks, or one who is still figuring things out?

I Got The Dream Team. My current artists and stylists are the best. Everyone gets along, helps each other out and has fun. We don’t do that gossipy, catty thing the beauty industry is unfortunately known for. Everyone looks out for the other people on the team, and that’s not something I have ever asked them to do. But when you have a group of good people working together, it happens naturally. I have seen AB Beauty artists and stylists exchange tips and techniques, and I do that with them as well. Everyone on the team is friendly, welcoming and happy to help each other out.

Our Reputation Is Killer. Check out our WeddingWire and TheKnot reviews as well as the testimonials on the Allison Barbera Beauty Weddings Facebook page. We currently have the highest number of reviews in RI on WeddingWire with an average 5 star rating. We have fantastic SEO–we are within the first few organic results for several relevant wedding hair and makeup Google searches. We also get tons of referrals from clients, vendors and venues we have worked with before. Along with the artists and stylists on my team, I have worked hard to create an experience that exceeds clients’ expectations. Doing that has given us the kind of solid reputation that ensures success not only for the business, but for the artists and stylists who work for AB Beauty.

As owner, my goal is to get my artists and stylists as much work as possible while making that work as easy as possible. I see myself as an agent. I basically get the jobs, offer them to you, and work out every detail so you can work with happy, informed clients. You do what you are passionate about then bill me for it. I take care of everything else.

If you love doing hair and/or makeup but do not love the business side or the responsibility and years it takes to build a profitable business–something that is becoming much more difficult as the market becomes saturated with beauty companies–we could work really well together.

If you are interested in joining the AB Beauty team, please email me at Info@AllisonBarbera.com. I look forward to adding more rockstars to the team.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Who’s The Boss?

Catherine The Great, one of my favorite girlbosses
Catherine The Great, one of my favorite girlbosses

I recently saw a post from a Facebook friend saying that she was sick of the term “girlboss.” She wants to get rid of that term and use “boss” instead because “girlboss” implies that women are not equal to men. She also pointed out that there is no “boyboss” term used. (I agree with that observation but looked on Instagram to confirm. There were about 1,700 “boyboss” hashtags, but only used in reference to male babies and children.) I saw her post around the time she had liked one of my Instagram posts–which had a girlboss hashtag–so I’m guessing my Insta post had something to do with her Facebook status.

I wasn’t insulted, but it got me thinking because I always cringe a little when I use the term “girlboss.”  I’m technically a boss but at 34 years old, I’m not a girl. So it’s half accurate, and I’m not normally in the habit of half-assing things.

I use “girlboss” on Instagram because it’s a hashtag that many people react well to. My Insta account, allisonbarberabeauty, is a business account. I post things that may look personal, but I relate everything to beauty or entrepreneurship. So for my purposes, Instagram is a business marketing tool used to get more exposure. Although my posts are genuine and I don’t buy followers, I am aware that my hashtags need to be relevant to things I post and need to attract the people who might like them. I wouldn’t use a hashtag I hated (I’m looking at you, #iwokeuplikethis) and if you look at my posts, you can see I do minimal (if any) filtering/editing to keep it real, but I do use hashtags that I think will give my posts more exposure. And “girlboss” is one of those hashtags.

Although part of me sometimes hesitates before I #girlboss a post (or use the term on this blog), I admire Sophia Amoruso, the woman who coined the term. Sophia is the founder of the successful Nasty Gal clothing company*. She has built an extremely impressive company (and has had recent success in offshoot ventures), which she wrote about in her book #GIRLBOSS. When I do question my use of that term, I remind myself that it’s Sophia’s term, and she is killing it the business world. If an entrepreneur I didn’t admire coined the term, I’m not sure I would use it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this and wondering if there is a better term. “Boss” is fine, but it I find it lacking. “Ladyboss” doesn’t make me cringe as much, but I don’t think I’m proper enough to be a lady. “Badbitch” would be my top choice, because my life has been shaped by women like Lil’ Kim and Trina. But it doesn’t have the same entrepreneurial connotation, although it should. If you successfully run a business, you are badass.

The point of that Facebook post and articles I’ve read denouncing the term “girlboss” is that it minimizes women entrepreneurs. Like they are not a real bosses, just the female version of bosses. Some people say women who use the term are hurting the feminist cause. That school of thought is something I have a huge problem with. I am a feminist. Everyone who works for me is female. I’ve had one male work for me, and guess what? He was paid exactly as much as everyone else on the team. In every wave of feminism in the last 100 years, there have been people who said wearing makeup was in opposition to feminism. (I could write a very long post on that, but instead I’ll continue to wear my makeup while I hire women and create jobs that help the economy.) Maybe feminist girlboss shaming is the new feminist makeup shaming?

This post has been my version of thinking out loud while I decide if I want to keep #girlbossing. I’m glad my Facebook friend posted that status because it made me think about something that has never 100% sat well with me. I like to periodically reevaluate the way I do things, both and my business and personal life. I realize that certain ways of thinking, company policies or even makeup application techniques may have served me well at one point, but need to be changed if a better way is available. Self improvement and business growth are both immensely important to me, and I could do neither without stepping back, looking at what I do and deciding if there is a better way. That’s a real badbitch move, right? (Trying that one on for size.)

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

*On my finally edit of this post on 11/11, I learned that Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy. In my mind, that does not take away from what Amoruso has accomplished.

Product Review: Benefit The POREfessional

 

Pore minimizer

I don’t know what I did to make everyone so mad at me! I used to be able to fly by under the radar. People would occasionally talk about shrinking me down to size but their methods didn’t work. I’ve been splashed with cold water more times than I can count, but that never effected me. After a few half ass attempts at changing who I am, people would generally give up and let me live my life.

Oh, but now! Everyone wants to minimize me! And what an insulting, condescending euphemism for what they really want to do to me–they want me gone forever. And I did nothing to them, other than make them appear a little less smooth. Is that a crime? I don’t believe it is.

My life is now in danger as Public Enemy Number One in the beauty world. Before you try to minimize me (I spit on the person who coined that term) please know that I am who I am, and I wish to cause you no harm.

Sincerely,

Everyone’s Pores

In esthetics school, I was taught that pore size is genetically determined and pores can not be shrunk. I learned that you can make them look smaller by extracting blackheads but nothing can be done to shrink them. That’s not entirely true anymore, but shrinking pores still can not be done at home or without a prescription. A dermatologist or laser tech can perform non-ablative laser treatments, which can boost collagen and tighten stretched pores. Those treatments do technically make pores smaller. Accutane was banned a few years ago, but generic versions still exist and those anti-acne pills temporarily shrink oil glands. That makes the pores smaller while you are taking the prescription. Other than those options, shrinking pore size is not possible.

What you can do is keep your pores unclogged by cleansing daily, using retinol or exfoliating regularly and having extractions done during a facial. Pores are much more noticeable when they are clogged, as they stretch to accommodate the dirt and oil inside of them. When the dirt and oil is exposed to air, it turns dark and blackheads appear. Those tiny black dots are never a good look, right? So clean pores are much less obvious, although they can still cause makeup to settle inside of them.

The other thing you can do–and this is what I’m really here to talk about–is use a pore minimizer. The best one I’ve ever tried is Benefit The POREfessional. If your pores are clean and free of blackheads, this light tan silky balm temporarily fills in pores (and fine lines–bonus!) allowing face makeup to glide over smoothly without settling into those pores or lines. It also mattifies any area you apply it on and does not clog pores.

Benefit calls The POREfessional a face primer. It is one, in the way that makeup applied to any areas with pores or lines applies more smoothly. I don’t use it on the whole face, as most people only have large pores and fine lines on certain areas, so I apply it before primer. (I get the longevity boosting factor from a different primer, because I don’t think the POREfessional really extends the wear of any face makeup applied on top of it.) You can also apply it over makeup to touchup if those pores/lines start showing through later in the day.

The POREfessional is one of the staple products in my pro kit and in my personal makeup bag.  There are many products that don’t do what they claim to, or only kind of do their job. But this pore minimizer absolutely does what it’s supposed to. If your makeup is settling into your pores or fine lines and making them more obvious, I 100% recommend that you try this.

You may be stuck with the pore size you were born with, but because of The POREfessional, no one needs to know that.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

You can get this at Sephora: http://www.sephora.com/the-porefessional-face-primer-P264900?skuId=1259068&icid2=products%20grid:p264900