Maasai Jewelry

This is my cousin Brooke (pictured below with two of the jewelry makers). We’re more like sisters than cousins. She is extremely intelligent, caring and generous.

This is Brooke’s husband, Sam (pictured below with Brooke). He’s like my brother. Everyone who meets Sam loves him. He was born in Kenya and is part of the Maasai tribe.

Sam and Brooke took a trip to Kenya in 2019 and had an amazing time. That was Brooke’s first time there, and she fell in love with Kenya.

Sam and Brooke brought back a bunch of jewelry handmade by Maasai women. They gave me this bracelet, which I love and wear all the time. Whenever Brooke, Sam and I wear our Maasai jewelry, we get compliments on it.

Several months ago, I told Brooke and Sam that I bet other people would be interested in buying the jewelry, and they said they’d been thinking the same thing. They decided they’d like to sell it and give all of the profits to the jewelry makers in Kenya.

So, that’s what they’re doing. I’m helping by posting photos of this gorgeous jewelry. It’s a great way to support Kenyan artisans and also own or gift something with a cool story. Enough with Amazon and big businesses! I’d personally rather give my money to hardworking, talented people who actually need it than multi-millionaires and billionaires who don’t.

The new WordPress format that I hate is not letting me insert photos where I want to, so they’re all below.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

PRICING

Bangles

$15 for one bangle

$24 for two bangles

$10 each when you buy three or more bangles

Earrings

$10 each

Suggestions Welcome

In 2018, I committed to publishing one blog post each week for the entire year. I met my goal that year, then thought, Why not continue it for 2019? I repeated that thought process for 2020, too. This is not an unusual way of thinking for me, and is how I made Dean’s List every semester in college. That’s not a brag! It’s an example of how my mind likes things to be categorized and consistent and how I figure if I can achieve a goal one time, I can do it again.

But when it comes to blog post ideas, the well has run dry. Starting in 2021, I’m either going to write one post a month, or maybe even bring it back to the pre-2018 days when I posted sporadically.

So you tell me, what do you want to read more of? Skincare tips? Makeup tips? Product reviews? Business stuff? Let ya girl know!

Thanks in advance.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Fall Is In Full Swing: The October Recap

A week ago, I was wearing sandals. Today, my heat is on. If that isn’t fall in New England, I don’t know what is!

October has been as good of a month as a month can be in a pandemic world. We had seven weddings, which is less than half of what we would have done, but better than nothing! Our October brides were all lovely, beautiful and fun to work with, so we lucked out there.

We had a lot of trials this month for 2021 brides, and it’s been great to meet everyone. We think 2021 is going to bring us a much more normal wedding season, so we’re very happy about that.

Personally, I got to (safely) see some of my family and friends, which was great. I secured my Charleston winter apartment, and you know I have a countdown going. I bought (some would say too much) decor for my Newport home, started re-watching Community and voted. A good mix of productivity and socialization, right?

And now, time to schedule trials for my August 2021 brides. If you’re an AB Beauty bride who hasn’t done or scheduled a trial yet and your wedding is before August 2021, let’s connect.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Patchwork: Why Patch Testing Beauty Products Is Essential

Please do some patch work before you commit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Things I Love: The Fall 2020 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Our One Month Peak Wedding Season: The September Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful day 🙂

All Eyes On You: An Eye Makeup Post Roundup

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

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

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

Eye Makeup Smudges, Be Gone! 

Green (Eyed) With Envy

Blue Eyed Baby

Brown Eyed Girl

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

The Eyes Have It

My MAC Eyeshadow All Stars

The Easiest Eyeshadow How To You’ll Ever Read

Eyeliner Assistance: Tutorial Roundup

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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

I’ve got some things to say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Have a beautiful day 🙂