Pro Makeup Artist Essentials: Part 2

On an overnight shoot for “Whaling City” in 2010. This was the first feature film I worked on, and I learned a lot.

Now that you’ve read Part 1–thank you–and know what you need in your kit, it’s time for the rest of the list. This list covers the items I think you need to make your day easier and more comfortable, as well as some essential intangibles. This is just as important as the list in Part 1, so listen up, friend.

Snacks. You can usually get a hold of water on a corporate or commercial set, but the food available (called “craft services” or “crafty” on a film or on a job with people who work in film) may not always be to your liking. I’ve seen it range from tables of crappy junk food to corner of a counter with a few sad looking pieces of fruit and some crackers. I have a gluten allergy and a list of other things that bother me, so I always bring snacks with me. You might want to do the same on set, and at a wedding job if you’ll be there for long enough that you’ll want to eat. Sometimes there’s a big wedding-morning-spread or a bride asks what you want when lunch is ordered, but usually you’re on your own.

Phone Charger. A “full day” on a commercial or corporate set is generally considered to be anywhere from 4 – 10 hours, and it’s not unusual to go over the 10 hour mark. I don’t know about your phone, but mine will start draining battery after a while, especially if I’ve been answering emails during breaks. That’s why I always bring a phone charger to set. As long as the makeup is being done inside (I’ve done my fair share of parking lot, field and garage makeup setups), you should have access to an outlet. If you’re doing a wedding and will be with the bride all day, I would also recommend bringing a charger and plugging it in whenever you can.

The Right Clothing. I’ve worked in freezing cold warehouses, on exterior shoots in January in New England and blazing hot houses in August where the a/c couldn’t be turned on because it would affect sound. And some studios are kept icy cold even in the summer, which is great for the talent because it keeps them from sweating, but unbearable for people like me who get cold if they hold a drink with ice in it for two minutes. So, I suggest bringing a sweater in the summer and if you are going to be in a studio, and always have a jacket with you if you might be outside and temps are cold enough for one. As far as being too hot, tank tops, shorts and sandals are not appropriate for corporate or commercial work, so lightweight clothing is key. At a wedding job, you can get away with a light dress as long as it’s not revealing (and not white!). Sandals are also fine for weddings.

I was wearing that dress with sandals. Appropriate wedding outfit, inappropriate corporate or commercial shoot outfit. Photo: Brittanny Taylor Photography

Business Cards. As a makeup artist, you will meet a ton of people. If they are in your chair, you might be having anywhere from a 5 minute to a one hour conversation with them. You might find that the talent you are talking to has a daughter getting married next year who needs a makeup artist, or the bridesmaid you’re clicking with owns a real estate company and wants makeup for marketing photos of her team. You’ll also meet crew members who might work on a future project that needs a makeup artist, and if they have your card, they can easily refer you to a producer. All of these people are unlikely to remember your name (sorry) without a business card, so why risk it?

Contact Info & Parking Instructions. Before you go to any job, make sure you have a contact phone number, parking information, building name or hotel room number and any location/entrance details ahead of time. If you wait until you get to a location to try to find out this information, you might be S.O.L. There’s no reason you can’t request this info a few days before a job. Clients like prepared makeup artists and your stress level will like that too.

A Full Gas Tank. You’ll do some jobs where you stay in one location all day, and others where you drive around to several locations. Unless you know for sure that you won’t be changing locations, make sure you have a full tank (especially if you have a long drive home). I’ve done political campaigns ads that required stops at five different locations in a day, some with 30 minute drives in between. You’re not going to have time to stop for gas in that type of situation. In fact, I don’t even recommend stopping for gas on the way to a job. Why add something your plate the day of when you might need that extra time if you get caught in a traffic jam or the parking lot you were told to park in is full? Fill up the day before and give yourself five points for preparedness.

A Book. On some jobs, you’ll have a lottttt of dead time. You may also be in a location where you have no signal and there’s no WiFi around (like working on a commercial in a field for 12 hours, which I’ve done).Β  Maybe you’d be fine using that time to re-organize your kit, talk to someone (if there is anyone around) or, I don’t know, meditate, but I usually have a book with me in case my phone is useless and I’m in a far away hair and makeup room by myself. That way I don’t die of boredom during an hour-long camera and lighting set up or wedding ceremony (waiting for the bride to get back for a pre-Cocktail Hour touchup).

If you’re sitting in the makeup room for an hour during a set up and you can’t use your phone (or even if you can), this is a great read.

Set & Wedding Etiquette. This is a monster of a topic. Set etiquette covers who you talk to, when you talk to them, the lingo you use, where to position yourself, when to move, what to wear, etc. If you want to work in film, this is a good read. It’s a little different on a corporate or sometimes commercial job, but these worlds often cross over. There’s no set at a wedding, but there is wedding etiquette. Like say “Happy Wedding Day!” or something similar when you see the bride, don’t wear a white dress, don’t take food or drinks without asking, don’t move things without asking (if you need the space for your setup), don’t talk about breakups/divorces, don’t drink on the job (you will be offered mimosas at some weddings), etc. Some of it is common sense and manners, but you’d be surprised what I’ve seen and heard about from other companies and in reviews I’ve read.

Professionalism. That means always be on time, don’t have inappropriate conversations, don’t take care of personal To Do list at a job, don’t disappear from set or while you’re supposed to be working on clients, invoice accurately, clearly and quickly, etc. You can be the best makeup artist in the world, but if you get a reputation of being unprofessional, you won’t get far. I either have to stop this paragraph here or write 97 more paragraphs about it, so let’s stop.

Between this post and this last one, I think I’ve covered all of the big stuff. Being a makeup artist–at least a successful one–means doing more than evening skintones and filling in eyebrows. It requires preparation, tact and professionalism. The beauty industry has become a very competitive place to work, so my recommendation is to learn everything you can before you start so that you can be more prepared than the other newbie makeup artists. I hope this helped, and I wish you the best of luck in your career.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Pro Makeup Artist Essentials: Part 1

My set up at the PBS station I regularly work at in Providence, RI. Ready for anything!

Starting out as a makeup artist? Welcome to the club! When I started out, I not only had no idea what I was doing but no clue what I needed in my kit. Now I’ve got a fully stocked kit (as well as an overflow bag…and two set bags) and my makeup artist luggage is so heavy I sprained both wrists one summer. So I think I’ve got a good grasp on everything you need for products, tools and supplies.

I will say that what you carry in your kit depends on what part of the industry you work in. I primarily do makeup for weddings, commercials and corporate shoots, but have done film and photoshoots as well. I can’t speak on runway or special effects makeup, so I’m afraid I’m no help there.

I’ll break it down into the two subsets I do the most work in–weddings and corporate/commercials–to help you be as prepared as possible should you want to work in those arenas. I’m not going to list every product, tool and supply you need, but will focus on some really important ones as well as some things you might not think of unless you’ve been there, done that.

WEDDINGS

I have a Zuca bag and an overflow bag filled with tons of eyeshadows, eyeliners, lipsticks, blushes, mascaras, concealers, foundations, powders, highlighters, brushes, sponges, cotton swabs, etc. Those are the basics for any non-special effects makeup job, but what I’m listing below are the things I’ve found to be extra important for wedding jobs.

Eye Primer, Foundation Primer, Lip Primer & Setting Spray. You won’t always be around for touchups after the initial makeup services are done, and you want to make sure the makeup you apply lasts. Primers and setting sprays will help lock it all in.

Small Scissors. The technical use for small scissors is to trim strip lashes and long brow hairs, but you’ll probably find they get used most often for cutting bridesmaid dress tags and those little loops that you use to hang dresses on a hanger.

Safety Pins. Another bridesmaid dress helper. Safety pins have nothing to do with makeup, but it’s nice to keep a few in your kit to help a girl out.

Hand Mirror. And make it a pretty one! Photographers loooooove to take photos of brides looking at their makeup in a hand mirror, so if the mirror has a nice design on it, it looks better in photos. That makes your client–and the photographer, who you may be requesting photos from after–happy.

See what I mean? Photo: Joe Laurin Photography Hair: Alexandra Wilson for Allison Barbera Beauty Makeup: Allison Barbera

Waterproof Mascara. Because weddings make people cry! And humidity, sweat and eye drops make mascara run, so the self proclaimed non-criers are not exempt. Why chance it?

Disposable Mascara Wands. You best not be touching anyone’s eyelashes (at a wedding or any other job) with the wand that comes in the tube unless it’s their own mascara or you’re giving it to them. That’s Makeup 101.

Plenty of False Lashes. I use individual (aka cluster aka flare) lashes on 90% of my wedding clients, so I always have several packs of varying lengths and thicknesses in my kit. It’s not unusual for me to go through a full pack of Mediums and a full pack of Shorts at one wedding. I say stock up on these if you plan on working weddings.

Two Kinds of Lash Glue. Duo is the pro fave, but it contains latex, which some folks are allergic to. So you’ll definitely need a non-latex version in your kit too.

Tweezers. You might use them to apply false lashes (I do) as well as to pluck the rogue eyebrow, upper lip or chin hairs. Just make sure to keep them sanitized.

Scotch Tape. Glitter abounds at weddings. It’s sometimes found on decor, shoes, morning-of mimosa glasses, etc. And where there is glitter on an object, you’ll find glitter on nearby faces. Scotch tape is great for lifting glitter off the skin, so I always have some in my kit.

Paper & Pen. The Maid of Honor is going to love the lipstick you put on her, right? So when she asks you what you used on her so she can buy it after the wedding, why not be a good person and write it down? Not only is that a nice thing to do, but the better a client’s overall experience is with you, the bigger chance that will come back to you in the form of repeat work, referrals and glowing reviews.

CORPORATE SHOOTS & COMMERCIALS

I bring my Zuca bag and my set bag (the bag you bring on set for touchups and makeup emergencies) to all corporate shoots and commercials. If I’m trying to make my Zuca lighter, I take out things I know I won’t need–shimmery highlighters, foundation primers, some of the false lashes (which I rarely use on commercials and never on corporate shoots). Everything else pretty much stays in. And a lot gets added.

Anti Shine. I use some anti-shine products at weddings too, but they are extra important for video and film shoots, where shine is the enemy. I’ll put some on a bald head too, as those domes can get shiny.

Pressed Powder. For the same reason, pressed powder is key. When it’s time for a touchup, powder is imperative. The person or people looking at a monitor probably won’t notice the perfect shade of blush you chose, but they will notice a shiny nose or forehead. I keep one pressed powder inside of each pouch I have in my set bag (each person on camera–called the “talent”–has a pouch with the products I might use to touch them up during a shoot).

Lip Balm. Lips can get dry during a long shoot, so keep some lip balm on you. You can either have a stick or pot of it that you apply or dip into directly then give to the person at the end of the shoot, or you can use one that you can squeeze or scrape out.

Body Lotion. As a makeup artist on set, you are expected to be able to handle issues on all of the exposed skin–not just the face. If the talent has dry hands, arms, legs, etc., they may ask you for body lotion. Be prepared for that request!

On the set of my first film job ever for the 48 Hour Film Festival in 2009. I had no idea what I was doing.

A Handheld Fan. The lights used on set can get very hot. And what do people do when they’re hot? They sweat. And what does sweat do to makeup? Wears it off. A small, handheld fan will help keep the talent cool, but if there is a hair stylist on set, he/or she will probably hate you for using it. The fan will cool the client but might move their hair as well, so if you’re not responsible for their hair (more on that below), make sure you consult with the hair stylist first.

Makeup Remover Wipes. A long day on set means several touchups, and that can be a lot of makeup. Some people want to get it all off before they leave for the day, so makeup artists are expected to have makeup remover wipes on hand. Always keep more than you think you’ll need, because you’ll go through them quicker than you expect.

Gum, Mints & Cough Drops. If there’s something someone needs that’s on the face–even it has nothing to do with makeup–people will go to the makeup artist for it. So make sure to keep some gum, mints and cough drops in your set bag, but also make sure the talent doesn’t have anything in their mouth when they start filming.

Tissues. If the talent needs a tissue, the makeup artist is expected to have that too. So keep some close to your set up in case they need one during the makeup application, as well as some in your set bag in case of a sneeze or runny nose mid-filming.

Dental Floss. You might get some requests for floss after lunch breaks. I keep the individual floss picks in my set bag. Because, yes, teeth do fall under Makeup Artist Territory on set…

Eye Drops. And eyeballs do too! I keep eye drops for redness, allergies and contact wearers in my set bag. Somewhere along the way, I acquired some single use eye drop packs that are great for that #setlife.

Nail Polish Remover. Were you under the impression that makeup artists didn’t have to worry about nails? Maybe on a big film set, but it’s all on you on most commercials and I would say all corporate shoots. Chipped nail polish or bright colors won’t fly on most commercial or corporate shoots, so I always have some nail polish remover pads on me.

Nail File & Clippers. If the nails are too long or jagged and there’s going to be a close up of the hands, it’s up to the makeup artist to get those claws camera ready.

Lint Roller. If there’s Wardrobe on set, this won’t be your responsibility, but if not, keeping a lint roller in your set bag will make you the temporary hero of the day if there’s some lint on the talent’s clothing.

I’ve done makeup in classrooms, churches, hospitals, dental offices, parking lots and many more locations. You may never know what setup you’re walking into, but you should always be prepared with a fully stocked kit.

Makeup Cape or Paper Towels. If the talent is already in wardrobe when they come to Makeup, you’ll need to be careful not to get any makeup on their outfit. You can protect their clothes with a makeup cape (think a hair stylist cape, but shorter) or paper towels tucked into the collar or neckline of their top or suit jacket.

Razor & Clippers. Sometimes male talent facial hair needs to be trimmed or shaved off (usually just trimmed for commercial or corporate), so be ready!

Hairspray, Pomade, Comb, Brush, Hair Dryer, Curling Iron, Flat Iron & Bobby Pins. Ohhhhhhhh, you thought makeup artists just did makeup? Sure, that’s the case at wedding jobs, runway, editorial and film jobs, but at most corporate shoots and on commercials with smaller budgets, the makeup artist is at least expected to do some hair grooming. That means getting rid of flyaways, pinning back pieces of hair, sometimes giving a once over with a flat iron, etc. If you’re not a licensed Cosmetologist, I recommend finding someone you can hire to teach you some hair grooming basics.

Other makeup artists may look at these two lists and think I’m missing some things (in which case, please comment away!). But I think this is a good, solid list to work off of as long as you have a fully stocked kit and brush cleaner.

If you want my full lists with every product, tool and supply I use, please email AllisonBarbera@gmail.com for details.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

Emerging From My June Haze

What I felt like doing every time I had a second last month.

I’m experiencing major writer’s block right now. I’m not even sure what the rest of this sentence is going to look like.Β  I usually have several ideas for blog posts, but I’m coming up blank. Maybe it’s because we just finished the busiest month in the history of AB Beauty? 26 weddings, two groups of wedding guests, one hair and makeup for a re-shoot of some 2018 wedding photos and 12 trials, five corporate shoots and four makeup artists training sessions. Hundreds of email, non-stop texts and phone calls on the daily. We are just about to smash our all time record of 108 weddings, and the year is only a little over halfway done.

I’m tired.

I cried a few times, felt like collapsing regularly and caught a virus that still hasn’t gone away because I haven’t had much time to rest. But I also worked with a lot of brides who I love, met some cool people who came in to model for makeup artist training sessions, got two new makeup artist trained and two new ones who are starting their training now and booked several 2020 weddings. I got to see my family once, had a few fun friend visits and a classic Newport Summer day with a local friend, and saw Hannah Gadsby perform in Boston (she was AWESOME). So as rough as the June workload was, I’m choosing to look back on it as a good month.

It’s not that I dislike my job. Quite the contrary, actually. This is my dream job! My makeup artist work itself is great. I genuinely like my clients and I have fun talking with them at trials, weddings and shoots. The business side of my job–client communication, scheduling, invoicing, coordinating social media, etc.–is not super hard, it’s just a lot in combination with my makeup artist job, recruiting and training new makeup artists and growing the company. The makeup artist training program is intense, but I do enjoy teaching and getting people ready for a career in makeup artistry. It’s just when it’s all happening at once with no time to breathe that I feel a little buried. And that was June.

July is much quieter with weddings, but busy with trials and trainings. Even so, it feels lighter and I’m able to get a bit more balance. I have a good friend coming to town for Fourth of July (you’re damn right we’re wearing red, white and blue), my father’s big pool party/cookout this weekend, a Charleston friend visit next week, I’m going to see comic Nick Kroll in mid-July, then off to the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal at the end of the month. There will still be long days, but I’ve got great clients and a rockstar team, so it’ll be a good month.

That’s all I got, friends. My brain is stopping me from writing anymore.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Product Review: Glossier Cloud Paint

I’m on cloud nine with these blushes.

Cream blush, liquid blush, gel blush–give ’em all to me. I use and wear liquid foundation and I’ve found that liquids, cream and gels work beautifully when placed over a liquid foundation before powder has been applied. I still use a powder blush over the cream blush (after setting powder has been applied), but that’s not the star of today’s show.

For years, I used Make Up For Ever HD Blushes (the cream ones in the small compacts, not the liquid ones they came out with later). I found them to be pigmented and blendable, and they came in a wide range of shades. I’m talking in the past tense here because a few months ago, I discovered that my go-to cream blushes had been discontinued. I had tried–and not loved–several other cream blushes, so I was mildly panicked.

I’d heard a lot about Glossier Cloud Paints, and have liked most of the other Glossier products I tried, so I thought I’d start my new cream blush search there. The Cloud Paints are more of a gel-cream than a cream-cream, so they’re packaged in a tube instead of a compact. They come in six shades “inspired by the gradient pink NYC sunsets”–a warm rose (Storm), a sunny coral (Dawn), a light cool pink (Puff), a brownish nude (Dusk), a deep berry (Haze) and a soft peach (Beam). I have Storm, Dawn, Puff and Beam and have tried Dusk.

It took a few tries for me to figure out the best way to apply Cloud Paints and how much I needed, but I’ve got it down now. They’re pigmented, so you don’t need much. A little dab’ll do ya (and by “a little dab,” I mean about the size of a pomegranate seed). You can use your hands to apply the product, but I prefer to use a foundation brush then blend with a buffing brush. Cloud Paints blend really well and are buildable, so you can add more product without caking or streaking.

I’ve found Storm and Dawn to be the most flattering on medium and deep skintones. Storm gives a pretty, romantic flush to the skin. I love Dawn, and while it can look intimidating because it appears to be straight out orange when you dispense it, it gives a beautiful beachy glow on medium and deep skintones. Beam is the perfect soft peach color for light and medium skintones, and Puff is gorgeous on light to medium skintones.

Any type of cream blush is great for dry skin, and won’t catch on dry patches like powder blushes can. I’ve always used an oil-free primer on clients with oily skin before I’ve applied a Cloud Paint, and I’ve had no problem with it staying on. Basically, I think these blushes are appropriate for all skin types, but if you have oily skin, an oil-free primer should be in your arsenal anyway if you want your makeup to last.

Cloud Paints give a beautiful flush to the skin without completely covering it. So you can still see the skin (and freckles, if they’re on the cheeks), but it’s got a pretty, natural looking finish. This is one of the “instant pretty” products in my kit. As soon as I have it blended, I think “Ooooh, so pretty!” and I’ve have clients who have seen me apply it actually say that out loud.

You can buy Cloud Paints on Glossier.com. They are $18 each if you buy them individually, or you can choose two shades and get a duo pack for $30. If you’re a makeup artist or want to be one, I definitely recommend these. And if you’re a makeup civilian who likes blush, chiggity check these out.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

Under Eye Love: How To Keep The Thinnest Skin On Your Body In Good Shape

I see you, pulling on that under eye skin. Knock it off!

You read the overly long title–that delicate area of skin under your peepers is oh-so-thin. That means it can easily show signs of wear and tear, which can make you look older than you are. But there are some things you can do to keep that thinny thin thin under eye area looking smooth and tight for as long as possible.

So, what’s up? You want to know my tips? Then keep on reading.

Protect. UVA rays break down collagen and elastin, which are the good little doobies your body produces to keep skin taut. Using SPF on that area helps stop that breakdown. I use a moisturizer with SPF 35 under my eyes before I apply my concealer (which also provides some physical protection from the sun). You could use a sunscreen alone, but just test it out first to make sure it doesn’t get into your eyes and make them sting. I almost always have my SPF moisturizer and sunscreen on, but there have been times when I’ve just had Glossier Invisible Shield on my face and under eye area, and it was sting-free.

Shield. You know what else gives you sun protection? Sunglasses. (Duh.) Not only do they stop those rays of sunshine from directly hitting your skin, but they keep you from squinting. Repeated squinting will expedite the appearance of crow’s feet, and if you don’t believe me, Google “Robert DeNiro 2019.” Now all you need to do is not lose your sunglasses at the beach and avoid putting them on the passenger seat in your car, almost immediately forget they are there then crush them with your purse.

Prevent & Treat. Eye cream will provide moisture to the under eye area, and a moisturized, plumped up skin will show less lines and wrinkles than a dry skin. Some moisturizers also contain anti-aging ingredients which can help boost collagen production. I use a tiny bit of my prescription Trentinoin (a retinoid) under my eyes every other night. On the other nights, I use Lancome Advanced Genifique Eye Cream. I strongly suggest consistently using eye cream before you see any signs of aging, as it will delay the appearance of those lines, wrinkles and loose skin. But if you’re already there, getting into the habit of using eye cream now will help, especially if you choose one that contains retinol. When applying eye cream, use your ring finger, as that is the weakest of the phalanges so it automatically applies less pressure to the area. And I think it’s best to apply eye cream to the under eye area starting from the outside of the eyes (towards the temples) in towards the nose. That’s the way that skin grows, so doing that keeps you from pulling skin in the opposite direction.

Be Gentle. I’m going to need everyone to stop pulling on their under eye skin RIGHT NOW. Skin only has so much elasticity, and pulling, rubbing or stretching that skin when applying or removing makeup or putting in contacts will cause the skin to sag. I use a very light hand when I apply makeup on my own under eyes as well as on clients, and my nighttime eye makeup removal consists of placing a cotton pad soaked in BIODERMA on each eye for a minute, gently wiping away the makeup, then using a cotton swab dipped in Bioderma to clean up the aftermath of the eye makeup party. I treat my under eye area as carefully as I would hold a newborn, except I don’t do that because I get nervous about their wobbly necks. Think of your under eye area as the most delicate thing you own and proceed accordingly.

If you stick with these tips, your under eye skin will thank you by living its best life and looking fly. And I don’t even need any credit! Just tell everyone you know to read this blog

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

Summa Summa Summa Time Faves

Happy Summer!

 

We’ve got a few different starts to the summer where I live in Newport, RI. The first one is Memorial Day Weekend, the official start of the summer season in Newport. The second is June 1, which I think most New Englanders consider to be the start of summer, even though most of the month is technically spring. Then we’ve got June 21, the actual first day of summer.

So I think it’s time to do my Summer Favorites blog post, right? Now is as good of a time as any.

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm. My cousin, Saint Maria, sent me this cleanser and man, do I love it. It’s a cleansing balm, so you use the spatula they provide to scrape some out, then you apply it to dry skin, add water, massage it in, then rinse off. It melts my makeup right off, smells divine, does not leave a sticky film and makes my skin feel so soft after. The scent of cleanser is really important to me. I tried a Drunk Elephant one recently that worked fine but smelled like drywall, and I can’t get past that. Cleanser texture is also very important to me, and the Green Clean texture feels luxurious. The best way I can come up with to describe it is a whipped or light sorbet texture that melts onto your skin. This is a fantastic cleanser that works on all skin types. You can get it at Sephora.

This makes me look forward to washing my face.

The AB Beauty Team. These rockstars are always my favorites, but it’s time they made an appearance in one of these Favorites posts. I am so grateful to each hair stylist and makeup artist on the team. Not only are they crazy talented, but I truly like each person and enjoy working with them. I’m lucky to have 17-and-counting hair stylists and makeup artists who do work for AB Beauty. Thank you, Alex, Ann, Ana, Candie, Chantal, Denissa, Ellie, Emily, Emma, Jen, Katie, Kaydee, Kerri, Kristin, Liz, Liza and Paige! And looking forward to starting training with Shaina and Hayden later this month. Y’all are the best.

Spicy V8 Bloody Marias. It’s a well known fact that I’m a tequila drinker. One of my go-to drinks is a Bloody Maria (a Bloody Mary with tequila instead of vodka). My mother makes the best Bloody mix, and the second best is the Charleston Mix. That’s my opinion, but it’s also correct. I keep forgetting to order some Charleston Mix and I don’t always have my mom’s mix, so I’ve been using Spicy V8s (a suggestion I got from the mother of an AB Beauty bride–thanks, Ellen!). The V8 consistency is not as thick as the other Bloody mixes I like, but it is far superior to the bullshit watery ones some restaurants and bars serve. If you’re a Bloody drinker or want to be, give it a try!

Decorating My Apartment. I moved into the best apartment I’ve ever lived in in April, and I’ve been on a mission to make it look the way I want it to look since. I’ve historically put my money and effort into my company, and that’s still where those things will go if I have to choose. But right now, I can do both, so my crib is getting some love. So far, I’ve gotten a living room rug, a bookshelf, two vintage chairs, throw pillows, a bed frame, a dresser, a bedroom rug, bedroom curtains and curtain rods and real plants. I’ve had pictures and artwork hung up on my walls, and my bedroom was painted peach (to compliment the white, gold and marble elements I’m incorporating). I LOVE making my already beautiful, spacious and bright apartment look better. Each thing I buy makes me more excited to live in my ocean-views top floor apartment. I’m sure this will go on well past the summer, but I think this will be when I make the biggest dent in my “To Decorate” list.

I’m (slowly) getting there!

Secret Outlast Xtend Invisible Solid Deodorant. I know some people skip deodorant, but that’s not my jam. Especially in the summer, you know? I go for runs, I log in several miles a week walking to errands, I’m rushing up and down flights of stairs into my studio and apartment–you know, being active. I’ve tried other deodorants that I felt wore off quickly, made me itchy or had a sickly sweet smell. Secret Outlast Xtend Invisible Solid is the longest-lasting deodorant I’ve tried and it doesn’t make me itchy. I have the Completely Clean scent which isn’t overpowering. I don’t think it’s 100% invisible, but the white color does fade after a bit. I haven’t tried wearing it for 48 hours because, hi, I’m going to shower twice in 48 hours, so I’ll just take their word for that.

Big Berkey Countertop Water Filter System. I find the taste of water to be utterly boring, but I know it’s a necessary evil (and, all jokes aside, something I’m lucky to have access to in comparison with a lot of the world). I’ve been trying to drink more of it, mostly because my body seems to go into instant bloat mode if I have any salt, and I can not stand when my face looks fuller than it already is. Last month, my face looked puffy for days and I had gained weight seemingly overnight. I forced myself to drink a full gallon of water one day, and the next day and I was down two pounds and my face looked normal again. Now I’m sold on the stuff. I go through a few gallons a week, so my brother recommended the Big Berkey. It’s not only better for the environment, and more cost effective in the long run, but the water it purifies is a lot better too. The assembly instructions seemed very complicated, so I convinced my friends Dan and Natasha to put it together for me (thanks, guys!). It’s a big ol’ thing, so you’ll need some good counter space if you get one.

Having Parties. My dope new apartment is the perfect party spot. The layout, the space, the deck, the bay window that overlooks a busy part of town so guests can have fun people watching and yelling out the window–it all works perfectly. I’ve had a couple small parties since I’ve moved in, and I’ve loved it. I don’t cook, but I’m great at buying chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, veggie platters, etc. I have a lot of friends who I would like to see more often, but it’s tough for me to make plans with a bunch of people during wedding season. I can usually only pull off one hangout a week, but when I have a party, I can hang out with several people at once. I’ve always hosted one or two pub crawl type parties each year, but I’m liking these house parties better for now. I love that my friends from different groups meet each other at my parties and become friends. All of my friends are great so hanging out with them all together in one place is the best.

Not what my parties look like. If you threw that crap in my house, we’d have problems.

Glossier Mango Balm Dotcom. It’s no secret that I love the Balm Dotcoms. I’ve tried every one except mint, so of course when the new Mango Balm Dotcom came out, I thought, Gotsta have it. It has more of mango candy scent than a real mango, but I’m into it. It is just as hydrating as their original Balm Dotcom, and I love subtle coral tint it gives. I haven’t felt this way about all of the Balm Dotcoms, but I’ll definitely buy this one again.

Dead To Me. If you haven’t watched this Netflix series yet, get to it! Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini are two national treasures, and they are great together. Christina plays Jen, the widow of a man killed in a hit in run, and she is befriended by Linda’s character. There’s some dark humor, lots of twists and a scene in which the actor playing one of Jen’s sons is wearing a Biggie shirt. That did not go unnoticed by me. I usually only like to watch comedies, but I like the two main actresses enough to watch this series, and I’m glad I did. Can’t wait for Season 2.

You know what else I love this summer? SUMMER. In my world, life is better in dresses and sandals. 8:30pm sunsets beat 4:00pm sunsets any day, and you’ll never have to scrape sunshine of your windshield, so how bad can your day be?

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

The Brutal Truth: The Makeup Artist Edition

That’s me in the background, doing touchups on the set of the first feature film I worked on. That one was overall a good experience with a nice cast and crew, but not all of my jobs have been that good.

Every industry has its pros and cons. Teachers may have summers off, but they also have to put up with some bratty kids and nightmare parents. Real estate agents may have the potential to bring in a lot of money, but they also have to deal with demanding clients and buyers who disappear after showing them eight houses a week for two months. And bartending may seem like a fun, social job, but would you want to cater to drunk people every time you went into work? Let’s not forget that people throwing up on a bar is a thing.

Working as a makeup artist is no different. Sure, we get to make people look pretty (or look the part) and that in turn helps them feel more confident. We are able to flex our creative muscles, which you don’t get to do in a lot of jobs. We get to meet a lot of people and work on cool projects. And some of us get to see our names in movie and television credits, which is a good feeling. But it’s not all glowing skin and long lashes (the makeup equivalent of “puppies and rainbows”). There are some negatives to being a makeup artist, and if you’re considering working in this industry, it might help you to be aware of what you could be up against.

Gossip Girl. When I interview Independent Contractors for AB Beauty, I always make sure to tell them we are not a catty, gossipy company. I say that because unfortunately a lot of salons and makeup and hair trailers on set have that atmosphere. And it’s not just a behind the scenes thing. Have you ever been at a salon, getting your hair done while your hair stylist or one next to you talks crap about a fellow employee or a client? Sure you have. I think we all have. I’m not saying every salon is like that–and I’ve been in plenty that are not–but it’s a reality if you’re working in the industry.

It’s not just salons either. I’ve worked with many awesome hair stylists and makeup artists on different films, commercials and television shows over the years, but I’ve also worked with a few who would talk badly about someone the second they walked out of the room or trailer. That makes me so uncomfortable and is part of the reason I no longer take certain jobs. If you’re thinking about working in the beauty industry, my biggest piece of advice to you is to stay out of the drama. Don’t badmouth coworkers, bosses, clients, other crew members–really anyone. It may feel like it’s making you closer to the person you’re talking with if you gossip with them, but it will come back and bite you, either when what you’re saying gets back to the subject of your tirade, or in the form of other people viewing you as a shit talker.

Don’t be a 10 year old girl. Save the drama for your mama (or better yet, avoid it entirely.)

When I’ve been face to face with a shit talker in the past, I’ve always tried to find a way to change the subject. For example, if Nice Person #1 leaves the room and the S Talker says “Nice Person is so full of herself. And she’s not even good at her job,” I would say “Have you worked with her before?” (a neutral question). If the S Talker said “Yeah,” I would ask what job they were on together. Then I would say something like “Oh, was that the one that went a week over schedule and messed everyone up?” or “Did you have a million overnights on that one?” or something off topic but in a natural way. Or if they hadn’t worked together before, I might say “I haven’t either,” then pull from my memory something that I meant to ask them at some point anyway. Like “Oh, I keep meaning to ask you! Have you tried that new Ben Nye powder? I heard it’s really good and I know you like that line.” You feel me? It’s a way out without joining in the gossip or walking away (which isn’t always possible). In this industry, your professional reputation is part of what gets you hired, so why risk losing opportunities because of badmouthing, which adds no value to anything anyway?

TheΒ Professional. The beauty industry has a reputation of being unprofessional. That’s not true of everyone in the industry, and those that I am friends with and associate with are professional. But the truth is, many people in the industry are not. I know this from personal experience and what I’ve seen and been told by other beauty service company owners and makeup artists. Over the course of the almost 11 years AB Beauty has been around, I have received several panicked calls from brides whose makeup artist or hair stylist cancelled weeks or days before their wedding. Can you imagine?!?! (I’m writing this on a Monday and got a panicked call from a bride whose makeup artist cancelled on her for this Friday.)

Professionalism encompasses not just showing up for a job–which you’d think would be a given–but arriving on time, being prepared and having appropriate conversations. It would be a) crazy to go out and get wasted the night before a job and b) tell that to a client, right? I’ve heard of hair stylists and makeup artists who have done just that. I’ve also heard of people who were dressed inappropriately, drank on the job (we get offered mimosas at most weddings!), left without finishing their work, etc. The good news is, if you can act and speak appropriately, show up on time and complete your work, the people who can’t or won’t do those things help you look better.

Are you one of those “I’m already running late but lemme grab a coffee” people? If so, stay out of the beauty industry. You won’t regularly get hired if that’s how you operate.

Even if you are professional, there are people who will assume you’re not, just based on the industry you’re in. It’s a stereotype you have to fight against, but you can prove people wrong. You’ll likely encounter others who decided to play into that stereotype and sometimes that will have an effect on you if you’re working with them, but if you show up on time, are prepared and have appropriate conversations, it will become pretty obvious that you are a true professional.

Noses Up In The Air. For whatever reason, some people look down at makeup artists. Those snobs don’t take our jobs seriously, and for no good reason. I think they think “How hard can it be to put lipstick on someone?” (First of all, no paying client wants just lipstick. And secondly, I’d bet all my money that they couldn’t do a perfect red lip on someone with uneven lips who tries to talk while lipliner is being applied.) People think a makeup artist’s job is just putting on makeup on others–which, by the way, most people couldn’t do without experience–but a) it’s not that easy and b) there’s more to a makeup artist’s job than just applying makeup.

If you’re going to be a makeup artist, you might encounter this even with people in your personal life. The mother of a friend of mine once said “Your parents must so happy that they paid for your college tuition and now you’re a makeup artist.” I thought, First of all, bitch, my parents did not pay for my college tuition, so don’t make assumptions, especially when your eyeliner is as jacked up as it is. But I said nothing, and went on to build a successful company and a lifestyle that she would surely be jealous of if she has to live in New England during the winter, which I believe she does.

If someone looks down on you because of your profession, hold your head up high, look them in the eyes and say “You have lipstick on your teeth.” Even if they don’t or they don’t wear lipstick, it’ll feel good to watch them squirm or be confused.

My advice to you if you want to be a makeup artist is to grow some thick skin (but keep it moisturized). If someone thinks they’re better than you because of their job, don’t let that affect you. What they think of your profession has zero impact on your success, so let them use their energy judging other people while you work a job you love and potentially make more money than them. (The average full day rate for a commercial makeup artist is anywhere between $500 – $1000, depending on the market you are in. So take that, snobs!) If someone thinks less of you because you’re a makeup artist, take solace in the fact that they are wrong, you are right and your face will always look better than their’s.

D-I-S-R-E-S-P-E-C-T. You’d think when you’re on set at least, other people you were working for or with would understand the importance of your job, right? WRONG. The snobs you find looking in from the outside and judging you without really knowing what you do aren’t as bad as the ones who judge you and treat you disrespectfully, even though they are on a set or at a job with you. I’m talking about directors, producers, photographers, wedding planners and others who rush us makeup artists even when we are on time. Or stand in our way/our light while we are working. Or pull someone we are about to do makeup on for a 15 minute meeting then get mad when we are not done on time, etc. Yet we are expected to have the utmost respect for everyone’s job. Know what would happen if a makeup artist walked in front of the camera mid-shot? All hell would break loose!

There’s also sometimes just a general sense of “we’re better than you” that you can feel at some jobs. What the people who are giving off that vibe don’t realize is that the actor/bride/client/model/politician we are doing makeup on is not going to want to be on camera or in front of a crowd without spending some quality time with a makeup artist first. Trust me, no one wants to be filmed or photographed with dark undereye circles, redness or a shiny T-zone.

I’m lucky enough to work with a great crew, producer and hosts on the TV show I work on, and most of the wedding planners I work with at this point are respectful and protective of my time and set up area the day of. I sometimes get to work with awesome wedding photographers, and I love it when they are there. But I’ve also been on jobs with several photographers and videographers who try to move my makeup while I’m working (not my fault if I bite your hand as an automatic response to that), turn off lights while I’m working because they need different light for their shot of a wedding invitation, hit my shoulder with their camera lens while I am applying lipstick, etc.

I once had a photographer move a couch in front of my set up while I was working, essentially boxing me in, and when I asked them to move it after they were done getting a picture of the bridesmaids’ dresses, they looked at me, said “No,” and walked out of the room. I had to climb over the couch and then lift my heavy kit over it to be able to leave. The photographer had left some camera lenses on the couch and I thought “I could ‘accidentally’ pour my brush cleaner on these lenses and ruin some very expensive equipment,” but I let my Professional side overrule my Sicilian side, and I walked out. (Then I texted my photographer friend, Joe Laurin–who would never treat a makeup artist like that–to vent.)

On the set of short film “His Take On Her.” That was another great cast and crew and a fun job, if a little bloody.

If you want to be a makeup artist, you’ll work some great jobs with people who respect and understand the importance of your work, just as you (should) respect and understand the importance of their’s. But you’ll also inevitably work with some real jokers who think your job isn’t important and that you’re not smart or professional. These assholes have their minds made up about you before they meet you, so pay them no heed. Just try to not let it ruin your day when you do have to interact with them. It’s your job to do your best work and be professional, no matter what kind of jerks you encounter along the way (barring of course inappropriate or abusive behavior). You can bitch about them to someone in your personal life after you leave the job. I once told my father about an assistant director was who was rude and disrespectful to the female crew members on set, and for some reason described what the guy looked like. My father’s response was “Guys who look and act like that usually get punched.” Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but it made me feel better. So if it makes you feel better to think that a person who is rude is to you on a job is the type to get punched, imagine them getting clocked and see if that helps.

Trade Off. When you start out as a makeup artist, one of the most important things you’ll need to do is start a portfolio. But how do you get pictures of your work when no one is going to hire you because you don’t have a portfolio? The answer is trade work (aka “testing”). Find a photographer, hair stylist and model who are all also starting out and collaborate on a shoot that you can all use the photos from in your portfolios. I recommend doing that as often as possible until you build a portfolio that shows potential clients a good selection of your work. It’s smart to do these type of trade shoots when you’re starting out, as they will set you apart from the “makeup artists” who just have Instagram accounts with non-pro photos of makeup they’ve done on themselves and friends.

Trade work can also be something like doing makeup for the cover of a local magazine who doesn’t pay you but gives you free advertising in their publication, or doing makeup for the owner of a clothing boutique’s branding photos in exchange for a gift certificate to their store. This is part of the bartering world, and as long as you think the exchange is worth it for your time and level of experience, it’s not a bad thing.

Evidence of some 2013 trade work I did. Worth it. Photo: Jacqueline Marque Photography
Hair: Alexandra Wilson for Allison Barbera Beauty

But there’s another type of “trade” work that will surely be offered to you, and it’s less “trade” than “volunteer” work, except it’s not true volunteer work that is done for a good cause (like the Look Good, Feel Better program.) What I’m referring to is a job that is offered to you for no pay, but with the promise of “good exposure” (cue eye rolling from any veteran makeup artists reading this). If you are going to be a makeup artist, you’ll likely field several offers from people who want you to do makeup for a shoot, small fashion show, competition, etc. for free, but with the guarantee that you’ll get good exposure from doing the job. I don’t know if it’s common to be asked to work for free outside of the beauty industry, but it is very prevalent in this industry.

I took some of this “good exposure” work when I started, partly because I didn’t know any better and partly because I needed the practice. I don’t think I ever directly got any work from those type of jobs, but I did gain some experience, which has its own value. After a while, I realized I didn’t need those types of jobs. I’ll still very occasionally do a trade shoot if it’s with an AB Beauty hair stylist, a photographer I love and a model whose look I like, but that’s it. For anything other than that, unless you are my mother, my sister in law or select cousins, if my foundation brush touches your face, you’re paying me. This is my livelihood, and my time and my products–along with my 10+ years of experience–are worth more than one million exposure “dollars.”

When you are starting out, it may be worth it to take some exposure jobs to get experience, but I wouldn’t take this type of unpaid work past your first year as a makeup artist. I also wouldn’t do it that often, as your time would be better spent doing trade shoots and taking classes.

This ended up being a lot longer than I intended! Surprise, surprise, I have a lot to say about my career as a makeup artist. For me, the pros heavily outweigh the cons, and even my worst day in this career is better than my best day in my previous careers, as I’m doing something I enjoy, and on my own terms.

If you are starting out as a makeup artist or thinking about becoming one, I think it makes you better prepared if you’re aware of some of the not-so-great things you may encounter. No job is perfect, but if you love what you do, are good at it and are professional, this job can be damn close.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Life Lessons From A Small-Sized Adult: Part Two

Look at me, getting to Part Two in a timely fashion! Let’s get right to it.

DATING & RELATIONSHIPS

Trust Your Gut. You ever get a pang of “This isn’t good” when you’re involved with someone? I have, too many times to count. And for the longest, I ignored that gut feeling because I liked a guy, or at least liked what I thought he was or could be. Guess what happened every time I ignored my intuition? Up in flames, baby. I was the master ignorer of gut feelings and red flags in my 20s. The red flags were often so obvious that my friends could spot them, sometimes from several states away. But I would make excuses for some dude’s bad behavior, analyzing his life and coming up with a hypothesis on how he got like that (born an asshole, as some people are) and why it was okay (it wasn’t). I sometimes put up with things for a month or two more than I should–which I’m working on cutting down to “not a minute longer than I should”–but I don’t drag things out for several month or longer because my intuition bells ring too loudly if I try. I say intuition because while sometimes the red flags are obvious, other times it’s hard to tell if it’s red flags or just normal human flaws, but my gut always knows which side they fall on. I’m betting your’s does too.

Speak Up. In my 20s, I was afraid to say how I really felt or talk about where things were going with guys I dated. Not only did I not want to put pressure on someone, but I think I wanted to be that chill girl who is cool with whatever and didn’t need to make plans. But that kind of attitude or failure to communicate caused a lot of confusion and sometimes heartbreak. Now when I start to date someone, I’m very up front about my schedule and how I don’t stand for constant bailing and consistently pushing plans back by several hours for no reason. I figure if a guy doesn’t like that, he can go find someone else. I don’t have the kind of traditional timeline that a lot of people have that involves moving in together, getting engaged, getting married and starting a family, but if those things are important to you, I say let ’em know. Maybe not on the first date, but also maybe not before you get too far in. I’m not a relationship expert, but I’ve noticed a big difference in the relationships I’ve been in where I wasn’t shy to say how I feel or what my non-negotiables were as opposed to those where I didn’t say a peep about anything that was important to me. It can be scary to be so open with communication, but I’ve learned that it’s definitely worth it.

Actually, I’d rather they communicate with me, but I did find this funny enough to make my Facebook profile picture for a minute in 2016.

Let It Go, Let It Go.Β To me, the worst part of dating isn’t the near constant disappointment or the analysis/translation of texts that often needs to be done. It’s how much mental time and energy I sometimes expend, particularly when things aren’t going well. I’ve gotten a lot better with this over the years and my tendency to cut things off by the three month mark is helpful, but I could still improve. When I catch myself in the midst of dating overthinking, I try to force myself to snap out of it and let those thoughts go. I’ve learned that overthinking and worrying does nothing to change the past, has no affect on what could happen in the future and makes me feel like shit in the present. So I do my best to pull away from those useless thoughts (which usually also means avoiding going to my friends for input) and focus on more important things like my business, redecorating my apartment and taking Buzzfeed quizzes.

OWNING A BUSINESS

Get Thee A Support Group. Girllllll, running a business is a wild ride. But if you’re a solopreneur, it can be mad lonely. I’ve learned that surrounding myself with other entrepreneurs who I can turn to for support and advice is essential. I’m lucky enough to have found my people through Hatch Tribe. And, well, I’ll just let you read this.

Save Yourself. Unless someone else is funding your business, you need money. And probably more than you think. As a business owner, I wasn’t in the position to put away much in savings for the first five years. But once I could, I did, and now I can’t stop, won’t stop. You never know when a law or tax code is going to change and cost you. Or when something is going to change/break/flood at your office or storefront. I’ve found that having a good cushion of savings helps me weather those unexpected storms without putting me in a bad position or causing anxiety.

Give Me a Break. I’m the first to admit that I’m not great at taking time off. But, I am improving! I’ve learned that giving myself permission to take the afternoon and sometimes evening off (I’m not quite at a full day yet) is not only important but imperative to my personal well-being and my aptitude as a business owner. Batteries need a recharge, you know? Entrepreneur burnout is real and it is rough, but it can be avoided by taking some time off. I’ve found that scheduling in hangouts with friends on my calendar like I schedule in meetings and client appointments makes me take those breaks (which I always love) so I don’t work all day, every day.

Sometimes you have to take a break, throw on a blue wig and go out with a friend on Fourth of July Eve.

MONEY

You Ain’t Rich. Or I don’t know, maybe you are. If you’ve got a yacht, six houses and a personal assistant for your dog, skip to the next section. But if you sometimes look at something and think “I wish I could afford that,” stay right here. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life is to live within your means. If I’m being honest, I’ve personally been pretty good at this for my whole life, I think because I’ve always had people around who weren’t, and I saw the struggle they went through. Some of the lessons I’ve learned have come more from watching others than experiencing it myself. I saw people who could barely pay their rent or mortgage spend money on nice cars, trips, clothes, concert tickets, etc. then feel major stress when their bills were due. Even from a young age, I remember thinking Why don’t they just buy the stuff they can afford? I don’t mean this in a judgmental way, and maybe the things people buy that they don’t have the money for bring them so much joy that it’s worth it. As an observer of life and a Psych minor who is fascinated by people’s behavior and choices though, I wonder why some people buy things that they can’t afford but also constantly feel stressed about money.

I’ve had my share of the bank account blues, and I’m no financial wizard, so I’m sure there are things I could be doing better. But I try to be very aware of what my expenses are, what my income is and what that leaves me for spending money. Once my business took off and I made enough to have spending money, I figured out what kind of lifestyle I could afford and went from there. Having little or no money is crazy stressful, so why put yourself in that position? I realize it can’t always be avoided, and I’m not talking about people who are born into poverty or experience unexpected major financial problems. I’m just saying I’ve learned that I had to say no to fun trips, new clothes, dinners out, etc. at certain points in my life because doing those things would put me behind with my bills. The point of this very long section is that if you’re struggling financially, it may be worth it to take a hard look at your lifestyle and see if you can really afford it. If you can’t, you can either minimize your expenses, increase your income, or both, which will in turn likely reduce your stress. And isn’t life better when you have less stress?

By all means, take a vacation if you can afford it. But if it means you won’t be able to pay your rent that month, I’d advise you to think twice.

Sweat The Small Stuff. I’ve never been shy about saying that my first five years in business were a struggle. I was making just enough to get by, and it was tough. I reduced as many of my expenses as possible, and I also learned to pay attention to the small stuff. Gone were the days of buying coffee, which could easily cost me $500 a year if I did it five days a week. At the time I lived in Struggle City, that $500 a year would pay for two months of rent at my shared office space, and now I look at $500 as two round trip flights to Charleston. Also during those years, I learned to check for coupons and promo codes before I bought/ordered anything. Even if I only saved $25 a month, that was half my electric bill or Internet bill at the time. I set alarms on my phone so I would never go over my parking meter time and get a ticket, I sold clothes I didn’t wear on consignment instead of leaving them to collect dust in my closet, I printed business documents double sided so I didn’t have to buy as much paper, etc. I found that these small savings added up, and I still do all of those things today.

Give It Up. Even in my broke-est (not a word) days, I still knew I had it better than a lot of people. Not just financially, but because of my quality of life. I was safe in my own home, healthy, had food and access to clean water and had shelter. There are a lot of people who don’t have all of those things, and money can help improve their lives. So seven years ago, I decided my New Year’s Resolution would be to make a different charitable donation each month that year. I kept that up after 2012, and now I’m able to give more money and do it more frequently. It’s not a humble brag, but I’m mentioning it because it’s one of the financial lessons I’ve learned. I feel like part of my responsibility as someone who is lucky enough to have a good life and have my basic needs meet is to help out those who are struggling and haven’t been so lucky. I know I talk a lot about saving and buying what you can afford, but I seriously doubt anyone was ever met with financial ruin because they made too many donations.

MISCELLANEOUS

Move, Get Out The Way. You ever try to get by someone when they have plenty of space and they somehow don’t see you so they don’t budge? Or walk up to a bar with two friends and know that if the oblivious guy sitting there moved down to the empty seat next to him there would be three open seats for you and your friends? Isn’t that maddening? I’m assuming someone taught me this when I was young, but I am always very aware of where I am in relation to other people and if I am taking up more space than I need. I want to be comfortable, but I also want other people to be comfortable (unless they like Tupac better than Biggie). I think part of being a good human is being aware that other people exist, and acknowledging that it’s not just you and the people you are with in when you are out in the world.

Timed Out. I’ve been late a few times in my life (not for clients), and it always makes me feel frazzled. I also find it very rude to the person I am meeting up with/have an appointment with, as I believe it gives one of two messages (often both): “Your time is not as important as mine” and “I’m bad at time management.” I don’t think my time is more important than anyone else’s and I’d like to think I’m good at time management, so those aren’t messages I want to give. Being on time (usually early) has served me well in my professional life, as it’s part of what proves to clients that I am responsible and reliable, and in personal life, I think it’s made me viewed as a reliable friend. Like Ashanti, I’m not always there when you call, but I’m always on time.

Late? Not me. I was born early (literally).

Forget The Shoulds. At my age, some people would say I should be married. I should have kids by now. I should own a home, not rent an apartment. But I don’t give a shit about how other people think I should live my life. My life is dope. I’m not a conventional person, and I have no desire to do things that way some others think I should. I didn’t learn this lesson until my mid 20s, but I’m glad I did because it’s a big one. If you know a decision you have to make is smart, won’t hurt others and will make you happy, I say do it to it, even if you face disapproval. I’ve learned to make my decisions that way, and that is part of what’s allowed me create the life I want. I realize some people have very strong-opinioned people in their lives who put pressure on them, and I’m sure that’s tough. No one who I love has tried to blatantly should me into something, so I’m lucky. But I have encountered some people–even some who I care about–who have implied that I’m doing something weird or living life the wrong way, and some who’s disapproval I can sense. And to them, I (silently) say Your opinion about that means nothing to me. Let’s break down your life and see if the shoulds you caved into worked out for you. I’ve learned to live my life the way I want to, and it’s working out great.

 

I’m now over a week into my late 30s, gaining so much wisdom it hurts (everything hurts after 35) πŸ˜‰ If even one thing I said helps you or makes you feel better about something, I’ll consider this two part series a success. Thanks for reading!

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Life Lessons From A Small-Sized Adult: Part One

On my birthday this past week, holding my fruit salad birthday cake. If you eat regular birthday cake, you don’t know what you’re missing.

This week, I officially entered my late 30s. That seems weird. I mean, I’m happy I’m here, but wasn’t I just in college? What’s that now? I graduated 15 years ago? And Method Man is 48 years old? We must be in some kind of time warp.

I feel like I’ve lived several different lifetimes. I went through childhood being shy in school but I always had several good friends and an imagination that was mayyyyybe on the overactive side. Middle school and high school Allison had very low self confidence, a strong love of hip hop and lot of crushes on bad boys. College Allison started out excited but unsure of herself and left with a little confidence, a 3.8 GPA, lots of stories of bad boys disguised as good guys, and a high tolerance for Bacardi Limon. The Florida Allison (who existed for two years post-college) learned how to be completely independent–a far cry from High School Allison who wouldn’t go on errands without a friend in tow and was afraid to drive on the highway–and also how to survive hurricanes, palmetto bugs and working for companies outside of the family business. The Back to Newport/New Business Owner years brought excitement, struggle, a diagnosed gluten allergy and, you guessed it, more bad boys (but shouldn’t they just be called “assholes” after age 25?). The phase I’m in now–Established Business Owner and Working Snowbird–doesn’t always have the fun or excitement of some of the earlier years, but I’m okay with that. I don’t have time for the hangovers anyway.

I have a great life and all of my previous lifetimes brought me to this one, so I wouldn’t change any of my big life choices. I’ve learned a lot–even if it took me several versions of the same lesson to get something through my “thick skull,” as my mother would say. I have no doubt that I’ll look back at my current life when I’m in my late 40s (hopefully my Retired Business Owner and True Snowbird phase) and think Wow, there was so much I didn’t know! and probably a little Why the hell was I doing that? Maybe I’ll write a new blog post then, if blogs still exist and we are not all solely communicating via photos and likes…

Until then, I think this birthday week is a good time to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned since the early 1980s. And because I need to write to sort out my thoughts, here we are. Ready for me to drop some wisdom? You know I love to.

BEAUTY

Skincare, Skincare, Skincare. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so take care of it! I’ve learned that cleansing, moisturizing, exfoliating (if it’s not contraindicated with any prescription products in your arsenal) and using sunscreen makes a big difference. Those are the basics, and I recommend a few other things as well, but I’d be happy if you were just doing those four essentials. If you neglect your skin, it will catch up with you (remember now, I see a lot of faces and hear a lot about skincare routines or lack thereof) and it won’t be something you can solve with a serum or a facial. The biggest lesson I’ve learned with skincare is to start a routine early in life, stay consistent and spread the good word. Need some basic skincare help? Check out my routine.

Do You. As long as humans exist, there will be beauty trends. If a trend interests you, give it a try. But make no mistake–trends are not universally flattering. For example, I learned that the flat ironed-hair trend of the mid-aughts was no good on me. And if I grow out my brows to the currently popular Cara Delevingne level (something most women with Italian blood can do), they will take up way too much of my face.Β  I’m sure you’ve tried beauty trends that did nothing to flatter you, or even just seen one and thought “No way.” So go with what works on you, and do it proudly.

Sometimes “doing you” means wearing a green wig when everyone else is wig-less.

Go Pro. There’s a lot of DYI in the beauty world. You can learn how to do your own everyday makeup, curl your own hair and paint your own nails. Maybe you’d rather not do those things yourself, so I say if it’s within the budget, outsource. But there are some things that you really should see a pro for. Unless you 100% know what you’re doing, any hair removal methods other than shaving and tweezing are better off left to the pros. (And with brow tweezing, I would recommend getting your brows professionally shaped first, then following that shape to upkeep.) I also recommend keeping hair coloring–especially if it involves bleach–the domain of licensed cosmetologists. If you are going to use any skincare devices at home, either really make sure you know what you are doing (read the instructions, check reviews and watch tutorials) or leave that one to your esthetician or dermatologist. I’ve seen paper thin nails, extremely damaged hair, and burns and scars on the face from people who didn’t know what they were doing. I don’t want that to happen to you.

FAMILY

Show ‘Em Love. In my book, family members are there to support each other. To me, that means things like going to graduations and career awards ceremonies, offering rides to the airport, visiting when a baby is born, etc. I know it’s tough and my wedding weekend schedule means I personally miss a lot of stuff, but I go to what I can and try to make up for what I have to skip. If you have a strained relationship with a relative, I understand that this may not be something you’re comfortable with. But with those you are on good terms with, showing up and being there can mean a lot.

Be Grateful. Even if you only have one relative, you still have one more than some people. And family doesn’t have to be people that are related to you. Sometimes blood isn’t thicker than water, and the people you consider to be family may not be in the strictest sense of the word. Whoever your family is, I’ve found that it’s good to take time to really be thankful for them. I think people who have encountered the loss or a near loss of a loved one really understand how lucky we are for each day we have someone in our lives. It’s easy to take it for granted until someone is no longer around, or until they get the kind of news that could mean they might not be for long. Having had some losses and some scary times (my mother had brain cancer and my father had pancreatic cancer), I really do treasure every moment I have with the people I love. When I’m in a bad mood or throwing myself a pity party, I think Snap out of it, Allison. Look how lucky you are to have your family. It usually works, but sometimes I have to really push myself out of the crap mood into gratitude. But once I do, I feel much better. Might be worth giving this tactic a try. You have nothing to lose!

Even though they eat lobster and pieces come flying at me when I’m just trying to eat my salad in peace, I’m still grateful for them every day.

No One Is Perfect. Everyone has their flaws. I’ve seen families split apart over inheritances, differences in child-rearing, even disagreements from 20 years before that no one can even really remember. If someone does something truly wrong or is abusive, that’s one thing. But an offhand comment about someone’s dress color at Christmas in 1992? Seems a little much to sever ties over. The anger, sense of being wronged and grudges that people can hold and build up throughout the years likely does more damage to the hold-er than the hold-ee. I once got upset with one of my cousins for a stupid guy situation in my 20s, and didn’t talk to her for several months. Then I watched a big family drama unfold about something else, and it split part of my family up. I personally thought what they were fighting about and how much energy they put towards it was crazy, and it made me realize that I didn’t want to cut my cousin out of my life. So I called her to talk it out, and we got past it. And I’m so glad I did that, because we have always been close and I would have really been missing out on an important relationship in my life if I stopped talking to her all those years ago.

FRIENDSHIPS

Stay In Touch. Friendships, like any other relationship, take some effort. I consider myself lucky because I have a lot of great friends, but I do put in the effort to get together if we live in the same part of the country (or meet up with them if they are taking a trip to anywhere near me if not). I try to email/call/text (depending on what they seem to prefer) to wish them a happy birthday, see how their new job is or just say hi. I know we are all busy and it can be tough to find the time, but I’ve found that staying in touch with my friends show them that I care. Having friends makes my life better and more enjoyable, so it’s 1000000% worth the effort.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes. When I’m talking to a friend, I tailor what I say to them in a way that I think will be best received. Some friends like brutal honesty, others need a lot of sugarcoating, and some are in the middle. When I’m having a conversation or texting with one of my homegirls or homeboys, I take into consideration their past and what they may be sensitive to, and then I tread carefully in certain areas. I’ve also learned to identify which friends like advice (more on that next), which ones like to vent, and which ones don’t like to talk about what’s bothering them at all.Β  I also try to think about their lives and what their days tend to be like. For example, between 7:00pm – 8:00pm seems to be bedtime for a lot of my friends’ kids, so I try not to bother my mom friends during that time. Or if I know someone is planning a big event or project for work, or if a certain time of month tends to be crazier for them with their job, I realize I might not hear back from them during that time, or it’s going to be tough for them to get together while that’s going on. I’ve learned that part of being a good friend is being understanding of where someone is coming from and how that might impact your interactions with them.

I don’t call these two mamas on my right between 7:00pm – 8:00pm.

Lend An Ear. A psychic once told me that I’m a “Wisdom Talker,” which means I give good advice. And I’m not bragging, but several non-psychic people have also told me I give good advice. If that’s true, I think it’s because I try to learn from my experiences and the experiences of everyone I know, and pull from that when someone is in need of guidance. But I try not to force my advice on anyone. Sometimes I can’t help it and it comes out before I’ve had time to tell myself to shut up, but I really try to remember to ask a friend first if they want input. Sometimes people just want to vent, and that’s okay. If a friend doesn’t say some version of “What do you think I should do?” but they seem like they might want my input, I’ll say “Do you want my advice or just want me to listen?” Takes the guessing right out and puts you both on the same conversational page.

HEALTH

Pay Attention. If I notice a change in the way something on my body looks or feels, or a change in how I feel in general, I make a doctor’s appointment. I don’t do that thing where I ignore it and hope it goes away, like I used to do with weird sounds my car was making. Early detection makes a world of a difference with a lot of diseases and disorders, so why wouldn’t I get something checked out? We only get one body, and the owner’s manual (fine, I’ll write it) repeatedly says to be aware of any changes and make sure someone who knows what they are doing does a check up for you. I am super aware of my body and any changes, and if I can’t figure out what is causing them, I go see my doctor. I don’t go for every tiny thing, but if I can’t trace it back (i.e. migraines every day for a week versus headaches at night only after working on my laptop for 14 hours), I make that appointment. I don’t want this to be a lesson I don’t learn until it’s too late.

Be Proactive. If you fuel your body with crap food, it will catch up with you. If you don’t consistently move your body, it will catch up with you. If you worry and stress about friggin’ everything, it will catch up with you. I’ve learned these lessons the hard way, y’all. We only get one body, so I say, treat it right. What you do to your body in your 20s, 30s and 40s will likely affect the person you are in your 50s, 60s and 70s. If you eat lots of sugar, overdo it with the booze, stress yourself out on the daily and exercise only for that one week each year after New Year’s Day, your body will pay for it. And it may pay for it much sooner than you think. We have this awesome opportunity to take care of ourselves and likely prevent some health issues from occurring. I’m not saying never have a doughnut or skip a workout, and I’m certainly not implying that you should not allow yourself to be in a shit mood once in a while. But what you consistently eat now can help cause–or help prevent–future issues. Whether or not you consistently exercise now will make an impact on you. And how much you stress or don’t stress affects things too. Some of what happens to our bodies is out of our control, but a lot of it is in our control. I’ve found that taking responsibility for what I put in my body, how much I move my body and the level of stress I put myself under has made a huge difference in how I look, feel and how I approach life.

I was eating a lot of sugar and drinking too many martinis in my early 20s, and I regularly felt like crap. Who knows where I’d be today if I kept that up!

Thank Your Lucky Stars. If you’re healthy right now, be grateful! If you’re reading this, you have your eyesight, which some people would kill for. If you can hear car horns beeping/your neighbor’s dog barking/your coworker loudly chewing, you’ve got your hearing, which many people have lost or never had. If you didn’t have to get dialysis this week or go in for another heart procedure, you’re lucky. You feel me? I think that sometimes we (and I’m absolutely including myself in this category) forget how fortunate we are to live a life unencumbered with major health issues. It’s the “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” thing. Having watched people close to me go through various illnesses and disorders has helped me realize how lucky I am to have my health. I think that gratitude, in combination with being aware of changes and taking care of myself gives me at least an A- in the Health category.

Well, this seems long enough for Part 1. I’m not trying to “should” you or give you a list of Do’s and Don’ts because really, who am I to tell you how to live? But I think in my nearly four decades on this planet, I’ve learned some stuff. Maybe it will help you, maybe you can relate, or maybe you think everything I said is wrong, impossible or not your style. And that’s cool, but I would avoid Part 2 if that’s how you feel…

I have a good life and I think learning these lessons along the way is part of what has helped me love my life. I know I have a lot more to learn, and some of the upcoming lessons will be painful, sad or maddening. But as long as I don’t go back to bad boys, I think I’ll be fine.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

Wedding Hair & Makeup Trial Prep Tips

Our goal at AB Beauty? To make your wedding day hair and makeup perfect. We recommend doing a trial if at all possible. Photo: LoveDays Photography Hair: Emily Buffi for Allison Barbera Beauty Makeup: Allison Barbera

Getting married? Congratulations! If you’re getting your hair and makeup professionally done–which I advise, but you might say I’m biased–I recommend doing a hair and makeup trial if your schedule allows. A trial will give you the chance to figure out your wedding hair and makeup looks before the big day, which means one less thing you have to worry about when you’re getting hitched.

At AB Beauty, we want you to have a successful trial. We are set on you walking out loving your look almost as much as you love your fiance(e). There are some things you can do before and during your trial to help ensure that you are happy with your hair and makeup. These are the things we recommend at AB Beauty, so if you have a trial scheduled with a different company, I suggest checking with them as they might have their own recommendations. But I think a lot of these tips are pretty general ones that most beauty service companies would agree with.

MAKEUP TRIAL

Slough It Off. If you are not on a prescription retinoid or anything else that is contraindicated with exfoliation, exfoliating your skin the morning of your trial will allow your makeup to apply more smoothly by eradicating some or all dry patches. (Even better if you get into the routine of regular exfoliation in the weeks leading up to your trial and your wedding day.) Exfoliation will also help give you a glow, as it removes the dead skin cells who are chillin’ on the surface of your skin and causing dullness.

(Don’t) Pick Your Battles. Got a blemish? LEAVE IT ALONE. Most people don’t know how to do extractions without damaging the skin and causing scarring, which is Reason #1. Reason #2 is that that pick, pick, picking causes texture in the skin, and makeup can’t cover texture. If you’ve dug your little fingernail down a few layers of skin to try to get rid of a blemish, you’ve exposed skin that makeup can not cover. And my guess is that you’ll be disappointed that your makeup artist can’t cover that, even though it’s impossible for them to. So do your skin and your makeup artist a favor and don’t pick.

Don’t do it!

Wipe Out. At AB Beauty, we ask that clients arrive at their makeup trial with no makeup on. We realize that sometimes people are coming straight from work or from other wedding vendor appointments and may not feel comfortable going barefaced all day. That’s understandable! But using a makeup wipe right before the trial–which a lot of people do–can leave makeup remover residue on the skin. That residue can interfere with makeup. Using a cleanser instead of a makeup wipe before your appointment is preferred, but if you have to use a wipe, splashing some water on your face after you use it will help remove some of the residue.

Time It Right. If you need to use a moisturizer, serum or any other skincare product the day of the trial, I suggest that you do so at least two hours before your makeup trial so that the product has had time to absorb. Some skincare products leave a film on the skin until they are absorbed, and that film can interfere with makeup. That means your primer, foundation, concealer or powder may not apply evenly, and who wants that?

Find Your Inspo Pic Cousin: Part 1. When you’re looking for inspiration pictures of makeup looks, try to find pictures of models or celebrities who are similar to you in terms of eye color, skintone, hair color and eye shape/size. I always suggest choosing pictures of people who look like they could be your cousin. If you have small hooded blue eyes, fair skin and blonde hair and your inspo pics are all of Mila Kunis or Kim Kardashian, the makeup they are wearing is going to look completely different on you. Not only does choosing the right kind of picture help your makeup artist, but it helps you more easily envision what that makeup would look like on you.

HAIR TRIAL

Prep School. What you do to your hair prior to your trial can impact how much you like your finished trial style. It varies by hair stylist, but some prefer their clients to wash their hair the day or night before the trial, while others are fine with hair that is washed and dried that morning. Some hair stylists prefer to do a blowout on their client prior to styling, while others want the hair to be 100% dry by the trial start time. If you have naturally curly hair and the style you want for your wedding day requires straight hair or hair that has a looser curl than you naturally have, your hair stylist may want you to come to the trial with your hair blown out, or they may want to do a blowout on you. If the hair stylist you are doing your trial with doesn’t specifically tell you (or have it listed on their website) how to prep your hair for the trial, I definitely recommend asking them.

Can I Get An Extension On That? If you read my last post, you know how ubiquitous hair extensions are in photoshoots of all kinds. There’s a good chance that those pictures you’re Pinning are mostly of models with hair extensions. If you’re wondering if you might need them for the style you want to try at your trial, check with your hair stylist. If they say that you should get extensions, your hair stylist should be able to recommend the brand(s) they like for clip-in extensions (which is what most of the AB Beauty brides use, as they can be taken out after the trial and at the end of the wedding night).

Say Yes To The Dress First. If you haven’t yet chosen your dress, I suggest waiting to do your hair trial. It’s hard to choose a wedding day hair style if you don’t know the cut and style of your dress. For example, you may have pictured wearing your hair down, but then you get a dress with a beautiful back that you want to show off, and the best way to do that is with an updo. Pretty much every bride we have ever done a hair trial for who didn’t have her dress chosen yet has come back to do a second trial after she had her dress. We’re happy to do two trials, but do you have time for that? And is it in your budget? Something to think about when it comes time to schedule your trial.

Have a dress with a gorgeous back? You may want to consider an updo. Photo: Ludwig Photography Hair: Ann Best for Allison Barbera Beauty

Find Your Inspo Pic Cousin: Part 2. When you’re looking for hair inspo pics, it’s best to look for models with similar hair color, thickness and length to your’s. I think color is the biggest factor (unless you plan on making a big color change before your wedding), as you could have two people with the same length and thickness, but if one was blonde and one was brunette, the same style would look different on both. The lighter the hair, the more detail you can see. If a blonde model has an updo with braids and twists, you’ll see those more than you would on a model with brown hair. Thickness and length can be faked with extensions, but if you are not going to wear extensions–which is fine!–keep in mind that your fine, shoulder length hair is not going to look the same as the model in your favorite picture who has thick, mid-back length hair (whether it’s natural or not).

FOR BOTH HAIR & MAKEUP TRIALS

Narrow It Down. At AB Beauty, we strongly suggest coming in with a hair style and/or makeup look in mind. We always say that it’s hard to make a client happy if they don’t know what they want. So look for inspo pics, think back to other times you’ve had your hair and/or makeup done to remember what you did and didn’t like and look at pictures of others wearing wedding dresses similar to your’s if that helps. I guarantee you already have some hair and makeup preferences, so work those into your desired look and share those all with your hair stylist and/or makeup artist.

Stay In The Zone. In some parts of life, it’s good to really go out of your comfort zone. But at your trial, straying too far out of the zone may not be the best idea. For example, if you are someone who always wears their hair down and hates how it looks in a ponytail, an updo probably isn’t the best idea. But if you are someone who can not stand hair in their face or the feeling of it on their neck, consider an updo or half up style. For makeup, your wedding makeup is probably going to be more than you are used to wearing on a daily basis, as it needs to both last and be enough to show up in photos. But that doesn’t mean you need to do something drastically different from your every day makeup. If you normally wear a pinky nude lip color, there’s one that will work with your wedding makeup. Or if you always wear a winged liner, you’re probably going to feel naked without it, so that can be incorporated into your look. There may be some adjustments needed to make your look more photo-friendly, wedding-appropriate and long-lasting, but you don’t have to go with a look you don’t like because you think it’s what you are supposed to wear.

Speak Up. If you don’t like something during your wedding trial, let your hair stylist or makeup artist know. They can’t fix what they aren’t aware of. If that blush is too pink for your taste, say it. If the bun placement is too high, let ’em know. Don’t be afraid of offending someone. They (hopefully) just want you to leave happy. I’ve gotten pretty good at sensing if someone sees something they don’t love when they look in the mirror, but there have been other times when I’m surprised by post-trial feedback because nothing was said during the trial. At AB Beauty, we always ask people if they are 100% happy with their look, and we dig deep if we sense hesitation when they say “Yes.” But it helps you and your makeup artist and/or hair stylist if you communicate if you want to adjust something at your trial.

Aren’t loving something at your trial? Don’t be shy about saying that. At AB Beauty, we want you to be as happy as this beautiful bride. Photo: Adeline & Grace Photography Hair: Kerri Bakalakis for Allison Barbera Beauty Makeup: Allison Barbera

Resist The Peer Pressure. Some people bring guests with them to their trial, sometimes just for company and other times for a second (and third…and fourth) opinion. If you do that, keep in mind that you can value their input without having to cave into what they want to see on you. Sometimes a mother or aunt or Maid of Honor will try to talk a bride into a hair style or makeup look they think the bride should wear, and that might be something the bride doesn’t like. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a bride try a pink lipstick her sister loves (when the bride really wants a berry lip) or an updo (when the bride’s inspo pics are all beachy waves down styles) because her future mother-in-law insists that it will look best. In those cases, I can tell the bride isn’t happy. At AB Beauty, we listen to what the bride tells us she wants, but if she agrees to do what someone else wants to see and tells us that’s absolutely the look she wants to try, we have to do that. We have our little ways and things we can say to try to get more into the lane of what the bride really wants, but a strong opinion or three can steamroll us. So if you’re bringing an entourage to your trial, you’ll likely be happiest with your hair and makeup looks if you take the reins.

I hope this has been helpful! I want you to love your wedding hair and makeup trial looks, whether you are working with AB Beauty or any other company. Comment away with any questions, brides-to-be.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚