A few things I like: 1960s styling, Italian people and signature makeup looks. Add those all together and you come up with Sophia Loren, every time. For this Look Breakdown, I’m honoring this bombshell and the makeup look she is known for.
I started a regular Look Breakdown for this post, but I found this tutorial, which explains it better than I could. I think especially because the liner and lashes are tricky, it’s much easier to watch someone do it than read how to do it. So thank you, Lisa Eldridge! I know I’m cheating a little by just giving you a video to watch, but I really think you’re better of with this.
Summer goes by way too fast! Why does that happen? June comes along, then you blink once, Fourth of July. Blink twice, mid-August. If only miserable things would go by that fast…
Summer is my favorite season, and I’ve got some new favorites to go along with it. Read on to find out what I am summer lovin’.
Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops. I have been on a quest for the perfect self tanner for years. The Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops, which you add into your face and body moisturizers, deliver the glow. I am giving them my pale girl stamp of approval. For more details, read my review of them here.
The Anniversary Love. I started Allison Barbera Beauty as a one woman show back in the summer of 2008 and it’s grown to be a 17 person team that is doing 100+ weddings this year. I did my first wedding on 8/2/08, so even though I had the structure of the business up and running before that, I consider August to be the AB Beauty Anniversary Month each year. I posted about it on Facebook and Instagram recently, and I am really feeling the love and support. That makes this little entrepreneur very happy. Thanks, everyone!
“Nanette.” Have you watched Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette” comedy special on Netflix? If you haven’t, go watch it. Yes, right now! If you have any sense of humor, it will make you laugh. And if you have any empathy, it will make you cry. Hannah is an incredible comic and, I think, person in general and she deserves all of the recognition and praise she is getting. (I was in an elevator with her at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival last month, and I’m kicking myself for not telling her how awesome I think she is.) She doesn’t have a website, but if you want to show her some love on Facebook, do it to it.
Sol De Janeiro Copacabana Bronze Glow Oil. Yup, talking about my tan obsession again. I bought this product before the Isle of Paradise drops and it works well on its own (but looks even better over my fake tan from the drops). It’s a bronzing oil that you apply to your body and it comes off in the shower. It is a little sticky (though not horribly so) but it smells great and gives a true bronze color–not orange or yellow–so I think it’s worth it. This is by far the best bronzing oil I’ve ever tried. It’s limited edition, so cop it and cop it soon at Sephora.
Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss Cheese. These little wedges of soft cheese heaven aren’t new to me, but I seem to forget about them for months at a time, then they become a mainstay in my fridge for a while when I do rediscover them. They are delicious and only 50 calories per wedge, so a perfect small snack. I’m not going to fact check this, but I think most grocery stores have them.
This Bomb Ass Arm Workout. I’ve been doing an arm workout with free weights for years, but it seemed like it recently stopped having any effect. I found this video on YouTube and I shit you not, my arms starting looking a little more toned after I did it three times. Maybe that’s my wishful thinking or a positive kind of body dysmorphia, but I can definitely feel the workout as I’m doing it and I swear I see the results, so I am sticking with it.
Celeb Luxury Viral Blue Colorditioner. I have had blue balyage on the ends of my hair for five years. I like my blue to be vibrant, but it has historically faded pretty quickly. Jennie Kay Plumb, one of the hair stylists I go to (of course I go to a few) suggested the Celeb Luxury Viral Blue Conditioner to extend my color between touchups, and it has made a huge difference. I use it as a regular conditioner when I’m pinched for time, or leave it on dry hair for 20 minutes when I can. With both techniques, my blue is revitalized, but the 20 minute technique yields better results. They make this conditioner (and its shampoo partner) in a variety of colors. Jennie told me not to buy it off Amazon, so your best is to get it from a salon. This stuff is so good that I haven’t had to do an actual blue touchup since I got it. I think I can now get away with just using this conditioner for touchups between my twice-a-year appointments for the balayage.
Queer Eye. I mean, how awesome is this show? I binged the second season when it came out on Netflix in June, and I am in love with the Fab Five. Jonathan, the groomer/beauty expert on the show, might be my favorite person ever. I watched him do a live podcast at the Just For Laughs Festival and he was like a gorgeous ray of sunshine. The guys from the Fab Five seem like they have great hearts and truly care about people, and the show seems to really help people. I can’t wait for the next season.
V Clear EPs 7630. I can not get sick, especially during wedding season. I don’t have sick days, and I can’t send anyone to cover me for many of my jobs. My miracle worker MD/ND, Dr. Abbas Qutab, told me about V Clear (previously called “Vira Clear”) a few years ago. I take it as soon as I started feeling any symptoms of a cold or flu, and I end it the day after I stop feeling symptoms. I swear it has saved me from getting full blown sick many times. My whole family takes it, and we call keep it stocked up. It comes in a dropper and tastes like a strong cough medicine, but you can handle it. It’s out of stock on Amazon, but you can get it here. (Disclaimer: It looks like they only make a cherry flavored one now and I have it but haven’t tried it yet, so it may taste better than the original flavor.)
Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter in Vanilla Apricot. Smells amazing, softens my skin, and is vegan, cruelty-free, synthetic-fragrance-free, paraben-free, GMO-free and formaldehyde-free.. What else can you ask for in a body moisturizer? It does leave a non-sticky sheen to the skin, so if you like fast absorbing, matte moisturizers, this may not be your jam. But I think a lot of people would love this. Here’s another one for Sephora cart.
Pandora Comedy Stations. I know, it’s not cool to listen to Pandora and I’m old. Don’t care. This one isn’t new to me, but I’m a huge comedy geek and I’ve found myself listening to more of the Pandora comedy stations I like (the Sarah Silverman, John Mulaney and Chris D’Elia stations are my favorites) lately. I put these stations on the way other put background music on. What can I say? I love to laugh.
Sleeping In. On one hand, I love the days when I naturally wake up before 7:00am, because I get SO MUCH work done before it’s even 10:00am. But on the other hand, how good does it feel to sleep in? One of the perks of owning my own business (and, I suppose, not having kids or pets) is that if I don’t have any morning clients, meetings or appointments, I can wake up whenever I want. We are having a record-breaking year with team size, wedding bookings and revenue so I am working stupid long days. (I haven’t had time to eat dinner until 10:00pm the last two nights, if that tells you anything.) So when I can, I reward myself by sleeping late. Of course I feel some guilt for doing it, but I’m not the best entrepreneur, friend, relative or makeup artist I can be when I’m tired and dragging.
Ice Cube On The Face Trick. Sometimes I wake up with a puffy face, undereyes or eyelids. It’s not cute, but there is a way around it. Lisa Eldridge explains it best in this video. I’ve been doing this a lot more lately, and it really does make a difference.
That’s all for now. It’s back to work for me, but I would love to hear some of your faves!
Foundation has gotten a bad rep, and some of that is justified. For a long time, all foundations were super heavy and had a pink undertone to them, which gives the skin a lovely mask-like effect if you don’t have pink undertones in your skin. And many foundation lines don’t offer a full range of shades, which is messed up. That’s gotten better but is still not where it needs to be.
However, you can find lines that cover a full range of shades and undertones, and do not feel or look heavy on the skin. Those are the foundations lines I stock my kit with.
Foundation is the starting point for the rest of your makeup. I view foundation as a product to be used sparingly to even out the skin. I strongly prefer using a sheer or at most, medium, coverage foundation. I then apply concealer if more coverage is needed on certain areas. I think a lot of people don’t like foundation because they think it’s heavy and unnatural looking, but that’s not how all foundations are.
My foundation love of my life is MAC Studio Face & Body. I have been using this on clients and on my own face since I started doing makeup. It’s a water-based sheer foundation that changes into a medium coverage foundation the more you rub it into your skin. It gives a little glow without getting super shiny (although I do normally use MAC Oil Control Lotion under it on oily skin). But this post isn’t about my beloved F&B. It’s a how-to for using liquid foundation.
And here we go!
Step 1: Dispense product onto a palette or the back of your hand. The exact amount you need will depend on the foundation you use. If you are using Face & Body or a similar foundation, give it a good shake first. Start with the smallest amount (half a pump, if it’s in that type of packaging) and dispense more if needed.
Step 2: I do this differently on clients, but on my own face, I like applying foundation with my hands. I start by putting a good sized dot of foundation on the center sections of my face–center of forehead, center of each cheek and center of chin. I do not put a dot on my nose, because nose skin is a different texture on most people, and too much product directly applied there can get cakey. But don’t worry–we will get to the schnoz. The reason I apply foundation on these areas first is that most people need coverage on the center of their face more than the outer edges. So applying it there then blending it outwards allows the majority of the product to even out the areas that typically need it most.
Step 3: I use my hands to blend the foundation into my skin. I do this in a smoothing type of motion. Starting at my forehead, I’ll spread half of that foundation dot across the right side of my forehead, and half across the left. I make sure it’s blended up to my hairline and above my brows. (And this is why I do brows after foundation–because sometimes foundation will touch your brows as you apply it, so it makes more sense to do the brows after so you don’t mess up your hard work.) Then I spread the dots on each cheek, going downwards and outwards, over the jawline. I make sure I bring it all the way to my ears. On my chin, I spread the foundation to the right and left and under my chin. By this point, I have a little foundation on my hands, so I run a hand over my nose to deposit some product. I do not apply foundation under my eyes because I use a concealer for that, as my undereyes have a different undertone (one might call it “purple”) than the rest of my face.
Step 4: Next, I press my hand on each section of my face for 5-10 seconds. I find that the body heat from my hands helps the foundation melt into my skin better. I don’t always have time to do this step, but when I do, I swear my makeup looks better.
Step 5: I take my Real Techniques buffing brush from the Flawless Base Set and gently buff over all over my face. This gives a final blend, ensuring that if I got too much product on any area, it’s gets blended out. I then pick up what’s left of the product from the back of my hand and apply it down my neck with that brush. Necks are often a different color than faces, so I always do this on myself and on clients. I run what’s left on the brush over my ears, because those can also be a different color (especially on some people when they blush or get hot, so doing this minimizes the redness flush if that happens).
That’s it! I really broke it down for this post, but my whole foundation process typically only takes around five minutes. You don’t need to wear foundation, but if you want to even your skintone–which makes you look more awake, polished and younger, if that’s a concern–foundation is the way to go.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably pieced together my philosophy on beauty in regards to makeup. It comes through a little at a time in most of my blog posts. But today, I’m going to share with you the five tenets of my beauty philosophy.
Am I doing this because I know I can crank this post out somewhat quickly and if I don’t do this now I won’t have time, and I don’t want to ruin my perfect streak of one blog post per week since January 1? That’s in the realm of possibility.
The Five Tenets
Skincare is Queen. If you are not taking care of your skin, your makeup will never look its best. You can buy all the makeup that MAC can make (props if got that TLC reference), but if you don’t regularly cleanse, moisturize, exfoliate and properly treat your skin, you can only get so far. Yes, it takes some effort and some cheddar to make sure your dermis is living its best life, but it is more than worth it.
Do You. If you want to try a makeup trend because it looks fun, by all means, do it to it. But if you want to try a makeup trend because you think you are supposed to have very thick eyebrows or matte lips, stop right now. The only thing makeup is supposed to do is enhance what you already have and give you an outlet for self expression. If that means you rock a thinner brow because it’s more flattering to your bone structure, or you like a bright pink lip gloss when the trend is a wine matte lipstick, GO FOR IT. Don’t let what’s in right now dictate your look.
Branch Out. A lot of people get into a rut with their makeup routine. It’s great to know what works for you and what you like, but there are probably a lot more looks and products out there that would work on you than you think. Sometimes you’ll be shocked about what looks good on you. If you’ve always wondered if you could wear an electric blue eyeliner or a liquid foundation instead of your trusted Bare Minerals, stop wondering and start playing around. Here’s the great thing about makeup: it washes off. So you’ve got a world of possibilities and no real reason why you can’t explore them.
Know Thyself. A lot of choosing the right makeup comes down to knowing what you need and what would be most flattering on you. Figuring out your skin type, undertones, eye shape, face shape and eye color (that last one should be easy, I hope) will make the beauty world a little less intimidating for you, because that knowledge will allow you to choose the type of products that will work best on you.
Don’t Be a Hoarder. Still using that mascara you got for Christmas…two years ago? THROW IT OUT. When I do makeup lessons with clients, I have them bring their makeup bags so we can see what’s salvageable. These bags almost always contain at least a couple crusty old products. Beauty products have expiration dates for a reason–they lose their efficacy after a certain point. And some products, like mascara, can collect gross amounts of bacteria after a while that can cause irritation if applied to the skin or eyes. Get rid of the products that are old, never worked for you or you just don’t like, and you’ll have a fresher perspective on your makeup routine.
I think I’ve covered all of my basic core beauty values, and I’ve finished this post in time. I am feeling oh so productive.
Genetics are a funny thing, aren’t they? I got my dark, thick, naturally curly hair and giant deep set eyes from my 100% Italian father’s side. (I also got the Sicilian temper, which does not serve me well in traffic.) I’ve got the same build as many of the women in my father’s family, as well as some of the characteristics of my 100% Italian maternal grandmother. Three quarters of my DNA is Italian, and I think that’s pretty obvious when you look at me or notice my absolute inability to talk without my hands flying around.
But then there’s my skin color. That’s where my 25% Irish side comes in. I have light skin with freckles. I’m not the lightest of the foundation shades, but no one is calling my skintone “medium.” I can (and have) tanned to a solid Medium before, but my time in Esthetics school combined with having some biopsies and pre-cancerous moles removed over the past eight years made me put an end to my beach days. (I also know that sun damage is the number one way to speed visible signs of aging on the skin, so vanity plays a part in my decision.)
The problem is that I love the look of a tan on me. I feel like with my very dark brown hair, almost-black eyebrows and hazel eyes, I should have darker skin. I think I was meant to have a darker skintone, but there was a glitch. With my hair, brow and eye coloring and the fact that people who look like me often have medium skintones, it only seems right that my skintone is bumped up a few levels.
And oh, how I have tried to get there. I’ve used self tanning lotions, sprays, gels, mousses, gradual tanners and towelettes. I’ve done spray tans, both the airbrush and machine kinds. I’ve been orange, I’ve been streaky, I’ve been patchy and I’ve smelled like I bathed in DHA. I’ve gotten good results from airbrush spray tans, but I hate the way they look when they start wearing off. Until recently, I’ve relied on Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizers (one for the body, one for the face). I’ve been using the face one in particular regularly for years, as my arms get a little color when I’m out for a run or walking around, but I keep my face sunscreened up at all times, so I need to make it match my body. Anyway, I recently realized that Natural Glow seems to be making my face break out, so I started the search for something new. (No breakouts from the Jergens Natural Glow body moisturizer, but I was open to trying a new one there too.)
I checked with my friends at the Newport Sephora, and they directed me to the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops. You add these drops into your regular face and/or body moisturizers and they tan you up. They come in Light, Medium and Dark shades. I went with Medium, because that’s the skintone I was meant to have, remember? I’m no fool, so I asked for a sample before committing.
I did a patch test of the product behind my left earlobe that same night. (I specifically always patch test there because I normally wear my hair parted on the right side and swept over my left shoulder, so my hair covers my left ear.) I checked the next morning and saw that a) the color had developed into a nice, brown (not orange) tan and b) I had no breakouts or irritation.
While I was patching, I read through Sephora reviews of these self tanning drops in Medium. I had a bad reaction to the popular self St. Tropez self tanner a couple years ago (after I neglected to patch), and I had the recent breakout from Jergens Natural Glow Face Moisturizer, so I was specifically looking to see if any of the reviews mentioned allergic reactions or breakouts. I figured if I found several reviews mentioning either of those things, I would proceed with caution, but I didn’t see any with that specific negative feedback.
Still, I waited 24 hours after patching to make sure I didn’t have a reaction. I didn’t, so on Night 1, I added one drop of the product to my Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturizer and applied it to my face, neck and ears. I noticed a slight smell, but it wasn’t horrible and didn’t linger. It did feel sticky on my skin, but it was also a humid night so that may have had something to do with it.
When I woke up the next morning, I was tan. Not orange and not streaky, and a good shade for my skin. I didn’t put face makeup on that day, because I wanted to have plenty of opportunities to inspect it and see if the color developed more (and I think it did, a little).
On Night 2, I went with two drops mixed into the same moisturizer and applied it to my face, neck, ears and chest. It deepened my color, but still felt a little sticky. The next time I used it on the same areas, I mixed it in with my SPF35 version of the Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturizer, and then my skin felt only the tiniest bit sticky after. So the moisturizer you mix with the drops definitely impacts the sticky-ness factor.
Before I continue, let me explain the drops thing. My Sephora sample came in one of the mini-spray bottles that they use for perfume samples. The Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops are a serum consistency, so don’t try to spray them out if you get a sample in the same packaging. If you are trying them as a sample–and you really should–and you get them in that bottle, you’ll have to unscrew the top of the packaging and dispense the drops directly from bottle. This method will dispense bigger drops than you get using the dropper that comes with the actual product, so that’s something to keep in mind. When dispensing from the perfume sampler bottle, I recommend you pour it slowly into your moisturizer.
I got four uses out of my sample, and I was sold. I went back to Sephora and bought the full size bottle. As far as packaging goes, A+. I like the design, the top stays on securely and the dropper works. No complaints there.
Once I had the full size bottle, I began applying the tanner to the rest of my body. I’ve mixed it in with my Palmers Cocoa Butter and my Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Butter in Vanilla Apricot, which are the two body moisturizers in my current rotation. Both have their own scent, so that masks any self tanner scent. Again, I haven’t noticed much of a scent anytime I’ve used the drops, but I’ve been self tanning for years, so maybe I don’t smell DHA anymore unless it’s crazy strong. But that’s another reason for you sample it yourself.
The Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops instructions say to add between 1 – 12 drops to your moisturizer. That’s a huge range! My suggestion is to start with one drop, see how it develops, then add two the next time, three after, and so on until you find your perfect mix. I am currently using four drops to every pump and a half of face moisturizer (which is the normal amount of moisturizer I apply to my face, neck and ears. For my body, I first dispense enough of that moisturizer to cover one arm. Then I add six drops of the product to my moisturizer, mix it together and apply. I match the amount for my other arm. Then do the same amount of moisturizer and five drops of the product to apply to my stomach and back. For my legs, I dispense the amount of moisturizer I would normally use for one leg and foot and add six drops of product. Then I repeat on the other leg.
A few suggestions I have for you after you patch test:
Exfoliate First. If exfoliation is not contraindicated with any skincare you are using, a good exfoliation before you apply the self tanner will help it look more even as it develops, as it won’t catch on any dry patches or dead skin.
Start Small. Again, start with the minimum amount of drops and add more each day until you achieve the color you want. It’s important to start with the minimum, as the few bad reviews I read seemed to be because the reviewers jumped right in with five or six drops and it sounds like they also didn’t use enough moisturizer.
Keep It Up. To maintain the color, I would alternate days of your moisturizer alone with the same amount of drops and moisturizer you used to get the tan. The moisturizer alone with help keep the skin hydrated so the tan doesn’t get patchy as you shed dead skin cells, and the every-other-day application of the self tanner and moisturizer will keep your shade of tan as is so it won’t fade.
Mix It Up. You need to realllyyyyy mix the self tanner drops into your moisturizer. If you don’t do that, you will get an uneven tan. After the moisturizer and drops are in the palm of your hand, stir them together with your other hand or rub your hands together for about 15 seconds to ensure they’ve melded into one product.
Don’t Be Stingy. Once you have your self tanner moisturizer cocktail ready, make sure you apply a generous amount everywhere. The best way to get streaky is to use only the little that’s left on your hands to apply to an area. When you can feel it dragging as you apply, you are making the streaks happen. I know better, and I still did that one night while using these drops. I dispensed a little less moisturizer then I meant to, so although I evenly covered my face, I didn’t get enough on my neck (and my neck is notoriously bad with self tanner to begin with). I woke up to some patchy areas on my neck where I hadn’t applied enough moisturizer. Did the same thing on one arm too. I think with any type of self tanning lotion, it’s best to use a little more than you think you need to ensure that it gets everywhere.
Take Your Time. Spend some time rubbing the cocktail in. I haven’t noticed any transfer on my sheets, even though I usually tan right before bed, and I think that’s because I spend a lot of time rubbing in the product so it really absorbs into my skin. I massage it in until I can’t feel anything on my skin, which usually takes several minutes. But I think it is a key factor in getting an even self tan.
The Easiest Part. Wash your hands after applying. This stuff will stain your palms if you don’t.
As far as color, the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops give me the same type of color I have when I used to get real tans. Not orange, not olive, not red. Just 24 Year Old Allison tan. I don’t know if the drops react with your body chemistry and give you the type of tan you normally get, or if the color they give happens to be the same color I tan, but they work perfectly on me. I do want to add that I have a very yellow undertone to my skin, which could impact the color. If you are concerned about the color, you could try a bigger swatch of color on your stomach or somewhere that isn’t visible when you have on your everyday clothes to see how the color develops on you. (I realize this can be a tough one for those of you who participate in bathing suit season.) My point is, I can only give you my experience with this color, and that may be impacted by my undertone and the way my skin looks when it really tans. But judged off the many reviews I’ve read and pictures I’ve seen, the Medium shade in particular seems to work on a lot of people.
The Medium drops have a green tint, which they claim is color correcting, as green cancels out redness. I don’t typically have any redness in my skin and I’m not convinced you can get color correction from a self tanner, but I can’t say for sure since I didn’t have any redness to start with. So jury is out on the color correction.
I really don’t have anything bad to say about this product! As long as I apply it correctly, it gives me exactly the type of tan I want. I am loving the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops and may end up crowning them my Favorite Product of Summer 2018. You can get them at Sephora for a cool $29.
Are you regularly using a face oil? If not, you should really re-think that. Unless you have truly acneic skin (active breakouts covering the majority of your face), face oil should be a part of your skincare routine. It is the ultimate moisturizer and the best product to use for facial massage. It’s also perfect for using on top of prescription retinol to help prevent any peeling. And if you do get peeling for any reason, a good face oil will heal that up with the quickness.
I’ve tried many face oils over the years, but Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil is my favorite. I buy the 1.7 oz bottle, which lasts me several months. I only use about half a drop over my retinol every other night. I use maybe four drops when I do my facial massage once or twice a week, and when I wear it under my makeup in the winter or spring, that’s a two drop job. My point is, you don’t need to use a lot of product for any of these applications, so a bottle lasts a while.
Argan Oil is rich in Vitamin E and essential fatty acids, so it’s got two of the strongest healing and moisturizing ingredients out there. Most moisturizers seal moisture into the skin with wax ingredients, but oils are able to really penetrate and supply that moisture (aka oil) that our skin needs. Organic and natural face oils like this one won’t clog pores, so you don’t have to worry about it causing blemishes.
Who is this stuff good for, you ask? Great question. It’s an obvious choice for those with dry skin, as dry skin lacks oil. Especially if you have dry patches or flaking, this Argan Oil will make a major difference. I would start by applying it at night, over any creams or serums, as once oil is on the skin, any skincare product you layer on top of that will not penetrate as well. If you are still feeling/looking dry, you can also use it in the morning as a moisturizer (just make sure to apply SPF or a moisturizer with SPF over it).
Got some fine lines–or “tic tac toe lines,” as my father calls his–on your face? Argan Oil will help plump up the skin by moisturizing the skin cells, and that will make lines less noticeable. Dry skin and visible signs of aging often (but not always) go hand in hand, so I may have already had you when I explained the benefits for dry skin.
If you’re thinking “My skin is already oily! I shouldn’t put more oil on it!,” that’s not really true. People with oily skin often use oil free products and products geared towards oily skin, and those products end up completely stripping the skin of all oil. Know what happens when you strip your skin of all oil? Your sebaceous glands go “Oh shit, the dermis is dry! Produce more oil!” So the oil deprivation plan backfires. But if you allow some oil into your skincare life, your sebaceous glands will chill. If you’re really hesitant about this, Josie Maran also makes an 100% Pure Argan Oil Light version, which is lightweight and leaves more of a matte finish on the skin.
If dull looking skin is a concern, facial massage with this Argan Oil will rock your world. Lisa Eldrige explains and demonstrates facial massage best. She uses a cleansing balm in this video, but I do the same thing with the Argan Oil after cleansing. I put something good on Netflix and spend 10-15 minutes doing this once or twice a week. It makes a big difference in how glowy the skin looks. Some people think glow comes from makeup, but it actually comes from a good skincare routine, including facial massage.
Trying to think of other reasons not to use it? It’s cruelty free, vegan, gluten free, paraben free, phthalate free, synthetic fragrance free, mineral oil free, formaldehyde free, GMO free and PEG free. Now what?!?!
With any skincare product, you gotsta always do a patch test 24 – 48 hours before using on your whole face to make sure you don’t have a reaction. I’ve never heard of anyone having a reaction to this product, but better safe than sorry. I do my patches, as I affectionately call them, on my neck on the part of skin that gets hidden by my earlobe so if I do have a reaction, it’s pretty hidden. Hashtag genius.
I wouldn’t recommend face oil for acneic skin, only because my experience as a licensed esthetician and makeup artist tells me that the less product you put on and the less you touch truly acneic skin, the better. But if you are not dealing with acne, you should at least consider Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil or Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light. You’d be hard pressed to find a better moisturizer.
Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh, money. We need it, but damn, it can really make life hard for an entrepreneur (or anyone, but you’re in business owner territory here). So let’s talk about it.
This was originally part of one really long blog post, but I split it up into two. If you want to read what became the first post, the rest of this might make more sense to you.
Everything is going beyond great now, but that wasn’t the case in January and February. I hit a real rough patch financially, and I was not expecting it. Happy New Year to me, right? I wasn’t bouncing checks or not paying bills or anything, but I built myself a lovely little psychological prison where the bars were made of Fear and Sadness and the ruthless guard looked suspiciously like me. (Spoiler alert: It was me.)
I’ve owned my company for ten years and have grown it from a one woman, part-time gig to a seventeen person, full-time-and-then-some-for-me company. I’ve never been shy about the fact that the first five years were a struggle financially. But I knew I had to push through those and get into the part of entrepreneurship where you not only make a profit, but you can do things again. I turned down countless invites over my first five years because I knew I had only enough money to pay for my business expenses and barebones personal expenses. And when I got through it, it was glorious. (The other post goes into details about just how glorious it was, and how I view money.)
If you are a new reader (in which case, welcome!), let me first tell you about my ridiculous life. From April until January, I live in Newport, RI. That’s my college town, and as my friend Amanda and I say, that’s where my soul is. It is where I have lived for the bulk of my adult life, and even though I didn’t grow up in Newport, it is my home. In the winter–and I am not retired or a trust fund baby–I live in Charleston, SC, which is where Amanda and I decided my spirit is. (My heart is in Nashville, if you’re wondering.) Living in Charleston during the winter is one of my favorite things about my life, but it is not cheap.
That’s okay though, because I know how to save and budget. I don’t buy a lot of “stuff” for myself, because I’d rather put money towards the perfect winter apartment and plenty of spending money for grits and Bloody Marias. I did my first snowbird winter in January and February 2017, and although my rent was so expensive I almost lost my lunch when they told me the price, it worked out perfectly. I had saved enough for both rent and spending money, so I was completely fine.
This past year, I leased an apartment in a way better Charleston location. And even though it was a 3.5 month lease, it ended up actually only costing a few hundred dollars total more, taking all expenses into consideration. I had saved like crazy again in 2017 to prepare for snowbirding in 2018, but the perfect storm of expenses hit me hard at the worst time.
About three weeks into my 2018 snowbird winter, I noticed that my bank account was looking very lean. It was normally 5 – 10x larger (depending on the time of year) than it was this past January. At first I thought Oh, we just need to book five or six more jobs and things will be normal, but it was a quiet month in terms of booking and big month in terms of expenses. I had to dip into my savings–something I haven’t had to do since I started even having a savings account four years ago–to pad my account. And that killed me.
How could this happen to me?, I thought. I’m the person does a monthly budget and knows exactly when each dollar goes out. The person who use pro discounts and coupon codes and could make a dress out of the CVS Extra Bucks coupons she has used. Sure, I spend money on going out and treating my friends, but that’s not every day (or even every week) and I don’t spend a ton when I am out. I realize paying for three rents (Newport apartment, Newport beauty studio and Charleston apartment) during my snowbird winters is crazy expensive, but I had pulled it off in 2017 with zero issues, so I assumed 2018 would be the same.
After some thinking, I identified a few causes of my bank account blues. It came down to a lethal combination of unexpected expenses and timing. My attorney increased her rate right before I needed some legal work I didn’t anticipate done in December, so that was a big chunk. My website domain cost jumped up and my studio rent always increases in January, so even though I knew to budget for one, I didn’t know that the domain would increase by so much. I also had a sizeable security deposit for my Charleston apartment temporarily out of my bank account, which is something I didn’t have to pay during my previous snowbird winter. And, I had taken my “Find a Winter Home” trip to Charleston in November plus another trip in mid-December to get my keys and get my apartment set up for my drive down in January. The previous year, I only took one trip before January, and I had stayed with a friend. In November, I stayed in a hotel, and it wasn’t cheap. The costs from that trip had to be paid in December, which is typically not a high revenue month for my company.
But still, I was surprised. It’s not that I go around spending money on whatever I want, but I really hadn’t had to worry about my bank account for a while. I’m talking for several years. Sure, I had some expense-heavy months in the past few years, but there was always enough cash moola, baby, to absorb those hits. I looked at my company’s wedding bookings in January, worried that maybe business wasn’t as good. But it was great! We actually had more weddings and other jobs booked for 2018 than we had in January of 2017 for that year. The difference was that for the 2017 season, the bulk of our bookings starting coming in in December 2016 and January 2017. For the 2018 season, the bulk of our bookings started coming in in September of 2017. So although business was better, a large amount of payments hit the bank account during my snowbird winter in 2017 but before it in 2018.
Also, when comparing our 2017 numbers to this year, we had more corporate work in January of 2017. Most Januarys are not that busy for corporate work, so 2017 was kind of a fluke. But between that and all of the December 2016 and January 2017 payments, the beginning of the previous year had nice little cushion, which allowed the normal expenses and the Charleston expenses to land nicely. It just wasn’t the case this year.
This year, January was the perfect shitstorm of high expenses and a lower income month. Either one on their own would have been fine–and looking back at 2017, I had encountered those exact factors without even really noticing, since previous months had padded the bank account–but together this January, they made an impact I actually felt. All bills were still paid and I wasn’t late with anything, but I did not like the way my business bank account was looking.
So, I did the only thing I thought I could do–I starting a spending freeze (for non-essential items). I only know how to do things in extremes, you know? And I am well aware that the the small things add up. Dropping $50 on dinner and drinks may not seem like anything when I compare it to my regular income, but that was equivalent to my electric bill in Charleston. I held off on going out to eat, meeting friends for drinks and buying anything I didn’t absolutely need. It was a huge bummer, but it felt foolish to me to spend when things were lean. I still don’t take full days off when I’m snowbirding, but in 2017, I was able to take a decent amount of half days off and I loved it. My Charleston life is generally a little slower paced, business-wise, so that I am able to take half days off more often. But for the first six weeks of 2018, I didn’t do much socializing because of the freeze, and that really bothered me. It felt like I was wasting my snowbird winter, but my financial state made me feel paralyzed.
Maybe this all sounds crazy because I was not technically broke. I had money in savings and room on my credit cards (since I pay them in full every month) if things got really bad. But the savings money was my Charleston in-case-of-emergency-fund (the emergency being a slow business year that didn’t leave me with enough to snowbird off that year’s income) and I had worked so hard to get out of that credit card debt. So while those solutions kept me fed and housed, I was still scared. I kept having this irrational thought of What if we stop booking?. Not completely, as that’s highly unlikely for a company that’s been in business for ten years with yearly growth. But I started thinking What if we start booking half of what we usually do? What if I burn through my savings and wrack up credit card debt? Then I would be the 2012 Allison who constantly checked her mail for client payments and reluctantly maxed out her credit cards because she had no other choice. She lived with constant financial stress and fear that one big unexpected expense could wipe her out.
On top of the stress of waiting for a higher income month to balance out the bad months and replenish my savings, I also felt embarrassed. How could I be in this position after a decade in business, the past four of those years being virtually financially worry-free? I thought I was a better business person than that. I really beat myself about that, and it felt so shitty. A lot of it came from this fear of being back in the true broke days of my early years in business, when I carried around so much financial stress that I’m surprised I didn’t fall over. When that stretch of bank account blues ended, I was elated. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I told myself I would never be back in that position again.
On my rare good days (more like scattered hours) early this year I thought, Maybe it’s actually impressive that I had such a good four year run of no financial stress. I don’t know what other small businesses encounter in terms of profit and loss ebb and flow, so I started to think what I was experiencing could be normal. That thought sent me on a search for stories of other established small business owners who had been in this position (and ideally, a happy ending of them getting out of it!), but I couldn’t find many that went into detail about how they felt during their rough patch. They were mostly information on how to solve the problems (which is valuable, but not what I was looking for) or quick mentions of bad times/failures that were overcome prior to great successes. So the idea for this post was born.
When I’m in any type of shitty position, just knowing that other people have been in my shoes helps me feel better. Since other entrepreneurs may also be looking for financial struggle stories that they can relate to, I this could maybe make one person feel better.
It’s not considered polite to talk about money, right? Then fine, don’t read this. (Too late if you’re already this far into it, you weirdo.) But I think especially as an entrepreneur, it is important to talk about it. Unless your business is in the accounting or financial advising industry, money might seem scary and confusing to you. But if you run a business, you have to really understand it. And it’s hard to understand something that many consider tacky to talk about, since that can prevent us from asking for help and advice. If you are an entrepreneur without a good grasp on finances, I think it’s easy to make a lot of mistakes. It’s also easy to feel like you are the only business owner going through a financial struggle, but honey, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I started this post in mid-February, as I was emerging from my spending freeze, and am finishing it now in June of 2018–a record-breaking month for sales for my company. This is likely going to be our best year ever, breaking revenue, booking and company size records. It started out rough, but has completely turned around. Having the rough patch happen forced me to take a really hard look at my monthly income fluctuations and expenses, and I now understand them in a way I didn’t before. That is an extremely valuable realization. It’s allowed me to devise a new plan to prevent anything similar from happening next winter, and I feel confident that it will work.
If you are an established business owner going through a rough patch financially, I feel your pain. I feel your fear, your anxiety, your stress and your embarrassment. If you can figure out the causes of your financial rough patch, there’s a good chance you can correct them and/or prevent them going forward. In the meantime, try to recognize the fact that it’s probably just a tough couple of months. Business ebbs and flows but unless we are talking about some disaster that hit your business or a disruption in your industry that negatively affects your company, you are going to be okay.
Highlighter & Contour: I see a matte highlight on the center of Mindy’s face, particularly down the bridge of the nose. I don’t detect much else as far as highlighting and contouring, but it doesn’t mean it’s not there! Good face sculpting makeup blends seamlessly into the skin.
Eyebrows: Brow powder to fill in sparseness/add shape where needed. I can see that the top of the brow was filled in to help with the shape and arch. Go with whatever color matches your brows for this, but don’t load it on. This look is not about the brows, but they should be defined to work with the look.
Eye Makeup: I spy a light silver eyeshadow on the lids and inner corners of Mindy’s eyes. MAC discontinued the one I would use for this (it’s Silver Ring, if you have it!), but I have faith that you could find one that works. It’s tough to see if there is anything in the crease, but I’m going to assume there is a matte brown shade to warm things up. I’ve used MAC Eyeshadow in Charcoal Brown for creasework on clients with Mindy’s skintone. There is some black gel liner like Clinique Brush On Cream Liner in True Black in a medium thick line at the top lashline, traced over with a black eyeshadow like MAC Eyeshadow in Carbon to keep it soft. The shadow is slightly winged out and blended well to make it a little smokey. (It’s possible that a gray shadow, like Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow in Slate, was added to the outer corners and blended into the wing.) There is some of that silver eyeshadow at the bottom inner corners, blended out to about halfway to the bottom lashline. The black eyeshadow was used again on the outer 2/3 of the bottom lashline. A black pencil, like MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder was used in the bottom waterline, to tightline (the top waterline), and right into the inner corners. See how there is a thin dark line around her tearduct on each eye? That’s black liner. It looks like that was extended slightly into a point.
False Lashes: I would guess strip lashes that are fuller at the outer corners. When you are wearing a medium to thick black liner or shadow at the upper lashline, your lashes need to be dark and thick to stand out against the liner, and sometimes falsies are the only way.
Lipcolor: A brick red with shimmer, MAC Fresh Moroccan, seems to be what Mindy had on. It may have been topped with some clear gloss too.
This look is best suited for medium to medium dark skintones. Silver eyeshadow paired with brick red lips can be tough to pull off on those with fair or light skin, although it could look beautiful on a redhead with fair skin.
Now go watch everything Mindy has been a part of, because she is amazing.
Some things I read really stick with me. I once read an article about a woman who had a disease that made her eyeballs slowly protrude out of her sockets, and now I check my peepers on a daily basis for signs that they are moving. That article terrified me. There are a lot of other examples of articles that have fed into my hypochondriac tendencies, but better I keep those to myself.
Professionally, the articles or posts I’ve read that have stuck with me most are those from makeup artists who traveled to jobs and had their luggage–including their pro kits–lost along the way. They then had to scramble and do a job based off what they had in their purse and could find at local stores. That’s always made me think, What are my absolute essentials? My pro kit is stocked up and so heavy that I sprained both wrists last summer lugging it around, but what do I really need?
I have a few essentials, but the first one that came to mind is MAC Pro Longwear Concealer. This matte fluid concealer is pigmented enough to provide serious coverage, and if you work in thin layers–which you should–it won’t cake up. Because it is so pigmented, you only need a small amount. Two pumps can just about cover an entire face, which is not what concealer is for, but you need some kind of standard of measurement, right?. I use one shade for under eyes and a different shade on the rest of the face on most people, and I’ve found that half a pump of each shade is often enough for many of my clients. If I need to add more, I do, because this stuff is buildable.
With some concealers, I’ve found they are either too thick to use under the eyes or not pigmented enough for the face. But the Pro Longwear Concealer works on both areas. It comes in range of colors, and I’ve never had a problem getting a color match on anyone.
My only issue with this concealers is the packaging. It comes in a tiny glass bottle with a pump, but like with most pumps, you can’t get to all of the product with the pump. And the the pump mechanism doesn’t twist off and allow you to get in there. From what I understand, you have to use pliers to get the pump off if you want to reach the several-applications-worth of product often left after the pump stops pumping. So I have a whole bunch of these almost-goners at my parents’ house, waiting for my father to finally bring home the pliers has says he has. (Could I buy my own pliers and try doing it myself? Sure. But will I? Nope.)
Other than the packaging, MAC Pro Longwear Concealers are perfect. They are an essential both in my pro kit and my personal makeup bag. If you are looking for a good fluid concealer, give this a try. Available at MAC stores, counters and online for $24.
There are professional makeup artists and there are beauty gurus. Sometimes a person is both, but that’s not who I’m referring to here. I’m referring to the beauty gurus who do Instaglam makeup (which they often do on both Instagram and YouTube), primarily on themselves but sometimes on others as well. I’ve been looking through some of their Instagram posts and watching as many of their tutorials as I can handle, and I feel compelled to make sure everyone is aware of what is really going on a lot of the time.
This post is for those of you who follow gurus on Instagram or subscribe to their channels on YouTube. How things look in photos or on camera can be very different than what they look like in real life. Like shockingly different.
This post is also for beginner makeup artists, because after a decade in this industry, it is my duty to make sure you know the difference between beauty guru makeup techniques and professional makeup artist techniques. It’s fine to know how to do both if that’s what you like and you have a clientele who likes beauty guru makeup, but you have to know when to put on your professional makeup artist hat and when to do the typical guru type of makeup.
I’m going to go through some of the techniques and behind the scenes stuff so you know what’s really up. I can’t watch every video or story and comment on every technique, but these are the ones I see most often.
Baking. Baking is a drag makeup technique that calls for copious amounts of a lighter-than-your-skin loose powder to be placed onto areas you want to highlight. It is then left on the skin for 20 minutes to “bake.” This is HEAVY makeup (if you didn’t pick that up when I said “drag makeup.”) Mario Dedivanovic did this for a while on Kim Kardashian, but cautioned that it is not an everyday technique. Here’s the thing about powder: it sticks to texture. Dry patches? It’s grabbing onto them. Pores? It will happily fill them in and announce their presence to the world. Fine lines? Treats them just like it does pores, but has the fun effect of adding years onto your face.
Drag queens can get away with baking because they are performing, so they are far enough away where you can’t see any skin texture. But if you are baking your makeup then sitting outside for a lunch date with your friend at 1:00pm? She’s going to see everything. Unless someone has no visible pores or fine lines–so basically, infants–that much powder is super obvious in person. Most clients who sit in my chair tell me they don’t want their makeup to look caked on, which is why I stay away from baking.
Tip of Nose Highlight. This highlighter craze has gone TOO FAR. This particular trend drives me insane, because it’s really common with beauty gurus, and it is bad. I believe it started because some gurus said it would make the nose look upturned and like, so cute. And I’ve seen some people say they do it because they have a bump on the bridge of their nose, and highlighting the tip makes the bump seem less noticeable in comparison. And others say it makes a flat nose look more narrow, which makes zero sense. Highlighting anything will make it stand out more and look bigger. Do you want the tip of your nose to look bigger or bulbous? I didn’t think so. Plus, part of this trend is to use shimmery highlighter, and shimmer makes things shiny. When did having a shiny nose become desirable?!?! Lastly, shimmer particles fit very nicely into pores, and many people already have visible pores on their nose. Why would you want to point those out? If you insist on doing this technique, fine. Just know that it is obvious and not flattering in person.
Tip of Nose Blush. This shit is baffling. It’s not unusual for a pro makeup artist to use some bronzer or blush across the bridge of the nose when doing a sunkissed or beachy editorial makeup, but tip of the nose? I don’t get it. I’ve always applied makeup to cover red or pink tones on the nose, not bring them out. Blush is meant to meant to mimic the natural flush you get on your cheeks, not your nose. A red or pink nose used to mean someone was sick, crying or had rosacea. I don’t know the reasoning behind this one, and I don’t want to.
Contouring for One Face Shape. If you look up contouring and highlighting tutorials, 90% of them will be for an oval face shape. That’s great if you’re an Oval, but what about the Hearts, Diamonds, Triangles, Rounds, Oblongs and Squares out there? And what about those with features that they are better off not highlighting or contouring? If you are going to venture into the world of highlighting and contouring, you have to first identify your face shape then learn how to contour and highlight for that shape. If you are a Square with prominent cheekbones and you contour like you’re an Oval, you’ll be putting the focus exactly on the areas you don’t want to draw attention to. For more on face shapes and how to sculpt your’s in a flattering way, check out my Shape Up series.
Product Dripping. I don’t know what this technique is called, or if there is even a name for it, but I’ve seen it in several tutorials. This is when the guru takes a liquid production (foundation, luminzer, primer, etc.) that comes in a bottle with a pump or dropper and dispenses product directly onto the face. I’ve been doing makeup professionally since 2008, and I had never seen anyone do this until recently. The pro artists I know will dispense product onto their hand or a palette before applying (as do I). I can’t imagine what the benefit would be of applying it directly from bottle to face. And in many of the tutorials I’ve seen with people who do this, they use a ton of product. When I use Armani Luminous Silk or Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundations, I dispense one pump–sometimes a pump and a half–to do an entire face. I’ve seen gurus use 4-6 pumps on themselves. That is bananas! That’s a crapload of makeup, and it’s completely unnecessary. There is zero chance of that much product not caking up on the skin, especially after powder is applied. And good luck blending! The skin can only absorb so much. It’s also a giant waste of product. Please do not do this.
Emphasizing All Features. I went over this in my Which Team Are You On? post, but here’s the recap: editorial makeup (and pro makeup in general, up until social media) focused on one feature, but Instaglam makeup does them all up. Full coverage foundation, heavy contour, blinding highlight on several features, cut crease eyeshadow, winged liner, thick brows, false lashes, overdrawn lipliner and matte or intense lipstick colors. It is essentially drag queen makeup, which I love when done well on actual drag queens. But drag queens are men who transform themselves into ultra-feminine women. Women already naturally have some of the features and bone structure drag queens emulate, so putting extra emphasis on those features can backfire and make a woman look masculine. (Fine if that’s your thing, but I have a feeling it’s not what those following beauty gurus are going for.)
So Much Product. With the emphasis on all features, beauty gurus are already using a lot of different makeup products. And the actual amount of product they use is insane to me. Let me break it down.
I’ve already covered drip foundation, and this triangle-of-concealer-under-eyes application makes no sense, as Wayne Goss explains. Every good pro makeup artist I know works in thin layers of concealer and foundation, which allows them to blend easily and use only as much as they need to blur any imperfections and let the skin show through.
The amount of powder used by many gurus–whether or not they are baking–is borderline obscene. Powder is meant to set foundation and minimize shine, using the least amount of product you can. Lots of any kind of powder product is guarantee to cake up on the skin.
You don’t need to use three contour products and a bronzer. If you want to sculpt, a cream contour and a powder contour are the absolute most you would need to use. I’ve seen gurus use concealers, stick foundations or contour sticks, powder contour and bronzer layered over each other. Unnecessary!
If you think layer upon layer of glittery highlight will look like anything other than a stripe of shimmer on your face in natural light, you are mistaken.
Overdrawn lips plus lipstick plus lipgloss plus highlight over and under the liplines? Again, drag makeup. If that’s your goal, proceed.
If you want to use as much product as many of the gurus do, be my guest. But know that a) It’s going to look super heavy in real life and b) Your beauty product spending will increase, as you are using way more product than you need to.
And now for the behind the scenes stuff. Beauty guru tutorials and photos can be very deceiving. I was talking to a friend of a client at a bridal trial recently, and she said she went to a meet and greet for a well-know guru, and could not believe how much makeup she had on. I wasn’t surprised at all! It’s because of those things I just mentioned, as well as:
Lighting. I’ve worked on a several films, commercials and television shows over the years. So I can tell you from experience that lighting makes a huge difference. If a person is lit well, their skin will look smoother, younger and more even toned than it really is. You can absolutely manipulate lighting to be mega-flattering and soft on camera. But beauty gurus don’t have a lighting crew on set! you say. True, but many of them use ring lights, which can make even the most hack blending job look gorgeous on camera. If they did the same makeup in your bathroom that has those yellow lights you hate, things would look at lot different.
Filters. You probably know about Instagram filters, and the editing you can do there. There are also digital filters that many beauty gurus use to make the skin look impossibly smooth and perfect in videos. Don’t feel like reading anymore about this? Then watch Wayne’s video on what he calls live Photoshop.
Editing Out Steps. A full face of makeup–especially the way some of these gurus do it–often takes way more time than the length of the video. Application steps, blending and product absorption time can easily be edited out. Sometimes a guru will tell you that, but other times they keep it to themselves. A winged eyeliner alone can take the length of some of these tutorials, so don’t think that you’re doing anything wrong if you can’t do a full face and lashes in 10 minutes and 19 seconds.
If you are aware of all of these factors and you love guru/Instaglam makeup, then do you, babygirl. I’m not trying to dissuade you from doing looks you like on yourself. I just want you to know the reality of what you see so you don’t think you’re doing it wrong when it looks heavy or unflattering on your own face.
However, if you are a pro makeup artist and you try to do this type makeup on a commercial, film or at a corporate shoot, you’re probably going to get fired. If whatever you are working with is filmed in HD, heavy makeup is going to be magnified and it will not look good. Think back to the last movie or show you watched. Did you see obvious contour? Tons of disco ball highlight? Heavy, dark brows? Nope. You have to know how to do clean makeup if you want to work in on those types of shoots.
I could go on and on about this topic, but I think I’ve covered the basics. If you’ve got questions or comments, you know what to do.