Product Review: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm

The best in the game right now.

Gurlllll, I have been through some cleansers. God forgive me for some of the crap I used to wash my face in my teens and early 20s. I have a vague memory of a Clean & Clear bottle in high school (even though I didn’t have acne), as well as some Proactiv when I did have acne at 23 years old. I stepped my game up and used Dermalogica Ultra Calming Cleanser when I was in Esthetics school because that’s the line we were trained on and we got discounts on professional sized products. In my broke early business owner years, I used Cetaphil because it was cheap (and I had some Dermalogica Precleanse I used first to remove my makeup, because Cetaphil doesn’t do that). I eventually moved onto the Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil, then later switched over to a NUDE probiotic oil cleanser, which I loved loved loved. They stopped making that, so I went back to Josie, but didn’t love it as much my second time around.

Then, this past spring, my cousin, Saint Maria, sent me Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm. It was instant infatuation. Oh Green Clean, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

The Scent. I need my skincare products to smell good. You could give me the best cleanser or moisturizer in the world, but if I don’t like the scent, it ain’t happening. I don’t know what it’s in Green Clean that makes it smell like heaven, but it is divine. I realize scent is subjective, but I know I’m not the only one who loves the scent. Everyone I’ve talked to about Green Clean has mentioned how good it smells. So I must be right! πŸ˜‰

The Texture. Green Clean is a balm, so what I would consider to be a semi-solid liquid. To me, semi-solid means it’s not hard enough hurt anyone if I threw it at them while they were badmouthing Biggie, but you also can’t drink it. The texture is a mixture of sorbet and a cloud. Is this helping? It comes in a tub, and you use the spatula they provide to scoop some out. You apply some cloud sorbet to dry skin and massage it in. It melts into a kind of an oil, which you then remove with water or a warm, damp washcloth (I recommend a washcloth). The whole time, it feels soft and dare I say loving on the skin. The scent and the texture together make it a luxurious experience.

The Packaging. Green Clean comes in a white tub with a silver lid that closes easily but stays on. Inside, there is mini-lid that holds that small plastic spatula you use to scoop the product out. This is genius, and I don’t think enough people appreciate it. Most products that come in tubs are spatula-less. But if you continuously dip intoΒ  products with your fingers, you’re introducing hand bacteria, then closing the lid so the bacteria can have a rowdy party resulting in bacteria babies. Warm, dark and moist is the perfect environment for bacteria breeding–you remember Bio 101, right? Bacteria put onto the face can cause breakouts and irritation, so the spatula Green Clean provides is basically giving you the chance to have clearer skin. A+ on the spatch, and on the label. It’s high end without being stuffy. I like the font they chose and the flower is right where I like it–on a label and not near me, because flowers bring bees and I’m allergic.

The Makeup Removing Qualities. Layer on your primers, your longwear foundations, your waterproof mascaras. Green Clean melts ’em all off. I feel confident that there isn’t a speck of makeup left after I cleanse, and that’s not the case with many of cleansers I’ve tried. I know some people like to use a makeup remover then a cleanser, but why oh why waste precious time? I’m usually not a big fan of products that claim to do several things at once, but Green Clean really does remove makeup and clean the skin. Impressive.

All The Feels. My skin feels great after using Green Clean. A lot of cleansers leave a sticky film on my skin, but not this one. My skin feels smooth and soft after using it, as it damn well should. If a cleanser strips your skin and leaves it feeling dry and tight after, kick it to the curb (as we used to say in the 90s). Some cleansers can remove your makeup and others make it feel soft, but it’s rare to use one that effectively does both.

I can’t find anything wrong with Green Clean, and that’s why it’s got a forever home in my bathroom cabinet. It checks everything off of my cleanser Must Have list, and that’s a tall order. I would recommend Green Clean for all skin types. It’s $34 for 3.2 oz, which I realize can seem pricey compared to an $8.99 drugstore cleanser, but if you want good skin, you have to cleanse right. I’ll let you decide what your priorities are there.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

Things I’ve Learned About Myself As An Entrepreneur

It really WAS all a dream.

I didn’t always know I was going to own my own business (in fact, I specifically didn’t want to for several years), but once I started, I knew it would change me as a person. In my very early years as an entrepreneur, I was certain that once my business was established, my self confidence–something I struggled with during my teens and most of my 20s–would go up. And go up it did! Skyrocket, you might say. Owning a business is a big part of who I am, and I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past 11+ years. I of course feel like sharing that, so let’s get this thing going.

I have a love/hate relationship with routines. I agree with the idea that routines help with productivity, which is why I have many of them. But also, I have an overwhelming need for freedom and sometimes routines–even though I created them myself–make me feel like I’m not able to do what I want. Or they feel boring. I realize this makes no sense, but a lot of things about me don’t make sense on paper. I’ll continue to do my routines because part of me (probably my Taurus side) needs them to feel anchored. But another part of me (that’s gotta be my Gemini side) is always whispering Change it up! or Do we need to do this? It’s hard being born on the cusp of two zodiac signs, I’ll tell ya! I think the compromise is to periodically assess my routines and see if they are really helping with my productivity–like my morning coffee-and-blogging routine–or are something I enjoy, like my call-Mom-or-Dad-when-walking-around-doing-errands routine. If I decide that a routine doesn’t work, I adjust it or eliminate it. That keeps both sides of me happy, and that’s all a Temini can really ask for.

I prefer eating in the car. I’m always starving after I leave a job. 95% of the time, I have a Quest Bar in my purse for that reason. Now, it makes sense that I would eat that on my drive home if I’m going to be in the car for a while, but what about if I’ll be home in ten minutes? Turns out that doesn’t matter. There is something I like about eating food like that in the car. I suspect it’s a multitasking thing, as I always feel like I have so much to do and nowhere close to enough time to do it, so multitasking with simple things saves me time. But it’s little quirk that I definitely didn’t have in the pre-AB Beauty years.

I’m not a night owl or an early bird. Allow me to explain. I often work until 11:00pm and I rarely get out of bed before 7:30am. If a friend wants to meet up with me, they know they only have about a 2% chance of getting me out the door after 7:00pm. If that same friend wants to meet for breakfast though, they know it ain’t happening before 10:00am. Makes no sense, right? But hear me out. First of all, I don’t want to work until 11:00pm every night, but that’s necessary for me during most of the year. I need some time to unwind after my work day has ended, so I usually end up going to bed around 12:00am. I’m my happiest self on between seven and eight hours of sleep, which brings me to a wake up time of between 7:00am – 8:00am. On days when I don’t have appointments in the morning, I have a stretching-then-crunches-then-coffee-then-blogging routine, which takes anywhere from 30 – 60 minutes, depending on how hard my inbox is mean muggin’ me while I attempt to ignore it. Between showering, answering the inevitable time sensitive emails and texts and doing a full makeup on myself (if that’s on the docket), another 60 – 90 minutes is gone. So getting out the door for 10:00am is tough. On the flip side, if a friend wants to meet for dinner at 8:00pm, that’s usually around 12 hours into my work day, so the idea of getting ready then changing into Social Mode is daunting (but catch me for Happy Hour at 4:00pm before I start to fade, and now we’re talkin’). I’m sure some people think I’m lame because I won’t go out later at night or lazy because I don’t do early mornings, but I’m not willing to force myself to do something when I’m exhausted from a long day or from having to wake up much earlier than usual. I wish I could re-set my body clock to go to bed early and wake up early, because that feels more productive to me. But this is the schedule I’ve been on for a while, so deal with it πŸ˜‰

I really enjoy talking with people. I consider myself to be an ambivert. That means I’m equal parts extrovert and introvert, so I’m energized by both being around people and by having my alone time. Sometimes I go into a job tired, either because I didn’t sleep well or because I had to be up early to get there. The exhaustion never hits me while I’m doing makeup though, and I think it’s because I usually chat with people as I’m doing their makeup, and that keeps me going. I’ve had countless great conversations with clients over the years. I’ve learned a lot of new things, laughed a ton and bonded with clients over topics from being Italian to old school hip hop to having a parent with cancer. I’m not good at small talk, but apparently the one on one 45 – 60 minute conversations at wedding jobs and the 10 – 30 minute conversations at corporate and commercial gigs are my jam. This sounds weird to say, but when I check my own makeup after doing several makeup applications in a row, I often notice that I have a little glow. It’s not a makeup thing, but my skin somehow looks better and, cheesy as it sounds, I have a sparkle in my eyes. Maybe it’s from doing makeup, something I’m passionate about, but I have a feeling it’s more from connecting with people. I guess I knew that I loved talking with people on some level before I owned a business, but this career has really emphasized that for me.

One of my favorite brides and I speculating on how many more cases of beer the groomsmen would bring on the trolley. And then we talked about Biggie for a while. Photo: Trevor Holden Photography

I burn out about five times a year, then I rise again. You have to quickly recover when you run a business, so I do.Β  I’m not able to take full days off and haven’t since I started AB Beauty, but I can do the occasional two hour days when I’m away or have friends or family visiting. On a regular day, it helps if I take lot of little breaks (15 minutes here to watch part of a video comedy podcast, 15 minutes there to move the side table in my living room for the 90th time, 20 minutes to text-coach a friend through a dating crisis, etc.). I also try to get together with a friend at least once a week. Being with the awesome people in my life helps keep me going. Another thing I do is try to take a couple trips a year to recharge. If I plan it out, bust my ass getting as much possible done in the two weeks before I leave and prepare for a week’s worth of punishment work when I return, I can get away with working only one or two hours a day while I’m away. For the last two years, I’ve gone to the Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in late July for a few days. That’s about the mid-point of peak wedding season, so it’s the ideal time for a breather. This year, I’m going to Ireland at the end of October, towards the end of peak season, so perfect timing. In previous years, I’ve gone to Nashville, Puerto Rico and Ft. Lauderdale to get away. And since 2017, I’ve been breathing out a three-ish month long sigh of relief during my winters in Charleston. I of course still work while I’m there–this business isn’t going to run itself, darling–but I slash my work weeks from 80 or 90 hours to around 40, because I don’t take clients, work on any shoots or do trainings while I’m in Charleston. The reality is, I am going to continue to burn out until I can get in place the people I need to reduce my workload. But my breaks–whether they are 15 minutes, Happy Hour-length, three day trips with two hour work days or three months with 50% less work hours–are essential to my well-being.

I am very sensitive to sounds. I wasn’t always this way. I have memories of studying in college with my dorm room door open, Ludacris blasting and the constant sound of AIM notifications. (Ding! You have a message from a bad boy.) I worked a series of office jobs in my 20s, and as an Office Manager, Admin Assistant, Secretary or Receptionist, there were often a lot of people in and out of my work space, asking for information, gossiping with coworkers or requesting that I take care of something they could easily do themselves. But once I started working for myself–my best and worst boss yet–something changed. I take my job very seriously and believe that my clients and Independent Contractors deserve clear and thorough information fromΒ  me, but I have a hard time focusing with noise in the background. For that kind of work, I need a quiet environment. Music, loud construction noises nearby or non-stop dog barking kills my concentration. I’m fine with noise when I’m in public, but when I’m trying to work or sleep, I hear everything, and it is maddening. Air conditioners and sound machines help, but when I can’t block irritating sounds out, I kind of lose it. Another fun fact I learned about myself (or really, developed) since I’ve owned a business.

I can’t do shit if I’m tired. I’ll never understand how some people can operate on very little sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep, my day is shot. My brain is useless on limited shut-eye and it’s a true struggle to get anything done when I’m in that mode. I may deprive myself of days off, but I never purposely deprive myself of sleep. That’s why I let myself sleep as late as my body wants on days that I don’t have morning jobs or appointments (and why I don’t make morning appointments, if I can help it). I remember sometimes staying out until 1:00am then waking up at 6:30am to go to work in my early 20s, and having no issues. So maybe it’s age, but I could never do that now. I’ve learned this about myself since I started my business, and luckily I know what I need to do to prevent constant exhaustion.

I don’t care what people think of me. I’m not saying that to be a badass. It’s just a realization I had several years ago about how I live my life the way I want to and nothing disapproving anyone says or implies about that bothers me. It’s a freeing feeling! I was extremely self conscious in my teens and early 20s, so to come to the point where no one else’s opinions of me or my lifestyle can even come close to bothering me is true progress. If someone thought I was mean and rude and inconsiderate, I wouldn’t like that because I know those things aren’t true–not because someone thought or said that and it bothered me. You know that quote “What others think of you is none of your business”? Yeah, that.

I’m not competitive. Well, at least not with others. I know who my competitors are in business, but I don’t obsess about how they appear to be doing. I’m only obsessed with my own numbers and how I am doing compared to the previous year. This crosses over into my personal life too. Even when I’m out running, if I’m running with someone (which I generally avoid, but have been tricked into) or another runner goes by me, I don’t have any strong urges to run fast or longer than them. But when I had a Nike SportWatch, I was always competing against my last run. I would feel shitty if I ran slower than the previous run or didn’t log in as many miles. It was actually a blessing when my SportWatch stopped working. Owning a business has brought the subject of competitiveness to the forefront and I’m glad it did. It’s made me realize that I’m really only competitive with myself, which I think is a good thing.

Being an entrepreneur has been life-changing for me. It’s made me turn into the most confident, self-sufficient version of myself, and Young Allison needed that to happen. (Creeping-Up-On-Middle-Age-Allison does miss Young Allison’s skin elasticity though.) I think knowing about yourself–your strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes–helps you build a lifestyle that you’re happy with. And if you’re happy with your lifestyle, you’ve got a leg up on a lot people.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

Falling Into Fall Recap

SAD.

Let’s be clear–most of September was technically summer. There are Fall Pushers out there, and I don’t appreciate it. I’ve still been wearing sandals most days, because it’s warm enough to in Rhode Island, so why would I constrict my feet before I need to?

But, it is truly fall now, and has been since September 23. I can’t deny it.Β  So, here we are. The Falling Into Fall Recap for September.

September was the second busiest weddings month of 2019 for AB Beauty. We had 23 wedding and events, loads of trials and several more 2020 weddings booked. We once again got to work with a ton of great brides, bridesmaids, mothers of the bride and groom and grandmothers, as well as with some of our favorite photographers and wedding planners. (Thanks to all of the wonderful brides I personally worked with this month–Brie, Erin, Alison, Emma, Alexis, Michelle and Beth!) The last two makeup artists I was training finished in early September, which made us all happy. And I started working on some new business ideas, which I’m not going to say anything about for a while. Sorry, not sorry.

Personally, it was a good month for me. I saw a lot of friends and family, made some good progress in Physical Therapy with this inner ear/balance disorder I’ve had since last October and hung out with a new friend. (I love making new friends!) My chiropractor fixed an ankle injury I had, so I was able to get back to running. And I got even more excited for my October Ireland trip. September was basically the emotional pre-gaming for my trip, so I’m ready now.

Truth be told, there were a lot of ups and downs for me in September (why relive the downs, though?). But I came out of this dual season month feeling physically better, with some potentially breakthrough business ideas, a new friend and two more makeup artists on the team. I’ll call it a win.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

 

Fall Beauty Tips

Thinking about changing your beauty regimen for the fall? I can help.

Well, it’s officially fall. That makes some people giddy, and fills others with a sense of impending doom, as they know which season comes next. (Guess which category I’m in?) With the shorter days, cooler temps and darker colored clothes in rotation, some skincare and makeup changes might be in order. You don’t have to make changes, but if you want to, here’s what this licensed esthetician and makeup artists suggests.

Re-hydrate. If you live in a part of the country where temps really drop in the fall, you may notice that your skin looks and/or feels dry. That’s caused by the humidity drop, which makes the water in your skin evaporate more quickly. To combat this drying attack on the skin, I recommend using hyaluronic acid twice a day. It has to be applied to damp skin (and immediately followed by moisturizer), so I use it once in the morning after I shower, and once at night after I wash my face. I also start working in a face oil (I likeΒ Josie Maran Argan Oil) in early fall, before my skin has too much of a chance to dry out. And if you don’t already use one–especially if you have dry skin year-round–I would switch to a cleansing balm or oil cleanser, like Farmacy Green Clean or Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil. If you want extra credit (aka better skin), throw in a hydrating mask like Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask or Fresh Rose Face Mask once or twice a week. Adjusting your skincare routine seasonally makes a big difference.

Lip Service. You may find that in addition to your skin getting dry, your lips feel dry or chapped (also due to the lowered humidity). This seems to get worse for most people later in the fall into winter, but why not stay ahead of the game? I am all about keeping my lips hydrated with Glossier Balm Dotcom. Even if they don’t feel dry, I apply it a few times a day. The other thing that can cause dry lips is dehydration. I think some people drink more water during the summer, so it would make sense that they are less hydrated in the fall. I do notice a change in my lips on days when I haven’t had much water. So if your lips are dry or chapped, try upping your water intake and applying Balm Dotcom a few times a day. Or you can use whatever lip balm works for you, but be aware that wax-based balms don’t really correct the issue on the deeper level. They do surface work, and you deserve better than that.

Shed Some Skin. Dry patches can creep in once the weather changes, so unless you’re using a product that is contraindicated with exfoliation, you might want to use an exfoliant twice a week. Exfoliating removes the dead, dry skin from the top layer of your epidermis, making your skin smoother and more receptive to skincare products. What’s not to love? Kate Somerville Gentle Exfoliating Treatment and Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant Exfoliant are both great options for exfoliants.

Amp Up Your Makeup. Make no mistake–I love summer. I get pretty angry the first day I have to switch from sandals to close-toed shoes.Β  But I will admit that summer clothing that has light colors or patterns can sometimes limit your makeup options. I’m not saying you can’t wear a vampy merlot lipstick with a blue and white romper, but I personally think it looks better with, say, a light gray sweater dress. I also find myself doing darker eye makeup during the fall than I do in the summer, because it tends to go better with my colder weather clothes. Heavier clothes and heavier eye makeup, right? It makes sense to me. Do what you want with your makeup, but if you have a bold lipstick or a metallic eyeshadow you’ve been wanting to try out, you might find it works better with your fall wardrobe.

Bring Out That Self Tanner. Sun exposure is minimized as the shorter days roll in, and that means reduced Vitamin D. That can cause some skintones to appear sallow. If that bothers you, try applying some self tanner. I don’t do it every day, but I do use self tanners a lot during the colder months, as I’m already very fair skinned and the darker colors of my fall wardrobe make my skin look even lighter in contrast. Also, I know a lot of women either have hair that gets lighter during the summer, or they dye their hair darker in the fall, so they might feel their skin looks lighter due to the darker hair contrast. Some people like that contrast, and if that’s you, go on with your bad self, Snow White! But if you feel pale either due to a fading tan or your hair contrast, self tanner can be your best friend.

There’s no rule that says you have to switch up your skincare and makeup routine as soon as the leaves start changing color. But if you feel so inclined, hopefully my tips will help.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Product Review: Glossier Balm Dotcom

Three of the fruit flavored Balm Dotcoms. Aren’t they cute?

I thought I did this review ages ago! I use Balm Dotcom every day on my myself, as well as on every wedding and event client and I’ve sung its praises in many an Instagram post. I’ve written about it in other blog posts, which might be why I thought I had reviewed it. But I didn’t, and so now, here we are.

Like any other human, I get dry lips sometimes. Part of it is probably due to dehydration (I’m not the best water-drinker some days) and part to the sometimes-drying lip products I test out (occupational hazard). Whatever the reason, I can not stand the feeling of dry lips. I’m from the Lip Gloss Generation (shoutout to my other 90s Girls). We were brought up on Lip Smackers, then we graduated to lip gloss in middle school and kept that going through our mid 20s. Our lips didn’t have a chance to be moisture-less! I have always kept a lip balm in my purse, and another on my nightstand. Because what kind of maniac goes to bed with dry lips?!?!

But if I’m being honest, I was never 100% happy with any of the lip balms I tried. Chapstick, Burt’s Bees, Rosebud Salve, Fresh, Aquaphor Lip Repair–I made the rounds. Some worked better than others, but none really did the trick. Then I discovered Glossier Balm Dotcom. Like many of my favorite products, it was a gift from my cousin, Saint Maria. This was back when Glossier only made one Balm Dotcom, so we’re talking original flavor here.

I was immediately impressed by this universal salve, as they call it, so I kept buying it and have now tried most of the flavors. I mainly use it on my lips, but I’ve also used the original one on areas where I’ve got little burns (via a curling iron, usually). It does seems to help the burns heal quicker, which is great. But what I’m really impressed with is how well it hydrates my lips. The only time they are ever really dry anymore is after I’ve worn a matte lipstick. As long as I apply Balm Dotcom several times for 24 hours post-lipstick, my lips revert back to their normal state.

Balm Dotcom now comes in eight flavors: Original, Birthday, Rose, Cherry, Mint, Coconut, Mango and Berry. And guess who has tried them all? Here are my reviews of each, in order of how much I like them.

Put that stick of wax down and get yourself some Balm Dotcom.

Original. It’s perfection. I keep one on my nightstand because I have to apply it before I go to sleep, and I have another in my pro kit. Like all of the Balm Dotcoms, it comes in a squeeze tube and it is takes surprisingly long to use up all of the product. I find the Original to be the most hydrating of all of the flavors. It has no tint to it, so you can use it anywhere.

Mango. This Balm Dotcom came out this year, and with my penchant for tropical scents, I knew I had to try it. It has a sheer coral tint, which I love. It seems maybe a tiny bit less hydrating than the Original, but it’s still more hydrating than other lip balms I’ve tried. Mango currently resides in my purse, and I will be buying a new one when this tube crosses over.

Mint. This ranking is a surprise to me. I put off trying Mint for so long, because I thought it would smell like mint gum, and I wouldn’t like that. But it smells like candy canes, so it’s like a sweet mint. I’m into it. It hydrates just as well as the Original, but I like the scent of Mango more than Mint, hence the second runner up spot. I do sometimes feel a little cooling feeling from it, but it’s refreshing. I’ll probably buy more of this when I finish this tube.

Coconut. Coconut is one of the untinted Balm Dotcoms, and it is 99% as hydrating as the Original. I love love love coconut scented things, which is why this was my dream balm…at first. For the first week I had it, it smelled beautifully coconut-ish. Then after that, it started to smell like–I swear to you–buttered popcorn. I thought I was going crazy, but I have since talked about this with other Balm Dotcom fans and they agreed with me about the popcorn transition. That’s not really a scent I care to have on my lips, so I didn’t end up buying a second tube. But in terms of hydration, it is really good.

Birthday. Birthday smells like cake, and has the perfect amount of shimmer. If we were going off just scent and appearance, I’d be going through several tubes a year. But when it comes to hydration, it’s not there for me. I actually find it to be a bit drying. I like it the look and scent so much though that I still wear it. I just prep my lips first with the Original, wait for that to absorb, then apply a thin layer of Birthday. There’s a work around for everything, if you want it enough.

Berry. I’m considering this a tie with Birthday. I absolutely love the look of this one. I like berry toned lip products, and this shade is especially flattering on me. The scent is great too. It smells like some kind of candy or fruit snack from my childhood (maybe Gushers?), so it’s the most nostalgic of the Balm Dotcoms for me. But like Birthday, it dries out my lips, so I can only wear it if I prep first with a thin layer of Original. I wish that wasn’t the case, but I like the color so much that it’s worth it.

Rose. Rose has a “barely there pink tint,” which I know a lot of people like. In terms of hydration, it’s as hydrating as Coconut. I’m just not a big fan of the rose scent in my lip balms (but somehow like it in Diorshow Mascara). If you like rose-scented products, I would definitely recommend this.

Cherry. I like cherries and I often wear red lipstick, so you’d think I’d like this cherry scented lip balm with a sheer red tint. Sadly, I do not. I think it smells like cough medicine, I don’t love the tint, and I find it very drying. Sorry, Cherry. I really wanted this to work out.

For the most part, I love the Balm Dotcoms. I find several of the flavors to be superior when it comes to hydrating. None of them feel sticky or heavy, and they all have great packaging. The caps stay on, and the product doesn’t leak out. They are $12 each (or $30 for three), which can seem like a lot if you compare it to $2.94 for a three pack of Chapstick. But the difference is, Balm Dotcoms work. If you have constant dry lips, you might find that $12 (or $30) worth it.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

Attention, Newport Brides!

This is what Newport wedding perfection looks like. Photo: Sarah Pudlo & Co.

Getting married in the Newport area? Congratulations! It’s a great place to have a wedding. From the waterfront venues to the mansions to the beach and park options, Newport has a lot to offer for weddings. My company has been doing weddings since 2008, and the majority of them have been in Newport and Middletown (the town right next to Newport on Aquidneck Island). I’ve learned a lot about having a wedding in this area, and I think the right thing to do is pass that knowledge on to you.

Ready for some local, wedding vendor intelligence?

Festivals & Events. A tourist destination is nothing without its events, right? And Newport has a lot of them. Some are on the smaller side, and others bring in huge crowds. If you’re planning your wedding for an event weekend, you might want to let your guests know to tack on a little extra travel time. Also, you should be prepared in terms of hotel room blocks. The heaviest traffic events are usually the Newport Folk Festival (last weekend in July), The Newport Jazz Festival (first weekend in August) and the International Boat Show (mid-September). The International Tennis Hall of Fame Championship (early July), The Newport Flower Show (usually the third weekend of June), and The Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival (late September) bring some traffic to Bellevue Avenue and the Newport Marathon (usually the second Sunday in October) causes road closures and detours. Salve Regina University graduation (usually the third weekend in May) can make some dents in hotel room availability. The Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade (the Saturday before March 17, or on March 17 if it falls on a Saturday) really affects the downtown area, as Thames Street is part of the parade route so it gets blocked off. Those are the biggest events that I’ve noticed that can have an impact on a Newport wedding. You can keep an eye on the Newport events schedule here. It also might be worth it to follow Newport Buzz, What’s Up Newp and Newport Patch on Facebook for local info.

The Newport Season. The Newport Summer Season technically starts on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day, but it’s not a ghost town for all of the time before and after that. Newport is pretty quiet in January, February and March though, really only coming alive a little during February school vacation week and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March. April can start to pick up if the weather is nice. The last weekend of April has been a popular one for weddings because from what I understand, that’s the last weekend for off season rates at many of the venues. May gets busier, particularly on the weekends and then definitely on Memorial Day Weekend. June is also busy, especially once schools get out, as Newport is a popular family vacation spot. I consider Peak Season to be Fourth of July through Labor Day Weekend. After Labor Day, the weekends stay busy as long as it’s nice out, but it’s easier to get around and find parking on weekdays. Some restaurants close in late September or early October, then re-open in April or May. Beach weather is usually gone by October, which thins out the weekend day-tripper traffic. November and December are much quieter, with some holiday season shoppers on weekend but no big events. If you want your wedding in the busy, fun summertime Newport, aim for between Fourth of July and Labor Day. If you want that seem feel but a little quieter, Memorial Day until the Fourth, as well as the weekends after Labor Day in September, will do it for you. You can have a beautiful fall wedding in Newport (with lower prices at some venues) in October and November. If you like the holidays, Newport looks pretty in December, so that could be a good choice for you. The deep off-season months (January, February and March) definitely hold their own appeal in terms of pricing and likely vendor availability. And if you consider April the pre-season month, with its longer days and sometimes spring weather, that can be a good one. And now I’ve covered the whole year for you!

The Weather. New England weather can be unpredictable, but you know, that’s how weather works. January is usually cold and typically Newport sees some snow during it. And the last few years, January had a least a couple single digit days from what I remember from Facebook posts (I’ve been getting the hell out of RI and loving life in SC from January until April the last few years). February brings more cold and usually some snow, but at least the sun sets later each day! March has been the mean girl the past few winters, with cold temps and usually one last big-ish snow storm. Early April has been feeling like winter, but with little whispers of warmer temps. It is extremely rare to see any major snowfall in April. By late April, it’s typically in the 50s, but I do remember one glorious late April weekend a few years back that was in the low 70s. The temps begin to go in the right direction in May, starting in the high 50s and low 60s and ending in the high 60s and low 70s. June is usually mostly in the 70s, and the days are wonderfully long. July has been our warmest and most humid month the last few years, with temps in the 80s and occasionally low 90s. August is definitely summer too, although the cool air can start to creep in at night as early as mid-August. September tends to be beautiful. 70s during the day, little or no humidity and cooler nights. If there’s a hurricane in the southern part of the country though, we can get the tail end of it as a tropical storm or just a rainy, windy day, but a direct hit is rare. It’s still usually warm enough to wear open-toed shoes through mid-October, and you’ll get plenty of fall foliage photos opps that month. November is solidly fall weather, and in terms of photos, you might want to keep in mind what time the sun sets (most people end up doing First Looks and formal photos before the ceremony in fall and winter, due to the shorter days). December typically isn’t brutally cold in Newport and we don’t usually get big snow storms in December, but some light snow is common.

All of that being said, Mother Nature ain’t on nobody’s schedule. We’ve seen snow in October in Newport, and days in the 60s in February. Rain can happen any time, and sometimes September has more warm days than June. My advice to you is to pick a venue that has an indoor space you like as much (or almost as much) as its outdoor space, so if you plan an outdoor ceremony and the weather messes you up, at least you’ll be happy under a non-tented roof. Luckily, the Newport area has many venues that are beautiful both inside and out, so you have options.

Judging by our outfits, this could have been November, April, or anywhere in between.

Newport Bridge Work. There are two ways onto Aquidneck Island: over the Jamestown and Newport Bridges, or over the Sakonnet River Bridge to Portsmouth (what locals call “the back way”). If you or your guests are traveling over the Jamestown and Newport Bridges, you might want to check the status of work being done there. There is a multi-phase bridge work project that has been happening on the Newport Bridge over the past couple of years that has brought with it lane closures and backed up bridge traffic. They have to do the work during warmer months (something about the ground not being too cold), so it’s been starting around June and ending in the fall. If you have guests who would be coming into Newport over the two bridges, you might want to check out RITBA for info on the work schedule.

Newport Street Parking. Made it past the bridge work? Good job! Now it’s time to find parking. It’s usually not a problem for wedding guests to find parking, as all of the churches and venues have parking lots. But the getting-ready part of the day can be a different animal. If you’re getting ready at a hotel, your bridal party, beauty team, videographer, photographer, planner and whoever else will be with you shouldn’t have a problem (although I recommend checking with your hotel first in case they want them to park somewhere specific or get a temporary parking pass). But if you’re at a rental home in the downtown area, it’s unlikely that there will be that many (or any) off street spots available. That’s not really a problem during the off season (although October and April have been getting busier), but during the summer season, Newport street parking is extremely limited. People can get stuck circling around for 20 – 30 minutes, waiting for a nearby spot to open up. (Hair stylists, makeup artists, videographers and photographers tend to have a decent amount of gear to lug around, so parking a 10 minute walk away might not be an option for them.) The good news is, Newport has a lot of pay lots! If you can scout out a nearby pay lot beforehand or ask the property owner where one is, you can cross that off your list early on instead of dealing with it on your wedding day.

Middletown Street Parking. Middletown town is literally the middle town on Aquidneck Island, if you’re wondering where it got its name. (What, you don’t like Jeopardy type facts?) Newport is the southernmost city on the island, with Middletown to its north and Portsmouth above that. Middletown has beaches, wedding venues and a lot of rental homes near those wedding venues, so it’s popular spot for weddings and the getting-ready part of the day. What they probably don’t mention in those rental home listings is that there is no street parking allowed on some of the streets in Middletowns (specifically, from what I’ve experienced, those streets within a mile or so of the beaches). If you’re planning to get ready at one of those rental homes and it has a driveway that fits two cars, but you’ve got six bridesmaids, two hair stylists, two makeup artists, a videographer and a photographer who will be at the house, you’ll need to figure out the parking situation. Unlike Newport, there aren’t really any pay lots in that part of Middletown, so you might want to talk to the property owner ahead of time to try to figure that out. (Sometimes if your venue is near the rental home, they let you park there early and you can have someone from your group shuttle people to the rental home, and I have a vague memory of one AB Beauty bride calling the Middletown Police to get special permission to temporarily park a few cars on the street. And there can be other options too.) Better to straighten it out ahead of time than deal with a parking mess the day of!

Beach Traffic. Particularly around Easton’s Beach (that’s First Beach to the locals), there’s always traffic during the summer between 3:00pm – 5:00pm when most people leave the beach. That traffic also affects the westbound lanes on the Newport and Jamestown bridges, as well as the Route 4 exit off of route Route 1. It’s not major standstill–we’re not talking going-one-mile-in-an-hour-Boston-rush-hour type traffic–but it can add some time onto a drive.

If First Beach looks like this, it’s not the time of year you need to worry about beach traffic. But in the summer, be ready for it!

Venue Access. If there is a bridal suite at your venue, your first thought might be “Let’s get ready there!” But often access to those suites is only allowed two – three hours before your ceremony, which is usually not enough time for hair and makeup services. If there is a bridal suite that you’d like to get ready in, I would make sure to ask when you would be able to get in. Some that have that three hour rule also sometimes allow you to rent them out for the day, so that could be an option for you. The moral of the story is, look into it. Ask questions and find out what’s allowed before you make any plans.

Ocean Breezes And Then Some. Aquidneck Island is, you know, an island. That means we are surrounded by water, and with water comes ocean breezes. They’re lovely on a hot day, but things can get windy. And a strong wind will whip your hair back and forth, whip your hair back and forth. If are getting married on the water or taking pictures at the beach, just be aware of the wind and what it can do to hair styles (particularly down styles and half up styles). This is part of the reason we offer additional hair touchups for brides at AB Beauty. AB Beauty hair stylists can make your hair stay perfectly in place in regular weather, but strong wind guests during two hours of photos are a different story. It’s not that every day in the Newport area is windy–I mean, we’re not Chicago–but it’s worth a mention.

Off Season Weddings. If you love a venue in the Newport area but can’t afford a summer Saturday, try looking into a Friday or Sunday. If that’s still out of budget, it’s worth looking into an off-season date if you’re okay with a potentially less ideal weather day. If your ceremony and reception will be inside and the only real outside need you have is for photos, you might be able to make it work. I was a bridesmaid in a Newport New Year’s Eve wedding many moons ago and we took some photos outside. I’m an always-cold person and I don’t remember it being freezing because we did it so quickly. Other than lower pricing, an off season wedding means more hotel availability, less traffic and often more vendor availability. Just something to think about, bride-to-be.

I hope this has been helpful to you if you’re planning or even just considering having a wedding in the Newport area. If you have any questions, ask away. I’ve lived in Newport for most of my adult life and have had a beauty business here for the past 11+ years, so I think I’m pretty well versed in this area.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

The Leo Month Recap

If you ask my father, August was the best month ever because he got to hold a toucan!

I know, I know, not all people born in August are Leo’s, but doesn’t it kind of feel like it? And that’s the way they would want it. (That’s a joke for the astrology crowd.) I’ve got a lot of Leo’s in my life and we tend to get along well, so I’ve got nothin’ but love for my lions. In tribute to them, I am calling this August recap “The Leo Month Recap.”

In August, Allison Barbera Beauty celebrated 11 years in business. I have a pre-teen! That’s crazy. We had 15 weddings, a bunch of trials and some corporate shoots. All of the brides I personally worked with this month were awesome awesome awesome. Jamie, Caroline, Taylor, Victoria and Kate–you rock! Thank you for being so great to work with.

We also booked a lot of 2020 weddings, which I’m psyched about. Next year is going to be BANANAS busy, y’all. We ready.

I tried the Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation (which Sam from Pixiwoos raves about), but I got a lighter shade that I needed so I’ve just been using that on the center of my face with my regular MAC Face & Body that matches me on the rest of my face. I need to get the right shade of Light Wonder to use on my whole face so I can really review it. I also tried her Legendary Lashes Volume 2, which I liked a lot.

On the personal front, I had some fun times with friends old and new. I had a party with several friends and relatives to celebrate 11 years in business and we had a blast. I dragged my mom to a bunch of stores to help me find more furniture and decor for my apartment, and we were successful even though she pointed out the SAME EXACT CHAIR I told her I didn’t want, thrice. I took my father to Animal Adventures in Bolton, MA for a private guided tour (his Father’s Day present) and he had the best damn time.

I started physical therapy for this (the doctors think) vestibular disorder I’ve had since last October. It messes with my balance and I’ve tried a lot of things to fix it, but PT is the first thing that seems to be helping. I’m still not totally out of the woods, but I can’t tell you how much of a relief is it have found something that is helping.

August was overall a good month. It maybe didn’t feel as balanced as July, but it didn’t bury me as much as June did. Now we are in September, the second busiest month of the year for AB Beauty. It’s September 5th, and we’ve already done four weddings with two more happening tomorrow and four more on Saturday. That’s 10 in seven days, if you’re counting.

And that means I should probably go to bed. I’ve got two great brides this weekend, and they deserve a well-rested makeup artist.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

My Top 11: The Entrepreneur Edition

Celebrating 11 years in business with some of my nearest and dearest. Every single person in this picture has helped me with my business and/or helped me take the breaks I need to take if I want to survive this career.

Like every other entrepreneur and small business owner, I’ve got a lot on my plate. I do as much as I can to be organized, and I systemize whatever I’m able to. There are some business tools and resources that have made a world of difference in my solopreneur life, and I am thankful for all of them. So let’s close out this Top 11 series with a list of my business essentials that will probably still be in my life 11 years from now.

Hatch Tribe Members Circle. If you’ve read this blog before, you know how I feel about the Hatch Tribe Members Circle. Hatch Tribe is a group that “cultivates and connects women entrepreneurs,” and the Members Circle is the amazing online platform for the Tribe. With a very reasonably priced membership (which you can do annually or monthly), you get access to a ton of free classes, posts about topics relevant to business owners and the opportunity to ask the many other boss ladies in the Members Circle questions. I’ve learned so much and made so many great connections and friendships since I joined the Members Circle. It’s one of the most important resources in my entrepreneur life.

17Hats. For years, I did my contracts and invoicing in Microsoft Word. It was inefficient and made the wedding booking process take much longer, since people had to print and mail their contracts, and I had to do the invoicing math myself (instead of letting software that didn’t almost fail every Math class it ever took do the work). I knew I had to find an online client management system that I could send contracts and invoices from, so I did some research (aka had the person who was doing some admin work for me do some research) and landed on 17Hats. Between that and starting to accept credit cards, the booking process has been cut down from 7 – 10 days to three or less. I can also send the questionnaires we have for various things right from 17Hats, which makes for a quicker response time. There are a lot of other functions in 17Hats that I don’t use and probably should, but the contract, invoicing and questionnaire functions alone are worth the $300 every two years.

Stripe. I held off as long as I could with accepting credit cards because I knew that the processing fees would add up. But eventually, I caved in and chose Stripe. I knew that we had lost some wedding clients because we didn’t accept credit cards, which makes sense since around 60% of couples who pay for their own wedding use credit cards. I did the math (about 17 times, and mostly got the same answer each time) and realized that if accepting credit cards made it so we booked two to three weddings in a year that wouldn’t have if we didn’t accept credit cards, that would cover the credit card processing fees. So I took the plunge, started accepting credit cards and made us a more appealing wedding vendor for potential brides.

Square. Let me give you some numbers. I currently have 19 Independent Contractors on the team. We have 10 weddings in the first seven days of September alone. There are sometimes as many as six people from my team at a wedding. And they each bill AB Beauty separately for every job. Paying out for jobs used to be one of my most time consuming tasks. I would review all bills on the designated day (which I still do to make sure they are correct), print each bill, enter it in Quickbooks, pay each bill, print all of the checks, sign them, put them in envelopes, address them, mail them, then staple the check receipt thing from Quickbooks to the bill I had printed and file that. It was a monster task which I was doing once a week for most of the year. I finally thought, This is insane! and starting thinking about a better way to do it. I landed on direct deposit, and after my attorney gave me the okay to pay Independent Contractors using that method (you can’t mess around with worker compensation laws), I did my research. Square was the best option for me, and at only $5 per Independent Contractor per month (and they don’t charge you for an IC if you don’t pay out to them that month), it’s affordable. They also prepare and file 1099s for you, which saves me money that I would have otherwise spent having my accountant prepare and file those. But mostly, using Square for direct deposit has been a giant time saver. I still have to review bills, pay bills and enter them in Quickbooks, but I don’t have to deal with checks or printing anything (which is better for the environment too). Switching to direct deposit in Square was one of the smartest business decisions I’ve ever made.

OneTab. I like open windows in my house, because I enjoy the ocean breeze (most of the time) and hearing the hustle and bustle of my busy neighborhood. But open windows on my browser? It can be both overwhelming and distracting. My tech guy, Dan, also told me that having a bunch of windows open slows down your computer, and is there anything more maddening that that?!?! He suggested OneTab, which allows you to put Google Chrome windows–or tabs, if you will–you are not actively using to sleep without losing them forever. It saves them for as long as you’d like, which is key for me because sometimes I have sites that I don’t need to look at for a while after the initial time, but I know I will later, and I don’t want to have a zillion bookmarks. When those tabs are snoozing, they’re not slowing things down, so your computer can be its best efficient self. I’ve been using OneTab for several years now, and I recommend it to anyone who ever looks at more than one website. (If that does not apply to you, who are you? My father?)

Google Calendar. My last job working for someone else was at a construction company. I was the Office Manager, and I learned a lot from my boss, Ralph. He used Google Calendar to keep track of his appointments and reminders about tasks that needed to be done, and now I do the same. GC runs my life. It allows you to create various calendars and share them with different people, so I have a company calendar so the Independent Contractors on my team can see job details, and a calendar that only I can see with all of my meetings and personal appointments, as well as reminders for the 70 million tasks I have to do. I have recurring reminders, like “Review Independent Contractors Bills” every Wednesday morning, and one time reminders like “Follow up with 9/8 wedding planner re: location change.” The email reminders pop up on my laptop and phone, and get sent to my inbox so I have no excuse. I would forget 90% of the stuff I was supposed to do without GC, so I honestly don’t think I would have gotten very far without it. Thanks, Ralph!

Dropbox. Girl, you looks good, won’t you back those files up? That was from Juvenile’s lesser known recent hit, “Dropbox”. I guess he uses the same file hosting service as I do to back up his files. Interesting! Backing up files is of course super important for any business, and Dropbox makes it easy. I pay $10 a month, and all I do is copy some folders into Dropbox when my weekly reminder comes up. It’s one of the easiest tasks I do all week, and also one of the most essential.

The E-Myth Revisited. I don’t know any business owners who don’t read business books. We all crave the expertise from experienced bosses who have succeeded in their respective fields. I first read The E-Myth Revisted in the early years of my business, and it forever changed the way I look at my company. Author Michael E. Gerber talks about the three main types of jobs entrepreneurs often do: the Technician (in my case, Makeup Artist), the Manager and the Entrepreneur. His advice is to hire Technicians and Managers and solely be the Entrepreneur. As someone who has been filling all three roles for the past 11 years, I agree that choosing one–namely the one that grows the business–is the smartest choice. I re-read this book every year or two and it helps keep me motivated.

Quickbooks. I first learned how to use Quickbooks when I was an Office Manager in Delray Beach, FL in 2004 – 2005. The OG of accounting software is still widely used today, and I’ve found no reason to switch to another one. Taking care of your books may not be the sexiest part of being a business owner, but it has to be done. I could fully outsource everything I do in Quickbooks but for now, I can handle most of it and my bookkeeper comes quarterly to reconcile and make sure I’ve entered everything correctly. Quickbooks allows you to run reports to show all kinds of details about income, expenses and comparison to previous years. As a business owner, you have to know your numbers–and know them well–as they tell you how your business is doing. Vital information, don’t you think?

My Business Advisors. I don’t have all of the answers (in business and in life). I probably don’t even have half of them. That’s why I crave advice from the business-minded people in my life. Sometimes that means my Members Circle girl gang, my family members who also run shit, or my friends who–even if they don’t own a business–have experience in the business world. I don’t turn to my advisors with every question I have, but when I’m really grappling with something, I hit ’em up. These folks have helped me countless times, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

My Family and Friends. I’m probably not an easy person to be close to, hopefully mostly due to my career. Being friends with me requires a certain level of understanding, because this entrepreneur lifestyle is not the norm. (My family is kind of just stuck with me and forced to try to understand it. Sorry, guys!) I’m very lucky that the people I’m closest to get it, and therefore get me. They are one of the big reasons I started a business–so that I could spend time with them without having to potentially get denied a time off request. When someone else dictates your work schedule, that impacts your free time, which then affects how often you can see your friends and family. Sure, I’m limited by my workload during wedding season, but I still do get to see my friends and family more than if I had a 9 – 5. I’ve got a lot of spectacular, loving, funny, intelligent, kind and considerate people in my world, and spending time with them is what keeps me going. I’m not going to say “keeps me balanced,” because I’m not nearly as balanced as I’d like be (and I don’t just mean because I’ve had a vertigo-like thing since October). But they keep me sane, or as sane as a Type A, INFJ ambivert entrepreneur can be.

And that does it for my Top 11 series! It’s been a supa dupa fly 11 Years In Business Anniversary Month for AB Beauty. Business is great, my team is killing it and we’ve left a trail of happy clients in our wake. I’ve got a lot more than 11 things to be grateful for, that’s for damn sure.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

My Top 11 Products: The Hair Edition

I have “We’re going to need extra time with this client” type of hair.

Full disclosure: I’m not a hair stylist. I have no professional background, and any knowledge I have comes from AB Beauty hair stylists or from hair stylists I’ve gone to. But I do have a lot of hair! It’s naturally curly and dark brown (most people think it’s black) with blue on the ends. It’s prone to frizz and my scalp is more dry than oily. I have gray hairs in the front, and while I don’t have a ton of them, I have enough to be annoying, so I get a color touchup every 5 – 7 weeks. My hair grows crazy fast, which is good for the times I’ve gotten a bad haircut and bad for the roots touchup schedule. My locks are long and I’ve got follicles a plenty, so for most of my life, hair stylists have needed to schedule extra time for me.

Due to my hair type and the fact that (not to be cocky) I get a lot of compliments on it, I think I’ve been using the right products. I’m giving all of the credit to the pros who have guided me, but I think they would be good with me sharing my Top 11. So here we go.

Olaplex No. 3 Hair Protector. I put my hair through a lot. Twice a year since 2013, I’ve been having the bottom third of my hair bleached and then colored blue. Blue touchups follow every month or two, and gray coverage color every 5 – 7 weeks. Up until June, I blew my hair out straight (or someone more qualified than me did it for me) once a week. I now occasionally let it air dry and rock my natural curl, but it’s usually blown out. And when it is, I sometimes add in big curls with a two inch curling iron. So between the bleaching, hair coloring and heat styling, my hair can show some damage. Olaplex 3 repairs that damage, and it does it well. I use it 2 – 3 times a month, and my hair looks and feels better every time. I’m convinced this product is saving my hair from looking and feeling like hay.

Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo. This shampoo came out after Olaplex 3, and was recommended to me by Kristin, one of the licensed AB Beauty cosmetologists. When I use it (before Olaplex 5, which I’ll get to next) after an Olaplex 3 treatment, the combination of all three products does something magical to my hair. Before this came out, I used Olaplex 3 with whatever shampoo and conditioner I had, but it didn’t feel or look quite as good as when I do the 3, 4 and 5 together.

Olaplex 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner. This could have been grouped in with Olaplex 4, but hey, I needed 11 products! This conditioner is part of my Olaplex Dream Team, so I love it. Some conditioners leave a film on my hair, but Olaplex 5 does its job then rinses away perfectly. Bravo, No. 5.

Moroccan Oil Treatment Original. I first used this for a while in my early to mid 20s, before I started straightening my hair. I thought it made my hair feel heavy, but I suspect I was using too much of it. A few years ago, I started using it again to prevent the frizz I get some days during my winters in South Carolina (I get Brazilian Blowouts to knock out the frizz during my summers in Rhode Island, but I try to keep those to twice a year). I now use the correct amount on damp hair prior to blowing out my hair or letting it air dry, and I can tell it helps with the frizz. It’s a hair stylist favorite for a reason!

Sachajuan Volume Cream. It gives volume and protects the hair from hear styling damage? That’s all I need to know! I’ve been using this for a couple years and I haven’t been tempted to switch yet. I apply a little to each section after the Moroccan Oil but before I start blowdrying. Simple as that.

Pssst Dry Shampoo. You can’t expect a girl who only washes her hair once a week to not use dry shampoo, right? This stuff works, it’s cheap and it doesn’t have a strong scent, so what’s not to like? And should I continue to only ask questions about this product? What do you think?

DryBar Triple Sec. I like messy, textured, bedhead kind of hair on myself. Too smooth or polished is not my jam. I love Triple Sec because it gives me that type of look without having to use multiple products or tools. The original Triple Sec had a strong scent that I loved, but a lot of people didn’t, so they now have a unscented version which I accidentally ordered then got mad about. Even without the scent though, it’s a stellar product.

R + Co Dry Oil Spray. Another AB Beauty team recommendation, this time from hair stylist, Emily. My hair can get a little dry looking, and nothing brings back moisture like oil. I’ve found some hair oils to be too heavy, but this spray oil is lightweight and fast-absorbing. Love.

Living Proof Humidity Shield. I like humidity for my skin, as it reacts well to that kind of moisturize, but my hair is a different story. I get Brazilian Blowouts in May and July and they keep me virtually frizz-free for the highest humidity months, but I’m still prone to frizz once my Blowouts have washed out. That’s where this hairspray comes in. A light mist of it before I leave combats mid-level humidity. My hair type needs the Blowouts for the kind of humidity that makes people complain on Facebook, but this hairspray is good for the other times.

Living Proof Nourishing Oil. This no frizz nourishing oil is heavier than the R + Co Dry Oil Spray, but I use that more for shine and this more for frizz control. A little goes a long way, and I appreciate that in a $38 hair product.

Celeb Luxury Viral Colorditioner in Blue. My hair stylist friend, Jennie Kay Plumb, recommended this to me to use as a conditioner between blue retouch appointments. It can also be used for color touchups if you leave it on for 30 minutes. I really only use it for that now. I didn’t think it was the best as a conditioner because my hair didn’t feel as soft after as it does with Olaplex 5, but as a blue color touchup, it’s one of my favorites (and I’ve used a lot). It also comes in silver, rose gold, coral, lilac, turquoise, green, red, magenta and purple, so pretty much anyone who has fun colors in their hair is covered.

And that’s it! Thank you to all of the hair stylists who have helped make my hair a better person.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

 

 

My Top 11 Products: The Skincare Edition

My dermis crew.

You know what I say–the skin is the body’s largest organ, so friggin’ take care of it! Here’s how I do it.

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm. Talk about a luxurious cleansing experience! This cleansing balm feels like heaven, smells divine and removes every trace of makeup. It’s a new-ish addition to my beauty life, and I am grateful for its existence.

Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micelle Solution. My eyes can be a little sensi to eye makeup remover, but the original micellar water doesn’t sting, burn or otherwise irritate my peepers. I have been using this product for years, and I can’t stop, won’t stop.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. Hyaluronic Acid is the MVP of hydrators, and this obscenely inexpensive one from The Ordinary is the bomb. Everyone I’ve recommended this to has told me they’ve noticed results within a few weeks of using it. It’s great for all skin types, so just get some already.

Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture Broad Spectrum 35. You know, I’ve tried a zillion moisturizers, but sometimes its best to keep things simple. This is a no frills moisturizer that does the job on my combination skin, and occasionally helps me get Extra Bucks.

Josie Maran 100% Argan Oil. Yo, you like moisturized skin? Of course you do. This Argan Oil is idea for facial massage, post retinoids application and elimination of dry patches. If you’re super oily, they have a Lite version too, so no excuses.

Trentinoin Cream 0.05%. It’s the Fountain of Youth in a tube if you start on it early enough. My 37 year old face is often mistaken for a 27 year old face, and I think a big part of that is due to Trentinoin. If you can get a hold of this stuff before the fine lines get too deep, you can seriously slow done the progression of those lines. Some people call it magic, I call it science.

Hydroquinone 4%. I have melasma, a section of hyperpigmenation (dark patch of skin) above my upper lip. It gets worse when I’m in the sun so I make sure to protect my face with sunscreen, but the only thing that fades it is prescription hydroquinone . So I use it, and it works, and it makes me less self conscious about my melasma.

Lancome Advanced Genifique Eye Cream. I don’t use this as much as I once did, solely because I now have two nightstands and it’s on the one opposite the side of bed I sleep on, so I forget about it. (Weak excuse, and I’ll move it to the bathroom tonight so it goes on post-face cleansing.) When I was being smart, I used it every other night, as I use the Trentinoin as an eye cream every other night. It’s a great eye cream–no stinging, burning or irritation and it really seems to hydrate and plump up the fine lines nicely.

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. If you’re thinking “Wait, didn’t you put this in your last post about makeup products?” I did, you astute little blog reader, you. That’s because it can be used as a foundation primer and as a face mask. When I’m on top of my game, I use it as a face mask every week. It brightens and refreshes dull skin

Glossier Balm Dotcom. They call it a “universal salve,” but I only use it on my lips. I’ve found the Original and Mango shades to be the most hydrating of the ones I’ve tried. They are truly the best lip balms I’ve ever used. Nothing heals my lips like the Original and Mango Balm Dotcoms. I use the Original on every wedding client, and so many of the remark on how good the balm feels. This universal salve is a staple for my pro kit and my personal life.

Glossier Invisible Shield. A serum-like sunscreen that protects my skin, doesn’t leave a white cast and doesn’t make me break out? I’m in.

And that’s how I keep my skin in good shape! I’d love to hear about your faves too.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚