Shape Up: Part 4

So you’ve identified your face shape, know where to sculpt if desired and have learned how to minimize features you don’t love. Now it is essential that you choose the correct products and tools so no one knows what you’ve been up to. Obvious contour and highlight is about as flattering as harem pants.

The Products: Contour

Contouring products come in powder, cream and liquid formulations. You can use whatever best suits your skin type or layer them (but use restraint, please). As previously discussed, contouring makes areas recede, sometimes giving the illusion of a shadow. Because actual shadows are gray and cool-toned, you want to make sure your contour product(s) are also on the cool side. Anything too warm–think orange-y bronzers–will look off. Bronzers are for bronzing, which is different than contouring. And definitely stay away from any contour products with shimmer, as that defeats the purpose. Shimmer brings light to an area, which will make it look larger–the opposite of what contouring is supposed to do. Using a shimmery bronzer to contour can also make your skin look muddy, aka streaky, aka dirty, aka not a good look.

So, what should you use? For powder contour, I swear by Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit. It includes a matte contour and a matte highlight and comes in different shades for different skin colors. This bad boy has been my go-to for years.

Make Up For Ever highlight and contour
Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit in shade 4 Dark.

If you like cream products (typically good for normal to dry skin) and have light skin, check out Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow. It is taupe with gray undertones, so it doesn’t look obvious on fair skin. Jen, one of the AB Beauty makeup artists, uses this and swears by it.

Illamasqua Cream Contour in Hollow, contour for light skin, cream contour
Illamasqua Cream Contour in Hollow

For medium to dark skin, I use MAC Matchmaster Concealer. I know it’s not technically a cream contour, but it’s a stick concealer and works just as well. The shades I use tend to be a little more warm than I would normally go for, but there is a reason the rule can be bent. The kind of face sculpting I do is not as aggressive as current day contouring, so using something slightly warm-toned on medium to dark skin (it would be too obvious on light skin) works as long as it is blended well.

MAC Matchmaster Concealer, MAC contour, concealer contour
MAC Matchmaster Concealer. I use shades 7.5, 8, 8.5 and 9. They are as dark or darker than the one furthest to the right in this photo.

For very dark skin–like the gorgeous blue black skin that some people have–you can skip the contour. To shape your face, you would apply highlight on the areas you want to bring out and the contrast of the natural skin color against the highlight will create a sculpting effect.

The Products: Highlight

Highlight–particularly of the shimmer variety–is crazy hyped up right now. If I can see your cheekbones, Cupid’s Bow and tip of nose (remember–don’t do that!) glowing from across the room then sweetheart, you’ve done too much. Subtle highlight, whether shimmer or matte, is infinitely more flattering. You can believe me, or you can regret it when your Facebook memory selfies come up in five years.

For cream and liquid highlighters with some shimmer, I like Benefit Watts Up (stick highlighter) and Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Skincare Primer (liquid). Yes, Wonderglow is meant to be a primer, but I think it works beautifully as a highlighter. (I’m having a hell of a time trying to insert photos of those products into this post but Google images will hook you up.)

For powder highlight, I typically reach for the highlight powder from the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Duo. I apply it with a very light hand, as a little goes a long way.

Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar, Charlotte Tilbury Bronzer, powder highlight
Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow

You for sure want to avoid placing shimmery highlight on skin with fine lines or visible pores. If you want to highlight those areas, use a matte highlight. The highlight powders from the Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kits are great if you prefer a powder formulation. For a matte cream highlight, you can really use any concealer that is lighter than your skin. I prefer ones with a thinner consistency, like MAC Select Moisturecover Concealer.

You can also highlight and contour using foundation. For this technique, you would use your regular foundation around the edges of your face and on any areas you would want to contour. Then a lighter foundation with the same undertone in the same formulation would be used on the areas you want to highlight (but use concealer–not foundation–under the eyes). If you’re someone whose skin color changes throughout the year, this is a great way to use your “winter” foundation during the summer.

The Tools

The type of product you are using should dictate the tools you choose. I always use a brush for powder products. For creams and liquids, I apply with my hands so my body heat–of which I have none of lately in New England, even though it is MARCH–breaks down the product. When it is broken down (melted a bit) that allows it to apply more evenly. I then blend it with a buffing brush if needed. My go to buffing brush is the one from the Real Techniques Core Collection.

Buffing brush, Real Techniques
Real Techniques Core Collection

Any contouring and highlighting you do should be blended well. That’s such a huge thing with highlight and especially contour. A foundation buffing brush is great for blending larger areas, and a fluffy-but-not-too-soft eyeshadow brush like the MAC 217 is perfect for blending highlight or contour on the eyes and nose. A sponge of your choice can also be helpful for blending out larger areas of contour.

MAC 217, eyshadow blending brush, fluffy brush
MAC 217

If you want to see some pro highliingghting and contour in action, check out these tutorials. (By the way, I miss the days when WordPress would let me hyperlink.)

Highlighting with liquid and cream highlighters: https://youtu.be/ESzE9aoq7vQ?list=PL070600888CB9BB32

Countouring: https://youtu.be/cSVDcJAmsWw     https://youtu.be/yK–P-FwZqM

https://youtu.be/iZMuqpDjZzM

Contouring with powder: https://youtu.be/xM9bq5YpC-A

That’s it! I think you’re now in good shape (pun intended) if you are interested in sculpting your face or any features. Feel free to comment with any questions.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Shape Up: Part 3

Ancient Rome beauty
Girlfriend would have been considered a smokeshow in Ancient Rome.

In my experience, makeup civilians–the non-makeup artists of the world–are more interested in minimizing or emphasizing certain features as opposed to sculpting their face shape. If that sounds like your jam, read on.

But first–you look fantastic! Like body shapes, “desirable” female features change with the years (and the culture). In ancient Rome, an aquiline nose was the ideal. A rounded eye shape was considered attractive in the 1920s. Full lips became a trend when Angelina Jolie came onto the scene. I think the idea of any physical ideal is bullshit. If you are reading this post because you feel like you are supposed to look a certain way, STOP. Don’t let anyone else dictate what you should or shouldn’t look like.

However, I realize than many people have a feature or two they would like to minimize or alter with with makeup. If there is something that bothers you–not because a magazine says it should but because you don’t like how it looks–some of the tips below might help. (This is also good for makeup artists who will undoubtedly have clients with some of these areas of concern.)

Prominent Cheekbones: Well, lucky you! Skip the cheekbone highlight and don’t contour under your cheekbones, because it can make your face look un-proportioned. You basically have a natural cheekbone highlight built in, so rock it.

Flat Nose: Contouring down the sides of the nose will give dimension to a flat nose. No highlight is needed.

Wide Nose: If your nose is wider at the bottom than at the top, contour the sides of the nose from the bottom third down and bring that contour around the tip of the nose. Highlight at the top, right up to the start of the browbone, to widen the most narrow part of your nose and bring in balance.

Narrow Nose: Apply two thick lines of highlight down the sides of your nose. No contour is needed.

Crooked Nose: This is when the nasal bone is crooked, sometimes because it has been broken. Starting where the base of your nose meets the beginning of your brows, draw two straight lines of contour down the sides of the nose and bring it around the tip. Apply highlight down the center of the nose, stopping before the tip.

Indented Nose: An indented nose may look similar to the crooked nose, but in this case, it’s the skin–not the bone–that changes the shape of the nose. You’ll want to highlight just the indented part and contour the other sections of the nose.

Prominent Nose Bridge: If the base of your nose (right below the space between your eyes) protrudes, you have a prominent nose bridge. If you apply highlight from right above that into the section between your brows, it will make the prominent area recede.

Bulbous Nose: Starting at where the base of your nose meets the beginning of your brows, draw two straight lines of contour about 1/3 of the way down. Then contour around the bottom third and tip of the nose. Apply highlight to the center section.

Close Set Eyes: A little bit of highlight (shadow with shimmer or a matte shade lighter than your skin if you have fine lines there) on the inner corners will make the eyes look further apart. I also recommend keeping eyeliner thickest at the outer corner and using some shadow on the outer V to draw attention outwards. Concentrate your mascara on your outer lashes.

Deep Set Eyes: Instead of applying a darker shadow in the crease of the eye like many eye contouring tutorials will tell you, apply it slightly above the crease. This one can be tricky because you don’t want to go too high and hit the browbone–unless it’s 1989 and you’re going to do some Glamour Shots–so read this blog post for further tips. https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/big-up-to-the-deep-set-crew/

Thin Upper Lip: A little highlight above the Cupid’s Bow (or center of the top lip if your’s goes straight across) will add the illusion of fullness. If you’re confident with makeup, you can also slightly overdraw the top lip with lipliner, but make sure to blend it onto the lip. You can also use a lighter shade of lipstick in the same color family as the lipstick you are wearing on the center of the top lip, which will make it look fuller.

Thin Bottom Lip: Highlighting under the bottom lip will make it look fuller, as will using a lighter shade or some gloss on the center of the lip. You can also slightly overdraw the bottom lipliner if you’ve got the skills.

Full Lips: As a thinned lipped girl, I’m jealous of full lips, but I know some people feel that their’s are too full. In that case, you can draw lipliner slightly inside of the natural liplines then fill in and top with lipstick. That can be hard to pull off though, so practice a bit before wearing it out. If you don’t want to emphasize the fullness of your lips, stay away from light, shimmery or glossy lip colors. A darker matte color–of which there are a million on the market right now–will minimize fullness.

Double Chin: Contouring just under the chin/at the jawline will help minimize the fullness there by bringing definition to the area. Bring that contour down onto the neck and blend, blend, blend. I find that wearing a shade of lipstick also helps bring the attention up away from the chin area.

Here are my thoughts on browbone highlight: no. I know there are some pro makeup artists who disagree, but I also know there are many on my side. If you highlight that area, you are giving the illusion that the browbone protrudes further than it does (particularly unflattering for those with deepset eyes). Especially in photos, this can look masculine at best, Cro-Magnon at worst. If you for some reason feel obligated to highlight the browbone, I beg you not use anything with shimmer. Use a matte shadow that is a shade lighter than your skin. Or don’t do it at all! That would be better.

A highlight trend that I don’t get–highlighting the tip of the nose with a shimmery highlighter. Apparently this is supposed to make a nose look upturned or button-y (I’m making it a word) but instead, it just looks like a white dot on the nose. If anything, most noses are thickest at the tip, so why would you want to draw attention to that area? Not to mention many people have oily noses and/or visible pores on their nose, so shimmer is only going to accentuate that. I say skip this one for real.

If I’ve missed any that you want me to address, please leave a comment and I’ll help you out. And remember–you already look great.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Shape Up: Part 2

Amy Schumer, face shapes, contouring
Amy’s got this on lock.

Now that you have read Part 1 (and loved it) and have identified your face shape, I’m going to help you learn how to sculpt it, if you so desire. I want to emphasize that this is not a necessary technique. There’s nothing wrong with your face shape. Really! But if there is an area you’d like to minimize, bone structure you would like to bring out or you’re a makeup artist, you may find this information helpful. I’ll be addressing face shape sculpting in this post and Part 3 will be about emphasizing or minimizing specific features using contour and/or highlight. In Part 4, I’ll walk you through product choices and tools of the trade. And Part 5 will be a request for your resume, since you’ll know enough to be a makeup artist who I can hire. (Kidding. There is no Part 5 but if you’re a makeup artist in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, go ahead and send me that resume.)

Ready?

Oblong: If you have an oblong face, you might want to make your face look fuller and less long. To minimize the length, you can contour at the bottom of the chin and the top of the forehead, close to the hairline (that part is not on the diagram, but that’s what I sometimes do if a forehead seems “tall.”) To add fullness to the face, applying blush to the apples of the cheeks–blend it well!–will be flattering. Unless you have oily skin, large pores or wrinkles on your cheeks, a blush with a little shimmer in it can help bring light to the apples of the cheeks, making them look more round.

oblong face shape contour
Oblong Face Sculpting

Rectangle: A rectangle face can look a bit sharp around the outer edges, so the idea is to soften those edges by contouring them (which will make them recede). Contouring at the top of the forehead will minimize the height of the forehead if that’s a concern. Blush on the apples of the cheeks can also bring some roundness to the face.

rectangle face shape contour
Rectangle Face Sculpting

Round: If your face is round, it is wider than it is long. You can minimize that difference by contouring the temples, under the cheekbones and around the sides of the face.  Light contour right under the jawline is also flattering. Highlighting the chin and forehead will add some height to the face. Blush looks best when applied a little further out on the apples of the cheeks and slightly–now not 80s style, but slightly–blended upwards.

round face shape contour
Round Face Sculpting

Square: The idea of sculpting a square face shape is to make the chin and forehead more prominent. Applying highlight to those areas will give that effect, and contouring around the temples and on the jawline will make those areas recede. Contouring under the jawline is not advised unless you want to accentuate the angled jaw shape. This diagram shows highlight under the eyes, which is really more about eye shape and concerns (dark circles vs. puffiness) so ignore that part.

square face shape contour
Square Face Sculpting

Inverted Triangle and Heart: With inverted triangle and heart face shapes, highlighting the entire chin adds width to the most narrow part of the face. If the chin is pointed though–which is often the case with heart shaped faces–I would not highlight the center of it but rather right around it and onto the bottom of the jawline. Contouring around the edges of the forehead and under the cheekbones on both face shapes is also typically flattering. Often the heart shaped face forehead is short so highlighting the forehead will give the illusion of height there. I don’t suggest doing that if your forehead is prominent/protruding, which is common with inverted triangles. And see the Square Face Sculpting section for my thoughts on highlighting under the eyes.

inverted triangle contour
Inverted Triangle & Heart Face Sculpting

Diamond: This face shape is widest at the cheekbones, so highlighting the chin and forehead will give balance to the bone structure. Contouring the sides of the face will help minimize the width. I do not recommend any type of highlight on the cheekbones for diamond peeps. Blush looks most flattering when applied on the outer apples of the cheeks.

diamond face shape contour
Diamond Face Sculpting

Triangle: On a triangle face, the forehead is more narrow than the jawline, so highlighting the forehead brings balance. A small dot of highlighter on the center of the chin can be flattering if the chin is weak (meaning in profile, it looks like it is pushed back in comparison to the nose and forehead). Contouring the sides of the face from the cheekbones down will minimize the width there. This is not shown on the diagram, but I would also lightly contour right on top of the jawline (to the right and left of the “Highlight” circle on the chin. Highlighting under the jawline is not advised, as that will only accentuate the width there. Blush looks best when applied on the outer apples of the cheeks.

triangle face contour, pear shaped faced
Triangle Face Sculpting

Oval: Oval faces are generally symmetrical but the chin can be slightly more narrow than the forehead, so a dot of highlighter there is flattering. (This diagram shows highlight on the center of the forehead too, but I don’t think that’s necessary.) Contouring under the cheekbones and highlighting on top of them brings out the bone structure.

oval face contour
Oval Face Sculpting

I hope this has helped you get a better feel for sculpting your face shape, if that’s something you’re into. There are other factors that can help flatter your bone structure–your haircut, the way you style your hair, your glasses or sunglass frames, even the jewelry you wear–so you can dive in pretty deep if you want. If this is fun for you or there is an area of concern you want to address, I say play around with this stuff until your little heart (and maybe heart shaped face) is content. But remember that there is nothing wrong with your face shape or bone structure so you don’t have to do any of this. It’s optional, like a hair glaze at the salon or leather seats in a new car (heated seats, however, are essential in my book.) Just because an option exists doesn’t mean you have to take it. That’s a good thing to keep in mind if you’re dating too…

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Shape Up: Part 1

Contour. As a makeup artist, I’m a bit sick of that word. Contouring has been around since Elizabethan England, when stage actors would use soot to define their faces so that the audience could read their expressions better. But a lot of people seem to think the Kardashians and their makeup artists were the first to contour. Contour has been quietly on the scene for almost 500 years, particularly in the entertainment industries (theatre, film and the courts of European and Asian royalty.) In modern times, makeup tricks of the trade were kept quiet in Old Hollywood, which is why those of you who know it’s not a new technique still might have thought it was something Kevyn Aucoin created in the 1990s. Contouring and its sister, highlighting, has become trendy in the past three years, and it’s a trend that some say is on its way out.

There is Kardashian contour, and there is the more subtle sculpting/face shaping type of contour that I (and most makeup artists I know) do. This technique is more about flattering each face shape than covering the skin in layers of highlight and contour creams and powders to achieve the “perfect” shape.  To do this kind of face shaping, you need to know what your face shape is. A big problem with today’s contour craze is that it assumes everyone has the same oval face shape. So for Part 1 of this Shape Up series, I want to help you identify your face shape so you know where to subtly highlight and contour, if you’re into it. Part 2 will go into the specifics of sculpting your features to flatter your face shape.

There are nine commonly recognized face shapes: Oblong, Rectangle, Round, Square, Inverted Triangle, Heart, Diamond, Triangle and Oval.

 

 

Face shapes

 

Now for a closer look at each face shape. To figure your’s out, pull your hair away from your face and pin back those bangs that you either newly love or are desperately trying to grow out.

Oblong: If you have an oblong face, your face is longer than it is wide. Your forehead, cheeks and jawline are all the same length. Your face shape celebrity twin is the beautiful Liv Tyler.

Liv Tyler, oblong face
Liv Tyler

Rectangle: A rectangle face is about one and a half times longer than it is wide. The cheeklines running from temple to jawline are straight. The jawline is defined, unlike the oblong jawline, which is more rounded. If you have a triangle face shape, you are in good company with Hilary Swank.

Hilary Swank, triangle face shape
Hilary Swank

Round: A round face shape is as wide as it is long, with the widest point at the ears. If you have a round face shape, your jawline is softly curved. Ginnifer Goodwin is your super cute round face shape sister.

Ginnifer Goodwin, round face shape
Ginnifer Goodwin

Square: A square face shape is characterized by a defined jawline that is only slightly curved as well as straight sides of the face. It’s almost as wide as it is long. Bombshell Olivia Wilde has this face shape.

Olivia Wilde, square face shape
Olivia Wilde

 

Inverted Triangle: If you’ve got an inverted triangle face, your forehead is wider than your jaw and your chin maybe be pronounced. You know, like the fabulous Tyra Banks.

Tyra Banks, inverted triangle face shape
Tyra Banks

Heart Shape: A heart shaped face is similar to the inverted triangle, but the forehead tends to be shorter in height. The chin is usually the most pronounced part of the face. Many people with heart shaped faces have widow’s peaks. If you are not French and feel a kinship with Audrey Tautou, it could be because you have the same face shape.

Audrey Tautou, heart face shape
Audrey Tautou

 

Diamond: Diamond faces are characterized by high cheekbones and a pointed chin. If your face shines bright like a diamond (shape), you’ll see the widest part is at the center. If you’re a diamond, you share a face shape with one of my favorite celebrities, Anna Kendrick.

Anna Kendrick, diamond face shape
Anna Kendrick

 

Triangle: If you’re a triangle, the widest part of your face is the jawline. The forehead is narrow in comparison. Think you might be a triangle? Then you’ve got a connection with the talented Minnie Driver.

Minnie Driver, triangle face shape, pear face shape
Minnie Driver

Oval: Oval is sometimes referred to as the ideal face shape, because it is the most proportional. If you are an oval like smokeshow Megan Fox, your forehead is only the tiniest bit wider than your jawline. Oval faces are similar to oblongs, but with a softer chin and more of a curve to the sides of the face.

Megan Fox, oval face shape
Megan Fox

There is no ideal face shape, contrary to what oval enthusiasts may believe. As you can see from my perfectly inserted celebrity photo examples, every face shape is beautiful. If you want to look proportional, some light sculpting (as well as the right haircut and style) can help you out. But if you are happy with your face–and I hope you are, because I can tell it’s a good one–don’t feel any pressure to contour, highlight, strobe, sculpt, shape or otherwise give the illusion of different bone structure.

If you are interested in sculpting your face with makeup in a subtle way, stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where I will go over the typical techniques for highlighting and contouring each face shape. It will also be a good read for aspiring or beginner makeup artists. I promise.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micelle Solution

micellar water, Bioderma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Balancing Act

 

work life balance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: MAC Eye Kohl in Teddy

MAC Teddy
This right here is good people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Don’t Be So Sensitive!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Label Conscious

Beauty blogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

[6] Legit allergy, not a diet choice.

 

You’re On Acid, Man

Sensitive skin, breakouts, acid mantle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful day 🙂