A for Effort

Woke up like this

“I spent a lot of time painting my house, but I don’t want it to look painted.” “I had my car washed and detailed, but I want people to think it always looks like that.” “This thesis was a year in the works, but I prefer for people to think I did it all yesterday.” That’s crazy talk, right?  Then what’s with the “effortless” and “no makeup-makeup” craze?

I get that most people don’t want to have a ton of makeup on. I have been told a million times that the makeup I do on clients looks natural, and I take that as a compliment. I am not a heavy handed makeup artist and that is not because I have hands and wrists that look like they are incapable of exerting makeup brush pressure. I am not heavy handed because a) I think most people are uncomfortable in heavy makeup and b) I think it is much more flattering to enhance the natural features than overwhelm them.

I don’t think foundation or powder should be visible to the naked eye or on camera. I don’t think harshly filled in eyebrows look great in real life and extreme contouring can be straight out distracting in person. I completely understand why 95% of the clients in my chair tell me they want to look “natural.” They typically dislike these kind of overdone applications as much as I do.

What I don’t get is “effortless.” What is so wrong with someone knowing you have makeup on? I agree that your blush shouldn’t walk into a room before you, but why pretend that that $30 cream blush you have on is just flushed cheeks? Or that your skin naturally has no discoloration? “Oh, undereye circles? I’m not familiar with those. I don’t have eye sockets at all, you see.”

I’m not suggesting you walk into a room holding your makeup bag with a sign that says “We spent 30 minutes together this morning.” But if you are wearing makeup, why tell people that you’re not? Or that it only took you 2 minutes to apply? It seems dishonest to me.

No Makeup Mondays on social media? That’s fine, but do it in regular lighting and don’t use a filter if you are truly trying to be real. I think this effortless/no makeup/I woke up like this stuff is baloney. It makes people feel bad. Like “Shit, I woke up with puffy eyes and two zits on my chin. That person looks glowy and sexy. Why don’t I?” Having done makeup on hundreds of actresses, models and clients minutes after they rolled out of bed, I can tell you that even the genetically blessed don’t look their best first thing in the morning. Faces need time to wake up too.

A lot of people you see on social media (and maybe people you see in person) would like you to think that they are not wearing makeup or that they threw it on in 30 seconds. But there is often a lot of daily skincare work going on behind the scenes and unless you are doing the same routine, don’t compare yourself. You may buy a sheer coverage/invisible/no makeup miracle product and when you apply it you see…nothing. As in no improvement, no change. Then you look at the model in the ad for the product or a picture of someone supposedly wearing it on Instagram and they look like some kind of ethereal creature. “What is wrong with me?,” you might think. Well, you are totally messing up. You didn’t bring in a photographer, lighting team and a makeup artist. And have you even been doing facials for 6 months before you looked in the mirror? What about filters and/or re-touching? I mean, get it together.

I’m not saying you have to make it known when you are wearing makeup. I’m not saying you have to wear makeup at all! Do what works for you. But let’s not call a look “effortless” when skincare, makeup, lighting, filters, etc. have been involved. That’s misrepresentation and you know it.

End rant.

Have a beautiful day :)


Fava Faves

Every once in a while, I do a blog post about my current favorite things. Beauty products, people, experiences–I don’t discriminate. Want to know what I’ve been into? Then read on.

  1. I’ll start with a beauty product to ease you into this–Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Love Liberty. This plum-ish lipstick has been my go-to lip color for the past month. (Thank you to my cousin, Saint Maria, for another fantastic gift.) This matte formula is not even a tiny bit drying, which is such a hard quality to find in a matte lipstick. It contains 3D glowing pigments that make lips look fuller, which is a huge plus for those of us thin-lipped gals. You can buy it online or in any of these stores that carry the line: http://www.charlottetilbury.com/us/help/stockists/. Maybe I can someday use this color on…
  2. …Amy Schumer. I had heard of her a few years back but just started watching her show and standup specials in May. I relate to a lot of her material and her delivery is the best. I love that she is a feminist and is happy with who she is. You can tell this chick is not going to take any crap or change who she is for a man or for the media. I’m hoping to get to one of her shows very soon and maybe, just maybe, she will be in need of a makeup artist to go on tour with her. I will work for laughs. I wouldn’t mind traveling around with Amy, even though lately I have been into…
  3. …Making my house a home. I haven’t paid too much attention to any home I have lived in since I started my business. I have viewed each apartment as a second workspace and somewhere to sleep and shower. But recently, I’ve felt the urge to make where I rest at feel more homey. My awesome neighbor, Lexie, helped me hang (meaning she did all the work) some prints in my apartment and I’ve been slowly turning my bathroom into a space with a cohesive decorating theme. Turns out it’s nice to come home and walk into an apartment that looks like an adult lives there. I’m not going crazy with the crib–it is a rental after all–but I am definitely more into making my digs somewhere I want to spend time. I may have been influenced by…
  4. The Fixer Upper on HGTV. I’m not a big country-style person, but I love what Joanna and Chip do to these homes! I have a thing for Texas, so that draws me in too. I also love the dynamic they have as a couple. And Joanna is my girl crush. She’s so cool, I love her clothing style, and her hair and makeup are on point. I could easily watch a marathon of The Fixer Upper, preferably while eating…
  5. Pomegranates. I don’t like much about the fall and winter, but I do get psyched when pomegranates make their seasonal appearance at my grocery store. They are delicious, low calorie and packed with antioxidants. They may take some work to eat, but I’m not afraid to work hard. That’s how I’ve been…
  6. Paying down my debt. It was never an insane amount, but it’s easy to put yourself in the hole the first few years in business. I have been busting my ass for a while now and damn, does it feel good to pay off credit cards and school loans. I’m not 100% there yet, but when I finish Operation Debt Payoff, I think I’ll have a party. And I’ll definitely…
  7. Curl my hair first. Some might say it’s silly to do this, since I have naturally curly hair. But those curls are much tighter than the ones I like. So my new dealio is to round brush straighten my hair every 4 days, then on Day 2 of that hair, I throw in some curls. Because of my natural texture, my hair holds a curl well. So those curls I put in never completely straighten. They just turn into waves, which makes me happy like…
  8. Pharrell. I think he may be the kindest, most gentle soul on the planet. I can’t get enough of him on The Voice. He has great feedback, is so humble and is genuinely nice to the contestants. And I love the expressions he makes when a singer blows him away! It’s like he can’t believe what he is hearing. Then something propels him up so he has no option but to stand and watch a performance in awe. I felt that same feeling the first time I used…
  9. MUAC 5 Acid Body Peel. If you have keratosis pilaris, follicultis, hyperpigmentation or just rough skin on your body, buy.this.stuff. It’s one of the few body skincare products I have ever used that delivered results after the first treatment. You can cop it here http://www.makeupartistschoice.com/5-Acid-Body-Peel_p_212.html. You apply it then let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing it off to find significantly softer skin. Sometimes while I’m waiting, I have a cup of coffee with…
  10. Coffeemate. Okay, stop with the judging. I know Coffeemate isn’t great for you (but my naturopath doctor also said there is nothing harmful in it) and it is like, so basic, to talk about coffee. But I don’t care. I like this stuff–especially the Italian Sweet Creme flavor–and I’m not going to feel bad about it. So make your own list, you holier-than-thou coconut milk freak.

Nothing like an insult aimed at an imaginary hater to end a blog post. On the real though, I hope you liked reading this. Because I liked writing it, and writing is always on my list of favorites.

Have a beautiful day :)

Don’t Fall Behind

Apple picking. Football. Sweaters. Boots. Pumpkin-friggin’-everything. Does that excite you? Not me. I can’t eat apples, I don’t understand football, sweaters are itchy, closed-toed shoes feel constricting and I don’t get the hype about pumpkins. To me, fall means the days get colder, there is less daylight and winter is up next. My glass is half full in the spring, half empty in the fall.

Even though I am an autumn pessimist, I know that the change in seasons dictates a change in my skincare routine. I, like many women in the 20-40 age range, have combination skin. I shine (bright like a diamond) in the warmer months and flake (every time plans are made, like a shitty friend) in the cooler months. I notice the change from healthy–and we’ll call it “glowy” skin–as soon as the temperature starts dropping. If you don’t relate to this, you either a) Have very oily skin b) Never look in the mirror or touch your face or c) Live in an area that has perpetual summer. If it’s the last one, I applaud your intelligent choice of residence. I hope to follow in your footsteps soon.

So let’s say you’re like me. You’re out enjoying a morning at the apple orchard before the big game one Sunday. You catch a glimpse of yourself in the rearview mirror while you are driving the scenic route home to get in some leaf peeping. You notice some peeling on your chin and see that your makeup has caked up. You take a sip of your pumpkin spice latte and think about this. You recall that your skin has been looking dull lately. When you put on your new jewel-toned sweater this morning (so soft!) and tried an oxblood colored lipstick to play off it, you discovered your lips were dry and peeling. Well, at least I get to go on a haunted hayride this week! you say to yourself, jumping up and clicking the heels of your camel colored boots together.

The humidity goes away in the fall (“What does that mean?,” asks every Floridian) when the air is cooler and more dry. This causes the water in your skin to evaporate up to 25% quicker than in the warmer, kinder months.  If the heat is on in your home or workplace, it dries out the mucous membranes (gross gross gross) which can cause chapped lips. A lot of people take hotter showers in the fall and winter to warm up a little, but the hot water temps strip your skin of the oils that keep it naturally moisturized.

So, what do you do? Read on, my little caramel apple loving friend.

  1. Erase, Replace, Embrace New Face…Moisturizer. If your skin is feeling dry and you have been using an oil-free moisturizer, it’s time to switch over to something more hydrating. I recommend Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre, CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion and Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream.
  2. Be Your Own Esthetician. I like to really massage my moisturizer in during the fall and winter because that helps rev up circulation. If you have ever had a facial, you know that facial massage is a big part of it. I do a light version every day when I apply my moisturizer, and also a longer facial massage with a face oil like Nude Pro Genius Omega Treatment Oil every week or two.
  3. Exfoliate Your Face Off. Well, not literally. But if you are experiencing dry, flaky or dull skin, exfoliation–which removes the dead skin cells that are sometimes visible and can cause makeup to cake up–makes a huge difference. Do it 2-3 times a week (but not if you are on prescription retinol or anything else that would contraindicate it). My favorites are Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant and Kate Somerville ExfoliKate.
  4. Lip Balm It Up. If you find yourself reaching for matte lipsticks often, like any good fall trends makeup follower does, you’ll find that they exacerbate chapped lip issues. I swear by Aquaphor Lip Repair. Some lip exfoliation, even just with a damp washcloth, can help too.
  5. Mask Your Feelings. Or maybe don’t. But definitely mask your face. There are a million hydrating and moisturizing face masks on the market and you can make some at home too.  If you like your masks already made, try La Roche Posay Hydraphase Intense Masque or Dermalogica Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque. Some moisturizing ingredients to consider if you are making a mask at home are banana, coconut, honey and full fat yogurt. Or just make yourself a snack out of those things while your pre-made mask is on. I don’t care what you do with your time ;)
  6. Get Out of the Shower, Girl. Long, hot showers strip oil from your skin, as I mentioned. If you want be environmentally friendly, conscious of your water bill and considerate of your skin, stop that shit already.

With a little effort, the battle against cold weather face can be won. I can’t help you if your hands and feet are in perma-cold mode until May like mine are, but I can hopefully help you not resemble a dried out, dull-skinned, chapped-lipped zombie. That’s a look that only really works on October 31.

Have a beautiful day :)


1970s Beauty


When I asked my mother how my father proposed, she said “I don’t know, honey. It was the 70s. We just kind of talked about it.” And that, I think, sums up the 70s…

No, I don’t mean that. There was a lot going on in the 1970s! The 1960s had brought controversy over racial relations, women’s lib, environmental concerns and involvement in the Vietnam War. These issues were intensified in the 70s, with tumultuous political issues and widespread distrust of the government.  The freedom that people started to fight for in the 60s tipped all the way to hedonism for some.

Seems a bit silly to talk about beauty after that last paragraph, huh? But this a beauty blog, not a history course. And hair, makeup and fashion looks are a part of history.  If you disagree, imagine any of the well known period piece films showing actors with modern hair, makeup and wardrobe. It just wouldn’t work.

So let’s get to it, (wo)man.

The soft and natural look, a la Farrah Fawcett, reigned throughout the decade. Sunkissed skin and tawny lips complimented the earth-toned eye makeup that was a go-to look for many women.

Frosted makeup was popular for lips, eyes and cheeks. And in the 70s, it wasn’t uncommon to see it used on all three areas at the same time. Shine bright like a disco ball…

Contoured eye shadow fell out of fashion in the 70s. There might have been some browbone highlight, but a defined crease–which had been popular in the 60s–was not on trend. White eyeliner was on trend in the 70s. It was worn on the top lashline, sometimes on its own, sometimes above a dark eyeliner. Obvious liner at the lower lashline was not as popular. If a woman wasn’t wearing a natural eyeshadow, there was a good chance she had on a pastel purple, green or blue.

Cake mascara was a thing of the past. All mascara came in tubes and colors like raspberry, turquoise and lavender were popular. It wasn’t applied as heavily as it had been in the 60s and with the exception of the Disco and Punk looks, it was concentrated on the top lashes. Typical mascara application was more fluttery and long than thick and layered. False lashes were not as popular as they had been in the 60s.

Eyebrows were on the thin side. In the early 70s, there was a revival of the 1920s look, thanks to films like Cabaret and The Great Gatsby. Your average 70s woman tweezed maybe a littttttle too much, and would opt for lighter over darker brows.

Pastel, peach and pink lipsticks, often with a shimmer or frost finish, were worn throughout the decade. Lips tended to be more glossy than matte. Red lips came into fashion during a 1940s look trend. Lipliners were not as popular as they had been in years past.

Blush was soft and natural until mid 70s. Then it became more prominent, striped on the cheekbones and not well blended. It came in powder, gel and cream formulations in compact, tube and stick packaging.

With disco music and dance clubs came a whole new type of makeup. It was shimmery, glittery and anything but natural. Smokey eyes and a dark red lip were de riguer at places like Studio 54, as were jewel toned eye shadows and shimmery cheek colors. Hair was big and soft and often center-parted.

Punk music and its subculture came on the scene in the late 70s. For makeup, heavy black eyeliner for men and women was a must. It was often drawn in a cat eye shape with an exaggerated flick. Red or black lipstick, often shaped into a point on the top lip was oh-so-punk. Bold striped blush was applied–screw the blending. If foundation was used, it was usually on the pale side.

The 1970s brought about lots of nail options. The French Manicure was created in mid 70s and plastic press on nails came onto the market. Rounded tips were the norm but square tips came into fashion later in the 70s. Some women applied white pencil under the tips of their fingernails–something my mother still does.

Feathered hair was popular, with its big curls flicked or winged out. Long, straight and center parted hair was popular in the early and mid 70s. The Shag, the Afro and the Pageboy were popular, as were cornrows, perms and wedge cuts.

Tans–both real and fake–were hugely popular. Tanning beds, baby oil and foil reflectors made deep, dark tans easily accessible. (My collagen is recoiling in horror as I think about foil reflectors.)

Revlon, Max Factor, Coty, Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden, Maybelline, Bourjois, Rimmel, Yardley, CoverGirl, Maybelline and Biba were the biggest cosmetic companies. Avon was the first mainstream makeup company to expand its color line to cover all skintones. Unfortunately, some cosmetic companies today still have not caught up.

It’s my personal opinion the 1970s gave us the last original truly glamorous makeup with the disco look. Sure, some of that was tacky as hell, but there were some undeniably glamorous looks–hair, makeup and clothing–that came out of that era. And as far as I am concerned, that kind of glamour has died. So thank you, 1970s, for that gift. It gives a little makeup artist like me some inspiration.

Have a beautiful day :)


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Eyeshadow

Eyeshadow palette


In theory, choosing an eyeshadow should be simple. Pick the color you want and apply it. But like deciding where to go for dinner when you are with a group of people or coming up with a response to that cute guy’s initial text, it’s not easy. Too bad you don’t have a professional makeup artist who loves to give unsolicited beauty advice at your disposal…

I want to make your life less confusing–the opposite of what that cute guy texting you seems to be doing–so let me walk you through eyeshadow terms you have probably heard or might hear in the future.



matte eyeshadow

Matte: Flat with no shine or sparkle. Matte shadows do not reflect light. They typically give the highest color payoff, but a cheap matte shadow can be patchy.

MAC Phloof

Frost: Frost shadows have light reflecting particles that give off a shiny effect. Great for highlighting the center or inner corners of the eyes, but can draw attention to wrinkles and creases.

satin eyeshadow, eyeshadow finishes

Satin: Matte with a little bit of sparkle shot through it. The tiny light reflecting particles in satin shadows give off a sheen, but the effect is very subtle. It’s like the kitten heel of eyeshadows. If you like some shine to your eyeshadow but don’t want to accentuate crepey skin, a satin shadow might work for you.

Motives eyeshadow

Pearlized: Satin’s big sister. Pearlized shadows aren’t quite frosts, but they pack more of a punch than satins.

Metallic gold

Metallic: These shadows are meant to look like actual metals–gold, silver, bronze, etc. Their light reflecting particles are usually larger. Because of this, they can’t be as tightly packed as matte shadows, which means they are more like to cause fallout.

Shimmer eyeshadow

Shimmer: Contains light reflecting particles. Shimmer is a broad term that encompasses pearlized, frost and metallic finishes.

Velvet eyeshadow

Velvet: This finish is very soft and buttery. It can contain no shimmer, a little shimmer or full-on shimmer. Cheaper velvet shadows may not adhere well to the skin.




Naked palette

Powder: The most common type of eyeshadow. It can come as a single shadow, a duo, trio, quad or larger palette. Powder eyeshadows are usually applied with a brush.

Chanel eyeshadow

Stick: Creamier than a powder and easy to apply. You draw it on, then blend with a brush or your finger. Some stick shadows are very sheer, “slippery” and wear off easily, others are more opaque and long-lasting.

Waterproof eyeshadow

Cream: Cream shadows typically come in a little jar. The can come in any finish. Cream shadows, like stick shadows, can be slippery and wear off easily. Some companies make long-lasting and/or waterproof cream shadows. You can apply them with a brush or fingers.

Eyeshadow pigments

Pigment: Pigments are loose, highly concentrated powder eyeshadows. A good pigment will give you strong color payoff with minimal product. They adhere best to the skin when placed over a cream shadow or primer. I find them easiest to apply with a brush.

I hope I have answered all of your burning questions about eyeshadows. Have a beautiful day :)

My Beauty Philosophy: Part 2

Allison Barbera makeup

I love putting makeup on my face. Always have, and I suspect I always will. It accessorizes my outfits, allows me to express my mood and has the power to turn my outlook around. You’ve read Part 1 (unless you’re the kind of non-conformist who starts in the middle of a series and works backwards), My Beauty Philosophy as it relates to others, so here’s your chance to read about my personal beauty philosophy. In other words, it’s your lucky day.

I think each of us has a multitude of makeup looks that we can technically pull off (meaning the makeup is applied in a flattering way with colors and textures that work with our skin type and overall coloring). But we all have our preferences within those looks, and this post is about mine.

My Big Three. All of my looks fall under one of three categories–Work Makeup, Minimal Makeup or Cocktail Makeup. Do I always stick to these guidelines with no exceptions? Hell no. But since I made the rules myself, and I only hold myself to them, they don’t feel restricting.

Since my career encompasses different types of jobs as well as meetings, Work Makeup has subcategories. They are: Corporate or Film Job Makeup (conservative–no bright colors or smokey eyes), Wedding Job Makeup (full on, long-lasting makeup with a pop of color on the lips or at the lower lashline), Photoshoot Job Makeup (can be more creative, depending on the photographer and the client) and Meetings Makeup (like Corporate/Film, but often with a stronger eye or red lip).

Minimal Makeup is what you will find me wearing on the days when I don’t have any clients or meetings, but am working from home and will leave the house at some point in the day (probably at 5:00pm, when I’m starving and craving a burger with goat cheese, no bun). Minimal Makeup is undereye concealer, powder to set that and mascara. This is the amount of makeup I need to not scare myself when I walk by a mirror. Seeing my dark circles immediately makes me feel tired, and seeing my bare lashes just makes me sad. My Minimal Makeup is like coffee for my soul–it perks me up and gives me the energy to answer emails, phone calls and do the tasks that are essential for running my beauty empire. It also only takes a couple of minutes, which is perfect because I need all the time I can get when I’ve got my Business Owner and Manager hat on.

Cocktail Makeup is my term for the makeup I apply before any type of social engagement. A summer afternoon out with a friend, a birthday party, Happy Hour–they all get the Cocktail Makeup treatment. I call it that because unless I have clients or work related appointments after my social plans, I have a cocktail while doing my makeup. One of my greatest pleasures in life is listening to Hip Hop BBQ on Pandora while sipping a vodka-and-something drink and creating a killer makeup look. This ritual started in college (the soundtrack was provided by Napster then) and like the student loans I also acquired during college, has stuck around since. For me, sometimes the best part of doing something social is the getting ready process. When I have the chance, I love to take 45 minutes to do my makeup. Like really do it. The exact look changes depending on the event, my mood and my outfit, but there are no restrictions.

Italian to the Core. I don’t always have the time to do a full makeup on myself, but when I do (and this is really only for Cocktail Makeup), I like to go hard. I’m not afraid of wearing makeup and I’m not afraid of people knowing I’m wearing makeup. Sure, a natural look may work great on other people, but I like dark eyeliner. I like a shit ton of mascara. I like foundation…and blush…and bronzer or a light contour. I’ve been to Italy twice and I noticed that the women in Florence, Rome and Milan are like me. They don’t try to pretend their blush is just flushed cheeks and their eyelashes are naturally that long and thick. These women are done up–hair, makeup, nails–and driving motorini in tight pencil skirts and heels. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. We are not afraid to look like we spent time doing our makeup, because we did. I find that to be much more honest than the “effortless” (another post coming about that one) thing that some people do. Why spend an hour applying your makeup to look like you didn’t spend time applying your makeup? I don’t get it and I don’t think I ever will. Now pass me my kohl liner and a red lipstick, please. Grazie.

Mood Makeup. I use makeup as a tool to help me get into the mood for whatever I am doing. Giving a presentation about my business? My makeup is going to be polished and full on, because that helps me feel more confident and ready. Freezing cold and hating New England in February? That’s when I do bright or beachy makeup to lift my spirits and trick my brain into thinking summer is not far away. Going out on the prowl with one of my single girl friends? Now, I’m quite sure this is something I have never done. But if it was–and this is purely hypothetical–there would be some kind of smouldering eye makeup and bronzed-but-not-overdone face going on. My point is, makeup helps me get into the role of whatever part of my personality I am bringing out that day. (There’s a reason actors use hair, makeup and wardrobe to “get into character.”) Whether it’s Girlboss, Warm Weather Optimistic or Heartbreaker, there is a makeup look I can do that shows on the outside what I’m feeling like inside. This is one of those magical things about makeup and a big reason why I love it so much.

Not My Chair, Not My Problem.* I mean this in the nicest way: I don’t really care what you think I should or shouldn’t be wearing. I don’t care if a HuffPost article tells me men don’t like women who wear bright lipstick (in fact, that makes me want to wear it more). I don’t care if you think I shouldn’t be wearing a teal and navy eye makeup look at 9:00am on a Tuesday morning. I’m not interested in some magazine’s “Do’s and Don’ts” rules for what I put on my own face. If it bothers you, you can close your eyes while you are talking to me. Just know that I will absolutely use that opportunity to stick my tongue out at you.

So now you know where I stand. (I’m sure you were dying to find out). If you don’t already have your own beauty philosophy, I encourage you to create one. Stand by it when challenged, but change it as you want. It’s your philosophy, and there is no right or wrong way to approach what you use makeup for. If anyone tells you otherwise, stick your tongue out at them…

Have a beautiful day :)


*10 virtual beauty points if you get that reference.

My Beauty Philosophy: Part 1

Wedding makeup in Newport

“Do you ever look at a woman walking down the street and see things about her makeup you want to fix?” I have been asked variations of this question for as long as I have been doing makeup. And the answer is “no.”  Every makeup artist has their own views on makeup and beauty, and I’d like to tell you mine. This is going to be a two part blog post. Part 1 is about my beauty philosophy in regards to others, and Part 2 will be about my personal beauty philosophy.

This is how I see it.

Focus on the good. At the core of my beauty philosophy is my opinion (which I actually consider to be more of a fact) that everyone has something beautiful about their face. When I look at someone, I don’t zone in on a blemish, thin lips or uneven eyebrows. I see gorgeous bone structure, glowing skin, pretty green eyes, crazy thick eyelashes, etc. What stands out to me is what is naturally beautiful about their face. And what I like about makeup is that it can enhance any of those features. When a client is in my chair, I apply their makeup in a way that brings out that feature or features. I’m not huge on corrective makeup. You won’t find me contouring the hell out of people’s faces or packing on foundation to get a “flawless” finish. (I have used the word “flawless” before but I don’t like it, hence the passive aggressive quotes). I cover what I think needs to be covered to make the person feel comfortable (they often start by saying “I have such dark circles!” or “I hate that I woke up with this zit today,” so I often know what they dislike from the get-go). I look at covering or correcting areas that bother a client as the technical part of my job and bringing out the beauty as the artistic part.

Do you. You don’t want to wear makeup? That’s cool! I am a big believer in doing what works for you. I have lots of clients who are nurses or teachers (props to you ladies, by the way–your jobs are so important) and they have told me it doesn’t make sense for them to put on a full face of makeup for their jobs. And there are some people who are just not into makeup. I think that’s great! Whatever makes sense for your lifestyle and whatever you feel comfortable doing is what you should be doing. I’m not the type of makeup artist who thinks everyone should wear makeup. I say wear as much or little as you want, and rock it with confidence. Yes, I write how-to blog posts and give makeup tips, but those are for people who want to learn or experiment. I don’t think anyone has to wear makeup or has to do it my way, or Bobbi Brown’s way, or some YouTube artist’s way.

Bringing out inner beauty. Sounds super cheesy, right? But let me explain what I mean. Overall, I feel good. I am generally pretty optimistic and consider myself to be a happy person. I try to be a great friend and daughter/sister/niece/cousin. I’m no saint, but I would like to think I’m at least kind of a good person :) I’m feel lucky to have so many awesome people in my life and I feel grateful that I have been able to create a lifestyle that I love. All positive things, right? But on the days when I wake up with dull looking skin or darker-than-usual-undereye circles, I feel like my exterior does not match how I feel. So my current favorite foundation and some concealer, and maybe a bright lip color or pretty cream blush perks me up so when I look in the mirror, I think “Now this all makes sense.” And that is what I try to do for my clients. I meet so many wonderful people who have inner beauty in spades (along with some naturally beautiful features, of course) so I think it’s also part of my job to help show that inner beauty on the outside.

Self expression, man. Imagine if we all had to walk around with the same hairstyle, same outfit and no makeup. Of course there would be other ways of expressing ourselves, like with, I don’t know, interpretive dance and poetry. But isn’t it nice that that scenario is not real and we have makeup we can play with? (And you can dance and write poems while wearing makeup!) Maybe you wear a bright pink lipstick on the first nice day of spring, because you’re excited for warm weather and the anticipation of your favorite time of year. Or you’re feeling badass, so you line your eyes with kohl liner and dare someone to mess with you. Or you’ve been into watching old movies, so you take some inspiration from Audrey Hepburn or Sophia Loren and do a retro makeup look. All of those things allow you to express yourself in different ways via the magic of makeup.

So that’s where I stand. I don’t judge anyone for the makeup they wear or don’t wear. My job (and my passion) is to give people a little confidence boost by bringing out their natural and inner beauty and to encourage self expression. Makeup may literally be on the surface, but it’s not a superficial thing.

Have a beautiful day :)


Photo Credit: Rebecca Arthurs Photography, http://www.rebecca-arthurs.com. Makeup by Allison Barbera.

A Perfect Pick Me Up Lip: Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain Review

You know that accessory you have that makes every outfit instantly look better? (Mine is a Biggie Smalls necklace.) The makeup version of that is a bright or intense lip color. I personally go for bright over intense, because with my light skin and black hair (with blue at the ends) anything vampy or dark makes me look like Elvira. I love the idea of a vampy look and am a huge fan of an oxblood or black cherry lip on a blonde or redhead, but on me, bright usually works better.

To get my bright lip fix, I used to automatically go for orange reds, like MAC Lady Danger. But a while back, my cousin, Saint Maria Goretti, gave me a Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Rendezvous, a pretty coral (more on the orange than pink side of coral). It instantly turned me into a coral lip girl. Rendezvous has become a staple in my personal makeup bag. I wear it at least once a week. I find myself reaching for it when I either a) Don’t have much time but want to look like I put effort into my look or b) Am feeling blah and need a pick me up.

Circumstance A happens a lot when I’m crazy busy working on a shoot or during wedding season. During those days or months, I don’t have much time to put on makeup. But Rendezvous, in combination with my My Super Quick Everyday Look, makes me look pulled together even when I’m so busy I don’t know what day, month or year it is (I’m not exaggerating–I once thought it was August in November). In case you missed it, here’s how I do my Super Quick look: https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/my-super-quick-everyday-look/

Circumstance B happens for most of the winter. When it’s mid-February and there is no end in sight to the short days, daily snowstorms and bitter cold, I have to fake myself into thinking summer is near or I risk losing my shit completely. When I’m on the verge of a seasonal breakdown, I often bring out the Jergens Natural Glow, a turquoise eyeliner or now, my Rendezvous Balm Stain. I do this in hopes that my summer makeup fools my brain into thinking it’s warm out, even if only for two seconds.

The ColorBurst Balm Stain is a gel formulation. Rendezvous has a sheen to it and feels pretty moisturizing. You can easily build up the coverage, and the color payoff is good. It’s reasonably long-lasting, which surprised me as even decently longwear products can be tough to find at the drugstore level.  This is one of those big lip crayons, like a Clinique Chubby Stick, so you’re not going to get a precise line with it. (I like more of a blurry line on my own lips, because I think it makes them look bigger, so I like this aspect.) When it starts to wear down, you just twist the top to bring more product up.

I found this to be an easy, wearable and inexpensive (retails between $6.80-$8.99) lip product. This particular shade may not be for everyone, but they have several colors in the line. Even if you are not usually into a pop of color on your lips, why not give it a try? It’s spring time–have some fun! ;) I think it really is worth experimenting with a brighter lip color. The right color can brighten up your face and bring out your eye color. And if you buy it at CVS, you can return it as long as you have the receipt. So you have nothing to lose! At least consider it for me, would you?

Have a beautiful day :)

My Super Quick Everyday Look

To those of you who are under the impression that makeup artists are always in full perfect makeup, I hate to burst your bubble but…we are not. In fact, the busier the artist is, the less likely they seem to consistently wear full makeup. I personally always do for weddings and for most other jobs, but on the days when I don’t have clients, I am Low Maintenance Lucy.

On my non-job days (which usually means I am in front of my computer and/or doing business errands all day), I often do the same 5 minute makeup. This makeup won’t necessarily work for everyone, but if you are like me–have combination but blemish-free light skin, some darkness under the eyes and eyebrows that don’t need to be filled in–this could work for you.

Here’s what I do:

1)  I apply moisturizer all over my face. The exact one changes by season and skin status, but I often find myself using Cera Ve in the fall and winter and Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturizer in the spring and summer. If they don’t contain sunscreen, I apply that first.

2) MAC Select Coverup in NW20 goes under my eyes. (This goes after a very thin layer of moisturizer, which I allow to absorb for about 20 seconds.)

3) I blend the Select Coverup with a MAC 224 brush, then use whatever is left on the brush on my eyelids up to my browbones. The skin on my eyelids is so light and thin that you can sometimes see little veins if there isn’t some coverage there. Thank you, Irish genetics.

4) I use L’Oreal Carbon Black Mascara on my top lashes only.

5) Benefit POREfessional goes around my nose/front part of cheeks and on my forehead.

6) I apply Rimmel Stay Matte in 001 Transparent under my eyes with the 224 brush.

7) I apply a light wash of the Stay Matte onto my lids and up to my browbones. It says transparent, but it has some very light pigment that matches my skintone, so it really evens out the area.

8) I apply L’Oreal Carbon Black Waterproof to my lower lashes. I am prone to lower lash smudging, so this works best for me.

That’s it! When I get into my car or to my office, I usually end up applying whatever lip balm is there, but no lipstick or gloss.

I love doing a full makeup on myself, but it saves me time to to this Super Quick look. There are many things one might say I have too much of–lipstick, yoga pants, Biggie paraphernalia–but one thing I don’t have much of is time. So if I can save 15-30 minutes a day by doing a 5 minute makeup, I gots to do it.

Have a beautiful day :)



My Thoughts on Mascara

I was a Diorshow Girl for a long time, and I recently made the switch to L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black. (Read the post here: https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/lashing-out-2/ ) After reading my post, few other Diorshow Girls I know told me they were planning to buy tubes of Carbon Black. Strangely, I started to mildly panic. I stand by my views and have made the switch, but I’m also someone who a) has naturally thick, decently long black lashes and b) likes an inkier, black look for myself and for clients who are being photographed. Some people have thinner lashes, so they may prefer a drier formula like Diorshow to give them some extra texture. And not everyone likes a more dramatic black look for everyday wear. (There are also some application tips for any mascara that I will write a post about soon that influence my views on different mascaras.). I should have mentioned those things in my original Carbon Black post–sorry about that!

So I feel like I need to explain myself. When it comes down to it, mascara is such a personal thing. What works on me and/or many of my clients may not work on you (which is really true about any product). For every person who loves the Urban Decay Naked Palette, there is one person who hates it. Lady Danger lipstick by MAC is a cult favorite, but I’d bet money there are people who think it’s hyped up. Mascara–or any other product–that I love or recommend is not going to be a everyone’s favorite, but I do think my experience allows me to recommend products that work well on more people than not.

So if you don’t like Carbon Black or any other product I have recommended, I am sorry! But according to the feedback I’ve gotten, most of the recommendations I have made have worked out for people. And if you try something that I have raved about and you don’t like it, let me know. It might be a matter of technique or how it interacts with the other products you are using. I’m here to help!

Have a beautiful day :)