Drugstore Makeup, Part 1: My Philosophy

Proof of my recent drugstore haul.

I recently asked for suggestions for drugstore makeup products, so here we are. I understand the request for this type of blog post, as non-drugstore makeup can get expensive. I went out and bought a few makeup products from CVS to test out, but before I start using those and before I give you a list of drugstore beauty products I’ve liked for a long time, I need to explain my philosophy on drugstore makeup and why I can only take testing products so far.

Let me first say that just because a product is pricey doesn’t mean it’s good. I’ve tried makeup, skincare products and hair products that were $$$ and were crap. However, it’s true that some of the ingredients and/or processes used to make a product last longer, absorb quickly, apply more smoothly or make it pigmented are more expensive, and that is typically reflected in the pricing of those products.

I haven’t tried every drugstore product out there, and there will be some that I don’t like that work great for other people. In general though, I have some thoughts on each type of makeup that you can find at a drugstore. I may change my mind after testing out the products from my CVS haul, but I’m writing this before I test anything out.

Foundation. I’ve always told clients that if you can only splurge on one makeup product, make it a foundation. I’ve yet to try a drugstore foundation that comes anywhere to close the quality of the foundations I like best (MAC Face and Body, Armani Luminous Silk Foundation and Make Up For Ever HD Foundation). I find that drugstore foundations often have weird undertones and/or limited shade selections, and the ones I’ve tried don’t blend or absorb as easily as the higher end foundations. The biggest difference I’ve noticed though is the length of wear. Every drugstore foundation I’ve ever tried has worn off wayyyyyy quicker than the non-drugstore foundations I use. Maybe that’s fine with people for their everyday use, but in my line of work, I require products that stay on well. I would think though that most people would want their foundation to still be on by their lunch break, and I’ve had clients tell me that a disappearing act from their foundation was their biggest gripe. So between length of wear, color matching and blendability, I haven’t historically had any love for drugstore foundations. I picked up a Revlon Colorstay Foundation in my recent drugstore makeup haul, so I’ll be testing that out.

Concealer. The drugstore concealers I’ve tried all either wore off very quickly or were thick/quick to cake up. There also seems be an issue with undertones and/or selections of shades in some lines. I think drugstore concealers are similar to drugstore foundations in these ways. Also in my recent haul is the L’Oreal Infallible Pro Glow Concealer, so we’ll see if that one is better than the ones I’ve tried in the past.

Blush. I’ve tried drugstore cream and powder blushes, and I’ve yet to be impressed by any of them. I’ve found drugstore blushes to fade much more quickly than higher end blushes. I also think they tend to have a limited shade selection, although that seems to be getting better the past few years. I picked up a pink Maybelline Fit Me blush in my haul, so I’ll review that in an upcoming post.

Primer. It’s been a long time since I’ve tried a drugstore primer. The last time I looked for one, they were all silicone based, and silicone based primers can ball up and cause foundation to roll off the skin. That happens because silicone doesn’t interact well with the ingredients of some foundations. I’ll test a primer next time I do a drugstore haul, but in the meantime, I’m sticking with my tried and true non-silicone primers.

Powder. I think drugstore powder is fine for everyday use, and I use one myself (details in an upcoming blog post). I don’t use it on clients though because I don’t think it lasts as long as a MAC or Laura Mercier powder. If you’re not super oily and/or you don’t mind touching up a few times a day, I think a drugstore powder can work fine for you.

Eyeshadow. I think you can sometimes get a decent drugstore cream eyeshadow, but I’ve never been impressed by drugstore powder eyeshadows. The color payoff tends to be weak, meaning it takes several applications of shadow to achieve the same intensity you would get from one or two applications of, for example, a MAC eyeshadow. That’s the pigment in drugstore powder shadows being weaker than its higher end counterparts, because the pigments and/or processes used to intensify the pigments are more expensive. So whether it’s the actual type of ingredient used for the pigment or the ratio of non-pigmented ingredients to pigmented ingredients, you’re ending up with a weaker product. Think of a drugstore eyeshadow like a watered down gin and tonic–it’s got more tonic than gin. If you only wear eyeshadow once in a great while and you don’t mind having to apply several layers to achieve the intensity you want, go for it. But if you’re a regular eyeshadow wearer and you think you’re saving money by going the drugstore route, you’re probably not. You’ll likely have to use at least twice as much (probably more) eyeshadow as you would if you bought a higher end powder eyeshadow, so you could end up spending the same as you would have had you bought the higher end eyeshadow first. I picked up a cream eyeshadow and will buy a powder one for my next haul, but I have a feeling the drugstore powder eyeshadows are still weakly pigmented.

Eyeliner. I didn’t pick up any eyeliners in my recent drugstore haul, but I’ve tried enough in the past to have some perspective. I’ve found drugstore pencil eyeliners to either be dry and uncomfortable to use, or extremely smudgy. The crayon and gel liners I’ve tried have all been weakly pigmented or quick to wear off. I do think it’s possible to get a good liquid liner at a drugstore. I don’t personally use liquid liners and it doesn’t make sense to use them on clients because I can’t use the applicator directly on them, but for your own personal use, I think you can find a good liquid liner at the drugstore level.

Mascara. I like waterproof drugstore mascaras and have found one that works better than the high end waterproofs I’ve tried (keep your eyes peeled for the next post in this series). For non-waterproof though, I’ve yet to find one that’s as good as my beloved Diorshow. I’ll be testing a L’Oreal mascara from my haul, so we’ll see how that goes…

Brow Powder and Gels. I’ve found the drugstore versions of these products to be weakly pigmented and quick to wear off. Two things you want opposite of in a brow product! I’ll test out some new ones in my next haul.

Lipstick. I think you can get a good lipstick from a drugstore. I especially like Revlon lipsticks, both for their shade selections and their textures. I’ve tried some drugstore lipsticks that were weakly pigmented or quick to wear off, which again, I think comes down to the cost of certain pigments, processes or long-wear ingredients. But out of all of the drugstore makeup products, I’m most likely to buy a lipstick. I picked up a pretty red CoverGirl lipstick in my recent haul, so I’ll review that soon.

Lip Liner. There are good lip liners at the drugstore level. They don’t tend to have the color selection that a company like MAC does, but with the exception of a few high end lines, I don’t find drugstore lip liners to be that drastically different than many of their higher end counterparts.

We’ll see if I change my tune after I test out the products from my recent haul, but for now, I’m not sold on the quality of drugstore products. Pigment, length of wear and blendability are three very important factors for professional makeup artists, and I think those are the three areas that drugstore products tend to fall short in.

I’ll do another drugstore makeup haul at some point, but I can’t make it a habit. I’m primarily a makeup artist, not a beauty blogger, so I can’t have a kit full of drugstore makeup to use on clients. But because I want to give the people/readers what they asked for, I’ll keep it in mind that people are interested in reviews of drugstore makeup products.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

 

 

Alcohol

Undetectable Makeup: How To Avoid Cake Face

Nothing cakey about this makeup! Photo: East Passage Photography Makeup: Allison Barbera

There have been a lot of makeup trends over the years, but there’s one we’ve never seen and probably never will: cakey makeup. I’m talking visible foundation and/or powder that looks like it’s an inch off the skin, with product settling into lines, pores and other textured parts of the skin.

There are different choices that lead to caked up makeup, and I’m here to help you not make those mistakes.

Shed The Dead (Skin). It all starts with skincare. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells that haven’t shed themselves from the surface of the skin. If you’ve got too many dermis corpses hanging out on your skin, foundation will cling to those, which will cause your makeup to look caked on. A regular exfoliation routine (unless you’re using something that’s contraindicated with exfoliation) will help eradicate this issue.

Moisture Matters. Foundation applies much more smoothly on a moisturized skin, so make sure you’re not forgetting this important step. Just let it fully absorb before applying any face makeup.

Hydration Nation. Dehydrated skin causes fine lines to show more prominently, and when makeup settles into those fine lines, instant caking. To help keep skin hydrated–which is different than moisturized–I recommend regularly using hylaluronic acid after you shower or wash your face (it needs to be applied to damp skin).

I Got You Covered. Foundations can generally be categorized as Sheer/Light Coverage, Medium Coverage and Full Coverage. For liquid foundations, the more coverage they have, the thicker they tend to be. Powder foundation coverage is partially due to the pigments and ingredients in the products, and partially due to how you apply it (which I’ll get to). The important thing to know is that the fuller coverage you use, the higher the chances that your makeup will get cakey wit it. And if I may give my two cents on full coverage foundation, I don’t think it’s necessary unless your entire face is covered in acne (and even then, I have some other ideas). If you have generally clear skin with only a few blemishes or some minor discoloration that you’d like to minimize, you’re better off using a sheer foundation all over and concealer and/or color corrector where needed.

Everything in Moderation. A good pro makeup artist will tell you they use the minimal amount of foundation needed for each. They don’t use eight pumps worth of foundation on one face, like I’ve seen many a YouTuber do. Listen here, my friend–the skin will NEVER absorb that much foundation. And if it can’t be absorbed, it’s going to sit on the skin and be noticeable (and probably distracting) to anyone you have a conversation with. Cake City, USA, baby!

I didn’t even use a quarter-sized amount of foundation, which is why my skin looked like skin.

A Layered Story. Much like foundations, concealers come in different coverage types. The best way to avoid caking is to start with less concealer than you think you need. Apply it in thin layers to build up your coverage, as there’s no coming back from thick layers without removing them. If you start with a too thick concealer or use too much at once, your skin won’t absorb and it will sit on the skin, lookin’ all obvious and shit.

Minimize Your Risk. When makeup settles into lines and pores, it looks cakey. If you fill in those lines and pores before you apply your foundation, though…well, we’ve solved that problem, haven’t we? Just make sure to give the pore minimizer a minute to absorb before applying your beautifully thin layers of foundation and concealer.

A No Bake Makeup. Powder is often a culprit in the ol’ cake face dilemma, so beware. It’s not that you can’t use powder, but do so with a light hand. Don’t bake your powder (putting a bunch on the skin then letting it sit there for a while before brushing it off.) Baking leads to caking, darling. Start with less powder than you think you need, then add more if you still see shine. A thin layer is all you really need to set your foundation, so there’s no reason to go overboard.

I said USE SPARINGLY.

The Right Tools. When I use foundation on clients, I apply it with a flat foundation brush then I blend it in with a buffing brush, using circular motions. In this case, the flat foundation brush is the vehicle but the buffing brush does the driving. When I apply it on my own face, I use my hands then blend it in with a circular motion using a buffing brush. I think these two techniques allow for the most natural finish. Using a Beautyblender type sponge to stipple on foundation can give you fuller coverage, and that can lead to caking if you haven’t prepped your skin well or are using a heavy foundation.  Using a buffing brush to blend, blend, blend tends to give the most natural finish.

Set It Off. Occasionally, even though I’ve done everything right with the makeup, I’ll notice some low level caking on a client’s face due to lack of exfoliation or hydration. But once I apply setting spray, the minor caking goes away. I’m not suggesting you ignore skincare, layer on full coverage products, bake your powder and think you can you fix that all with some setting spray, but if you have a tiny bit of caking–I’m talking a 1 out of 10–a spritz or two of setting spray may take care of your problem.

Cake face doesn’t have to happen to you. With the right choices and precautions, your foundation, concealer and powder will absorb nicely and look seamless. And don’t we both want that for you?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The First Month Recap

Some pretty houses in Charleston. I lived in the one on the left a few winters ago.

I started doing monthly recaps in June, then November came along and apparently I forgot. Samesies with December. My bad! Let’s pick it back up for January, okay?

The first month of this new decade was a good one for AB Beauty. We had two weddings, a bunch of corporate shoots and a ton of trials. We also welcomed hair stylist, Lauren Adamo, to the team. And girl, the amount of wedding inquiries we got was CRAZY! We booked several 2020 weddings, and the inquiries are still coming in strong. Thank you to everyone who booked with us or referred a bride! We really appreciate it.

I got to Charleston, SC on 12/30 for my fourth (working) snowbird winter. It’s been awesome, as always. I don’t really do makeup for any clients while I’m snowbirding, so my time is spent handling bookings, creating wedding schedules, coordinating trials, trying to keep up with the latest social media trends, working on growing the business, etc. Due to some health issues I’ve had for the last year and 13 months (but who’s counting?), I’ve been trying to get in a lot of rest and relaxation. That’s not easy for me, as I’ve got Guilt on one shoulder and Ambition on the other, but I’m trying to give my body and mind a break. Once I get back to Newport, things will get pretty intense, so I should probably take advantage of these shorter work weeks while I can.

I can do things like stroll through alleys in Charleston now that I have shorter workweeks!

January was a good month for me and for AB Beauty, and I hope it was for you, too.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

My Winter Wonders

I will NEVER be that happy about snow. Mark my words.

I live in a warm-ish climate for most of the winter, so I can’t say I hate winter like I did when I lived in New England year-round. In fact, winter is now probably my favorite season, since I spend it in a city I love and am able to cut my work weeks in half while I’m here. But I still appreciate discovering things I love each season, because who doesn’t want a little (drug-free) upper now and then?

Here’s what I’m feeling this winter:

NuFACE Mini. I started using this skincare device in November, but I have to include it in one of my Favorites blog posts because I love it so much. For more on this miracle worker, read this then this.

Day 2 of using the NuFACE Mini and Day 65 of using it. See why I love it?

The Great British Bakeoff. I don’t bake and other than Nailed It, I’ve never been interested in baking shows. Somehow I started watching this one on Netflix, and I got really into it. I love a British accent but more than that, I love a British person with a sense of humor, and this show has that. And as a creative person myself, I appreciate watching people create things they’re passionate about.

MILK MAKEUP Glow Oil Lip + Cheek. My new favorite makeup product! You can read all about it here.

That’s Halo on the left and Flare on the right.

Zarbee’s 99% Honey Cough Soothers Natural Cherry Flavor. I got sick right before Thanksgiving and the cough I had lasted an entire month. It was the worst cough I ever had, and it would hit me anytime I moved. My friend, Carol, gave me some Zarbee’s cough drops because she said they were the only thing that helped a nasty cough she had the month before. I went to get my own from CVS and they were out of the ones Carol gave me, so I bought these. They didn’t make my cough completely disappear, but if I popped one when I felt a coughing fit coming on, it seemed to help. They contain no processed sugars and they taste great, so bye bye Ludens and Ricola.

Michelle Wolf’s Joke Show. Michelle Wolf always makes me laugh, and her new Netflix special is solid. I laughed really hard several times, and that doesn’t always happen when I watch standup. We all have our own taste in comedy, and some people don’t like it at all (which I find baffling). But if you like to laugh, give this a try. I think Michelle Wolf is truly funny, smart and original and I was psyched to see this special come out. Disclaimer: If you’re easily offended, don’t watch this. Or any standup specials, really. I guess just stick to the news.

The Body Shop Mango Body Butter. Back in the 90s, I was obsessed with The Body Shop. I tried just about everything they made between 1994 – 1996. (Whatchu know about Satsuma?) I spent a lot of my allowance money on their selection of body butters. While I was in Galway, Ireland in October, my friend and I stopped in The Body Shop (as one does in Ireland). I smelled the Mango Body Butter again for the first time in probably a decade, and I was sold. Well, kind of sold. I couldn’t fit one more thing in my overpacked suitcase, so I told my mother I’d like it for Christmas if she was looking for gift ideas. I’ve been using it since, and I really love it. I remember the 90s version being more liquidy, but 20+ years later, it’s become a true body butter. The scent is the same, and it makes my skin soft without leaving a sticky film. I’m glad Mango Body Butter and I are back together again.

Hello, old friend.

Shia LaBeouf. When some asks me who my celebrity crush is, the best I can usually come up with is “a young Al Pacino.” But move out of the way, Michael Corleone. I’ve got a crush on Shia now. I’ve of course known who he was for a long time, but I hadn’t seen any interviews with him until this Hot Ones episode, which is when I fell in love. Then I saw this Burning Questions segment on Ellen, and fell more in love. Think Shia would date a stubborn, partially blue-haired entrepreneur snowbird?

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel. I love a gel manicure, but I only get a few a year because a) regular gel manicures would get costly and b) they tend to weaken my nails post-removal. At the same time, when I use regular nail polish, it doesn’t look as good and chips within two days. So I tried the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel set, which I got at CVS. Did it last longer than regular polish? Hell yeah. Did it last as long as a salon gel polish manicure? Hell no. It gave me 4 – 5 days of chip-free life, and I find that impressive for a non-salon gel manicure.

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel. This book was another Christmas gift from my parents. (What? I give them a list of things I would buy anyway, and say “Have at it, if you so desire.”) It’s a novel about four people who play in a quartet together, and how their lives become intertwined. It’s really well written and easy to read, and I felt like I really knew the characters. Also, I have to say, I love the cover of the book. I didn’t judge this book by it, but let’s not forget that I do like pretty things. If you’re the type who doesn’t trust book reviews from a beauty blogger, click here.

Tell me that’s not a gorgeous cover!

Pandora 50s Rock Station. I’ve been told that it’s not cool to listen to Pandora, but I’m about as interested in being cool as I am in watching sports.  I’m a Pandora gal, and I usually listen to the 90s Hip Hop, Hip Hop BBQ and assorted comedy stations. Something recently made me want to listen to some 1950s rock, and of course Pandora has a station for that. So now, that’s my go to. I think I’m an old soul.

These ten things have made my winter days a little brighter, prettier, more interesting, funnier or just better. (It doesn’t hurt that I’m also in my happy place–Charleston, SC–until spring.) I hope you’ve found some little rays of sunshine/new things you love this winter.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: MILK Makeup Glow Oil Lip + Cheek

I used a lot of Halo on my cheeks this past New Year’s Eve, and I don’t regret it. The perfect flush!

I love a good cream blush. (And by cream, I mean a true cream blush as well as liquid, gel and stick formulations.) A quality cream blush will blend seamlessly onto bare skin or over foundation, and I find that cream blushes often give a more realistic flush than powder blushes on their on. I normally use a cream blush then a thin layer of setting powder, then either more cream blush (if the formulation blends well over powder) or powder blush in a similar color (if it does not).

There are some crappy cream blushes out there, but the MILK Makeup Glow Oil Lip + Cheek sticks are far from crappy.  I bought three of these little cuties upon recommendation from my friend, Ali, at the Newport Sephora. They might be my favorite cream blushes ever. I bought Flare (a coral shimmer), Halo (a bright pink shimmer) and Astro (a plum shimmer). Astro wasn’t that flattering on my skintone so I put it in my pro kit, but I had to keep Flare and Halo for myself (I’ll buy them for my pro kit as well, because my clients deserve all of the good stuff, too!). They also have Glimmer, a mauve shimmer which I will likely try and buy too.

I’ve been wearing Flare or Halo most days for about a month. They are both highly pigmented, and they glide onto the skin like a dream. The shimmer is very minimal and doesn’t settle into my, shall we call them, generously sized pores. The rice bran oil in these cream blushes make then super blendable, both over and under powder. I’ve used them on bare skin as well, and they haven’t let me down there either.

Some of Flare (on the left) got stuck to the cap. I didn’t gauge a piece out, and it’s important to me that you know that.

I’ve mostly used the Glow Oil Lip + Cheek sticks as cheek color, but I like the way they look on my lips, too. They’re comfortable to wear on the lips, and then look like more of a lip stain than a lipstick, which is good for you lipstick-phobes out there. I like using the same shade on my lips as I have on my cheeks, as I think that ties a look together nicely.

The packaging is modern and pretty without being frilly. The cap stays on well, and it’s easy to twist the bottom to get more product. Because Flare and Halo especially are so pigmented, one stick of this stuff should last you a while.

The Glow Oil Lip + Cheek sticks give a beautiful application and are pigmented enough to make them worth the price. If you like one of the four shades they currently offer, I would 100% recommend trying one. A believable, blendable flush or a pretty lip is worth $15, in my book.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Home Work: Is Working From Home The Best Choice For You?

Thinking about a bed office? Then keep reading!

Working from home is the dream, right? (Or at least runner up to the not-having-to-work-because-you’re-rich dream.) No commute, no boss looking over your shoulder, no loud-chewing coworkers in earshot and everyone’s favorite part–you can roll out of bed and work in your pajamas! Or stay in bed and work from there if you want! And depending on your situation, working from home may give you flexible hours too. What’s not to love?

Well, like with anything else, there are negatives to working from home. Or let’s “re-frame” that, as my mother would say. There are things that you might find difficult or not like, or things that can sabotage your working-from-home productivity. I’ve been working from home since I opened my business in 2008. For a little while, it was part-time working from home, since I had full time jobs outside of AB Beauty. There was also the summer when I decided I didn’t need Internet at my house, since I had it at my studio a few blocks away, and that would force me to not be constantly working when I was at home. (I got around that one by going to my studio in the morning, stopping for a couple hours mid-afternoon to take care of personal stuff, then going back into my studio until 1:00am.)

Other than those instances, I’ve worked from home. I’ve learned a lot about what seems to work and what doesn’t, both from my own experience and from what other homers (coined it) have told me. How rude would it be for me to keep that to myself? You know I’m incapable of holding onto information that I think could be even the tiniest bit helpful to someone, so here we go.

Social Status. Even if you’re an introvert, you probably find that having a coworker who you’re friends with helps make your job better. Having someone you like who also understands the ins and outs of your job really does make things better. But unless your partner or roommate is a coworker and also works from home, you’re not going to get that socialization if your house is your office. And if you’re a solopreneur, there’s no chance of it at all. If you’re an extroverted person, working from home has the potential to drive you crazy. If that sounds like you, you might want to consider trying a co-working space or working from a coffee shop, even if just for a few days a week. If you’ve always been surrounded with coworkers and like that vibe, working from home with only your thoughts for company can be a big adjustment.

Now this looks like a group of coworkers the minute their boss left for vacation, if I remember office life correctly.

Wardrobe Change. Working from home in your pajamas/workout clothes/yoga pants and a Biggie tee (which you should have if you don’t already) can be awesome. Add in no need to do hair and/or makeup, and you’ve made things real easy. But, there’s something to be said for the sense of motivation that putting on work clothes can give you. It feels normal to plop down on the couch at 10:00am and watch HGTV when you’re in your pajamas, but if you put on work clothes and do that, things might feel off. If you know yourself to be someone who struggles with motivation or discipline, you might want to force yourself to put on work clothes every morning to get yourself into business mode. If you’re just starting out your work from home adventure, maybe try it both ways. If you are equally productive in sweats as you are in business casual, go for comfort. But if you can tell you slip into weekend mode if you’re in your pajamas, it might be time to change (literally). Both options are there for you, but make sure to choose wisely.

Office Space. It’s super important to dedicate some space in your home to work. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have an actual home office, but if you’re not, even the corner of a room can work. I used to work at a desk in my bedroom, then at my kitchen table, and now, lying down on my couch (which I wouldn’t recommend but I have a vestibular disorder than makes looking down at screens really difficult, so I have to lie down with a pillow on me and my laptop on that so I’m looking up). The one thing I’ve always tried to do though is make sure that whichever area my “office” is in is my only office. When I was able to work at a desk, I rarely did any work outside of that little corner. When I worked at my kitchen table, no work was done in my room or living room. And now with my couch office, not only have I never worked from any other part of my home, but I’ve never even moved to the other side of the couch! This dedicated work space area helps not only with focus, but it prevents your entire house or apartment from becoming your office, which is not good for work/life balance.

To Do List Battles. Even if you have a dedicated home office, it can be easy to get distracted by the household To Do list. You go the kitchen and refill your coffee cup and notice that sink seems to be draining slowly, so you should see if you can fix it or call the plumber. You take a bathroom break and remember how you’ve been meaning to clean out your medicine cabinet. You go to your room to grab a sweater and start thinking about donating all of those clothes you never wear. Those are all things that need to be addressed–but not while you’re working. Passive chores that allow you to take a 5 – 10 minute screen or phone call break–like running or emptying the dishwasher, doing laundry or throwing something in a Crockpot–are great. But organizing your closet, scouring your bathroom or baking a cake for the bake sale at your child’s school? I wouldn’t make stuff like that a habit if you want to be productive with your job.

No no, you don’t have time for that if your work To Do list is as long as I think it is.

Neighborly Love. If you live in a single family with no neighbors in sight, you luck out here. But you live in a busy neighborhood or a building with other units next to, above or below you, you will, inevitably, encounter some noise. Talking, yelling, laughing, footsteps, music, vacuuming, pictures being hung up and the dreaded construction and renovations noise pollution. If you’re the type who is bothered by that (I certainly am), you have to learn to ignore those sounds or block them out with music, white noise or noise canceling headphones. For a lot of people, noise distracts them from their work, but you really have to fight or figure out ways around distractions when you work from home. If you’ve come from an office where you’ve gotten used to the sound of phones ringing, copy machines copying and coworkers chattering, the different working-from-home sounds might throw you at first.

Keep ‘Em Separated. When you work from home, it’s easy to have no real end to your work day. I’m certainly guilty of this, as clients who have received 11:00pm emails from me can attest. But you have to draw the line somewhere when it comes to work/life separation. My advice is to try to end your workday at a certain predetermined time then put away work stuff, close  business-related tabs on your laptop and stop answering calls or texts. If your home office or work area is not in the same space in your home that you would hang out in after work, that helps. But if it’s all in the same space, you might really have use your willpower to end your workday. I believe in you.

If you want to be productive when you work from home, it really all comes down to discipline. You have to learn to block out or work around the distractions, while also not letting your whole home become your 24/7 office. It’s a balancing act, but if you can figure out the right balance for you, you’ll probably never want to step foot in a traditional work space again.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

NuFACE Mini: Two Months In

Some things (or people) seem so great at first, then they disappoint you and you think “Why did I even go on Bumble again?,” or whatever. I’ve tried many a beauty product that gave a fantastic first impression, then after a while, became kind of “eh” for me. When I do find a product I truly love–like MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation, Clarins Beauty Flash Balm or Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops–it becomes part of my beauty family. In order to receive that honor, it must do what it claims and do it well.

The NuFACE Mini has earned its spot in la famiglia, that’s for damn sure. I’ve been using it for a little over two months, and I continue to be as impressed as I was when I wrote my original review. I’m still using the second setting, but I’ve recently bumped my usage up to six days a week. After three months, I may go down to five or even four days a week, but I plan on graduating to the highest intensity level then.

As a reminder, here’s what I looked like on Day 2 and Day 30 of using the NuFACE Mini.

An undeniable improvement.

I didn’t take as many photos my during my second month of NuFACE Mini usage, but I’ll share what I have, just for you.

I completely forgot the Before on Day 39, but I never said I was perfect.

Then I remembered!

Day 40. The Before & Afters are less drastic now, because the cumulative effects have really kicked in. But if you look closely, you can see how much tighter my skin looks in the After, as well as the brow lift the NuFACE Mini gives me.

Ignore the outfit change and check out that glow! The texture of my skin has improved since November.

NuFLEECE on Day 45.

I might be aging backwards a little.

Day 59, with a full face of makeup.

And one more Before & After. The changes are more subtle as the weeks go on, but I can see the tightening happening on my cheeks and jawline.

 

Day 65. Taken in my winter home, which has garbage lighting compared to my Newport home. And full disclosure–I am wearing top lash mascara and undereye concealer in these pics.

And the final comparison. Day 2 and Day 65. My skin looks tighter, the lines around my mouth aren’t as deep, my brows look lifted and my skin looks less dull. Are you convinced yet?

Really reppin’ RI with my sweatshirt and tee shirt choices.

Again, I don’t work for NuFACE and this isn’t a sponsored post. But I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this device, and I know several people who gifted or received a NuFACE Mini over the holidays, so hopefully this helps. Why not start this decade off with tighter, glowy-er, prettier skin?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

2020 Game Plan

Me this past New Year’s Eve, contemplating my moves for the next decade (or watching people walk by in gorgeous gowns and suits).

The Roaring 20s are here! I don’t know if you can take the name from a previous decade, but I’d like to. I’ve always been very drawn to the 1920s. When I watched The Great Gatsby, Boardwalk Empire and even the flashback ballroom scenes from The Shining, it felt familiar to me. I love Art Deco decor, and a past AB Beauty logo was inspired by an Art Deco ring.

I did a 2018 Game Plan and now it’s time for a 2020 one. (I skipped 2019 because I apparently don’t like odd number years.) I have areas of my life I’d like to improve upon, but I don’t like to call them New Year’s Resolutions because…well, I like being different.

Let’s get to it.

Balancing Act. I’m not quite all work and no play, but I’m definitely more work than play. Usually by a lot. I don’t think true balance is realistic for an entrepreneur, but I’d like to tip the scale more towards the play side. I’m off to a good start in Charleston for the winter, where I don’t take clients and have shorter works days, but the challenge is keeping that up all year long. I will do my best!

A Different Kind of Makeover. I moved into my Newport apartment in April, and girl, do I love that place. I went crazy decorating and getting new furniture the first few months, then wedding season buried me and I left my HGTV mindset. I have a list of things I want to get/do to make the rooms in my little palace look more finished, so I’ll attack that when I return to RI this spring.

I’ve already gotten new bedding and a new lamp, but I need a headboard or something, right?

Biz Goals. I have a new offshoot business idea I want to work on, but it’s been stalled due to some health issues. Once I feel well enough to go after that, I will. Hopefully I’ll have something big to announce in 2020!

Well Read. I used to be what you might call an avid reader. I love books so much that I haven’t had a TV since 2003. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point, I ran out of new books, didn’t have anything in my bookcase I felt like re-reading (for the 15th time) and apparently forgot about the library. I’ve been getting back into reading the last few weeks, and I plan to keep that up, like a good little bookworm.

Run, Forrest! I got sick before Thanksgiving and that stuck around for a few weeks, then things go too wintery for running (for me, anyway) in Newport. But now that I’m in Charleston, no virus in my system and no snow or ice in sight, I’m going to get back to my running. I’ll keep it going once I get back to RI, since there BETTER NOT BE SNOW ON THE GROUND WHEN I RETURN.

Patience Is A Virtue. Just not one I have. I’m painfully aware of how impatient I can be, and I’m not proud of it. I’ve been trying to do better with that lately, basically by telling myself to calm the hell down as soon as I feel impatience bubbling up. I’m not saying I’ll be all Zen by 2021, but my goal is to be less of a Joe Pesci character when something doesn’t happen at the speed I want it to.

This is what I imagine patient people to look like. Maybe I just need to close my eyes more…

Third Eye (Not) Blind. Even though I haven’t always listened to it (oh hey, every guy I dated in my 20s), I have good intuition. I also sometimes have premonitions about things that happen soon after. I think this little psychic-y part of me could be sharpened up, so I want tune into that more. I don’t know exactly how, as sometimes it seems to be stronger than other times for no apparent reason, but something tells me having more of a balanced life will help.

Help More. Years ago, I had an actual New Year’s Resolution to make one donation a month. I’ve kept that up since (not bragging). This might sound cheesy, but I think part of the reason we exist is to help other people by making their lives better in some way. I looked into volunteering at local hospitals and nursing homes a while back, but they understandably wanted a regular commitment, which is hard for me to give with my inconsistent schedule. I want to do something more than the donations, but I’m not sure what is realistic for me. I’m going to work on this in 2020. Suggestions welcome.

No More Guilt Trippin’. This ties into my life balance issues. I feel a lot of guilt when I’m not working. My guess is a lot of business owners feel the same way. I’ve been working on this, but it’s a tough one for me because there’s always work to be done. I think the only thing I can do is tell that little voice that says Why aren’t you updating your job tracking system?/Revising your templates?/Researching stuff for the new business idea? to shut up. I’ve worked my ass off for almost a dozen years now, so I know I deserve breaks and time off, sans guilt trip. I don’t know which part of my brain is attempting to sabotage that, but I’m trying so hard to quiet it.

So, that’s my 2020 game plan. Some of these areas are going to be easier to work on than others, but I’m ready to step up to the challenges.

I hope your year is everything you want it to be. Have a beautiful day 🙂

In Case You Missed It: A Pretty Addiction’s Most Popular Blog Posts Of 2019

I’m a goal chaser. I like setting them, I like achieving them and I like looking back and assessing my progress. One of my goals in 2018 was to publish one blog post a week. I checked that off the list, then decided to do it in 2019 as well. Since we’re now in the last full week of 2019 (what? how?), this seems like a good time to do a roundup of each month’s most popular blog posts. In case you missed any of those gems, here they are:

Per Request: My Skincare Routine. This could use an update, as I’ve made some changes to my skincare routine recently, but I still stand by my advice and suggestions.

My MAC Eyeshadow All Stars. No updates here! This is a solid list.

My Newport Recommendations. Going to The City By The Sea? If you’re looking for bar and restaurant recommendations in Newport, RI, allow me to save you a Google search.

How To Help Out The Entrepreneur In Your Life. I know you know at least one!

The Eyes Have It. Trying to up your eye makeup game? This post can help.

Product Review: Glossier Cloud Paint. No surprise here. People were asking for a review after I posted about it on Instagram.

Well, Thank You! Who doesn’t love a compliment?

My Top 11: The Skincare Edition. To celebrate 11 years in business for AB Beauty, I did a series of “Top 11” posts in August. This one was the crowd favorite.

Product Review: Glossier Balm Dotcom. I guess y’all like Glossier reviews!

Product Review: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm. One of my 2019 obsessions. This has replaced the Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil I mentioned in my Per Request: My Skincare Routine post.

My Hopefully Slightly Helpful Guide To Ireland. Should I be a travel blogger instead? 😉

Skincare Device Review: NuFACE Mini. This is quickly becoming one of my most popular posts of all of 2019. Check it out!

It would make me so happy to know that you liked any of my 2019 posts! I try to make them informative, entertaining and easy to read. I hope I’ve achieved–or even partially achieved–that goal. If there’s anything you want me to post about, holla at me.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

The Ex(perience) Factor

At AB Beauty, we want you to be this happy not only with your hair and makeup, but with your entire experience. Photo: Rebecca at Photography by Nikki Cole Hair & Makeup: Allison Barbera Beauty

I know, I know. If you’re looking for a wedding hair and makeup team, you probably mainly want to see pictures of looks you like and rates that are in your budget–not a long blog post about why you should choose an experienced company. Photos and rates are of course important factors, but because I want you to have not only beautiful bridal hair and makeup but a smooth, easy process with your hair and makeup vendor(s), I have to write this post. What I want to tell you about is just as important as getting that low, messy-but-not-too-messy updo and that glowy makeup that also brings out your eyes.

While you absolutely should choose a talented hair and makeup team, if you want the whole package from your beauty vendor, it’s not just about the perfect hair and makeup looks. There is so much that goes into the wedding hair and makeup process–starting at your initial inquiry and ending after (yes, after) your wedding day–that hiring people who are great at hair and makeup does not mean you’ll have a good experience and get your money’s worth.

There are a ton of wedding hair stylists and makeup artists out there, but if you choose a new company that doesn’t have experience with the business side of the wedding beauty process, you could be in for a headache at best (if you consider that “best”) or a disaster at worst. I can’t tell you how many brides have contacted us over the years because their wedding hair stylist and/or makeup artist fell through, sometimes the week before their wedding. I’ve also heard countless stories of clients who couldn’t get a hold of their hair stylist or makeup artist for weeks, were over-charged or given the wrong rates, had surprise charges sprung on them the day of, worked with a company who refused to make or stick to a day-of schedule causing the wedding to start hours late, etc. And these stories had nothing to do with a hair stylist or makeup artist not being talented or skilled at their craft. It had to do with lack of professionalism and, in many cases, lack of business experience.

Working with a wedding hair and makeup company should not stress you out–but it will if the company doesn’t know what they’re doing.

At AB Beauty, not only do you get talented makeup artists and hair stylists, but a company with 11+ years of experience in the wedding beauty industry. They say that when you open a business, you should choose to either do something new that fills a need in the market, or improve upon something that already exists. I didn’t exactly re-invent the wheel when I opened an onsite wedding beauty company, but I did set out to improve upon the wedding beauty business model which was, from what I was told by clients, planners, photographers, and married friends, lacking in professionalism, organization and responsiveness.

I’ve learned so much from the business courses I’ve taken, other established business owners I pow wow with, my attorney and my accountant. I’ve also learned a lot from experience, and there’s no way that can be expedited without a time machine. I’ll be real with you: I did some things wrong my first couple years, as I would say every new business owner does. But my “first couple years” were nine years ago, so I’m way over that hump. I luckily had 10 years of business experience before I opened AB Beauty, so my early mis-steps weren’t disastrous.

Have I convinced you yet that experience is important? Good! (I imagined you nodding your head.) But I’m not going to leave you hanging, armed with this knowledge but without the tools to identify the good things, the red flags and what doesn’t matter even though it seems like it should.

Insta Fake. Should a wedding beauty company have an Instagram account? Of course! But does it matter how many followers they have? Not really. Instagram has been cracking down on this lately, but people can buy followers. So you could be looking at a page with 10,000 followers, but any number of those could be fake. When you’re checking out a business’s Instagram, first take a look at how many posts they have. If it’s under 50, you’re likely dealing with a new company. Even if they have a lot posts though, scroll through and see if what they are showing actually applies to what you want to book them for. If their page is 90% haircut photos and 10% bridal hair styling, they might not do that many weddings. Same for a makeup page that shows 90% special effects or editorial makeup photos with 10% bridal makeup photos. Between buying followers, buying likes (yes, people do that too) and retouching photos, Instagram can fake a lot. I do recommend checking out a company’s Instagram, but I wouldn’t base your booking decision off of that alone.

Scroller, beware.

http://www.itshouldexist.com If a wedding beauty company you’re looking at only has Instagram, that’s a little suspect. Where’s the background about their company? Their rates? Information about the services they offer? Yes, visuals are essential for beauty company, but that’s not all there is to it. Websites may seem old school to some people and I agree that can be accurate for certain types of businesses if they only have a website. In the wedding beauty industry though, I think it adds legitimacy to a business if you see that they have a website in addition to other social media (Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest being the most popular in the wedding beauty industry). Creating a website (or hiring someone to) requires more work and/or money than starting an Instagram account or Facebook business page. That shows that–at least at some point–the owner was investing more effort into their business, aka taking things more seriously. That can translate into them taking their clients more seriously, and isn’t that the kind of vendor you want to hire?

Main Hustle. When choosing a wedding beauty company, it’s a good idea to see what else they’ve got going on. Are they a salon or spa that also does weddings? Are they a weddings and events only onsite company? Is this a side hustle for the owner? If you choose a company that has a team of 10 or more people and does I would say 75+ weddings a year, in my perspective, running that company correctly, efficiently and in accordance with the law and tax code is a full time job. If doing weddings is a side job for an owner or is a small part of what they do overall, I would be very clear on how devoted they are to weddings before booking with them.

Some companies primarily do salon and/or spa services but they have a bridal coordinator who handles weddings, which works to your advantage. But for other businesses, weddings are not their focus, which could mean you are not their focus. Some salons–and I want to be clear when I say some, not all–do a lot of in-salon weddings but few onsite weddings, so they might not be as familiar with the factors that need to be thought of when going to a hotel or rental home (parking, set up, scheduling, bringing fully stocked kits and supplies with them, handling payments, etc.)

If you’re considering booking with an onsite only company, it’s a good idea to find out what else (if anything) the owner does. Are they on set 60 hours a week? Do they rent a chair to take salon clients when they’re not at weddings? Do they have another job completely outside of the industry? Those things are all completely fine (and I’ve done two out of three myself), but if there is one person handling all bridal communication, you might want to make sure they are someone who will be able to frequently check and respond to emails, calls and texts so you’re not left waiting for answers for days at a time. I worked as a school secretary then office manager for my first two years in business, but I didn’t have many clients then, nor did I have a team to manage until I went full-time with my business. But I still made sure to check emails and texts throughout the day and responded to calls during my lunch breaks and after work. And there was always downtime on set when I could respond to my bridal clients, but I still kept my film work to a minimum and stopped doing it entirely four years ago so that I could be more available for my wedding clients. Hey, I have to justify my actions here 😉

The People Have Spoken. When you’re looking for a wedding beauty company, I beg of you, please check the reviews! WeddingWire, The Knot, Google, Facebook and Yelp reviews can help you learn about a company from other brides’ perspectives. (WeddingWire and The Knot tend to be the most helpful, as they are wedding-focused and where most people think to leave reviews of wedding vendors.) A company’s photos will tell you if they can create the kind of looks you want for you and your bridal party, but their reviews will tell you about some equally important factors–responsiveness, professionalism, personalities, punctuality, etc.

Like anything else, reviews can be faked, but I know that WeddingWire, The Knot and Google at least have filters in place to verify reviews and/or help prevent bulk, bot or otherwise fake reviews from being posted. If you see a company with 100+ reviews, that’s a good sign that they are legit. But if their overall rating is low, well, that tells you something too. A company (if they’re smart) will only show the good things, but reviews can uncover some of the bad. If you want to see an example of good reviews, check out the AB Beauty WeddingWire reviews. With a 5 star average and more reviews in the beauty category than any other company in Rhode Island, you know we must be doing something right!

Going through reviews? Good job! Just make sure to dress like an off duty spy while you do it.

Sign On The Dotted Line. Before you book with a company, it’s a good idea to ask them about their contract. First off, if they don’t do contracts, run. A text saying someone will do your wedding hair and makeup is not legally binding, so you’re leaving yourself open to a last minute cancellation by the company (and no recourse for you) if you don’t sign a contract. When you do connect with a company with good reviews whose esthetic you like and whose rates fit in your budget, it’s a good idea to ask them about their contract. Is it an online contract? If not, you’re either going to have to meet up in person to sign it, or do something with printing, mailing and/or scanning. Is that do-able for you? I mean, only 23% of Millennials have printers. (I made that up.)

Maybe a hard copy contract isn’t an issue for you, but if it is, you may want to find a company you like who does online contracts. A lot of new companies won’t have an online contract because they can’t afford the expense, or because they don’t know it’s an option (and one that most clients prefer). And when a new company creates a contract, if they haven’t consulted with an attorney–another expense that some new companies can’t afford–it may not be a solid contract. We’re talking about your wedding day here, and I don’t want to see you go through the headache of a hard copy contract if that’s a hassle for you, or end up booking with a company whose contract may cause problems down the road.

Credit Check. Another important factor in choosing your wedding beauty company might be their payment options. 61% of couples who pay for their own wedding do so using credit cards (and that’s a real statistic). If you’re planning on using a credit card to pay for your wedding beauty services, check with the vendor(s) you’re considering before booking to make sure they accept credit cards. A lot of new companies don’t accept credit cards because they can’t afford the credit card processing fees. (There are ten states where companies are legally required to cover the fees themselves, but many businesses outside of those states eat that fee, as it can be a turn off to potential clients to be charged a credit card processing fee.) So you may come across companies who don’t accept credit cards and that’s not going to work for you, it’s important to know that before booking.

On Your Terms. A company you book with should be able to tell you about their payment terms without hesitation. If they can’t give you any information about that, they are likely either inexperienced or unorganized, neither of which you want in a wedding vendor. A company who knows what they’re doing will be able to give you clear information regarding accepted forms of payment, payment deadlines and any other pertinent information that affects your money. They will have a legitimate invoice and will be able to provide you with receipts. Any confusion around payments has a good chance of stressing you out, and that’s probably not what you want when taking on the already stressful wedding planning process.

You have every right to know when your payments are due and what forms of payment are accepted, so think twice about a beauty vendor who can’t give you clear and quick answers about payment terms.

The Technicalities. Without a doubt, you want someone who is experienced with the technical side of doing wedding hair and/or makeup. But just because someone has years of experience doing hair and/or makeup, it doesn’t mean they have experience running a wedding beauty business. If someone has been doing wedding hair for 15 years but they’ve never worked in a small business or had any desire to handle the business side of beauty bookings, that may very well affect your experience. The majority of the people I’ve interviewed have told me they don’t want to have their own business because they don’t like the client communication and business side. They solely want to focus on creating beautiful hair and/or makeup looks. That’s perfect for AB Beauty, as I take care of what they don’t like to do. But that “I only want to do hair/makeup” thought is common in the beauty industry. It’s a fantastic quality in someone who freelances or works for a beauty services company, but not in an owner.

You want the person doing your hair/makeup to love what they do. But if they have no interest or experience with contracts, invoices, payments, creating schedules, coordinating appointments, etc., do you want them to be the vendor you interact with? Some people (like me!) enjoy and are experienced with both sides of the wedding beauty services transaction. And others may focus on the beauty side but have a business partner or employee who handles the business side, which is great. I’m just saying, if you’re considering a wedding beauty company, don’t be fooled by years of beauty experience alone. You deserve to work with a company who not only creates a gorgeous hair and makeup look for you, but who can make the business side of the process easy, clear and efficient.

I equally enjoy running a business, doing makeup and drinking prosecco.

A lot of beauty companies are opened by people who love doing wedding hair and/or makeup, and following your passion can lead to great things. But if the owner of a wedding beauty company is not experienced with running a wedding beauty business, unless they have someone who is working with or for them who is, the owner’s lack of experience will likely negatively affect your interaction with them.

I hope that this has been helpful to you if you’re in the wedding planning process. Planning a wedding can be crazy stressful, but if you hire experienced, professional, responsive vendors, you can minimize that stress. The first vendors you will likely interact with on your wedding day are your hair stylist(s) and/or makeup artist(s), so do you want those first faces you see to be people you’re happy with because they’ve made the process easy and clear for you, or people who’ve dropped the business ball at every turn? I think we both know the answer to that.

Have a beautiful day 🙂