When I first heard the term “acid mantle,” I thought, Is that a metal band I have no right listening to? Or a shelf above a fireplace stacked with LSD? Turns out it’s neither. It’s a very fine, slightly acidic film on the top of the skin. It acts as a protective barrier against bacteria, viruses and contaminants that might have otherwise penetrated the skin. It’s made up of the water, sebum and perspiration that our bodies naturally produce.
You’re probably thinking “Why are you telling me this, Allison? I read this blog for product reviews, makeup how-to’s and your brilliant writing, not biology lessons.” I’m telling you because knowing what the acid mantle is and how an unbalanced one might be causing your breakouts, dry skin or skin sensitivity could be helpful to you. Even if you have normal skin, it’s important that you know about the acid mantle, as you are stripping it off every time you wash your face (which I know you now do regularly, as I’ve repeatedly suggested), and that can make you sensitive to products that otherwise wouldn’t irritate your skin.
You know how your skin can feel a little dry and tight after cleansing? That’s the feeling of the acid mantle being stripped away. Your more likely to get that dry, tight feeling–some people call it the “squeaky clean” feeling–when you use cleansers that contact astringent ingredients. A healthy skin has a pH balance of around 5.5, which makes it acidic. When the skin gets too alkaline from being stripped (or from systemic issues), that can cause the acid mantle to thin out. A depleted acid mantle makes it easier for bacteria, pollutants and allergens to penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. That means an increased chance for breakouts, allergic reactions and overall skin sensitivity. If you have sensitive skin, there is a good chance your acid mantle is on the fritz. And since a messed up acid mantle can cause breakouts, it’s something to think about if your blemishes seem to be coming from nowhere.
In normal function, the acid mantle rebuilds itself after it has been stripped away, but it takes a little time. That’s why I suggest waiting 15-20 minutes after cleansing before applying most products. Some moisturizers or hydrating masks are fine, but with something more potent like retinol or Vitamin C, you should wait before applying. If you’ve ever experienced stinging or irritation after applying a product, and you’ve applied that product immediately after washing your face, it may not be the product that’s the problem. If you’ve had a major reaction, don’t use that product again, but if it was just minor temporary discomfort and redness, it may be worth trying it again but doing so 15-20 minutes after you wash. (I recommend applying to only a small area so you see if your skin reacts.)
If you wash your face with bar body soap,stop that right now. That stuff is super alkaline and will really strip your acid mantle and dry out your skin. Please switch to a facial cleanser, which will be way more gentle on your skin.
Repeatedly using harsh products and stripping the acid mantle, especially if you then immediately apply a product, will likely set you up for skin sensitivity, dryness and/or breakouts. It’s so easy to not use bar soap and to wait 15-20 minutes to apply products after cleansing. These are pro tips I’ve giving you, folks. I like for people to be able to put their best face forward, and it all starts with skincare. So be nice to your acid mantle! It’s only trying to protect you.
I like a little imperfection. A crooked smile, a beauty mark, or two different colored eyes can make a face more interesting and beautiful. I think a lot of people are with me on this. But there is one imperfection that everyone hates–a blemish. One zit can be a bummer and widespread acne can take a real toll on a person’s confidence.
Luckily, there are ways to prevent and treat all types of blemishes. The culprits are always either dirt, oil, bacteria or a combination of them. Hormonal imbalances can spark breakouts, as can food allergies, sleeping with makeup on and using the wrong products for your skin. Let’s talk about the different kinds of blemishes and what you can do to prevent and treat them.
Whiteheads are small blemishes with a raised white surface. There is little or no redness associated with whiteheads. They are caused when excess sebum (aka oil) and dead skin cells clog the follicle (aka the pore). Whiteheads have a thin covering of cells that trap the sebum and dead skin cells so that they can’t oxidize. Because of this covering, they are also referred to as closed comedones. They can appear anywhere on the face or body. You also might see whiteheads on area that has been recently waxed because the follicles are temporarily opened post-wax and if you touch the area, you can easily transfer oil into the follicles. And if the esthetician uses an oil-based treatment after the wax, that can cause whiteheads.
Treat Them With: A combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is the only acid that can penetrate the follicle and exfoliate from within and benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria inside the follicle. You can get this combo by using a cleanser with salicylic acid, like Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser, in the morning and a spot treatment like Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion at night.
These blemishes look like tiny black dots. They are most common on the nose and chin. They do not have any inflammation or redness associated with them. Blackheads are caused when excess sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria get trapped in a follicle and oxidize. In normal function, that bacteria can make its way out of the follicle, but when excess sebum is present, it clogs up the follicle so the bacteria has nowhere to go. The melanin in the dead skin cell oxides and turns dark, then essentially peeks through the follicle. There is no layer above the trapped dead skin cells but they can’t be naturally pushed out of the follicle because the sebum has clogged it up. Because there is no layer between the trapped matter and the top layer of the skin, blackheads are also called open comedones.
Treat Them With: Salicylic acid. The chemical exfoliation powers of salicylic acid break down the sebum and push the bacteria and dead skin cells out of the follicle. Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Eliminating Spot Gel is a great salicylic acid spot treatment. Extractions done by a licensed esthetician are the way to go if you prefer to outsource.
These buggers are red, inflamed and often painful to the touch. They can appear anywhere on the body but are most common on the chin, neck and jawline. They do not have a white head so they can not be extracted.
Treat Them With: A combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is the only acid that can penetrate the follicle and exfoliate from within and benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria inside the follicle. You can get this combo by using a cleanser with salicylic acid, like Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser, in the morning and a spot treatment like Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion at night.
Pustules are like whiteheads on steroids. They have that same raised white surface, but the area around that surface is red and inflamed. They are typically bigger than whiteheads and may appear more yellow than white.
Treat Them With: A combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is the only acid that can penetrate the follicle and exfoliate from within and benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria inside the follicle. You can get this combo by using a cleanser with salicylic acid, like Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser, in the morning and a spot treatment like Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion at night. Don’t attempt to pop these bad boys. Let a licensed esthetician do it, as they have been trained to properly do extractions without causing scarring.
Severe Acne: Cysts, Nodules and Acne Conglobata
Nodules are hard acne lesions which can be felt deep under the skin. They appear on the body, most often on the back and chest, and are painful to the touch. They are red and inflamed and take a long time to disappear.
Cysts, like nodules, start deep below the skin’s surface, but they are softer because they are filled with pus. They develop when the contents of blackheads and/or whiteheads leak out into the surrounding area. The immune system sees this spillage as an attack and forms pus. Cysts can also take several weeks to fully go away.
Acne conglobata can affect the body and face. It is the most uncommon type of acne and has no known cause. It consists of abscesses and scars caused by cysts and tracts under the skin.
Treat Them With: A visit to the dermatologist or other specialist. Severe acne requires a customized treatment plan that sometimes includes antibiotics. If you don’t want to go that route, try consulting with a naturopathic or homeopathic doctor or an Ayurvedic practitioner. I personally have great results when I go the holistic route for most issues I have experienced, and I did have breakouts that were only eliminated after taking Japanese herbs. Eastern medicine and holistic methods typically treat the systemic root of the problem instead of just the symptoms. I’m no doctor, but I suggest doing what feels right for you.
Tips for All Types of Acne
Wash your damn makeup off… If you don’t consistently and thoroughly remove your makeup, you have no right to complain about acne. Even if you don’t wear makeup, you still have to wash your face every night. If you think your face doesn’t get covered in oil and microscopic debris from pollutants every day, you need a reality check. If you have acneic skin and are not on any prescription acne medication, I recommend removing your makeup first with a makeup remover like Dermalogica PreCleanse then following with Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser. If you are on acne medication, please speak to your dermatologist about what cleanser you should use.
…But don’t over-cleanse. It may feel like overcleansing gets your skin cleaner and removes the oil, but when you remove too much oil, your body kicks into overdrive to produce more oil. That excess oil can easily lead to breakouts. Unless you have an extremely oily skin, cleansing only at night is enough. If you are very oily, I recommend using an anti-acne cleanser at night and a gentle cleanser, like Fresh Soy Cleanser, in the morning.
Clean your phone. Your phone screen gets covered in dirt, oil and bacteria every day. When you talk on the phone, you are putting that dirt and bacteria onto your face. Oh, you only text? Unless your hands are always squeaky clean and you never touch your face, you are still transferring that dirt, oil and bacteria. If you have a landline phone at home or work, make sure to regularly clean that off too.
Change your pillowcases regularly. Oil and sweat from your face and scalp can absorb into your pillowcase, creating a wonderful place for bacteria to breed. A fresh pillowcase every few days may help prevent blemishes.
Spot treat correctly. If you are using a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide spot treatment, only use a small amount on the actual blemish. Do not use spot treatments on unblemished skin, as they will likely cause redness and irritation. Spot treatments are best if you only have a couple of blemishes. They are not meant for a full face breakout.
Mask your feelings. Maybe don’t do that, but consider face masks. If you have combination or oily skin and are prone to breakouts, using a charcoal, sulfur or clay based mask once or twice a week will absorb some of the excess oil that could be contributing to your breakouts.
Exfoliate chemically. As you read above, some types of blemishes are partially filled with dead skin cells. If you regularly exfoliate, you are removing some of the dead skin cells that could otherwise end up inside a blemish. Chemical exfoliants are generally more effective and gentle, so most dermatologists and estheticians will recommend those over physical exfoliants. (If you use prescription retinol, that exfoliates for so you can skip this step.)
Do not pick or pop. The best way to create acne scars is to pop and pick at your blemishes. A licensed esthetician can do extractions for you if you have a blackhead, whitehead or pustule, but you really should not mess with that yourself. Acne scars can only be corrected by laser treatments, and sometimes those don’t even fully do the job. Those treatments can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars so take a look at your bank account next time you are tempted to pick or pop.
If you have acne, I really feel for you. I have been there before and know it’s a serious confidence killer. But there are ways to treat all types of acne and ways to prevent it. Hopefully this post has been helpful for those of you struggling with acne and for those who just want to minimize the chances of getting a blemish.
If you are a licensed esthetician or cosmetologist (or will be after completing school and passing your exams) and you are looking for a job doing wedding hair and/or makeup in RI or MA, have I got the blog post for you!
I own Allison Barbera Beauty, a beauty services company based out of Newport, RI. I have been in business since 2008 and currently have 11 regular Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists on my team, primarily for wedding and event services. Thanks to my talented team, the fantastic people who refer us and our stellar reputation, we have more business than we can handle. I am always hiring for Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists and I have a strong need for at least two more makeup artists and one hair stylist at this time. Like I have work for you right now. Seriously!
Because the wedding industry is seasonal in New England, this is a part-time job. But it can be a very lucrative gig that requires little of your time. If you love doing wedding hair and/or makeup and want to make money on some of the weekend days during the spring, summer and fall, this could be the right fit for you.
I realize there are a ton of companies in the area who hire Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists. I don’t know the inner workings of these companies and really, it’s none of my business. What I do know is what I can offer you as an Independent Contractor for AB Beauty. From what I can see and what I’ve been told, this combination of things is not available at other companies. Interested in what AB Beauty brings to the table? Read on.
I’ve Got It Covered. I get all of the jobs and handle all of the client communication from initial inquiry to photo posting and the million things in between. I do all of the scheduling, trial coordination, invoicing, follow up, etc. I am organized and detail oriented to a fault. I will tell you where you are going for a job and make sure you have contact numbers, know where to park, which hotel room to go to, if there is a certain elevator to use, etc. If you work for AB Beauty, my goal is to make sure you get to do what you love without stressing about locations, schedules and other details.
I Will Bust My Ass For You. I work seven days a week. I have no kids, no husband, no pets, not even a houseplant that I need to water. My energy is put into making AB Beauty run smoothly and grow exponentially. I want to get my artists and stylists as much work as possible and I want them to enjoy working for me. I am always open to feedback and doing whatever I can to make the job easy for each artist and stylist. When someone on the team contacts me, I respond as soon as I see the call, email or text. I refuse to hold up people’s lives by making them wait a couple days for an answer or information they need. This is not a side project or hobby. This company is my life and I take it very seriously.
I Mean Business. My favorite game as a child was a little something I made up called “Small Business Owner.” No joke. I come from a business background. I opened my father’s real estate business with him when I was 15, and went on to be an Office Manager at other small businesses. I graduated with a degree in American Studies and a concentration in Business. I take business webinars, frequently consult with other business owners and am always reading at least one business book. I have great relationships with my accountant and attorney, so everything at AB Beauty is run as it is supposed to be. I constantly network, promote and make valuable business connections. You might not think this matters, but trust me, it does. And you may not realize that until you work for someone who has no business background. They could be the nicest person ever with an impressive makeup kit and an jealously-inducing hair portfolio, but if they do not know how to run a business, they will inevitably crash and burn. If you are working for them when that happens, your income is immediately reduced. Someone can be an insanely talented hair stylist or makeup artist, but that doesn’t mean they can run a business. And do you want to work for a business that is not run effectively or efficiently? I’m going to bet that you don’t.
Do Your Thing. As an Independent Contractor, you are legally allowed to work for other companies. I have had people who work at salons, spas, makeup counters and beauty supply stores as well outside of the beauty industry at office jobs, restaurants and even as a dental hygienist. I understand that as an Independent Contractor, you have to piece together your work. I hope to someday have full-time employee positions with benefits and trust me, I have plans in the works. But until then, you can work other jobs and work for AB Beauty, building the schedule that you want.
I Respect Your Time. When you work for AB Beauty, you will always know your schedule for a wedding one month in advance. If any change requests are made by a client after a wedding schedule has been finalized, I first ask you if you can accommodate the change–even if it is only by ten minutes–before committing to it. I know that as an Independent Contractor, you may have other clients scheduled before or after a wedding, and the jobs for those clients are also part of your livelihood. I also recognize that people have personal commitments and childcare arrangements to consider. I would never want you to lose out on one of your own clients or be late picking up your son because I didn’t confirm a schedule or forgot to tell you it changed. I am also an Independent Contractor (for corporate and commercial work) and I often don’t know get schedule until the night before a shoot. That makes it hard to plan anything, but that’s part of that world. However, I can prevent that from happening with jobs you do for me not only because of the nature of weddings and events, but because of the policies I have for AB Beauty clients.
Experience Is The Best Teacher. There is nothing like experience and I’ve got over eight years of it in the wedding beauty industry. (Eight years of weddings also means we have a huge and steady referral base from past clients.) I also have almost 20 years of overall business experience, as I mentioned above. How does that benefit you? The client interacts with me and is always responded to quickly and clearly. There is no confusion that spills over when you are doing their hair or makeup. That means you walk in to work with a happy client, not one who is mad that I neglected to tell her about hair extensions pricing until that day or never sent her invoice. I frequently get asked about Bridezillas, but I’ve never encountered one. I think that’s partly because angry, high maintenance clients can be created when they consistently get confusing answers or a lack of information from their vendors. I long ago figured out what clients want and need from their wedding beauty service provider and I built my company around those wants and needs. That knowledge and experience is invaluable and impossible to find in a company who hasn’t experienced it yet. AB Beauty has done hair and makeup for hundreds of weddings and events. I don’t remember the last time I got a question that I had never heard before. There are some things that no matter how a good a new company is, they just have not experienced yet. Do you want to work for a company that has already been through it all and worked out the kinks, or one who is still figuring things out?
I Got The Dream Team. My current artists and stylists are the best. Everyone gets along, helps each other out and has fun. We don’t do that gossipy, catty thing the beauty industry is unfortunately known for. Everyone looks out for the other people on the team, and that’s not something I have ever asked them to do. But when you have a group of good people working together, it happens naturally. I have seen AB Beauty artists and stylists exchange tips and techniques, and I do that with them as well. Everyone on the team is friendly, welcoming and happy to help each other out.
Our Reputation Is Killer. Check out our WeddingWire and TheKnot reviews as well as the testimonials on the Allison Barbera Beauty Weddings Facebook page. We currently have the highest number of reviews in RI on WeddingWire with an average 5 star rating. We have fantastic SEO–we are within the first few organic results for several relevant wedding hair and makeup Google searches. We also get tons of referrals from clients, vendors and venues we have worked with before. Along with the artists and stylists on my team, I have worked hard to create an experience that exceeds clients’ expectations. Doing that has given us the kind of solid reputation that ensures success not only for the business, but for the artists and stylists who work for AB Beauty.
As owner, my goal is to get my artists and stylists as much work as possible while making that work as easy as possible. I see myself as an agent. I basically get the jobs, offer them to you, and work out every detail so you can work with happy, informed clients. You do what you are passionate about then bill me for it. I take care of everything else.
If you love doing hair and/or makeup but do not love the business side or the responsibility and years it takes to build a profitable business–something that is becoming much more difficult as the market becomes saturated with beauty companies–we could work really well together.
If you are interested in joining the AB Beauty team, please email me at Info@AllisonBarbera.com. I look forward to adding more rockstars to the team.
I recently saw a post from a Facebook friend saying that she was sick of the term “girlboss.” She wants to get rid of that term and use “boss” instead because “girlboss” implies that women are not equal to men. She also pointed out that there is no “boyboss” term used. (I agree with that observation but looked on Instagram to confirm. There were about 1,700 “boyboss” hashtags, but only used in reference to male babies and children.) I saw her post around the time she had liked one of my Instagram posts–which had a girlboss hashtag–so I’m guessing my Insta post had something to do with her Facebook status.
I wasn’t insulted, but it got me thinking because I always cringe a little when I use the term “girlboss.” I’m technically a boss but at 34 years old, I’m not a girl. So it’s half accurate, and I’m not normally in the habit of half-assing things.
I use “girlboss” on Instagram because it’s a hashtag that many people react well to. My Insta account, allisonbarberabeauty, is a business account. I post things that may look personal, but I relate everything to beauty or entrepreneurship. So for my purposes, Instagram is a business marketing tool used to get more exposure. Although my posts are genuine and I don’t buy followers, I am aware that my hashtags need to be relevant to things I post and need to attract the people who might like them. I wouldn’t use a hashtag I hated (I’m looking at you, #iwokeuplikethis) and if you look at my posts, you can see I do minimal (if any) filtering/editing to keep it real, but I do use hashtags that I think will give my posts more exposure. And “girlboss” is one of those hashtags.
Although part of me sometimes hesitates before I #girlboss a post (or use the term on this blog), I admire Sophia Amoruso, the woman who coined the term. Sophia is the founder of the successful Nasty Gal clothing company*. She has built an extremely impressive company (and has had recent success in offshoot ventures), which she wrote about in her book #GIRLBOSS. When I do question my use of that term, I remind myself that it’s Sophia’s term, and she is killing it the business world. If an entrepreneur I didn’t admire coined the term, I’m not sure I would use it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this and wondering if there is a better term. “Boss” is fine, but it I find it lacking. “Ladyboss” doesn’t make me cringe as much, but I don’t think I’m proper enough to be a lady. “Badbitch” would be my top choice, because my life has been shaped by women like Lil’ Kim and Trina. But it doesn’t have the same entrepreneurial connotation, although it should. If you successfully run a business, you are badass.
The point of that Facebook post and articles I’ve read denouncing the term “girlboss” is that it minimizes women entrepreneurs. Like they are not a real bosses, just the female version of bosses. Some people say women who use the term are hurting the feminist cause. That school of thought is something I have a huge problem with. I am a feminist. Everyone who works for me is female. I’ve had one male work for me, and guess what? He was paid exactly as much as everyone else on the team. In every wave of feminism in the last 100 years, there have been people who said wearing makeup was in opposition to feminism. (I could write a very long post on that, but instead I’ll continue to wear my makeup while I hire women and create jobs that help the economy.) Maybe feminist girlboss shaming is the new feminist makeup shaming?
This post has been my version of thinking out loud while I decide if I want to keep #girlbossing. I’m glad my Facebook friend posted that status because it made me think about something that has never 100% sat well with me. I like to periodically reevaluate the way I do things, both and my business and personal life. I realize that certain ways of thinking, company policies or even makeup application techniques may have served me well at one point, but need to be changed if a better way is available. Self improvement and business growth are both immensely important to me, and I could do neither without stepping back, looking at what I do and deciding if there is a better way. That’s a real badbitch move, right? (Trying that one on for size.)
Have a beautiful day🙂
*On my finally edit of this post on 11/11, I learned that Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy. In my mind, that does not take away from what Amoruso has accomplished.
I don’t know what I did to make everyone so mad at me! I used to be able to fly by under the radar. People would occasionally talk about shrinking me down to size but their methods didn’t work. I’ve been splashed with cold water more times than I can count, but that never effected me. After a few half ass attempts at changing who I am, people would generally give up and let me live my life.
Oh, but now! Everyone wants to minimize me! And what an insulting, condescending euphemism for what they really want to do to me–they want me gone forever. And I did nothing to them, other than make them appear a little less smooth. Is that a crime? I don’t believe it is.
My life is now in danger as Public Enemy Number One in the beauty world. Before you try to minimize me (I spit on the person who coined that term) please know that I am who I am, and I wish to cause you no harm.
In esthetics school, I was taught that pore size is genetically determined and pores can not be shrunk. I learned that you can make them look smaller by extracting blackheads but nothing can be done to shrink them. That’s not entirely true anymore, but shrinking pores still can not be done at home or without a prescription. A dermatologist or laser tech can perform non-ablative laser treatments, which can boost collagen and tighten stretched pores. Those treatments do technically make pores smaller. Accutane was banned a few years ago, but generic versions still exist and those anti-acne pills temporarily shrink oil glands. That makes the pores smaller while you are taking the prescription. Other than those options, shrinking pore size is not possible.
What you can do is keep your pores unclogged by cleansing daily, using retinol or exfoliating regularly and having extractions done during a facial. Pores are much more noticeable when they are clogged, as they stretch to accommodate the dirt and oil inside of them. When the dirt and oil is exposed to air, it turns dark and blackheads appear. Those tiny black dots are never a good look, right? So clean pores are much less obvious, although they can still cause makeup to settle inside of them.
The other thing you can do–and this is what I’m really here to talk about–is use a pore minimizer. The best one I’ve ever tried is Benefit The POREfessional. If your pores are clean and free of blackheads, this light tan silky balm temporarily fills in pores (and fine lines–bonus!) allowing face makeup to glide over smoothly without settling into those pores or lines. It also mattifies any area you apply it on and does not clog pores.
Benefit calls The POREfessional a face primer. It is one, in the way that makeup applied to any areas with pores or lines applies more smoothly. I don’t use it on the whole face, as most people only have large pores and fine lines on certain areas, so I apply it before primer. (I get the longevity boosting factor from a different primer, because I don’t think the POREfessional really extends the wear of any face makeup applied on top of it.) You can also apply it over makeup to touchup if those pores/lines start showing through later in the day.
The POREfessional is one of the staple products in my pro kit and in my personal makeup bag. There are many products that don’t do what they claim to, or only kind of do their job. But this pore minimizer absolutely does what it’s supposed to. If your makeup is settling into your pores or fine lines and making them more obvious, I 100% recommend that you try this.
You may be stuck with the pore size you were born with, but because of The POREfessional, no one needs to know that.
It’s the last post of the Decades of Beauty series! It’s cool that it only took me five years to finish it, right? That’s not that long in the scheme of things. I mean, I covered nine decades in five years. That’s actually quite impressive.
This post will cover beauty trends up through 2010. That decade is called the “aughts”, which is a weird word. It sounds like something a person trying to be cool would say. Like “Bro, you remember that time in the aughts?” I personally prefer “the early 2000s” or “the previous decade.”
Anything after 2010 is part of the decade we are in, so I can’t write about that for another three years. Maybe I’ll be on schedule for that post. Maybe.
Although I lived through it and started my career as a makeup artist during the previous decade, it is difficult to write about in a way because we are not far away removed from that decade to see all of what was cheesy, weird or trendy. Some of what became popular 10 or 15 years ago is still popular today. But other trends–zig zag parts, anyone?–were short-lived enough to easily write about. So I’m gonna give this a go.
Ten years made a big difference in what was considered an attractive skin tone for Caucasian women. In the early 90s, pale skin was attractive. Even if foundation made your skin a little lighter, that was no big deal. By the early 2000s, tanning beds, self tanner and bronzer were mad popular. Bronzed beauties (that’s the magazine world’s term, not mine) like Jennifer Lopez and supermodel Gisele Bundchen were emulated. Self tanner and bronzer continued to get less orange-y and better formulated, which is a positive. But the rise of tanning beds/booths brought about “tanorexics,” or people addicted to the tan they got from those machines. In the areas of the country I lived in between 2000-2010, there were tanning salons in every section of each city. Melanoma occurrences increased significantly between 1990 and 2010, which I think could be partly due to fake tanning. Those who were lucky enough to not get skin cancer from regular fake tanning almost certainly have some skin damage today. I am kicking myself for tanning in high school and college. I didn’t do it regularly, but I’ve had five pre-cancerous moles removed in the last six years, and I think tanning booths/beds played some part in that.
Okay, off my soapbox. My point is that tanned skin became a desirable look in the early 2000s and is still part of the beauty world today. If it was out of fashion, there would be a much smaller self tanner market and spray tan techs would be struggling. I get it–I am one of those people who likes to (safely) look tan. I get a spray tan a couple times a year, and I’m a pretty regular Jergens Natural Glow user. I say it’s because I think tan skin looks better with my coloring–dark eyes, hair and eyebrows–but maybe I’m more influenced by the tan trend that I thought.
For women of color, ten years made a huge difference in what was available for foundation shades. More lines developed shades that would match all skintones. Some lines, like IMAN Cosmetics, were specifically created for darker skin. There are still some companies today that need to catch the hell up and add some darker colors to their lines, but the options have definitely improved and continue to grow.
Mineral makeup became big around 2005 due to the success of the bareMinerals line by Bare Escentuals. It seemed like for a while there, everyone was swirling, tapping and buffing. I always ask clients what they normally use for foundation and although I still hear “bareMinerals,” I hear it less than I did a few years ago. I think that’s because women are getting less afraid of liquid foundation, as there are so many great ones now on the market. (Some gals have also gone down the BB or CC cream routes.) In the last decade, we said goodbye to the days of only full coverage, all pink-undertoned shades available.
The trendy eyebrow of 2000 was a lot thinner than the trendy eyebrow of 2010. It was fuller than the early 90s brow, but not quite Cara Delevingne level. One of the big differences between the brows of ten years ago and today is the level of brow powder or pencil used. Filling in brows wasn’t a thing for the average woman in 2006, but as you may have noticed if you’ve ever been on Instagram, it’s almost standard now.
Whatchu know about the smokey eye? This trend became extremely popular in 2007 and stuck around for several years. It was hands down the biggest request I got when I started working as a professional makeup artist in 2008. I still get the request, but now it’s more like “Can you make my eye makeup a little smokey?” A true smokey eye is shades of eye makeup done on a gradient. So the darkest color is closest to the lashline and the colors used get lighter as you move towards the crease. (On the lower lashline, it’s darker at the lashline with a lighter color or colors under that.) The smokey eye started in the 1920s, so this trend, like many others, is a recycle of something that’s already been done. The difference between 2007’s smokey eye and 1927’s smokey eye was that a) There were many more eyeshadow colors and textures to choose from in 2007 and b) Brows weren’t the thin, low, drawn-in brows of the Jazz Age, and brow style makes a huge difference in how a smokey eye looks.
Lashes started getting a lot of love (and sometimes, abuse) by the end of the early 2000s. False lashes have been around since the 1920s, but other than a resurgence in the mid 1960s had been mostly the domain of models and celebrities. I don’t know the exact statistics on this, but I feel confident that false lash sales have increased dramatically since 2010. Lash extensions are also very popular and using Latisse to increase lash growth had its moment. New mascaras that promise the world come out every day, and the creation of new, supposedly groundbreaking mascara wands–many of them garbage–started around 2006. The desire for long, full lashes became so strong that cosmetic companies were using false lashes in their mascara ads and got called out on it. That is true false advertising. (Ohhhh! Killed it.) Companies now have to put disclaimers on ads saying the model is wearing “lash inserts.” I think that happened because I bitched about it so much on Facebook and this blog…
Your lipgloss be poppin’? You know it was if you were under 35 between 2000-2010. The glossy lips trend gained traction in the late 90s and went strong up until the past few years. The trend now is matte lips, although I keep seeing runway trends of glossy lips trying to be a thing again. (It’s all cyclical, folks.) Nude lips were also very popular during the previous decade, especially when paired with a smokey eye.
Acrylic nails, particularly with a French manicure, were the go-to look for nails up to about halfway through the previous decade. By 2010, 63% of nail salons were offering the new popular nail polish option–gel manicures. This type of polish, if you can even call it that, was invented in the 1980s but due to some product flaws and limited education on the service, faded out for 20 years. From what I can tell–and this could just be the part of the country I live in–gel manicures are now considerably more popular than acrylic nails. In the almost 40 weddings I have personally done this year, I have seen acrylic nails exactly twice. Everyone else has had gel manicures, which tells me this 2010 trend is still going strong.
What was hair looking like in the last decade? Up through 2005, chunky highlights, zig zag hair parts and two-toned hair–think Cristina Aguilera during her “Dirty” era–were big. Flat iron mania hit around 2008. The flat iron itself had existed for over 100 years, but with its ceramic plates and adjustable heat settings, the flat irons of the later part of the last decade were far superior to their predecessors. And so, flat ironed hair became popular. Smooth, sleek and shiny was the goal, and a good flat iron and the right products could deliver.
Hair extensions had been used on models and actresses forever, but during this decade, that secret came out and they became mainstream. African American women had been getting weaves (sewn or braided-in extensions) for years, but the hair extensions I’m referring to were mostly clip-in, glued-in or taped-in extensions. Extensions are still popular today. Just ask the legions of guys who have put their hands through their girl’s hair and felt a clip, bead or tape.
While having a lot of hair on your head was a good thing during this decade, having hair elsewhere became undesirable to many. Chances are you never even heard of a Brazilian Wax–unless it’s some type of candle I don’t know about–before 2000. But starting around the beginning of this century, it became a common service offered by many salons and spa. Laser hair removal, which can be done on any body part, became popular. The majority of hair removal service clients are women, but some men have jumped on board too. Steve Carell’s chest waxing scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin comes to mind…
Injectables like Botox, Juviderm and Restylane became mainstream in the middle of the last decade. Chemical peels and lasers that reduce pigmentation also grew in popularity. More dermatologists and estheticians came out with their own skincare lines and regular facials became more commonplace. A greater emphasis was placed on clear, youthful skin during this decade, and that has only increased in recent years.
There are a lot of other areas related areas I could get into–YouTube beauty tutorials, the creation of Instagram and its influence on the beauty industry, the effect of HD filming, the start of the extreme retouching era, etc.–but I suspect you’ve had enough.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and any of the other Decades posts you may have read. I love learning about the trends and backstories of those trends from different decades. But when it comes to trends, I say don’t follow them because you feel you should. Choose products, looks and styles that best flatter and work with your features, skintone, coloring, hair type, etc. Looking and feeling your best will always be in style.
Six years ago, I wrote an email to my friends describing the perfect day I hoped to have once I was running my business full-time (which happened six months later). Reading it now, some of it was spot on but other parts were way off. Remarks from Present Day Allison are in bold. It’s not the perfect day I would have if I was a lottery winner–although I would still work if I was–but rather my perfect realistic day. You’ll see what I mean.
Below that is what I hope my perfect day will be in another six years. I may look at this post in 2022 (or will it just transmit into my brain when I think “blog”?) and say, You crazy, bitch!, but hopefully some of it is accurate. This is sort of a time capsule blog post, with appearances from Past, Present and Future Allison. Future Allison is my favorite, because she’ll have even more experience and wisdom and her skin will look the same as it does now because of retinol.
Job Status: Two years into running AB Beauty part-time. Working full-time as an Office Manager at a construction company Monday-Friday.
Living In: Newport
When I roll out of bed on a weekday, the first thing I do is count how many days until Friday. I like my job as much as I can like a non-makeup job, but that still doesn’t make me want to go every day. When I roll out of bed for a makeup job, my first thought is, Let’s do this. In the next few years, hopefully I’ll be rolling out of bed to go to makeup jobs on weekdays and weekends. You will, but you’ll spend the majority of your time running your company. Also, don’t use the word “roll” so much.
In the meantime, in the spirit of the law of attraction, You loved that book, didn’t you, Past Allison? I’d like to share with you my perfect daily schedule.
7:00am: Wake up. I don’t mind waking up earlier for a makeup job, but if I don’t have something super early, I’d like to wake up at a decent hour. Your “decent hour” is now 6:00am. You’ll start preferring earlier wakeups as you get into your 30s. You’ll like that it gives you more day.
7:05am: Check emails, respond to anything urgent. Yes, you will do that before rolling out of bed. (There you go. One “roll” per day. That’s the new rule.)
7:45am: Go for a long walk. I have no problem walking five or six miles, and I much prefer it to running. The reason I don’t do that walk now is because running is quicker. But if I double or triple the amount of time I’d run and go for a walk instead, I think the calories-burned scoreboard will be even. It’s a lovely idea, but as usual, I think your calories math is off. But you are correct that running is more time-efficient, so you’ll aim to do that for 45 minutes or so most days, during the evenings in the summer and late morning in fall, winter and spring. Don’t worry, you’ll get in plenty of walking for your errands and back and forth to your OFFICE/STUDIO, which you start renting in 2013. You thought that would take many years to get to, but you (as usual) reach your goal ahead of deadline.
10:00am: Shower, spend a solid hour doing my makeup. Create something new and beautiful or interesting every day. More often you work from home in your pajamas and don’t even make it into the shower before 12:00pm. You only do a full face of makeup if you have clients, meetings or appointments. That typically takes 20-30 minutes, and you do it while watching “Chelsea” (Chelsea Handler’s new show that you will be obsessed with) or comedy specials on Netflix (look up Amy Schumer right now and go see her!). You still love doing your own makeup as much as ever, and yes, you still use Diorshow.
11:30am: Become a makeup machine. Trials, photoshoots, event makeup. Bring it on. I’ll fuel up on Zone bars and eyelash glue fumes. The middle part of your day during the week is sometimes spent doing makeup, but more often spent running the business. (Fridays – Sundays are straight weddings and trials from April until November.) Also, you switch to Quest Bars. But don’t worry, you are learning to get balance in your life. You have started doing this new thing where you dip out mid-afternoon once or twice a week to meet a friend for a drink. Still vodka and club or Stoli Doli cocktails, because the classics never go out of style.
7:30pm: Go home, work on writing. You are usually either getting back from a run or still working (sometimes from home, sometimes from your office/studio). Writing at this time of day is not advised, as your brain is mush from working all day. Your creativity peaks in the morning, before the tasks of the day have taken over.
11:00pm: Nuh-night. You try to end your work day by 8:30pm or 9:00pm. Sometimes you fall asleep at 10:00pm, but your body clock normally defaults to an 11:00pm shut down, so that doesn’t change much.
Now obviously my days will be different depending on the type of jobs I’m working on and what my social schedule is It’s minimal but improving, but I’m looking forward to working seven days a week. Good! Because that’s what you will do. Or not. If I want to take three days off to go on a long weekend trip, I’ll be able to. Hahahahaha. NOPE! Who is going to run your business while you’re out gallivanting, you ding dong? Also, you’ll have shit for money until around 2014 so the only trips you will be taking are to your mailbox to see if any client payment checks have come in. You’ll be able to kind of start taking vacations in late 2015 but you’ll still have to do varying amounts of work while you’re away. True “time off” is not a reality yet in 2016. Another great thing about being my own boss is if I need to go to the doctor’s, get an oil change, or even run out to grab a coffee, I can do it without asking permission first. Absolutely. And you are forever grateful for that freedom. That may not be a big thing to some people, but it’s huge to me. I need freedom in my life. If you cage me in, I’ll break out at some point. Still true. Maybe more so.
Job Status: Running AB Beauty full-time. Operating locations in multiple cities with the help of several Office Managers, a Social Media guru and a giant team of top notch makeup artists and hair stylists.
Living In: Newport from May – October, Charleston November – April
6:30am: Wake up slowly. Stretch it out, say a little thank you for my awesome life and gently get myself out of bed. I like to ease into the day.
6:45am: Check email reports from the capable and self sufficient Office Managers at the various branches of AB Beauty. Confirm that everything is going smoothly at all locations. Smile.
7:00am: Drink my coffee (like so standard, which has replaced the term “basic”), do some writing. Maybe put on a face mask because a 2019 study showed that multi-tasking prevents cancer.
10:00am: Shower, apply my makeup, half ass do my hair. Create the perfect look for my outfit and my mood, using all products from my insanely successful makeup line.
11:00am – 7:00pm: A mix of coming up with or executing The Next Big Plan for my beauty empire, meeting a friend/relative for coffee, lunch or dinner, teaching a business class or makeup lesson, going for a run and doing volunteer work for my non-profit, Bring Real Hip Hop Back.
8:00pm: Go to a comedy show or a private Biggie hologram concert.
10:30pm. Another thank you for my bomb-ass life and all the people in it. Then lights out.
I think that is attainable, don’t you? (I plan on finding and befriending a hologram maker in the next two years, so that Biggie concert is not as difficult as you might be thinking.) From past experience, I know that some of what I think may happen in Future Allison’s life might wrong, but the general ideas are probably close. Looking at what I wrote in 2010 and what my reality is now, I underestimated how much time I would be able to take off and how long my work days would be, but everything else was accurate or damn close. So I feel confident that I’m not too far off with my 2022 life.
And now, Present Allison needs to end the writing portion of her day and get going. She feels good about both her current life and what’s to come. She wants to take a second to thank Past Allison for her hard work and ask Future Allison which eyebrow shape is trending in 2020.
It’s been a while since I’ve told you what I have in my personal makeup bag, so I’m sure you’ve been patiently waiting for this post. I’ve done a few of these posts over the years, and some of the products in my bag have never left me (except to be replaced by new, full versions of themselves). Others are new to the crew and may or may not make the cut.
Here’s what we’ve got.
Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture SPF 15. This moisturizer is affordable, gentle and great for normal to oily skin in the warmer months. I usually switch to a richer moisturizer for the fall and winter when my skin gets dry and flaky, but I don’t know if I’ll need to do that now that I use face oil. Time will tell. Until then, I’m sticking with this tried and true product.
MAC Face & Body Foundations in C2 & C5. I use a mixture of shades C2 and C5, depending on how much self tanner I have on. I absolutely love this sheer foundation (which can be built up to medium coverage by simply rubbing it into the skin for longer). I also sometimes use the darker C5 on my ghostly legs because I don’t feel the need to make people aware that I’m 25% Irish. My freckles and propensity to Irish goodbye a party take care of that.
Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. This is still the best primer I’ve ever tried. I use this when I know the makeup I put on at 6:00am needs to stay strong into the evening. Laura Mercier also makes hydrating and oil-free versions of this primer for dry and oily skin. If you want your makeup to last all day, you have to use a primer. There is no way around that. I think it’s actually a law in most states.
Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit in Shade 2. Shade 2 of this powder highlight and contour duo suits my light (but not super fair) skin. I’m not big on highlighting my own face, so the contour powder gets more love. I don’t like a strong contour, but I was in the wrong line for “good bone structure” when features were being given out, so I can use a little help. (I did, however, accidentally get in line twice for “tiny feet” and “thick hair.”)
MAC Powder Blush in Pink Swoon. This matte, soft candy pink powder blush really brightens up my face. I use this particular shade on a lot of clients too. If you are tired, sick or hungover, an even skintone and a pop of pink blush will make a world of difference. So unless you are a teetotaler who always gets eight hours of sleep and never even catches a cold, you should have good pink blush in your makeup bag.
Benefit the POREfessional. This pore minimizer is a must for She of the Large Cheek Pores. I also use it to blur the slight forehead lines that have developed in the past few years (from wisdom, obviously.) I have been buying this product since it came out and I don’t intend to stop. If you have no visible pores or lines on your face, you probably don’t need POREfessional. Also, we can’t be friends.
Clarins Multi-Active Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 20. I don’t use this every day, but if I’m going for a walk or run during the day in the summer, I apply it first. It doesn’t leave a white cast (my sunscreen pet peeve) or break me out like many others. But it does smell similar to the Raid I once used to kill a bee from 10 feet away (I’m allergic and it was in my house! Not sorry), so I get a little flashback anxiety when I put it on.
Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in 001 Transparent. This pressed powder has been with me since AB Beauty makeup artist, Jen, recommended it to me. It does a good job of setting my foundation and eliminating shine without caking. I would like it even more if I didn’t consistently drop and break the cover within two weeks of buying it. That’s not Rimmel’s fault though. That’s on me, rushing around in the morning and knocking things over with my butt (apparently I got in line for that twice as well).
MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NW20. My undereye coverage godsend. This stuff masks my dark circles, lasts for hours and doesn’t cake. I use this concealer on clients as well for those reasons. It’s not thick or dry and as long as you prep the undereye with a little moisturizer first, it applies smoothly. It’s a real winner.
Charlotte Tilbury Mini Miracle Eye Wand. I usually use the MAC Pro Longwear Concealer for undereye coverage, but this two-sided pen–moisturizer to prep the area, concealer to do its thing–saves me about 10 seconds because it’s an all in one. I sometimes I feel like that will make a difference in my day. You either know exactly how I feel or think I’m crazy for saying that, but either way, I’m doing it.
Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Marine Boosting Mist. Someone gave me a sample of this spray which is supposed to be a primer, setting spray, hydrating mist and skin refresher. That’s too multi-use for me to believe, so I use it as a skin refresher. That means I spray it on if I think my foundation is looking cakey (not Face & Body, but sometimes when I try a new one). It helps dilute the foundation so it doesn’t catch on dry patches. I won’t buy a new one when it runs out, but it’s nice to have until then.
Too Faced Shadow Insurance. My Holy Grail of eye primers. Without this, my eyeshadow fades and creases within hours. (One more thing I got in line for–oily eyelids.) Whenever I do my eye makeup without applying this first, I regret it.
MAC Eyeshadow Quad. I bought a MAC empty quad duo and filled it with Brun, Espresso, Wedge and Brule (all matte formulations). Brun is a muted blackish brown I use for shadow liner and to fill in my brows; Espresso is a muted golden brown I use for the lid, outer V or as a shadow liner; the soft beige taupe Wedge is my crease go-to color but also sometimes my all-over lid color and Brule is a light creamy beige shadow I use on my lids. These four shades work well with my brown eyes, which I like to pretend are hazel.
MAC Eye Kohl in Costa Riche. This dark brown shade of pencil liner has red undertones, which help bring out the green in my eyes. (The other thing that somehow makes them look more green is crying, but that’s not as pretty.) I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect brown pencil eyeliner since Topshop discontinued my beloved Sable, and Costa Riche is my latest attempt. It goes on smoothly–no tugging on the lid–and is easy to blend out, as a kohl liner should be. Plus, I love that it brings out my green like Sable did (it had tiny reddish glitter flecks which did the job). I haven’t experienced any undereye smudging or crease transfer and the color payoff is great, as is the case with most MAC products. I wish it was maybe a tiny bit darker, but that’s a preference thing, not a product downside.
Dior Diorshow Mascara. This is my true homegirl of makeup products. Maybe we don’t talk for a bit (aka I try a new mascara) but we always reunite. She is simply the best. And I know Diorshow is a She because a He mascara would be much more flaky and wouldn’t stay around as long.
Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume Mascara. This is my current top layer and bottom lash mascara. I like how black and inky it is, but it does sometimes smudge a tiny bit under my eyes. I generally really like Clinique mascaras for my top layer and bottom lashes, so I’ll try a different one next.
Ardency Inn Punk Eyeliner. I’m not usually a liquid eyeliner gal, but someone gave this to me so I’ve been using it. It’s a liquid liner pen with a hard tip. It’s more of a gray black than an inky black, which I don’t care for. It doesn’t move once it’s dry, but it also fades quickly. Once I’m through with this one, we’ll part ways. (Also how I approach dating.)
Topshop Waterproof Eyeliner in Ebony. “Blackest black pencil eyeliner and waterline best friend.” That would be this eyeliner’s epithet. If I’m being honest, the liner splits its time between my makeup bag and my handbag, because waterline eyeliner is something that needs to be touched up. It’s waterproof and sets quickly so I don’t like it for lashline liner (I like something I can smudge a little), but for the waterline, it’s bomb.
MAC Chromographic Pencil in NC15/NW20. It’s technically an eyeliner pencil, but I’m also technically in my mid 30s and have blue streaks in my hair, so I’m not really one for doing things the way you’re supposed to. I use this off-white color on the waterline to make my eyes look bigger or more awake. True white is too obvious, but off-white gives the desired effect in a natural way.
Too Faced Lip Injection. I have very little top lip to speak of. So when I want to temporarily make my lips fuller and am in the mood to endure five minutes of stinging, I apply this plumping gloss. Say what you will, but this ish works. It has a rosy tint to it, which I don’t love because straight rosy tones don’t look great on me, but I apply the color I want after the Lip Injection has absorbed.
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillowtalk. There is something about this pinky-peachy nude lipliner that allows me to slightly overdraw my lips without looking cray cray. The shade and velvety texture work better on me than any other lipliner I’ve tried. It’s a keeper or, as Charlotte herself would say, it’s “divine.”
NYX Soft Matte Lip Creme in Istanbul. This was an impulse buy at CVS. You know, when you go in for contact solution then you see what looks like the petal pink lip color you’ve been after for years. It turns out it wasn’t the exact color I thought it would be once it was on my lips, but it’s still decent. I find it to be a little too drying and slightly sticky, so I mix in a tiny bit of Glossier balmdotcom to make it more comfortable to wear.
Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Heftiest Hibiscus. I had a client who was looking for a specific lip color for her wedding day, but it needed to be in a moisturizing formulation because her lips get dry easily. I knew Chubby Sticks had a good reputation for being comfortable to wear and I saw one in the color she loved so I grabbed it. I also grabbed one in Heftiest Hibiscus, a pinky red, for myself. I don’t operate on a one-for-you-one-for-me philosophy–I would have never turned a profit as a freelance artist if I did that!–but I needed to make sure the formulation was comfortable to wear. So I tested mine out for a couple weeks and it passed the test. I really love this product and will definitely re-purchase it when I run out.
Revlon Colorburst Lip Stain in 040 Rendezvous. This is one of my summer go-to colors. It’s on the orange side of coral, so I use it when I want to brighten up my look. Crayons are easily to apply, and this formulation is comfortable to wear. No complaints here.
Korres Lip Crayon in Delight. And then sometimes, I want a light pink shade. This one delivers on that desire, and I do wish it hadn’t been discontinued. Life can be so disappointing…
Lipstick Queen Rouge Sinner. This baby is my go-to fall red. (My summer red, MAC Lady Danger, is still in my purse, because I’m holding on to the last days of summer.) It’s what I call a vintage red. It’s got a slight rose tone to it, but in a muted way. If it was 1948, this color would be sold out everywhere. Every LQ lipstick I’ve ever tried is long-lasting, pigmented, non-drying and has beautiful packaging. Owner Poppy King truly knows lipstick.
Tom Ford Lipcolor Sheer in 10 Rose Soleil. My cousin, Saint Maria, gave me this beautiful rose pink that’s shot through with shimmer. It’s the perfect every day polished-but-not-high-maintenance lipstick. I love how it looks layered over the Pillowtalk lip liner (as I mentioned, pure rose doesn’t look great on me but works when it has other tones mixed in). And I want to live inside that white with gold-trimmed packaging.
That’s it (for now). I realize I have more products than the average person, but what did you expect? If this post only included a tube of Maybelline Great Lash Mascara and a Clinique lipstick I bought in college, my clients would be in trouble. Part of being a good makeup artist is trying new products. The ones that pass the test get purchased (brand new, of course) and introduced to a million new friends in my pro kit. The ones that don’t pass the test get tossed in the trash, never to be spoken of again.
Maybe this post will help you if you are looking for new products for your own makeup bag or will inspire you to take a good hard look at what you currently have. Or maybe it will help you kill time waiting at the dentist’s office. Either way, thanks for reading.
It’s the finale! I’m going to miss writing these. If you’ve enjoyed reading these half as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them, then this series has been a success. If you haven’t enjoyed reading them, then what are you doing back? I’m sure there are some Buzzfeed “articles” out there waiting for you.
So let’s finish out this Pros and Cons of entrepreneurship list. After reading these four posts, you should know exactly what you want to do with your life. I’m playin’! But if something I say kicks your ass into gear, then I can and will take the credit.😉
Pros: You get to do something you enjoy. If you start a business, you hopefully choose a career that involves something you enjoy. Being passionate about something–or at least being very interested in it–is way better than working in a field you have zero interest in. There may come a point when you stop doing what the popular business book The E-Myth Revisited calls the “technician” work–in my case, doing makeup–but as the entrepreneur, you are still in the industry you want to be in. In my experience, working in a field you love makes everything considerably easier. I’ve had my company for 8+ years and I still love opening a new mascara, knowing it could become my new favorite. I still love watching YouTube makeup tutorials and learning different techniques. I still love discovering a new use for a product. And I really still love the feeling I get when someone looks in a mirror after their makeup is done and genuinely smiles. I didn’t have that kind of passion about real estate, air quality testing, the administrative side of education, food service or any other industry I previously worked in. But the beauty industry? That’s my jam.
Cons: It can take away some of your passion. As an entrepreneur, particularly if you are doing a lot of “technician” work, you may find that after a while, you like that part of your job less than you did when you started. It’s probably not that you really like it less though. It’s more likely that you feel weighed down by the business side of entrepreneurship, which requires a lot of energy. I think particularly in creative fields, having enough energy to both create and to manage, market and grow your brand can be very challenging. Speaking for the hair and makeup industries (and I think this example can be adjusted and applied to any creative job), it takes a lot of energy to listen and understand the ideas a client has and successfully execute those ideas so they are happy with their look. A lot can be lost in translation, but a good makeup artist or hair stylist can sort through it. When you give your all to creating what the client wants and then repeat that several times a day, you’re likely drained when you’re finished. But as a business owner, you probably have emails and calls to answer, invoices to send, products to order and a million other things to do after you finish with clients. For some people, that takes the joy out of doing their creative work. Everyone has their own balance they can handle, and the key is to figure that out. In the creative field, you can sometimes find a way to do more technician work than “business” work by working for an agency or as an Independent Contractor for a company. In those situations, you still have to build your brand and do some business work, but the agency or company you work for will offer you the jobs and coordinate the details in varying degrees. (If you hire others though, you immediately step into a managerial role unless you hire a manager.) If you want your business to grow, you will eventually have to find people to do most of the technician and managerial work, but eventually, you’ll have to spend more of your time on being the big picture entrepreneur. (I’m again referencing The E-Myth Revisted. Anyone who owns a business or is thinking about opening one should read this.)
Pros: You don’t have to answer to anyone. If you have a great idea, you can implement it without being impeded by policies or waiting for approval from your supervisor. No one is going to ruin your day by giving you a shitty yearly review or declining your request for one telecommuting day a week. You set your dress code, you do any hiring and firing and you decide how to handle every situation. You don’t have to worry about your boss’s micromanaging or hot and cold personality. When you own a business, you (hopefully) learn from your mistakes–because you will make plenty–instead of worrying those mistakes will get you fired. No more heart-dropping-into-your-stomach feeling when your boss says they need to talk to you. I’ve had some great bosses and some horrible ones, but the one in the mirror–even with her shiny t-zone and thin upper lip–is hands down my favorite. She lets me do what I want and blasts DMX when she’s angry, so I know we understand each other.
Cons: You have a bunch of mini bosses. Each client/customer is your boss in a way. (This may be more applicable if you offer a service.) If they book services or buy products from your company, they are essentially hiring you. And if they decide to no longer use your company’s services or buy your products, they are essentially firing you. You could have several mini bosses at a time and it’s literally your job to please all of them. You need to be disciplined. It’s easy to slack off when no one is over your shoulder. If you are not self-motivated, your business will crumble. Sorry, but it’s the truth. You may find it’s easier to be self-motivated when you are interested in your job, but if you still think you would need a constant push or the threat of someone who could fire you, stay away from entrepreneurship. This rarely happens now that I’m in my mid-30s, but in my 20s, I caught some crap from friends when I declined invites to go out on weekend nights. I very much wanted to be with them, but I also owed it to my clients to show up to their wedding awake, not hungover and sans shaky hands (never a good thing when applying eyeliner). If you are the type of person who will not only consistently go out the night before an early job but will stay for “just one more drink” each time, your business will feel like a 5 star hangover. Except instead of killing your Sunday with its headache and nausea, it will kill your whole company.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. And that’s okay! There is no shame in being an employee. You can be fulfilled and happy with your career whether you work for yourself or someone else. If what I describe as benefits don’t sound that great to you, or the bad seems to outweigh the good, then this probably isn’t your path. If you hate your current job, it doesn’t mean you should quit and open your own business. You may just need to be in a different industry. If your heart is in music but you work in banking and are miserable, see what steps you need to take to break into the music industry. It might take a while, but so what? Here’s where I insert one of my favorite quotes: “Don’t give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
Personally, my worst day working for myself is still better than my best day working for someone else. In the years I spent as an employee before I knew what I wanted to do for a career, I felt a great sense of despair. I knew what I was doing was so far from what I enjoyed, but until my friend Caroline suggested Esthetics school, I didn’t know how to take something I loved and turn it into a job. In the two years I spent working for other people after I had opened my company, I felt frustrated. I so badly wanted to be out on my own but couldn’t do it yet financially. Now that my company is established and I’m financially stable, I feel hopeful, excited and determined. There is a lot of opportunity and I have big plans. I have days that I’m angry that my website is down or annoyed that I can’t get an answer that I need from someone, but it’s rare that I stay like that for the entire day. I think the difference is that I don’t dread my job now. I don’t wish away days. Sure, there are some jobs or clients I know will be more challenging, but nothing is ever so bad that it makes re-think my whole career.
I love that I can basically do what I want. To get to that point, I did have to do a lot of what I didn’t want–doing unpaid shoots early in my career to build my portfolio, working 14 hours on set then four hours running my business when I got home, fighting with my accounting software–but the longer I am in business, the more I can turn down work I don’t need or want and hire other people to do the things I don’t like. (In fact, I have stopped doing or outsourced all of those examples.) And that’s not a hedonistic tactic. Freeing my time of the things other people can do–just as well if not better than me–is smart. It allows me to focus on expanding and growing the company, coming up with the big ideas and then making them happen.
I think it comes down to what you value. An important value for me–which you may have picked up on–is freedom. I need to be able to create a life I want without being held back, and entrepreneurship is the only way I could see to make that happen. Things might have been easier if I loved my previous jobs or not felt this deep need for freedom, but that’s not how it worked out. I know without a doubt that I’m happier as an entrepreneur than I could have ever been as an employee.
In the Usher/Lil Kim collabo “Just Like Me,” Kim raps “If I had one wish in the world, I swear to God, it would be for girls to rock pearls, straight out the oyster.” I don’t feel that strongly about pearls, but I do feel strongly about career satisfaction. Work takes up such a huge chunk of time for most of us, so I truly hope that you have found or will find what makes that time the most enjoyable, lucrative and flexible for you, whether it’s as an employee or entrepreneur.
Psst, come here. I have to tell you a secret. Closer, closer. Whoa, not that close! I don’t know you like that. But your pores look very clean. Ready for it? There is no perfect job. I hit you with some mind-blowing shit on this blog, so tell your friends. I’ll let you compose yourself before I continue.
Are you doing okay? Yeah? Then it’s time for some real talk. The truth is, you would be hard pressed to find a job doing something you love that provides benefits and as many days off as you want along with a stable, high income, no liability or responsibility for the company plus complete control of your schedule and location. I’m sorry if I just shattered your dreams like Big Pun. (If you got that reference, please leave a comment with your favorite cocktail so I can take my new best friend out for a drink.) But let me make you feel better. I do think you can check off many of those things if you have success and several years in business as an entrepreneur. However–here’s where I knock you back down–even if you form a corporation and the legal liability is still personally off of you, you are ultimately responsible for the reputation and success of your business. My point is that leaving a company you work for to open your own won’t solve all of your problems, nor will closing the doors of your own company to work for anyone else. As someone who has been an employee and a business owner, I can speak to both sides.
That paragraph was an emotional roller coaster ride, wasn’t it? Get ready for more of that. Also, be warned that this might be a 10 minute read. But the best 10 minute read you’ve ever had, baby.
I am approaching this post from my perspective and particular experience, seeing as though I can’t get inside anyone else’s head. (Once they develop that technology though, my first stop is inside Lil’ Kim’s head to find out whyyyyyyy?) I currently run my business as a sole proprietor, soon to be an LLC. I have no administrative assistant or office manager. I do this job full time, which I believe means 70+ hours a week. My company provides services, not products. I require specific talent and professionalism in my service providers, so it’s not something I can cheaply outsource like you can do with some product-based businesses. I am not part of a franchise, so I can’t speak on that. I have Independent Contractors–not employees–which is not necessary or appropriate for all industries. So a two person partnership running an S-corp that sells products and has employees, including an administrative assistant, may have a completely different view on things. (If you are that person, I’d love to hear your views on entrepreneur life. Hit me up.)
I’m going to address some of the big factors in a Pros and Cons fashion. Because who doesn’t like that format? Probably only sinners and people who read magazines back to front. I will be heavily generalizing employee jobs here. I realize they are all different and depending on the position and company may have some of the entrepreneur Pros or Cons I discuss. My knowledge of employee jobs comes from the seven jobs I had before I opened my company and the things I have heard from family, friends and clients about their jobs.
Aight. Let’s do this. I have to break Part 3 into two posts because although I’m aware of the benefits of long form blogging, I’m not sure it’s what my readers want. You’re welcome.
Pros: You can make your own hours. Dentist appointment next Monday? You don’t need to use sick time. Want to leave for a trip on Thursday afternoon instead of Friday night after work? Go for it. Your cousin wants to meet for breakfast? Tell her to name the time. Schedule flexibility is one of the huge entrepreneur benefits in my book. Even when it comes to simple things like going for a run at 12:00pm in the winter instead of after work at 6:00pm when it’s dark out, or going to the grocery store during “off hours” to avoid the crowds of people who don’t understand how to move their cart of the way, I am grateful. But the best part is being able to see my family and friends when I want (as long as I’m not booked, anyway.) I live in the same town where I went to college, so I have college friends who will make a quick trip here if they are in the area. Sometimes they can only meet for lunch or for a coffee before they get on the road. When I worked at other companies, I couldn’t dip out for a 2:00pm Stoli Doli* date with my friend who I otherwise might not see for another year. I also couldn’t do things like going to my parents’ house a few days early to help with our giant Italian family Thanksgiving prep. (A table for 40 doesn’t set itself.) I couldn’t have left work to bring my father to doctor’s appointments an hour and a half away. But now? I don’t have to ask anyone or pretend I’m meeting a client. I just fucking go. This control of my hours–essentially control of my life–is one of the greatest advantages to me. This is the only Pro for this category because it’s such a big one and encompasses a lot.
Cons: You’ll work crazy hours. I work more now than I ever did as an employee. Most of this is related to the business owner part of my job. I have a very particular way that I approach my business with policies, same day responses and regular followup, which is time consuming. I have a strong dedication to my business, which is reflected in my hours and what I prioritize. So the amount of hours I work–which I think falls under the “schedule” umbrella–is often double what I put in when I worked for other companies. I don’t take full days off because I don’t have anyone else who can answer my emails or calls, but this will change as soon as I can hire a full-time, rockstar admin assistant who I can trust with this important part of the business. You don’t necessarily get to choose all of your exact hours. When I’m doing makeup, I get to choose whether or not I take a job but I don’t get to choose the start time for a wedding (I started one at 5:15am last weekend) or a film shoot (4:42am is not my favorite call time, but I have had to report at that time before). Those early wakeups can feel brutal, but still better than having to wake up at 6:00am Monday through Friday for the rest of my working years. There is no clocking out. I remember practically jumping up from my desk and cartwheeling out the door (psych, I can’t cartwheel) at 5:00pm or whatever time my work day ended when I was an employee. I never had the type of job that required me to do work after business hours and this was also before people had email access on their phones. Those hours from 5:00pm until whenever I went to sleep were mine and work did not follow me home. If you are someone who likes a definite end to their work day and a complete separation of work and personal life, run the hell away from any thoughts of entrepreneurship. The first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do before I go to bed is see if there are any work emails or texts to address. If they are urgent or time sensitive, I have to respond. Again, this will change once I have an admin assistant, but I think it’s something that every entrepreneur will experience to some degree.
Pros: You run the show. When you own a business, you call the shots. You decide how to market your company, what service(s) or product(s) you will offer, which clients or customers you take, who (if anyone) you hire, where your location will be (if you own a brick and mortar business) and a million other things. I am someone who generally likes and does well with responsibility. Some may call that “having control issues,” but this is my blog, so I get to decide what to call it. (See how I worked that example in?) I have always been the planner for family and friends–I have a group of friends who would still be waiting to see The Fast and the Furious in 2001 if I didn’t coordinate it–so that part of my personality lends itself well to the responsibility involved with planning, coordinating jobs and running a business. You earned it. I feel a great sense of pride in my company. It has by no means done well solely because of me–I wouldn’t be where I am with my awesome Independent Contractors, my supportive family and friends, my clients and those who have referred me–but I can give myself some of the credit. I am proud of what my company has become and it’s a really good feeling knowing I had a part in building it.
Cons: You’re accountable for everything. Your specific legal liability will depend on the business entity you form and insurance you carry, but unless you are in a partnership, your business is all you. Someone who works for you angers a client? You take the fall. Water damage at your business location? You may have some help from your insurance company (and landlord if you rent), but you’re dealing with the cleanup, the phone calls, rescheduling appointments, replacing any damaged items, etc. If you go away on vacation, you have to either arrange coverage or be available for anything that comes up. If you’re an employee and someone sues your company, you might be out of a job if it causes the company to close–which is recognize is a risk–but I think that is pretty rare. If you are a business owner and someone sues your company, even if you’re an S-corp, you’ve got many sleepless nights ahead thinking of ways to recover your business (if possible), what you will do if you can’t, how to pay for the legal costs and some added anxiety if you have people working for you who depend on you for their livelihood.
Pros: You have unlimited income potential. Like Biggie said, sky’s the limit. When you own a company, your next raise is only one killer idea away. That idea doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. It could have to do with bringing on more people, improving or creating a new product/service, going after a different market, etc. Unless you are an employee who works on commission, you probably won’t have the same opportunity to increase your salary. You may be able to get promotions or raises, but in many cases, you can only get so far as an employee. Entrepreneurship allows you to potentially make as much money as you want. I am not rich–yet–but I am considerably better off financially than I ever was as an employee. I’m not a big status or “things” person, but having a good income and no debt a) Eliminates the stress I used to feel about being able to pay for things and b) Allows me to have certain experiences I couldn’t have before. I had to turn down a lot of invites from friends–a Chelsea Handler standup show, a girls’ trip to Vegas, several birthday night out celebrations–in my early years as a business owner. It was a sacrifice, but I knew I had to invest my “extra” income into advertising, marketing and better beauty products. Those things were necessary to grow my business and bring in the income needed to never have to say no to an invite because of my bank account.
Cons: You’re going to go through broke stages. No one opens a business on a Monday and is rich by Friday. It normally takes a while to turn a profit. There are variables–whether you have a brick and mortar versus an online business, how you obtained your startup funds, which industry you are in, how saturated the market is, etc.–but the average amount of time needed that I have heard and found in my research is two years. Even when your business becomes profitable, you are probably “ramen profitable” at first. That means you make enough money to cover your business and living costs with just enough money left for ramen noodle-level meals. (To my gluten-free peeps: Consider this “Larabars profitable.”) Again, the amount of time you are financially limited will depend on your living costs and business expenses, but it’s safe to expect you will be struggling at some point. If you are a freelance boss, you’re going to have slow months where you get few (or no) job calls until you build up your business and reputation. If you offer a product/service people want and know how to run a business–unless you are putting in minimal effort and spending your money foolishly–this is likely a temporary stage.
I’ll leave you there, in anticipation of Part 3b. I’m sure you can barely stand it.
Have a beautiful day🙂
*A Stoli Doli is pineapple infused vodka. Drink it on the rocks if you’re gangsta like me.