Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming

I grew up with a lot of dream jobs.  Interior decorator, personal organizer, teacher, event planner…I could go on.  But it wasn’t until my mid-20s that I realized I could take doing makeup–one of my passions–and turn it into a career.  Yes, it took me a while to come to that realization, but I’m so glad I did.

If I’m not doing a makeup job, I’m watching a makeup tutorial, blogging, researching new trends and products, or experimenting on myself.  I literally dream about lipsticks and new color combinations and I can’t look around a room or at nature without getting inspired by colors or textures.  My life is covered in makeup and I love it.

It’s a great feeling when a bill is less than I expected it to be, or I find a the perfect dress to wear to a wedding. I enjoy going to see a funny movie, or getting in a good run.  But nothing compares to the feeling I get when I’ve done someone’s makeup and they look in the mirror and say “Oh my God! I love it!”

When I’m doing makeup, I don’t think of anything else.  I’ve done makeup with viral bronchitis, a broken heart and during other times of personal stress.  During one wedding job, I damn near knocked a toenail off by stubbing my toe on a claw foot bedframe.  I get into the zone, where I’m so focused on making someone look their best or look the part that I literally cannot think of anything else.

When I leave a wedding, photoshoot, or film knowing that the clients/photographer/director are 100% happy with my work, I’m on a high.  It makes me feel good not just professionally but personally. I find it hard not to take people’s reactions personally. When you create something, it’s personal. When I can successfully take someone’s vision, get it into my head and achieve the results they’re looking for, there’s no better feeling.

I haven’t done this alone though.  I’m extremely grateful for all that referrals that I receive from clients, friends and family. I’m also thankful for people in my industry like Joe Rossi and Jennie Kay Plumb who have helped me along the way. I’m working my dream job and a combination of talent, skills, luck, and great business contacts got me there.

I can’t imagine not doing makeup, so I’m looking forward to many more makeup-covered years in this business.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

An Eyeliner That Won’t Budge: CoverGirl LiquiLine Blast Review

Remember that surprise makeup package I got? Sure you do. So let’s get those reviews started, beginning with the CoverGirl LiquiLine Blast eyeliners.

These pencil eyeliners are stubborn, and I mean that in a good way.  You don’t have to worry about these bad boys going anywhere. I tested all seven liners that I received, and not once did they smear, smudge or flake.  Once they’re on, they’re on.  They lasted through hot, humid days, workouts, and even a few tears.

That being said, if you want a smudgy look, you need to work fast. Take out a pencil brush out and get moving, because these liners set before you can say “smokey eye.”  I didn’t care for the smudger found on the other side of the pencil. I found it a little too hard, and I felt like it was tugging on my eyelids when I tried it.  A soft pencil brush (CVS Essence of Beauty makes great, affordable ones) will do the trick though.

There’s nothing I hate more than a weak eyeliner. If I want a muted color, I’ll tone it down or blend it out.  Give me color, give me pigment, or give me a friggin’ break.  Thankfully, the CoverGirl LiquiLine Blast eyeliners absolutely deliver in the intensity department. When I first tried the Blue Boom shade (a gorgeous electric blue), I actually said “Oooooh!” out loud.  I also really like the Silver Spark and I’ve been using Brown Blaze a lot on wedding clients.

These liners retail for under $10–a great value. If you want a good, long lasting liner that has serious intensity, try a LiquiLine Blast. There are very few liners that can stand up to the heat and humidity that most of the country is experiencing right now, but these liners won’t let you down.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Reason 7,678 Why I Love My Job

When I checked my mailbox after work, all I had was bills. Booooo. But when I walked up the stairs to my apartment–wohoo!–there was a package.

I didn’t recognize the return address and I’d received all of the orders I placed recently, so I had no idea what it was. The words “anthrax” and “explosive” crossed my mind, but so did “surprise makeup package.”

I took the risk and opened it.

It was a surprise makeup package! t was from the new Pat McGrath collection from Cover Girl. Pat is one of the most talented makeup artists in the industry, so I have high hopes for this collection. I’ll review it asap, but until then, here’s a peek at what they gave me:

  • Cover Girl & Olay Simply Ageless Serum Primer
  • Cover Girl LiquiLine Blast Eyeliner in Brown Blaze, Silver Spark, Green Glow, Violet Voltage, Black Fire, and Blue Boom
  • Lash Blast Fusion Mascara in Black
  • Outlast Lipstain in Saucy Plum, Scarlet Pucker, and Nude Kiss

I don’t know which guardian angel of makeup sent me all of these products, but I thank them.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Another Great Photoshoot With Robert Hare Photography

That Old Hollywood vibe. Photography: Robert Hare Photography
Makeup: Allison Barbera
Hair: Stamatia Athanasiou
Model: Allie Downing

Every once in a while, you find another professional who you love to work with. They have their vision but are open to your ideas, they produce fantastic work, and their personality makes them a pleasure to collaborate with.

I’ve worked with photographer Rob Hare several times and we just click (pun intended). Whenever Rob calls me to do a photoshoot, my answer is yes. We worked together last week for a few separate shoots.

The first shoot was a boudoir shoot for a client. She was a beautiful girl with blonde hair and blue-gray eyes. I think she looks similar to Kristen Bell. I did a brown smokey eye, bronzed skin and a nude-pink lip. And of course, lots of lashes.

After that shoot, three models came in. Allie was the ideal Old Hollywood model. On her, I did matte skin, shimmery white eyeshadow, full, arched brows, red lips and of course, the Marilyn mole. Allie was made for that look. You could have pulled the girl right out of the 1950s!

Sara, a model with amazing cheekbones, had more of a high fashion look. I contoured her face to bring out her bone structure even more, then did a soft pink eye and shimmery pink lips. For one of her outfit changes, I made her eyeshadow a little orange and changed her lip color to a matte light caramel. Sara is extremely versatile–I can’t think of a look that wouldn’t work on her.

Rob wanted a really colorful, dramatic look for Ashley and she was perfect for it. On her eyes, I used a black gel liner with purple shadow on the lids, slightly blended into the crease. On her cheekbones and up into her temples, I applied an orange blush. Rob wanted a colorful, high gloss lip color, and suggested green. So I mixed a green eyeshadow with some clear gloss and Ashley rocked it.

Stamatia Athanasiou did the hair and she did an amazing job. We’ve worked together before, and I was psyched that she was available for this shoot.

I’ll post the model pictures on my website, and on my Allison Barbera Beauty Facebook page when they are ready.

If you need a photographer for a shoot, event, wedding, or anything else, contact Rob Hare via his website. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Almost Per-fekt: Per-fekt Skin Perfection Gel Review

I recently tried Per-fekt Skin Perfection Gel in Radiant, and I loved it. It’s similar to a tinted moisturizer, but doesn’t call itself that (although it does say it “helps maintain hydration”). The formula is super lightweight and it blended in to my skin without a problem. I used the Radiant shade, which is the third darkest of the five shades, and it gave just the right amount of color to my fair skin.

It’s paraben-free, which I think is important. Parabens are preservative ingredients found in many beauty products and they have been linked to cancer. The skincare line I use is paraben-free, and I try to use as many paraben-free cosmetics as possible.

It’s a very sheer formula, so if you need or prefer more coverage, this isn’t the best choice for you. But for those of you who just want to even out your skintone and add a little bronzing effect, you can’t go wrong.

Well, you almost can’t go wrong. At $57.50 for a 1 oz bottle, the Skin Perfection Gel is certainly not a bargain buy. But if you have a Sephora gift card or $57.50 burning a hole in your pocket, I’d recommend this.

You can get it at Sephora or

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The Summer Makeup Look I’m Loving Right Now

I love summer and I love makeup so naturally, I love summer makeup. I’ve found myself doing slight variations of this same look lately and I think it’s a look that works on most people with some shade adjustments. So of course I’m going to share it with you!


* Perfekt Skin Perfection Gel blended down onto neck and chest (use whichever tinted moisturizer you prefer)

* MAC Pro Longwear Concealer for undereye circles, around the nose and blemishes

* Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in 00 Translucent all over, but concentrated mostly on the T-zone

* Benefit Hoola (a matte bronzer) on and under cheekbones, at hairline, and a tiny bit on the chin

* Sonia Kashuk Beautifying Blush in Flamingo (a perfect bright-but-not-too-bright true pink cream blush that gives some color to the face)


* Too Faced Shadow Insurance (eye primer)

* Any goldish brown eyeshadow, pressed onto lid and blended slightly into crease

* Dior Diorshow mascara or Makeup Forever Smokey Eyes mascara (new, just got it yesterday–review to follow)

* At night, I add a black shadow or smudged pencil liner (I like Urban Decay’s 24/7 liner in Zero for this) to upper lashline. I also add some of the brown shadow on the lower lashline, and MAC Smoulder kohl eye pencil in the waterline


* A semi-shimmery beige or light pink lip gloss. I’ve been using some cheapie NYC ones, but I find the pink too frosty, so I cut it with Vaseline or clear gloss.

Something Special

* I have some small, silver stars from Michael’s that I apply using lash glue. I put a few at the corner of one eye or at the top of the cheekbone.

Nothing about this look has to be too precise. It’s just an easy summer look that can be adjusted for day or night. It shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, which leaves plenty of time to enjoy other awesome summer things, like soft serve and Mudslides.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

I Know What You’re Doing

I’ve got good intuition (or at least I’m tuned into it). It’s not unusual for me to know who’s calling before I look when I hear my phone ring, or to feel that something is bothering a friend before they tell me. And I have this sense about you, reader. I know what you’re doing. You’re holding onto an eyeliner, lipstick, or foundation because it was expensive, somehow sentimental, or really pretty/cool/different, so you’ll use it…someday. But someday might have already come and gone, and your product has died. Let it go, girlfriend. Or risk the consequences.

When To Toss Products

1) If you’ve been using a mascara for over three months, it’s got to go. Not only do the formulas tend to dry out and clump around that time, but the bacteria that’s been collecting on the wand has built up like crazy and is ready to infect your eyes. Pink eyeshadow can be cute, but pink, swollen eyelids are not. Same timeline goes for liquid eyeliner.

2) I don’t care how expensive that liquid foundation was–if you opened it more than 12 months ago, say bye bye bye. Foundations will generally last one year before they’re done. If your foundation begins to separate or smell rancid before then, its lifespan is over.

3) The ingredients in cream eyeshadows and cheek colors only keep them fresh for 12-18 months. After that point they’re likely to dry out, ruining the whole creamy idea. If you use them once they’ve started to dry out, they’re going to apply unevenly to the skin. And that’s not a good look for anyone. Plus, the bacteria from your fingers (which you’re probably using to apply the product) has been sitting in that little pot (if the product is in one), waiting to cause a breakout or other reaction.

4) Lipstick, lipglosses, and retractable lipliners are good for 12-18 months. Pencil liners will last longer because you need to sharpen them, and sharpening removes some of the bacteria. If you use a lip product when you have a cold sore, throw it out or risk re-infecting yourself.

5) That turquoise powder eyeshadow you bought when you were feeling bold one day? You’ve got two years to try it. Powder eyeshadows and pencil liners are fine to use for those 24 months without a problem. Same goes for any powder product.

If you notice any smell, product separation, or drying out of a product, even if it’s before the expiration dates I mentioned, get rid of it. It’s not worth having a reaction or (gasp!) having your makeup look streaky, patchy, or weird. To protect your makeup from an early demise, keep it out of direct sunlight and don’t share with friends. And if you don’t think you’ll be able to remember when you bought what, stick a dated label on each product or tag it with a permanent marker.

And little know fact: There is a jar symbol on the bottom of each beauty product that tells you in months how long that product is good for. See?

beauty product expiration

Now that you know the deal, take that lipstick from 2012–you know, the beat up looking one that’s covered in products that broke or leaked in your makeup bag–and

Thank you!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The Pixiwoos

As a makeup artist, I’m always learning. Some things I learn through trial and error and some through reading beauty publications, but my favorite way to learn is to watch other makeup artists work. I don’t get to do that often in person, because if I’m in the same room as another makeup artist, chances are we’re both working on clients or models. What I can do though is watch makeup tutorials online.

My absolute favorite tutorials are those done by Sam and Nic, two makeup artist sisters who live in England. They are insanely talented and their tutorials are clear and easy to follow. I have watched every tutorial on their site and I’ve learned so much from them. They have covered every look you can think of, from Sophia Loren to Beyonce to Helena Bonham Carter.

Even if you’re not a makeup artist, I think you’ll find these tutorials very helpful. (You may also find them addictive, so fair warning.) If you have some free time and are sick of the shit on TV, try checking out the Pixiwoos channel on YouTube. 

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Wedding Makeup Do’s & Don’ts

If you live in New England and would rather just hire a pro for the job, AB Beauty is here for you. Photo: Snap! Photography
Makeup: Allison Barbera

Congratulations! The love of your life has popped the question. You’ve got a lot of things to decide once you start the wedding planning process, and whether or not you want to hire a makeup artist is one of them. Of course, I recommend hiring a professional who understands colors, skin types, lighting, photography, etc., but I understand that’s not always in the budget. So here are some Dos and Don’ts to help you if you decide to go it alone.

Do practice a good skincare routine, especially during the six months before your wedding. Healthy, clear skin will photograph better and will mean you don’t need as much makeup.

Don’t get a facial or have any waxing done the week of your wedding. Even if you’re not prone to breakouts or reactions, this could be the one time it happens. Red, puffy or burned skin is tough to cover, so why chance it?

Do practice your wedding makeup look several times. I suggest writing down the products/colors you use. There’s a good chance you’ll be nervous on the big day, so a written list will help take some pressure off.

Don’t underestimate the time you need to do your makeup. If you’re rushed, you’re more likely to mess something up and get frustrated because you don’t have enough time to fix it.

Do use foundation. Unless you have perfect skin, you need something to even out your skintone. A lightweight foundation like MAC Face & Body lets your skin show through while giving an even finish.

Don’t use products with SPF. There’s a debate about this amongst makeup artists, but many products with SPF contain zinc oxide, which can give a white cast to the skin in photographs.

Do use primers on your eyes and your skin. Primers help keep the makeup on, so you won’t have to worry as much about face and eye touchups. For an eye primer, I prefer Too Faced Shadow Insurance. For the skin, I like Laura Mercier Foundation Primer.

Don’t even consider using a non-waterproof mascara. Even if you think the Father/Daughter dance or your Maid of Honor’s toast won’t affect you, you could surprise yourself. Mascara streaks cut right through makeup, so why risk it? I use this Revlon waterproof mascara on all of my wedding clients.

Do carry oil blotting papers with you. The camera picks up shine, but oil blotting papers will get rid of it. Powder will cut shine too, but it can get cakey if you touch up too often.

Don’t go on shimmer overload. Every bride wants to look glowing, but shimmery products can translate as shine in photographs. It’s okay to put a little bit on the cheekbones, but do so with a light touch.

Do consider fake lashes. I use these flare lashes (bunches of 6-8 lashes, aka individuals) from Ardell and even five flares makes a difference. They really open up the eyes and add something special to the look. Try them before the wedding day though, or have a bridesmaid put them on for you. They can be tricky.

Hope all of you brides out there found this post helpful.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

A Skincare Essential: A Dermalogica Precleanse Review

Believe it or not, sometimes I wear a lot of makeup (insert sarcasm font). Primer, foundation, concealer, bronzer, blush, highlighter, powder. And let’s not even start on the eyes. When it comes to removing all of it, a cream or gel cleanser alone does not do the job. I need something that will cut through the MAC Face and Body foundation, dissolve layers of Benefit Hoola and say to NARS Copacabana “Okay, you’ve had your turn. Get off this face.”

And that’s where Dermalogica Precleanse comes in.

I first met Precleanse when I was in Esthetics school. We were trained on the Dermalogica line, and our tuition included a good amount of products. When I heard that there was something to remove makeup before cleansing, my first thought was, Another friggin’ step?!?! I’ll gladly go through 20 steps for a makeup look, but I like my skincare routine to be more streamlined.

Then I started using Precleanse. Gone were the days when I’d cleanse and tone, only to look at the toner cotton pad, see makeup residue and have to cleanse again. Using Precleanse is like rinsing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. They’re guaranteed to come out clean, even if you’re thinking, What a pain in the ass! while you’re doing it.

Here’s how you use Precleanse:

  1. Dispense a little into your hand, and apply to dry skin. Avoid putting directly on the eyes, because it’s an oil and that can sting your peepers a little.
  2. Massage the product in.
  3. Splash some water on your face and massage more.
  4. Rinse off with lukewarm water.
  5. Cleanse as you normally would.

If you wear anything other than moisturizer on your skin, using Precleanse at night is a good idea. Otherwise, you’re probably letting traces of makeup and/or sunscreen sit on your skin while you’re sleeping, allowing it to happily partner up with oil and dirt and cause breakouts.

You can buy Precleanse at or use the Store Locator on the site to find a salon or spa near you that sells it. It’s $45, but you only need a small amount. I bought a bottle last fall, and I still have plenty left.

Used it before? Love it? Hate it? Let me know!

Have a beautiful day 🙂