1920s Beauty

It’s taken me so long to get to the first Decades post because I keep learning more and more about the beauty looks from different eras. But then I reminded myself of two things 1) I can edit this post and add more info after it’s been published and 2) I’m not writing a friggin’ book here. So this is what I’ve got for now…

The Roaring Twenties, The Jazz Age, art deco, The Great Gatsby, flappers, Prohibition, silent films. These are the trigger words to help bring you into the right decade. Since history influences beauty and fashion, certain looks will make more sense if you know what was going on at the time. But this is a beauty blog, not a history class (which I would in no way be qualified to teach), so I’ll keep it brief. WWI ended in 1918, bringing a sense of lightness and fun after years of death and sadness. By 1920, women in all states were finally allowed to vote, after nearly 40 years of the suffrage movement. As a result, women felt more free than ever before.

The first Miss American pageant was held in 1921, which was around the same time that mass production of beauty products exploded onto the market. John Robert Power opened the first modeling agency in 1923. In combination with the growing popularity of films, women of the 1920s became focused on how they looked and what was in style.

The long hair of years past was chopped into bobs, a rebellious move for many. Some wore this look with small curls gelled onto the face or pulled out from the popular headbands and ribbons of the time. Dresses became shorter, brushing the knee, and a thin, “boyish” figure was popular. Gone were the corsets and restricting clothes that had been the American woman’s wardrobe choices for so long.

As with any decade, there were a few different popular makeup looks during the 1920s. One of the most popular looks at the time was a dark eye makeup, whether it was made dark by kohl eyeliner or eyeshadow (which was often dark grey or green). Mascara, in cake or cream form, was applied liberally using a small brush or wand, but tube mascara was not invented yet. Eyebrows were rounded and super thin–sometimes shaved off and re-drawn–and low on the face. Face powder, which was previously only available in pale, pasty shades, become available in more flesh-toned shades. Blush (or “rouge”, as it was called), often in orange or rose tones, was applied in circles on the cheek. Dark lip colors became popular, and lips had a very distinct shape. They top lip was rounded in a way that emphasized the cupid’s bow, and the length was shortened. The overall result was a big-eyed, almost doll-like face. Daytime makeup became less heavy by the late 1920s, but there was still an “anything goes” attitude towards nighttime makeup.

The legend goes that Coco Chanel made tanned skin popular by accidentally falling asleep in the sun. She then started purposely tanning, and for the first time in American history, pale skin was “out.” Tanned skin now symbolized that a woman was wealthy enough to summer in resort locations, playing tennis outdoors and sunbathing. In the past, pale skin signified the class level of a woman. If she was pale, she was rich enough to not have to work outside, and so paleness was desired (and often achieved by way of dangerous skin bleaching creams). Kind of makes you cringe, doesn’t it? I love learning about the looks from different eras, but I definitely do not like the idea of any one skin color being “in fashion.”

I hope that has given you an idea of what 1920s beauty was like. In American culture, it was a time of freedom and fun. This of course influenced fashion and beauty, along with other influencers like the influx of beauty products on the market and the popularity of film stars. I love 1920s beauty because it was such a departure from the looks that had been in style before that time. Long hair chopped into bobs; light, natural lips redrawn as small, bow shaped mouths in deep colors; bare eyes darkened and mascared to the max–what drastic moves! If you look at the changes from the average woman in 1915, to the average woman in 1925, you will not find many similarities. But it wasn’t just a change in appearances. It symbolized a change in American culture in regards to women. There would still be a long road ahead, but for the first time, women felt a sense of freedom they hadn’t experienced before. Love it 🙂

Dear Lucky Stars: Thank You.

Every single day I think how very fortunate I am because I found my passion and I was able to make a career out of it. My job does not feel like work, it just feels like what I am supposed to be doing. It never gets old because I’m always doing different jobs, meeting interesting people and creating different looks. The worst part of what I do is lugging my kit and chair everywhere, and I don’t even mind that because it burns calories 🙂

This post might be helpful to aspiring makeup artists who are curious about what it’s like to have a career in the industry. Everyone’s take will be different and some might view what I think are advantages as disadvantages. But because I’m so grateful to have what I consider the best job in the world, I want to share what I love.

Why I Love Weddings

Weddings are such a big day and I love being part of that. I may be biased here, but I think one of the most fun parts of the wedding day (for the bride, anyway) is the getting ready time. For many women, getting dolled up is fun–even more so when your friends are there with mimosas in hand. Maybe I’ve been lucky enough to always have great brides, but the atmosphere of the getting ready time, as I know it, is full of fun, laughter and story telling. I really love making a bride happy, knowing that having the makeup look she wants is part of what she has envisioned for her wedding day. I’ve worked with a ton of wonderful brides and have stayed in touch with many of them. I look forward to doing many more weddings. 2012 is already shaping up to be a busy season 🙂

Why I Love Film/Television

In my opinion, there is nothing like the energy of being on set, especially when you get to work with a great cast and crew (a situation I’ve been lucky enough to be in many times). I love doing film and television makeup because I get to create character looks. Usually I am sent a script first, so I can get an idea of the character and picture what I think they’d look like, makeup-wise. Then I talk to the director, because he/she is the person I’m ultimately trying to please. I also have to take into consideration the actor or actress’ skin type, coloring, bone structure, preferences, etc. And I have to be aware of the lighting, wardrobe and makeup continuity. Another big part of film/television work is touchups. The lights (and sometimes nerves) can make the talent “glisten” a little, and onscreen shine is a big no-no. Everything has to look the same for each take and it is the makeup artist’s responsibility to ensure that the makeup does not fade, smudge, or move in any way. Working in film/television can mean longgggg days, but that doesn’t bother me. And yes, seeing the finished result on the big screen, or on tv, is definitely cool. Working on a film/tv show is a teamwork situation, and if you play well with others, it can be a lot of fun.

Why I Love Photoshoots

Photoshoots are where you really get to flex your creative muscles. Sometimes my shoots are more commercial–an ad for a specific product or service, which is less artistically creative (but I still love it). But the shoots I’m referring to here are more of the fashion or beauty variety. I’m talking glossy blue lips, multi-colored eyes, retro-inspired shoots. I once did a Barbie comic book shoot and it was a blast. In these type of shoots, your responsibility is to the photographer. You have to take their vision, add in your ideas and expertise and translate it to a look that works well on the model and in photos. Sometimes you’re doing more than one look, or working on more than one model, so you have to work quickly and be on top of things. And like with film/television, touchups are key. There’s great energy at photoshoots too, especially when you’ve got a talented team of photographer(s), hair stylists, stylists and models to work with. I’ve had some of my most fun days working on photoshoots and I am always planning more.

Why I Love Makeup Lessons

There are women who have no interest in wearing makeup, which is totally fine. I have no interest in camping or skiing and I wouldn’t want anyone to say I should try anyway. I respect that some people just aren’t into makeup, but I have found that most women are. But the biggest “issue” I hear from the women I meet is that they don’t know how to do their makeup. And that’s where I come in! I love helping women figure out what colors and types of products work best on them, and sharing tips, tricks and techniques is one of my favorite things to do. I truly believe that every woman has at least one beautiful feature, and properly applied makeup is a great way to showcase that feature or features. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is when someone gets up from my makeup chair and clearly has more confidence. Some people look at makeup as a superficial thing, but I disagree. As corny as it may sound, I see it as something that reflects the inner beauty, on the outside. I know that teaching women how to apply makeup in a way that works for them is a confidence builder and if that’s superficial, so be it!

Why I Love Teaching Classes

As my mother says, teaching is in my blood. Both she and my father were teachers for a long time, and I did love playing school when I was young 🙂 I’ve learned a lot about makeup over the years, and teaching is a way for me to share what I’ve learned. Whether it’s an informal setting, like a makeup party, or a formal setting, like a beauty school or corporate office, I really enjoy talking about makeup and demonstrating techniques. I don’t think makeup artists should be the only ones who know how to do makeup and I believe that one of the most important parts of what I do is teaching other people how to achieve looks that will work best for them. And I love helping aspiring makeup artists get started. I had help from experienced makeup artists when I first started, so I think it’s important to “pay it forward.”

And that was me keeping this post as short as possible! I love doing makeup, if you can’t tell. It’s as much a part of me as my child-sized wrists or freckled skin. If I won the lottery–which I plan on doing–I would still do makeup. It’s my calling, I have no doubt about it. I get “in the zone” when I am doing makeup (this may be the same zone that I strive for, but rarely reach, when I’m running). When I’m in the zone, I can’t think of anything else except the makeup application. If I’m not feeling well or stressed or someone is breaking my heart (not that I let that nonsense happen anymore), it doesn’t make a difference. Until I’m done doing the makeup, it is impossible for me to think about anything else. And that is definitely a blessing.

So that’s a little glimpse into my makeup-covered world. Thanks for reading.

Have a beautiful day 🙂


I’ll admit that I’m not the fastest when it comes to “new” social media sites. I was on MySpace for way longer than I should’ve been and had a hard time transitioning to Facebook. I reluctantly joined Twitter and still don’t use it as much as I should, and I only created a Tumblr account a month ago. I’d heard about all of these long before I joined, but I was hesitant. I like the idea of simplifying what I have, and coming up with yet another username and password didn’t quite jive with that.

But I’m also a curious person. So when I kept hearing about Pinterest and how addicting it was, I had to see for myself. So I created an account…and I love it. For those of you not familiar with Pinterest, it’s a site where you create visual collections of things that you like. The images go on “boards” that you can name whatever you want (they give you examples like “My Style”, “For The Home”, “Books To Read,” etc.) You can upload your own images or “re-pin” them from other boards. You can re-pin from people you’re following or by searching keywords. When you search the boards, you can re-pin images from people you’re not following.

It’s similar to Tumblr, but my brain likes to compartmentalize things, so the different boards are great. (Maybe there’s a way to do this in Tumblr too, but I don’t know enough about it.) Anyway, the reason I’m telling you about this in my beauty blog is that three of the five boards I’ve created so far are related to beauty. The “Bridal Inspiration” board is loaded with hair and makeup ideas for brides and bridesmaids (which many of my bridal clients look at before their appointments with me). The “Looks I Love!” board is a collection of hair and makeup photos that inspire me and might give others ideas for different looks. The “Beauty Must Haves” board shows many of the products I use and love. If you’re planning a wedding, renovating your house, or are working on any type of project, it’s a great place to store your visual ideas without taking up space on your hard drive.

If you want to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon, you can request an invite from Pinterest, or I can send you one (email me at AllisonBarbera@AllisonBarbera.com if you want to do that). If you’re a visual person, I think you’ll love this site. Like the Pinterest people say, “Happy Pinning!”

This is me 🙂 http://pinterest.com/alliebmakeup

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Happy New Year, Epidermis!

New Year, new you. Fresh start. Tabula rasa. Whatever you want to call it, the start of a new year inspires many people to embark on new beginnings in one or more areas in their life. Shouldn’t your skin get a new beginning too?

It can! There’s an affordable way to uncover a fresh layer of skin, brighten your skin’s appearance and make it softer. It’s called exfoliation, which is the removal of dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin (the epidermis). I know you’ve probably heard of this before, but how often do you actually do it?

Let’s talk about the two types of exfoliation–mechanical, or physical exfoliation and chemical, or enzyme exfoliation. In mechanical exfoliation, dead skin cells are rubbed off with an abrasive product. It sounds harsh, but if you use an exfoliant (also called an exfoliator) that contains beads as opposed to scrubs (which contain jagged pieces of shells and other ingredients) it won’t cause micro tears in your skin.

Chemical exfoliants contain enzymes or alphahydroxy ingredients that break down the “glue” that keeps the dead skin cells holding onto the epidermis. With chemical exfoliants, the product doesn’t need to be manipulated once it’s on the skin. Think of it as the lazy lady’s exfoliant 🙂

On the extreme (and more expensive) end of mechanical exfoliation is microdermabrasion, which uses a machine to spray out a crystal or diamond tip exfoliant (the diamond tip is the newer and more gentle form of microderm). Then, a small vacuum suctions up the dead skin cells and exfoliant residue.

The extreme and more expensive type of chemical exfoliation is the chemical peel, which uses stronger or more concentrated ingredients to loosen the dead skin cells. Both microderm and peels are done by estheticians or in a dermatologist’s office.

If you can’t or don’t want to go to a professional for microderm or a peel, you can still get great results at home. I think that exfoliation is essential for all skin types, and should be done once or twice each week. If you have dry and flaky skin, exfoliation removes those dead skin cells that you can see and feel on the skin. It makes the skin feel softer and allows it to more easily accept moisturizer.

Those with oily and acne-prone skin benefit from exfoliation because it removes surface oils from the skin, helping prevent breakouts. Dull skin, often a complaint of those who see their skin aging, is brightened after exfoliation. It’s amazing what the removal of dead skin cells can do to your skin’s appearance!

And for those who have sensitive skin, exfoliation should still be done, but a gentle chemical exfoliant is recommended, as the rubbing action needed for a mechanical exfoliant can be irritating on very sensitive skin.

If you use prescription retinoids, exfoliation isn’t advised (or needed), as retinoids already exfoliate for you.

Regardless of your skin type, regular exfoliation usually means you can get away with wearing less foundation. The reason is that removing the dead skin cells (and surface oils, if your skin is oily) makes the skin look healthier. And unless you’re going for a full coverage look, why not let that healthy skin show through?

I find that when my skin is clear, soft and bright, I don’t even want to wear much foundation. Most of the time, I wear and use foundation to fake glowing, even, healthy skin. You can get there with regular exfoliation, in combination with a good cleansing and moisturizing routine, so why not try it? (You may not want to skip any face makeup entirely, but a tinted moisturizer can give you some coverage and let your skin show through.)

Your skin will feel softer and will more easily accept skincare products, like moisturizer, night cream, and serums, if you exfoliate. Without the layer of dead skin cells on the surface, products can more easily penetrate the skin and do their job. You might find that you need less product on exfoliated skin for this reason.

It’s not too late to start a New Year’s resolution for your skin. So out with the old (dead skin cells) and in with the new (healthy, glowing skin)!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Long Lash Time: Clinique High Impact Mascara Review

It’s no secret that I love a good mascara. So when I had a chance to try to Clinique High Impact Mascara–a favorite of my beloved Pixiwoos–I of course went for it. I love big, full lashes, and mascara with staying power. Did it pass the test and make an impact on me? It did, but more as a Supporting Actress than the main star.

I originally reviewed this product in 2012 there were a few things about it that I didn’t love, but those have changed. It’s become a mainstay in my personal makeup bag as my second mascara (layered over Dior Diorshow).

Let’s talk about it.

First off, it’s got a standard wand. None of this spiky ball or rubbery wand nonsense. Just a good ol’ mascara wand. It isn’t big like the Diorshow wand, but I like that, because I use it on my top and bottom lashes, so it gives me control at the bottom lashes since the wand is smaller.

High Impact is super buildable. It might actually be the most buildable mascara I’ve ever used. So whether you want a barely there look, or a full on look, High Impact can take you there.

It’s an excellent lengthener, which I’ve also found with other Clinique mascaras. They know how to make a girl’s lashes look long, and that’s one of the main reasons I use it. I love Diorshow and it gives some length, but I find it’s better for volume. I want both length and volume though, and I’m fine with having to use two mascaras to get there.

According to my post from seven years ago, High Impact used to lack the inky black factor, which is the other reason I use a second mascara. But at some point in the last few years, the pigment was changed into a blacker black (or my eyesight is going). So now I’m happy.

When it comes to end of the day removal, no battles here. High Impact washes off easily. A little cleanser, some eye makeup remover and we go our separate ways.

I’ve been using High Impact as a second mascara for a couple years now. I’m happy with it and think you might be too.

Have a beautiful day 🙂