My Faves

I do a “Favorite Things” post every once in a while, and I think it’s time for a new one. This post includes both beauty and non-beauty faves of mine because, hey, isn’t a makeup artist with varied interests more fun to talk to? 🙂

A Few of My Favorite Things

 * Nivea A Touch of Smoothness Lip. Ugh, cracked lips. One of the many gifts of cold weather and indoor heating. I get dry, peeling lips every winter (except when I lived in FL) and they drive me nuts. I am constantly trying new lip balms, but many seem to exacerbate the problem. I picked up this Nivea one on a whim (not from personal recommendations or online reviews) and I love it. While my lips are still peeling a little, they are considerably better than they usually are this time of year. This balm is colorless, unscented, and contains SPF10, so it’s good for anyone. http://www.drugstore.com/nivea-lip-care-a-kiss-of-smoothness-spf-10/qxp191226

* Meditation. I have been really putting in an effort to meditate regularly and I feel like it has made me a happier, calmer person. I’m not awesome at it–some days I can not quiet my mind, no matter how much deep breathing I do–but other days, I’m like, I got this. Even on the days when I suck at it, it at least brings my attention to all of the completely unnecessary thoughts I have. I didn’t realize how many future and past conversations I have with people in my own head! When the worries invade my thoughts, I tell myself, You don’t need to think about this right now. It won’t achieve anything. I’m nothing if not goal-oriented, so my little self-scolding/reality check does the trick.

* ZICO Chocolate Coconut Water. My friend Erika sent this to me in the world’s best (and totally unexpected) care package. It.tastes.so.good. It’s like Chocolate Milk Lite (only 120 calories), and it is going to replace my usual hangover drinks (which, sadly, I now need the morning after 2 drinks). http://zico.com/2013/our-products/zico-chocolate-14-oz/

* Survival of the Soul by Lisa Williams. I think I have mentioned this book before, because it is the shit. Lisa is a psychic/medium (you may have heard of her or seen her on TV). In this book, she talks about what happens to our souls when we cross over and what happens in the afterlife. Believe it or not, I am skeptical about this kind of stuff (Lisa said she is as well), but she referred to a lot of things I have experienced, or have heard friends/family say they have experienced, so I believe her. If you are at all interested in matters of the soul, keep an open mind and read this book. I credit it as the book that pulled me out of a rough time three years ago, and seriously changed the way I look at life.

* Oval nails. I have never thought that square-shaped nails were flattering on my child-sized hands, but it somehow never crossed my mind to do anything about it. But with age grows wisdom, so now I file my nails into an oval shape, sometimes with a slight point and they look their best.

* P Tracker app. My friend Julie told me about this one (the one and only app I have on my phone). It allows you to track your period, symptoms, moods, etc. and tells you when you are ovulating, fertile, and when your next period will be. So whether you are trying to get pregnant, trying to not get pregnant, trying to figure out irregular periods, or just when you get certain symptoms each month, it can help you out. I use it for other stuff too. When I had stomach issues recently, I used the Notes section to record the food I ate each day, so I could narrow down what might be causing the problems. I prefer it to written notes because while I might forget to bring a notebook with me, I never forget the celly.

* This list http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/11/28/19-signs-youre-doing-better-than-you-think/. My friend, Lindsay, posted this on her Facebook page, and I think it is awesome. It is a good reminder, for me at least, of some of the things I take for granted. I really appreciate lists like this because they help put me in my place when I’m in a bad mood or entering Pity Party Territory.

* Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt. This novel about the ruin of an old Southern family is a page turner, for sure. Each chapter is told in the voice of a different family member, which I love. I don’t read many novels anymore, because I have found many of them to be cheesy or predictable, but this one was neither.   http://www.amazon.com/Lookaway-A-Novel-Wilton-Barnhardt/dp/1250020832

* Make Up For Ever HD Elixir. If your skin is looking dull, try applying this serum underneath your face makeup. Really take a minute to massage it into the skin, and you will notice a difference. It adds radiance and makes your foundation or tinted moisturizer apply more smoothly. http://www.sephora.com/product/productDetail.jsp?keyword=MAKE%20UP%20FOR%20EVER%20HD%20Elixir%20P240602&skuId=1144880&productId=P240602&_requestid=182598

* Three Olives Grapes Vodka. I consider myself to be somewhat of an authority on flavored vodkas, and Three Olives makes some of the best. I have been especially loving their Grape flavor lately. I’ve introduced this to people who don’t like flavored vodkas or aren’t big on grape flavored anything, but so far, they have all loved it. It’s borderline dangerous, so beware…  http://www.threeolives.com/all-flavors/

* Pssst Dry Shampoo. My hair doesn’t get too greasy, but it does go flat after a few days. Dry shampoo helps revive it (it absorbs oil too), and definitely gives it back some of the volume I have the first day or two after I wash it. Everyone can use a good dry shampoo, and this one is cheap!  http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?productId=xlsImpprod3900585

* Goddess Workout Bellydance DVD. I bought this years ago, did it for a few months, then forgot about it. I rediscovered it this past summer and have been doing it a few times per week since. It’s a hard workout, and I haven’t even mastered the Intro/Disc 1 yet. I like having a few indoor workout options for the days when I can’t/don’t want to run. The bellydance workout has shrunk my waist down to a size even I can’t deny is small, and it’s fun to do! It’s a good something different if you are in a workout rut or need an at-home option. http://www.amazon.com/Goddess-Workout-Bellydance-Fitness-Dolphina/dp/B0002C4IT0/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1386533518&sr=8-12&keywords=goddess+workout+bellydance

*My crazy colored hair. If you we are not Facebookfriends or you haven’t seen me during the past few months, you may not know that I have been playing with different colors on the bottom half of my hair. I went from teal to electric blue (which was my favorite) to emerald green to the current aqua. I LOVE having the colors in my hair–I feel like it’s so me (which is weird to say for something that is clearly not natural, I suppose). It’s not for everyone, but I’m gonna rock this look for a while.

I love reading about other people’s favorite things, so feel free to comment with your’s!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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2014 Wedding Wire Couples’ Choice Award Winner PRESS RELEASE

Newport, RIJanuary 25, 2014 – WeddingWire, the nation’s leading online wedding marketplace, named Allison Barbera Beauty as a winner of the prestigious WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014 for Beauty Services in Rhode Island!

The WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014 recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. The esteemed awards are given to the top local wedding vendors in more than 20 service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers, based on their professional achievements from the previous year.

While many industry award winners are selected by the host organization, the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ winners are determined solely based on reviews from real newlyweds and their experiences working with Allison Barbera Beauty. Award-winning vendors are distinguished for the quality, quantity, consistency and timeliness of the reviews they have received from their past clients.

“There’s no better way to start the year than by honoring the hard work, commitment and success of the top-rated wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Network,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “It is exciting to celebrate a sixth year recognizing businesses whose clients believe they are committed to quality, professionalism and all around top-notch service. We are honored to recognize Allison Barbera Beauty for their impressive achievements within the wedding industry.”

As a Couples’ Choice Awards™ winner, Allison Barbera Beauty is highlighted within the WeddingWire Network, which is comprised of over 200,000 wedding professionals throughout North America and abroad.

Allison Barbera Beauty is proud to be one of the top Beauty Service providers in Rhode Island in the WeddingWire Network, which includes leading wedding sites such as WeddingWire, Project Wedding, Brides.com, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Weddingbee. We would like to thank our past clients for taking the time to review our business on WeddingWire. We value all of our clients and truly appreciate the positive feedback that helped us earn the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014.

For more information about Allison Barbera Beauty, please visit our WeddingWire Storefront today at http://www.weddingwire.com/biz/allison-barbera-beauty-newport/faq/2fd8029397da9264.html.

To learn more about the Couple’s Choice Awards™, please visit www.weddingwire.com/couples-choice-awards.

About WeddingWire, Inc.
WeddingWire™, the nation’s leading marketplace serving the $70 billion wedding industry, is the only online wedding planning resource designed to empower both engaged couples and wedding professionals. For engaged couples, WeddingWire offers the ability to search, compare and book over 200,000 reviewed wedding vendors, from wedding venues to wedding photographers. WeddingWire also offers a comprehensive suite of online planning tools for weddings, including wedding websites and wedding checklists, all at no charge. For wedding professionals, WeddingWire is the only all-in-one marketing platform for businesses online and on-the-go. WeddingWire offers one simple solution to build a professional network, improve search visibility, manage social media and reach mobile consumers. Businesses that advertise with WeddingWire appear on WeddingWire.com, ProjectWedding.com and other leading sites, including MarthaStewartWeddings.com (NYSE: MSO), Brides.com and Weddingbee.com.

Jergens Natural Glow for Face Tips

Genetics are a funny thing, aren’t they? I am 75% Italian and only 25% Irish, but I’m usually the second or third lightest shade in a foundation line. Throw my dark hair and eyebrows into the mix, and I look even lighter than I am. (When I’m wearing black, my father likes to call me Elvira. Can’t say I like that.) I’m not saying light skin is a bad thing–look at beauties like Julianne Moore, Emma Stone and Dita Von Teese–but I think I look best with a little color on my face. I don’t sunbathe or use tanning booths, and I don’t find it practical to spray tan regularly, so I use Jergens Natural Glow. I use the face and body versions, but for this post, I will be talking about the face version.

I’ve picked up a few tips along the way that I thought might be helpful. Here goes:

Exfoliate. Before your initial application of the product, exfoliate your face and neck. Any kind of tanning product will work better if you have sloughed off the dead skin cells first. If not, the product may “stick” to the cells, leaving you with a very attractive patchy look.

Moisturize twice each day. Jergens Natural Glow for face will last longer if you moisturize morning and night. This is a skincare essential anyway, so unless you are targeting a specific issue that requires more or less moisturizing each day, two times is the magic number.

Avoid applying to smile lines, if you have them. I’ve found that any product I put on my face will eventually settle in to my smile lines and something about the shimmer and pigmentation in the Natural Glow accentuates the lines. It’s any easy fix though–just don’t apply it to those areas. Smile lines–this is the punishment we get for being happy, huh?

Mix with moisturizer when applying to your neck. Necks are tricky. Many of us have some lines or creases there, and much like the smile lines, this product can settle into those lines. Applying a thin layer of moisturizer first takes care of the issue.

Apply it at night, or well before makeup. I don’t use this as pre-makeup moisturizer because I don’t think it’s moisturizing enough, and I’m not sure it will react well to all face makeup. It’s not a problem if it’s completely absorbed, but if it’s still tacky, wait a little longer. That’s why I tend to do it at night.

Adjust your foundation/tinted moisturizer. This is a tanning product, so your foundation shade is going to change. That’s one of the reasons I always suggest having a couple of foundations in your makeup bag. That way you can darken and lighten the shades (by mixing them) if your skin changes from sunless tanner or the sun. It’s not a drastic change with Jergens Natural Glow for Face, but you might go up a half a shade or a full shade.

That’s it! Not too complicated, right? I think it’s worth it and I really do love the product. After a few days of using it, I always feel like my skin looks good enough to forgo face makeup if I want to. The shimmer that it contains is subtle, but true to its name, gives you some glow. And something about being tan seems to even out the skin (although a real tan actually does the opposite, in the long run). If you are feeling winter pale or feel like your skin is looking dull, give this a try.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number

Helen Mirren. Susan Sarandon. Diane Lane. Andie MacDowell. Mary Steenburgen. These are all beautiful actresses over 50 (or very close to it), and although I can’t say for sure, it appears that none of them have had any major cosmetic surgery done. I think they all look amazing, not just for their age, but for any age. I personally don’t think “young” translates as “beautiful,” and I think there is a lot to be said for non-physical characteristics that make people beautiful. So this is not a Twelve Ways To Look Younger post (Subtext: 20 Year Olds Are The Prettiest, So Try To Look Like Them). This is about doing, or not doing, certain things that can make you look older than you are.

I have looked at many photos of the aforementioned actresses, and they seem to be avoiding some of the makeup mistakes I see a lot of women make. I’m talking about the mistakes that age a woman, especially one over 40. I’ll get into that below, but first I want to tell you my philosophy on aging as it relates to makeup.

I don’t think wrinkles are the biggest aging factor on a woman’s face. I think it has a lot more to do with an even skintone, flattering eyebrows, skin texture, lip fullness, undereye puffy-ness and dark circles, fullness of the cheeks and how “current” someone’s makeup is. Fortunately, there are a lot of fixes you can do to correct any of the issues that bother you (or those that you might not realize are making you look older!)

Re-Assess Your Foundation. Skin loses some of its natural oils as we age, meaning that the majority of women over 40 have skin in the dry or normal to dry range. (The good thing is, less oil in your skin means your makeup will stay on longer!) Fine lines and wrinkles also tend to creep up as the years pass. For those two reasons, I find that liquid foundations are more flattering on mature skin. Powder foundations don’t typically add moisture to the skin, and they tend to settle into lines, making them more obvious. A good liquid foundation–particularly one with luminizing properties which brighten the skin–will make the skin look its best. MAC Face & Body foundations are a good option, and I recently tried Stila Stay All Day 10-In-One Beauty Balm (Sephora) and thought it would be good for mature skin. I only tried a sample so I can’t totally vouch for it, and it strangely only seems to come in one shade, but swing by Sephora and get a sample if you’re interested.

Consider Cream Blush. I love cream blush for all skin types (I just layer powder blush over it on oily skin to make it last). There is something very youthful and glowing about the texture, which makes it perfect for mature skin. And if you are dealing with dry skin at any age, cream blush is definitely the way to go. The MAC Creme Blend blushes (MAC stores and MACcosmetics.com) and Sonia Kashuk cream blushes (Target) are my faves.

Think Twice About Contour. If your face has lost a lot of fullness–and especially if you already have a long or even oval face shape–I wouldn’t recommend contouring the cheekbones. Instead, focus on using blush on the apples of your cheeks, just blending slightly upward. This will make your cheeks look a little more full and youthful.

Line Those Lips. As we age, our lips lose collagen, making them thinner than they were in years past. Lipliner (in the same color as your lips or lipstick–darker than that can actually age you) is a good fix. It brings back definition to the lips and if you are confident with it, you can slightly overdraw your lips. And when I say slightly, I mean it! Don’t go all Pamela Anderson and think no one will notice. I love the Aqua Lip Liners by Make Up For Ever (Sephora) because they are waterproof (read: long lasting) but any lip liner will do. Lip liners are one of the products I don’t think you have to spend a lot on. Many of the drugstore ones are great.

Plump It Up. For the same reason, lip plumpers can be a good temporary fix for lips that are, let’s say, losing some weight. My favorite is Lip Venom by DuWop (Sephora). It’s a little tingly/stingy, but it does the job.

Highlight Above the Cupid’s Bow. A little bit of highlighter (like NARS The Multiple in Copacabana) above the Cupid’s Bow will give the illusion of a fuller top lip. Use a concealer brush or your pinky to apply it and lightly blend.

Apply Makeup with a Light Hand. Avoid applying too much foundation, concealer, or powder near fine lines. The product will sink into lines, highlighting those areas. Fine lines near the eyes, around the lips and on the forehead are common, and usually those are areas that don’t need much coverage or powder anyway (unless the forehead is oily). Using a primer (like Laura Mercier Face Primer, Sephora) first will help temporarily fill in the lines and keep your face makeup from settling. Having moisturized and hydrated skin will help diminish the lines too, so as always, a good skincare routine is key.

Pay Attention to Your Eyebrows. Brows that are too thin or overdrawn can easily age a face. Brow growth does slow as we age and especially if you over-tweezed in your teens or twenties, you may find yourself with thinner brows than you would like. A good brow pencil or powder can help fill your brows in. And if you have a few gray hairs in your eyebrows, a tinted brow gel (like MAC Brow Set) can temporarily change that. A brow gel also adds texture/fullness to thin brows.

Update Your Every Day Look. If you are still wearing the same type of makeup you wore 20 years ago, it’s time to re-evaluate. Styles have changed and your face has changed, so your makeup needs to evolve too. So please, toss that that forest green eyeliner from the 80s, or that matte brown lipstick from the 90s. Sure, those have come back as trends, but unless the rest of your makeup, your hair and your clothing are on trend too, it’s just going to make you look dated. It’s the cold, hard truth, but someday has to tell you!

Beware of Shimmery Eyeshadows. As we age, our eyelids lose their elasticity. The makeup term is “crepey eyelids,” but you can refer to them however you want. It’s okay to use an eyeshadow with a little shimmer in it, but something too shimmery or (please don’t) frosted is bad, bad, bad. It will sink into the small folds on your lids, making them considerably more noticeable. If this is a concern for you, try a cream eyeshadow (Laura Mercier makes good cream eyeshadows). Much like a cream blush, it is flattering on a mature face.

Try An Off-White Eyeliner. If your lower waterline is pink, which I often see in women 60+, a bit of off-white eyeliner there will cover the pinkness and make you look more awake. I like MAC Chromagraphic Pencil in Nc15/NW 20 for this.

Avoid The Number One Eye Ager. I see this A LOT, on women of all ages, but it especially detrimental to those concerned with aging–dark pencil liner at the lower lashline. Especially when it is thick or black…it makes me cringe. It instantly pulls the eyes downward and other than it’s very short shelf life as a makeup trend a few years back, it is dated. I know this is a hard one for many women to give up. I can just hear you saying “But I feel naked without eyeliner!” So, can we strike a deal? First, please switch to a dark brown or gray eyeshadow. Use an angled brush and make sure to apply it at the bottom and top lashline, so that it balances your eyes and keeps them from looking dragged down. Using a shadow with an angled brush gives a soft focus effect which is infinitely more flattering. You can still use a pencil–go easy with it!–on top of the shadow if you want more definition, but make sure to blend it with that angled brush.

Or, just do what you want. Seriously. If you aren’t concerned with how your looks have changed, then ignore all of my suggestions. I created this post for the hundreds of 40+ women who have said “Make me look 10/20/30 years younger, please!” But if you don’t care, then honestly, good for you. I know that I will still be rockin’ Biggie t-shirts and the occasional pink wig when I’m 60, so if you want to use navy blue eyeliner and a frosted pink lipstick everyday–or no makeup at all–then go for it. I’m not being sarcastic (for once). I’m all for people wearing whatever makeup makes them feel good, but I also know that this post might be helpful to those who may be looking to change things up. Again, I’m not trying to imply that looking younger is the ideal, but most women I know and have worked with don’t want to look older than they are.

So, hopefully this post has helped those who needed it. And for those of us born in the early 80s or earlier, let’s take a second to be thankful for everything we have learned since we were in our 20s 🙂

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Makeup FAQs

There are a few things I always love to talk about–soft serve, Biggie Smalls, owning a business and makeup. Being that I am a makeup artist, I get asked a lot of beauty questions. And I am happy to answer them! I’ve noticed that I get many of the same questions, so I thought I would compile them into one neat little blog post. These are my personal opinions from my experience in the field, but in makeup, there are a lot of different “right” answers. These are just the the ones that make sense to me.

What is the best mascara?

For volumizing, I don’t think Dior Diorshow (the original) can be beat. For length, I love Clinique High Lengths, Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash and Diorshow Extase. When using regular mascara, I always layer one of those over the Diorshow. For waterproof, Maybelline The Falsies Volum’ Express is my jam. And if watery eyes are a problem, but you don’t want to wear waterproof every day (which I wouldn’t recommend anyway), Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara is amazing. When you are just talking watery eyes (not tears), typically the smudging is coming from the bottom lashes only. That smudging doesn’t happen with Clinique Bottom Lash because it is a beauty tubes mascara, so it encapsulates the lashes and does not come off until you remove it.

What do you think of airbrush makeup?

For an event or a long day, I think airbrush is great if you are someone who has very oily skin, acne, acne scarring, or wrinkles. Otherwise, I think there is a good traditional (non-airbrush) foundation out there for everyone. I think airbrush gets hyped up, and although I have seen and experienced beautiful results with it, at this time, I am still partial to traditional foundation.

What are your thoughts on mineral makeup?

I think it’s okay for everyday use, but for photography, I have yet to find one that doesn’t flash back. I think it can get too easily caked up, so I wouldn’t use it for anything being filmed either. There are some mineral makeups that look gorgeous on normal to oily skin, but I would stay away from them in general if your skin is very oily, very dry, or mature. On very oily skin, I have seen mineral makeup get discolored or streaky once the natural oils come through. On dry skin, I have seen it catch on patchy areas, making them more obvious. It also seems to sit on top of the skin even if there are not patchy areas. On mature skin, it has a tendency to settle into fine lines, making them more obvious. Some makeup artists swear by mineral makeup, but I’m just not one of them!

Should I apply my liquid foundation with my hands or a brush?

It depends on the foundation you are using and the coverage you want. A flat foundation brush will give you more of a full coverage finish, and a buffing brush will give you something closer to an airbrush finish. I like using my hands for a lighter coverage foundation or tinted moisturizer and for when I want a more natural look.

How can I make my lipstick stay on longer?

A lip primer, like MAC Prep & Prime Lip, is a good start. Once that has absorbed, line your lips and–this is the key–completely fill them in with a lip liner that matches your natural lip color, or the color of the lipstick you will be using. Aqua Lip Liners by Make Up For Ever are great for this because they are waterproof.

Where do I apply bronzer?

Bronzer, as opposed to contour products, should be applied where the sun naturally hits (sometimes referred to as the “high planes of the face”). So temples, hairline, tops of cheekbones, bridge of nose and a dot on the chin. Don’t apply it on your entire face, unless you are going for the Jersey Shore look.

How do I make my eyes look bigger?

This is going to have a lot to do with your eye shape, but in general, an off-white eyeliner on the lower waterline will make eyes look larger. Any liner at the lower lashline should be thin, soft (I prefer a shadow to a pencil) and not too dark. Mascara will open up the eyes, but don’t be too heavy-handed, as that can just draw attention to the size of your eyes. Unless eyes are wide-set, a shimmery light color at the inner corners will help too. I also suggest having well-groomed eyebrows. If your brows are too thick, they may overpower small eyes, but brows that are too thin may look disproportionate in relation to the rest of the face. If you are not sure about your brows, get them shaped professionally.

What’s the trick to making my eyeliner the same on both eyes?

Oh darling, don’t stress yourself out too much here.  No one’s eyes are exactly the same, so eyeliner is never going to be 100% the same on both eyes. Just have some patience (and maybe a cocktail, if that will make you care less). It’s a lot about practice, so cut yourself some slack. My fellow makeup artist friend, Jennie Kay, once suggested to me that when I was struggling with my own eyeliner even-ness (I find it easier to get it almost perfect on others), start with the “tough” eye first. You know, the one that makes you swear and want to start over completely. Starting with the tough eye definitely takes some of the frustration out of it.

How do I conceal dark undereye circles?

First off, stop staying up until midnight to watch the Millionaire Matchmaker marathons. Sleep, as anyone with dark circles knows, does help the circles diminish. As far as makeup goes, if the circles are very dark, you will need to correct them with a color corrector first (peach, salmon, or orange, depending on how light or dark your skin is). Follow that with a concealer in a shade lighter than your skintone. You can use one with brightening qualities, like Clinique Airbrush Concealer, but if you are going to be photographed, take a test picture first. Some brightening concealers will flashback in photography, making the undereye area look super light and obvious.

Those are the most common makeup questions I get asked, but I will add to this post if more new ones start cropping up. If you have makeup questions for me, please feel free to comment on this post or on my Allison Barbera Makeup Artistry Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Allison-Barbera-Makeup-Artistry/215339210231?ref=hl

Have a beautiful day 🙂