Forever Young: My Retinol Journey

A Little Poem

I know this pretty woman

Who looks so friggin’ great

She has that kind of skin

That one could never hate

She looks 15 years younger

Than her actual age

Although technically not a pro

She’s a dermatological sage

She hasn’t pumped her face full of Botox

And doesn’t go under the knife

She doesn’t look crazy scary

Like a plastic-faced Housewife

So I asked her for anti-aging tips

I said “Give them to me all!”

She responded with three words

“Go get retinol.”

Who hasn’t heard of retinol? It’s one of the only proven anti-agers out there. (The real term is retinoid, and prescription retinoids contain retinoic acid, which is the strongest, purest form of the Vitamin A derivative. Retinol is the name for the non-prescription retinoids that convert into retinoic acid once they are on the skin. But was easier to rhyme with “retinol” and people are more familiar with that, so bear with me.) I don’t see myself as someone who will take drastic measures to look young, but I’m all about doing whatever I can now to look as good as possible in the future. I want 60 Year Old Allison to look more like a 45 Year Old Allison. I am consistent with my skincare regimen, I don’t smoke, I eat clean, I exercise regularly and I take supplements, all of which I believe make a big difference in slowing down visible signs of aging. But I have known for a while that retinoids help diminish and prevent fine lines and collagen loss, so I’ve been thinking about it for a few years.

When the woman I mentioned in my poem–which I’m sure will win some kind of literary award–told me that she had started to use a retinoid 10+ years earlier, I knew I had to start. (We’ll call this woman S.) Her skin looks amazing, not just for her age but for any age. I’m confident that no one who is reading this would ever guess her real age, something that I hope happens to me. After S. told me her secret, I went to my dermatologist with a well rehearsed speech about why I needed a retinoid cream. Before I even got to the second sentence of my presentation, my derm wrote me the prescription without question.

Although I got my Trentinoin (brand name) prescription in the summer, I waited until October to start using it. Most derms agree that retinoids can make your skin sensitive to the sun, and although I always wear sunscreen on my face, I didn’t want to risk a reaction.

I have an awesome holistic doctor, Dr. Abbas Qutab, who I swear knows everything about the body and its reactions. He is about 20 years ahead of the Western medicine community–although he does get called in to teach and lecture for them–and I have complete trust in him. If he tells me to take something or to avoid it, I listen. When I asked him about topical retinoid prescription cream, he said it was not harmful.

Once I had the okay from Dr. Qutab and the summer months (sadly) came to an end, I knew it was time to try my Trentinoin. I did a patch test first on my arm and gave it a few days. No reaction. And so I began.

My derm had told me to use it every three nights, so I did. I applied it mainly to where I could see fine lines–on my forehead and around my mouth. My skin was okay the first few times I did that, but soon I started seeing slight redness on my forehead. I spoke to S. who told me I really should apply it to my whole face and cover it with a thin layer of moisturizer if I thought the Trentinoin was irritating my skin. (Just wait 20 minutes to apply the moisturizer so it doesn’t dilute the cream.) My derm had not given me any such advice, so I’m glad S. helped me out. Once I started applying it to my whole face and following it with a thin layer of moisturizer (which I later switched out with Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil) the redness was gone. After three months, I increased usage to every other day and have not experienced any redness since. *Update from January 2019: I now use it almost every night, and it’s working out great.*

I have noticed minimal peeling, mainly on my nose, chin and cheeks. To be fair, my skin always peels a little in the winter, so I’m not 100% I can attribute it to the Trentinion. But let’s say it is. The peeling is not noticeable and only happens once in a while. Other than that, my skin looks great! It definitely looks more glowy and I do think my fine lines have decreased a little. But I also think a lot of what Retinol does is preventative, so I don’t expect to see huge results. I just expect that it will semi-freeze my face in time 🙂

Other than staying out of the sun, there are a few things you might want to avoid if you decide to use a retinoid. I stopped using any skincare other than my cleanser, sunscreen and daily moisturizer when I started on Trentinoin. I didn’t know how the ingredients in other products might interact, and I knew prescription skincare products contain stronger ingredients. Also, Trentinoin was already doing what I used some of the other products for. It exfoliates and prevents signs of aging, and I was still cleansing, moisturizing and uses sunscreen, so I didn’t feel I needed too much else. And although I’m sure some derms would disagree with me on this, as many are into product layering, I intuitively felt the Trentinoin would be most effective on its own, at least at first. S. backs me up on this theory.

You should also wait 20 minutes post-cleansing to apply any retinoid. Cleansing removes the acid mantle (a thin, acidic barrier on your skin that protects it from bacteria), which makes your skin temporary more susceptible to irritants. If you apply a retinoid right after cleansing, there is a good chance your skin will get irritated. Also, even if your skin feels dry to the touch, it probably still has some microscopic water droplets on it for a few minutes after cleansing. Those little droplets could dilute the retinoid, making it less effective.

I think all pros agree that retinoids and waxing don’t mix. Because retinoids exfoliate, which takes off a layer of dead skin, waxing–which also takes that layer off with the hair–over that is too irritating. Tweezing and threading are okay because they remove hair only. Facial hair bleaching is also not recommended, as the ingredients don’t interact well with retinoids.

If you do a patch test first, avoid potential irritants, stay out of the sun, ease into it and use your retinoid cream consistently, it is my experience (and the experience of many others) that this stuff works. There are great products in the skincare world that can moisturize, exfoliate, brighten, etc. But I think for serious anti-aging results, prescription retinoids are the way to go.

Have a beautiful day 🙂


Joseph Laurin Photography

There are a million crappy photographers out there. Sorry, but it’s true. I have looked through literally thousands of professional photographs during my 6.5 years as a makeup artist and while I have been fortunate enough to work with some true pros, I have realized that there are a lot of amateurs in the game. I don’t mean to be harsh, and I’m not claiming I know how to take a picture myself. But people hire photographers for weddings, editorial shoots, corporate jobs, etc. and I have to cringe when I see what some of these people have unfortunately paid for.

Luckily, there is Joe Laurin. Joe is insanely talented and in huge demand in the New England wedding industry. I have done several weddings and photoshoots with Joe, and I always recommend him without hesitation. Not only is he damn good at what he does, but working with him is like having a standup comedian with you. I try really hard not to make an ugly laughing face when Joe is in the room, for fear of him catching it on film, but it’s not easy. It’s not unusual for me to have to stop doing makeup for 30 seconds to compose myself (but don’t worry, I still always run on schedule!) while he is cracking a joke or telling a story about his kids.

I recently re-designed my website,, and realized how many beautiful photos I have from weddings and shoots with Joe. I thought “This would make a great blog post.” So here you go. Feast your eyes on this, then go check out Joe’s website,, for more. And if you want to hire him for your wedding, DO IT NOW! He books super fast.

For model and Allison Barbera Beauty hair stylist and makeup artist credits, please check out our Allison Barbera Beauty Weddings and Allison Barbera Makeup Artistry Facebook pages.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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Light It Up: Too Faced Shadow Insurance in Candlelight Review

The original Too Faced Shadow Insurance has been a staple in my pro kit and my personal makeup bag for years. I have yet to find another eye primer that works as well. Shadow Insurance helps eye makeup stay on longer and crease less, which makes it something I use on almost every client. The only time I don’t use my Holy Grail of eye primers is when I do several eye makeup looks that I need to change (typically for a photoshoot), because I don’t need the eye makeup to last long.

Because I love the original formula, I decided to give their Candlelight version a go. Candlelight is supposed to give a “soft focus effect and subtle golden metallic sheen,” while reducing shadow creasing and helping eye makeup last longer. You only need about half of a rice grain-sized amount of product–that’s a legit measurement, right?–for each eye. Apply and blend it with your ring finger for best results. (Because the ring finger is the weakest, it is least likely to pull on the delicate eye area skin.)

The “golden metallic” description is right on, as are the longevity and anti-creasing claims. This eye primer is pretty enough to be worn on its own too. It’s a sheer metallic wash–like the lite version of a cream eyeshadow. It catches the light in a flattering way, much like candlelight. So yeah, good call on the product name, Too Faced Shadow Insurance.

When worn under a shimmery shadow, the Candlelight primer ups the shimmer factor. But my favorite use for this primer is under a matte shadow. It turns the matte eyeshadow into a shimmery or satin version of itself. The less pigmented the eyeshadow, the more shimmery. More pigmented shadows get a slight but noticeable satin finish.

Candlelight is great on its own, as a shimmery shadow intensifier or as a matte shadow transformer. You gotta love a product that has multiple uses! I think this would be an awesome gift for a young girl/teen who is starting to wear makeup. Worn on its own, it’s like a subtle cream eyeshadow that’s definitely age appropriate.

Sephora, Ulta and Naimie’s all carry this primer.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award Winner–Fifth Year in a Row!

Newport’s Own Allison Barbera Beauty Wins a WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award® 2015

Newport, RI – January 9, 2015 – WeddingWire, the nation’s leading online wedding marketplace, named Allison Barbera Beauty as a winner of the prestigious WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® 2015 for Wedding Beauty Services in Newport!

The WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® 2015 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 towedding 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.

“It’s always exciting to start the year by honoring the top-rated wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Network who represent more than two million reviews on our website,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “Each of the businesses recognized are committed to quality, professionalism and all around top-notch service. We applaud 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 more than 200,000 wedding professionals throughout North America and abroad.

Allison Barbera Beauty is proud to be one of the top Wedding Beauty Services companies in Rhode Island in the WeddingWire Network, which includes leading wedding sites such as WeddingWire, Project Wedding,, 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® 2015.

For more information about Allison Barbera Beauty. please visit our website,

To learn more about the Couple’s Choice Awards®, please

About WeddingWire
WeddingWire, the leading technology company serving the $100 billionwedding and events industry, is the largest online vertical marketplace connecting engaged couples with event professionals. With more than two million consumer reviews, it is the industry leader in consumer reviews. The site enables engaged couples to search, compare and book from an extensive database of more than 200,000 recently reviewed event professionals, from venues to photographers. WeddingWire provides event professionals with the technology they need to serve their clients, including a SaaS platform, which powers advertising, marketing, and CRM needs of local wedding and events businesses nationwide.


So I’m Late to the Party…

I’m finally on Instagram! It took me a while, but I eventually got with the times and signed up for it. I’ve been posting about products, books, and things that aren’t beauty-related but I have found a parallel anyway. So if you like pro product recommendations, beauty tips, hip hop hashtags and clever words, you can follow me at allisonbarberabeauty.

Have a beautiful day 🙂