Product Review: Benefit The POREfessional


Pore minimizer

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 affected 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.


Everyone’s Pores

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 allow 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.

Have a beautiful day 🙂




2000s Beauty

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.

Have a beautiful day 🙂


My Perfect Day

The Ghosts of Past, Present and Future. Future Ghost does not represent death because she is wearing black. She's just very chic and lives in NYC.
The Ghosts of Past, Present and Future. Future Ghost does not represent death because she is wearing black. She just lives in NYC and is very chic.

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 unexpectedly happened six months later). I recently came across this so of course I have to share it. 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!, 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 prescription retinol.

June 2010

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 always, I think your 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. 

June 2022

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.

Have a beautiful day 🙂