You’re On Acid, Man

Sensitive skin, breakouts, acid mantle

When I first heard the term “acid mantle,” I thought, Is that a metal band I have no right listening to? Or a shelf above a fireplace stacked with LSD? Turns out it’s neither. It’s a very fine, slightly acidic film on the top of the skin. It acts as a protective barrier against bacteria, viruses and contaminants that might have otherwise penetrated the skin. It’s made up of the water, sebum and perspiration that our bodies naturally produce.

You’re probably thinking “Why are you telling me this, Allison? I read this blog for product reviews, makeup how-to’s and your brilliant writing, not biology lessons.” I’m telling you because knowing what the acid mantle is and how an unbalanced one might be causing your breakouts, dry skin or skin sensitivity could be helpful to you. Even if you have normal skin, it’s important that you know about the acid mantle, as you are stripping it off every time you wash your face (which I know you now do regularly, as I’ve repeatedly suggested), and that can make you sensitive to products that otherwise wouldn’t irritate your skin.

You know how your skin can feel a little dry and tight after cleansing? That’s the feeling of the acid mantle being stripped away. Your more likely to get that dry, tight feeling–some people call it the “squeaky clean” feeling–when you use cleansers that contact astringent ingredients. A healthy skin has a pH balance of around 5.5, which makes it acidic. When the skin gets too alkaline from being stripped (or from systemic issues), that can cause the acid mantle to thin out. A depleted acid mantle makes it easier for bacteria, pollutants and allergens to penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. That means an increased chance for breakouts, allergic reactions and overall skin sensitivity. If you have sensitive skin, there is a good chance your acid mantle is on the fritz. And since a messed up acid mantle can cause breakouts, it’s something to think about if your blemishes seem to be coming from nowhere.

In normal function, the acid mantle rebuilds itself after it has been stripped away, but it takes a little time. That’s why I suggest waiting 15-20 minutes after cleansing before applying most products. Some moisturizers or hydrating masks are fine, but with something more potent like retinol or Vitamin C, you should wait before applying. If you’ve ever experienced stinging or irritation after applying a product, and you’ve applied that product immediately after washing your face, it may not be the product that’s the problem. If you’ve had a major reaction, don’t use that product again, but if it was just minor temporary discomfort and redness, it may be worth trying it again but doing so 15-20 minutes after you wash. (I recommend applying to only a small area so you see if your skin reacts.)

If you wash your face with bar body soap,stop that right now. That stuff is super alkaline and will really strip your acid mantle and dry out your skin. Please switch to a facial cleanser, which will be way more gentle on your skin.

Repeatedly using harsh products and stripping the acid mantle, especially if you then immediately apply a product, will likely set you up for skin sensitivity, dryness and/or breakouts. It’s so easy to not use bar soap and to wait 15-20 minutes to apply products after cleansing. These are pro tips I’ve giving you, folks. I like for people to be able to put their best face forward, and it all starts with skincare. So be nice to your acid mantle! It’s only trying to protect you.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

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Breakout Star

Acne, acne treatment, blemish treatment

I like a little imperfection. A crooked smile, a beauty mark, or two different colored eyes can make a face more interesting and beautiful. I think a lot of people are with me on this. But there is one imperfection that everyone hates–a blemish. One zit can be a bummer and widespread acne can take a real toll on a person’s confidence.

Luckily, there are ways to prevent and treat all types of blemishes. The culprits are always either dirt, oil, bacteria or a combination of them. Hormonal imbalances can spark breakouts, as can food allergies, sleeping with makeup on and using the wrong products for your skin. Let’s talk about the different kinds of blemishes and what you can do to prevent and treat them.

Whiteheads

Whiteheads are small blemishes with a raised white surface. There is little or no redness associated with whiteheads. They are caused when excess sebum (aka oil) and dead skin cells clog the follicle (aka the pore). Whiteheads have a thin covering of cells that trap the sebum and dead skin cells so that they can’t oxidize. Because of this covering, they are also referred to as closed comedones. They can appear anywhere on the face or body. You also might see whiteheads on area that has been recently waxed because the follicles are temporarily opened post-wax and if you touch the area, you can easily transfer oil into the follicles. And if the esthetician uses an oil-based treatment after the wax, that can cause whiteheads.

Treat Them With: A combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is the only acid that can penetrate the follicle and exfoliate from within and benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria inside the follicle. You can get this combo by using a cleanser with salicylic acid, like Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser, in the morning and a spot treatment like Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion at night.

Blackheads

These blemishes look like tiny black dots. They are most common on the nose and chin. They do not have any inflammation or redness associated with them. Blackheads are caused when excess sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria get trapped in a follicle and oxidize. In normal function, that bacteria can make its way out of the follicle, but when excess sebum is present, it clogs up the follicle so the bacteria has nowhere to go.  The melanin in the dead skin cell oxides and turns dark, then essentially peeks through the follicle. There is no layer above the trapped dead skin cells but they can’t be naturally pushed out of the follicle because the sebum has clogged it up. Because there is no layer between the trapped matter and the top layer of the skin, blackheads are also called open comedones.

Treat Them With: Salicylic acid. The chemical exfoliation powers of salicylic acid break down the sebum and push the bacteria and dead skin cells out of the follicle. Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Eliminating Spot Gel is a great salicylic acid spot treatment. Extractions done by a licensed esthetician are the way to go if you prefer to outsource.

Papules

These buggers are red, inflamed and often painful to the touch. They can appear anywhere on the body but are most common on the chin, neck and jawline. They do not have a white head so they can not be extracted.

Treat Them With: A combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is the only acid that can penetrate the follicle and exfoliate from within and benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria inside the follicle. You can get this combo by using a cleanser with salicylic acid, like Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser, in the morning and a spot treatment like Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion at night.

Pustules

Pustules are like whiteheads on steroids. They have that same raised white surface, but the area around that surface is red and inflamed. They are typically bigger than whiteheads and may appear more yellow than white.

Treat Them With: A combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is the only acid that can penetrate the follicle and exfoliate from within and benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria inside the follicle. You can get this combo by using a cleanser with salicylic acid, like Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser, in the morning and a spot treatment like Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion at night. Don’t attempt to pop these bad boys. Let a licensed esthetician do it, as they have been trained to properly do extractions without causing scarring.

Severe Acne: Cysts, Nodules and Acne Conglobata

Nodules are hard acne lesions which can be felt deep under the skin. They appear on the body, most often on the back and chest, and are painful to the touch. They are red and inflamed and take a long time to disappear.

Cysts, like nodules, start deep below the skin’s surface, but they are softer because they are filled with pus. They develop when the contents of blackheads and/or whiteheads leak out into the surrounding area. The immune system sees this spillage as an attack and forms pus.  Cysts can also take several weeks to fully go away.

Acne conglobata can affect the body and face. It is the most uncommon type of acne and has no known cause. It consists of abscesses and scars caused by cysts and tracts under the skin.

Treat Them With: A visit to the dermatologist or other specialist. Severe acne requires a customized treatment plan that sometimes includes antibiotics. If you don’t want to go that route, try consulting with a naturopathic or homeopathic doctor or an Ayurvedic practitioner. I personally have great results when I go the holistic route for most issues I have experienced, and I did have breakouts that were only eliminated after taking Japanese herbs. Eastern medicine and holistic methods typically treat the systemic root of the problem instead of just the symptoms. I’m no doctor, but I suggest doing what feels right for you.

Tips for All Types of Acne

  1. Wash your damn makeup off… If you don’t consistently and thoroughly remove your makeup, you have no right to complain about acne. Even if you don’t wear makeup, you still have to wash your face every night. If you think your face doesn’t get covered in oil and microscopic debris from pollutants every day, you need a reality check. If you have acneic skin and are not on any prescription acne medication, I recommend removing your makeup first with a makeup remover like Dermalogica PreCleanse then following with Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser. If you are on acne medication, please speak to your dermatologist about what cleanser you should use.
  2. …But don’t over-cleanse. It may feel like overcleansing gets your skin cleaner and removes the oil, but when you remove too much oil, your body kicks into overdrive to produce more oil. That excess oil can easily lead to breakouts. Unless you have an extremely oily skin, cleansing only at night is enough. If you are very oily, I recommend using an anti-acne cleanser at night and a gentle cleanser, like Fresh Soy Cleanser, in the morning.
  3. Clean your phone. Your phone screen gets covered in dirt, oil and bacteria every day. When you talk on the phone, you are putting that dirt and bacteria onto your face. Oh, you only text? Unless your hands are always squeaky clean and you never touch your face, you are still transferring that dirt, oil and bacteria. If you have a landline phone at home or work, make sure to regularly clean that off too.
  4. Change your pillowcases regularly. Oil and sweat from your face and scalp can absorb into your pillowcase, creating a wonderful place for bacteria to breed. A fresh pillowcase every few days may help prevent blemishes.
  5. Spot treat correctly. If you are using a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide spot treatment, only use a small amount on the actual blemish. Do not use spot treatments on unblemished skin, as they will likely cause redness and irritation. Spot treatments are best if you only have a couple of blemishes. They are not meant for a full face breakout.
  6. Mask your feelings. Maybe don’t do that, but consider face masks. If you have combination or oily skin and are prone to breakouts, using a charcoal, sulfur or clay based mask once or twice a week will absorb some of the excess oil that could be contributing to your breakouts.
  7. Exfoliate chemically. As you read above, some types of blemishes are partially filled with dead skin cells. If you regularly exfoliate, you are removing some of the dead skin cells that could otherwise end up inside a blemish. Chemical exfoliants are generally more effective and gentle, so most dermatologists and estheticians will recommend those over physical exfoliants. (If you use prescription retinol, that exfoliates for so you can skip this step.)
  8. Do not pick or pop. The best way to create acne scars is to pop and pick at your blemishes. A licensed esthetician can do extractions for you if you have a blackhead, whitehead or pustule, but you really should not mess with that yourself. Acne scars can only be corrected by laser treatments, and sometimes those don’t even fully do the job. Those treatments can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars so take a look at your bank account next time you are tempted to pick or pop.

If you have acne, I really feel for you. I have been there before and know it’s a serious confidence killer. But there are ways to treat all types of acne and ways to prevent it. Hopefully this post has been helpful for those of you struggling with acne and for those who just want to minimize the chances of getting a blemish.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

 

Your Dream Job Awaits

Hair stylist, makeup artists jobs

If you are a licensed esthetician or cosmetologist (or will be after completing school and passing your exams) and you are looking for a job doing wedding hair and/or makeup in RI or MA, have I got the blog post for you!

I own Allison Barbera Beauty, a beauty services company based out of Newport, RI. I have been in business since 2008 and currently have 11 regular Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists on my team, primarily for wedding and event services. Thanks to my talented team, the fantastic people who refer us and our stellar reputation, we have more business than we can handle. I am always hiring for Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists and I have a strong need for at least two more makeup artists and one hair stylist at this time. Like I have work for you right now. Seriously!

Because the wedding industry is seasonal in New England, this is a part-time job. But it can be a very lucrative gig that requires little of your time. If you love doing wedding hair and/or makeup and want to make money on some of the weekend days during the spring, summer and fall, this could be the right fit for you.

I realize there are a ton of companies in the area who hire Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists. I don’t know the inner workings of these companies and really, it’s none of my business. What I do know is what I can offer you as an Independent Contractor for AB Beauty. From what I can see and what I’ve been told, this combination of things is not available at other companies. Interested in what AB Beauty brings to the table? Read on.

I’ve Got It Covered. I get all of the jobs and handle all of the client communication from initial inquiry to photo posting and the million things in between. I do all of the scheduling, trial coordination, invoicing, follow up, etc. I am organized and detail oriented to a fault. I will tell you where you are going for a job and make sure you have contact numbers, know where to park, which hotel room to go to,  if there is a certain elevator to use, etc. If you work for AB Beauty, my goal is to make sure you get to do what you love without stressing about locations, schedules and other details.

I Will Bust My Ass For You.  I work seven days a week. I have no kids, no husband, no pets, not even a houseplant that I need to water. My energy is put into making AB Beauty run smoothly and grow exponentially. I want to get my artists and stylists as much work as possible and I want them to enjoy working for me. I am always open to feedback and doing whatever I can to make the job easy for each artist and stylist. When someone on the team contacts me, I respond as soon as I see the call, email or text. I refuse to hold up people’s lives by making them wait a couple days for an answer or information they need. This is not a side project or hobby.  This company is my life and I take it very seriously.

I Mean Business. My favorite game as a child was a little something I made up called “Small Business Owner.” No joke. I come from a business background. I opened my father’s real estate business with him when I was 15, and went on to be an Office Manager at other small businesses. I graduated with a degree in American Studies and a concentration in Business. I take business webinars, frequently consult with other business owners and am always reading at least one business book. I have great relationships with my accountant and attorney, so everything at AB Beauty is run as it is supposed to be. I constantly network, promote and make valuable business connections. You might not think this matters, but trust me, it does. And you may not realize that until you work for someone who has no business background. They could be the nicest person ever with an impressive makeup kit and an jealously-inducing hair portfolio, but if they do not know how to run a business, they will inevitably crash and burn. If you are working for them when that happens, your income is immediately reduced. Someone can be an insanely talented hair stylist or makeup artist, but that doesn’t mean they can run a business. And do you want to work for a business that is not run effectively or efficiently? I’m going to bet that you don’t.

Do Your Thing. As an Independent Contractor, you are legally allowed to work for other companies. I have had people who work at salons, spas, makeup counters and beauty supply stores as well outside of the beauty industry at office jobs, restaurants and even as a dental hygienist. I understand that as an Independent Contractor, you have to piece together your work. I hope to someday have full-time employee positions with benefits and trust me, I have plans in the works. But until then, you can work other jobs and work for AB Beauty, building the schedule that you want.

I Respect Your Time. When you work for AB Beauty, you will always know your schedule for a wedding one month in advance. If any change requests are made by a client after a wedding schedule has been finalized, I first ask you if you can accommodate the change–even if it is only by ten minutes–before committing to it. I know that as an Independent Contractor, you may have other clients scheduled before or after a wedding, and the jobs for those clients are also part of your livelihood. I also recognize that people have personal commitments and childcare arrangements to consider. I would never want you to lose out on one of your own clients or be late picking up your son because I didn’t confirm a schedule or forgot to tell you it changed. I am also an Independent Contractor (for corporate and commercial work) and I often don’t know get schedule until the night before a shoot. That makes it hard to plan anything, but that’s part of that world. However, I can prevent that from happening with jobs you do for me not only because of the nature of weddings and events, but because of the policies I have for AB Beauty clients.

Experience Is The Best Teacher. There is nothing like experience and I’ve got over eight years of it in the wedding beauty industry. (Eight years of weddings also means we have a huge and steady referral base from past clients.) I also have almost 20 years of overall business experience, as I mentioned above. How does that benefit you? The client interacts with me and is always responded to quickly and clearly. There is no confusion that spills over when you are doing their hair or makeup. That means you walk in to work with a happy client, not one who is mad that I neglected to tell her about hair extensions pricing until that day or never sent her invoice. I frequently get asked about Bridezillas, but I’ve never encountered one. I think that’s partly because angry, high maintenance clients can be created when they consistently get confusing answers or a lack of information from their vendors. I long ago figured out what clients want and need from their wedding beauty service provider and I built my company around those wants and needs. That knowledge and experience is invaluable and impossible to find in a company who hasn’t experienced it yet. AB Beauty has done hair and makeup for hundreds of weddings and events. I don’t remember the last time I got a question that I had never heard before. There are some things that no matter how a good a new company is, they just have not experienced yet. Do you want to work for a company that has already been through it all and worked out the kinks, or one who is still figuring things out?

I Got The Dream Team. My current artists and stylists are the best. Everyone gets along, helps each other out and has fun. We don’t do that gossipy, catty thing the beauty industry is unfortunately known for. Everyone looks out for the other people on the team, and that’s not something I have ever asked them to do. But when you have a group of good people working together, it happens naturally. I have seen AB Beauty artists and stylists exchange tips and techniques, and I do that with them as well. Everyone on the team is friendly, welcoming and happy to help each other out.

Our Reputation Is Killer. Check out our WeddingWire and TheKnot reviews as well as the testimonials on the Allison Barbera Beauty Weddings Facebook page. We currently have the highest number of reviews in RI on WeddingWire with an average 5 star rating. We have fantastic SEO–we are within the first few organic results for several relevant wedding hair and makeup Google searches. We also get tons of referrals from clients, vendors and venues we have worked with before. Along with the artists and stylists on my team, I have worked hard to create an experience that exceeds clients’ expectations. Doing that has given us the kind of solid reputation that ensures success not only for the business, but for the artists and stylists who work for AB Beauty.

As owner, my goal is to get my artists and stylists as much work as possible while making that work as easy as possible. I see myself as an agent. I basically get the jobs, offer them to you, and work out every detail so you can work with happy, informed clients. You do what you are passionate about then bill me for it. I take care of everything else.

If you love doing hair and/or makeup but do not love the business side or the responsibility and years it takes to build a profitable business–something that is becoming much more difficult as the market becomes saturated with beauty companies–we could work really well together.

If you are interested in joining the AB Beauty team, please email me at Info@AllisonBarbera.com. I look forward to adding more rockstars to the team.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Who’s The Boss?

Catherine The Great, one of my favorite girlbosses
Catherine The Great, one of my favorite girlbosses

I recently saw a post from a Facebook friend saying that she was sick of the term “girlboss.” She wants to get rid of that term and use “boss” instead because “girlboss” implies that women are not equal to men. She also pointed out that there is no “boyboss” term used. (I agree with that observation but looked on Instagram to confirm. There were about 1,700 “boyboss” hashtags, but only used in reference to male babies and children.) I saw her post around the time she had liked one of my Instagram posts–which had a girlboss hashtag–so I’m guessing my Insta post had something to do with her Facebook status.

I wasn’t insulted, but it got me thinking because I always cringe a little when I use the term “girlboss.”  I’m technically a boss but at 34 years old, I’m not a girl. So it’s half accurate, and I’m not normally in the habit of half-assing things.

I use “girlboss” on Instagram because it’s a hashtag that many people react well to. My Insta account, allisonbarberabeauty, is a business account. I post things that may look personal, but I relate everything to beauty or entrepreneurship. So for my purposes, Instagram is a business marketing tool used to get more exposure. Although my posts are genuine and I don’t buy followers, I am aware that my hashtags need to be relevant to things I post and need to attract the people who might like them. I wouldn’t use a hashtag I hated (I’m looking at you, #iwokeuplikethis) and if you look at my posts, you can see I do minimal (if any) filtering/editing to keep it real, but I do use hashtags that I think will give my posts more exposure. And “girlboss” is one of those hashtags.

Although part of me sometimes hesitates before I #girlboss a post (or use the term on this blog), I admire Sophia Amoruso, the woman who coined the term. Sophia is the founder of the successful Nasty Gal clothing company*. She has built an extremely impressive company (and has had recent success in offshoot ventures), which she wrote about in her book #GIRLBOSS. When I do question my use of that term, I remind myself that it’s Sophia’s term, and she is killing it the business world. If an entrepreneur I didn’t admire coined the term, I’m not sure I would use it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this and wondering if there is a better term. “Boss” is fine, but it I find it lacking. “Ladyboss” doesn’t make me cringe as much, but I don’t think I’m proper enough to be a lady. “Badbitch” would be my top choice, because my life has been shaped by women like Lil’ Kim and Trina. But it doesn’t have the same entrepreneurial connotation, although it should. If you successfully run a business, you are badass.

The point of that Facebook post and articles I’ve read denouncing the term “girlboss” is that it minimizes women entrepreneurs. Like they are not a real bosses, just the female version of bosses. Some people say women who use the term are hurting the feminist cause. That school of thought is something I have a huge problem with. I am a feminist. Everyone who works for me is female. I’ve had one male work for me, and guess what? He was paid exactly as much as everyone else on the team. In every wave of feminism in the last 100 years, there have been people who said wearing makeup was in opposition to feminism. (I could write a very long post on that, but instead I’ll continue to wear my makeup while I hire women and create jobs that help the economy.) Maybe feminist girlboss shaming is the new feminist makeup shaming?

This post has been my version of thinking out loud while I decide if I want to keep #girlbossing. I’m glad my Facebook friend posted that status because it made me think about something that has never 100% sat well with me. I like to periodically reevaluate the way I do things, both and my business and personal life. I realize that certain ways of thinking, company policies or even makeup application techniques may have served me well at one point, but need to be changed if a better way is available. Self improvement and business growth are both immensely important to me, and I could do neither without stepping back, looking at what I do and deciding if there is a better way. That’s a real badbitch move, right? (Trying that one on for size.)

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

*On my finally edit of this post on 11/11, I learned that Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy. In my mind, that does not take away from what Amoruso has accomplished.