Balancing Act

 

work life balance

Hi, my name is Allison and I’m a workaholic. I started working at age 15 and caught a real high off opening a company with my father. For my birthday that year, he got me business cards with my name and “Administrative Assistant” printed on them. If you think anyone in my sophomore class didn’t have one, you are dead wrong. My senior year of high school, I got out at 12:00pm every day for an internship that I was supposed to do for five hours a week. Instead, I did five hours a day and got paid for it.

I worked selling real estate during my college years. After graduation, I moved to FL where I instantly found a job (and then another one…then another one). I busted my ass as an Office Manager for two years before moving back to New England. I did a couple stints as an unemployed 20something, but those were always short-lived. In my mid 20s, I spent some time working two jobs, which I continued doing until I went full-time with my business. The days of taking time off or working short 40 hour weeks disappeared, and my new schedule of seven day weeks, 365 days a year began. (Yes, I count answering emails for an hour or two on Christmas or Thanksgiving as a work day.)

The addiction is real. Being an entrepreneur put me on another level, and I’ve started to realize it’s not always healthy. I still don’t take full days off, but in the past eight months, I’ve been working on getting some balance. (I know a lot of people think that term is too lifestyle blog-ish, but I can’t think of a better one.) It’s impossible to be truly balanced, which I recognize. When I’m working crazy long days, I think, I should be spending more time with my family and friends. When I make plans with family or friends, I think, I shouldn’t. I have too much work to do. There is no way to do it all, unless I can figure out how to clone myself. (That’s something I think about more often than I should, as I know it’s not possible. But 50 years ago, no one would have thought that cell phones could be possible, so maybe…)

But less talk about clones, more talk about balance. Us workaholics (and anyone taking care of a ton of things, like kids, parents, school, health issues, etc.) will eventually burn out if we don’t take breaks. And a burnt out workaholic is no good to anyone. I am not only the best entrepreneur and makeup artist I can be when I feel balanced, but also the best daughter, sister and friend.

My quest for balance started after I had a mini-breakdown early last summer. Looking back, I think part of it was from the workload but also probably because of my stress level due to my father’s year-long battle with pancreatic cancer (he’s good now, thank God). It all hit me one day in mid-June when I felt particularly buried in work, and I thought, This has to stop. So I started doing these things, which have helped make me a workaholic on the road to recovery.

More Family & Friend Time. I know, I know–this one is a no-brainer. It’s not only my favorite thing to do but one of my two main goals when I opened my business (the other was/is to be cold as little as possible by snowbirding it in the winter). I’ve historically been better at family time, maybe because I can plan ahead for a lot of it (birthdays, holidays, the annual family reunion) but have still missed out on some get-togethers over the years. Friend time can be tougher because I have a lot of them (I don’t know how!) and they are spread out across the country, plus everyone has different schedules. But I’ve made a solid effort to see my people as often as possible and continue to do so. I even do this new thing, which I never consistently did before: I try to meet a friend for lunch or a cocktail after a wedding job. (Not every wedding, but usually after one a week during wedding season.) My old way was to do a wedding job for three to five hours, go home, eat something, then do admin work for another eight or nine hours. Now I take a few hours to hang with a friend post-wedding to decompress. I live in one of the best summer towns in New England (fact) so it’s silly to pay rent here and not enjoy it with the people I love to be with.

Hitting The Snooze Button. I’ve never actually hit the snooze button because if I’ve set an alarm, there’s a damn reason I chose that wakeup time. But I do prioritize my sleep, because I am shitty at life when I’m tired.  On the days when I don’t have a morning appointment, I let my body wake up when it wants to. I had a two week stretch over the summer when that time was 5:45am, but lately it’s around 7:00am. I have given myself permission to sleep in if that’s what my body needs. Sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep at night or a nightmare about being late to a wedding wakes me up at 2:00am and it takes forever to fall back asleep. On those mornings, I let myself stay in bed until 8:00am or 8:30am, ignoring the commands from my brain to Get up and work, lazy! The option to sleep in if I feel like it is one of the benefits of being an entrepreneur, but the choice to actually do so is part of my balancing act.

Cutting Out Early. One of the strongest parts of my addiction has been stupidly long work days. Two summers ago, I had a sickening schedule. I would wake up around 8:00am and immediately start working, stopping only for the occasional errand or to go for a run. I would end my work day around 12:00am or 1:00am, go to sleep and repeat. The following year, I decided that work schedule was ridiculous, so I started ending my day at 10:00pm or 11:00pm (but also started waking up earlier). Now I try to end my workday by 8:00pm, sometimes earlier. And I take a lot more breaks during the day. I even take quasi-half days at least once week. (That’s when I stop at 2:00pm or 3:00pm to meet a friend, get home four or five hours later, and only address time sensitive issues after.)

I Plead Not Guilty. I have a guilt thing. I used to be really hard on myself for staying in bed until 8:30am or watching two hours of Netflix in the middle of the day. I don’t do either one of those often, but until recently, I would scold myself for doing so. I would think, What are you doing, Allison? Look at your To Do List! But now, I give myself a break. I don’t shirk my responsibilities to watch “Shameless,” but if I’ve responded to all client calls, emails and any time sensitive issues and I feel like intensifying my crush on Lip Gallagher instead of entering receipts in Quickbooks, I do it. And if I start to feel guilty, I tell myself, You are allowed to take breaks without feeling bad about it. It actually makes me more focused and efficient when I get back to work. The guilty-conscience-for-no-reason thing was not doing me any favors. Although it’s not completely gone, I have quieted the voice considerably.

Taking Care of Number One. I saw a quote recently that resonated with me. It said “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” I have struggled with this philosophy before because it seems so self-centered. And it is, but not in a bad way. I’ve learned that I am no good to anyone when I’m overworked, overtired and not feeling well. So besides getting enough sleep, I try to take care of myself physically by eating well, working out, taking supplements, not drinking like a college kid and being on top of any health issues. I am super preventative with my health and very aware of any changes in how I look or feel. (I’ve caught four pre-cancerous moles in the last year. Booyah!) I do this in part for Future Allison–so she has a better shot at not being saddled with health issues by age 65–and partly for Present Allison. Present Allison does better makeup when she is healthy and feeling well. She’s more clearheaded and therefore better at client and team communication and admin tasks. She’s also more apt to drive an hour or two to visit a relative, help someone move or look over a friend’s resume when she doesn’t feel sick, tired or worried about a health issue. So although putting a focus on self-care (lifestyle blog term #2, if you’re keeping count) may seem selfish, I’ve found it actually provides me with the energy and clarity to be more giving when it comes to my personal life and more focused when it comes to my business. Yes, getting a dental cleaning or going for a run takes away time from work, but I’ve decided these things are essential for me. If being a sluggish, fatigued person with plaque-coated teeth and a constant cold is the price you pay for an empty inbox, then no thank you.

My business has changed me for the better and I can’t see myself doing anything else. I am always going to be a hard worker, because I honestly know no other way. But my family and friends are my heart. You know when you’re on a date and the guy asks “So, what do you like to do for fun?” (Ugh. Please don’t.) I don’t have a list of hobbies to rattle off. My answer is “Hang out with my family and friends.” (Also, “Not date.”) It doesn’t matter if we see a movie, go out to lunch, or sit uncomfortably on the one loveseat that fit through my apartment door and talk for hours. The time I spend with the people I love is what keeps me going. I am passionate about my career but being a workaholic isn’t the best way to go through life. I will keep trying to balance things out so I can enjoy my life and be the most productive entrepreneur I can be. I welcome any advice from recovering workaholics.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

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Product Review: MAC Eye Kohl in Teddy

MAC Teddy
This right here is good people.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you know I have been on the hunt for the perfect brown eyeliner ever since Topshop discontinued my beloved Saddle. I’ve tried some liners that were too dark, some that were hard to blend and some that didn’t have enough red undertones to bring out the green in my eyes. I haven’t Goldilocks-ed myself out of this one yet, but I have found a liner that’s almost “just right”.

The weird thing is, I’ve had this eyeliner in my pro kit for several years. It’s been my go-to brown waterline eyeliner from the beginning. (I’m pretty sure it was a recommendation from the Pixiwoo sisters.) It’s MAC Eye Kohl in Teddy. MAC describes it as an “intense bronze,” but on me, it comes out more as a chocolate brown with red and bronze undertones.

Teddy is easy to blend, as any kohl eyeliner pencil should be. Because it’s a kohl, I usually set it with some eyeshadow in a similar shade so it doesn’t transfer on my crease or smudge under my eyes. But I’ve applied it to the lower lashline sans shadow before and it barely moved. (I did get some transfer on the upper lashline though, which I always get when I don’t set a kohl liner with shadow. That’s partly due to my eye shape, and partly because of my oily lids.) If you want an eyeliner pencil that does not move, don’t go with a kohl. That’s a general makeup rule.

If you want a good waterline liner though, Teddy will not disappoint. This liner goes on smoothly and is pigmented so you can actually see it on the waterline, unlike some liners. (I won’t give names.) It’s moderately long-lasting on the waterline, which is normal. If your eyes have moisture–and for your sake, I hope they do–eventually that will break down any waterline liner.

Because it’s a kohl, Teddy is easy to smudge out. I like to apply a thin line then smudge it with an angled brush or a pencil brush. This is big for me because I don’t usually like a defined liner on my peepers.

Teddy lasts all day for me without any touchups (at the lashlines, anyway). Longevity is also essential for me, because I don’t always have time for touchups. Some kohl liners I have known go on smoothly and are nicely pigmented, but they don’t hold up. Teddy won’t back out on you by mid-afternoon, and that’s an important quality in a liner.

Teddy is my makeup equivalent of that guy I grew up with who I never thought too much about then started to see in a different light. (For the record, I have no such guy.) Is this eyeliner the one I end up? Or am I settling? It’s hard to tell, but Teddy is a solid choice who I’ve grown to love. I’ll keep passively searching (aka swatching every brown eyeliner in Sephora on my hand when I’m there), but I’m happy for now.

If you want to give Teddy a try, you can get it at MAC stores, counters and online.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Don’t Be So Sensitive!

Office Space, sensitive skin tip
If you haven’t seen “Office Space,” go watch it now.

Skin sensitivity is a bitch. It can make your skin feel dry, itchy and like someone has lit a fire on your face. Some combination of redness, dry patches, rashes, hives and breakouts usually crops up when skin is truly sensitive. It’s typically caused by allergic reactions or irritation to a product ingredient or ingredients, but can also be brought about by environmental allergens (plants, pollen, trees, etc.) and food or medicine allergies.

If you suspect your skin sensitivity is related to product ingredients, the best thing to do is the skincare version of the elimination diet. Forgo your face makeup for a week and use nothing but a gentle cleanser like Dermalogica Gentle Cleanser and a fragrance-free moisturizer like Cetaphil Fragrance Free Daily Moisturizer. After a week, add in one of the products (i.e. a primer, foundation, face mask) you normally use. Wait a day and see if you experience redness, itching, hives, rashes, dryness, breakouts or any other type of flare up. Continue to do this until you have incorporated all of your regular products back into your routine. If the offender makes itself known, you have your answer (kind of). It could be any of the ingredients in that product, so I suggest finding out what they are, noting them, and comparing that list to the ingredients list on any products that irritate your skin in the future. You’ll eventually be able to pin down the ingredient(s)you are allergic to. You can also go to a dermatologist who specializes in testing for skin allergens.

Sometimes people think they have sensitive skin when they really have rosacea, eczema, or even certain types of skin cancer that show up as dry, scaly patches. There is also something called dermatographism, which is when the skin is extremely sensitive to physical touch. In those people, their skin cells release histamine at the slightest touch, causing redness to appear. If you have sensitive skin and are unsure of what’s causing your sensitivity, definitely see a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

If you have truly sensitive skin, there are some things you can do to avoid further aggravating your skin. Like:

  1. Don’t rub, scrub or otherwise manhandle your skin. Doing so will aggravate it and cause redness, splotches or dryness. Avoid using at home mechanical cleansing brushes, laser devices or acne treatments.
  2. Use fragrance-free products. Fragrances are a very common irritant for sensitive skin. Luckily, the beauty industry is aware of this and many lines carry fragrance-free products. Beauty Without Cruelty, Dr. Hauschka, Burt’s Bees, Almay, Clinique and CoverGirl all carry some fragrance-free products.
  3. Patch test everything. Before committing to any skincare or makeup product, first apply a small amount to your neck and wait 48 hours to see if you have a reaction. If you do, return that product and try again.
  4. Avoid physical exfoliants. Any kind of exfoliant with granules or beads will only further irritate your skin. Chemical exfoliants like Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant are best, but always patch test first and only use once a week. Some skin may be too sensitive to tolerate any exfoliants, so you may need to skip this step altogether.
  5. Don’t assume natural is best. If you have environmental allergies and your skin is sensitive, you may have better luck with products that contain only synthetic ingredients. Most people assume that products with natural ingredients will be more gentle, but that’s not always the case. Think about it: If you went out into a field of flowers and couldn’t stop coughing and sneezing, why would the pollen from those flowers not affect you if it was an ingredient in your moisturizer?
  6. Use gentle cleansers. Anything too strong will strip your skin and likely cause irritation (so skip the foaming cleansers). As mentioned, Dermalogica Gentle Cleanser is good, as is Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser. These cleansers will not thoroughly remove makeup though. If you wear makeup, you’ll need to remove it with an oil makeup remover, like Dermalogica PreCleanse, or micellar water, like Bioderma Sensibio H20, before cleansing. If your skin can tolerate some light rubbing, an oil cleanser like NUDE Skincare Perfect Cleanse Cleansing Oil will both remove makeup and cleanse your skin.
  7. Read my post on the acid mantle.

If you take care of your sensitive skin, you can minimize or erase any physical signs of irritation. So do right by your dermis, okay?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Label Conscious

Beauty blogger

I’m a First Born, Only Daughter and Sibling of One. I’m a Two Time Maid of Honor who was voted Most Considerate[1] in high school. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies and graduated Magna Cum Laude. I’m an Entrepreneur, a Makeup Artist and an Independent Contractor. I’m an INFJ[2], HSP[3] with Type A tendencies. I’m a Temini[4] who is either a Generation X-er or a Millenial, depending on your source. I’m a licensed Esthetician and a Class 10 Driver who has let her real estate license lapse. I’m 75% Italian, 25% Irish and 100% not doing DNA testing because I need to attribute my emotional outbursts and stubbornness to my genetics. I’m a Bad Boy Magnet[5], an Old School Hip Hop Head and a Runner. I’m a Gluten-Free[6] Vodka Drinker, formerly a Vegetarian and Bacardi Bitch. Not into labels? Wait, I’ve got one more: Makeup Girl. And that’s the most important one for this blog.

I’ve been inconsistently doing blog posts for almost six and a half years, and I recently realized that my new followers might want to know a little about me. (Should I add “Self Important Blogger” to my labels?) Maybe I’m alone in this, but I like to know why people blog about the topics they choose. Is it part of their job? Or are they writing because they are passionate about certain subjects or think they have information that could help others? (All of those are my motivating factors.) If it’s not a work requirement, I want to know what got them interested in the industry, hobby or part of life they write about. If you’re like me and want to know about this little blogger, read on.

I started “A Pretty Addiction” because I am a Makeup Girl. Yes, I’m also an Entrepreneur who knows every good business has a blog, but that wasn’t my main motivation. This blog allows me to combine two of my biggest passions: beauty and writing. As a born Makeup Girl, I have always loved trying new products and techniques. There is nothing quite like feeling of opening a new product and wondering if it will be my new perfect lipstick/mascara/eyeliner. That moment of hope and anticipation is so sweet, and when the product meets or exceeds my expectations, I’m damn near ecstatic. And writing is my favorite way to communicate, so why not combine the two passions?

I’ve also always loved reading about beauty. Production recommendations, application techniques, new ingredients and product technology, how looks were started and evolved over the years–all of that and more. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. There are a ton of beauty publications (both magazines and online) and the US beauty industry brought in $62 billion in 2015.

But what I noticed once I started working as a makeup artist was that there is a huge gap in consumer knowledge. People are buying products–often blindly–but they don’t know how to use them. Many people don’t know their skin type or how that affects not only the skincare products but the makeup they use. They don’t know where to test foundation to see if it’s a color match (on the jawline), how to apply mascara (run the wand back and forth at the lashline for volume, blink into it for length) or why they need a color corrector for dark circles (because the darkness will show through the concealer if you don’t cancel it out first). As a licensed esthetician and makeup artist, I think I can help fill in this knowledge gap. It seems crazy and selfish to not share what I have learned over the past eight years.

So if you like product recommendations, application tips and look how-to’s, you’re at the right place. I also do some posts about entrepreneurship, as the idea that almost everyone needs to be a 9-5 employee is changing, and some of us are meant to ride that wave. I love to hear about other business owners’ experiences and I know I’m not alone with that.

If you are new to “A Pretty Addiction,” you may notice I throw in a healthy amount of hip hop references (or you may not notice and wonder what the hell I’m talking about sometimes). You have to know who you are dealing with here. I am an old school (90s and early 2000s) hip hop girl to the core. I sometimes think in rap lyrics so it’s natural for me to communicate that way. Much like I was born loving makeup, I was born loving rap. It is as much a part of me as my deep set eyes or my freckled arms.

I hope these posts are informative, helpful and fun to read. If you’re a Makeup Girl: Welcome, soul sister. And if you’re not, maybe you do have an inner Makeup Girl who needs to awakened. Let’s bring her out to play!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

[1] I suspect that was because I had a big pool party every year that people wanted be invited to.

[2] INFJ is my Myers Briggs Personality type. It’s Introverted iNtuition Extraverted Feeling.

[3] Highly Sensitive Person. It’s a thing! Look it up.

[4] It’s what they call those of us on the Taurus/Gemini cusp.

[5] But I think they are really just “jerks” after age 22.

[6] Legit allergy, not a diet choice.