10 Things People Don’t Know About Makeup Artists

What do you do when you hear about a job in an industry you haven’t worked in? I’ll tell you: you immediately picture what that job is. Maybe you only come up with fuzzy details (“Ok, Hedge Fund Manager. Something about investing other people’s money?”). Or maybe you think, “Kindergarten teacher. Teaches cute little kids the alphabet for nine months a year.” (Wrong.) But if you’re an adult, unless you’ve truly never heard anything about that job (like how we all felt when we first heard about “social media influencers”), you likely have some idea of what that job entails.

I would argue (against myself, it seems) that we don’t really know most of what people’s jobs truly are unless we have had their job or worked in their industry. While I will admit that the makeup artist part of my job is a little easier to understand than the entrepreneur part, I think there are still a lot of misconceptions and/or things people have no idea about when it comes to the job of a professional, working makeup artist. And guess what I’m here to do? That’s right. Clear it up.

And if you don’t know, now you know. (Or you will by the end of this post.)

  1. It’s hard for us to identify colors. I don’t mean that we are colorblind. I just mean we see undertones and/or temperature (cool or warm) in every color we look at, unless it’s pure black or pure white. Go ahead, try to show a makeup artist something brown. We’re going to call it a “reddish brown” or an “orange brown.” Blue? Well, is it a gray blue or a purple blue or hold on, isn’t that flecked with silver? The red dress you’re wearing is a cool red or a warm red to us, and the pink couch? It could be a blue pink (yes, that’s a thing) in our eyes. So if you ask us what color something is and we pause, it’s not because we don’t know. It’s because we usually see more than one color in everything we look at.
  2. This shit hurts. Makeup artists carry a lot of gear. Kits, chairs, set bags, lighting, overflow bags (that’s what I call the extra bags I bring when my main kit for a job is full.) We have to lug this stuff through parking lots and garages, up and down stairs, and back out at the end of sometimes brutally long days. We also often stand for hours at a time, sometimes on the concrete floor of a film or television studio, which is a stellar way to cause back pain. One summer, I sprained both wrists carrying my stuff back and forth to weddings and shoots. And every time I lift my pro kit, I feel something pull in my neck. (Likely part of the reason I’ve had to go to a chiropractor three times a week all winter.) You may not think of makeup artistry as a physically demanding job, but surprise!, it is.
  3. We haven’t tried every product ever created. There are so many beauty products out there. So many. Although I would love to try each one, I don’t have the time or budget for that, and I feel confident every other makeup artist on the planet would say the same. So if you tell a makeup artist you use a certain mascara and are met with a blank stare, it’s because they are not familiar with it. That doesn’t mean it’s not good and you shouldn’t use it. It just means they haven’t tried it. Got it?
  4. Meals can be tough for us. Sometimes, we are on set or with clients for several hours straight with no real breaks. And we are usually driving to jobs, so our “dinners” are often protein bars scarfed down while driving home from a long day. So if you encounter a makeup artist who seems bitchy, they are probably just hangry. And that is our right.
  5. We don’t always wear makeup. If I’m going out or going to an event, I am wearing makeup. If I’m on a corporate gig or doing a wedding, full face. But any other time, you might catch me in just mascara and undereye concealer (which I barely even consider to be makeup). Most of the makeup artists I know do not always wear makeup, or at least not always a full face of it. We tend to be busy creatures, and while most of us can do a ten minute face if we have to, we usually prefer to have the time to do our own makeup in more of a relaxed fashion. So when we don’t have that time, we may shock you and your preconceived notions by opting for no or very little makeup.
  6. We’re not judging your makeup. Are we noticing it? Yes. But are we judging you? No! (At least not in my experience or from what I’ve heard others say.) We know you are not a pro, and we don’t expect your makeup to be perfect. In fact, I personally tend to be more concerned that my makeup looks good, as I’m the professional, so it should. So if you’re meeting your makeup artist friend for Happy Hour, don’t feel pressure to make sure your makeup is, as the kids say, “on fleek.” You look great!
  7. We don’t want to do your makeup when we are not working. My first couple years in business, I liked doing my friends’ makeup before we went out. I think it was a combination of being excited to be a makeup artist and being in my 20s and loving getting ready for nights out together with a friend. But somewhere along the line, even though I still love my job, it began to feel like work. And that’s because it is! Especially being a business owner, a lot of the lines between my personal life and my work life are blurred. Meaning I don’t have set hours, so I jump back and forth between work and personal, work and personal, all day. So when I know I can get into Personal Life Mode for a couple hours straight, I don’t want to turn that off and go back into Makeup Artist Mode by doing someone’s makeup. Every MUA I know feels the same way. We want to spend time with our friends and family when we are not working, not cover their undereye circles. Sorry! I can’t lie to you in my own blog.
  8. Our job is not just doing makeup. It doesn’t matter what part of the industry a makeup artist works in–there are always tasks we have to do that don’t include doing makeup. Getting clients, marketing, booking work, collecting payments, applying for pro discounts–the list goes on and on, especially for freelancers and business owners. It would be nice to just show up to a job, but how did we get the job? And the liability insurance we have to carry to set foot on that set? Did the makeup order itself? And who made that portfolio that potential clients look at? Much like a teacher’s job doesn’t end when the dismissal bell rings, a makeup artist’s job doesn’t end when the setting spray is on.
  9. It’s not a glamorous profession. Do makeup artists help people look more glamorous? Absolutely. But is the job glamorous? Well, I have to check people’s noses for “bears in the cave” before they go on camera, so you tell me. Sure, being a makeup artist for weddings sometimes means we get to pull up to a luxury hotel, valet park and set up in a beautiful, well-lit suite. But it also sometimes mean we are doing makeup in a small, dark lakeside Airbnb cabin and oh, we have to set up in a bathroom that has maybe seen better days. And don’t even get me started about the glamour of working in film. The first time I used a Porta Potty in my adult life was when I was working on an indie that was filming all day at a beach location. It makes a girl not want to drink anything all day, you know? As makeup artists, we are often on our feet all day, often barely eating and setting up wherever we are allowed to, which can be a gorgeous room in a five start hotel or a dirty basement in the house where a commercial is being filmed. We ignore all of that stuff because we still get to do what we love, but it’s not a life of luxury for us when we are working.
  10. Doing makeup is draining. It is so important to me that every person who is in my chair is happy. I put 150% into every makeup application I do, as do most makeup artists I know (and certainly everyone on the AB Beauty team!). When I’m doing makeup, I’m in the zone. I am thinking about nothing else but doing what I need to do to get a smile on that client’s face when they look in the mirror after I am done. And it’s not just that I do makeup–I have genuine conversations with my clients (unless I can tell they are not in the mood to talk), so I’m putting into effort there too because I want them to enjoy the entire experience. But when it’s over–whether I did one trial, six people at a wedding or a ten hour day on a commercial–I’ve got nothing left. I feel like I temporarily give away a part of my soul with each makeup application, and other makeup artists I’ve talked to say the same. We all have said that we need some recovery time after, and I’m guessing it’s the same for most people who work in any creative field. I can tell that some of my friends and family don’t understand why I’m a zombie after four hours of doing wedding makeup, but this is why. This is probably one of those things that are hard to understand if you haven’t been there, so just trust me, okay?

What do you think? Do you feel like you have a little more insight into the world of a makeup artist? Hopefully you now have a better grasp on what we do. This profession is a lot different than I pictured when I started, and I even knew a bit about it, so I can’t imagine what, oh, someone like my father who only knows foundation to be “what a building is built on” might think.

Fellow makeup artists–if I missed anything or if you have a different take, I’d love to hear it.

Have a beautiful day 🙂


My MAC Eyeshadow All Stars

One of my many MAC eyeshadow palettes. Photo: Rebecca Arthurs Photography

I’ve been using MAC eyeshadows since the beginning of my career as a makeup artist. Especially with an eye primer underneath, I’ve found these shadows to be the longest lasting, most pigmented powder shadows in the game. But if you’re at a MAC store or counter or on their website, the sheer selection of colors (currently 108 of them) can be daunting.

So allow me to present my go-to’s and thoughts on who I’ve found they work best on. I’ll include the shade descriptions MAC gives for each, but I won’t be shy in voicing my opinion if I see them differently.

All That Glitters. Beige with gold pearl. To me, this looks more rose gold than beige gold on most people. I think it works best on light and medium skintones. It’s pretty shimmery, so stay away if you’re a Matte Girl.

Antiqued. Ash brown with bronze. This is gorgeous on deeper skintones with any eye color.

Brown Script. Warm chestnut brown. Works especially well on medium and deeper skintones, either on the lid or in the crease. It’s matte, so it can work for either. (I stay away from shimmer in the crease, as it defeats the purpose of making an area look recessed.)

Brule. Soft creamy beige. One of my matte go-to lid colors for fair, light and light-medium skin.

Brule on the lid. Photo: Meagan Emilia Photography   Hair: Emily Buffi for Allison Barbera Beauty     Makeup: Allison Barbera

Brun. Muted blackish brown. I use this cool, matte shade as a liner on light and medium skintones, any eye color. I also use it to fill in brunette brows.

Carbon. Intense black. Everyone should have a good black eyeshadow, and this is my favorite. I mostly use it at the lashlines, as it’s pretty rare for me to use black on the lid or in the crease unless it’s for an editorial look.

Charcoal Brown. Muted taupe brown. I use this a lot at the lower lashline on light and medium skintones. It provides soft definition. It also works as a neutral matte lid color on deeper skintones.

Club. Red brown with green pearl. Club is a really unique shade. Depending on the skintone and the lighting in a room, it can look green, silver, gray or brown.

Coquette. Muted grayish taupe. I like this as a lower lash liner on green or hazel eyes, as it brings out the green.

Cork. Muted golden brown. Another lower lash liner choice for light to medium skintones.

Embark. Intense reddish brown. Really pretty on deeper skintones and on green eyes (green and red are complimentary colors, so the red undertones makes green looker greener).

Era. Soft golden beige with shimmer. Works well as a lid color on medium and deeper skintones.

Espresso. Muted golden brown. I use this warm brown a lot as a crease color on deeper skintones, or an outer V color on light and medium skintones.

Goldmine. Intense gold with shimmer. It’s a very yellow gold, so I tend to use it over other golds (from different lines, sorry) or over a darker shimmery color that I want to lighten. I find it usually pulls too yellow to wear alone.

Mulch. Red brown with bronze pearl. Gorgeous on green eyes, but it can be too dark on fair and some light skintones.

Naked Lunch. Minimal pink with shimmer. Pretty on fair and light skintones with any eye color. Can look frosty on medium and deeper skintones.

Nylon. Pale gold with icy shimmer. This one can get intense, so I mainly use it for inner corner highlight or as part of the look for a shimmery gold lid. It’s pretty in small doses.

Omega. Soft muted beige taupe. I mainly use this for brow fill-in for blonde brows, but have also used it on medium and deeper skintones on both the lid and the crease.

Phloof. Frosted off white. Similar to Nylon in my application of it. I also use it with a light hand on the lid for Flower Girls.

Ricepaper. Peachy gold with shimmer. This works on light skintones, but is especially pretty on medium and deeper skintones. It’s what I reach for when a client shows me an inspiration photo with a very shimmery lid.

Satin Taupe. Taupe with silver shimmer. Great for light and medium skintones. It can get a little ashy (due to the silver) on some deeper skintones. Especially flattering on brown eyes.

Scene. Muted blue gray. I work this into gray smokey eyes, as it tends to look more gray than blue when blended into other grays. Works with all eye colors.

Soba. Gold brown with gold shimmer. Really pretty in a subtle way on medium and deeper skintones.

Soft Brown. Soft golden peachy brown. This is gorgeous on those with blue eyes, as it’s got an orange undertone and orange and blue are complimentary. It can pull too orange on fair skintones though. Also pretty on deeper skintones.

Wedge. Soft muted beige taupe. This is my go-to crease color for fair, light and medium skintones. If this one ever gets discontinued, MAC and I will have a problem.

Wedge in the crease. Photo: Joseph Laurin Photography http://www.joelaurinphotography.com Makeup: Allison Barbera

Woodwinked. Warm antique gold. Perfection on medium and deeper skintones. Can pull orange on light and medium skintones. Flattering on green eyes.

Yogurt. Soft pale pink. Very pretty on fair and light skintones with blue eyes.

MAC has discontinued some other shades I use and have backups of so I’m good for a bit, but I won’t tell you how great those ones are since you won’t be able to buy them. I mean, I’m not a jerk!

If you have any MAC shadow faves, I’d love to hear. Comment away.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The Case of the Mysterious Entrepreneur

I’ve chosen the uncommon career path and lifestyle of entrepreneurship. You might be thinking “It’s not that rare! I know several entrepreneurs.” Maybe you do, but the stats I have found all say that around only 14% of the population are entrepreneurs, so it’s really not that common. And I’ve made things even more complicated for people around me by not only a being an entrepreneur and small business owner, but a working snowbird. That (currently) means I spend April until late December in Newport, RI, where my business is based, and late December until April in Charleston, SC where my happiness is based (kidding).

I get it when someone who is hearing about my snowbird life for the first time doesn’t get it. It’s weird and usually something only retired people do (although they get the pleasure of not working while they snowbird). But when my close friends or people who have heard it several times don’t get it, I have to say, it drives me a little crazy. And that’s how this blog post was born.

I don’t think the snowbirding confusion is because people don’t understand how that works. No one seems to have an issue comprehending how someone could live in one area of the country for part of the year and another area for the rest of the year. Many retirees do it, as well as boatloads of people in the sailing and yachting industries (excellent pun) and some people who work in the service industry. What, you’ve never met a bartender who works in a Martha’s Vineyard/Cape May/Ocean City bar during the summer then heads to Key West to sling dranks during the winter? Sure you have.

I think the confusion comes in due to the mystery of the entrepreneur. It’s easy to grasp that someone who works on boats could go from Annapolis in the summer and early fall to the British Virgin Islands in the winter because that’s where the jobs are. Or how a Cape Cod bartender could fly down to Florida to bartend there when the Cape summer season ends, because the Florida summer season never really ends. The guy who works on boats needs to be where the boats are, and the gal who bartends at one beach bar in MA can probably do it at a beach bar in another state too. But what does an entrepreneur do when they go somewhere else? That’s a great question that you didn’t even know you had, and it really depends on the business they own, but there are some general things all big bosses have in common.

When I tell someone I own an onsite hair and makeup company and I go to or am in Charleston for the winter, they often then say “Do you work while you’re in Charleston?” It’s flattering that people think my business is doing well enough that I can just not work for three months, but that is not the case. (Yet.) Of course I have to work during the winter! I own a small business! You think this thing runs itself? (Give me another ten years to get to that point.)

While I may not take makeup clients when I’m in Charleston, doing makeup is only about a max of 35 hours of my week during my busiest months in Newport. The bulk of my time is and has been for several years now spent managing, doing admin tasks, recruiting and hiring, and growing my business. Sure, taking out that client piece for three months and the fact that we don’t have many weddings I have to coordinate during the winter means I only have to work between 30 – 40 hours a week while I snowbird (which feels like a vacation to me), but I still work every single day.

I’m going to share with you some of things I regularly do during my warmer winters, not because I have some strong desire for you to know what my life is like, but because if you have any of those fourteen-percenters around you, they are likely doing a lot of the same or similar tasks but might have trouble articulating that. So while they are probably busting their ass doing all the mysterious work, you might be picturing them sleeping until 11:00am, answering a few emails, going to the gym, making a couple phone calls, posting on Instagram then calling it a day.

And now, a short list of some of the many regular things that fill my weeks when I am not doing makeup (both when I am in Charleston and in Newport). The entrepreneur in your life is probably doing a lot of the same or similar things, plus maybe several that I haven’t thought of.  If you’ve made it this far into the post, you might as well keep going.

Booking. A giant part of my job is booking weddings, wedding trials, events, commercials, shoots, makeup lessons, etc. If you think a client emails and says “Can you do the hair and makeup for my June 1st wedding?” and I say “Sure. See you then!,” you are dead wrong. I spend an average of two hours per bridal client checking availability, sending makeup artist and hair stylist portfolios and answering questions about experience, giving rates, answering emails, sometimes having phone calls, sending contracts and answering questions about those, and a lot of things I’m probably forgetting. (And that’s nothing compared to the time I spend once they are booked!) Any entrepreneur who provides services will spend some amount of time (or pays someone to spend some amount of time) on the booking process. Sure, some of them have it automated, but the system they use didn’t create itself. If you are not an entrepreneur but you work in Sales, some of this is probably sounding familiar to you.

Social Media. Some day, I will pay someone to do this for me, but until then, it’s all me (and I know that’s the case for a lot of entrepreneurs). For my company, I manage two Facebook pages and one Instagram account. I post on each three times a week, because consistency is key with social media. That’s a lot of content I have to come up with, and I of course have to be aware of new trends and algorithms. We get clients who have found us on social media, which is how I know it’s an effective form of marketing. I’m not in it for the Likes or followers. I’m in it to share photos of our work, beauty tips that can help people and information about the company, for those who are interested. It’s also an important way of getting our voice/brand out there. I think it’s fair to say that most business owners spend a decent amount of time on social media, or they pay someone to do it for them (and there is still work that needs to be done, even if you outsource it).

Blogging. I spend a few hours each week blogging. I didn’t always do this–check out the Archives from earlier years when I posted maybe once every couple months–but last year I decided I wanted to up my blogging game. I made a goal in 2018 to publish one post once a week, and I achieved that goal. I plan on continuing that once-a-week posting in 2019 and so far, I’m on track. I know blogging (and definitely consistent blogging) isn’t something that all entrepreneurs do, and in some industries, it wouldn’t make sense to. But I have valuable, expert info I want to share for free, and this is the platform for it. If the business owner in your life also has a blog, know that it definitely takes up a bit of their time.

Invoicing. We gotta get paid, you know? Invoicing is (or should be!) a part of most service-based industries. Even with invoicing or accounting software, it takes time to create, send, collect payment and follow up as needed (it’s often needed). Sure, the bigger the business, the more likely this task is to get outsourced, but freelancers and owners of smaller business will usually take care of this themselves. I can get most of my invoices done in under 10 minutes each, but I sent out around 300 invoices last year, so you do the math. (Really, please do it. Because I can’t.) If an entrepreneur has a good system in place and the company doesn’t have a complicated pricing structure, this shouldn’t be the most difficult or time consuming of the money tasks, but it is an essential part of the job.

Paying Bills. Money comes in, money goes out. It’s a vicious cycle. All entrepreneurs have some bills to pay, no matter how small their company is. Cell phone, WiFi, office space, advertising, personnel, inventory, etc. Some companies have a lot of overhead, while others don’t. But there are a ton of things that need to be paid for, and unless a business owner has someone doing that task, they are taking care of it themselves. Depending on the business, this can be a time consuming task, but it has to be done.

Taxes. Most of my friends are not entrepreneurs and from what they’ve told me, filing their taxes is usually not too complicated if they just have one non-Independent Contractor job and don’t own multiple properties. For entrepreneurs, taxes can be complicated. I have a great accountant and I meet with a bookkeeper from her office quarterly for Quickbooks reconciliation (think of it like balancing your checkbook, a reference you will understand if you were born in or before the early 80s). Even with that, I still have to send certain information to my accountant each year, as well as check that the 1099s sent to my Independent Contractors are correct and the 1099s I am supposed to receive have made it to me. Like many business owners, I pay quarterly estimated taxes, so taxes aren’t something I only think of once a year. I budget my quarterly payments, and now that my company has grown so much, there is other work I need to prepare every three months. I’m sure I’m not the only boss who does that. If you can spend one hour a year at H&R Block or wrap everything up in five emails with your accountant, I think that is awesome, and I am jealous. But now you know that one of the two certainties in life can take up more time that you might think for an entrepreneur.

Scheduling & Coordinating. I spend several hours every single week coordinating trials, meetings, assessments, trainings, sometimes corporate/commercial jobs and creating wedding and event schedules for hair and makeup. This time consuming task is part of any business that has services that are performed or people that need to show up to sell consumer goods. Things don’t just happen, you know? Someone–be it the business owner, admin assistant or a manager–schedules shifts/appointments/service times. Sure, some companies have scheduling software or set schedules, but that’s not appropriate or possible for all companies. I’m personally used to it and (I think) good at scheduling and coordinating, as I did some version of it at most of my pre-AB Beauty jobs. But a lot of people despise this task and struggle with it, so if you’ve got an entrepreneur in your life, this may be something they hate. But unless they can outsource it or can use scheduling software, it’s likely something they have to do to some extent.

Getting Photos. This is wedding-industry specific, but I’m talking about it anyway. (My blog, my rules.) Couples planning a wedding want to see pictures of venues, flowers, wedding gowns, table set ups, hair and makeup, etc. But since I’m a crap photographer at best, I prefer to use professional photos of the work my team and I have done. That involves getting wedding album links from clients, choosing photos that best highlight our work, getting the bride’s approval for the choices, contacting the photographer for permission to post and then posting them on Facebook and Instagram. Sure, the Facebook and Instagram part comes under my social medial tasks, but getting the photos is a whole different task. If you know a business owner who shares photos they didn’t take (and I really can’t think of an industry outside of the wedding industry that would), or hires someone to take photos for them, this is likely eating up some of their time.

Post-Job Follow-Up. I follow up after all wedding and event jobs we do, as well as after the first time I do or send an AB Beauty makeup artist to cover for me on a corporate or commercial job with a new client. As you may have noticed, many companies will send you a survey or ask for a review (review requests are part of my follow-ups too) after you use a service or buy one of their products. I think it’s so important to do whatever form of follow-up makes the most sense for a company so that clients/customers know someone cares about their experience after it’s all said and done. My guess is that most entrepreneurs do some sort of follow-up work.

Recruiting. I’m pretty much constantly hiring at AB Beauty. I post ads for new hair stylists and/or makeup artists, but I also recruit them from Cosmetology schools. That means I go in and speak to classrooms full of “future professionals,” as the Paul Mitchell schools call them, about AB Beauty job and training opportunities. This involves scheduling classes, preparing and updating talking points, answering emails after, etc. It’s an important part of my job and probably a part of the job for any entrepreneur who has a growing company that requires personnel. Depending on the industry, I can see this being anything from a minimally time consuming task that happens once in a while to something that is a top focus and can take up huge chunks of time.

Hiring. For any entrepreneur who has people working for them, hiring is on their task list (or something they pay someone else they have hired to do for them). Like with anything else, this differs by company and industry, but for me, it’s definitely one of the more time consuming tasks. Formal job offers, Independent Contractor Agreements, requesting professional license information and proof of liability insurance and about 35 other tasks are part of the process for me. From what I know, it’s a pretty time-intensive part of the job for most solopreneurs who have Independent Contractors or employees working for them.

Training. For business owners who have employees, training is (hopefully) part of the process. At AB Beauty, there are no employees but we do offer training programs for those Independent Contractors who are interested. These sessions take up several hours a week while the actual training is happening, but also several hours before it even starts to relay certain information and arrange sessions. If you’ve got an entrepreneur in your life who handles training, know that this can take up a lot of their time.

Accounting. I luckily have an accountant and a bookkeeper who I meet with quarterly, but there is still a lot of work I do that falls under what I consider the “Accounting” umbrella. This mostly involves entering information into Quickbooks, but anything that has to do with banking goes here in my mind. The entrepreneurs who hire people to take care of this can cross this task of their list, but a lot of us handle it (to varying degrees) on our own.

IT Stuff. One of my least favorite hats to wear as an entrepreneur is “IT Gal.” It’s not my strength but since, you know, everything is done on a computer, it’s something I can’t ignore. I have a company that handles my website design, domain and any website issues, which is awesome. And I have a freelance IT hero, Dan, I hire when there is something wrong with my computer. But before I go around throwing money at people, I research and try to fix some problems myself (and those are usually the times when you can find me drinking tequila to quell the frustration). Even if there is something I can’t fix myself, it’s still part of my job to reach out to the person who can fix it for me and follow through to make sure the issue is resolved. Sometimes Dan will walk me through fixes remotely, and I’m glad he is able to do that, but what seems like a simple problem can sometimes take an afternoon to fix. If you ever hear the non-tech entrepreneur in your life swearing at their computer, it might be because of this.

Taking Classes. If I ran my business like I did even five years ago, I’d be in trouble. Not that I was doing anything bad or wrong, but platforms change and businesses grow, so adjustments need to be made. For me, part of being a good business owner is learning about new ways to do things and approach the big picture and strategic parts of the job. I take a lot of online classes, workshops and webinars to help me better my business, and I know several entrepreneurs who do the same. These generally take up 60 – 90 minutes per class/workshop/webinar for online offerings, but in person classes can take an entire day or more. There is sometimes work that needs to be done before and/or after a class, so this can take up some time too.

I prefer online classes that I can take from my windowsill.

Personnel Communication. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t email or text at least one person on my team. (They’re like “Yeah, we know, Allison.”) Part of this has to do with the fact that they are all Independent Contractors so I can’t just schedule appointments without asking them. But there is a shit ton of other stuff that I need to check with them about (and that they need to check with me about), and I think all business owners who have people working for them handle this to some degree. So if your entrepreneur friend/spouse/relative has to step out of the room for five minutes to answer a time sensitive call from someone who works for them, give ’em a break! It’s part of the job.

Attorney Communication. If you know an entrepreneur who doesn’t have an attorney, be worried for them. If you own a business, you damn well better make sure your practices and your documents are legally sound. I don’t need legal services every month, but when I do, I have emails and phone calls with my attorney that have to happen. Sometimes it’s a ten minute back and forth email conversation, and other times it’s 45 minutes on the phone to straighten something out. Depending on the industry and what stage of the business someone is, this could be a more time-intensive part of the job. But it is definitely part of the job to some degree.

Constantly Evaluating Everything. A huge part of being an entrepreneur in my book (which, as you can imagine, is a very long book) is regularly assessing how things are working. Pricing, systems, client communication templates, hiring, training programs, etc. I consider this to fall under my Big Picture Duties, as what I’m really asking is “Is this part of the business working?” I feel pretty confident saying every entrepreneur does some version of this. So if you look at the business owner in your life and they seem to be mindlessly scrolling through something on their screen, sure, they might be. But they might also be looking numbers, feedback or reviews and deciding if they need to adjust some part of their company to make it better.

Should I change our studio space? Does this payment schedule still make sense? Should I get a chrome silver manicure?

Revising Everything. Okay, so hopefully not all at once. But that constant evaluation often means something (or many things) need to change. And changes don’t happen on their own! There are simple changes like changing over from a personal to a business Instagram account. And there are bigger changes, like website makeovers, switching to a new client management system or setting up new accounting software, that can take hours and hours and hours. The bigger the company, the less likely it is that the business owner will have to personally execute the changes, but solo owners with no admin staff are likely taking it all on.

So if you ask your entrepreneur friend what they are doing this weekend and they say “Working,” but you know they have no clients or their store/restaurants/studio isn’t open, keep in mind that they might be doing some (or all) of the things I mentioned, plus some I forgot or never thought of. And if you’re my friend or relative and you’ve secretly been thinking “What does she do when she says she is working in Charleston? I know she didn’t even bring her pro kit there this year!,” now you know.

If you have any misconceptions about your job or industry that you want to clear up, leave ’em in the comments. I love hearing about other people’s jobs because it helps me understand what their life is like. And understanding is key in any type of personal or business relationship, right? (Next up, my post about my life as an Amateur Psychologist.)

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The Evolution of a Makeup Artist

My mother has never been a huge makeup person, and I don’t have any blood sisters. (I have a sister-in-law who will be mad at me if I don’t clarify.) I was simply born loving makeup, both wearing it and putting it on other people.

And while my makeup looks good now (it better, after over a decade of applying makeup as my profession), it didn’t start out that way. I had lot of bad makeup looks, and some questionable eyebrow choices. I’ve also been on a journey with my thick, naturally curly, dark brown hair that screams “Sicily!” at you before it frizzes up.

I guess I’m feeling nostalgic or something, because the idea of doing a blog post where I look back and share some pictures of Allisons past–as well as my commentary on them–sounds like a great idea. You want to come on this ride with me? Grab some black eyeliner and buckle up.

Here I am, with my sister friend, Danielle, at three years old. Her mother used to put clown makeup on us because Dan was afraid of clowns (the idea being it would make her less afraid of them), and I just liked the feel of makeup on my face. Note the foreshadowing with my Florida shirt (I would later live there) and my client/doll I had with me. All of my dolls got made up, either with markers, crayons, or whatever real makeup I could get my little hands on.

At age five, with my brother, Mike. I was makeup-less and somehow rocking straight bangs with curly hair. This was during the period when I would dress Mike up in a little wedding gown, call him “Christina” and put makeup on him. Note the foreshadowing of my current career.

I believe this was my 10th birthday. I was looking very Beatnik with my bob and black turtleneck. In the front of the picture on the left is my cousin, Brooke, who became my “you have no choice, we’re always together!” makeup model for years.

The summer after seventh grade with my friend, Lisa. We are both clearly wearing the same lipstick, which I believe was a lipstick Revlon used to make called “Toffee.” My other favorite lipstick at the time was “Blackberry,” also by Revlon.

Lisa and I again, at our Junior Prom. I had my hair done for this hyped up dance, and in true 1999 fashion, they did not disappoint (yes, those are rhinestone bobby pins from Delia’s in my hair). I sold my ticket to see Eminem at the Worcester Palladium so I could afford to go to prom in a limo with some friends, and that is the one true regret of my life.

With my friend, Dena, the summer after I graduated from high school. My eyebrows were thin and I had spent some time in a tanning booth, but I don’t hate my makeup here. I think it was eyeshadow, mascara, concealer and nude lip. Ah, the effortlessness of being 18.

With my friend, Emily, during (I think) sophomore year of college. My eyebrows got thinner and black eyeliner became an important part of my makeup. You can also see the remnants of what was originally an eggplant hair color woven through my spiral curls. Also, if I wasn’t in class, it’s pretty much a guarantee that purse was holding at least one water bottle full of Bacardi Limon & Diet Coke. That’s not beauty related, but it’s a fun fact.

With my friend, Laura, inside my apartment during our senior year of college. A headband and hoop earrings were a big part of my look that year. And it’s hard to see, but the black eyeliner and nude lip were still in rotation.

In Florida, where I lived for two years after college. I wasn’t wearing blue contacts so I’m not sure why it looks like that, but I think I was wearing a shimmery light blue eyeshadow. And check out that tan! (Scroll up one for comparison with my natural skin color.) I loved being that tan, but I paid for it a few years later with several pre-cancerous moles that had to be removed.

In Philadelphia, circa 2007, with my college friends, Jess and Liz. I was wearing my favorite holographic lilac pigment eyeshadow from Benefit, with a frosty nude lipgloss from Victoria’s Secret.

Late 2008, with my then boyfriend, Joe. This was after I opened my company but before I went full-time with it. I was wearing a dark blue smokey eye, black liner in the waterline, and I had started filling in my brows. I stopped wearing my hair curly in 2008, so this was during the early straight haired years when I flat ironed.

With my friend, Carina, in 2011. I was a solid year into being a full-time makeup artist at that point. I was wearing a bronze eyeshadow from Cargo, and my hair was too flat. I can tell I had done Carina’s makeup here too. On an unrelated note, I wish I still had that shirt.

With Liz and Jess at Liz’s baby shower. That Sonia Kashuk blush was maybe a little too peach for me when I wasn’t wearing self tanner, but I remember loving it at the time. I helped the mom-to-be with her makeup that morning, and gave Jess an impromptu makeup lesson while we were getting ready. 

On my 32nd birthday. I had started blue-ing my hair seven months earlier. I’ve had different versions of it since then, but this has always been my favorite blue and color placement. By this point, I knew how to blowout my hair with a round brush, which is much more flattering on me than flat ironing. I think the lipstick is Russian Red by MAC. I always rock a red lip with a black and white polka dot dress or top.

2015, maybe? For a couple summers, I loved to use a blue pencil liner at my bottom lashline with black in the waterline with whatever other eye makeup I was wearing. And this was around the time when I got pretty good at curling my own hair.

A pro photo taken in summer of 2018. I had A LOT of makeup on, but you can’t really tell. Photo by Lisette Rooney Photography.

A mirror selfie–I don’t care, I like those better–last month. The lipstick is Rouge Sinner by Lipstick Queen. MAC Face & Body Foundation, Pro Longwear Concealer under my eyes, several MAC eyeshadows (but no eyeliner, that’s just black shadow) on my peepers, very faded pink Kevyn Aucoin pink blush my cheeks. And of course, lots of mascara. MAC eyeshadow in Brun to fill in my brows. This is the picture that I think looks most like me in real life.


And that’s how a little girl goes from loving to wear red lipstick clown makeup to a 36 year old who loves to wear red lipstick non-clown makeup. My look has evolved and will continue to, but I’m not sure if my hair will ever be “all black and curly” again like my father asks, since he is not big on change…

This has been a fun little stroll down memory lane for me. It’s like the longer version of the Then & Now Facebook challenge. I’d love to see other people do this, but I have a feeling I’m the only one who would want to. Thanks for reading this silly little post.

Have a beautiful day 🙂