Smile Lines: The Intro

My brother and sister-in-law during my Maid of Honor speech. I’ll never be as funny as a comic, but the day I made 179 wedding guests laugh for 12 minutes will always be one of the best days of my life. Photo: Trevor Holden Photography

This is not a beauty post. I’ll be back to my usual bitching about overly retouched photos and scolding you for not properly cleansing your skin with the next post. Today, I’m going off course.

You know when you’re out on a date and the person you’re with asks “So, what do you like to do for fun?” (“Not this,” I want to say.) I hate that question, but I feel compelled to answer direct questions. It seems like these dudes are looking for me to tell them some kind of hobby, and the closest thing I have to a hobby is comedy. Going to comedy shows, watching stand up specials, listening to podcasts hosted by or with guest comics I love, reading the books they write, following them on Instagram, etc. I’ll always choose a comedy show over going to a bar or going to the movies and definitely over hiking, camping, or any of that nonsense.

I have always loved to laugh (are there people who don’t?). As a child, Comedy Central was my favorite channel. I liked funny movies the best and was an SNL fan, even if I didn’t get half of the references. I would read the George Carlin books my parents had over and over again. I was drawn to people who could make me laugh and would be psyched if I ended up in a class with the funny kid.

All of my family members have a great sense of humor. My mother is a smartass. Her sarcasm–and how she yells “You turkey!” at cars who cut her off–makes me laugh every day. My brother, Mikey B, is a quick witted boy genius with an infectious laugh. He’s so intelligent that I’d be jealous of him if it didn’t work to my advantage (I’d be lost without his sage business advice). My sister-in-law, Katelin, is the ginger version of my mom, but her smartassery has a sweeter undertone, I think because she smiles so much. Not a family dinner goes by without Katelin and my mom giving each other the finger. My Aunt Michelle is one of the creators of the Women in Comedy Festival in Boston and has done stand up herself. She is smart and funny and a super mom to four young children.

And then there’s my father, Big Ray. I’ve always been convinced that he was a court jester in a past life, but recently I decided that he is a cartoon character. The way he looks, the expressions he makes, the ridiculous things he says. I mean, look at that face! (Him opening a Father’s Day gift full of Sasquatch things.) He can’t be a real person.

things Dads say
Seems like Raymo liked his gift. Hard to tell.

We are a family who laughs. We laugh during good times, and we laugh during bad times. And we’ve certainly had some bad times.

My father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June of 2015. He went through chemo, radiation, surgery then more chemo and is now cancer-free. That’s something I’m grateful for every day in a way I can’t fully express. But the summer of his diagnosis, especially before the first scan came back and showed that the chemo was working, I was a mess. I had two modes when I wasn’t with my family: working or crying. There was no in between. I would walk around town to do errands as I usually do, crying behind my sunglasses. Whenever someone asked how my father was doing, I struggled to hold back tears.

From the initial “something’s not right” discoveries to the “the cancer is gone” appointment over a year later, I felt like I was holding my breath. I had a lot of crying sessions on the floor of my living room and my beauty studio those first few months. I was stressed–a word I do not use loosely–as I was running my business as well as part of my father’s property management business, which my brother and I had started to take over (Big Ray worked through his first chemo and radiation until surgery, then took four months off to recover and do more chemo). I’m no stranger to 14 hour work days and 7 day work weeks, but that in combination with the constant fear of what could happen made me feel like like I was being crushed.

My game plan became to distract myself as much as possible. I was able to do that when I was with clients, as I get deep in the zone when I’m doing makeup, mega focused on making the client, photographer or director happy. I’ve been a bookworm since I learned how to read, so in summer of 2015, I first tried to distract myself with reading. That didn’t work, because my mind would wander and I’d find myself staring at the same page I started on, sobbing. I felt better when I was with friends and through a couple group emails explained exactly what I was feeling and how I needed to be around people, but a lot of my friends don’t live nearby and a few just couldn’t be bothered. I don’t have a tv (and haven’t since 2003) but I do have a laptop and a solid WiFi connection, so I tried watching stuff online. I had watched YouTube makeup tutorials for years, but in summer of 2015, I started watching comedy clips on YouTube. And that is what helped me in a huge way.

I found that I couldn’t be crying while I was laughing (how weird would that be?). Even though I never cried or showed my sadness in front of my dad, I knew crying was pointless because it wasn’t doing anything to help him and was not a good look (it’s a bitch to apply eyeliner on puffy eyelids). So I tried to replace that with laughing. There were nights when I would stop work at 8:00pm, crawl into bed, and watch comedy specials for three or four hours. I eventually joined the rest of the 21st century and got Netflix where I found more comedy gold. I binge watched entire series that made me laugh–30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt–but mostly, I watched stand up specials. I didn’t want serious. I wanted funny only, and there is so much good stuff out there.

Laughter really does help. I cried less and less as the summer went on. How could I be crying when Chris D’Elia was making me laugh so hard that my downstairs neighbors could hear me? And although my father took his medicine and doctor’s instructions carefully, he was laughing (and making me laugh) every day too. He made up a song called “Chemo Man,” sung to the tune of “Piano Man,” and would call me to leave voicemails with new ridiculous verses. He had named the tumor in his pancreas the “Junior Tumor” because it was so small it barely showed up on scans, and he made up stories told from the “wimpy” tumor’s point of view. His jokes didn’t stop at home. At the hospital, protocol was to ask the patient’s name and date of birth at intake. Raymo never gave his real name. He would respond “Albert Einstein,” “Vito Corleone,” “Donald Trump,” or–and this is the one he was so proud of himself for–“Einstein Albert.” He would call me after an appointment to tell me how he made his oncologist laugh. And this was while he was going through some tough treatments, fighting a disease that killed one of his brothers and his grandfather.

Four years later, with two healthy parents (did I mention my mom had brain cancer when I was in high school?) and enough gratitude to make me borderline annoying, my comedy obsession has grown. I watch or listen to something that makes me laugh every single day, and I go to as many shows as I can. When people ask me for comic suggestions–a conversation I find myself in several times a week–I’m always ready to answer. But I don’t just mention a few names. There are too many great comics out there! I am a list maker, so that’s what they get. And that’s what you’re getting too.

Here it is!

Aparna Nancherla

Amy Schumer

Andrew Santino

Anthony Jeselnik

Bill Burr

Bobby Lee

Brent Morin

Brody Stevens*

Bryan Callen

Chris D’Elia

Christina Pazsitsky

Craig Ferguson

Daniel Tosh

Dave Attell

David Spade

Demetri Martin

Donald Glover

Fortune Feimster

Hannah Gadsby

Hannibal Buress

Hari Kondabolu

Hasan Minhaj

Jeff Ross

Jim Gaffigan

Jimmy Carr

John Mulaney

JR De Guzman

Kumail Nanjiani

Maria Bamford

Marc Maron

Mike Birbiglia

Moshe Kasher

Natasha Leggero

Nate Bargatze

Nick Swardson

Nikki Glaser

Patton Oswalt

Pete Holmes

Ricky Gervais

Ron Funches

Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Sloss

Theo Von

Tig Notaro

Todd Barry

Tom Segura

Trevor Noah

Sarah Silverman

Wanda Sykes

Zack Galifianackis

*Brody sadly passed away in March of 2019, but you can find his specials and clips of him online.

I’m no authority on comedy. I think if a comic makes you laugh, that’s awesome. If you don’t find someone funny, I’ve got some great news for you: You don’t have to watch or follow them. But don’t leave asshole comments on their social media. The people who publicly and repeatedly say a certain comic is not funny are probably the least funny people out there.

I have been writing this post for two years. Comedy is so important to me that I wanted it to be perfect before sharing this. I was originally going to give my take on each of the comics I love, but I think I’m going to split that into different posts, because I’ve got a lot more to say and this is already way too long. In the meantime, I wanted to at least give a list of my favorite comics, since I talk to everyone–friends, clients, Lyft drivers–about comedy and am constantly giving recommendations.

I don’t care about the laugh lines–I’d rather be laughing than not. I bet you didn’t expect that from a makeup artist and esthetician!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

My Spring 2019 Faves

Thinking springtime thoughts. (Also thinking how this would be a gorgeous eyeshadow color.)

New season, new faves. Let’s get right into it.

My Silk Pillowcase. Silk pillowcases are good for your hair. I’ve meant to buy one for oh, the last decade, and I finally did. I bought this floral silk pillowcase from SLPBABY recently and while I can’t tell if my hair has less breakage, it has been getting less tangled. Supposedly silk is better for your skin too, as the smooth fabric doesn’t press any fine lines in more, but I’m not convinced about that. If it is, it’s a bonus, but I’m happy with the lack of hair snarls and how pretty the pattern is.

“After Life.” Have you watched this yet??? It’s Ricky Gervais’ newish show on Netflix, and it’s as touching and deep as it is funny. I love Ricky and had been coincidentally YouTubing clips of him for a few weeks before the show came out, which is how I eventually learned about it. I’m not spoiling anything for you, but the conversation between Ricky’s character and his coworker about vegetables–specifically the potatoes part–still makes me laugh when I think about it.

DryBar Triple Sec. I’ve been casually using this hair refresher for a while but I’ve gotten more into it lately. I like the texture it gives my hair, and I like the scent (which I know is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I believe they make an unscented one now). For a once-weekly-hair-washer like myself, dry shampoos and hair refreshers are a must. In general, I tend to really like the DryBar products, but this one is my favorite. They carry the DryBar line at Sephora.

My New Crib. Sorry, you can’t buy this one anywhere, but it deserves a spot on my list. I moved out of my last RI apartment in December before my snowbird winter. I had lived there for over five years, which is longer than I had lived anywhere other than my childhood home. I found a new place in the same neighborhood, and it’s perfect. Twice the size of the apartment I moved out of, beautiful ocean views, a full sized washer and dryer and a deck that I keep forgetting I have. I’m in love.

Look at my giant bathroom! I’m thinking about putting an air mattress in there and renting it out on Airbnb.

Amy Schumer’s Special “Growing.” I’ve loved Amy forever, and her new Netflix special doesn’t disappoint. I can understand not liking a certain comic or not agreeing with a celebrity’s politics, but the amount of vitriol directed at Amy is absurd. If you don’t like, don’t follow her. It’s super easy. Amy is a great comic, naturally funny and quick. She’s got some stellar jokes in “Growing”–completely original stuff that I’ve never heard anything similar to–and I laughed out loud several times. This is a special that I’ll definitely watch again.

Sephora Collection Lip Stories in Hot in Havana. I bought this matte orange lipstick to wear on St. Patrick’s Day (obviously with green eyeshadow). I was in Sephora looking for the cheapest orange lipstick I could find, because I figured I would only wear it once. But I actually really like it! And the packaging is cute too. I think it will look good when I have a tan (of course courtesy of the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops). She’s a keeper.

Everlance App. As a business owner who travels to clients and appointments, I have to keep track of my mileage. I had always done this in an Excel spreadsheet, because that was the only option I knew of in 2008 when I started my business. In recent years, I became aware that people were using Mileage Tracker apps, but it was one of those things I kept forgetting to look into. I finally got it together and asked for recommendations in the Hatch Tribe Members Circle, and Everlance was one of those recommendations. It’s free, it’s easy and it saves time since it automatically detects your trips. A stellar app for business owners, freelancers and salespeople.

I love making these seasonal lists of the little things that have improved my beauty routine, business life or have made me laugh, and I hope you like reading them. If you don’t, what are you even doing here?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

How To Help Out The Entrepreneur in Your Life

My biggest supporters from Day 1 of my business: my father, my brother and my mother. Photo: Trevor Holden Photography

Do you have a family member or close friend who is an entrepreneur? God bless you. (Just kidding–we’re great!) If you’ve ever thought “I wonder what I can do to help them out,” other than the obvious using their services or buying their products, I’ve got some ideas.

Ready, Freddy?

Referrals. Most business owners are incredibly appreciative of referrals. Especially when someone starts out, they usually don’t have a solid client base. But if friends and family can send some clients their way, they can begin to build that base. My first few weddings were all for friends or friends of friends, and referrals (both personal and from business clients and contacts) are still a big part of my business today. If you have an entrepreneur in your life who offers a product or service you might have the chance to recommend, I can pretty much guarantee they will be grateful if you do. And all it takes on your part is passing on a company name! I have a few friends and relatives who carry some of my business cards with them in case the opportunity to refer me comes up. (How awesome are they? They get a gold star for going above and beyond.) This is a super helpful way to help out the entrepreneur in your life without making a dent in your bank account.

With three of my college friends, who have all referred clients to me.

Social Media Interaction. See a Facebook or Instagram post from your entrepreneur friend or relative that you can comment on? Doooooooo it! The current algorithms favor engagement, so comments–not likes–help a company’s posts show up to more people on Instagram and Facebook. I’m not saying you need to comment on every post, but if you see one that you can comment on, doing so will help out your boss friend. Sharing posts is another a good deed you can do as that supportive friend or relative. And it’s all free! You’re scrolling around anyway, so you might as well…

My friend, Caroline, a fellow makeup artist and esthetician, is awesome with her social media support and post sharing.

Be Understanding. Let me first say being an entrepreneur is not an excuse for bad behavior. If the boss in your life consistently breaks plans with you due to work commitments–I mean like every time–they are either bad at time management, bad at prioritizing or don’t know how to say no. Even with my seven-days-a-week-since-2008 work schedule, I still keep the majority of my personal commitments. But sometimes, I do have to cancel. I have some jobs and meetings that can only happen at a certain time and can only be done by me, and I know I’m not the only person with that problem. If you have an entrepreneur friend or relative and they occasionally have to reschedule due to one of those can’t-turn-down jobs or meetings, try to be understanding if you can. Entrepreneurs have to create their income and sometimes that means taking a client or a meeting that will bring in income, even if they’d rather be hanging out with you. The good news is that like J. Lo and her love, being understanding don’t cost a thing.

I’ve had to cancel on Alyssa and Veronica a few times due to work commitments, and they still love me. I’ll drink to that!

Ask Them What You Can Do To Help. This is easy and it takes the guesswork out. Simply ask your boss friend or relative if there’s anything you can do to help. I’m not suggesting you volunteer to be their intern, but maybe they could use your vote in a local “Best Of” contest, or would love a share of a specific post they are trying to promote. Even if they don’t have anything at the time, the fact that you would even ask will likely be greatly appreciated. Guess how many dollars that will put you back? Zip zero. Stingy with dinero. (If you got that reference, I respect you.)

Sometimes all I need is a hug from my sister-in-law ❤

Did you notice a theme here? This is all free stuff you can do to support the entrepreneur in your life. It can be lonely in Boss Land and there are plenty of things that can make someone want to give up running their business, but a little support from friends and family can make a huge difference.

I’ve been lucky enough to have more than a little support from my family and friends, and I don’t take it for granted. I pay my people back with free makeup, skincare and business advice. Every single one of my female friends and all of the aunts and female cousins I’m close with have hit me up with a “Is this the right brush to use for blending eyeshadow?” or “How do I get rid of this zit?” type of text, and I get business questions from lots of my peeps. I am more than happy to share what I know because these people have supported me as I’ve gained that knowledge.

Having a close friend or family member who is an entrepreneur can be frustrating at times, and I feel for you if you are in those shoes. Hopefully they support you in whatever you do. If you’ve been unsure how to reciprocate that, hopefully this post helped.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder

The waterline liner hero.

Isn’t it amazing how small things can make a big impact? To me, black coffee is gross. But put a little Italian Sweet Cream Coffeemate in it? It becomes my favorite drink. If you tell me I need to sleep in a bed with one pillow, I’m up all night. But two pillows? That’s how I slumber. Wearing my short sleeved, scoop neck black jersey dress with no necklace? Boringgggggggggggg. But when I put on my “Notorious” chain, now we’ve got an outfit.

That’s the one! Made by King Ice.

That’s also how I feel about MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder on the waterline. A matte contoured eyeshadow look with neutral colors? Very nice. But add some of that black kohl liner to the bottom waterline, and you’ve entered Sultry Territory.

Smolder is an intense black shade in a soft kohl pencil form. Because of its consistency, and the surprising longevity of wear from its non-waterproof formula, Smolder is the perfect fit for the waterline. I mainly use it on the bottom waterline as I don’t typically do a lot of top waterline lining (aka tightlining), but it works for that too.

You can use Smolder at the top lashline, but I would seal it with a black eyeshadow. Kohl liners don’t set, which means they can move around on the lid. Tracing over the liner with black eyeshadow will help keep it in place. That technique will usually work at the top lashline, but it doesn’t always do the job at the bottom lashline. Kohl liners are not usually bottom lashline-friendly. You’re better off with a waterproof liner there, because that will stay in place when your eyes naturally water.

That’s the waterline, in case you were wondering.

Smolder on the bottom waterline will immediately intensify a look. Putting black on the waterline makes any eye color pop in contrast to the black, and having black inside the waterline gives more definition to the eyes and makes the bottom lashes look more plentiful (first time I’ve ever used that word in a blog post). But black liner on the waterline will make eyes look smaller, so that’s worth mentioning if that’s a concern.

I keep a Smolder in my pro kit, but if I’m being honest, I more often reach for a waterproof black kohl eyeliner from Topshop that has been discontinued (but I stocked up before that happened). I use waterproof everything for wedding clients, you know? But I use Smolder for waterline lining on myself and non-wedding clients, and I think it’s perfect for regular, non-crying days.

Smolder is a solid MAC eyeliner, and a pro fave for years. If you need to sultry-fy your eye makeup, this liner will do it to it.

Have a beautiful day 🙂