Life Lessons From A Small-Sized Adult: Part One

On my birthday this past week, holding my fruit salad birthday cake. If you eat regular birthday cake, you don’t know what you’re missing.

This week, I officially entered my late 30s. That seems weird. I mean, I’m happy I’m here, but wasn’t I just in college? What’s that now? I graduated 15 years ago? And Method Man is 48 years old? We must be in some kind of time warp.

I feel like I’ve lived several different lifetimes. I went through childhood being shy in school but I always had several good friends and an imagination that was mayyyyybe on the overactive side. Middle school and high school Allison had very low self confidence, a strong love of hip hop and lot of crushes on bad boys. College Allison started out excited but unsure of herself and left with a little confidence, a 3.8 GPA, lots of stories of bad boys disguised as good guys, and a high tolerance for Bacardi Limon. The Florida Allison (who existed for two years post-college) learned how to be completely independent–a far cry from High School Allison who wouldn’t go on errands without a friend in tow and was afraid to drive on the highway–and also how to survive hurricanes, palmetto bugs and working for companies outside of the family business. The Back to Newport/New Business Owner years brought excitement, struggle, a diagnosed gluten allergy and, you guessed it, more bad boys (but shouldn’t they just be called “assholes” after age 25?). The phase I’m in now–Established Business Owner and Working Snowbird–doesn’t always have the fun or excitement of some of the earlier years, but I’m okay with that. I don’t have time for the hangovers anyway.

I have a great life and all of my previous lifetimes brought me to this one, so I wouldn’t change any of my big life choices. I’ve learned a lot–even if it took me several versions of the same lesson to get something through my “thick skull,” as my mother would say. I have no doubt that I’ll look back at my current life when I’m in my late 40s (hopefully my Retired Business Owner and True Snowbird phase) and think Wow, there was so much I didn’t know! and probably a little Why the hell was I doing that? Maybe I’ll write a new blog post then, if blogs still exist and we are not all solely communicating via photos and likes…

Until then, I think this birthday week is a good time to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned since the early 1980s. And because I need to write to sort out my thoughts, here we are. Ready for me to drop some wisdom? You know I love to.

BEAUTY

Skincare, Skincare, Skincare. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so take care of it! I’ve learned that cleansing, moisturizing, exfoliating (if it’s not contraindicated with any prescription products in your arsenal) and using sunscreen makes a big difference. Those are the basics, and I recommend a few other things as well, but I’d be happy if you were just doing those four essentials. If you neglect your skin, it will catch up with you (remember now, I see a lot of faces and hear a lot about skincare routines or lack thereof) and it won’t be something you can solve with a serum or a facial. The biggest lesson I’ve learned with skincare is to start a routine early in life, stay consistent and spread the good word. Need some basic skincare help? Check out my routine.

Do You. As long as humans exist, there will be beauty trends. If a trend interests you, give it a try. But make no mistake–trends are not universally flattering. For example, I learned that the flat ironed-hair trend of the mid-aughts was no good on me. And if I grow out my brows to the currently popular Cara Delevingne level (something most women with Italian blood can do), they will take up way too much of my face.  I’m sure you’ve tried beauty trends that did nothing to flatter you, or even just seen one and thought “No way.” So go with what works on you, and do it proudly.

Sometimes “doing you” means wearing a green wig when everyone else is wig-less.

Go Pro. There’s a lot of DYI in the beauty world. You can learn how to do your own everyday makeup, curl your own hair and paint your own nails. Maybe you’d rather not do those things yourself, so I say if it’s within the budget, outsource. But there are some things that you really should see a pro for. Unless you 100% know what you’re doing, any hair removal methods other than shaving and tweezing are better off left to the pros. (And with brow tweezing, I would recommend getting your brows professionally shaped first, then following that shape to upkeep.) I also recommend keeping hair coloring–especially if it involves bleach–the domain of licensed cosmetologists. If you are going to use any skincare devices at home, either really make sure you know what you are doing (read the instructions, check reviews and watch tutorials) or leave that one to your esthetician or dermatologist. I’ve seen paper thin nails, extremely damaged hair, and burns and scars on the face from people who didn’t know what they were doing. I don’t want that to happen to you.

FAMILY

Show ‘Em Love. In my book, family members are there to support each other. To me, that means things like going to graduations and career awards ceremonies, offering rides to the airport, visiting when a baby is born, etc. I know it’s tough and my wedding weekend schedule means I personally miss a lot of stuff, but I go to what I can and try to make up for what I have to skip. If you have a strained relationship with a relative, I understand that this may not be something you’re comfortable with. But with those you are on good terms with, showing up and being there can mean a lot.

Be Grateful. Even if you only have one relative, you still have one more than some people. And family doesn’t have to be people that are related to you. Sometimes blood isn’t thicker than water, and the people you consider to be family may not be in the strictest sense of the word. Whoever your family is, I’ve found that it’s good to take time to really be thankful for them. I think people who have encountered the loss or a near loss of a loved one really understand how lucky we are for each day we have someone in our lives. It’s easy to take it for granted until someone is no longer around, or until they get the kind of news that could mean they might not be for long. Having had some losses and some scary times (my mother had brain cancer and my father had pancreatic cancer), I really do treasure every moment I have with the people I love. When I’m in a bad mood or throwing myself a pity party, I think Snap out of it, Allison. Look how lucky you are to have your family. It usually works, but sometimes I have to really push myself out of the crap mood into gratitude. But once I do, I feel much better. Might be worth giving this tactic a try. You have nothing to lose!

Even though they eat lobster and pieces come flying at me when I’m just trying to eat my salad in peace, I’m still grateful for them every day.

No One Is Perfect. Everyone has their flaws. I’ve seen families split apart over inheritances, differences in child-rearing, even disagreements from 20 years before that no one can even really remember. If someone does something truly wrong or is abusive, that’s one thing. But an offhand comment about someone’s dress color at Christmas in 1992? Seems a little much to sever ties over. The anger, sense of being wronged and grudges that people can hold and build up throughout the years likely does more damage to the hold-er than the hold-ee. I once got upset with one of my cousins for a stupid guy situation in my 20s, and didn’t talk to her for several months. Then I watched a big family drama unfold about something else, and it split part of my family up. I personally thought what they were fighting about and how much energy they put towards it was crazy, and it made me realize that I didn’t want to cut my cousin out of my life. So I called her to talk it out, and we got past it. And I’m so glad I did that, because we have always been close and I would have really been missing out on an important relationship in my life if I stopped talking to her all those years ago.

FRIENDSHIPS

Stay In Touch. Friendships, like any other relationship, take some effort. I consider myself lucky because I have a lot of great friends, but I do put in the effort to get together if we live in the same part of the country (or meet up with them if they are taking a trip to anywhere near me if not). I try to email/call/text (depending on what they seem to prefer) to wish them a happy birthday, see how their new job is or just say hi. I know we are all busy and it can be tough to find the time, but I’ve found that staying in touch with my friends show them that I care. Having friends makes my life better and more enjoyable, so it’s 1000000% worth the effort.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes. When I’m talking to a friend, I tailor what I say to them in a way that I think will be best received. Some friends like brutal honesty, others need a lot of sugarcoating, and some are in the middle. When I’m having a conversation or texting with one of my homegirls or homeboys, I take into consideration their past and what they may be sensitive to, and then I tread carefully in certain areas. I’ve also learned to identify which friends like advice (more on that next), which ones like to vent, and which ones don’t like to talk about what’s bothering them at all.  I also try to think about their lives and what their days tend to be like. For example, between 7:00pm – 8:00pm seems to be bedtime for a lot of my friends’ kids, so I try not to bother my mom friends during that time. Or if I know someone is planning a big event or project for work, or if a certain time of month tends to be crazier for them with their job, I realize I might not hear back from them during that time, or it’s going to be tough for them to get together while that’s going on. I’ve learned that part of being a good friend is being understanding of where someone is coming from and how that might impact your interactions with them.

I don’t call these two mamas on my right between 7:00pm – 8:00pm.

Lend An Ear. A psychic once told me that I’m a “Wisdom Talker,” which means I give good advice. And I’m not bragging, but several non-psychic people have also told me I give good advice. If that’s true, I think it’s because I try to learn from my experiences and the experiences of everyone I know, and pull from that when someone is in need of guidance. But I try not to force my advice on anyone. Sometimes I can’t help it and it comes out before I’ve had time to tell myself to shut up, but I really try to remember to ask a friend first if they want input. Sometimes people just want to vent, and that’s okay. If a friend doesn’t say some version of “What do you think I should do?” but they seem like they might want my input, I’ll say “Do you want my advice or just want me to listen?” Takes the guessing right out and puts you both on the same conversational page.

HEALTH

Pay Attention. If I notice a change in the way something on my body looks or feels, or a change in how I feel in general, I make a doctor’s appointment. I don’t do that thing where I ignore it and hope it goes away, like I used to do with weird sounds my car was making. Early detection makes a world of a difference with a lot of diseases and disorders, so why wouldn’t I get something checked out? We only get one body, and the owner’s manual (fine, I’ll write it) repeatedly says to be aware of any changes and make sure someone who knows what they are doing does a check up for you. I am super aware of my body and any changes, and if I can’t figure out what is causing them, I go see my doctor. I don’t go for every tiny thing, but if I can’t trace it back (i.e. migraines every day for a week versus headaches at night only after working on my laptop for 14 hours), I make that appointment. I don’t want this to be a lesson I don’t learn until it’s too late.

Be Proactive. If you fuel your body with crap food, it will catch up with you. If you don’t consistently move your body, it will catch up with you. If you worry and stress about friggin’ everything, it will catch up with you. I’ve learned these lessons the hard way, y’all. We only get one body, so I say, treat it right. What you do to your body in your 20s, 30s and 40s will likely affect the person you are in your 50s, 60s and 70s. If you eat lots of sugar, overdo it with the booze, stress yourself out on the daily and exercise only for that one week each year after New Year’s Day, your body will pay for it. And it may pay for it much sooner than you think. We have this awesome opportunity to take care of ourselves and likely prevent some health issues from occurring. I’m not saying never have a doughnut or skip a workout, and I’m certainly not implying that you should not allow yourself to be in a shit mood once in a while. But what you consistently eat now can help cause–or help prevent–future issues. Whether or not you consistently exercise now will make an impact on you. And how much you stress or don’t stress affects things too. Some of what happens to our bodies is out of our control, but a lot of it is in our control. I’ve found that taking responsibility for what I put in my body, how much I move my body and the level of stress I put myself under has made a huge difference in how I look, feel and how I approach life.

I was eating a lot of sugar and drinking too many martinis in my early 20s, and I regularly felt like crap. Who knows where I’d be today if I kept that up!

Thank Your Lucky Stars. If you’re healthy right now, be grateful! If you’re reading this, you have your eyesight, which some people would kill for. If you can hear car horns beeping/your neighbor’s dog barking/your coworker loudly chewing, you’ve got your hearing, which many people have lost or never had. If you didn’t have to get dialysis this week or go in for another heart procedure, you’re lucky. You feel me? I think that sometimes we (and I’m absolutely including myself in this category) forget how fortunate we are to live a life unencumbered with major health issues. It’s the “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” thing. Having watched people close to me go through various illnesses and disorders has helped me realize how lucky I am to have my health. I think that gratitude, in combination with being aware of changes and taking care of myself gives me at least an A- in the Health category.

Well, this seems long enough for Part 1. I’m not trying to “should” you or give you a list of Do’s and Don’ts because really, who am I to tell you how to live? But I think in my nearly four decades on this planet, I’ve learned some stuff. Maybe it will help you, maybe you can relate, or maybe you think everything I said is wrong, impossible or not your style. And that’s cool, but I would avoid Part 2 if that’s how you feel…

I have a good life and I think learning these lessons along the way is part of what has helped me love my life. I know I have a lot more to learn, and some of the upcoming lessons will be painful, sad or maddening. But as long as I don’t go back to bad boys, I think I’ll be fine.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Wedding Hair & Makeup Trial Prep Tips

Our goal at AB Beauty? To make your wedding day hair and makeup perfect. We recommend doing a trial if at all possible. Photo: LoveDays Photography Hair: Emily Buffi for Allison Barbera Beauty Makeup: Allison Barbera

Getting married? Congratulations! If you’re getting your hair and makeup professionally done–which I advise, but you might say I’m biased–I recommend doing a hair and makeup trial if your schedule allows. A trial will give you the chance to figure out your wedding hair and makeup looks before the big day, which means one less thing you have to worry about when you’re getting hitched.

At AB Beauty, we want you to have a successful trial. We are set on you walking out loving your look almost as much as you love your fiance(e). There are some things you can do before and during your trial to help ensure that you are happy with your hair and makeup. These are the things we recommend at AB Beauty, so if you have a trial scheduled with a different company, I suggest checking with them as they might have their own recommendations. But I think a lot of these tips are pretty general ones that most beauty service companies would agree with.

MAKEUP TRIAL

Slough It Off. If you are not on a prescription retinoid or anything else that is contraindicated with exfoliation, exfoliating your skin the morning of your trial will allow your makeup to apply more smoothly by eradicating some or all dry patches. (Even better if you get into the routine of regular exfoliation in the weeks leading up to your trial and your wedding day.) Exfoliation will also help give you a glow, as it removes the dead skin cells who are chillin’ on the surface of your skin and causing dullness.

(Don’t) Pick Your Battles. Got a blemish? LEAVE IT ALONE. Most people don’t know how to do extractions without damaging the skin and causing scarring, which is Reason #1. Reason #2 is that that pick, pick, picking causes texture in the skin, and makeup can’t cover texture. If you’ve dug your little fingernail down a few layers of skin to try to get rid of a blemish, you’ve exposed skin that makeup can not cover. And my guess is that you’ll be disappointed that your makeup artist can’t cover that, even though it’s impossible for them to. So do your skin and your makeup artist a favor and don’t pick.

Don’t do it!

Wipe Out. At AB Beauty, we ask that clients arrive at their makeup trial with no makeup on. We realize that sometimes people are coming straight from work or from other wedding vendor appointments and may not feel comfortable going barefaced all day. That’s understandable! But using a makeup wipe right before the trial–which a lot of people do–can leave makeup remover residue on the skin. That residue can interfere with makeup. Using a cleanser instead of a makeup wipe before your appointment is preferred, but if you have to use a wipe, splashing some water on your face after you use it will help remove some of the residue.

Time It Right. If you need to use a moisturizer, serum or any other skincare product the day of the trial, I suggest that you do so at least two hours before your makeup trial so that the product has had time to absorb. Some skincare products leave a film on the skin until they are absorbed, and that film can interfere with makeup. That means your primer, foundation, concealer or powder may not apply evenly, and who wants that?

Find Your Inspo Pic Cousin: Part 1. When you’re looking for inspiration pictures of makeup looks, try to find pictures of models or celebrities who are similar to you in terms of eye color, skintone, hair color and eye shape/size. I always suggest choosing pictures of people who look like they could be your cousin. If you have small hooded blue eyes, fair skin and blonde hair and your inspo pics are all of Mila Kunis or Kim Kardashian, the makeup they are wearing is going to look completely different on you. Not only does choosing the right kind of picture help your makeup artist, but it helps you more easily envision what that makeup would look like on you.

HAIR TRIAL

Prep School. What you do to your hair prior to your trial can impact how much you like your finished trial style. It varies by hair stylist, but some prefer their clients to wash their hair the day or night before the trial, while others are fine with hair that is washed and dried that morning. Some hair stylists prefer to do a blowout on their client prior to styling, while others want the hair to be 100% dry by the trial start time. If you have naturally curly hair and the style you want for your wedding day requires straight hair or hair that has a looser curl than you naturally have, your hair stylist may want you to come to the trial with your hair blown out, or they may want to do a blowout on you. If the hair stylist you are doing your trial with doesn’t specifically tell you (or have it listed on their website) how to prep your hair for the trial, I definitely recommend asking them.

Can I Get An Extension On That? If you read my last post, you know how ubiquitous hair extensions are in photoshoots of all kinds. There’s a good chance that those pictures you’re Pinning are mostly of models with hair extensions. If you’re wondering if you might need them for the style you want to try at your trial, check with your hair stylist. If they say that you should get extensions, your hair stylist should be able to recommend the brand(s) they like for clip-in extensions (which is what most of the AB Beauty brides use, as they can be taken out after the trial and at the end of the wedding night).

Say Yes To The Dress First. If you haven’t yet chosen your dress, I suggest waiting to do your hair trial. It’s hard to choose a wedding day hair style if you don’t know the cut and style of your dress. For example, you may have pictured wearing your hair down, but then you get a dress with a beautiful back that you want to show off, and the best way to do that is with an updo. Pretty much every bride we have ever done a hair trial for who didn’t have her dress chosen yet has come back to do a second trial after she had her dress. We’re happy to do two trials, but do you have time for that? And is it in your budget? Something to think about when it comes time to schedule your trial.

Have a dress with a gorgeous back? You may want to consider an updo. Photo: Ludwig Photography Hair: Ann Best for Allison Barbera Beauty

Find Your Inspo Pic Cousin: Part 2. When you’re looking for hair inspo pics, it’s best to look for models with similar hair color, thickness and length to your’s. I think color is the biggest factor (unless you plan on making a big color change before your wedding), as you could have two people with the same length and thickness, but if one was blonde and one was brunette, the same style would look different on both. The lighter the hair, the more detail you can see. If a blonde model has an updo with braids and twists, you’ll see those more than you would on a model with brown hair. Thickness and length can be faked with extensions, but if you are not going to wear extensions–which is fine!–keep in mind that your fine, shoulder length hair is not going to look the same as the model in your favorite picture who has thick, mid-back length hair (whether it’s natural or not).

FOR BOTH HAIR & MAKEUP TRIALS

Narrow It Down. At AB Beauty, we strongly suggest coming in with a hair style and/or makeup look in mind. We always say that it’s hard to make a client happy if they don’t know what they want. So look for inspo pics, think back to other times you’ve had your hair and/or makeup done to remember what you did and didn’t like and look at pictures of others wearing wedding dresses similar to your’s if that helps. I guarantee you already have some hair and makeup preferences, so work those into your desired look and share those all with your hair stylist and/or makeup artist.

Stay In The Zone. In some parts of life, it’s good to really go out of your comfort zone. But at your trial, straying too far out of the zone may not be the best idea. For example, if you are someone who always wears their hair down and hates how it looks in a ponytail, an updo probably isn’t the best idea. But if you are someone who can not stand hair in their face or the feeling of it on their neck, consider an updo or half up style. For makeup, your wedding makeup is probably going to be more than you are used to wearing on a daily basis, as it needs to both last and be enough to show up in photos. But that doesn’t mean you need to do something drastically different from your every day makeup. If you normally wear a pinky nude lip color, there’s one that will work with your wedding makeup. Or if you always wear a winged liner, you’re probably going to feel naked without it, so that can be incorporated into your look. There may be some adjustments needed to make your look more photo-friendly, wedding-appropriate and long-lasting, but you don’t have to go with a look you don’t like because you think it’s what you are supposed to wear.

Speak Up. If you don’t like something during your wedding trial, let your hair stylist or makeup artist know. They can’t fix what they aren’t aware of. If that blush is too pink for your taste, say it. If the bun placement is too high, let ’em know. Don’t be afraid of offending someone. They (hopefully) just want you to leave happy. I’ve gotten pretty good at sensing if someone sees something they don’t love when they look in the mirror, but there have been other times when I’m surprised by post-trial feedback because nothing was said during the trial. At AB Beauty, we always ask people if they are 100% happy with their look, and we dig deep if we sense hesitation when they say “Yes.” But it helps you and your makeup artist and/or hair stylist if you communicate if you want to adjust something at your trial.

Aren’t loving something at your trial? Don’t be shy about saying that. At AB Beauty, we want you to be as happy as this beautiful bride. Photo: Adeline & Grace Photography Hair: Kerri Bakalakis for Allison Barbera Beauty Makeup: Allison Barbera

Resist The Peer Pressure. Some people bring guests with them to their trial, sometimes just for company and other times for a second (and third…and fourth) opinion. If you do that, keep in mind that you can value their input without having to cave into what they want to see on you. Sometimes a mother or aunt or Maid of Honor will try to talk a bride into a hair style or makeup look they think the bride should wear, and that might be something the bride doesn’t like. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a bride try a pink lipstick her sister loves (when the bride really wants a berry lip) or an updo (when the bride’s inspo pics are all beachy waves down styles) because her future mother-in-law insists that it will look best. In those cases, I can tell the bride isn’t happy. At AB Beauty, we listen to what the bride tells us she wants, but if she agrees to do what someone else wants to see and tells us that’s absolutely the look she wants to try, we have to do that. We have our little ways and things we can say to try to get more into the lane of what the bride really wants, but a strong opinion or three can steamroll us. So if you’re bringing an entourage to your trial, you’ll likely be happiest with your hair and makeup looks if you take the reins.

I hope this has been helpful! I want you to love your wedding hair and makeup trial looks, whether you are working with AB Beauty or any other company. Comment away with any questions, brides-to-be.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

The Brutal Truth: The Beauty Edition

Get yourself ready! I have some brutal truths to share. Photo by Roberto Delgado Webb on Unsplash

The beauty industry. You’ve heard of it, right? It’s a $57 billion industry in the US, and $445 billion globally. So, you know, it has some impact. This industry provides products and service providers who can help people look and feel better, but it’s also chock full of deception. I’m here to break through some of that deception and tell you what’s really up.

HAIR (I’ve learned most of this from AB Beauty hair stylists)

Mo’ Hair, Less Problems. Chances are that majority of the models and celebrities in pictures you’ve pinned and liked are wearing hair extensions, and lots of them. But unless you naturally have a ton of hair, it’s impossible for a hair stylist to recreate a hair style from one of those pictures unless you are also wearing extensions. Extensions aren’t just for length–they add fullness to a look. And a lot of the looks you might like–even if they don’t seem to be especially voluminous–require more hair than most people naturally have. This is an important one to keep in mind when showing inspiration pictures of styles or haircuts you like to a hair stylist.

She’s So One Sided. Here’s a little secret: hair done at a styled shoot isn’t always completely done. So if you see a picture of a hair style you love from a photoshoot, it’s possible that just the front was done. Not only might the back of the hair be a mess, but it could be styled in a way that would make the front of the hair look fabulous but unattainable without the back looking horrible. You follow me? It’s hidden hair deception at its finest.

I bet you $57 billion there was a hair stylist on set to do touchups after this shot. Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

That’s Messed Up. I don’t know who started this trend, but about five years ago, messy/undone looks became all the rage. And I get it. You’re talking to a girl who likes some messy makeup. Hair that is too polished or structured may not be your thing, while messy styles look more effortless and in some people’s eyes, more current. But here’s the thing about messy looks–they get more and more messy as the day goes on. That’s not a problem if you’re on set with a hair stylist who is standing by to do touchups as needed, or you’re on the red carpet and brought your hair stylist as your date for the same reason. But if you get your hair done (or undone) at 1:00pm for a wedding or event and expect it to look the same seven hours later, you’re in for a surprise. Hair moves throughout the day, unless you stand completely still, encounter no wind and don’t let anyone hug you. Basically, mannequins who stay out of the elements and hate affection are the only ones who might be the exception to this rule.

FACE

Long Lash-ed. Most pictures that people show me of makeup looks they like show models or celebrities that are wearing false lashes or have lash extensions. And that’s great–I’ve got plenty of false lashes to go around! (Although you’ll need to see a lash tech for extensions.) In some photos, the model or celebrity is wearing two sets of false lashes, which the average “I don’t really wear makeup” person would likely find very heavy. There are some people whose natural lashes look like false lashes, but they are few and far between. So for most of us to get that long, dark and full lash, it requires false lashes or lash extensions.

Those are strip lashes, and don’t let anyone tell you they are not. Photo by Jacob Postuma on Unsplash

An Uplifting (Untrue) Message. As we age, our collagen and elastin naturally deplete, which causes skin to sag. Sun exposure can expedite this process, as UVA rays break down collagen. Facial fat loss–either the kind that happens with age or the kind that happens from whole body weight loss at any age–can also cause sagging. Prescription retinoids can help increase the production of collagen, but when it comes to significant skin sagging or jowls, you’re going to have to bring in the big guns (dermatologists and plastic surgeons) to tighten up that area. Here’s what won’t work: a $12 drugstore serum, and or any skincare product that claims it can lift sagging skin, and quickly! There’s also not much makeup can do in this arena. Some contouring can help make the sagging or jowls a little less noticeable, and drawing attention to other parts of the face where sagging is not present is a good diversion tactic, but don’t expect miracles from a makeup artist here.

Where The Hood At? (Props if you got that DMX reference.) Hooded eyes are common, and there are makeup looks you can do that look great on them. But all eye shapes have their limitations in terms of what eye makeup will be most flattering. And winged liner on a hooded eye is tricky. That’s because on a hooded eye, the folds of the skin don’t allow for the placement of a smoothly drawn wing that can be seen when the eyes are open. Some eyes are partially hooded, and some more so, so it’s probably easiest if I just give you some winged liner tutorials so you can identify the eyes that are most like your’s if you have hooded lids. Here’s one for hooded and uneven eyes, one from Pixiwoos’ Sam for a cat eye for hooded lids and one from Wayne Goss about a technique for applying eyeshadow to hooded lids.

Pucker Up. Got thin lips? Welcome to the club! My upper lip is almost non-existent when I smile. While there are things you can do with makeup to make your lips look a little fuller without looking fake, they won’t have a drastic effect. Lip plumpers may claim they can do that, but they can only slightly increase your lip size, and temporarily. Fillers are the only way to really increase the size of your lips, so don’t be fooled by a well written Insta post or magazine review of a plumping product. And while you can edit out/soften the obviousness of a strongly overdrawn lip on social media, you ain’t foolin’ no one in person with that technique.

THE WHOLE SHEBANG

Ready For Your (Re)touch Up? In so many photos we see, the model has been retouched. Sometimes the retouching is stuff we can do with hair, makeup and skincare products, like taming flyaways (hairspray), making the cheeks brighter (more blush) or giving a sheen to the arms and legs (luminizing body lotion or oil). But there is a lot that retouching does that we can’t do with hair or makeup, like erasing pores and texture, smoothing over the area under the eyes so it barely looks recessed and making wrinkles disappear. I think most people look at retouched photos and think that what they’re seeing is all from makeup, so I’m here to tell you it is not.  And y’all know about the retouching you can do on Instagram and using retouching apps (Facetune, anyone?), because you’ve probably done it. So I don’t need to get into that.

Filter Through It. Instagram filters can change the way hair and/or makeup looks. Loving that certain hair color on a model? It might not look like that in person, thanks to Valencia, Nashville or Mayfair. Ditto with a bright lipstick. MAC Lady Danger, an warm orange red, can look dark red, bright orange or deep pink if you slap on a filter. If you’re looking at a hair or makeup picture on Instagram, it’s probably be retouched, filtered or both.

“Which filter should I use?,” and you know it. Photo by Chris Zhang on Unsplash

Light It Up. Good lighting makes a world of difference. It can make an okay makeup job or hair color look much better than it is. I see this a lot with makeup inspiration photos people show me. If the picture is from a celebrity in a magazine, they had professional lighting (on top of the experienced photographer, makeup artist, hair stylist and photo editor). Beauty gurus caught onto this a while ago and many use ring lights for their photos or makeup tutorials. But if the celebrity, model or guru walked into a room, you might not love their makeup or hair color as much.

The moral of the story is this: makeup artists are not plastic surgeons or dermatologists, and hair stylists can’t make you look like you have twice the amount of hair without extensions. Beauty pros also can’t follow you around with professional lighting all day (although I imagine “light follower” will become a profession in the future). And no human can do all of the things a photo editing program can do. And that’s okay! We’re humans, not robots. Who said we have to look perfect all the time? I mean, other than social media and some womens’ magazines.

If you see a hair or makeup photo you want to show your hair stylist or makeup artist for inspiration, go for it. It helps gives us an idea of what you want. And now you know what can go on before, during and after a photo is taken, and what beauty products or techniques can really do, so you’re the kind of client we love.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The Eyes Have It

Getting the eye makeup perfect on this beautiful bride. Photo: Trevor Holden Photography Makeup: Allison Barbera

Peepers: the windows to the soul. The eyes are the main focus of many of the makeup looks I do, and I think also the favorite feature for a lot of people. So today, I want to tell you about my all time favorite eye makeup products. I’m going to keep this one short and sweet so you can use it as a shopping list if you’d like. I’ve linked to the posts I’ve done about each product so you can get more details. You’re welcome!

Too Faced Shadow Insurance. The best eye primer.

Dior Diorshow Mascara. For volume, this can’t be beat.

Clinique High Impact Mascara. My go-to for adding length and inky blackness to the lashes.

MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder. Oh, you tryna get sultry? Pop this in your waterline.

Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners in Chocolate Truffle & Scotch. My bottom lashline heroes.

MAC Eyeshadows. The exact shades to use depend on your skintone, eye color and the look you are going for, but these pigmented shadows are the ones I use most on my clients and myself.

That’s a wrap on this short post. Are your (Irish or any other ethnicity) eyes smiling now? I sure hope so.

Have a beautiful day 🙂