Well, Thank You!

My sister-in-law and I. She is a great complimenter. I could do better.

I was recently hanging out with a college friend, you know, talking for about five hours straight as I do with my friends. She told me how she was out with the regular group she goes out with and a friend who didn’t usually hang out with themΒ  joined and couldn’t believe how much they complimented each other. My friend and I were talking about how we both do that a lot (she’s better at it than I am, especially because I sometimes say compliments in my head and forget to say them out loud).

I’ve been thinking about that conversation and how I often do compliment people–friends, grocery store cashiers, doctor’s office receptionists, whoever–on their makeup, hair and nails. If I see a pretty lipstick color, the compliment is out of my mouth before I know it, followed by “I’m a makeup artist,” I guess to justify it (totally unnecessary). When I compliment people I know, it might be a physical compliment like “I love your new haircut” or “That blue shirt looks great on you,” or something about their personality like “You’re always so patient with things. How?” or “You’re a great listener.”

I also compliment pretty much every client who sits in my chair, because I do think everyone has at least one beautiful feature. It can be eye color, eye shape, lashes, skin, lips, bone structure, etc. I think complimenting clients helps put them at ease, but that’s not why I do it. I genuinely mean every compliment I give.

This has all made me think of how much I have appreciated compliments people have given me. Some of those verbal gifts have stuck with me, and those are the ones I want to share now. I appreciated those compliments when they were given, and I appreciate them again whenever I think of them. Because of that, we have ourselves a blog post.

Here we go.

“You’re the only one who knows how to treat the people who work for them.” Someone who works for me said this to me when she was having a tough time at her day job. She had a series of bosses who were mean or didn’t appreciate her, which blows my mind because she is an incredibly hard worker, professional and really a dream employee (or Independent Contractor, in my case). I try my best to make AB Beauty the kind of company hair stylists and makeup artists want to work at, so her compliment meant a lot.

“You look exotic.” A guy I briefly dated in college said this to me when we first met. I don’t know what made him think that–I suspect maybe it was because in comparison to the more preppy styles around me, I looked different–but I took it as a compliment.

I was wearing this shirt and hoop earrings when I was deemed “exotic.”

“You should do standup!/”Do you do standup?”/”I can’t wait until your Netflix special!” I gave the Maid of Honor speech at my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding in 2017, and it was one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. I started writing the ten minute speech (turned into 12 minutes with laughter breaks, so what’s up) a year and a half before the wedding, and decided to memorize it. I know I could make my brother and sister-in-law laugh, and maybe my parents and few friends, but I did not expect the reaction I got during the speech and the dozens of people who came up to me after the speech to tell me how funny it was. Granted, my “audience” was a group of wedding guests who knew the subjects of my speech and didn’t have the comedy expectations you would watching a comic, but I still won’t forget all of the compliments.

“How many men have you killed with those eyes?” This pickup line–my favorite one ever–was given to me (at me?) a few years ago. This gentleman kept telling me my eyes were the most gorgeous eyes he had ever seen, which I attribute to some black waterline eyeliner and the tequila he was drinking. Still though, I chose to take it as a compliment.

“Allie is the busiest person I know, and she still makes the time to visit us.” When it comes to visiting friends, I feel like I should get an F. The nine-ish months a year I live in New England are also the busiest months for my business, and it’s rare that I have more than a couple hours twice a week to hang out. So if a friend lives an hour away and I’ve only got maybe three hours max, with the drive time, it’ tough to pull off. I still try to visit though, and the friend who said this (my friend’s husband, but I am friends with them both) lives a couple hours away. They used to live an hour away so I was able to visit them and their kids a few times a year, which was when he said it. Anyway, I always feel like I don’t visit my people half as much as I would like to because of my career, and I have some major guilt about that, so this compliment made me feel a million times better.

“I need to check your hair.” Said to me by a TSA agent at I forget which airport (either Boston, Charleston or Nashville). I had my hair up in a ponytail with the shorter front layers pinned back then pushed up a little because I HATE flat hair on me. (I’d go full 1960s Priscilla Presley every day if I could.) Apparently my hair looked big enough to be hiding something in it, so the TSA agent had to pat it down. I took that as the ultimate hair compliment.

“You two have the most expressive eyes! You look like anime characters.” This was said to actress Dominique Swain and I by an actor on the set of a Lifetime movie I did the makeup for. I feel like I have very few expressions, so it was a huge compliment to be lumped in with an actress whose expressive eyes are part of what makes her great at her job.

I think she beats me out when it comes to expressive eyes, but I’ll take it!

“You are the most organized person I’ve ever met.” A bride said this to me at a trial last week, so this is a fresh one. I don’t know if she’d say the same if she saw my house, but I certainly try my best to be organized when it comes to my business. When a client tells me that and how it makes the bridal beauty process easier for them, it really means a lot.

“You read too fast!” Something my father says every time we watch Jeopardy. I am a fast reader, and although it makes my father mad because I can read and answer a clue before he’s halfway through reading it, I think it’s a good thing. Right?

“Damn, white girl can dance!” Said by a fellow club goer in Ft. Lauderdale, 2006. This was the era of “droppin’ it,” which pre-dated twerking, and as someone who is already close to the floor, droppin’ it was not hard. I’m not a good dancer but apparently this man thought so, and that brings me great joy.

“We’re going to need to use the small blood pressure cuff on you.” Said to me at a recent doctor’s appointment. I feel like my upper arms are bigger than they should be, but my primary care implied otherwise. I’ll take it as a win.

I’m almost there.

All of these compliments have made me feel good, and I hope I’ve done the same for others with compliments I’ve given. The conversation with my friend–and writing this post–has made me want to consciously give more compliments. Not in a fake way, but when I notice or realize something positive or flattering about someone I should make sure to say it out loud. For me at least, sometimes a compliment can turn a bad day (or bordeline bad day) around. Wouldn’t it be nice to possibly do that for someone else, just with a few simple words? I think so.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Pro Makeup Artist Essentials: Part 2

On an overnight shoot for “Whaling City” in 2010. This was the first feature film I worked on, and I learned a lot.

Now that you’ve read Part 1–thank you–and know what you need in your kit, it’s time for the rest of the list. This list covers the items I think you need to make your day easier and more comfortable, as well as some essential intangibles. This is just as important as the list in Part 1, so listen up, friend.

Snacks. You can usually get a hold of water on a corporate or commercial set, but the food available (called “craft services” or “crafty” on a film or on a job with people who work in film) may not always be to your liking. I’ve seen it range from tables of crappy junk food to corner of a counter with a few sad looking pieces of fruit and some crackers. I have a gluten allergy and a list of other things that bother me, so I always bring snacks with me. You might want to do the same on set, and at a wedding job if you’ll be there for long enough that you’ll want to eat. Sometimes there’s a big wedding-morning-spread or a bride asks what you want when lunch is ordered, but usually you’re on your own.

Phone Charger. A “full day” on a commercial or corporate set is generally considered to be anywhere from 4 – 10 hours, and it’s not unusual to go over the 10 hour mark. I don’t know about your phone, but mine will start draining battery after a while, especially if I’ve been answering emails during breaks. That’s why I always bring a phone charger to set. As long as the makeup is being done inside (I’ve done my fair share of parking lot, field and garage makeup setups), you should have access to an outlet. If you’re doing a wedding and will be with the bride all day, I would also recommend bringing a charger and plugging it in whenever you can.

The Right Clothing. I’ve worked in freezing cold warehouses, on exterior shoots in January in New England and blazing hot houses in August where the a/c couldn’t be turned on because it would affect sound. And some studios are kept icy cold even in the summer, which is great for the talent because it keeps them from sweating, but unbearable for people like me who get cold if they hold a drink with ice in it for two minutes. So, I suggest bringing a sweater in the summer and if you are going to be in a studio, and always have a jacket with you if you might be outside and temps are cold enough for one. As far as being too hot, tank tops, shorts and sandals are not appropriate for corporate or commercial work, so lightweight clothing is key. At a wedding job, you can get away with a light dress as long as it’s not revealing (and not white!). Sandals are also fine for weddings.

I was wearing that dress with sandals. Appropriate wedding outfit, inappropriate corporate or commercial shoot outfit. Photo: Brittanny Taylor Photography

Business Cards. As a makeup artist, you will meet a ton of people. If they are in your chair, you might be having anywhere from a 5 minute to a one hour conversation with them. You might find that the talent you are talking to has a daughter getting married next year who needs a makeup artist, or the bridesmaid you’re clicking with owns a real estate company and wants makeup for marketing photos of her team. You’ll also meet crew members who might work on a future project that needs a makeup artist, and if they have your card, they can easily refer you to a producer. All of these people are unlikely to remember your name (sorry) without a business card, so why risk it?

Contact Info & Parking Instructions. Before you go to any job, make sure you have a contact phone number, parking information, building name or hotel room number and any location/entrance details ahead of time. If you wait until you get to a location to try to find out this information, you might be S.O.L. There’s no reason you can’t request this info a few days before a job. Clients like prepared makeup artists and your stress level will like that too.

A Full Gas Tank. You’ll do some jobs where you stay in one location all day, and others where you drive around to several locations. Unless you know for sure that you won’t be changing locations, make sure you have a full tank (especially if you have a long drive home). I’ve done political campaigns ads that required stops at five different locations in a day, some with 30 minute drives in between. You’re not going to have time to stop for gas in that type of situation. In fact, I don’t even recommend stopping for gas on the way to a job. Why add something your plate the day of when you might need that extra time if you get caught in a traffic jam or the parking lot you were told to park in is full? Fill up the day before and give yourself five points for preparedness.

A Book. On some jobs, you’ll have a lottttt of dead time. You may also be in a location where you have no signal and there’s no WiFi around (like working on a commercial in a field for 12 hours, which I’ve done).Β  Maybe you’d be fine using that time to re-organize your kit, talk to someone (if there is anyone around) or, I don’t know, meditate, but I usually have a book with me in case my phone is useless and I’m in a far away hair and makeup room by myself. That way I don’t die of boredom during an hour-long camera and lighting set up or wedding ceremony (waiting for the bride to get back for a pre-Cocktail Hour touchup).

If you’re sitting in the makeup room for an hour during a set up and you can’t use your phone (or even if you can), this is a great read.

Set & Wedding Etiquette. This is a monster of a topic. Set etiquette covers who you talk to, when you talk to them, the lingo you use, where to position yourself, when to move, what to wear, etc. If you want to work in film, this is a good read. It’s a little different on a corporate or sometimes commercial job, but these worlds often cross over. There’s no set at a wedding, but there is wedding etiquette. Like say “Happy Wedding Day!” or something similar when you see the bride, don’t wear a white dress, don’t take food or drinks without asking, don’t move things without asking (if you need the space for your setup), don’t talk about breakups/divorces, don’t drink on the job (you will be offered mimosas at some weddings), etc. Some of it is common sense and manners, but you’d be surprised what I’ve seen and heard about from other companies and in reviews I’ve read.

Professionalism. That means always be on time, don’t have inappropriate conversations, don’t take care of personal To Do list at a job, don’t disappear from set or while you’re supposed to be working on clients, invoice accurately, clearly and quickly, etc. You can be the best makeup artist in the world, but if you get a reputation of being unprofessional, you won’t get far. I either have to stop this paragraph here or write 97 more paragraphs about it, so let’s stop.

Between this post and this last one, I think I’ve covered all of the big stuff. Being a makeup artist–at least a successful one–means doing more than evening skintones and filling in eyebrows. It requires preparation, tact and professionalism. The beauty industry has become a very competitive place to work, so my recommendation is to learn everything you can before you start so that you can be more prepared than the other newbie makeup artists. I hope this helped, and I wish you the best of luck in your career.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Pro Makeup Artist Essentials: Part 1

My set up at the PBS station I regularly work at in Providence, RI. Ready for anything!

Starting out as a makeup artist? Welcome to the club! When I started out, I not only had no idea what I was doing but no clue what I needed in my kit. Now I’ve got a fully stocked kit (as well as an overflow bag…and two set bags) and my makeup artist luggage is so heavy I sprained both wrists one summer. So I think I’ve got a good grasp on everything you need for products, tools and supplies.

I will say that what you carry in your kit depends on what part of the industry you work in. I primarily do makeup for weddings, commercials and corporate shoots, but have done film and photoshoots as well. I can’t speak on runway or special effects makeup, so I’m afraid I’m no help there.

I’ll break it down into the two subsets I do the most work in–weddings and corporate/commercials–to help you be as prepared as possible should you want to work in those arenas. I’m not going to list every product, tool and supply you need, but will focus on some really important ones as well as some things you might not think of unless you’ve been there, done that.

WEDDINGS

I have a Zuca bag and an overflow bag filled with tons of eyeshadows, eyeliners, lipsticks, blushes, mascaras, concealers, foundations, powders, highlighters, brushes, sponges, cotton swabs, etc. Those are the basics for any non-special effects makeup job, but what I’m listing below are the things I’ve found to be extra important for wedding jobs.

Eye Primer, Foundation Primer, Lip Primer & Setting Spray. You won’t always be around for touchups after the initial makeup services are done, and you want to make sure the makeup you apply lasts. Primers and setting sprays will help lock it all in.

Small Scissors. The technical use for small scissors is to trim strip lashes and long brow hairs, but you’ll probably find they get used most often for cutting bridesmaid dress tags and those little loops that you use to hang dresses on a hanger.

Safety Pins. Another bridesmaid dress helper. Safety pins have nothing to do with makeup, but it’s nice to keep a few in your kit to help a girl out.

Hand Mirror. And make it a pretty one! Photographers loooooove to take photos of brides looking at their makeup in a hand mirror, so if the mirror has a nice design on it, it looks better in photos. That makes your client–and the photographer, who you may be requesting photos from after–happy.

See what I mean? Photo: Joe Laurin Photography Hair: Alexandra Wilson for Allison Barbera Beauty Makeup: Allison Barbera

Waterproof Mascara. Because weddings make people cry! And humidity, sweat and eye drops make mascara run, so the self proclaimed non-criers are not exempt. Why chance it?

Disposable Mascara Wands. You best not be touching anyone’s eyelashes (at a wedding or any other job) with the wand that comes in the tube unless it’s their own mascara or you’re giving it to them. That’s Makeup 101.

Plenty of False Lashes. I use individual (aka cluster aka flare) lashes on 90% of my wedding clients, so I always have several packs of varying lengths and thicknesses in my kit. It’s not unusual for me to go through a full pack of Mediums and a full pack of Shorts at one wedding. I say stock up on these if you plan on working weddings.

Two Kinds of Lash Glue. Duo is the pro fave, but it contains latex, which some folks are allergic to. So you’ll definitely need a non-latex version in your kit too.

Tweezers. You might use them to apply false lashes (I do) as well as to pluck the rogue eyebrow, upper lip or chin hairs. Just make sure to keep them sanitized.

Scotch Tape. Glitter abounds at weddings. It’s sometimes found on decor, shoes, morning-of mimosa glasses, etc. And where there is glitter on an object, you’ll find glitter on nearby faces. Scotch tape is great for lifting glitter off the skin, so I always have some in my kit.

Paper & Pen. The Maid of Honor is going to love the lipstick you put on her, right? So when she asks you what you used on her so she can buy it after the wedding, why not be a good person and write it down? Not only is that a nice thing to do, but the better a client’s overall experience is with you, the bigger chance that will come back to you in the form of repeat work, referrals and glowing reviews.

CORPORATE SHOOTS & COMMERCIALS

I bring my Zuca bag and my set bag (the bag you bring on set for touchups and makeup emergencies) to all corporate shoots and commercials. If I’m trying to make my Zuca lighter, I take out things I know I won’t need–shimmery highlighters, foundation primers, some of the false lashes (which I rarely use on commercials and never on corporate shoots). Everything else pretty much stays in. And a lot gets added.

Anti Shine. I use some anti-shine products at weddings too, but they are extra important for video and film shoots, where shine is the enemy. I’ll put some on a bald head too, as those domes can get shiny.

Pressed Powder. For the same reason, pressed powder is key. When it’s time for a touchup, powder is imperative. The person or people looking at a monitor probably won’t notice the perfect shade of blush you chose, but they will notice a shiny nose or forehead. I keep one pressed powder inside of each pouch I have in my set bag (each person on camera–called the “talent”–has a pouch with the products I might use to touch them up during a shoot).

Lip Balm. Lips can get dry during a long shoot, so keep some lip balm on you. You can either have a stick or pot of it that you apply or dip into directly then give to the person at the end of the shoot, or you can use one that you can squeeze or scrape out.

Body Lotion. As a makeup artist on set, you are expected to be able to handle issues on all of the exposed skin–not just the face. If the talent has dry hands, arms, legs, etc., they may ask you for body lotion. Be prepared for that request!

On the set of my first film job ever for the 48 Hour Film Festival in 2009. I had no idea what I was doing.

A Handheld Fan. The lights used on set can get very hot. And what do people do when they’re hot? They sweat. And what does sweat do to makeup? Wears it off. A small, handheld fan will help keep the talent cool, but if there is a hair stylist on set, he/or she will probably hate you for using it. The fan will cool the client but might move their hair as well, so if you’re not responsible for their hair (more on that below), make sure you consult with the hair stylist first.

Makeup Remover Wipes. A long day on set means several touchups, and that can be a lot of makeup. Some people want to get it all off before they leave for the day, so makeup artists are expected to have makeup remover wipes on hand. Always keep more than you think you’ll need, because you’ll go through them quicker than you expect.

Gum, Mints & Cough Drops. If there’s something someone needs that’s on the face–even it has nothing to do with makeup–people will go to the makeup artist for it. So make sure to keep some gum, mints and cough drops in your set bag, but also make sure the talent doesn’t have anything in their mouth when they start filming.

Tissues. If the talent needs a tissue, the makeup artist is expected to have that too. So keep some close to your set up in case they need one during the makeup application, as well as some in your set bag in case of a sneeze or runny nose mid-filming.

Dental Floss. You might get some requests for floss after lunch breaks. I keep the individual floss picks in my set bag. Because, yes, teeth do fall under Makeup Artist Territory on set…

Eye Drops. And eyeballs do too! I keep eye drops for redness, allergies and contact wearers in my set bag. Somewhere along the way, I acquired some single use eye drop packs that are great for that #setlife.

Nail Polish Remover. Were you under the impression that makeup artists didn’t have to worry about nails? Maybe on a big film set, but it’s all on you on most commercials and I would say all corporate shoots. Chipped nail polish or bright colors won’t fly on most commercial or corporate shoots, so I always have some nail polish remover pads on me.

Nail File & Clippers. If the nails are too long or jagged and there’s going to be a close up of the hands, it’s up to the makeup artist to get those claws camera ready.

Lint Roller. If there’s Wardrobe on set, this won’t be your responsibility, but if not, keeping a lint roller in your set bag will make you the temporary hero of the day if there’s some lint on the talent’s clothing.

I’ve done makeup in classrooms, churches, hospitals, dental offices, parking lots and many more locations. You may never know what setup you’re walking into, but you should always be prepared with a fully stocked kit.

Makeup Cape or Paper Towels. If the talent is already in wardrobe when they come to Makeup, you’ll need to be careful not to get any makeup on their outfit. You can protect their clothes with a makeup cape (think a hair stylist cape, but shorter) or paper towels tucked into the collar or neckline of their top or suit jacket.

Razor & Clippers. Sometimes male talent facial hair needs to be trimmed or shaved off (usually just trimmed for commercial or corporate), so be ready!

Hairspray, Pomade, Comb, Brush, Hair Dryer, Curling Iron, Flat Iron & Bobby Pins. Ohhhhhhhh, you thought makeup artists just did makeup? Sure, that’s the case at wedding jobs, runway, editorial and film jobs, but at most corporate shoots and on commercials with smaller budgets, the makeup artist is at least expected to do some hair grooming. That means getting rid of flyaways, pinning back pieces of hair, sometimes giving a once over with a flat iron, etc. If you’re not a licensed Cosmetologist, I recommend finding someone you can hire to teach you some hair grooming basics.

Other makeup artists may look at these two lists and think I’m missing some things (in which case, please comment away!). But I think this is a good, solid list to work off of as long as you have a fully stocked kit and brush cleaner.

If you want my full lists with every product, tool and supply I use, please email AllisonBarbera@gmail.com for details.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

Emerging From My June Haze

What I felt like doing every time I had a second last month.

I’m experiencing major writer’s block right now. I’m not even sure what the rest of this sentence is going to look like.Β  I usually have several ideas for blog posts, but I’m coming up blank. Maybe it’s because we just finished the busiest month in the history of AB Beauty? 26 weddings, two groups of wedding guests, one hair and makeup for a re-shoot of some 2018 wedding photos and 12 trials, five corporate shoots and four makeup artists training sessions. Hundreds of email, non-stop texts and phone calls on the daily. We are just about to smash our all time record of 108 weddings, and the year is only a little over halfway done.

I’m tired.

I cried a few times, felt like collapsing regularly and caught a virus that still hasn’t gone away because I haven’t had much time to rest. But I also worked with a lot of brides who I love, met some cool people who came in to model for makeup artist training sessions, got two new makeup artist trained and two new ones who are starting their training now and booked several 2020 weddings. I got to see my family once, had a few fun friend visits and a classic Newport Summer day with a local friend, and saw Hannah Gadsby perform in Boston (she was AWESOME). So as rough as the June workload was, I’m choosing to look back on it as a good month.

It’s not that I dislike my job. Quite the contrary, actually. This is my dream job! My makeup artist work itself is great. I genuinely like my clients and I have fun talking with them at trials, weddings and shoots. The business side of my job–client communication, scheduling, invoicing, coordinating social media, etc.–is not super hard, it’s just a lot in combination with my makeup artist job, recruiting and training new makeup artists and growing the company. The makeup artist training program is intense, but I do enjoy teaching and getting people ready for a career in makeup artistry. It’s just when it’s all happening at once with no time to breathe that I feel a little buried. And that was June.

July is much quieter with weddings, but busy with trials and trainings. Even so, it feels lighter and I’m able to get a bit more balance. I have a good friend coming to town for Fourth of July (you’re damn right we’re wearing red, white and blue), my father’s big pool party/cookout this weekend, a Charleston friend visit next week, I’m going to see comic Nick Kroll in mid-July, then off to the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal at the end of the month. There will still be long days, but I’ve got great clients and a rockstar team, so it’ll be a good month.

That’s all I got, friends. My brain is stopping me from writing anymore.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚