Product Review: Glossier Balm Dotcom

Three of the fruit flavored Balm Dotcoms. Aren’t they cute?

I thought I did this review ages ago! I use Balm Dotcom every day on my myself, as well as on every wedding and event client and I’ve sung its praises in many an Instagram post. I’ve written about it in other blog posts, which might be why I thought I had reviewed it. But I didn’t, and so now, here we are.

Like any other human, I get dry lips sometimes. Part of it is probably due to dehydration (I’m not the best water-drinker some days) and part to the sometimes-drying lip products I test out (occupational hazard). Whatever the reason, I can not stand the feeling of dry lips. I’m from the Lip Gloss Generation (shoutout to my other 90s Girls). We were brought up on Lip Smackers, then we graduated to lip gloss in middle school and kept that going through our mid 20s. Our lips didn’t have a chance to be moisture-less! I have always kept a lip balm in my purse, and another on my nightstand. Because what kind of maniac goes to bed with dry lips?!?!

But if I’m being honest, I was never 100% happy with any of the lip balms I tried. Chapstick, Burt’s Bees, Rosebud Salve, Fresh, Aquaphor Lip Repair–I made the rounds. Some worked better than others, but none really did the trick. Then I discovered Glossier Balm Dotcom. Like many of my favorite products, it was a gift from my cousin, Saint Maria. This was back when Glossier only made one Balm Dotcom, so we’re talking original flavor here.

I was immediately impressed by this universal salve, as they call it, so I kept buying it and have now tried most of the flavors. I mainly use it on my lips, but I’ve also used the original one on areas where I’ve got little burns (via a curling iron, usually). It does seems to help the burns heal quicker, which is great. But what I’m really impressed with is how well it hydrates my lips. The only time they are ever really dry anymore is after I’ve worn a matte lipstick. As long as I apply Balm Dotcom several times for 24 hours post-lipstick, my lips revert back to their normal state.

Balm Dotcom now comes in eight flavors: Original, Birthday, Rose, Cherry, Mint, Coconut, Mango and Berry. Berry is new so I haven’t tried that one yet, but I plan to. I have not tried Mint because I don’t think I’d like it, but my borderline OCD brain can’t stand the thought of trying seven out of eight of the flavors, so I’ll probably cave in. I’ll update this post as I try those two flava flaves, but in the meantime, I’ll tell you what I think of the other six, in order of how much I like them.

Put that stick of wax down and get yourself some Balm Dotcom.

Original. It’s perfection. I keep one on my nightstand because I have to apply it before I go to sleep, and I have another in my pro kit. Like all of the Balm Dotcoms, it comes in a squeeze tube and it is takes surprisingly long to use up all of the product. I find the Original to be the most hydrating of all of the flavors. It has no tint to it, so you can use it anywhere.

Mango. This Balm Dotcom came out this year, and with my penchant for tropical scents, I knew I had to try it. It has a sheer coral tint, which I love. It seems maybe a tiny bit less hydrating than the Original, but it’s still more hydrating than other lip balms I’ve tried. Mango currently resides in my purse, and I will be buying a new one when this tube crosses over.

Coconut. Coconut is one of the untinted Balm Dotcoms, and it is 99% as hydrating as the Original. I love love love coconut scented things, which is why this was my dream balm…at first. For the first week I had it, it smelled beautifully coconut-ish. Then after that, it started to smell like–I swear to you–buttered popcorn. I thought I was going crazy, but I have since talked about this with other Balm Dotcom fans and they agreed with me about the popcorn transition. That’s not really a scent I care to have on my lips, so I didn’t end up buying a second tube. But in terms of hydration, it is really good.

Rose. Rose has a “barely there pink tint,” which I know a lot of people like. In terms of hydration, it’s as hydrating as Coconut. I’m just not a big fan of the rose scent in my lip balms (but somehow like it in Diorshow Mascara). If you like rose-scented products, I would definitely recommend this.

Birthday. Birthday smells like cake, and has the perfect amount of shimmer. If we were going off just scent and appearance, this would hands down be my favorite. But when it comes to hydration, it’s not there for me. I actually find it to be a bit drying. I like it the look and scent so much though that I still wear it. I just prep my lips first with the Original, wait for that to absorb, then apply a thin layer of Birthday. There’s a work around for everything, if you want it enough.

Cherry. I like cherries and I often wear red lipstick, so you’d think I’d like this cherry scented lip balm with a sheer red tint. Sadly, I do not. I think it smells like cough medicine, I don’t love the tint, and I find it very drying. Sorry, Cherry. I really wanted this to work out.

For the most part, I love the Balm Dotcoms. I find several of the flavors to be superior when it comes to hydrating. None of them feel sticky or heavy, and they all have great packaging. The caps stay on, and the product doesn’t leak out. They are $12 each (or $30 for three), which can seem like a lot if you compare it to $2.94 for a three pack of Chapstick. But the difference is, Balm Dotcoms work. If you have constant dry lips, you might find that $12 (or $30) worth it.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Attention, Newport Brides!

This is what Newport wedding perfection looks like. Photo: Sarah Pudlo & Co.

Getting married in the Newport area? Congratulations! It’s a great place to have a wedding. From the waterfront venues to the mansions to the beach and park options, Newport has a lot to offer for weddings. My company has been doing weddings since 2008, and the majority of them have been in Newport and Middletown (the town right next to Newport on Aquidneck Island). I’ve learned a lot about having a wedding in this area, and I think the right thing to do is pass that knowledge on to you.

Ready for some local, wedding vendor intelligence?

Festivals & Events. A tourist destination is nothing without its events, right? And Newport has a lot of them. Some are on the smaller side, and others bring in huge crowds. If you’re planning your wedding for an event weekend, you might want to let your guests know to tack on a little extra travel time. Also, you should be prepared in terms of hotel room blocks. The heaviest traffic events are usually the Newport Folk Festival (last weekend in July), The Newport Jazz Festival (first weekend in August) and the International Boat Show (mid-September). The International Tennis Hall of Fame Championship (early July), The Newport Flower Show (usually the third weekend of June), and The Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival (late September) bring some traffic to Bellevue Avenue and the Newport Marathon (usually the second Sunday in October) causes road closures and detours. Salve Regina University graduation (usually the third weekend in May) can make some dents in hotel room availability. The Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade (the Saturday before March 17, or on March 17 if it falls on a Saturday) really affects the downtown area, as Thames Street is part of the parade route so it gets blocked off. Those are the biggest events that I’ve noticed that can have an impact on a Newport wedding. You can keep an eye on the Newport events schedule here. It also might be worth it to follow Newport Buzz, What’s Up Newp and Newport Patch on Facebook for local info.

The Newport Season. The Newport Summer Season technically starts on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day, but it’s not a ghost town for all of the time before and after that. Newport is pretty quiet in January, February and March though, really only coming alive a little during February school vacation week and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March. April can start to pick up if the weather is nice. The last weekend of April has been a popular one for weddings because from what I understand, that’s the last weekend for off season rates at many of the venues. May gets busier, particularly on the weekends and then definitely on Memorial Day Weekend. June is also busy, especially once schools get out, as Newport is a popular family vacation spot. I consider Peak Season to be Fourth of July through Labor Day Weekend. After Labor Day, the weekends stay busy as long as it’s nice out, but it’s easier to get around and find parking on weekdays. Some restaurants close in late September or early October, then re-open in April or May. Beach weather is usually gone by October, which thins out the weekend day-tripper traffic. November and December are much quieter, with some holiday season shoppers on weekend but no big events. If you want your wedding in the busy, fun summertime Newport, aim for between Fourth of July and Labor Day. If you want that seem feel but a little quieter, Memorial Day until the Fourth, as well as the weekends after Labor Day in September, will do it for you. You can have a beautiful fall wedding in Newport (with lower prices at some venues) in October and November. If you like the holidays, Newport looks pretty in December, so that could be a good choice for you. The deep off-season months (January, February and March) definitely hold their own appeal in terms of pricing and likely vendor availability. And if you consider April the pre-season month, with its longer days and sometimes spring weather, that can be a good one. And now I’ve covered the whole year for you!

The Weather. New England weather can be unpredictable, but you know, that’s how weather works. January is usually cold and typically Newport sees some snow during it. And the last few years, January had a least a couple single digit days from what I remember from Facebook posts (I’ve been getting the hell out of RI and loving life in SC from January until April the last few years). February brings more cold and usually some snow, but at least the sun sets later each day! March has been the mean girl the past few winters, with cold temps and usually one last big-ish snow storm. Early April has been feeling like winter, but with little whispers of warmer temps. It is extremely rare to see any major snowfall in April. By late April, it’s typically in the 50s, but I do remember one glorious late April weekend a few years back that was in the low 70s. The temps begin to go in the right direction in May, starting in the high 50s and low 60s and ending in the high 60s and low 70s. June is usually mostly in the 70s, and the days are wonderfully long. July has been our warmest and most humid month the last few years, with temps in the 80s and occasionally low 90s. August is definitely summer too, although the cool air can start to creep in at night as early as mid-August. September tends to be beautiful. 70s during the day, little or no humidity and cooler nights. If there’s a hurricane in the southern part of the country though, we can get the tail end of it as a tropical storm or just a rainy, windy day, but a direct hit is rare. It’s still usually warm enough to wear open-toed shoes through mid-October, and you’ll get plenty of fall foliage photos opps that month. November is solidly fall weather, and in terms of photos, you might want to keep in mind what time the sun sets (most people end up doing First Looks and formal photos before the ceremony in fall and winter, due to the shorter days). December typically isn’t brutally cold in Newport and we don’t usually get big snow storms in December, but some light snow is common.

All of that being said, Mother Nature ain’t on nobody’s schedule. We’ve seen snow in October in Newport, and days in the 60s in February. Rain can happen any time, and sometimes September has more warm days than June. My advice to you is to pick a venue that has an indoor space you like as much (or almost as much) as its outdoor space, so if you plan an outdoor ceremony and the weather messes you up, at least you’ll be happy under a non-tented roof. Luckily, the Newport area has many venues that are beautiful both inside and out, so you have options.

Judging by our outfits, this could have been November, April, or anywhere in between.

Newport Bridge Work. There are two ways onto Aquidneck Island: over the Jamestown and Newport Bridges, or over the Sakonnet River Bridge to Portsmouth (what locals call “the back way”). If you or your guests are traveling over the Jamestown and Newport Bridges, you might want to check the status of work being done there. There is a multi-phase bridge work project that has been happening on the Newport Bridge over the past couple of years that has brought with it lane closures and backed up bridge traffic. They have to do the work during warmer months (something about the ground not being too cold), so it’s been starting around June and ending in the fall. If you have guests who would be coming into Newport over the two bridges, you might want to check out RITBA for info on the work schedule.

Newport Street Parking. Made it past the bridge work? Good job! Now it’s time to find parking. It’s usually not a problem for wedding guests to find parking, as all of the churches and venues have parking lots. But the getting-ready part of the day can be a different animal. If you’re getting ready at a hotel, your bridal party, beauty team, videographer, photographer, planner and whoever else will be with you shouldn’t have a problem (although I recommend checking with your hotel first in case they want them to park somewhere specific or get a temporary parking pass). But if you’re at a rental home in the downtown area, it’s unlikely that there will be that many (or any) off street spots available. That’s not really a problem during the off season (although October and April have been getting busier), but during the summer season, Newport street parking is extremely limited. People can get stuck circling around for 20 – 30 minutes, waiting for a nearby spot to open up. (Hair stylists, makeup artists, videographers and photographers tend to have a decent amount of gear to lug around, so parking a 10 minute walk away might not be an option for them.) The good news is, Newport has a lot of pay lots! If you can scout out a nearby pay lot beforehand or ask the property owner where one is, you can cross that off your list early on instead of dealing with it on your wedding day.

Middletown Street Parking. Middletown town is literally the middle town on Aquidneck Island, if you’re wondering where it got its name. (What, you don’t like Jeopardy type facts?) Newport is the southernmost city on the island, with Middletown to its north and Portsmouth above that. Middletown has beaches, wedding venues and a lot of rental homes near those wedding venues, so it’s popular spot for weddings and the getting-ready part of the day. What they probably don’t mention in those rental home listings is that there is no street parking allowed on some of the streets in Middletowns (specifically, from what I’ve experienced, those streets within a mile or so of the beaches). If you’re planning to get ready at one of those rental homes and it has a driveway that fits two cars, but you’ve got six bridesmaids, two hair stylists, two makeup artists, a videographer and a photographer who will be at the house, you’ll need to figure out the parking situation. Unlike Newport, there aren’t really any pay lots in that part of Middletown, so you might want to talk to the property owner ahead of time to try to figure that out. (Sometimes if your venue is near the rental home, they let you park there early and you can have someone from your group shuttle people to the rental home, and I have a vague memory of one AB Beauty bride calling the Middletown Police to get special permission to temporarily park a few cars on the street. And there can be other options too.) Better to straighten it out ahead of time than deal with a parking mess the day of!

Beach Traffic. Particularly around Easton’s Beach (that’s First Beach to the locals), there’s always traffic during the summer between 3:00pm – 5:00pm when most people leave the beach. That traffic also affects the westbound lanes on the Newport and Jamestown bridges, as well as the Route 4 exit off of route Route 1. It’s not major standstill–we’re not talking going-one-mile-in-an-hour-Boston-rush-hour type traffic–but it can add some time onto a drive.

If First Beach looks like this, it’s not the time of year you need to worry about beach traffic. But in the summer, be ready for it!

Venue Access. If there is a bridal suite at your venue, your first thought might be “Let’s get ready there!” But often access to those suites is only allowed two – three hours before your ceremony, which is usually not enough time for hair and makeup services. If there is a bridal suite that you’d like to get ready in, I would make sure to ask when you would be able to get in. Some that have that three hour rule also sometimes allow you to rent them out for the day, so that could be an option for you. The moral of the story is, look into it. Ask questions and find out what’s allowed before you make any plans.

Ocean Breezes And Then Some. Aquidneck Island is, you know, an island. That means we are surrounded by water, and with water comes ocean breezes. They’re lovely on a hot day, but things can get windy. And a strong wind will whip your hair back and forth, whip your hair back and forth. If are getting married on the water or taking pictures at the beach, just be aware of the wind and what it can do to hair styles (particularly down styles and half up styles). This is part of the reason we offer additional hair touchups for brides at AB Beauty. AB Beauty hair stylists can make your hair stay perfectly in place in regular weather, but strong wind guests during two hours of photos are a different story. It’s not that every day in the Newport area is windy–I mean, we’re not Chicago–but it’s worth a mention.

Off Season Weddings. If you love a venue in the Newport area but can’t afford a summer Saturday, try looking into a Friday or Sunday. If that’s still out of budget, it’s worth looking into an off-season date if you’re okay with a potentially less ideal weather day. If your ceremony and reception will be inside and the only real outside need you have is for photos, you might be able to make it work. I was a bridesmaid in a Newport New Year’s Eve wedding many moons ago and we took some photos outside. I’m an always-cold person and I don’t remember it being freezing because we did it so quickly. Other than lower pricing, an off season wedding means more hotel availability, less traffic and often more vendor availability. Just something to think about, bride-to-be.

I hope this has been helpful to you if you’re planning or even just considering having a wedding in the Newport area. If you have any questions, ask away. I’ve lived in Newport for most of my adult life and have had a beauty business here for the past 11+ years, so I think I’m pretty well versed in this area.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

The Leo Month Recap

If you ask my father, August was the best month ever because he got to hold a toucan!

I know, I know, not all people born in August are Leo’s, but doesn’t it kind of feel like it? And that’s the way they would want it. (That’s a joke for the astrology crowd.) I’ve got a lot of Leo’s in my life and we tend to get along well, so I’ve got nothin’ but love for my lions. In tribute to them, I am calling this August recap “The Leo Month Recap.”

In August, Allison Barbera Beauty celebrated 11 years in business. I have a pre-teen! That’s crazy. We had 15 weddings, a bunch of trials and some corporate shoots. All of the brides I personally worked with this month were awesome awesome awesome. Jamie, Caroline, Taylor, Victoria and Kate–you rock! Thank you for being so great to work with.

We also booked a lot of 2020 weddings, which I’m psyched about. Next year is going to be BANANAS busy, y’all. We ready.

I tried the Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation (which Sam from Pixiwoos raves about), but I got a lighter shade that I needed so I’ve just been using that on the center of my face with my regular MAC Face & Body that matches me on the rest of my face. I need to get the right shade of Light Wonder to use on my whole face so I can really review it. I also tried her Legendary Lashes Volume 2, which I liked a lot.

On the personal front, I had some fun times with friends old and new. I had a party with several friends and relatives to celebrate 11 years in business and we had a blast. I dragged my mom to a bunch of stores to help me find more furniture and decor for my apartment, and we were successful even though she pointed out the SAME EXACT CHAIR I told her I didn’t want, thrice. I took my father to Animal Adventures in Bolton, MA for a private guided tour (his Father’s Day present) and he had the best damn time.

I started physical therapy for this (the doctors think) vestibular disorder I’ve had since last October. It messes with my balance and I’ve tried a lot of things to fix it, but PT is the first thing that seems to be helping. I’m still not totally out of the woods, but I can’t tell you how much of a relief is it have found something that is helping.

August was overall a good month. It maybe didn’t feel as balanced as July, but it didn’t bury me as much as June did. Now we are in September, the second busiest month of the year for AB Beauty. It’s September 5th, and we’ve already done four weddings with two more happening tomorrow and four more on Saturday. That’s 10 in seven days, if you’re counting.

And that means I should probably go to bed. I’ve got two great brides this weekend, and they deserve a well-rested makeup artist.

Have a beautiful day 🙂