Don’t Be Intimidated: A Foundation How To

Getting that foundation perfect for my bride. Photo: Rupert Whiteley

Let’s talk about something else–anything else–than the “C” word. (Takes on a different meaning in spring of 2020, doesn’t it?). You’re in the right place/looking at the right screen! This is primarily a beauty blog, so let’s talk beauty.

If I were to pick the makeup product people are most scared of, it has to be foundation. From choosing the correct color match and formulation to how to best apply it, I understand why it can seem like an overwhelming product to start using. But listen, I’m here for you. I’m going to guide you through each step of the process so by the end of this, you’ll have a great foundation–and I do mean that literally and figuratively.

Let’s get to it!

What’s Your Type? The first thing you should consider when buying a foundation is your skin type. Do you have dry skin, oily skin, normal skin or combination skin? Certain foundations work better on certain skin types. Foundations that have a dewy or luminous finish are typically better for dry or normal skin, as oily skin already has its own shine. Matte foundations are normally better for oily skin, as they tend to be a heavier formulation, which can latch onto dry areas. Because they are heavier, it’s hard for the oil to get through the product and because they are matte, they don’t add shine to already shiny skin.ย  I’m not a huge fan of powder foundations (I normally only use them in place of my usual setting powder to get more coverage on clients with acne), but I definitely avoid them on dry skin, as they can cake up when they encounter dry patches. You can check beauty blogs and reviews for the best foundations for different skin types, but I’ll tell you what I like.

For normal and dry skin, MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation is the bee’s knees. For oily skin, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundationย  or Armani Luminous Foundation (it’s not that luminous, so it’s fine for oily skin) with Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer underneath does the job. For combination skin, I use MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation with Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer underneath and MAC ProLongwear Concealer on the T-zone or oily areas. I realize I’m recommending more than just foundations for two out of four of the skin types, but in my eyes, makeup is a team player situation.ย  Knowing the right kind of foundation for your skin type will help keep your foundation from looking too shiny or cakey.

Throwing Shade. Finding the right foundation shade is key if you want your foundation to look like skin and not makeup. So, here’s how you find that right shade. First Step: Eyeball it. If you look at a row of foundations, you know roughly where you fall. I have faith that you can rule out some shades that would be too light and/or too dark for you.

Second Step: Get samples of 3 – 5 shades that you think could be your perfect match. Stores like Sephora will give you samples, and most chain drugstores will let you return opened beauty products so you can sample by buying a foundation then returning it if it’s the wrong shade. Just keep that receipt, boo boo.

Third Step: In natural light, apply a vertical stripe ofย  foundation on your jawline (not om your neck or your hand, which can each be a different color than your face). If you’re testing a few shades, stripe them next to each other. The right shade for you will disappear on your skin when you step back and look in the mirror. You might find that some shades are not darker or lighter than your skin, but look too peach, pink/red, yellow or olive. That’s an undertone issue, so your best bet is to try to find out which undertone the “off” foundation has (some makeup companies will list the undertones of their foundations on their website) and then avoid that undertone when testing foundations going forward, if you can find out that information.

Following these three steps should help you find your Prince or Princess Charming of foundations, but if you’re really stuck, booking a makeup lesson with a pro makeup artist (when life gets back to normal) is an option.

When your foundation is undetectable, you’ve done it right. Photo: Sarah Bastille Photography
Hair: Emily Buffi for Allison Barbera Beauty
Makeup: Allison Barbera

Tools of The Trade. Okay, so now you’ve got the right foundation for your skin type and it matches you perfectly. Congrats! You’re doing better than a lot of YouTube beauty gurus. To really get this right, you have to make sure to apply it in a way that will even out your skintone without overloading the skin with product. There are a few ways to go with this, but I’ll tell you what I prefer to do, as a makeup artist who likes skin to look like skin.

When using a liquid foundation on clients, I use a flat foundation brush to apply the product to the forehead, cheeks and chin. I apply a big dot of it on the center of each area, then use a buffing brush to blend it outwards. On myself, I use my hands to apply liquid foundation, then I use a buffing brush to blend it out. In both cases, I use what’s left on the buffing brush to go over the nose. The skin on noses is different than the rest of the face and it can get quickly overloaded with product, so I typically don’t apply a dot of foundation there. I have combo skin and I get pretty dry in colder, non-humid climates, so when I’m dry, I take a few seconds to press my (clean, washed) hands on each section of face to help the foundation further absorb into my skin via the body heat and the pressure from my hands. I don’t do this when I’m in warmer, humid climates because the oils from my skin already help my foundation absorb.

When I use powder foundations on myself or on my clients, I apply them with a sponge (sometimes the flat one that came with the foundation if I like it, sometimes a wedge sponge). I dip the sponge into the foundation and use a stippling motion to apply to one section of the face. I repeat until I have all of the areas covered. I’ll sometimes lightly go over it with a buffing brush if I think it needs a blend, but I rarely use a brush to initially apply powder foundation, as that can lead to an uneven application.

If you choose the right foundation formulation and shade for your skin and you apply it correctly, you’ve mastered it! Want a job with AB Beauty? ๐Ÿ˜‰ With a little bit of trial and error (and isn’t this a great time to try things out at home?), I know you can do this.

If you need help, comment away.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

The Lockdown List: How I’m Using This Time To Be Extra Productive

This is some crazy shit, isn’t it? It feels like something I’d read about in a novel I’d buy at Hudson News, which I would then half read while I dozed off on the plane.

But it’s real, as is the reality that many people who didn’t previously work from home are now doing so. When I’m not with clients, which is the majority of the time, I work from home. I’m used to spending entire days working from home, without leaving even once, so it turns out I’ve been practicing (but never hoping for or imagining) a quarantine.ย  I know we’re not in a lockdown–yet–in RI, but “The Lockdown List” is a catchy title, so give me a break, okay?

Working from home is a test of discipline, as I see it. I wrote this post about it in January, so if you’re new to the workplace-free life, maybe check that out. That covers the basics, but seeing as though we might all be stuck at home for a while, I wanted to share the specific things I’m doing (you know, besides dealing with the frequent wedding and bridal trial reschedules) with this time. Now that our peak wedding season is getting pushed back and I’m not training any new makeup artists, I’m going to have time to get to all of those little tasks I’ve been putting off because they’re not time sensitive. I thought other people might recognize some of these things as tasks they’ve been meaning to do, so here we are.

Storage Wars. I’m at 91% of the Gmail storage capacity I have, so I’m going to go on a deleting spree. I file and archive a lot of emails, but many of them really don’t need to be saved or referenced again. This is one of those little piddly tasks I always put off, but it’s time to free up some space.

The Ex Files. No, I don’t keep files on all of the guys I’ve dated. (They don’t deserve my energy, said my mother and every psychic I’ve ever been to.) But I do keep files on my computer for jobs, admin stuff, marketing, etc. Some of them are from a few years back–so the exes of my business–and are doing nothing but taking up space, so they gots to go. That’s deleting spree #2, if you’re counting.

Back On Track. Up until I got sick in 2018 (that blog post will come, some day) I was very good at regularly updating our job tracking spreadsheet. But because that wasn’t an absolute essential and I’ve had to keep my screen time to a minimum the last year and a half, I fell behind. Now that my health seems to be getting better, I can get the tracking sheet up to speed. I’ve chipped away at this a little over the last month, but the next few weeks will likely give me the time to make an even bigger dent in it.

Revision Decision. If you don’t assess and revise your business documents, what are you even doing? Company policies change, business operations change, references change–you get the point. I make important revisions–like a location change or changes due to a new law–immediately, but sometimes my docs just need a refresh. I did this a little bit in January and am going to pick up where I left off this month.

But Of Course. I have some recorded online classes I want to watch or finish watching, and I think this is a great time for that. Self isolate and self educate? I’m in.

The Write Right. If I’m smart, I’ll get a bunch of blog posts written because when things get back to normal, it’s going to be crazy town for me. If you write a blog or write any of your social media content ahead of time, if work is slower for you but you still have to get things done as you work from home, this might be the ideal time to do it.

Lemme Update You. (Sung to the tune of Beyonce’s “Upgrade U.”) I keep my website up to date as far as rates and policies, but I’m going go through the content again and see if anything needs tweaking, and upload some new photos. As a plus, Google likes updated websites as it tells them info is current, so website updates are good for the ol’ SEO too.

Pinteresting. It makes sense for my business to have a Pinterest account, so adding to that might be a good thing to do while social distancing is still a thing. It’s also one of the easiest business tasks I have, so I can make some progress with it even after my brain has half melted from all of the wedding and trial reschedules. Who’s to say you can’t pin and have a Quaratine Cocktail (that’s any drink you’d like, when you’d like it)? I won’t tell.

Did that help? Yes? Great! I thought that was what you’d say ๐Ÿ˜‰

We’ll get through this, and I know that because Sylvia Browne predicted that we would…

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚

Drugstore Makeup, Part 3: My Haul Reviews

Found a new favorite lipstick from my haul!

You’ve been waiting for this, haven’t you? Okay, then. Let’s do it!

I bought a foundation, blush, concealer, lipstick, cream eyeshadow and mascara. I tried each one at least a couple of times. Here’s what I thought of each one.

Revlon Colorstay Foundation Matte Finish in 200 Nude. When I first started doing makeup in 2008, I had some Colorstay Foundations in my kit, left over from Esthetics school. I was on a waitress’s salary and needed something to practice with at school that wouldn’t break the bank, and I had heard good things about these foundations. I remember thinking they were a little too thick, so they didn’t last long in my kit. Fast forward 12 years later and…still not loving them. It might have been because I chose the matte version and I’m used to the healthy skin glow I get from MAC Face & Body Foundation, but I felt like my skin looked really dull and the foundation felt heavy. It didn’t look horrible and the shade itself was fine, but it was too heavy for me. I come from the school of makeup artists who like skin to look like skin, and I unfortunately didn’t get that with this foundation. I will say it lasted long, even without a primer, but length of wear alone won’t hook me. Did I keep it? Nope. I couldn’t imagine a world in which I would want a heavy foundation on my face.

2 heavy 4 me.

Maybelline Fit Me Blush in 25 Pink. This powder blush was a very pretty shade and it blended well. I was impressed by the level of pigment. However, it faded extremely fast compared to the MAC powder blushes I use. I think a primer would have helped, but I don’t wear foundation primer on a regular basis because I don’t need it with the products I use. Did I keep it? No, but I might have if it lasted longer.

Not the best fit for me.

L’Oreal Infallible Pro Glow Concealer in 01 Classic Ivory. I bought this in a shade that would work under my eyes but I knew was too light for the rest of my face. It was a good undereye color match for me and did a solid job of minimizing my undereye darkness. I first tried it under my eyes without any moisturizer there, and I found that it got very cakey. The second day I put a thin layer of moisturizer under my eyes first (which I normally do anyway), and it applied very nicely. This concealer is well pigmented and covered my undereye darkness almost as well as my usual MAC ProLongwear Concealer in NW20. The length of wear was very good as well. When I tried it on my face, I found that it caked up quickly, but it was great for undereye coverage as long as I applied a thin layer of moisturizer first. Did I keep it? Kind of. I didn’t return it and I used it pretty regularly for a couple weeks (just swapped it out with my regular ProLongwear when I wanted more coverage), but I ended up giving it to my mother because the concealer she was using wasn’t working well, and I knew this was a good one.

A little moisturizer prep worked wonders with this concealer.

CoverGirl Exhibitionist Lipstick in Hot 105. I love a red lip. If I’m wearing lipstick at all, 8 out of 10 times, it’s red. I loved the red of this lipstick, which looks orange-red in the tube but more pink-red on. It lasts for an impressively long time without drying out my lips. Sure, it transfers like most lipsticks will do, but what do you expect? Did I keep it? I certainly did! And I wear it at least once a week.

Too hot to trot…back to CVS.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Socialite. Cream eyeshadows are underrated. They’re quick and easy to apply, and if you’re lucky, they’re pigmented and stay on well. I wasn’t so lucky with Color Tattoo, particularly in the longevity department. I tried Socialite, a bronze shade that caught my eye. I first tried it with no eye primer under, and it faded after a few hours. The next time, I used Too Faced Shadow Insurance under it, which made a big difference, although I still didn’t find it to be very long-lasting. The level of pigment was decent and it didn’t crease, but I’d go for a Laura Mercier Caviar Stick or a MAC Paint Point over this product. Did I keep it? That’s a negative, Nancy.

I’m as tattoo-less as I’ve ever been.

L’Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara. My feelings about this mascara fluctuated as much as spring temperatures in New England. The first day I tried it, I didn’t like it at all. I thought it gave my lashes zero volume, and it smudged a little. To be fair, I was in a rush so I didn’t have time to separate my lashes like I usually do, and I didn’t have translucent powder on my browbone like I often do (to prevent smudging when lashes touch my browbone). I tried it the next day with my typical lashes separation and translucent powder, and I liked it a lot better. Ditto for the next few days. This mascara has a spiky, rubbery wand, which I find uncomfortable to use, but I was really liking the formula. Then I compared it to my beloved Dior Diorshow (one on each eye) and it lost. Diorshow gives my lashes more volume, and there’s no denying that. It’s not a drastic difference and I do think Voluminous Million Lashes is a good mascara, but it didn’t win the battle with Diorshow. Did I keep it? No, but I might have if it had a better wand. I find spiky, rubbery wands really uncomfortable to use. I’m picky about mascaras, so I will say this is a good one for most people.

A great mascara at the drugstore level.

So that’s it. Two out of five keepers, and I didn’t even expect it to be that high. I think drugstore makeup has overall improved since I last really used it, but when it comes to pigment and longevity, I think the higher end lines are still where it’s at.

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚




The Shortest Month Recap

February went by in the blink of an eye, didn’t it? When I lived in New England year-round, I used to despise February. I thought it was the shortest yet cruelest month, with its dark, short days, cold temperatures and inevitable snowstorms. But now that February is the middle month of my Charleston winters, I wish it was longer. By like 30 days. At least I’ve got March, I guess…

February was the only month in 2020 with no weddings for AB Beauty, which is a weird feeling. But we made up for that with lots of trials, some corporate shoots and a healthy amount of wedding bookings. On the makeup front, I tried some new drugstore products, and a new lip product, all of which I’ll review soon. On the business front, I put a little more thought into some new ideas for AB Beauty and brainstormed with some entrepreneur friends.

Personally, I had a lot of fun in February. Brunches, Happy Hours, ghost tours–it was all very Charleston-y. I took some time to relax in the hopes that I could start to heal some health issues, and I think it helped. I finally got Hulu and made my way through several series (The Mindy Project, Shrill, Broad City, Harlots and High Fidelity) that I enjoyed.

February, I’m sorry I resented you for so long. In the right climate, you are really quite nice.

I hope y’all had a good second-month-of-this-decade too!

Have a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚