It Doesn’t Feel Like Summer: My July Recap

July mood.

July is the first full month of summer, but it hasn’t felt like any summer I’ve ever known. This past month was a rough one for me emotionally. For much of the month, I felt unmotivated and less creative than I’ve ever been. I’ve since come out of that rut and am grateful for that, but it wasn’t fun.

I normally really like July. Warm weather, lots of daylight and usually some friend visits. The past two Julys, I’ve gone to the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, which I love and have so much fun going to. Out of the peak wedding season months, July normally tends be slower, which gives me a break between the craziness of June and August.

This July has of course been much different. No friend visits, no JFL and no full weddings (just one minimony/bride only services wedding that I didn’t personally do). July did pick up a lot for my company, as makeup services became allowed again in RI, so our makeup trials started back up. I ‘personally did a handful of them and got to work with some of the nicest people. I also did the makeup (and AB Beauty hair stylist, Leah, did the hair) for two branding shoots with Hilary B. Photography. It was a little challenging at first getting used to the PPE Rhode Island makeup artists are now required to wear (N95 or KN95 masks and eye protection), but once my nurse friend, Jenn, got me some masks that fit my child-sized face, I felt much better.

We booked a lot of 2021 weddings in July. We now have several dates that we are fully booked, due to the new inquiries and all of the 2020 brides who postponed to next year. It’s going to be a crazy one!

Once my creativity came back, I accepted a writing challenge my gentleman friend gave me and published two articles on Medium. This one is about my parents, and this one is about my snowbird life in Charleston. I’ve been wanting to pick up some freelance writing work for a while, and Medium has given me that opportunity. If you would be so kind as to read my two articles and give each one a clap or two (clap icon is to the left of the story), I would really appreciate it. Even if you’re not Medium member, you can read two free articles a month.

In family news, my sister-in-law is having a baby any day now, and I cannot WAIT to meet my niece or nephew! Every time I get a text notification, I hope it’s news that this little bambino/bambina is coming. My whole family is on baby watch right now.

Between my upcoming Auntie status and a few plans I have next month, I think August will beat July. You’ll find out in about 31 days…

Have a beautiful day 🙂


Intro to Skincare

I’d love to get you to the point where you gaze lovingly at your skin in the mirror.

Because I’ve been working in the beauty industry for so long, I sometimes forget that not everyone knows to use certain products. I didn’t always know how to, when or why I should use certain products either, but as someone who was obsessed with skincare and makeup from a young age and then started a career in the beauty industry, I’ve learned a lot. Like, a lot a lot. So I’m going to share with you what each product does and the reason I use it.

Ready for this masterclass?

Cleanser. What does it do? Removes dirt, oil, bacteria, and makeup (if it’s an oil cleanser or cleansing balm) from your skin. If you don’t use an oil cleanser or cleansing balm, you’ll want to use a makeup remover before cleansing. When should I use it? Every single friggin’ night. I don’t think a morning cleanse is necessary as well, unless you have truly oily skin and feel the need to use a gentle cleanser to remove surface oils that have built up overnight. Why should I use it? Because if you let the junk from the day stay on your skin overnight, you’re asking for blemishes and irritation. How do I use it? Oil cleansers and cleansing balms go on dry skin, then you massage in, then rinse off. Most other cleansers go on damp or wet skin. Just read the directions on the packaging, boo. Farmacy Green Clean is my go to cleanser and because it’s a cleansing balm, I don’t need to remove and cleanse separately.

Moisturizer. What does it do? The stratum corneum–the very top layer of skin–is there to help protect the layers of the skin below that. Moisturizer does a combination of holding and delivering lipids and water to the stratum corneum. That means that top layer stays strong, which prevent cracks and fissures that can allow bacteria to penetrate the deeper levels of the dermis, causing infection. When should I use it? Every morning. Why should I use it? Because you don’t want your skin to feel like sandpaper, right? Flaky skin isn’t cute, and skin that has visible cracks on it is…problematic. How do I use it? Dispense the recommended amount and slather it on. I’ve found that two pumps worth is usually sufficient. If your moisturizer comes in a jar, use a clean spatula or scoop to take out the product so you’re not introducing bacteria from your fingers into the jar every time. I’ve been using Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF35 for years, but there are lots of good ones out there.

Hyaluronic Acid. What does it do? HA is a substance naturally found in our bodies. It lubricates the skin, joints and other tissues. In skincare products, HA provides the hydration the skin needs and is often lacking. When should I use it? In the morning after you shower and at night after you wash your face. Why should I use it? Because dehydrated skin feels rough and looks dull. Plus, lack of skin hydration makes makeup cake and settle. How do I use it? Apply it to damp skin followed immediately by moisturizer. For more HA info, peep this post.

Face Oil. What does it do? It delivers lipids to the skin, helping to keep that stratum corneum strong and free of cracks and fissures. When should I use it? It depends on your skin type. If you’re very dry, you can use it before or in place of moisturizer. If you have combination skin and get dry during the winter, I’d recommendation using it overnight. If you just sometimes get a dry patch, you can use it as a spot treatment. Also, if you use retinoids and experience peeling, you can apply a thin layer of face oil 20 minutes after you ret up. You can also use it for a facial massage, which is great for both dry and dull skin. Why should I use it? Because sometimes, moisturizer isn’t enough. How do I use it? Dispense a drop of the product and apply it with clean hands. If you need more, go for it, but start small and dispense more as needed, since a little bit of oil can go a long way. My favorite face oil is the Josie Maran Argan Oil.

Retinoids. What do they do? Retinoids increase collagen product and new cell growth, and they thicken the deeper layers of the skin where wrinkles start. When should I use it? Always at night. Retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so unless you’re nocturnal and sleep on the beach, you should apply your ret before bed. When you first start on retinoids–and go straight for the prescription stuff if you can, as it’s not diluted by other ingredients–I recommend using it every three nights. After three months, try every other night. Once you’ve used it for a year or so, see if your skin can tolerate it every night. Why should I use it? Because retinoids are the only scientifically proven anti-ager. How do I use it? You’re better off reading my retinoids blog post to find out that answer.

Exfoliants. What do they do? They remove dead skins cells from the top layer of skin, making the dermis smoother and more receptive to skincare products and makeup. Exfoliation also makes skin look brighter and healthier because dead skin cells dull the skin. Exfloliants can help unclog pores, but not in the way that facial extractions can. Physical exfoliants (the ones that feel gritty or textured) slough the dead skin cells off, while chemical/enzyme exfoliants dissolve the “glue” that binds dead cells to skin, causing them to fall off. When should I use it? Two to three times a week, either morning or night. If you’re on the sensitive side, stick with twice a week. If you use retinoids, DO NOT use an exfoliant, as retinoids exfoliate already, and double exfoliation causes irritation and sensitivity. Why should I use it? Because smooth, bright skin will make you a happier person. How do I use it? It depends on the product, so make sure to read the instructions.

Sunscreen. What does it do? It protects your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. When should I use it? Every time you plan on leaving your house during daylight. Why should I use it? Because you don’t want to get skin cancer, and because sun damage is the #1 cause of premature aging. I’m talking fine lines, sun spots, wrinkles and sagging. How do I use it? Dispense or spray on the recommended amount of product prior to any makeup application. My favorite face, neck and chest sunscreen is Glossier Invisible Shield.

If you’re not doing any of this already, this can seem like a lot. But once you get into a routine, it’ll feel like nothing. If you’re worried about how long all this will take, don’t be. Cleansing takes maybe five minutes if you’re wearing a lot of makeup. Moisturizing and hyaluronic acid take under a minute. If you want to give yourself a facial massage with face oil, that could take 10 or so minutes, but the other face oil uses I mentioned won’t take you more than a minute. Retinoids application is done before you can say “I can almost feel my collagen production ramping up!,” and exfoliation should only eat up between 2 – 15 minutes (part of the 15 minute max being passive/wait time), depending on your product choice. So yes, you do have time for that.

A good skincare routine will not only make your skin look and feel better now, but it will slow down the visible signs of aging if you do it right. If you wait until you already have sun damage and visible signs of aging, only a plastic surgeon or dermatologist will be able to rescue you. But if you start taking care of your skin now, you’re helping out your future self. And trust me, 2030 [Your Name Here] will thank you for that.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Big Time Writer’s Block

Anyone else feel like their energy has been zapped? I mean, damn. It’s Struggle City over here. I can still proofread and edit other people’s writing (something I’ve been doing since my early 20s) without issue, but my personal written word creativity is at an all time low.

Back in 2018, I made a goal to publish one blog post a week. Because I reached that goal in 2018, I thought, Why not keep it going in 2019? So I did. Then I repeated that thought process for 2020. I’m not saying I regret it, but when I’m experiencing a creativity deficit like this, I curse my ambition and inability to give up on a goal.

Like many other people, I’d like to fast forward to whenever that time is when life will be normal again. I’m nostalgic for the days when my business was running at full speed, when I could hug my friends and family and when I wasn’t constantly worried that I caught a virus that could kill me or cause some serious issues. I had it so good! I knew that on some level and recognize that I still have good things in my life now, but it’s becoming harder and harder to smile. (Luckily, my mouth is covered by a mask anyway when I’m with people, so no one knows the difference.)

I’ve got a skincare post in the works, so you should be seeing that soon. If you have anything you want me to write about, whether it’s beauty or business related, holla at me. Requests are always welcome.

Have a beautiful day 🙂


My Second Quarter Favorites

Me at Drift Cafe. I was smiling under that mask.

I usually do a “Favorites” post for each season, but I skipped a Spring Favorites post this year because I wasn’t buying or loving much in March and April, and May flew by. So I’m going to approach this as a tax year Q2 Favorites post.

And here we go.

Kitoko Heat Defy Spray. I learned years ago that a heat protectant product is essential if you want to help prevent your hair from getting damage, so I always use one before blowdrying and using hot tools. I switch up the brand sometimes, and when I got to the bottom of my last heat protectant spray in April, I thought it was time for a change. I bought Kitoko Heat Defy Spray, which Jennie Kay Beauty, one of the salons I got to, uses. It doesn’t have a strong scent and it doesn’t leave a weird film on my hair like some products do, so I like it. My hair is in good shape/not damaged, and I consider this to be one of the reasons why. You can support a small business and buy it online from Jennie’s salon.

“#blackAF”. Looking for something to watch on Netflix? Check out this Rashida Jones/Kenya Barris bingeworthy series. It’s funny, thought-provoking and different than anything I’ve ever watched. My friend, Sean, recommended it to me and I’m so glad he did. I can’t wait for the next season!

Cameron’s Highlander Grog Rum & Butterscotch Coffee. I have to avoid caffeine because of my chronic vestibular migraines (a rare nervous system disorder that affects my balance), but I still love coffee, so I drink decaf. I brew it at home, because I almost never like coffee from a coffee shop, and it saves money. My grocery store was out of decaf (and everything else) when I first got back to Newport in March, so I checked Amazon. I found Cameron’s Highlander Grog Rum & Butterscotch and I absolutely love it. It smells amazing, isn’t bitter and is just perfect for me. I’m trying to do less Amazon shopping lately, so I’m going to start buying it directly from Cameron’s.

Friend Happy Hours. I’m safe and careful with it, but I have gotten together with a couple friends (separately) at my house for Happy Hours. I have fans going and windows open for air circulation, plus a big enough living room where we can be spaced out, and I make us each our own separate appetizer plates. I’ve found that I prefer getting together with a friend at my house instead of meeting for a drink, partly because that feels safer right now, partly because I’m not impressed with the cocktails at most Newport restaurants anymore, and partly because I like having conversations with friends better when I don’t feel like a nearby table can hear us (not that they’re really close enough to anymore). These Happy Hours are the highlight of each week, and they’ll hopefully continue well past this COVID nightmare.

Drift Cafe. Here are some things that are important to me: 1) Supporting small businesses 2) Supporting local businesses 3) Eating healthy 4) Staying in touch with past clients. Drift Cafe in Newport, owned by past AB Beauty bride, bridesmaid and makeup model Sam DePaola and her husband, Rob, checks off all those boxes for me. And they show some love to Biggie with their wall art! It’s my perfect place.

The Rhode Island SBA. As a small business owner in events, the first industry to close and the last to fully re-open, my business has taken a big hit since March. I applied for and received a PPP loan and an EIDL, which I’m grateful for. But I had a lot of questions about both, so I’ve emailed the Rhode Island SBA several times. They were always quick to respond, helpful and very nice. It’s a bit of a nightmare being a small business owner who works in events, but the SBA has made it much easier for me.

Seven Minute Workout to Lose Belly Fat. We had a lot of rainy weather in RI in early spring, which prevented my  outside runs, so I decided to add a YouTube workout video to my routine. I found this one from trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read, and I love it. It’s easy to follow and I can feel and see that it works. On my best days, I would do this and the Lucy’s original Seven Minute Workout along with this Tracy Campoli bat wings workout I normally do, and my while-my-coffee-is-brewing hamstrings stretches and crunches. It’s not the same as running a few miles, but it’s an indoor workout routine that I feel good about.

NCLA Nail Polish. Nothing stays on longer than gel polish, but occasionally I come across a regular polish with impressive longevity. NCLA is one of those polishes. I’ve worn it in the shade Call My Agent, a vibrant pinky red, several times. I got it as a gift and it got buried in my basket o’ nail polishes, so I’m glad I uncovered this gem. It’s vegan and cruelty-free, so you feel good about wearing it if you’re an animal lover.

“The Great.”I read a biography of Russia’s Catherine The Great once, and I thought, My kind of woman. This satirical, comedic drama was one of my favorite recent Hulu binges. Elle Fanning was fantastic, and I’m psyched that this show has been renewed for a second season.

Not bad for the quarantine months, right? There’s a lot of bad/sad/disgusting stuff out there right now, but recognizing the things that bring a little joy to my life makes me feel better about this shitshow of a spring and summer.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

This Year Is Half Done: My June Recap

Father’s Day with my family.

In some ways, it’s hard to believe we’re over halfway through 2020. It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was getting emails that started with “Happy New Year!” instead of “I hope you’re safe and healthy.” But at the same, it feels like we’ve lived through an entire year in the last three months alone.

Either way, it’s six months down, six to go with the first year of this decade. June was not a great month for the U.S., but I don’t think you need a recap of current events from me. I know that the tension, arguing and ignorance isn’t unique to my Facebook feed, but Jesus Christ. Can we get a little more empathy and a little less defensiveness? In June, I did a lot of crying and had several “Can I shake some sense into this person? I’ll wear a mask while doing it!” moments.

It feels quite selfish to talk about my personal stuff, but that’s what I’ve done in past recaps, and I’m a sucker for consistency. So, here we go.

In the now rare “good news for my business” category, hair services became allowed again in RI in early June. We’ve been able to do hair-only trials since June 1, so finally my hair stylists at least were able to get back to doing some work. 2021 wedding inquiries started to pick up at the end of June, which is a good sign.

I stopped running The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors Facebook group in June because, as a microcosm of the country, the group was getting divisive about issues within and outside of the wedding industry. I passed off my admin duties to another member and I’m still in the group, but my days of news station interviews and speaking with state reps are over.

Personally, I got to (safely) see some family and friends in June, and each one of those visits was a highlight of my month. I wish I could have a big party where I hug everyone and we all sew our masks together to make a “COVID Is Over” quilt, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime, I’ll take whatever I can safely get.

Some things improved in June (at least in RI), but I’m hoping July brings more improvements and progress.

Have a beautiful day 🙂