How To Change Up Your Makeup Routine

Sheryl Crow, change
Sheryl knows what change will do for you.

You: Knows how to apply makeup, but wants to take it to the next level.

Me: Full of tips and tricks!

This is a post for gals who are at an intermediate level of makeup application (on themselves). If you’re in this group, you probably have at least one primer, good quality mascara and foundation color that matches your skin in your makeup bag. You are confident that you are doing a decent job applying your makeup, and you understand what the terms “contour,” “tightline” and “Cupid’s Bow” mean. But maybe you feel like you’ve reached the top level you can get to on your own. Or you’re in a rut. Either way, I can help you.

Below are some suggestions on how you can up your makeup game, depending on what you normally wear. You in?

If you normally wear a nude lip, try a berry lip. I mean, what are you afraid of? That someone is going to know you’re wearing lipstick? Come on! You can do this. There is a berry out there for every skintone, and you’ll be amazed at what a berry lip color can do for you. The right one will make your eyes–yes, your eyes–look brighter and your eye color will be emphasized. If you want to dip your toe in first, apply a berry lipcolor that you’re drawn to, then blot blot blot on a tissue. You’ll be left with a lip stain, which is more subtle than a full-on lipsticked mouth. After you get used to that, try it as a regular lipstick. Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Love LibertyMAC Lipstick in Amorous and Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural Lipstick in N50 are all good berry shades that work on a lot of people.

Charlotte Tillbury Matte Revolution in Love Liberty
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Love Liberty

If you normally wear bronzer, try blush. I get it–bronzer people love their bronzer (sometimes a little too much). I think what bronzer addicts really like is the look of color on their skin, but guess what else can do that? Blush. The right blush color will make you look more awake, more put together and dare I say prettier? If you have dry skin, you might want to choose a cream blush, like the Make Up For Ever HD Cream Blushes. For powder blushes, I like MACNARS and Benefit.

Make Up For Ever HD Blush, cream blush
Make Up For Ever HD Blush

If you normally line your waterline with black eyeliner, try off-white. Instant bigger, brighter eyes! (And when off-white gathers in your tear ducts, no one will ever know.) It’s such a small area of the eyes, but a black to white liner change makes a huge difference. Off-white liner is used frequently in editorial work, runway shows and movies, so making this change basically turns you into a celebrity. The off-white liners I like keep getting discontinued, so you’re kind of on your own here. Sorry! If you are in the market for one, just make sure you choose an off-white, as pure white looks too obvious on the waterline.

Off white eyeliner
The eye opening effect of off-white liner on the waterline.

If you normally wear powder foundation, try liquid foundation. I’ll be honest–I’m not into powder foundations on their own. I sometimes use a powder foundation over sheer liquid foundation on areas that need more coverage, but I generally don’t like the way it sits on bare skin. I think powder foundation can easily settle into pores and fine lines, accentuating them, and it can get streaky on a really oily skin (oil can come through and make dark streaks as it hits the powder). A sheer liquid foundation with concealer on the areas you need it can give you the coverage you want, and it allows cream products you put on top of it to blend easily. It’s also more suitable if you have dry skin or get dry in the colder months. At least think about it, okay? And then maybe try MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation. It’s lightweight and buildable so it’s a good gateway drug to the foundation world.

MAC Face & Body, sheer foundation
MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation

If you normally use a pencil eyeliner, try adding shadow to it. After your apply your eyeliner, trace over and slightly above (top lashline) or below (bottom lashline) it with an eyeshadow in the same color. This will not only give dimension to liner, but will also help the liner stay on better. I believe that’s called a “win-win.” A shimmery eyeshadow usually isn’t the best choice for this as shimmery shadows aren’t packed as tightly so they don’t stick to an eyeliner the same way, but any good quality (sorry, not drugstore) matte shadow you like will do the job.

Eyeliner, bridal makeup
Eyeshadow over eyeliner on this beautiful AB Beauty bride.
Photo: Meagan Emilia Photography
Hair: Emily Buffi for Allison Barbera Beauty
Makeup: Allison Barbera

If you normally wear powder eyeshadow, try a cream eyeshadow. Changing your shadow consistency–even if you stay in the same shades that you normally wear–will look (and feel) new and fresh. As a bonus, cream shadows take less time to apply. I think they are going to become more popular in the coming years, so switching up your shadow texture may also make you an Early Adopter in the beauty world. Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Color Paint cream shadows are long-lasting and easy to apply.

Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Color Paints
Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Color Paints

If you normally wear liquid eyeliner, try gel eyeliner. You can get a defined line with gel, but it also gives you another option that liquid doesn’t–smudging (the on-purpose kind). If you draw a thin line with gel liner then use a brush to pull it up onto your lid (top lashline) or down (bottom lashline), you can still get definition, but in a soft way. Gel liners also tend to be a little more forgiving, whereas a liquid liner mistake usually causes a lot of swearing and a complete do-over. Just give it a shot! I use MAC Pro Longwear Fluidline gel liners, but Clinique Brush On Cream Liners are said to be really good too.

MAC Fluidline gel liner, gel eyeliner, MAC Blacktrack
MAC Fluidline gel liner

If you normally wear only top lash mascara, try applying it to your bottom lashes too. I’ve noticed that a lot of intermediate level makeup civilians only wear mascara on their top lashes. But applying mascara to the bottom lashes can immediately add definition to your eyes. Just make sure to concentrate it at the lash roots instead of the full length of the lashes, unless you are going for a spidery look. Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara is made for this.

Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara
Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara

If you normally wear matte lipstick, try a lip crayon. Lip crayons tend to be more moisturizing and have some level of sheen to them. Matte lips got overly trendy there for a while, so if you have found yourself in that rut, it’s time to move on. You can still do the same color, but a refreshed version of it. You’ll love it. Clinique Chubby Sticks are a pro artist fave.

Clinique Chubby Sticks
Clinique Chubby Sticks

If you normally ignore your brows, try filling them in. It takes a little practice, but filling your brows in–and I don’t mean overdrawing them into dark, blocky stripes–can make a huge difference. Your eyes will look more defined and your overall look will be more polished. I prefer brow powders and pomades to pencils, but you do you.

Thin eyebrows, eyebrow fill in, 2004 makeup
Do better than I did with my eyebrows in 2004.

You feeling invigorated by the change or changes you’re going to make? Good! I’m so glad you are on board. If you have any difficulties or questions, you know I’m here for you. I’m just a comment away.

Have a beautiful day 🙂





Dolla Dolla Bill, Y’all

Scrooge McDuck, entrepreneur income, money talk
Not my steelo.

Cash rules everything around me


Get the money

Dolla dolla bill, y’all

-WuTang Clan

Listen, I’m no Scrooge McDuck. I’m not greedy, and I’m not someone who cares to acquire a lot of things. I don’t have expensive tastes. Fancy cars, designer clothes, new technology–none of that is really appealing to me. Becoming filthy rich was never on my list of goals. But the truth is, having cash money–at least enough to be comfortable–changes things in a big way.

I spent my first five years as an entrepreneur struggling financially. I wasn’t bouncing checks or ignoring bills, but I only had money to pay for the essentials. I didn’t take out a business loan or borrow money from anyone to start my company, so I had to come up with the money somehow. And it was HARD.

After about six years in business (the first two years being part-time because I had to work day jobs to survive), everything changed. That was due to a combination of updating my website to be mobile-friendly (a non-existent term when I launched it in 2008), the solid reputation that took a while to build and half a decade’s worth of connections and word of mouth referrals coming to fruition. And oh my God, the relief. I could pay all of my bills without anxiety and I no longer had to constantly check my bank account to make sure I had enough to cover everything. I was able to pay off all of my credit card and student loan debt by my seventh year in business, and was even able to start going on vacations! (I mean, I still had to work during them, but sometimes only for an hour or two each day). And not only could I go to comedy shows, join friends for drinks, and show my face at birthday dinners, but I could treat my friends. Several of them had really helped me out when my bank account was hurting, so it felt awesome to finally be able to buy them dinner or grab the bar tab.

But my biggest financial victory was Charleston. Ever since I opened my company, I knew I wanted to eventually live somewhere warmer. I decided on Charleston, SC and being a (working) snowbird there became my ultimate goal. I was financially able to do it in January of 2016, but my father was going through treatment for pancreatic cancer and I didn’t want to be away from him for a few months, so I delayed my snowbirding. I started it in January of 2017 and now I’m back, but for longer this year. Living in Charleston is one of my favorite things in my life. And you can say all you want about positive vibes and the universe, but it was straight out hard work and money that made this happen.

They say money can’t buy happiness, but it does seem to help. Being able to live in Charleston fills me with joy, as corny as that sounds. Having money allows me to make donations to organizations I support, which is important to me because my schedule doesn’t allow me to volunteer like I’d like to (not a humble brag, just something that means a lot to me). Thanks to my bank account, I was able to cover the bulk of the cost of my sister in law’s bridal shower, which she told me after was the best day of her life (trumped, I’m sure, by her wedding three months later, but still). After I got out of my broke years, I was able to loan money to friends and relatives who really needed it. I’m not implying that I’m loaded and can spend as much money as I want without thinking about it, because that is not true at all. But I got to a point where I was able to do things I couldn’t have gotten close to during my first five or six years in business, and help out others in small ways. And that was a life changer for me.

The income change that made the biggest impact on my life was the one that brought me from struggling and worried to comfortable and debt-free. I remember learning about this in a Psychology class in college, but it didn’t sink in until I had to think about things besides registering for classes, what new Bacardi flavor I should try and which parties my crush of the week would likely be at. The studies I learned about in that Psych class said that when it came to life satisfaction and happiness, money only made a difference when it took people out of constant financial struggle into a place where they could pay their bills and live comfortably. When I say “comfortably,” I don’t mean wealthy. I mean whatever income is needed for someone to pay for the essentials, plus some extra that a financial hit–like an unexpected car repair, a big medical bill or even just Christmas shopping–doesn’t put them into a situation that they can not recover from.

I think you can want to have enough to be that kind of comfortable without being materialistic or wanting to be rich just for the sake of being rich. There’s no shame in wanting to be in a place where you can pay your bills and have the income to be able to do at least some of the things you enjoy.

I understand why money can be considered evil, but I don’t think that’s always the case. It’s all about the way you use it and look at it. I don’t view money as a way to acquire more things. (And it doesn’t rule everything around me–sorry, WuTang.) I see it as a tool that makes life easier and more comfortable. Struggling financially adds a lot of stress to a person’s every day life. That’s no secret.  A lot of people feel ashamed and frustrated when they are broke and it can be a tough situation to get out of. But what’s the thing that solves many of their problems? Cheddar. (And notice I didn’t say all of their problems.)

Even though it’s something most of us use every single day, there’s such a stigma attached to talking about money. A lot of people consider it tacky to discuss it, but I think when you avoid talking about something, it can lead to confusion. Some people are in the dark about money management, budgeting, the options when things are bad, etc. because we are not born knowing those things and it can feel embarrassing to ask for help (and a non-option to hire someone for financial advice when the money to pay them isn’t there). I know it can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but especially as an entrepreneur, it’s essential to understand money and how it should impact the choices you make.

Why am I even writing this blog post? Because I have another one coming where I talk about financial struggles, but I wanted to first explain how I view money and how it’s changed my life. This is primarily a beauty blog, but I’m as much of a business owner as I am a makeup artist, so I’m going to write about boss life stuff sometimes. And the cool thing about reading is that it’s really easy to not do it if you don’t want to. So if this type of blog post isn’t for you, you have options. Isn’t that a great thing?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Insta Makeup Trends: What I Really Think

Instagram: the place where good, bad, ugly and just plain weird makeup looks have a platform. I follow a lot of cosmetic companies and pro makeup artists, and I love seeing some of the stunning, creative and retro looks they post. But I sometimes get wind of Instagram makeup trends that aren’t quite so well done. You’ve seen some, right?

I’m going to go over some of the popular Insta makeup trends of the past year or so, and I’ll let you know exactly what I think (as if you had any doubt about that).


The trend: Faux freckles.

What it is: Using eyeliner or eye shadow to draw on fake freckles.

What it looks like on Instagram: Faux freckles

My professional opinion: Pro makeup artists have been doing this for years. I think it gets overdone on Instagram (and I’m not even referring to the glitter faux freckles trend), but it can be done in a more subtle way. For a pro take on this trend, check out the end of this tutorial from Nic of the Pixiwoos.

The trend: Clown contouring.

What it is: Using contouring, highlighting and color corrector products, as well as blush (and sometimes lipstick) drawn on like clown makeup to sculpt the face.

What it looks like on Instagram: Clown contouring

My professional opinion: Like many of the non-clown contouring techniques out there, that is a lot of makeup. (Keep in mind those highlight, contour, color corrector and blush cream products are put over foundation, then powder goes on top of them.) Like with any contour tutorial you follow, you have to make sure the makeup artist or model has the same face shape and eye shape as you do, or else you could end up accentuating the features you are trying to minimize. From what I understand, clown contouring was started as a sort of creative challenge between some beauty influencers and wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. I say, go with that attitude. If you want to do clown contouring for fun, do it to it. But if you want to learn how to contour for your own face shape, check out my Shape Up series (Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4).

The trend: Glitter lips.

What it is: Using a glitter-infused lipstick or patting glitter on top of lipstick.

What it looks like on Instagram: Glitter, glitter lips, glitter lipstick

My professional opinion: Due to my 2006 One Particle of Glitter Lodged In My Eyeball incident, I hate glitter. If you give me a birthday card with glitter, I’ll stop responding your texts. That being said, I don’t hate the look of this trend. However, I have to assume it would not be comfortable to wear and would dry out your lips very quickly. Glitter has come under some heat lately for its negative effect on the environment. (Most types contain micoplastic–tiny pieces of glitter that end up in the waterways, harming fish and hanging out in our water supplies.) There are biodegradable glitters that don’t hurt the environment, and there are also edible and non-toxic glitters which you might want to consider if you are putting something on your lips. Because, you know, you’re going to end up eating some of it. So if you are going to try glitter lips, be smart about it!

The trend: Baking.

What it is: Leaving a translucent powder on the skin for 5-10 minutes to really set into areas you want to highlight. This technique has been used in the drag community for years.

What it looks like on Instagram: Baking, makeup baking, powder highlight

My professional opinion: Again, it’s a lot of makeup (but you might have guessed that when I said “drag community.”) It requires several layers of product–both creams and powders–which can easily cause caking. (Baking, caking–am I writing a food blog now?) Especially if you are dry in any of the areas you are going to bake, you’ll likely see the powder adhere to the dry patches. And if you’ve got large pores or fine lines and you’re baking over those, you can expect to see some of the layers of product settle into those pores or lines. If you’re going to try baking, I recommend making sure your skin is well exfoliated and moisturized first, and prepped with a pore minimizer if enlarged pores or fine lines are a concern.

The trend:  Lollipop lips.

What it is: Intentional lip color smudging outside of the lips, to mimic what I think is how a child looks after eating a lollipop.

What it looks like on Instagram: lollipop lips, Instagram makeup trends

My professional opinion: Why????? I’m all for messy makeup, but not to this degree. I prefer a blurred/stained lipcolor, which has a similar effect but doesn’t make you look like you did your makeup after five cocktails…in the dark…with mittens on. That blurred/stained look I’m referring to can be achieved by applying a lipstick, blotting on a tissue, then patting the edges with your fingertips. It’s okay to go slightly over the natural lipline since the lipstick would be soft and undefined, but “slightly” is the key word. If you want to be a Lollipop (Lips) Kid, don’t let me stop you. But if you’re wondering what I think of this look, I don’t approve.

The trend: Feathered eyebrows.

What it is: A part down the middle of the length of each eyebrow, with the brows hairs then smoothed down by brow gel, pomade or glue (yes, glue stick glue.)

What it looks like on Instagram: Feathered eyebrows, Instagram eyebrows, Instagram eyebrow trends

My professional opinion: Points for creativity, but I can’t see this look being flattering on anyone. Can you imagine having a normal conversation with someone whose brows looked like that? You know you would be looking at their brows the whole time. If you’re into statement looks and you don’t mind some “What the hell?” stares, go for it. It’s not what I consider a wearable look, but to each her own.

The trend: Doing makeup with weird shit. (I mean, can you think of a better description?)

What it is: Using things other than makeup brushes and tools to blend or to guide the lines for contour, highlight and eyeliner wings. Some objects I’ve seen beauty influencers use: spoons, tampons, fidget spinners, silicone bra inserts, hard boiled eggs and condoms.

What it looks like on Instagram: Weird Instagram makeup trends, hard boiled egg makeup

My professional opinion: Ridic. I guarantee an actual makeup brush or sponge does the job better than any of these weirdo ideas. This one annoys me the most so I’m stopping it at three sentences.

I’m all for being creative and having fun with makeup. My issue with some of the Insta beauty trends is that people aren’t learning how to correctly apply makeup, or they are going for super overdone looks that aren’t going to translate well in person. Play around with makeup all you want, but remember that a lot of these Insta trends aren’t wearable. If you want to improve your makeup game, watching a tutorial from a legit pro makeup artist like Lisa Eldridge is a better use of your time than trying to figure out how to use a fidget spinner to contour your face.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Product Review: MAC Oil Control Lotion

MAC Oil Control Lotion, oily skin, mattifyer
Shine, be gone!

In many cases, I like oil. Face oil, hair oil, oil cleansers–all good. But oily T-zone? No thanks. Especially in my heavily photographed and filmed line of work, I can’t have clients walking around all shiny-faced. A good mattifying product is key, and girl, do I have a good one for you.

It’s MAC Oil Control Lotion, and it’s worth every penny. If you have oily skin, you can use this as a primer or wear it alone if you’re going foundation-less. It’s a thin (but not gross and watery) white lotion. It’s got a pleasant scent that I can’t identify, but it doesn’t linger. It absorbs quickly and doesn’t make skin feel sticky or tight. A little dab will do ya–one pump is plenty–so you won’t go through it super fast.

This magical product really does absorb oil though, so I don’t recommend it if you don’t have truly oily skin or an always-shiny T-zone/other area. I have combination skin with an always-oily T-zone in warmer temps, but I don’t use this in the colder months when my skin tends to be more on the dry side. Using this product on a dry skin type can cause any makeup you apply over it to be harder to blend, as it causes the minimal oils that are present on dry skin to be absorbed, causing face makeup to stubbornly stick to the dry areas.

MAC Oil Control Lotion is an essential in my pro kit and in my personal makeup bag. It’s one of the most effective products out there. If they ever discontinue this, there will be a lot of shiny, (un)happy people walking around.

If you or someone you love is fighting the shine, this is the ultimate weapon. It’s got my full makeup artist and licensed esthetician stamp of approval.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Look Breakdown


Kerry Washington, Kerry Washington makeup
A true stunner.

Kerry Washington: striking, right? She always looks gorgeous, but I think this look from the 2017 Golden Globes is a real winner. And perfect for the winter.

Let’s do this.

Foundation: Medium coverage with a glow. Armani Luminous Silk would work well.

Powder: Powder all over to set. MAC Mineralize SkinFinish Natural Powder would do the job.

Highlighter: Yes, on cheekbones. It’s subtle though. MAC Mineralize SkinFinish Powder (shimmery, unlike the Natural Version) in Cheeky Bronze is similar to what I can see on Kerry.

Contour/Bronzer: Contour under cheekbones. I’m a big fan of the Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kits for this.

Cheek Color: A minimal amount of a coral peachy pearlized blush, like MAC Powder Blush in Style would be a good dupe.

Eyebrows: Brown brow powder to fill in sparseness/add shape where needed. Anastasia Brow Powder Duo in Brunette/Dark Brown would be a good choice.

Eye Makeup: MAC Eyeshadow in Mulch, a red brown with bronze pearl, looks similar to what Kerry is wearing on the outer 2/3 of her lids. The inner two thirds is another shimmery color, but in a lighter shade. MAC Eyeshadow in Nylon could work here. It looks like there is a little highlight right under the arch of Kerry’s brows. A small amount of Benefit High Brow would give a similar effect. I spy a black liner at Kerry’s top lashline. Clinique Brush On Cream Liner in True Black (or whatever black gel liner you like) would work. Trace over and slightly above that with a black eyeshadow like MAC Eyeshadow in Carbon. This isn’t a harsh or graphic liner, so the shadow will soften it. I think a black pencil was used to tightline too. MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder works well for tightlining. There might have been a very minimal amount of brown shadow used at the bottom lashline, but I’d apply it with a small, thin brush to avoid a thick, obvious line. MAC Eyeshadow in Espresso would be good.

Mascara: I would assume so, but tough to tell if it’s on the top lashline because she is wearing false lashes. If it’s on the bottom lashline, it’s the lightest possible coat, but that may be Kerry’s natural lash color.

False Lashes: Yes, strip lashes that are more feathery than thick or long. The look to be at their longest at the center. Ardell Wispies Black 268 would be perfect.

Lipliner: Yes, same color as the lipstick. MAC Lip Pencil in Currant should do it.

Lipcolor: I found out the exact lipcolors used for this look–Dolce & Gabbana Glam 355 lipstick with Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick in Deep Plum–but only the Neutrogena one is still available. Sigh. I think if you line and fill in your lips with the liner then put that over it, it wouldn’t be that different.

Who would this look work on? Well, the exact cheek and highlight colors I mentioned are more flattering on medium and dark skintones. They eye makeup would work on any eye color, although Mulch could look a little off on fair skin. I personally love a dark berry lip on women with both dark and light skin, but if you have lighter skin, it will of course be more of a contrast.

Kerry’s makeup artist for this look was Carola Gonzalez.

Some more pictures of this beautiful look:

Kerry Washington Golden GlobesGolden Globes makeup


Product Review: GLAMGLOW THIRSTYMUD Hydrating Treatment

Glamglow Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment
The packaging is nice though.

The Mask: GLAMGLOW THIRSTYMUD Hydrating Treatment

The Claims: Hydrates, calms, replenishes and restores the skin.

The Color: Caramel in the packaging, clear when applied to the skin.

The Scent: Heavily fragranced, so beware if you have sensitive skin. The scent is a little bit coconut, a little bit butterscotch-y and a little bit plastic-y.

Usage: I used a sample of this (got probably six uses out of it), and the directions said to apply a thin layer and either “leave it on for 10-20 minutes then tissue or rinse off” or “leave it on overnight.” So two opposite sets of instructions? Interesting.

The Results: My skin did feel very soft after rinsing it off. I never left it on overnight because after 20 minutes, it started to feel a weird combination of both slightly burning and slightly cooling on my skin. I noticed a little glow, but nothing too impressive. I didn’t get any irritation or breakouts from this mask, but I did do a patch test 24 hours before testing it on my whole face.

I liked this mask enough to use the entire sample (I’ve thrown samples away before after one use), and my skin did feel hydrated after. But I suspect it’s more of a souped up moisturizer than a mask. I’m distrustful of a mask that you don’t rinse off after a specified time.

I don’t think it’s the worst mask out there, but I wouldn’t shell out $69 for this product. If anyone has a good hydrating mask suggestion they can share with the class, please feel free to comment.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Wedding Hair & Makeup Inquiries: A How To

Wedding planning, wedding hair, wedding makeup, Wedding To Do List
Task #1: Read this post.

By now, I’m sure you have read my Wedding Hair & Makeup Help blog post and narrowed down your top picks for your beauty services team. Your next step is to contact those companies to see if they are available on your date. The best way to do that is to send them an email with the information they’ll need to check availability and give you the appropriate rates and information. If they have all of the info they need from you, a good company will get back to you quickly with their availability, so you can then proceed with the process.

My company’s website has required fields for the necessary info, and wedding websites like WeddingWire and The Knot have some of the same required fields. But if you are contacting a company on Instagram, Facebook or via an email address you have, you might not know where to start.

Need help drafting that email? I got you, girl. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Hello, My Name Is. If you don’t have an email signature and your name is not clearly in your email address, you’ll want to let the company know who you are. ( may be who you feel you are as a person, but it doesn’t give a company any clue as to what your name is.)
  2. Here’s When It Goes Down. I recommend giving your full wedding date, as established companies are often always booking the current year as well as the following year. And especially if your wedding is not on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you should also provide the day of the week. “Saturday, 7/7/18” eliminates the need for any followup questions regarding the date.
  3. Tell ‘Em What You Need. Do you need hair services, makeup services or both? This will allow the company to know whether to contact/assign hair stylists, makeup artists or both.
  4. Where’s The Party At? If you are using an on-location beauty team, provide the location of where you will be getting ready that day. If you don’t have an exact address yet (maybe because you are deciding between two hotels or a hotel and Airbnb), then at least provide the city/town. It’s important that you tell the company where the hair and/or makeup services will be taking place, not where your wedding ceremony or reception is. They likely need this info to figure out a) who on their team is available and b) if there will be a travel fee. If you tell them your wedding is in Boston but you are actually getting ready at a hotel 30 minutes away, that could affect their pricing and availability.
  5. How Deep Do You Roll? You may not know the exact number of people who will be getting hair and makeup done, but it’s helpful if you can provide an estimate. The reason for this is that many companies who travel have a service minimum, so if you don’t meet that, they should let you know that upon inquiry in case you can find other people who will want their hair and/or makeup done or have to look for another company. On the other end of the spectrum, if you have a big group, the company will probably find it helpful to know that, as they may want to make sure they have enough people to potentially accommodate your group size.
  6. Time It Right. I suggest mentioning your ceremony time in your inquiry. This may also affect the company’s availability. (For example, if you have a 10:00am ceremony–they exist–and the company has other weddings booked on your date but those groups don’t need to be ready until later in the day, they may still be able to accommodate your group.) Bonus points if you also mention whether or not you are doing a First Look, as that affects timing too.
  7. Who’s Your Connect? I always ask clients this anyway, but I (and I would think most business owners) appreciate knowing how someone heard about their company. At AB Beauty, we have a Referral Rewards Program for people who refer brides who book. Those people get a $25 Sephora eGift card after the wedding as a thank you, so it’s helpful to know if someone was a referral. And unless an email came directly from WeddingWire or The Knot, I don’t really know how someone found AB Beauty. So this is not going to affect pricing or availability, but worth a mention.

Still not sure how to craft your inquiry masterpiece? Here’s a sample.


My cousin, Joan Holloway, recommended your company, as she hired you for her wedding last spring. I am looking for hair and makeup services for my Saturday, 7/7/18 wedding. We will be getting ready at the Marriott in Newport, RI. Our ceremony is at 5:00pm, but we are probably doing a First Look. I have seven bridesmaids and two mothers who will likely want hair and/or makeup, plus three Flower Girls.

Are you available on my date? If so, can you please send me your rates* and any other important info?

Thank you!

-Liz Lemon

A thorough inquiry means you don’t have to go back and forth with a company, giving them the info they so they can tell you if they are available on your date. It’s the most efficient way to potentially move forward with your wedding beauty services and cross that task off your planning To Do list.

If you’ve got questions, I’ve got answers, so feel free to holla at me in the comments.

Have a beautiful day 🙂


*Even if rates are listed on a website, I recommend asking for them in case they change after you book and the company increases their pricing. It’s best to have your quoted rates in writing to prevent any confusion.

Eyeliner Assistance: Tutorial Roundup

Eyeliner, eyeliner types, winged liner
It’s too bad there aren’t many options to play around with.

Eyeliner. It’s common to have a love/hate relationship with the product that can emphasize and flatter your eyes, or make you look like a crazy person. There are different formulations–pencil, gel and liquid being the three main ones–and every color you can think of on the market.

Eyeliner can make your eyes look bigger, smaller, more rounded, more almond, closer together or further apart. It can highlight your eye color or bring out the different flecks of color you might not even know you had. It can make you look sultry, more awake, retro or trendy. It’s no wonder that eyeliner is part of the daily routine of so many women.

As awesome as eyeliner is, it can be tricky to apply. I could write a series of posts about the various formulations, techniques and what works best on different eye shapes, but I don’t know how helpful that would be. So I’ve decided help you out with some eyeliner tutorials from professional makeup artists on YouTube. With pro guidance and some practice, you too can excel in eyeliner application. Sound good?

Winged Liner.  A classic look, and the one people struggle with the most. Let Lisa Eldridge be your guide.

Winged Liner for Hooded Lids.  This can be pretty tough, so give yourself plenty of practice sessions. But once you get it, I think you’ll love it. (If you don’t have hooded lids, watch the first tutorial instead.)

Sultry Eyeliner. A great night out eye makeup look. This is full on so it might feel pretty dramatic if you don’t normally wear eyeliner. It will make your eyes look smaller, so if your eyes are already on the smaller side, it’s probably not the best choice for you.

Kitten Flick with Liquid Liner. A little easier (and subtle) than a full winged look. You could also do this with a gel liner.

Off White Liner. If you want to make your eyes look bigger or more awake, watch this one.

Cat Eye Look. Contrary to popular belief, it’s different than a winged liner. Similar to to the sultry liner, but Charlotte Tilbury has some other application tips.

Something Different. Feeling adventurous? Give this a try.

Did I miss any? If so, leave a comment and I’ll find a good tutorial to help guide you.

Have a beautiful day 🙂


WeddingWire 2018 Couples’ Choice Award Winner!

WeddingWire Couples Choice 2018, Newport RI wedding hair and makeup

Allison Barbera Beauty Honored for Excellence in 10th Annual WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards


NEWPORT, RI — January 10, 2018 — Allison Barbera Beauty recently announced its recognition as a winner of the esteemed 2018 WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award for beauty services in Rhode Island. This is the company’s eighth consecutive Couples’ Choice Award.


WeddingWire Inc., the leading global online marketplace for the wedding and events industry, annually recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals on WeddingWire who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. The top local wedding professionals in more than 20 service categories from venues to florists are awarded the prestigious accolade.


Allison Barbera Beauty was recognized as a recipient solely based on reviews from newlyweds and their experiences working with them. Award-winning vendors are distinguished for the quality, quantity, consistency and timeliness of the reviews they have received from their past clients.


“This is the tenth year we’ve celebrated our top-rated vendors who have helped millions of couples celebrate one of the most important days of their lives,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “This group of dedicated and acclaimed wedding professionals, such as enter your business name, not only make wedding planning simpler for engaged couples, but also serve as a trusted partner in helping to make WeddingWire the go-to place for wedding planning. We congratulate all of this year’s winners on their achievement.”


Allison Barbera Beauty is thrilled to be one of the top beauty service providers in Rhode Island on


For more information about Allison Barbera Beauty, please visit us on WeddingWire.


To learn more about the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards, please visit


About WeddingWire, Inc.

WeddingWire, Inc. is the leading global online marketplace connecting consumers with event and creative professionals. Operating within a $200 billion industry, WeddingWire, Inc. hosts 10 million monthly unique users across its mobile and web platforms. Consumers are able to read over 3 million vendor reviews and search, compare and book from a database of over 400,000 businesses. Globally, it provides these businesses the technology they need to serve their clients through advertising, marketing and business management tools such as websites, payment processing, invoicing and contracts. Founded in 2007, the WeddingWire portfolio of sites serves couples and businesses across 15 countries in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia, making it the worldwide leader in weddings with brands including,, and more. The company employs more than 900 and maintains global headquarters in Chevy Chase, MD and international headquarters in Barcelona, Spain.

Wedding Hair & Makeup Help

Bridal hair and makeup tips, how to choose a wedding makeup artist
Be a calm bride who hangs out in windows, not a frazzled bride who doesn’t like her hair and makeup team.

Hello, gorgeous! Are you a bride-to-be? Congratulations! It’s an exciting time and even though I don’t know you, I’m happy for you.

But let’s be real–wedding planning can be overwhelming. There are SO MANY VENDORS to choose from, and unless you work in the industry or have been involved with planning a wedding before, it’s hard to know where to start. Websites like WeddingWire and The Knot can help with the process, as can a good wedding planner. But when it comes to choosing a beauty services company, it can be tricky figuring out which ones are good and which ones will make your planning harder than it needs to be.

The first thing I recommend is to check out vendor listings on WeddingWire. Pour yourself a glass of wine/cup of coffee/shot of tequila, because this might take a while. You’ll see some basic info and a few pictures from each company and if you like their work, look at their website. (If they don’t have a website, you’re likely not dealing with a very professional or established company.) If their website looks legit and their pricing is in your budget (hopefully it’s on their website), then read through their reviews.

There will probably be more positive than negative reviews, so I suggest sorting the reviews by lowest rating. If you see a theme of the same bad vendor behavior in the reviews, that can be a warning sign. I’m not talking a couple reviews or ones that don’t say anything but just give a low rating. But if you consistently see the same negative comments or low ratings in the same area, be careful.

A few things to watch for in the reviews.

Punctuality. Many of the bad reviews I’ve read start with “They showed up 15/30/45 minutes late.” If you see several reviews that mention artists/stylists being late the day of, bustle your gown so you can run. Wedding hair and makeup professionals are usually the first vendor of the day, so if they don’t start on time, that can have a domino effect and make your whole day run late.  There’s enough to worry about with the day-of timeline, so why put the start to your day in the hands of a vendor who dismisses the importance of that?

Responsiveness. Wedding planning is a time sensitive thing, and sometimes you can’t make your next move with one vendor until another vendor answers you. And that should not take days. If you see multiple reviews that say a hair and makeup company was slow to respond or brides often had to chase them down for responses, do not book them. They are guaranteed to add stress to your wedding planning, and that’s the last thing you need! WeddingWire has a specific “Responsiveness” category, so I strongly recommend looking at that in the overall rating for a vendor.

Running on Schedule. An experienced wedding hair and makeup team should run on schedule, so buyer beware if you see a lot of reviews stating a particular company ran late. As long as the people in your group show up on time, know what they want, and don’t get up from the chair during their services, the hair stylists and makeup artists should be able to complete all services in the allotted time.

One Contact Person. Multiple points of contact for any wedding vendor transaction can add a lot of confusion to the process. If you come across reviews that mention this issue, tread carefully. A company with constant turnover or lack of internal structure is likely to add some unnecessary frustration to your planning process.

No Excuses. Most wedding review websites will allow vendors to respond to reviews. If you read negative-review responses that are full of excuses from a beauty services company, I strongly suggestion you move on. Excuses and defensiveness are signs that a company lacks professionalism, and is that really who you want to deal with?

After you’ve narrowed down your choices, you’ll want to ask some questions once you establish that the company has your date available. If they can’t answer some of these questions or seem to be evading certain ones, proceed with caution.

How long have you been in business? Not just the hair stylists and makeup artists on the team, but how long has the company been around? Experience doesn’t guarantee that a more established company will always be better, but being in business for at least five years means there is a good chance the company has come across (and hopefully smoothed out) all the normal issues on the operational side and has learned how to make the entire hair and makeup process smooth and easy for their clients. A brand new business may not be aware of how to handle everything because it’s hard to know how to address issues you haven’t encountered yet. If you have a question they haven’t heard or a situation they haven’t come across yet, that may cause delays and confusion that will negatively affect your experience.

Do you do this full time or part-time? Ideally whoever your main point of contact is (the owner, your hair stylist or makeup artist, a bridal coordinator, etc.) will work full-time. Wedding questions are sometimes time sensitive and having to wait several days for a response because your point of contact only works three days a week can be frustrating and cause delays with your wedding planning process.

Are there any hidden fees? At AB Beauty, all of our charges are covered in the rates list and/or FAQs we send upon inquiries. There are no surprise charges and your rates are locked in once you book, regardless of company rate increases. If a company can’t provide you with all of their rates and charges in writing, don’t trust them. That’s not tinnitus you’re hearing–it’s warning bells.

Do you use a contract? Steer clear of a company that doesn’t use a contract. I’ve gotten several calls from panicked brides over the years whose hair and/or makeup team last minute cancelled on them, and in those situations, the services were always “booked” without a written contract. A good contract will protect both parties, and is also a testament to the level of professionalism that company has.

How much is the deposit? Amounts can vary depending on the services you book, but you should be able to get a definitive answer on how much your’s is. If a company can’t provide that answer for you, or seems like they are just saying a number, that’s suspect.

Do you travel? Let’s face it–it’s way more convenient and comfortable to have your beauty team go to you. It eliminates the level of stress that accompanies having to get to a salon and back, nevermind the chunk of time that takes out of your day. If this isn’t important to you, that’s cool. But it’s something worth asking about if you are even slightly considering having a team go to you.

Do you use a schedule? At AB Beauty, we do an average of ten hair and ten makeup services at each wedding (but have done as many as 22). Without a schedule for hair and makeup, things can get very chaotic very quickly. And do you know what chaos leads to? Things not running on time. We are sometimes booked for just hair services or just makeup services and work with another company for whatever we aren’t doing, and when they don’t have a schedule, it always causes the day to run less smoothly than it would with a schedule.

How do your trials work? If you are going to do a trial–and I strongly recommend you do–you’ll want to find out where the company does their trials, how much a trial costs, if they have certain days or hours they do trials, etc., as some of these factors may influence whether or not you want to book with them. Your point of contact should be able to give you clear answers to these questions without hesitation.

What kind of makeup do you use? There are lot of great product lines out there, and maybe you like specific ones. An experienced makeup artist should be able to name two or three of the lines they use most. I personally wouldn’t recommend booking a makeup artist who has a kit full of drugstore makeup, as it those products overall (with a few exceptions) don’t tend to stay on as long or blend as well as higher end makeup products.

Are false lashes included? If you are interested in false lashes, you’ll want to ask if they are included in the makeup service (they are at AB Beauty!) or are a separate cost.

Will I have the same makeup artist and hair stylist the day-of as I would at my trial? If you are doing a hair and makeup trial, you’ll of course want specific hair and makeup looks, but you’ll also want to make sure you like and trust your artist and stylist. Some companies will put you with different people the day of your wedding and while they may be able to duplicate your trial looks, you may not have the same rapport as you did with your original team. I strongly suggest working with a company who does not switch artists and stylists from your trial.

How many weddings do you normally do each year? If you are unclear as to whether or not you are dealing with an established company, hit ’em with this question. If they tell you they only do five or ten weddings a year, it’s either a part-time or new business and they probably don’t have the type of experience a company who does 50+ a year does. That will likely translate into a less of a smooth process, so I’d keep that in mind.

Do you have any references? If a company doesn’t have many reviews but you like everything else you have seen or read, there’s no reason you can’t ask for references from past brides. If a company can’t or won’t honor your request for this, something is up.

One more thing that’s worth a mention: As you comb through websites and Instagram, you may see some people who call themselves “celebrity” hair stylists and makeup artists. True celebrity hair and stylists and makeup artists don’t usually promote themselves as such, and if they are full-time celebrity makeup artists, they are likely not doing weddings. I have noticed that some people in my industry refer to themselves as celebrity artists/stylists, and they are people who have worked with maybe a couple “celebrities” (and I use that term loosely). I’ve worked with a few celebrities too, but that doesn’t make me a celebrity makeup artist. It’s one thing if someone refers to an artist or stylist that way in an article, but if you see the person promote themselves as one, check out their IMDB page and website portfolio and make your own judgement.

I hope this post is helpful to anyone trying to figure out how to book a professional, experienced and talented hair and makeup team. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment.

Have a beautiful day (and wedding)! 🙂