There are 397, 845 (made that number up) eyeliners on the market. And a lot of them are crap. Yeah, I said it. I’m frequently disappointed when I try a new eyeliner. I often find liners to be too smudgy, not pigmented, or, if they’re a pencil or crayon, too uncomfortable to use. What, you’ve never felt the cruel pull of a too-hard pencil or crayon liner on the delicate eye skin? Then consider yourself lucky.
When I found the Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners though, I was impressed. I keep Scotch, a brown with bronze gold shimmer and Chocolate Truffle, a dark brown, in my pro kit. I buy several at a time because there’s not a wedding that goes by when I don’t use at least one of them.
The Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners are not gel liners in the traditional sense. They’re more what I consider to be crayon liners, but I guess Bobbi Brown considers them to be a sort of solidified gel liner. Semantics, you know?
I use these liners primarily at the bottom lashline because not only do they give soft definition, but they stay in place. Bottom lashline liners are generally more prone to smudging because when the eyes tear up or water, that thing called gravity pushes tears over the ridge of the bottom lashline, passing over any makeup there. But the Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners are waterproof, so once they are on and have set, they are there for the long run.
I say “once they have set” because you do have about 30 seconds after applying the liner to soften or smudge it with a brush. I like to do this with a small pencil brush, as I’ve found that gives me the control I need to soften the liner without removing it or dragging it down and thickening the line. Especially at the bottom lashline, I think it generally tends to be more flattering to have a soft focus effect than a harsh line.
The Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners are not too hard, so no pulling on the skin. And they are not so soft that they break off when you apply the tiniest bit of pressure. Their consistency is just right, says Goldilocks. They are also pigmented enough that you don’t have to draw them on six times to see color payoff. (I will say that Scotch is the much more subtle of the two, but it is pigmented.)
You can use the Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners on the top lid too. For my client purposes, I usually prefer a gel liner at the top lashline, as it’s more intense and helps give a more flattering shape to the eye in photos. But you could certainly use these liners at the top lashline.
They are $27, which I know seems pricey if you’re used to $9 drugstore liners, but if you’ve been struggling to find a long-lasting, comfortable, pigmented liner, maybe it’s time to try a Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner. They’ve got six colors to choose from, and you can find them at Bobbi Brown counters and online, as well as at Sephora and Sephora.com.
I did a post a while back about my Charleston recommendations, and now it’s time to bring it back to my roots. Not all the way back to my hometown roots of Worcester, MA, but to the roots of my adult life, which started in Newport, RI the fall of 2000. I’ve spent the majority of the last 18 years of my life in Newport, so I think/know I’ve got some good suggestions for you.
Whether you’re in town for your wedding, a bachelorette party, honeymoon, mini-moon, babymoon, full moon or just a day trip, I’ve got you covered. If I have any, I’ll post my personal photos taken at each place, mainly because that’s more fun for me.
Let’s start with breakfast and brunch.
Diego’s (downtown Newport location). I love Diego’s for brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks, but I’m placing it in this category because you won’t find another brunch menu like their’s in Newport. This is a downtown hot spot that’s always busy in-season (technically Memorial Day until Labor Day, but has been stretching into October in recent years), so get there early or make reservations if you can. This is my home away from home, so if you see a short girl with blue-tipped hair, a Biggie Smalls necklace and some kind of tequila drink in front of her, that’s me!
Corner Cafe. Full disclosure–I’ve never had brunch at Corner Cafe, but it’s a Newport favorite so I had to include it. People rave about this place and after looking at the menu, I understand why. I always see a line at this locals’ spot when I drive by on weekends, and they don’t take reservations, so that’s something to keep in mind for your planning purposes. Corner Cafe is on Broadway, so not downtown but close to Upper Thames Street. It’s BYOB, so something to be aware of if “brunch” really means “mimosas” to you.
The White Horse Tavern. Now here’s a place I have brunched at many times! This is a quintessential Newport restaurant, established in 1673. So if you like your eggs with a side of ghost stories, which the bartenders are usually happy to share, this is your spot. The food is fantastic, and it’s one of the few places in Newport that I think has a good Bloody Mary. (I got snobbish about Bloodies after drinking so many fantastic ones in Charleston.) It’s close to both Upper Thames and Broadway, so if you’re onto day drinking post-brunch, this puts you in a good location. Definitely make reservations if you want to go, as it gets busy on weekends.
Atlantic Grille. If you’re staying in Middletown near the beaches, this is a great nearby breakfast option. Friendly servers, great, consistent food and plenty of space if you’re with a bigger group. They’ve usually got some awesome specials (I still–sometimes successfully–order the Firecracker Omelette, a buffalo chicken and cheese omelette they used to frequently have as a special back in the day.) If you’re going on a weekend, be prepared to wait if you don’t have a reservation.
Gary’s Handy Lunch. For basic, cheap breakfast food and fast service, you can’t beat Gary’s. This 50s style diner on Lower Thames is a Newport staple for both locals and tourists. A cheese omelette and a chocolate milk at Gary’s was my hangover remedy in college, so I’ve been there countless times. (However, this is not the place to get a hangover, as they don’t serve alcohol.) If you go on a weekend, you might have a wait, but tables typically turn over pretty quickly. FYI: This is a cash only establishment.
Franklin Spa. It sounds like a place where you’d get microdermabrasion, but I promise you, it’s a restaurant. This former pharmacy turned diner is in the center of downtown but it’s one block up from Thames, so it’s a semi-hidden gem. They don’t take reservations and it’s small so it gets packed quickly, but it’s a solid breakfast spot seven days a week, year-round.
Ready for lunch?
Smoke House. “BBQ and summer cocktails”–that’s what their website homepage says. Add “people watching” to that, and you’ve got the perfect description of one of my favorite summer spots. This seasonal, half open air restaurant and bar is smack in the middle of downtown. The front section has a three sided bar (is that what they’re called?) in the center, and seating around the perimeter of the room. If you can grab a stool there, you’ll be looking right out onto America’s Cup and Thames Street. And oh, the interesting outfits you’ll see! Smoke House keeps the plastic window flaps down if it’s raining, but if it’s not, you’ve got direct access to the hoards of people who walk by every second. It’s usually open from April until early October, so don’t be mad at me if you go in March and walk up to a boarded up building.
The Port. Even though this restaurant is technically on Thames, it’s pushed back from the street, so unless someone has told you about it or you’ve read a helpful blog post like this, you might not see it if you are just walking around Newport. That means it’s sometimes a little easier to get into than the restaurants that face Thames. The Port is right on the water and they’ve got enough space for bigger groups, so it’s a good lunch choice if your crew rolls deep. I don’t eat seafood, but my foodie brother and sister-in-law loved their Steamed Mussels.
Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant. This Newport staple on Upper Thames has something for everybody. The food is consistently great, the cocktail list extensive, and they might have the friendliest servers in Newport. The warm atmosphere and fun decor of Brick Alley really differentiate this restaurant from any other place in town. People I’ve brought there have especially loved the lobster roll, and I spent my college years obsessed with Louie’s Chicken Nachos and Key Lime Martinis. Brick Alley is always busy, so I’d recommend reservations.
Portside at 22 Bowen’s. This is 22 Bowen’s outside bar and restaurant, and it is perfect. The food is always good, and Portside bartenders know how to make a cocktail. There are I think ten seats at the bar, and ten or so tables on the patio. The waterfront location (like any closer and you’d be on a boat) is beautiful, and the people watching potential–right in the middle of Bowen’s Wharf–is off the charts. I bet this is exactly the kind of place people think of when they think of Newport, and while Newport has several different vibes (depending on where you are and who you ask), it is part of our City by the Sea fabric.
Pour Judgement. If you like clever names, beer and good burgers, you’ll love Pour Judgement. This Broadway bar and restaurant has been around since 2006, which is a long time for a place in Newport, so you know it has to be good. It’s a locals’ spot, so here’s one of those other vibes I was talking about. If you’re staying near Broadway or want to venture there from downtown (it’s very close to Upper Thames), this is a solid lunch choice.
And now for some day drinking. Let’s pub crawl our way through this list.
The Deck. If you’ve got a big group and you want to sit out by the water, here’s your spot. I host a couple day drinking events each year (usually one for my birthday and one for my business anniversary), and this is always where we start. The tented outside area is huge, with a big center bar and a smaller one off to the side. There are tables under the tent, and more out on the uncovered deck area. People come right off their boats into The Deck, so that’s how “waterfront” it is. You’ll love it.
O’Brien’s Pub. Right around the corner from The Deck on Thames and Waites Wharf is O’Brien’s, a year-round Irish pub. They’ve got a big inside area with booths, tables and a bar, as well as a tented outside bar and dining area, and a patio area beyond that. The patio is usually pretty packed during the summer with families, bachelor and bachelorette parties and lots of dogs. If you’re on Lower Thames, this is a good day drinking spot than can accommodate big groups.
Surf Club. Now let’s make our way towards the center of downtown with a stop at the outside bar and dining area of Surf Club. It’s close to Newport’s iconic wave statue at the busy corner of America’s Cup and Thames, so there is plenty of great people watching. Surf Club is new-ish to Newport (within the last couple years), but they are already well-liked by locals. The cocktails are awesome (they had or have a Jalapeno Margarita that I love) and the servers are always friendly. This is a perfect summer day drinking spot.
The Black Pearl. If you take a left out of Surf Club and walk for about three minutes (give it four in heels), you’ll get to Bannister’s Wharf on your left. As soon as you turn down that Wharf, you’ll see a patio with red umbrellas. That’s the patio at The Black Pearl. If the weather is nice, this is a prime location for good cocktails and lots of people watching (can you tell I like that?). The Black Pearl restaurant is known for their clam chowder, but the patio is known for their frozen Mudslides. Cheers!
The Landing. Things are about to get rowdy if you’ve made it to this waterfront bar and restaurant on Bowen’s Wharf. The lower level has a big main bar, a raw bar where you can also get drinks, and a few tables. There’s usually live music happening by the main bar. There are more tables and another bar on the upstairs deck. The Landing is a seasonal bar for the public, but I believe they do private events inside the restaurant off-season. I can’t verify this, but I would guess that 90% of all summertime bachelor and bachelorette parties that pass through Newport make a stop at The Landing.
Vanderbilt Rooftop. Now let’s get classy. Cross over to Thames from Bowen’s Wharf, then go left onto Thames. Take a right onto Mary Street and you’ll soon see the gorgeous Vanderbilt Hotel (formerly called the Vanderbilt Grace, then the Grace Vanderbilt). Their rooftop bar has stellar views and fantastic cocktails. It’s got a low key vibe and isn’t stuffy or pretentious. It’s open during the summer season only (I mean, who wants to be outside during the cold weather anyway?) from 4:00pm – 10:00pm on weekdays and 12:00pm – 10:00pm on weekends.
Dinner, anyone? You really should get some food in you.
The Red Parrot. It’s a tourist hot spot, but I’m a local and I still go there (especially when I’m craving their Sexy Steak & Gorgonzola Salad). The food is consistently good, and they’ve got some awesome cocktails. This is another great spot to go with a group, not only because they can accommodate a lot of people, but because their menu is huge–one of those menus-in-a-binder–so everyone can find something they like. Red Parrot is at the beginning of Lower Thames, so location-wise, it is perfection. Walk ten minutes up or down Thames from there and you’ll go by several other bars, restaurants and shops.
The Mooring. This is a classic Newport restaurant. I’ve never had a bad meal at The Mooring, nor has anyone I’ve ever gone with. The Mooring is known for their seafood, but I also love their Chopped Salad and their burger. Even though I can’t eat their famous Bag of Doughnuts appetizer (lobster and shrimp fritters that come in a paper bag), I have to mention it because people get obsessed with it. If you get seated on the deck in the summer, you can enjoy the ocean view, but the inside dining area is nice too. Definitely make reservations here, especially during the summer season.
Perro Salado. This cozy Mexican inspired restaurant by Washington Square (near Upper Thames) is one of a kind. It’s in an 18th century house that was transformed into a unique and awesome restaurant. Their Cilantro-Jalapeno Margarita is probably my favorite cocktail in Newport, but they have several other great cocktails if you’re not into cilantro or jalapeno. The menu has changed since I last had dinner there, but I see several great options on the current menu. They have an outside patio that’s always bumpin’, and live music at I think 9:00pm (I’m not sure if that’s every night). Perro Salado is a really popular spot, so I definitely recommend making reservations.
22 Bowen’s. Listen, it’s impossible to get a bad meal or bad service at this Newport staple. From wine to steak to seafood to desserts, 22 Bowen’s knows what they’re doing. It’s on the fancier side, so go ahead and rock that cocktail dress, ladies. This restaurant is (obviously) in Bowen’s Wharf, which puts you right in the middle of things. As with every restaurant in downtown Newport during the summer season or during weekends most of the rest of the year, reservations are a good idea.
The Wharf Pub. If you’re looking for something more on the casual side but still want to be where the action is, look no further. Comfort food and craft beer is their thing, but even a tequila drinker with Celiac disease (that’s me!) can be happy there. I really love their burger (with no bun), and other people I’ve gone with have loved their tater tots appetizer. Their outdoor seating is great for people watching in the summer, and they have live music on weekends.
Is it time to go out? I’m in my mid 30s so I’m usually home by 9:00pm, but I’ve lived in Newport long enough to be able to help you here.
The Pelham. You can’t talk about going out in Newport without mentioning The Pelham. This cash only bar on Upper Thames is low key during the day in the summer season (they don’t open until the evening during the winter), but things get crazier by the hour at night. They have live music on weekends and maybe during the week in the summer (I can’t remember and can’t find it on their website), so expect a cover charge some nights. The Pelham has three bars, a pool table, a dartboard, ping pong, and a shuffleboard table, but the most important thing I want you to know is that even though their sign and their website says “One Pelham East,” no one calls it that. It can get a little shitshow-y at this bar, but I think that’s the point. It’s the perfect spot for bachelor and bachelorette groups, which is evidenced by the special bachelorette package they offer. Did I paint a good picture for you?
Dockside. If live music and dancing at a waterfront bar is your thing, Dockside is your place. This summer season hot spot is perfect for large groups. And it’s close to The Deck and O’Brien’s, so you can stumble around between the three and have yourself a very Newport summer night on Waites Wharf. They charge a cover, so get yo cash ready. Have fun! (I’ll be in bed.)
Newport Blues Cafe. Another one of the live music spots downtown Newport has to offer. There’s plenty of room for dancing by the stage, but if you’re more of a music-appreciator than a dancer, you can watch from the second level. (Don’t worry–there are bars on both floors.) The crowd varies depending on the band, but it’s not unusual to see a group of people in their 50s dancing next to a group in their 20s. There will be a cover, so prepare yourself for that. If you want to dance and the band is playing your type of music, Newport Blues is a great choice.
Forty 1 North. I call the waterfront outside bar and restaurant at this downtown hotel “Miami,” because that’s what it looks like. (I just learned they call this part of the hotel “The Pavilion,” but I’ve never heard anyone refer to it as that.) I’m more of a day drinker, and I love Forty 1 North for that during the summer, but I know people like going there at night too. I don’t know if they still do this, but they used to have a DJ (and a cover) on summer weekends. Even if they don’t, it’s good night out spot to go to because it’s big, it’s gorgeous and it’s got beautiful views. It’s on the fancier side, so think “night out” outfits, but it’s not stuffy.
The Cooke House. Its real name is Clarke Cooke House, but no one calls it that. This is a restaurant with a few bars and a basement level club call “The Boom Boom Room,” but I am far too old for that now. I stay on the upper levels and I’m fine with that. The Cooke House is on Bannister’s Wharf, so it’s always busy during the summer season. The servers and bartenders are great, and while it can get a little rowdy, it doesn’t get out of control. At night, I would say it’s more of a 30s and 40s crowd than a 20s crowd. The Cooke House is also a good spot for brunch, lunch, dinner and day drinking, so it’s worth putting on your Newport To Do list.
On the second floor at the Cooke House.
In the Boom Boom Room at my 28th birthday party.
During my short hair days (no good).
And wearing the same shirt a few years later.
How’s that for thorough? This post took me forever to write, so you better like it 😉
Another week, another MAC product review. What can I say? They make good makeup.
I’ve been using MAC Pro Longwear Fluidline in Blacktrack, a flat black gel eyeliner, for years, so I was surprised to find that I hadn’t done a post about it. It’s a pro makeup artist fave and every MUA I know has it in their kit.
The Fluidline liners come in a little glass jar with a black top. A word to the wise with any gel eyeliners or cream shadows that come in similar packaging–once air gets into the jar for too long, the product will dry out and become useless. So make sure you close the lid tightly after using, unless you like to be wasteful. A tiny bit of gel liner goes a long way, so this little jar should last you a while if you keep the lid closed tightly.
The most hygienic way to use a gel liner is to scrape some out with a clean spatula, put it on a palette and use a fine liner brush to apply it. That’s the way I do it 100% of the time for clients, absolutely no exceptions. But most non-pro’s will dip directly into the jar with a brush, load the brush up with liner then apply. This will not only usually give you more product than you need (and good luck coming back from a too-thick line of gel liner), but unless your brush is always sanitized and you don’t double dip, it means you are transferring the bacteria from your lid into the product. And guess what happens when you securely close the lid, as you have been taught, after that? I’m not saying anything bad about bacteria molecules’ lifestyles, as they can be with whoever they want, but these gals and guys get down, and they multiply in that dark, enclosed environment. So if you double dip and/or use a dirty eyeliner brush, the next time you use your gel liner, say hello to their (millions) of little friends, who are now going to live on your eyelids and lash roots.
But let’s pretend you are applying your gel liner correctly. Fluidline liners are great because they can give you a very defined look or a soft focus look, depending on how you apply. You can get a graphic, liquid liner type of look if you apply it perfectly then let it set (dry). Or you can apply a thin line then pull it up with angled brush before it sets, diffusing it but still keeping definition. That is my favorite way to use Blacktrack, as soft focus is generally more appropriate for the type of makeup I do. I then usually top the liner with black eyeshadow to give it more intensity with the blackness without making it too harsh.
Blacktrack is definitely black, but it’s a soft black, which I like. I’d rather have the option to make it more black with shadow than have it look too harsh, which is how an intense black liner can look on those with lighter coloring.
Some gel eyeliners (honestly, usually the cheap ones) are not very pigmented, so not only will you have to apply a few layers to get the color payoff you want, but you’ll see a kind of watered down or patchy looking line if you draw it on thick. Blacktrack won’t do you like that. The pigment is there and you’ll get a consistent line as long as your brush is properly coated.
Fluidline in Blacktrack is one of the staples in my kit, and I think it has a place in everyone’s kit or personal makeup bag. But what do I know? I’ve only been doing this for over a decade…
What do you do when you hear about a job in an industry you haven’t worked in? I’ll tell you: you immediately picture what that job is. Maybe you only come up with fuzzy details (“Ok, Hedge Fund Manager. Something about investing other people’s money?”). Or maybe you think, “Kindergarten teacher. Teaches cute little kids the alphabet for nine months a year.” (Wrong.) But if you’re an adult, unless you’ve truly never heard anything about that job (like how we all felt when we first heard about “social media influencers”), you likely have some idea of what that job entails.
I would argue (against myself, it seems) that we don’t really know most of what people’s jobs truly are unless we have had their job or worked in their industry. While I will admit that the makeup artist part of my job is a little easier to understand than the entrepreneur part, I think there are still a lot of misconceptions and/or things people have no idea about when it comes to the job of a professional, working makeup artist. And guess what I’m here to do? That’s right. Clear it up.
And if you don’t know, now you know. (Or you will by the end of this post.)
It’s hard for us to identify colors. I don’t mean that we are colorblind. I just mean we see undertones and/or temperature (cool or warm) in every color we look at, unless it’s pure black or pure white. Go ahead, try to show a makeup artist something brown. We’re going to call it a “reddish brown” or an “orange brown.” Blue? Well, is it a gray blue or a purple blue or hold on, isn’t that flecked with silver? The red dress you’re wearing is a cool red or a warm red to us, and the pink couch? It could be a blue pink (yes, that’s a thing) in our eyes. So if you ask us what color something is and we pause, it’s not because we don’t know. It’s because we usually see more than one color in everything we look at.
This shit hurts. Makeup artists carry a lot of gear. Kits, chairs, set bags, lighting, overflow bags (that’s what I call the extra bags I bring when my main kit for a job is full.) We have to lug this stuff through parking lots and garages, up and down stairs, and back out at the end of sometimes brutally long days. We also often stand for hours at a time, sometimes on the concrete floor of a film or television studio, which is a stellar way to cause back pain. One summer, I sprained both wrists carrying my stuff back and forth to weddings and shoots. And every time I lift my pro kit, I feel something pull in my neck. (Likely part of the reason I’ve had to go to a chiropractor three times a week all winter.) You may not think of makeup artistry as a physically demanding job, but surprise!, it is.
We haven’t tried every product ever created. There are so many beauty products out there. So many. Although I would love to try each one, I don’t have the time or budget for that, and I feel confident every other makeup artist on the planet would say the same. So if you tell a makeup artist you use a certain mascara and are met with a blank stare, it’s because they are not familiar with it. That doesn’t mean it’s not good and you shouldn’t use it. It just means they haven’t tried it. Got it?
Meals can be tough for us. Sometimes, we are on set or with clients for several hours straight with no real breaks. And we are usually driving to jobs, so our “dinners” are often protein bars scarfed down while driving home from a long day. So if you encounter a makeup artist who seems bitchy, they are probably just hangry. And that is our right.
We don’t always wear makeup. If I’m going out or going to an event, I am wearing makeup. If I’m on a corporate gig or doing a wedding, full face. But any other time, you might catch me in just mascara and undereye concealer (which I barely even consider to be makeup). Most of the makeup artists I know do not always wear makeup, or at least not always a full face of it. We tend to be busy creatures, and while most of us can do a ten minute face if we have to, we usually prefer to have the time to do our own makeup in more of a relaxed fashion. So when we don’t have that time, we may shock you and your preconceived notions by opting for no or very little makeup.
We’re not judging your makeup. Are we noticing it? Yes. But are we judging you? No! (At least not in my experience or from what I’ve heard others say.) We know you are not a pro, and we don’t expect your makeup to be perfect. In fact, I personally tend to be more concerned that my makeup looks good, as I’m the professional, so it should. So if you’re meeting your makeup artist friend for Happy Hour, don’t feel pressure to make sure your makeup is, as the kids say, “on fleek.” You look great!
We don’t want to do your makeup when we are not working. My first couple years in business, I liked doing my friends’ makeup before we went out. I think it was a combination of being excited to be a makeup artist and being in my 20s and loving getting ready for nights out together with a friend. But somewhere along the line, even though I still love my job, it began to feel like work. And that’s because it is! Especially being a business owner, a lot of the lines between my personal life and my work life are blurred. Meaning I don’t have set hours, so I jump back and forth between work and personal, work and personal, all day. So when I know I can get into Personal Life Mode for a couple hours straight, I don’t want to turn that off and go back into Makeup Artist Mode by doing someone’s makeup. Every MUA I know feels the same way. We want to spend time with our friends and family when we are not working, not cover their undereye circles. Sorry! I can’t lie to you in my own blog.
Our job is not just doing makeup. It doesn’t matter what part of the industry a makeup artist works in–there are always tasks we have to do that don’t include doing makeup. Getting clients, marketing, booking work, collecting payments, applying for pro discounts–the list goes on and on, especially for freelancers and business owners. It would be nice to just show up to a job, but how did we get the job? And the liability insurance we have to carry to set foot on that set? Did the makeup order itself? And who made that portfolio that potential clients look at? Much like a teacher’s job doesn’t end when the dismissal bell rings, a makeup artist’s job doesn’t end when the setting spray is on.
It’s not a glamorous profession. Do makeup artists help people look more glamorous? Absolutely. But is the job glamorous? Well, I have to check people’s noses for “bears in the cave” before they go on camera, so you tell me. Sure, being a makeup artist for weddings sometimes means we get to pull up to a luxury hotel, valet park and set up in a beautiful, well-lit suite. But it also sometimes mean we are doing makeup in a small, dark lakeside Airbnb cabin and oh, we have to set up in a bathroom that has maybe seen better days. And don’t even get me started about the glamour of working in film. The first time I used a Porta Potty in my adult life was when I was working on an indie that was filming all day at a beach location. It makes a girl not want to drink anything all day, you know? As makeup artists, we are often on our feet all day, often barely eating and setting up wherever we are allowed to, which can be a gorgeous room in a five start hotel or a dirty basement in the house where a commercial is being filmed. We ignore all of that stuff because we still get to do what we love, but it’s not a life of luxury for us when we are working.
Doing makeup is draining. It is so important to me that every person who is in my chair is happy. I put 150% into every makeup application I do, as do most makeup artists I know (and certainly everyone on the AB Beauty team!). When I’m doing makeup, I’m in the zone. I am thinking about nothing else but doing what I need to do to get a smile on that client’s face when they look in the mirror after I am done. And it’s not just that I do makeup–I have genuine conversations with my clients (unless I can tell they are not in the mood to talk), so I’m putting into effort there too because I want them to enjoy the entire experience. But when it’s over–whether I did one trial, six people at a wedding or a ten hour day on a commercial–I’ve got nothing left. I feel like I temporarily give away a part of my soul with each makeup application, and other makeup artists I’ve talked to say the same. We all have said that we need some recovery time after, and I’m guessing it’s the same for most people who work in any creative field. I can tell that some of my friends and family don’t understand why I’m a zombie after four hours of doing wedding makeup, but this is why. This is probably one of those things that are hard to understand if you haven’t been there, so just trust me, okay?
What do you think? Do you feel like you have a little more insight into the world of a makeup artist? Hopefully you now have a better grasp on what we do. This profession is a lot different than I pictured when I started, and I even knew a bit about it, so I can’t imagine what, oh, someone like my father who only knows foundation to be “what a building is built on” might think.
Fellow makeup artists–if I missed anything or if you have a different take, I’d love to hear it.
I’ve been using MAC eyeshadows since the beginning of my career as a makeup artist. Especially with an eye primer underneath, I’ve found these shadows to be the longest lasting, most pigmented powder shadows in the game. But if you’re at a MAC store or counter or on their website, the sheer selection of colors (currently 108 of them) can be daunting.
So allow me to present my go-to’s and thoughts on who I’ve found they work best on. I’ll include the shade descriptions MAC gives for each, but I won’t be shy in voicing my opinion if I see them differently.
All That Glitters. Beige with gold pearl. To me, this looks more rose gold than beige gold on most people. I think it works best on light and medium skintones. It’s pretty shimmery, so stay away if you’re a Matte Girl.
Antiqued. Ash brown with bronze. This is gorgeous on deeper skintones with any eye color.
Brown Script. Warm chestnut brown. Works especially well on medium and deeper skintones, either on the lid or in the crease. It’s matte, so it can work for either. (I stay away from shimmer in the crease, as it defeats the purpose of making an area look recessed.)
Brule. Soft creamy beige. One of my matte go-to lid colors for fair, light and light-medium skin.
Brun. Muted blackish brown. I use this cool, matte shade as a liner on light and medium skintones, any eye color. I also use it to fill in brunette brows.
Carbon. Intense black. Everyone should have a good black eyeshadow, and this is my favorite. I mostly use it at the lashlines, as it’s pretty rare for me to use black on the lid or in the crease unless it’s for an editorial look.
Charcoal Brown. Muted taupe brown. I use this a lot at the lower lashline on light and medium skintones. It provides soft definition. It also works as a neutral matte lid color on deeper skintones.
Club. Red brown with green pearl. Club is a really unique shade. Depending on the skintone and the lighting in a room, it can look green, silver, gray or brown.
Coquette. Muted grayish taupe. I like this as a lower lash liner on green or hazel eyes, as it brings out the green.
Cork. Muted golden brown. Another lower lash liner choice for light to medium skintones.
Embark. Intense reddish brown. Really pretty on deeper skintones and on green eyes (green and red are complimentary colors, so the red undertones makes green looker greener).
Era. Soft golden beige with shimmer. Works well as a lid color on medium and deeper skintones.
Espresso. Muted golden brown. I use this warm brown a lot as a crease color on deeper skintones, or an outer V color on light and medium skintones.
Goldmine. Intense gold with shimmer. It’s a very yellow gold, so I tend to use it over other golds (from different lines, sorry) or over a darker shimmery color that I want to lighten. I find it usually pulls too yellow to wear alone.
Mulch. Red brown with bronze pearl. Gorgeous on green eyes, but it can be too dark on fair and some light skintones.
Naked Lunch. Minimal pink with shimmer. Pretty on fair and light skintones with any eye color. Can look frosty on medium and deeper skintones.
Nylon. Pale gold with icy shimmer. This one can get intense, so I mainly use it for inner corner highlight or as part of the look for a shimmery gold lid. It’s pretty in small doses.
Omega. Soft muted beige taupe. I mainly use this for brow fill-in for blonde brows, but have also used it on medium and deeper skintones on both the lid and the crease.
Phloof. Frosted off white. Similar to Nylon in my application of it. I also use it with a light hand on the lid for Flower Girls.
Ricepaper. Peachy gold with shimmer. This works on light skintones, but is especially pretty on medium and deeper skintones. It’s what I reach for when a client shows me an inspiration photo with a very shimmery lid.
Satin Taupe. Taupe with silver shimmer. Great for light and medium skintones. It can get a little ashy (due to the silver) on some deeper skintones. Especially flattering on brown eyes.
Scene. Muted blue gray. I work this into gray smokey eyes, as it tends to look more gray than blue when blended into other grays. Works with all eye colors.
Soba. Gold brown with gold shimmer. Really pretty in a subtle way on medium and deeper skintones.
Soft Brown. Soft golden peachy brown. This is gorgeous on those with blue eyes, as it’s got an orange undertone and orange and blue are complimentary. It can pull too orange on fair skintones though. Also pretty on deeper skintones.
Wedge. Soft muted beige taupe. This is my go-to crease color for fair, light and medium skintones. If this one ever gets discontinued, MAC and I will have a problem.
Woodwinked. Warm antique gold. Perfection on medium and deeper skintones. Can pull orange on light and medium skintones. Flattering on green eyes.
Yogurt. Soft pale pink. Very pretty on fair and light skintones with blue eyes.
MAC has discontinued some other shades I use and have backups of so I’m good for a bit, but I won’t tell you how great those ones are since you won’t be able to buy them. I mean, I’m not a jerk!
If you have any MAC shadow faves, I’d love to hear. Comment away.
I’ve chosen the uncommon career path and lifestyle of entrepreneurship. You might be thinking “It’s not that rare! I know several entrepreneurs.” Maybe you do, but the stats I have found all say that around only 14% of the population are entrepreneurs, so it’s really not that common. And I’ve made things even more complicated for people around me by not only a being an entrepreneur and small business owner, but a working snowbird. That (currently) means I spend April until late December in Newport, RI, where my business is based, and late December until April in Charleston, SC where my happiness is based (kidding).
I get it when someone who is hearing about my snowbird life for the first time doesn’t get it. It’s weird and usually something only retired people do (although they get the pleasure of not working while they snowbird). But when my close friends or people who have heard it several times don’t get it, I have to say, it drives me a little crazy. And that’s how this blog post was born.
I don’t think the snowbirding confusion is because people don’t understand how that works. No one seems to have an issue comprehending how someone could live in one area of the country for part of the year and another area for the rest of the year. Many retirees do it, as well as boatloads of people in the sailing and yachting industries (excellent pun) and some people who work in the service industry. What, you’ve never met a bartender who works in a Martha’s Vineyard/Cape May/Ocean City bar during the summer then heads to Key West to sling dranks during the winter? Sure you have.
I think the confusion comes in due to the mystery of the entrepreneur. It’s easy to grasp that someone who works on boats could go from Annapolis in the summer and early fall to the British Virgin Islands in the winter because that’s where the jobs are. Or how a Cape Cod bartender could fly down to Florida to bartend there when the Cape summer season ends, because the Florida summer season never really ends. The guy who works on boats needs to be where the boats are, and the gal who bartends at one beach bar in MA can probably do it at a beach bar in another state too. But what does an entrepreneur do when they go somewhere else? That’s a great question that you didn’t even know you had, and it really depends on the business they own, but there are some general things all big bosses have in common.
When I tell someone I own an onsite hair and makeup company and I go to or am in Charleston for the winter, they often then say “Do you work while you’re in Charleston?” It’s flattering that people think my business is doing well enough that I can just not work for three months, but that is not the case. (Yet.) Of course I have to work during the winter! I own a small business! You think this thing runs itself? (Give me another ten years to get to that point.)
While I may not take makeup clients when I’m in Charleston, doing makeup is only about a max of 35 hours of my week during my busiest months in Newport. The bulk of my time is and has been for several years now spent managing, doing admin tasks, recruiting and hiring, and growing my business. Sure, taking out that client piece for three months and the fact that we don’t have many weddings I have to coordinate during the winter means I only have to work between 30 – 40 hours a week while I snowbird (which feels like a vacation to me), but I still work every single day.
I’m going to share with you some of things I regularly do during my warmer winters, not because I have some strong desire for you to know what my life is like, but because if you have any of those fourteen-percenters around you, they are likely doing a lot of the same or similar tasks but might have trouble articulating that. So while they are probably busting their ass doing all the mysterious work, you might be picturing them sleeping until 11:00am, answering a few emails, going to the gym, making a couple phone calls, posting on Instagram then calling it a day.
And now, a short list of some of the many regular things that fill my weeks when I am not doing makeup (both when I am in Charleston and in Newport). The entrepreneur in your life is probably doing a lot of the same or similar things, plus maybe several that I haven’t thought of. If you’ve made it this far into the post, you might as well keep going.
Booking. A giant part of my job is booking weddings, wedding trials, events, commercials, shoots, makeup lessons, etc. If you think a client emails and says “Can you do the hair and makeup for my June 1st wedding?” and I say “Sure. See you then!,” you are dead wrong. I spend an average of two hours per bridal client checking availability, sending makeup artist and hair stylist portfolios and answering questions about experience, giving rates, answering emails, sometimes having phone calls, sending contracts and answering questions about those, and a lot of things I’m probably forgetting. (And that’s nothing compared to the time I spend once they are booked!) Any entrepreneur who provides services will spend some amount of time (or pays someone to spend some amount of time) on the booking process. Sure, some of them have it automated, but the system they use didn’t create itself. If you are not an entrepreneur but you work in Sales, some of this is probably sounding familiar to you.
Social Media. Some day, I will pay someone to do this for me, but until then, it’s all me (and I know that’s the case for a lot of entrepreneurs). For my company, I manage two Facebook pages and one Instagram account. I post on each three times a week, because consistency is key with social media. That’s a lot of content I have to come up with, and I of course have to be aware of new trends and algorithms. We get clients who have found us on social media, which is how I know it’s an effective form of marketing. I’m not in it for the Likes or followers. I’m in it to share photos of our work, beauty tips that can help people and information about the company, for those who are interested. It’s also an important way of getting our voice/brand out there. I think it’s fair to say that most business owners spend a decent amount of time on social media, or they pay someone to do it for them (and there is still work that needs to be done, even if you outsource it).
Blogging. I spend a few hours each week blogging. I didn’t always do this–check out the Archives from earlier years when I posted maybe once every couple months–but last year I decided I wanted to up my blogging game. I made a goal in 2018 to publish one post once a week, and I achieved that goal. I plan on continuing that once-a-week posting in 2019 and so far, I’m on track. I know blogging (and definitely consistent blogging) isn’t something that all entrepreneurs do, and in some industries, it wouldn’t make sense to. But I have valuable, expert info I want to share for free, and this is the platform for it. If the business owner in your life also has a blog, know that it definitely takes up a bit of their time.
Invoicing. We gotta get paid, you know? Invoicing is (or should be!) a part of most service-based industries. Even with invoicing or accounting software, it takes time to create, send, collect payment and follow up as needed (it’s often needed). Sure, the bigger the business, the more likely this task is to get outsourced, but freelancers and owners of smaller business will usually take care of this themselves. I can get most of my invoices done in under 10 minutes each, but I sent out around 300 invoices last year, so you do the math. (Really, please do it. Because I can’t.) If an entrepreneur has a good system in place and the company doesn’t have a complicated pricing structure, this shouldn’t be the most difficult or time consuming of the money tasks, but it is an essential part of the job.
Paying Bills. Money comes in, money goes out. It’s a vicious cycle. All entrepreneurs have some bills to pay, no matter how small their company is. Cell phone, WiFi, office space, advertising, personnel, inventory, etc. Some companies have a lot of overhead, while others don’t. But there are a ton of things that need to be paid for, and unless a business owner has someone doing that task, they are taking care of it themselves. Depending on the business, this can be a time consuming task, but it has to be done.
Taxes. Most of my friends are not entrepreneurs and from what they’ve told me, filing their taxes is usually not too complicated if they just have one non-Independent Contractor job and don’t own multiple properties. For entrepreneurs, taxes can be complicated. I have a great accountant and I meet with a bookkeeper from her office quarterly for Quickbooks reconciliation (think of it like balancing your checkbook, a reference you will understand if you were born in or before the early 80s). Even with that, I still have to send certain information to my accountant each year, as well as check that the 1099s sent to my Independent Contractors are correct and the 1099s I am supposed to receive have made it to me. Like many business owners, I pay quarterly estimated taxes, so taxes aren’t something I only think of once a year. I budget my quarterly payments, and now that my company has grown so much, there is other work I need to prepare every three months. I’m sure I’m not the only boss who does that. If you can spend one hour a year at H&R Block or wrap everything up in five emails with your accountant, I think that is awesome, and I am jealous. But now you know that one of the two certainties in life can take up more time that you might think for an entrepreneur.
Scheduling & Coordinating. I spend several hours every single week coordinating trials, meetings, assessments, trainings, sometimes corporate/commercial jobs and creating wedding and event schedules for hair and makeup. This time consuming task is part of any business that has services that are performed or people that need to show up to sell consumer goods. Things don’t just happen, you know? Someone–be it the business owner, admin assistant or a manager–schedules shifts/appointments/service times. Sure, some companies have scheduling software or set schedules, but that’s not appropriate or possible for all companies. I’m personally used to it and (I think) good at scheduling and coordinating, as I did some version of it at most of my pre-AB Beauty jobs. But a lot of people despise this task and struggle with it, so if you’ve got an entrepreneur in your life, this may be something they hate. But unless they can outsource it or can use scheduling software, it’s likely something they have to do to some extent.
Getting Photos. This is wedding-industry specific, but I’m talking about it anyway. (My blog, my rules.) Couples planning a wedding want to see pictures of venues, flowers, wedding gowns, table set ups, hair and makeup, etc. But since I’m a crap photographer at best, I prefer to use professional photos of the work my team and I have done. That involves getting wedding album links from clients, choosing photos that best highlight our work, getting the bride’s approval for the choices, contacting the photographer for permission to post and then posting them on Facebook and Instagram. Sure, the Facebook and Instagram part comes under my social medial tasks, but getting the photos is a whole different task. If you know a business owner who shares photos they didn’t take (and I really can’t think of an industry outside of the wedding industry that would), or hires someone to take photos for them, this is likely eating up some of their time.
Post-Job Follow-Up. I follow up after all wedding and event jobs we do, as well as after the first time I do or send an AB Beauty makeup artist to cover for me on a corporate or commercial job with a new client. As you may have noticed, many companies will send you a survey or ask for a review (review requests are part of my follow-ups too) after you use a service or buy one of their products. I think it’s so important to do whatever form of follow-up makes the most sense for a company so that clients/customers know someone cares about their experience after it’s all said and done. My guess is that most entrepreneurs do some sort of follow-up work.
Recruiting. I’m pretty much constantly hiring at AB Beauty. I post ads for new hair stylists and/or makeup artists, but I also recruit them from Cosmetology schools. That means I go in and speak to classrooms full of “future professionals,” as the Paul Mitchell schools call them, about AB Beauty job and training opportunities. This involves scheduling classes, preparing and updating talking points, answering emails after, etc. It’s an important part of my job and probably a part of the job for any entrepreneur who has a growing company that requires personnel. Depending on the industry, I can see this being anything from a minimally time consuming task that happens once in a while to something that is a top focus and can take up huge chunks of time.
Hiring. For any entrepreneur who has people working for them, hiring is on their task list (or something they pay someone else they have hired to do for them). Like with anything else, this differs by company and industry, but for me, it’s definitely one of the more time consuming tasks. Formal job offers, Independent Contractor Agreements, requesting professional license information and proof of liability insurance and about 35 other tasks are part of the process for me. From what I know, it’s a pretty time-intensive part of the job for most solopreneurs who have Independent Contractors or employees working for them.
Training. For business owners who have employees, training is (hopefully) part of the process. At AB Beauty, there are no employees but we do offer training programs for those Independent Contractors who are interested. These sessions take up several hours a week while the actual training is happening, but also several hours before it even starts to relay certain information and arrange sessions. If you’ve got an entrepreneur in your life who handles training, know that this can take up a lot of their time.
Accounting. I luckily have an accountant and a bookkeeper who I meet with quarterly, but there is still a lot of work I do that falls under what I consider the “Accounting” umbrella. This mostly involves entering information into Quickbooks, but anything that has to do with banking goes here in my mind. The entrepreneurs who hire people to take care of this can cross this task of their list, but a lot of us handle it (to varying degrees) on our own.
IT Stuff. One of my least favorite hats to wear as an entrepreneur is “IT Gal.” It’s not my strength but since, you know, everything is done on a computer, it’s something I can’t ignore. I have a company that handles my website design, domain and any website issues, which is awesome. And I have a freelance IT hero, Dan, I hire when there is something wrong with my computer. But before I go around throwing money at people, I research and try to fix some problems myself (and those are usually the times when you can find me drinking tequila to quell the frustration). Even if there is something I can’t fix myself, it’s still part of my job to reach out to the person who can fix it for me and follow through to make sure the issue is resolved. Sometimes Dan will walk me through fixes remotely, and I’m glad he is able to do that, but what seems like a simple problem can sometimes take an afternoon to fix. If you ever hear the non-tech entrepreneur in your life swearing at their computer, it might be because of this.
Taking Classes. If I ran my business like I did even five years ago, I’d be in trouble. Not that I was doing anything bad or wrong, but platforms change and businesses grow, so adjustments need to be made. For me, part of being a good business owner is learning about new ways to do things and approach the big picture and strategic parts of the job. I take a lot of online classes, workshops and webinars to help me better my business, and I know several entrepreneurs who do the same. These generally take up 60 – 90 minutes per class/workshop/webinar for online offerings, but in person classes can take an entire day or more. There is sometimes work that needs to be done before and/or after a class, so this can take up some time too.
Personnel Communication. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t email or text at least one person on my team. (They’re like “Yeah, we know, Allison.”) Part of this has to do with the fact that they are all Independent Contractors so I can’t just schedule appointments without asking them. But there is a shit ton of other stuff that I need to check with them about (and that they need to check with me about), and I think all business owners who have people working for them handle this to some degree. So if your entrepreneur friend/spouse/relative has to step out of the room for five minutes to answer a time sensitive call from someone who works for them, give ’em a break! It’s part of the job.
Attorney Communication. If you know an entrepreneur who doesn’t have an attorney, be worried for them. If you own a business, you damn well better make sure your practices and your documents are legally sound. I don’t need legal services every month, but when I do, I have emails and phone calls with my attorney that have to happen. Sometimes it’s a ten minute back and forth email conversation, and other times it’s 45 minutes on the phone to straighten something out. Depending on the industry and what stage of the business someone is, this could be a more time-intensive part of the job. But it is definitely part of the job to some degree.
Constantly Evaluating Everything. A huge part of being an entrepreneur in my book (which, as you can imagine, is a very long book) is regularly assessing how things are working. Pricing, systems, client communication templates, hiring, training programs, etc. I consider this to fall under my Big Picture Duties, as what I’m really asking is “Is this part of the business working?” I feel pretty confident saying every entrepreneur does some version of this. So if you look at the business owner in your life and they seem to be mindlessly scrolling through something on their screen, sure, they might be. But they might also be looking numbers, feedback or reviews and deciding if they need to adjust some part of their company to make it better.
Revising Everything. Okay, so hopefully not all at once. But that constant evaluation often means something (or many things) need to change. And changes don’t happen on their own! There are simple changes like changing over from a personal to a business Instagram account. And there are bigger changes, like website makeovers, switching to a new client management system or setting up new accounting software, that can take hours and hours and hours. The bigger the company, the less likely it is that the business owner will have to personally execute the changes, but solo owners with no admin staff are likely taking it all on.
So if you ask your entrepreneur friend what they are doing this weekend and they say “Working,” but you know they have no clients or their store/restaurants/studio isn’t open, keep in mind that they might be doing some (or all) of the things I mentioned, plus some I forgot or never thought of. And if you’re my friend or relative and you’ve secretly been thinking “What does she do when she says she is working in Charleston? I know she didn’t even bring her pro kit there this year!,” now you know.
If you have any misconceptions about your job or industry that you want to clear up, leave ’em in the comments. I love hearing about other people’s jobs because it helps me understand what their life is like. And understanding is key in any type of personal or business relationship, right? (Next up, my post about my life as an Amateur Psychologist.)
My mother has never been a huge makeup person, and I don’t have any blood sisters. (I have a sister-in-law who will be mad at me if I don’t clarify.) I was simply born loving makeup, both wearing it and putting it on other people.
And while my makeup looks good now (it better, after over a decade of applying makeup as my profession), it didn’t start out that way. I had lot of bad makeup looks, and some questionable eyebrow choices. I’ve also been on a journey with my thick, naturally curly, dark brown hair that screams “Sicily!” at you before it frizzes up.
I guess I’m feeling nostalgic or something, because the idea of doing a blog post where I look back and share some pictures of Allisons past–as well as my commentary on them–sounds like a great idea. You want to come on this ride with me? Grab some black eyeliner and buckle up.
Here I am, with my sister friend, Danielle, at three years old. Her mother used to put clown makeup on us because Dan was afraid of clowns (the idea being it would make her less afraid of them), and I just liked the feel of makeup on my face. Note the foreshadowing with my Florida shirt (I would later live there) and my client/doll I had with me. All of my dolls got made up, either with markers, crayons, or whatever real makeup I could get my little hands on.
At age five, with my brother, Mike. I was makeup-less and somehow rocking straight bangs with curly hair. This was during the period when I would dress Mike up in a little wedding gown, call him “Christina” and put makeup on him. Note the foreshadowing of my current career.
I believe this was my 10th birthday. I was looking very Beatnik with my bob and black turtleneck. In the front of the picture on the left is my cousin, Brooke, who became my “you have no choice, we’re always together!” makeup model for years.
The summer after seventh grade with my friend, Lisa. We are both clearly wearing the same lipstick, which I believe was a lipstick Revlon used to make called “Toffee.” My other favorite lipstick at the time was “Blackberry,” also by Revlon.
Lisa and I again, at our Junior Prom. I had my hair done for this hyped up dance, and in true 1999 fashion, they did not disappoint (yes, those are rhinestone bobby pins from Delia’s in my hair). I sold my ticket to see Eminem at the Worcester Palladium so I could afford to go to prom in a limo with some friends, and that is the one true regret of my life.
With my friend, Dena, the summer after I graduated from high school. My eyebrows were thin and I had spent some time in a tanning booth, but I don’t hate my makeup here. I think it was eyeshadow, mascara, concealer and nude lip. Ah, the effortlessness of being 18.
With my friend, Emily, during (I think) sophomore year of college. My eyebrows got thinner and black eyeliner became an important part of my makeup. You can also see the remnants of what was originally an eggplant hair color woven through my spiral curls. Also, if I wasn’t in class, it’s pretty much a guarantee that purse was holding at least one water bottle full of Bacardi Limon & Diet Coke. That’s not beauty related, but it’s a fun fact.
With my friend, Laura, inside my apartment during our senior year of college. A headband and hoop earrings were a big part of my look that year. And it’s hard to see, but the black eyeliner and nude lip were still in rotation.
In Florida, where I lived for two years after college. I wasn’t wearing blue contacts so I’m not sure why it looks like that, but I think I was wearing a shimmery light blue eyeshadow. And check out that tan! (Scroll up one for comparison with my natural skin color.) I loved being that tan, but I paid for it a few years later with several pre-cancerous moles that had to be removed.
In Philadelphia, circa 2007, with my college friends, Jess and Liz. I was wearing my favorite holographic lilac pigment eyeshadow from Benefit, with a frosty nude lipgloss from Victoria’s Secret.
Late 2008, with my then boyfriend, Joe. This was after I opened my company but before I went full-time with it. I was wearing a dark blue smokey eye, black liner in the waterline, and I had started filling in my brows. I stopped wearing my hair curly in 2008, so this was during the early straight haired years when I flat ironed.
With my friend, Carina, in 2011. I was a solid year into being a full-time makeup artist at that point. I was wearing a bronze eyeshadow from Cargo, and my hair was too flat. I can tell I had done Carina’s makeup here too. On an unrelated note, I wish I still had that shirt.
With Liz and Jess at Liz’s baby shower. That Sonia Kashuk blush was maybe a little too peach for me when I wasn’t wearing self tanner, but I remember loving it at the time. I helped the mom-to-be with her makeup that morning, and gave Jess an impromptu makeup lesson while we were getting ready.
On my 32nd birthday. I had started blue-ing my hair seven months earlier. I’ve had different versions of it since then, but this has always been my favorite blue and color placement. By this point, I knew how to blowout my hair with a round brush, which is much more flattering on me than flat ironing. I think the lipstick is Russian Red by MAC. I always rock a red lip with a black and white polka dot dress or top.
2015, maybe? For a couple summers, I loved to use a blue pencil liner at my bottom lashline with black in the waterline with whatever other eye makeup I was wearing. And this was around the time when I got pretty good at curling my own hair.
A pro photo taken in summer of 2018. I had A LOT of makeup on, but you can’t really tell. Photo by Lisette Rooney Photography.
A mirror selfie–I don’t care, I like those better–last month. The lipstick is Rouge Sinner by Lipstick Queen. MAC Face & Body Foundation, Pro Longwear Concealer under my eyes, several MAC eyeshadows (but no eyeliner, that’s just black shadow) on my peepers, very faded pink Kevyn Aucoin pink blush my cheeks. And of course, lots of mascara. MAC eyeshadow in Brun to fill in my brows. This is the picture that I think looks most like me in real life.
And that’s how a little girl goes from loving to wear red lipstick clown makeup to a 36 year old who loves to wear red lipstick non-clown makeup. My look has evolved and will continue to, but I’m not sure if my hair will ever be “all black and curly” again like my father asks, since he is not big on change…
This has been a fun little stroll down memory lane for me. It’s like the longer version of the Then & Now Facebook challenge. I’d love to see other people do this, but I have a feeling I’m the only one who would want to. Thanks for reading this silly little post.
What is it about going out at night that makes us feel like we want to be more bold, fancy or done up? Clothes, hair, makeup–they often get a little boost, refresh or change when we go from our Daytime Selves to our Night Out Selves. Maybe it’s that we want things to pop more after the sun has gone down, or that society tells us cocktail dresses are not for coffee dates. Or it could be that we want something to help us get out of productive-ish daytime mode to our more relaxed or fun nighttime mode. I don’t know, guys. I was only a Psych Minor.
What I do know is how to make that day-to-night makeup change, which was another blog post request. (I didn’t forget, Bonnie!) Some of these tips may not apply to you if you don’t already wear certain products, but I want to try to cover everyone here, so I’ll include a bunch and you can choose what makes sense for you.
And now for some ideas to change your look from Office to Happy Hour.
Conceal Your Sins. This won’t necessarily make your look more night out-ish, but most people could use a little concealer refresh before going out, when they’ve already had their makeup on for several hours. Here’s how I do it. 1) I first add concealer to my chin, around my nose or anywhere else where my concealer or foundation has faded or I have some redness (I’m looking at you, chinny chin chin). 2) Then I completely remove my undereye concealer and re-apply it, as I’ve found my undereye concealer can get a little caked or have a tiny smudge or two several hours after I’ve applied it, as I don’t wear waterproof products on a daily basis. If I’m going to add any dark shadow to my eye makeup, I do this step after that in case of shadow fallout onto the undereye area.
Zap That Shine. If you have oily or combination skin, you’ll be looking a little (or a lot) shiny by the evening. Luckily, this couldn’t be a simpler fix. Some pressed powder applied to those annoying reflective spots will take care of the problem. You can also use oil blotting sheets during the day or prior to the powder retouch to absorb some of the oil without removing any makeup. This is another fix that won’t make you look more night out-ish, but it will make your makeup look better.
The Eyes Have It. There are several things you can do to intensify your eye makeup and make it more after-sunset like. It’s going to depend on your eye shape and what you already have on for eye makeup, but these are all changes that won’t take long to do on their own.
1) Thicken, darken or wing your upper lash eyeliner. You can do this with a shadow (my preference), a pencil or a gel liner. If you had brown or gray liner on, trace over it with black. If you have the lid space, slightly thicken the line or wing it out (not for those with hooded eyes).
2) Add some darkness to the outer V. As long as you already have some eyeshadow on your lid, adding a darker shade to the outer V will add some dimension to your eyeshadow look. This is a great option for those with hooded eyes.
3) Apply waterline eyeliner. Using a black or brown pencil on the waterline (inside the lower lid) will give your eyes a sultry effect. This does make eyes look smaller, so that’s something to be aware of if your eyes are on the small side.
4) Layer on some mascara. Add a coat to your top and bottom lashes. If you didn’t start with lower lash mascara on, you’ll notice that this one makes a big difference.
Get Cheeky. Your blush definitely fades between breakfast and dinner, so why not retouch and maybe even bump it up? If you have a deeper or more intense shade that feels a little “too much” for the daytime, bring that bad boy out for your evening look. Generally the interior lighting you are in at night will be darker than what you’re in during the day (until you walk into the women’s room and the lighting sobers you up), so this is the perfect time to intensify it.
Give ‘Em Some Lip. You know the lipstick you are scared to wear during the day because it’s too bright, dark or bold? Try it after dark! A statement lip is perfect for nights out, and nothing changes your look more than going from nude or subtle to look atme lips. Just be aware of the color of the top or dress you are wearing, as while a certain lipstick may look good on you, if it clashes with your top or dress, it’s not going to work.
A Hair Different. I’m technically not an authority on hair, but I do know that switching up your hair style can help transition you from your Daytime Self to your Night Out Self. This might mean taking your hair down when it’s been up all day, or putting it into a top knot if you’ve worn it down. It could be switching your part, or flat ironing or adding some curls. Or maybe it’s just some dry shampoo or some hairspray to freshen up your style. You do what works for you, girlfriend.
You don’t need to spend a long time making your look go from a.m. to p.m. (In fact, you don’t need to do it at all!) But if you’re looking for some tips on how to change things up after the sun goes down, hopefully you’ve found this post helpful. I’m here for you, day or night, if you have questions.
Some makeup products become instant classics, and Charlotte Tilbury’s nude pink lipliner, Pillow Talk, is one of them. The color is gorgeous on many different skintones, and if you don’t believe me, check out the “See it on your skintone” section of this page.
Something about the smooth-but-not-slippery and waxy-but-not-overly-so formulation allows this lipliner to glide over the lips perfectly. For whatever reason, that consistency also allows you to (slightly, please) overdraw the lips without being as obvious as other lipliners. It’s also waterproof and long-lasting, because who wants to worry about touchups?
My favorite way to wear it is as a lipstick. I line and fill in my lips with it, then top it with some clear lip balm. I like the color of Pillow Talk so much that I’d rather not hide it under a lipstick. I do realize Charlotte makes a Pillow Talk lipstick, but I’ve seen it and it looks different than the liner, so I’m sticking with my liner.
The nude pink shade works well with a lot of lipstick colors, so it’s a versatile liner if your lipsticks range from nude pink to pinky nude (aka all of your lipsticks are basically the same shade). It also works great under mid-tone pinks, and if you have a nude that is too brown or beige, if you layer Pillow Talk under it, it will warm up the lipstick.
I always think of Pillow Talk Lip Cheat as the makeup equivalent of that simple but perfect casual outfit that everyone has. The one that isn’t necessarily a show stopper but looks great every time. For me, that’s skinny jeans, a plain white tank top and neon pink Old Navy sandals in the summer, and black skinny jeans, a fitted white t-shirt, a tan long cardigan and black wedge boots in the cold months. (Of course I have two.) Both Pillow Talk and my favorite casual outfits make me feel pretty, but not too done up.
It’s $22, which might seem like a lot when compared to some other lipliners, but it is really good. And it will last you a long time, so that’s worth something too. It’s vegan, paraben-free, sulfate-free and not tested on animals, so nothing to feel bad or be concerned about! If you’re looking for a new liner that will work well with a variety of lipsticks as well as on its own, consider Pillow Talk.
I like the construct of seasons. (Have you ever heard anyone say that?) I don’t care for the fact that the weather gets cold during some of the seasons in most parts of the country, but I like the idea of having time split into four sections based around Mother Nature. As as a business owner, I never know what day it is, so if I at least know what season we are in, I feel like I have some kind of grasp on life.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen the silly little “Look Forward” lists I do for each season. Those started before I spent my winters in Charleston, SC. When I lived in RI year-round, I dreaded the cold weather months. So in 2016, I decided to write a list of things to look forward to that winter–trips, comedy shows, events–on a whiteboard I would see every time I opened the door to my apartment. I thought that would help dull my despair when it was icy and frigid and I was cursing my ancestors for leaving the warmth of Italy to migrate to America and settle in the Northeast.
However, I’m not one to just look forward to things but not appreciate them when they are happening. No, ma’am. I’ve read too much Eckhart Tolle to do that. I like to take it a step further and not only be thankful for the good things, but learn from and be thankful for them. And that’s where my “Favorites” posts come in. I like to share the things I’ve been loving, as the things I love–whether they are actual objects, shows, new habits, exercises, etc.–make my life better by either making it easier or making it more joyful, and I thought maybe you could benefit from them too.
That was one hell of an intro, wasn’t it? Now we can proceed.
First-Thing Teeth Brushing. I’d like to think I’m great with my chompers. I get cleanings every five months, I brush for the suggested two minutes each time and I always brush after drinking coffee or any other known teeth stainers. Until recently, I did my first teeth brushing of the day after I drank my coffee each morning to help prevent coffee stains on my teeth. But my cousin, St. Maria–who has given me loads of great beauty and life advice–told me it’s better to make brushing be the absolute first thing you do after waking up. It’s like wake and bake, but for your teeth. Brushing and rinsing out your mouth straight away removes the bacteria and plaque that builds up overnight. Not only is getting that out of your mouth first thing good for your teeth, but good for your system (so you’re not swallowing the bacteria). So now I brush as soon as I get out of bed and again after coffee and breakfast. I use an electric toothbrush and my teeth are too sensitive to use it twice in a short period of time (morning and night is fine though), so I turn it on for my first brushing and keep it off for my second brushing.
I’ve also learned that you should wait 30 minutes after drinking coffee to brush your teeth, as coffee temporarily softens the enamel, so similar to the skin’s acid mantle, it needs time to re-build itself or it can get softened more by the brushing. If any dentists or dental hygienists have input on this, I’d love to hear it. Until then, I’m sticking with my new routine.
Bumping Mics with Jeff Ross & Dave Attell on Netflix. My love for comedy is no joke. I go to as many comedy shows as I can, and there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t watch a comedy special or a video comedy podcast. Even the last three books I read were written by comics (Patton Oswalt, Demetri Martin and Sebastian Manascalco). I’ve become a bit of a comedy snob–if I’m watching a special from a new comic and they don’t make me laugh within the first 15 minutes, I turn it off–but I really appreciate the seasoned pro comics.
So when Bumping Mics hit Netflix, I knew it would be good. I mean, Jeff Ross and Dave Attell? These guys are veteran comics. The show exceeded my expectations and had me laughing out loud. During each set, they’re on stage together, roasting each other and the drop-in guests (like Amy Schumer, Paul Rudd and Bruce Willis), and it’s hilarious. The title comes from how they bump each other’s mics when the other person says something really funny. I binged all three episodes and I wish there were 50 more. If you need a good laugh from two guys who know exactly what they’re doing, check out this show.
Insight Timer App. I know, I know–I’ve said many times in this very blog that meditation is not for me. And I still don’t enjoy doing it on my own, but after several months of health issues that some of the doctors I went to said were probably caused by stress, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give meditation another try. (I’m quite certain my health issues were not caused by stress, for the record. Because as I kept telling everyone I AM NOT STRESSED.) I had a feeling I’d do better with guided meditation, so that’s the route I went.
Part of my health issues include frequent heart palpitations/heart racing, which I know can be related to anxiety (but in my case are likely tied to the middle ear infection I’ve had since October). Even though my palpies and heart racing bouts are positional and don’t come on when I’m feeling a little stressed or anxious, I figured even if meditation didn’t help with those, it would be a good thing to do anyway.
I started with the Headspace app, which I liked but didn’t love. Hatch Tribe founder, Hilary Johnson, recommended Insight Timer to me and I like it a lot better. I loved their Intro course, and I like that they have a variety of free categorized meditations for stress, sleep, anxiety, fear, etc. My heart is still actin’ a fool, but I do feel like I’ve been more patient lately. Maybe that’s because I don’t get the opportunity for road rage, or because of my shorter work weeks (more on that below), but think this app gets some credit too. Thanks, Hilary!
Washer/Dryer Combo. During my last snowbird winter in Charleston, I only filled up my gas tank twice in the entire three months I was in town. And most of my mileage was from driving to a laundromat I liked, 20 minutes away in Isle of Palms. So when I saw that my new apartment had a washer/dryer combo, I thought, Do I even need to bring my car? I decided not to bring it, and it’s been working out fine (more on that below). And this washer/dryer combo thing is working out even better. Sure, it takes twice as long as your traditional separate washer and dryer situation, but it eliminates the need to take laundry out of the washer and put it into the dryer. You can also set it to just do a wash, if you’re like me and have clothes you don’t dry because you don’t want them to shrink and make you feel like you’ve gained weight. When I do a load of laundry that also goes in the dryer, I just set it and forget it. (That tagline isn’t already taken, right?) I love not having to stop what I’m doing to move a bunch of stuff from one machine to another machine. It’s small and efficient (since you don’t have to transfer from washer to dryer), and those are words people use to describe me, so I feel like it’s my kindred spirit of appliances.
BumbleBFF. Y’all know about Bumble, right? (“Yes!,” said all my single ladies. “You mean like the bee?,” said my marrieds.) They have the dating app, which I have used, but that’s not what I love. What I love is the BumbleBFF part of the Bumble app. It’s the same swipe-right-if-you’re-into-them-left-if-you’re-not thing, but it’s for women who want to make some new friends, and I don’t mean “friends” in that wink-wink way. I’ve found that during college and when I was working at different schools/offices/restaurants, it was easy to make friends. There was almost always someone who I clicked with, and we automatically had something in common. But once I graduated college and no longer had tons friends living in my dorm or near my apartments, and after I became a solopreneur whose only coworkers are Coffee, Laptop and Phone, things changed. I’ve still retained a lot of my friendships from college and my pre-AB Beauty years, and I’ve made some great friends since, but many of them don’t even live in the same state as me, nevermind the same town.
I went on BumbleBFF in January 2017, at the start of my first Charleston winter. I met up with three potential new gal pals that winter, and one of them became my one of my closest friends. I’ve met up with a couple more this winter, and I can see a real friendship coming out of at least one of them. Thanks to Hatch Tribe, I already have more friends in Charleston than I do in Newport, but you can never have enough friends, right?
Like any kind of people-meeting app, you’ll have more people to swipe through in a bigger city. There aren’t a ton of people on BumbleBFF in Charleston, but there were maybe two when I looked in Newport, where the population is much smaller. So I think the chances of meeting a friend from BumbleBFF here are higher than if I lived in a smaller place, but I can see this app being especially helpful for those who live in big cities.
My Charleston Work Schedule. I used to hate deep winter–aka the months of January, February and March–but now those three months are some of my favorite months of the year, thanks to my Charleston Winters. Not only do I love my Charleston Winters because I love Charleston, its warmer climate and my friends here, but it’s the time of year when my workweek gets cut almost in half because I don’t take many clients, train makeup artists or work on set here.
It feels like heaven to only work 40ish hours a week, sometimes less. It’s a busy time of year for me with wedding bookings and trial scheduling (we easily get double or triple the amount of inquiries between January – March than we do between June – August), but I can usually get that work done in a normal-length workday. The lack of weddings, trials, shoots and trainings also gives me more time to work on the big picture stuff for my business. AND it gives me more time to have a personal life too, which can be challenging during the rest of the year when I’m so friggin’ busy.
While I’m still as responsive as I am the rest of year during my Charleston Winters, things move a little slower here, and I like that. I don’t feel so crunched for time every day. I’m more relaxed because my workweek is much shorter. I sometimes feel a little guilt about that, but I can usually push it away with grits and 65 degree winter days. I have yet to take a full day off since I started AB Beauty, so these Charleston Winters are probably essential for my health (and sanity).
Blue Light Blocking Glasses. We’ve all heard about the blue light from computer and phone screens, right? It can cause damage to the eyes and has been known to disrupt sleep. I log in a lot of screen time, and I’ve noticed that it does affect my sleep (I find it harder to fall asleep when I’ve been in front of the computer for hours). I also often get headaches from hours of looking at my laptop. So when a friend of mine posted about her new blue light blocking glasses, I thought, I’ll give these bad boys a try. I ordered these ones from Amazon and have been wearing them for a few days. And guess what? No headaches.
It’s hard to say if they have helped with me falling asleep, because the night time heart palpies have been keeping me up. Once those go away, I’ll be able to get a better read on if the glasses are helping with the blue light sleep disruption. Even if they’re not, $12.99 is a fair price to pay to get rid of the headaches, right? The answer is yes.
Not Having a Car. I bought my first car when I was 16. And other than freshmen year in college, when we couldn’t have cars on campus, I’ve never not had a car. I walk to most of errands in Newport–it’s not unusual for me to do 3 or 4 miles round trip when I have a lot to get done–but I need a car for most of my makeup jobs. I needed wheels my first winter in Charleston, because I lived in an apartment complex 20 minutes away from downtown that was off a highway, so it wasn’t a pedestrian-friendly area and wasn’t in walking distance of anything anyway. I lived downtown last winter and could walk to most things I wanted or needed to do, but I needed my car to get to the laundromat.
This year, I took several things into consideration before deciding if I’d even need my car. 1) The washer/dryer combo in my apartment 2) The fact there is no onsite parking at my apartment. 3) How there is no parking allowed on my street. 4) The lack of street parking in my neighborhood. 5) The annoyance of having to remember to go outside each night and put a new visitor’s pass in my car (which I had to do last winter). 6) The cost of driving down from RI and back at the end of my trip, with one hotel stay each way and flying a co-pilot friend back to RI or MA and down from RI or MA compared to the cost of one flight each way for just me and a couple suitcases.
Seeing as though I am once again downtown and can walk to a zillion places, I thought, Forget it. I left my car at my parents’ house (a win-win, since they now have a car to use if one of their’s is in the shop) and I haven’t looked back. I don’t have to worry about parking, filling up my tank, oil changes, or any maintenance or repairs. I also think I’m going to come out of this a better person, as I won’t be experiencing road rage for three months. Sure, I’m spending some cheddar on Ubers and Lyfts a few times a week, but I think it will end up being less expensive than what it would have cost for the trips to and back from Charleston. And it’s so freeing not to have to worry about a car! This was definitely one of my better decisions in life.
Blo Charleston. I like my hair and I’m happy I have it, but it’s a bitch to blowdry it straight (the only way I wear it). I only wash it once a week and while I can and do usually blow it out myself, I like to outsource the job when possible. The problem is that I don’t usually love the professional blowouts I get. Let me revise that: I don’t usually love the top part of the blowouts I get. The bottom 2/3 usually looks way better than what I could do, but the top part is often too smooth and flat for me. Because of my face shape, I like a lot of volume at the crown. My face is wider than it is long, so adding volume at the crown gives the illusion that my diamond shaped face is longer, which, trust me, is flattering. When someone gives me a silky smooth or pin straight blowout, I hate the way my face looks. (That’s also why I don’t use a flat iron.) At the same time, frizz is my nemesis so I like my blowouts to prevent or minimize the frizz without compromising the volume I want. That’s a tall order, huh?
Luckily, like any good Southern city, Charleston has a few blowout bars. I wanted to try one in walking distance of my house, so I chose Blo at 430 King Street, and I’m very happy that I did. Shayla has done my hair twice and she is awesome. She listened to everything I said at my first appointment, and I left there with the perfect blowout. I had volume at the crown, big curls at the ends and no frizz. Shayla answered all of my questions about which products to use and she said she would record it all in my file. And she did, because when I went back the second time, she gave me the same perfect blowout without me saying anything. She’ll be sick of seeing my diamond shaped face by the end of winter, but I’m so glad I found Shayla and Blo.
This Hamstring Stretch. A few months ago, I was having pain while running. Every time I stepped down, I felt a jolt of pain in my right foot. My family chiropractor, Dr. Pete, fixed me and I was able to get back into my marathon-like running routes (just kidding, more like two miles) the next day. He said that part of my problem was that my hamstrings were tight, so he told me to get some rope and do this hamstring stretch every day. It was hard to do at first, but I’ve noticed a difference since I started. Ten reps on each leg every day keeps the foot pain away.
The Fix on Netflix. Yes, another comedy show on Netflix. It’s not a standup special though–it’s a panel show hosted by British comic, Jimmy Carr. Every episode features comics D.L. Hughley and Katherine Ryan, as well as two guest comics. They break off into two teams to debate and come up with a (usually joking) solution to hot topic issues. Then the live studio audience votes for the solution they like best, and the winning team gets…nothing.
I laughed out loud–a lot–at every episode of The Fix. I think it was one of the funniest shows–including standup specials–to hit Netflix in 2018. Every guest was hilarious, and I wish this could be a weekly show. I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but I already want to go re-watch it. If you have any sense of humor at all, you’ll love it too.
White Noise Machine. In 2010, I moved into a third floor apartment in Newport. My second floor neighbor was an elderly night owl gentleman who loved watching The History Channel. Why do I know so much about him? Because on my first night there, he had his television on alllllll night, turned up so loud that I could hear every word on every show about wars that he watched. It didn’t take me long to buy a sound machine to (try) to block out my forced nocturnal history lessons. The machine I bought had a few options: Rain, Rainforest, Beach, White Noise and Heartbeat. Rainforest and Beach had too many annoying bird sounds, and White Noise sounded scratchy. The ominous thumping of Heartbeat would surely make me dream of murderers, so my only option was Rain.
That was almost a decade ago, and I still have to sleep with some kind of non-History Channel sound on. I downloaded the Relax Rain app a while back because I got sick of bringing my sound machine (when I love something I love it) every time I had to sleep somewhere else. Relax Rain is a good app, but sometimes it doesn’t block out noise as much as an actual sound machine.
When I moved into my Charleston apartment this year, I discovered I have a loud upstairs neighbor (or did at first). Relax Rain wasn’t cutting it and my sound machine is packed in my storage unit, so I did some research and discovered this white noise machine. It’s got 20 white noise and fan sounds, so there’s something for all of my fellow light sleepers and HSPs out there. I (thank the Lord) have not heard any thumping around from the upstairs neighbors since I got the white noise machine, but I have used it to block out the construction sounds from my across-the-yard neighbor’s house, and it’s working surprisingly well. I now prefer white noise to rain sounds, which I didn’t expect. What can I say? I’m always evolving.
Fleet Feet. If you are a hardcore runner like me (I joke, I joke), you have to wear good sneakers. I’ve worn crap sneakers in the past and ended up with foot pain, back pain, knee pain, and of course, blisters. A few years back, I found a pair of Asics that I loved, and I kept buying the same ones each time I wore out a pair. When I went to buy them last summer, I was told they had been discontinued. I bought what was supposed to be the most comparable pair, but they were wack. My toe busted through the top after only two months–it usually takes about a year for me to wear them out that much–but worse than that, they were squeaky. Each step I took, squeak, squeak. It was embarrassing!
I threw the squeaky sneaks out and asked around for a good sneaker shop in the Charleston area. Several people directed me to Fleet Feet in Mt. Pleasant, and I’m so glad that they did. Not only do I love my new, quiet kicks, but the whole experience was great. Chris H. greeted me soon after I walked in and explained the process. He had me take off my shoes and socks and walk about 10 feet (I don’t really know how much 10 feet is, so that could be wrong) and back a couple times. Then I stepped onto a machine that scanned my feet and measured the size, width and arch of my feet. My left foot is a 5.5 and my right foot is a 5.8 and I wish I didn’t know that, but Chris said it was normal.
After my foot scan, Chris brought out three pairs of shoes for me to try. He then said I could take a little run in the parking lot to test them out, which I did. I’ve bought a lot of sneakers in my life and no one has ever suggested I run in them, so I loved that. Chris was super knowledgeable and nice, and not at all pushy, which I appreciated. My new sneakers (Nikes, because I’m mad at you, Asics) are comfortable, squeak-free and cute. I had an awesome experience at Fleet Feet and would recommend it to anyone who needs good sneakers sold by people who know what they are talking about. They have locations in most of states in the US, so just go there already.
AND NOW FOR THE OUTRO
I know it’s weird that this is a beauty blog and there is only one beauty fave in here, but I’ve been sick for a couple months so I wasn’t really in the trying-new-products mood. I’ve been feeling, if not fully human, at least halfway there lately, so I’ll make a point to review some new beauty products soon. Until then, I hope you’ve found this post helpful, or at least entertaining. And if you live in an area of the country where it’s cold right now and you need something to look forward to, there are only 62 days left until spring!