Life Lessons From A Small-Sized Adult: Part One

On my birthday this past week, holding my fruit salad birthday cake. If you eat regular birthday cake, you don’t know what you’re missing.

This week, I officially entered my late 30s. That seems weird. I mean, I’m happy I’m here, but wasn’t I just in college? What’s that now? I graduated 15 years ago? And Method Man is 48 years old? We must be in some kind of time warp.

I feel like I’ve lived several different lifetimes. I went through childhood being shy in school but I always had several good friends and an imagination that was mayyyyybe on the overactive side. Middle school and high school Allison had very low self confidence, a strong love of hip hop and lot of crushes on bad boys. College Allison started out excited but unsure of herself and left with a little confidence, a 3.8 GPA, lots of stories of bad boys disguised as good guys, and a high tolerance for Bacardi Limon. The Florida Allison (who existed for two years post-college) learned how to be completely independent–a far cry from High School Allison who wouldn’t go on errands without a friend in tow and was afraid to drive on the highway–and also how to survive hurricanes, palmetto bugs and working for companies outside of the family business. The Back to Newport/New Business Owner years brought excitement, struggle, a diagnosed gluten allergy and, you guessed it, more bad boys (but shouldn’t they just be called “assholes” after age 25?). The phase I’m in now–Established Business Owner and Working Snowbird–doesn’t always have the fun or excitement of some of the earlier years, but I’m okay with that. I don’t have time for the hangovers anyway.

I have a great life and all of my previous lifetimes brought me to this one, so I wouldn’t change any of my big life choices. I’ve learned a lot–even if it took me several versions of the same lesson to get something through my “thick skull,” as my mother would say. I have no doubt that I’ll look back at my current life when I’m in my late 40s (hopefully my Retired Business Owner and True Snowbird phase) and think Wow, there was so much I didn’t know! and probably a little Why the hell was I doing that? Maybe I’ll write a new blog post then, if blogs still exist and we are not all solely communicating via photos and likes…

Until then, I think this birthday week is a good time to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned since the early 1980s. And because I need to write to sort out my thoughts, here we are. Ready for me to drop some wisdom? You know I love to.

BEAUTY

Skincare, Skincare, Skincare. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so take care of it! I’ve learned that cleansing, moisturizing, exfoliating (if it’s not contraindicated with any prescription products in your arsenal) and using sunscreen makes a big difference. Those are the basics, and I recommend a few other things as well, but I’d be happy if you were just doing those four essentials. If you neglect your skin, it will catch up with you (remember now, I see a lot of faces and hear a lot about skincare routines or lack thereof) and it won’t be something you can solve with a serum or a facial. The biggest lesson I’ve learned with skincare is to start a routine early in life, stay consistent and spread the good word. Need some basic skincare help? Check out my routine.

Do You. As long as humans exist, there will be beauty trends. If a trend interests you, give it a try. But make no mistake–trends are not universally flattering. For example, I learned that the flat ironed-hair trend of the mid-aughts was no good on me. And if I grow out my brows to the currently popular Cara Delevingne level (something most women with Italian blood can do), they will take up way too much of my face.  I’m sure you’ve tried beauty trends that did nothing to flatter you, or even just seen one and thought “No way.” So go with what works on you, and do it proudly.

Sometimes “doing you” means wearing a green wig when everyone else is wig-less.

Go Pro. There’s a lot of DYI in the beauty world. You can learn how to do your own everyday makeup, curl your own hair and paint your own nails. Maybe you’d rather not do those things yourself, so I say if it’s within the budget, outsource. But there are some things that you really should see a pro for. Unless you 100% know what you’re doing, any hair removal methods other than shaving and tweezing are better off left to the pros. (And with brow tweezing, I would recommend getting your brows professionally shaped first, then following that shape to upkeep.) I also recommend keeping hair coloring–especially if it involves bleach–the domain of licensed cosmetologists. If you are going to use any skincare devices at home, either really make sure you know what you are doing (read the instructions, check reviews and watch tutorials) or leave that one to your esthetician or dermatologist. I’ve seen paper thin nails, extremely damaged hair, and burns and scars on the face from people who didn’t know what they were doing. I don’t want that to happen to you.

FAMILY

Show ‘Em Love. In my book, family members are there to support each other. To me, that means things like going to graduations and career awards ceremonies, offering rides to the airport, visiting when a baby is born, etc. I know it’s tough and my wedding weekend schedule means I personally miss a lot of stuff, but I go to what I can and try to make up for what I have to skip. If you have a strained relationship with a relative, I understand that this may not be something you’re comfortable with. But with those you are on good terms with, showing up and being there can mean a lot.

Be Grateful. Even if you only have one relative, you still have one more than some people. And family doesn’t have to be people that are related to you. Sometimes blood isn’t thicker than water, and the people you consider to be family may not be in the strictest sense of the word. Whoever your family is, I’ve found that it’s good to take time to really be thankful for them. I think people who have encountered the loss or a near loss of a loved one really understand how lucky we are for each day we have someone in our lives. It’s easy to take it for granted until someone is no longer around, or until they get the kind of news that could mean they might not be for long. Having had some losses and some scary times (my mother had brain cancer and my father had pancreatic cancer), I really do treasure every moment I have with the people I love. When I’m in a bad mood or throwing myself a pity party, I think Snap out of it, Allison. Look how lucky you are to have your family. It usually works, but sometimes I have to really push myself out of the crap mood into gratitude. But once I do, I feel much better. Might be worth giving this tactic a try. You have nothing to lose!

Even though they eat lobster and pieces come flying at me when I’m just trying to eat my salad in peace, I’m still grateful for them every day.

No One Is Perfect. Everyone has their flaws. I’ve seen families split apart over inheritances, differences in child-rearing, even disagreements from 20 years before that no one can even really remember. If someone does something truly wrong or is abusive, that’s one thing. But an offhand comment about someone’s dress color at Christmas in 1992? Seems a little much to sever ties over. The anger, sense of being wronged and grudges that people can hold and build up throughout the years likely does more damage to the hold-er than the hold-ee. I once got upset with one of my cousins for a stupid guy situation in my 20s, and didn’t talk to her for several months. Then I watched a big family drama unfold about something else, and it split part of my family up. I personally thought what they were fighting about and how much energy they put towards it was crazy, and it made me realize that I didn’t want to cut my cousin out of my life. So I called her to talk it out, and we got past it. And I’m so glad I did that, because we have always been close and I would have really been missing out on an important relationship in my life if I stopped talking to her all those years ago.

FRIENDSHIPS

Stay In Touch. Friendships, like any other relationship, take some effort. I consider myself lucky because I have a lot of great friends, but I do put in the effort to get together if we live in the same part of the country (or meet up with them if they are taking a trip to anywhere near me if not). I try to email/call/text (depending on what they seem to prefer) to wish them a happy birthday, see how their new job is or just say hi. I know we are all busy and it can be tough to find the time, but I’ve found that staying in touch with my friends show them that I care. Having friends makes my life better and more enjoyable, so it’s 1000000% worth the effort.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes. When I’m talking to a friend, I tailor what I say to them in a way that I think will be best received. Some friends like brutal honesty, others need a lot of sugarcoating, and some are in the middle. When I’m having a conversation or texting with one of my homegirls or homeboys, I take into consideration their past and what they may be sensitive to, and then I tread carefully in certain areas. I’ve also learned to identify which friends like advice (more on that next), which ones like to vent, and which ones don’t like to talk about what’s bothering them at all.  I also try to think about their lives and what their days tend to be like. For example, between 7:00pm – 8:00pm seems to be bedtime for a lot of my friends’ kids, so I try not to bother my mom friends during that time. Or if I know someone is planning a big event or project for work, or if a certain time of month tends to be crazier for them with their job, I realize I might not hear back from them during that time, or it’s going to be tough for them to get together while that’s going on. I’ve learned that part of being a good friend is being understanding of where someone is coming from and how that might impact your interactions with them.

I don’t call these two mamas on my right between 7:00pm – 8:00pm.

Lend An Ear. A psychic once told me that I’m a “Wisdom Talker,” which means I give good advice. And I’m not bragging, but several non-psychic people have also told me I give good advice. If that’s true, I think it’s because I try to learn from my experiences and the experiences of everyone I know, and pull from that when someone is in need of guidance. But I try not to force my advice on anyone. Sometimes I can’t help it and it comes out before I’ve had time to tell myself to shut up, but I really try to remember to ask a friend first if they want input. Sometimes people just want to vent, and that’s okay. If a friend doesn’t say some version of “What do you think I should do?” but they seem like they might want my input, I’ll say “Do you want my advice or just want me to listen?” Takes the guessing right out and puts you both on the same conversational page.

HEALTH

Pay Attention. If I notice a change in the way something on my body looks or feels, or a change in how I feel in general, I make a doctor’s appointment. I don’t do that thing where I ignore it and hope it goes away, like I used to do with weird sounds my car was making. Early detection makes a world of a difference with a lot of diseases and disorders, so why wouldn’t I get something checked out? We only get one body, and the owner’s manual (fine, I’ll write it) repeatedly says to be aware of any changes and make sure someone who knows what they are doing does a check up for you. I am super aware of my body and any changes, and if I can’t figure out what is causing them, I go see my doctor. I don’t go for every tiny thing, but if I can’t trace it back (i.e. migraines every day for a week versus headaches at night only after working on my laptop for 14 hours), I make that appointment. I don’t want this to be a lesson I don’t learn until it’s too late.

Be Proactive. If you fuel your body with crap food, it will catch up with you. If you don’t consistently move your body, it will catch up with you. If you worry and stress about friggin’ everything, it will catch up with you. I’ve learned these lessons the hard way, y’all. We only get one body, so I say, treat it right. What you do to your body in your 20s, 30s and 40s will likely affect the person you are in your 50s, 60s and 70s. If you eat lots of sugar, overdo it with the booze, stress yourself out on the daily and exercise only for that one week each year after New Year’s Day, your body will pay for it. And it may pay for it much sooner than you think. We have this awesome opportunity to take care of ourselves and likely prevent some health issues from occurring. I’m not saying never have a doughnut or skip a workout, and I’m certainly not implying that you should not allow yourself to be in a shit mood once in a while. But what you consistently eat now can help cause–or help prevent–future issues. Whether or not you consistently exercise now will make an impact on you. And how much you stress or don’t stress affects things too. Some of what happens to our bodies is out of our control, but a lot of it is in our control. I’ve found that taking responsibility for what I put in my body, how much I move my body and the level of stress I put myself under has made a huge difference in how I look, feel and how I approach life.

I was eating a lot of sugar and drinking too many martinis in my early 20s, and I regularly felt like crap. Who knows where I’d be today if I kept that up!

Thank Your Lucky Stars. If you’re healthy right now, be grateful! If you’re reading this, you have your eyesight, which some people would kill for. If you can hear car horns beeping/your neighbor’s dog barking/your coworker loudly chewing, you’ve got your hearing, which many people have lost or never had. If you didn’t have to get dialysis this week or go in for another heart procedure, you’re lucky. You feel me? I think that sometimes we (and I’m absolutely including myself in this category) forget how fortunate we are to live a life unencumbered with major health issues. It’s the “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” thing. Having watched people close to me go through various illnesses and disorders has helped me realize how lucky I am to have my health. I think that gratitude, in combination with being aware of changes and taking care of myself gives me at least an A- in the Health category.

Well, this seems long enough for Part 1. I’m not trying to “should” you or give you a list of Do’s and Don’ts because really, who am I to tell you how to live? But I think in my nearly four decades on this planet, I’ve learned some stuff. Maybe it will help you, maybe you can relate, or maybe you think everything I said is wrong, impossible or not your style. And that’s cool, but I would avoid Part 2 if that’s how you feel…

I have a good life and I think learning these lessons along the way is part of what has helped me love my life. I know I have a lot more to learn, and some of the upcoming lessons will be painful, sad or maddening. But as long as I don’t go back to bad boys, I think I’ll be fine.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Wedding Hair & Makeup Trial Prep Tips

Our goal at AB Beauty? To make your wedding day hair and makeup perfect. We recommend doing a trial if at all possible. Photo: LoveDays Photography Hair: Emily Buffi for Allison Barbera Beauty Makeup: Allison Barbera

Getting married? Congratulations! If you’re getting your hair and makeup professionally done–which I advise, but you might say I’m biased–I recommend doing a hair and makeup trial if your schedule allows. A trial will give you the chance to figure out your wedding hair and makeup looks before the big day, which means one less thing you have to worry about when you’re getting hitched.

At AB Beauty, we want you to have a successful trial. We are set on you walking out loving your look almost as much as you love your fiance(e). There are some things you can do before and during your trial to help ensure that you are happy with your hair and makeup. These are the things we recommend at AB Beauty, so if you have a trial scheduled with a different company, I suggest checking with them as they might have their own recommendations. But I think a lot of these tips are pretty general ones that most beauty service companies would agree with.

MAKEUP TRIAL

Slough It Off. If you are not on a prescription retinoid or anything else that is contraindicated with exfoliation, exfoliating your skin the morning of your trial will allow your makeup to apply more smoothly by eradicating some or all dry patches. (Even better if you get into the routine of regular exfoliation in the weeks leading up to your trial and your wedding day.) Exfoliation will also help give you a glow, as it removes the dead skin cells who are chillin’ on the surface of your skin and causing dullness.

(Don’t) Pick Your Battles. Got a blemish? LEAVE IT ALONE. Most people don’t know how to do extractions without damaging the skin and causing scarring, which is Reason #1. Reason #2 is that that pick, pick, picking causes texture in the skin, and makeup can’t cover texture. If you’ve dug your little fingernail down a few layers of skin to try to get rid of a blemish, you’ve exposed skin that makeup can not cover. And my guess is that you’ll be disappointed that your makeup artist can’t cover that, even though it’s impossible for them to. So do your skin and your makeup artist a favor and don’t pick.

Don’t do it!

Wipe Out. At AB Beauty, we ask that clients arrive at their makeup trial with no makeup on. We realize that sometimes people are coming straight from work or from other wedding vendor appointments and may not feel comfortable going barefaced all day. That’s understandable! But using a makeup wipe right before the trial–which a lot of people do–can leave makeup remover residue on the skin. That residue can interfere with makeup. Using a cleanser instead of a makeup wipe before your appointment is preferred, but if you have to use a wipe, splashing some water on your face after you use it will help remove some of the residue.

Time It Right. If you need to use a moisturizer, serum or any other skincare product the day of the trial, I suggest that you do so at least two hours before your makeup trial so that the product has had time to absorb. Some skincare products leave a film on the skin until they are absorbed, and that film can interfere with makeup. That means your primer, foundation, concealer or powder may not apply evenly, and who wants that?

Find Your Inspo Pic Cousin: Part 1. When you’re looking for inspiration pictures of makeup looks, try to find pictures of models or celebrities who are similar to you in terms of eye color, skintone, hair color and eye shape/size. I always suggest choosing pictures of people who look like they could be your cousin. If you have small hooded blue eyes, fair skin and blonde hair and your inspo pics are all of Mila Kunis or Kim Kardashian, the makeup they are wearing is going to look completely different on you. Not only does choosing the right kind of picture help your makeup artist, but it helps you more easily envision what that makeup would look like on you.

HAIR TRIAL

Prep School. What you do to your hair prior to your trial can impact how much you like your finished trial style. It varies by hair stylist, but some prefer their clients to wash their hair the day or night before the trial, while others are fine with hair that is washed and dried that morning. Some hair stylists prefer to do a blowout on their client prior to styling, while others want the hair to be 100% dry by the trial start time. If you have naturally curly hair and the style you want for your wedding day requires straight hair or hair that has a looser curl than you naturally have, your hair stylist may want you to come to the trial with your hair blown out, or they may want to do a blowout on you. If the hair stylist you are doing your trial with doesn’t specifically tell you (or have it listed on their website) how to prep your hair for the trial, I definitely recommend asking them.

Can I Get An Extension On That? If you read my last post, you know how ubiquitous hair extensions are in photoshoots of all kinds. There’s a good chance that those pictures you’re Pinning are mostly of models with hair extensions. If you’re wondering if you might need them for the style you want to try at your trial, check with your hair stylist. If they say that you should get extensions, your hair stylist should be able to recommend the brand(s) they like for clip-in extensions (which is what most of the AB Beauty brides use, as they can be taken out after the trial and at the end of the wedding night).

Say Yes To The Dress First. If you haven’t yet chosen your dress, I suggest waiting to do your hair trial. It’s hard to choose a wedding day hair style if you don’t know the cut and style of your dress. For example, you may have pictured wearing your hair down, but then you get a dress with a beautiful back that you want to show off, and the best way to do that is with an updo. Pretty much every bride we have ever done a hair trial for who didn’t have her dress chosen yet has come back to do a second trial after she had her dress. We’re happy to do two trials, but do you have time for that? And is it in your budget? Something to think about when it comes time to schedule your trial.

Have a dress with a gorgeous back? You may want to consider an updo. Photo: Ludwig Photography Hair: Ann Best for Allison Barbera Beauty

Find Your Inspo Pic Cousin: Part 2. When you’re looking for hair inspo pics, it’s best to look for models with similar hair color, thickness and length to your’s. I think color is the biggest factor (unless you plan on making a big color change before your wedding), as you could have two people with the same length and thickness, but if one was blonde and one was brunette, the same style would look different on both. The lighter the hair, the more detail you can see. If a blonde model has an updo with braids and twists, you’ll see those more than you would on a model with brown hair. Thickness and length can be faked with extensions, but if you are not going to wear extensions–which is fine!–keep in mind that your fine, shoulder length hair is not going to look the same as the model in your favorite picture who has thick, mid-back length hair (whether it’s natural or not).

FOR BOTH HAIR & MAKEUP TRIALS

Narrow It Down. At AB Beauty, we strongly suggest coming in with a hair style and/or makeup look in mind. We always say that it’s hard to make a client happy if they don’t know what they want. So look for inspo pics, think back to other times you’ve had your hair and/or makeup done to remember what you did and didn’t like and look at pictures of others wearing wedding dresses similar to your’s if that helps. I guarantee you already have some hair and makeup preferences, so work those into your desired look and share those all with your hair stylist and/or makeup artist.

Stay In The Zone. In some parts of life, it’s good to really go out of your comfort zone. But at your trial, straying too far out of the zone may not be the best idea. For example, if you are someone who always wears their hair down and hates how it looks in a ponytail, an updo probably isn’t the best idea. But if you are someone who can not stand hair in their face or the feeling of it on their neck, consider an updo or half up style. For makeup, your wedding makeup is probably going to be more than you are used to wearing on a daily basis, as it needs to both last and be enough to show up in photos. But that doesn’t mean you need to do something drastically different from your every day makeup. If you normally wear a pinky nude lip color, there’s one that will work with your wedding makeup. Or if you always wear a winged liner, you’re probably going to feel naked without it, so that can be incorporated into your look. There may be some adjustments needed to make your look more photo-friendly, wedding-appropriate and long-lasting, but you don’t have to go with a look you don’t like because you think it’s what you are supposed to wear.

Speak Up. If you don’t like something during your wedding trial, let your hair stylist or makeup artist know. They can’t fix what they aren’t aware of. If that blush is too pink for your taste, say it. If the bun placement is too high, let ’em know. Don’t be afraid of offending someone. They (hopefully) just want you to leave happy. I’ve gotten pretty good at sensing if someone sees something they don’t love when they look in the mirror, but there have been other times when I’m surprised by post-trial feedback because nothing was said during the trial. At AB Beauty, we always ask people if they are 100% happy with their look, and we dig deep if we sense hesitation when they say “Yes.” But it helps you and your makeup artist and/or hair stylist if you communicate if you want to adjust something at your trial.

Aren’t loving something at your trial? Don’t be shy about saying that. At AB Beauty, we want you to be as happy as this beautiful bride. Photo: Adeline & Grace Photography Hair: Kerri Bakalakis for Allison Barbera Beauty Makeup: Allison Barbera

Resist The Peer Pressure. Some people bring guests with them to their trial, sometimes just for company and other times for a second (and third…and fourth) opinion. If you do that, keep in mind that you can value their input without having to cave into what they want to see on you. Sometimes a mother or aunt or Maid of Honor will try to talk a bride into a hair style or makeup look they think the bride should wear, and that might be something the bride doesn’t like. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a bride try a pink lipstick her sister loves (when the bride really wants a berry lip) or an updo (when the bride’s inspo pics are all beachy waves down styles) because her future mother-in-law insists that it will look best. In those cases, I can tell the bride isn’t happy. At AB Beauty, we listen to what the bride tells us she wants, but if she agrees to do what someone else wants to see and tells us that’s absolutely the look she wants to try, we have to do that. We have our little ways and things we can say to try to get more into the lane of what the bride really wants, but a strong opinion or three can steamroll us. So if you’re bringing an entourage to your trial, you’ll likely be happiest with your hair and makeup looks if you take the reins.

I hope this has been helpful! I want you to love your wedding hair and makeup trial looks, whether you are working with AB Beauty or any other company. Comment away with any questions, brides-to-be.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

The Brutal Truth: The Beauty Edition

Get yourself ready! I have some brutal truths to share. Photo by Roberto Delgado Webb on Unsplash

The beauty industry. You’ve heard of it, right? It’s a $57 billion industry in the US, and $445 billion globally. So, you know, it has some impact. This industry provides products and service providers who can help people look and feel better, but it’s also chock full of deception. I’m here to break through some of that deception and tell you what’s really up.

HAIR (I’ve learned most of this from AB Beauty hair stylists)

Mo’ Hair, Less Problems. Chances are that majority of the models and celebrities in pictures you’ve pinned and liked are wearing hair extensions, and lots of them. But unless you naturally have a ton of hair, it’s impossible for a hair stylist to recreate a hair style from one of those pictures unless you are also wearing extensions. Extensions aren’t just for length–they add fullness to a look. And a lot of the looks you might like–even if they don’t seem to be especially voluminous–require more hair than most people naturally have. This is an important one to keep in mind when showing inspiration pictures of styles or haircuts you like to a hair stylist.

She’s So One Sided. Here’s a little secret: hair done at a styled shoot isn’t always completely done. So if you see a picture of a hair style you love from a photoshoot, it’s possible that just the front was done. Not only might the back of the hair be a mess, but it could be styled in a way that would make the front of the hair look fabulous but unattainable without the back looking horrible. You follow me? It’s hidden hair deception at its finest.

I bet you $57 billion there was a hair stylist on set to do touchups after this shot. Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

That’s Messed Up. I don’t know who started this trend, but about five years ago, messy/undone looks became all the rage. And I get it. You’re talking to a girl who likes some messy makeup. Hair that is too polished or structured may not be your thing, while messy styles look more effortless and in some people’s eyes, more current. But here’s the thing about messy looks–they get more and more messy as the day goes on. That’s not a problem if you’re on set with a hair stylist who is standing by to do touchups as needed, or you’re on the red carpet and brought your hair stylist as your date for the same reason. But if you get your hair done (or undone) at 1:00pm for a wedding or event and expect it to look the same seven hours later, you’re in for a surprise. Hair moves throughout the day, unless you stand completely still, encounter no wind and don’t let anyone hug you. Basically, mannequins who stay out of the elements and hate affection are the only ones who might be the exception to this rule.

FACE

Long Lash-ed. Most pictures that people show me of makeup looks they like show models or celebrities that are wearing false lashes or have lash extensions. And that’s great–I’ve got plenty of false lashes to go around! (Although you’ll need to see a lash tech for extensions.) In some photos, the model or celebrity is wearing two sets of false lashes, which the average “I don’t really wear makeup” person would likely find very heavy. There are some people whose natural lashes look like false lashes, but they are few and far between. So for most of us to get that long, dark and full lash, it requires false lashes or lash extensions.

Those are strip lashes, and don’t let anyone tell you they are not. Photo by Jacob Postuma on Unsplash

An Uplifting (Untrue) Message. As we age, our collagen and elastin naturally deplete, which causes skin to sag. Sun exposure can expedite this process, as UVA rays break down collagen. Facial fat loss–either the kind that happens with age or the kind that happens from whole body weight loss at any age–can also cause sagging. Prescription retinoids can help increase the production of collagen, but when it comes to significant skin sagging or jowls, you’re going to have to bring in the big guns (dermatologists and plastic surgeons) to tighten up that area. Here’s what won’t work: a $12 drugstore serum, and or any skincare product that claims it can lift sagging skin, and quickly! There’s also not much makeup can do in this arena. Some contouring can help make the sagging or jowls a little less noticeable, and drawing attention to other parts of the face where sagging is not present is a good diversion tactic, but don’t expect miracles from a makeup artist here.

Where The Hood At? (Props if you got that DMX reference.) Hooded eyes are common, and there are makeup looks you can do that look great on them. But all eye shapes have their limitations in terms of what eye makeup will be most flattering. And winged liner on a hooded eye is tricky. That’s because on a hooded eye, the folds of the skin don’t allow for the placement of a smoothly drawn wing that can be seen when the eyes are open. Some eyes are partially hooded, and some more so, so it’s probably easiest if I just give you some winged liner tutorials so you can identify the eyes that are most like your’s if you have hooded lids. Here’s one for hooded and uneven eyes, one from Pixiwoos’ Sam for a cat eye for hooded lids and one from Wayne Goss about a technique for applying eyeshadow to hooded lids.

Pucker Up. Got thin lips? Welcome to the club! My upper lip is almost non-existent when I smile. While there are things you can do with makeup to make your lips look a little fuller without looking fake, they won’t have a drastic effect. Lip plumpers may claim they can do that, but they can only slightly increase your lip size, and temporarily. Fillers are the only way to really increase the size of your lips, so don’t be fooled by a well written Insta post or magazine review of a plumping product. And while you can edit out/soften the obviousness of a strongly overdrawn lip on social media, you ain’t foolin’ no one in person with that technique.

THE WHOLE SHEBANG

Ready For Your (Re)touch Up? In so many photos we see, the model has been retouched. Sometimes the retouching is stuff we can do with hair, makeup and skincare products, like taming flyaways (hairspray), making the cheeks brighter (more blush) or giving a sheen to the arms and legs (luminizing body lotion or oil). But there is a lot that retouching does that we can’t do with hair or makeup, like erasing pores and texture, smoothing over the area under the eyes so it barely looks recessed and making wrinkles disappear. I think most people look at retouched photos and think that what they’re seeing is all from makeup, so I’m here to tell you it is not.  And y’all know about the retouching you can do on Instagram and using retouching apps (Facetune, anyone?), because you’ve probably done it. So I don’t need to get into that.

Filter Through It. Instagram filters can change the way hair and/or makeup looks. Loving that certain hair color on a model? It might not look like that in person, thanks to Valencia, Nashville or Mayfair. Ditto with a bright lipstick. MAC Lady Danger, an warm orange red, can look dark red, bright orange or deep pink if you slap on a filter. If you’re looking at a hair or makeup picture on Instagram, it’s probably be retouched, filtered or both.

“Which filter should I use?,” and you know it. Photo by Chris Zhang on Unsplash

Light It Up. Good lighting makes a world of difference. It can make an okay makeup job or hair color look much better than it is. I see this a lot with makeup inspiration photos people show me. If the picture is from a celebrity in a magazine, they had professional lighting (on top of the experienced photographer, makeup artist, hair stylist and photo editor). Beauty gurus caught onto this a while ago and many use ring lights for their photos or makeup tutorials. But if the celebrity, model or guru walked into a room, you might not love their makeup or hair color as much.

The moral of the story is this: makeup artists are not plastic surgeons or dermatologists, and hair stylists can’t make you look like you have twice the amount of hair without extensions. Beauty pros also can’t follow you around with professional lighting all day (although I imagine “light follower” will become a profession in the future). And no human can do all of the things a photo editing program can do. And that’s okay! We’re humans, not robots. Who said we have to look perfect all the time? I mean, other than social media and some womens’ magazines.

If you see a hair or makeup photo you want to show your hair stylist or makeup artist for inspiration, go for it. It helps gives us an idea of what you want. And now you know what can go on before, during and after a photo is taken, and what beauty products or techniques can really do, so you’re the kind of client we love.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The Eyes Have It

Getting the eye makeup perfect on this beautiful bride. Photo: Trevor Holden Photography Makeup: Allison Barbera

Peepers: the windows to the soul. The eyes are the main focus of many of the makeup looks I do, and I think also the favorite feature for a lot of people. So today, I want to tell you about my all time favorite eye makeup products. I’m going to keep this one short and sweet so you can use it as a shopping list if you’d like. I’ve linked to the posts I’ve done about each product so you can get more details. You’re welcome!

Too Faced Shadow Insurance. The best eye primer.

Dior Diorshow Mascara. For volume, this can’t be beat.

Clinique High Impact Mascara. My go-to for adding length and inky blackness to the lashes.

MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder. Oh, you tryna get sultry? Pop this in your waterline.

Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners in Chocolate Truffle & Scotch. My bottom lashline heroes.

MAC Eyeshadows. The exact shades to use depend on your skintone, eye color and the look you are going for, but these pigmented shadows are the ones I use most on my clients and myself.

That’s a wrap on this short post. Are your (Irish or any other ethnicity) eyes smiling now? I sure hope so.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Smile Lines: The Intro

My brother and sister-in-law during my Maid of Honor speech. I’ll never be as funny as a comic, but the day I made 179 wedding guests laugh for 12 minutes will always be one of the best days of my life. Photo: Trevor Holden Photography

This is not a beauty post. I’ll be back to my usual bitching about overly retouched photos and scolding you for not properly cleansing your skin with the next post. Today, I’m going off course.

You know when you’re out on a date and the person you’re with asks “So, what do you like to do for fun?” (“Not this,” I want to say.) I hate that question, but I feel compelled to answer direct questions. It seems like these dudes are looking for me to tell them some kind of hobby, and the closest thing I have to a hobby is comedy. Going to comedy shows, watching stand up specials, listening to podcasts hosted by or with guest comics I love, reading the books they write, following them on Instagram, etc. I’ll always choose a comedy show over going to a bar or going to the movies and definitely over hiking, camping, or any of that nonsense.

I have always loved to laugh (are there people who don’t?). As a child, Comedy Central was my favorite channel. I liked funny movies the best and was an SNL fan, even if I didn’t get half of the references. I would read the George Carlin books my parents had over and over again. I was drawn to people who could make me laugh and would be psyched if I ended up in a class with the funny kid.

All of my family members have a great sense of humor. My mother is a smartass. Her sarcasm–and how she yells “You turkey!” at cars who cut her off–makes me laugh every day. My brother, Mikey B, is a quick witted boy genius with an infectious laugh. He’s so intelligent that I’d be jealous of him if it didn’t work to my advantage (I’d be lost without his sage business advice). My sister-in-law, Katelin, is the ginger version of my mom, but her smartassery has a sweeter undertone, I think because she smiles so much. Not a family dinner goes by without Katelin and my mom giving each other the finger. My Aunt Michelle is one of the creators of the Women in Comedy Festival in Boston and has done stand up herself. She is smart and funny and a super mom to four young children.

And then there’s my father, Big Ray. I’ve always been convinced that he was a court jester in a past life, but recently I decided that he is a cartoon character. The way he looks, the expressions he makes, the ridiculous things he says. I mean, look at that face! (Him opening a Father’s Day gift full of Sasquatch things.) He can’t be a real person.

things Dads say
Seems like Raymo liked his gift. Hard to tell.

We are a family who laughs. We laugh during good times, and we laugh during bad times. And we’ve certainly had some bad times.

My father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June of 2015. He went through chemo, radiation, surgery then more chemo and is now cancer-free. That’s something I’m grateful for every day in a way I can’t fully express. But the summer of his diagnosis, especially before the first scan came back and showed that the chemo was working, I was a mess. I had two modes when I wasn’t with my family: working or crying. There was no in between. I would walk around town to do errands as I usually do, crying behind my sunglasses. Whenever someone asked how my father was doing, I struggled to hold back tears.

From the initial “something’s not right” discoveries to the “the cancer is gone” appointment over a year later, I felt like I was holding my breath. I had a lot of crying sessions on the floor of my living room and my beauty studio those first few months. I was stressed–a word I do not use loosely–as I was running my business as well as part of my father’s property management business, which my brother and I had started to take over (Big Ray worked through his first chemo and radiation until surgery, then took four months off to recover and do more chemo). I’m no stranger to 14 hour work days and 7 day work weeks, but that in combination with the constant fear of what could happen made me feel like like I was being crushed.

My game plan became to distract myself as much as possible. I was able to do that when I was with clients, as I get deep in the zone when I’m doing makeup, mega focused on making the client, photographer or director happy. I’ve been a bookworm since I learned how to read, so in summer of 2015, I first tried to distract myself with reading. That didn’t work, because my mind would wander and I’d find myself staring at the same page I started on, sobbing. I felt better when I was with friends and through a couple group emails explained exactly what I was feeling and how I needed to be around people, but a lot of my friends don’t live nearby and a few just couldn’t be bothered. I don’t have a tv (and haven’t since 2003) but I do have a laptop and a solid WiFi connection, so I tried watching stuff online. I had watched YouTube makeup tutorials for years, but in summer of 2015, I started watching comedy clips on YouTube. And that is what helped me in a huge way.

I found that I couldn’t be crying while I was laughing (how weird would that be?). Even though I never cried or showed my sadness in front of my dad, I knew crying was pointless because it wasn’t doing anything to help him and was not a good look (it’s a bitch to apply eyeliner on puffy eyelids). So I tried to replace that with laughing. There were nights when I would stop work at 8:00pm, crawl into bed, and watch comedy specials for three or four hours. I eventually joined the rest of the 21st century and got Netflix where I found more comedy gold. I binge watched entire series that made me laugh–30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt–but mostly, I watched stand up specials. I didn’t want serious. I wanted funny only, and there is so much good stuff out there.

Laughter really does help. I cried less and less as the summer went on. How could I be crying when Chris D’Elia was making me laugh so hard that my downstairs neighbors could hear me? And although my father took his medicine and doctor’s instructions carefully, he was laughing (and making me laugh) every day too. He made up a song called “Chemo Man,” sung to the tune of “Piano Man,” and would call me to leave voicemails with new ridiculous verses. He had named the tumor in his pancreas the “Junior Tumor” because it was so small it barely showed up on scans, and he made up stories told from the “wimpy” tumor’s point of view. His jokes didn’t stop at home. At the hospital, protocol was to ask the patient’s name and date of birth at intake. Raymo never gave his real name. He would respond “Albert Einstein,” “Vito Corleone,” “Donald Trump,” or–and this is the one he was so proud of himself for–“Einstein Albert.” He would call me after an appointment to tell me how he made his oncologist laugh. And this was while he was going through some tough treatments, fighting a disease that killed one of his brothers and his grandfather.

Four years later, with two healthy parents (did I mention my mom had brain cancer when I was in high school?) and enough gratitude to make me borderline annoying, my comedy obsession has grown. I watch or listen to something that makes me laugh every single day, and I go to as many shows as I can. When people ask me for comic suggestions–a conversation I find myself in several times a week–I’m always ready to answer. But I don’t just mention a few names. There are too many great comics out there! I am a list maker, so that’s what they get. And that’s what you’re getting too.

Here it is!

Aparna Nancherla

Amy Schumer

Andrew Santino

Anthony Jeselnik

Bill Burr

Bobby Lee

Brent Morin

Brody Stevens*

Bryan Callen

Chris D’Elia

Christina Pazsitsky

Craig Ferguson

Daniel Tosh

Dave Attell

David Spade

Demetri Martin

Donald Glover

Fortune Feimster

Hannah Gadsby

Hannibal Buress

Hari Kondabolu

Hasan Minhaj

Jeff Ross

Jim Gaffigan

Jimmy Carr

John Mulaney

JR De Guzman

Kumail Nanjiani

Maria Bamford

Marc Maron

Mike Birbiglia

Moshe Kasher

Natasha Leggero

Nate Bargatze

Nick Swardson

Nikki Glaser

Patton Oswalt

Pete Holmes

Ricky Gervais

Ron Funches

Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Sloss

Theo Von

Tig Notaro

Todd Barry

Tom Segura

Trevor Noah

Sarah Silverman

Wanda Sykes

Zack Galifianackis

*Brody sadly passed away in March of 2019, but you can find his specials and clips of him online.

I’m no authority on comedy. I think if a comic makes you laugh, that’s awesome. If you don’t find someone funny, I’ve got some great news for you: You don’t have to watch or follow them. But don’t leave asshole comments on their social media. The people who publicly and repeatedly say a certain comic is not funny are probably the least funny people out there.

I have been writing this post for two years. Comedy is so important to me that I wanted it to be perfect before sharing this. I was originally going to give my take on each of the comics I love, but I think I’m going to split that into different posts, because I’ve got a lot more to say and this is already way too long. In the meantime, I wanted to at least give a list of my favorite comics, since I talk to everyone–friends, clients, Lyft drivers–about comedy and am constantly giving recommendations.

I don’t care about the laugh lines–I’d rather be laughing than not. I bet you didn’t expect that from a makeup artist and esthetician!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

My Spring 2019 Faves

Thinking springtime thoughts. (Also thinking how this would be a gorgeous eyeshadow color.)

New season, new faves. Let’s get right into it.

My Silk Pillowcase. Silk pillowcases are good for your hair. I’ve meant to buy one for oh, the last decade, and I finally did. I bought this floral silk pillowcase from SLPBABY recently and while I can’t tell if my hair has less breakage, it has been getting less tangled. Supposedly silk is better for your skin too, as the smooth fabric doesn’t press any fine lines in more, but I’m not convinced about that. If it is, it’s a bonus, but I’m happy with the lack of hair snarls and how pretty the pattern is.

“After Life.” Have you watched this yet??? It’s Ricky Gervais’ newish show on Netflix, and it’s as touching and deep as it is funny. I love Ricky and had been coincidentally YouTubing clips of him for a few weeks before the show came out, which is how I eventually learned about it. I’m not spoiling anything for you, but the conversation between Ricky’s character and his coworker about vegetables–specifically the potatoes part–still makes me laugh when I think about it.

DryBar Triple Sec. I’ve been casually using this hair refresher for a while but I’ve gotten more into it lately. I like the texture it gives my hair, and I like the scent (which I know is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I believe they make an unscented one now). For a once-weekly-hair-washer like myself, dry shampoos and hair refreshers are a must. In general, I tend to really like the DryBar products, but this one is my favorite. They carry the DryBar line at Sephora.

My New Crib. Sorry, you can’t buy this one anywhere, but it deserves a spot on my list. I moved out of my last RI apartment in December before my snowbird winter. I had lived there for over five years, which is longer than I had lived anywhere other than my childhood home. I found a new place in the same neighborhood, and it’s perfect. Twice the size of the apartment I moved out of, beautiful ocean views, a full sized washer and dryer and a deck that I keep forgetting I have. I’m in love.

Look at my giant bathroom! I’m thinking about putting an air mattress in there and renting it out on Airbnb.

Amy Schumer’s Special “Growing.” I’ve loved Amy forever, and her new Netflix special doesn’t disappoint. I can understand not liking a certain comic or not agreeing with a celebrity’s politics, but the amount of vitriol directed at Amy is absurd. If you don’t like, don’t follow her. It’s super easy. Amy is a great comic, naturally funny and quick. She’s got some stellar jokes in “Growing”–completely original stuff that I’ve never heard anything similar to–and I laughed out loud several times. This is a special that I’ll definitely watch again.

Sephora Collection Lip Stories in Hot in Havana. I bought this matte orange lipstick to wear on St. Patrick’s Day (obviously with green eyeshadow). I was in Sephora looking for the cheapest orange lipstick I could find, because I figured I would only wear it once. But I actually really like it! And the packaging is cute too. I think it will look good when I have a tan (of course courtesy of the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops). She’s a keeper.

Everlance App. As a business owner who travels to clients and appointments, I have to keep track of my mileage. I had always done this in an Excel spreadsheet, because that was the only option I knew of in 2008 when I started my business. In recent years, I became aware that people were using Mileage Tracker apps, but it was one of those things I kept forgetting to look into. I finally got it together and asked for recommendations in the Hatch Tribe Members Circle, and Everlance was one of those recommendations. It’s free, it’s easy and it saves time since it automatically detects your trips. A stellar app for business owners, freelancers and salespeople.

I love making these seasonal lists of the little things that have improved my beauty routine, business life or have made me laugh, and I hope you like reading them. If you don’t, what are you even doing here?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

How To Help Out The Entrepreneur in Your Life

My biggest supporters from Day 1 of my business: my father, my brother and my mother. Photo: Trevor Holden Photography

Do you have a family member or close friend who is an entrepreneur? God bless you. (Just kidding–we’re great!) If you’ve ever thought “I wonder what I can do to help them out,” other than the obvious using their services or buying their products, I’ve got some ideas.

Ready, Freddy?

Referrals. Most business owners are incredibly appreciative of referrals. Especially when someone starts out, they usually don’t have a solid client base. But if friends and family can send some clients their way, they can begin to build that base. My first few weddings were all for friends or friends of friends, and referrals (both personal and from business clients and contacts) are still a big part of my business today. If you have an entrepreneur in your life who offers a product or service you might have the chance to recommend, I can pretty much guarantee they will be grateful if you do. And all it takes on your part is passing on a company name! I have a few friends and relatives who carry some of my business cards with them in case the opportunity to refer me comes up. (How awesome are they? They get a gold star for going above and beyond.) This is a super helpful way to help out the entrepreneur in your life without making a dent in your bank account.

With three of my college friends, who have all referred clients to me.

Social Media Interaction. See a Facebook or Instagram post from your entrepreneur friend or relative that you can comment on? Doooooooo it! The current algorithms favor engagement, so comments–not likes–help a company’s posts show up to more people on Instagram and Facebook. I’m not saying you need to comment on every post, but if you see one that you can comment on, doing so will help out your boss friend. Sharing posts is another a good deed you can do as that supportive friend or relative. And it’s all free! You’re scrolling around anyway, so you might as well…

My friend, Caroline, a fellow makeup artist and esthetician, is awesome with her social media support and post sharing.

Be Understanding. Let me first say being an entrepreneur is not an excuse for bad behavior. If the boss in your life consistently breaks plans with you due to work commitments–I mean like every time–they are either bad at time management, bad at prioritizing or don’t know how to say no. Even with my seven-days-a-week-since-2008 work schedule, I still keep the majority of my personal commitments. But sometimes, I do have to cancel. I have some jobs and meetings that can only happen at a certain time and can only be done by me, and I know I’m not the only person with that problem. If you have an entrepreneur friend or relative and they occasionally have to reschedule due to one of those can’t-turn-down jobs or meetings, try to be understanding if you can. Entrepreneurs have to create their income and sometimes that means taking a client or a meeting that will bring in income, even if they’d rather be hanging out with you. The good news is that like J. Lo and her love, being understanding don’t cost a thing.

I’ve had to cancel on Alyssa and Veronica a few times due to work commitments, and they still love me. I’ll drink to that!

Ask Them What You Can Do To Help. This is easy and it takes the guesswork out. Simply ask your boss friend or relative if there’s anything you can do to help. I’m not suggesting you volunteer to be their intern, but maybe they could use your vote in a local “Best Of” contest, or would love a share of a specific post they are trying to promote. Even if they don’t have anything at the time, the fact that you would even ask will likely be greatly appreciated. Guess how many dollars that will put you back? Zip zero. Stingy with dinero. (If you got that reference, I respect you.)

Sometimes all I need is a hug from my sister-in-law ❤

Did you notice a theme here? This is all free stuff you can do to support the entrepreneur in your life. It can be lonely in Boss Land and there are plenty of things that can make someone want to give up running their business, but a little support from friends and family can make a huge difference.

I’ve been lucky enough to have more than a little support from my family and friends, and I don’t take it for granted. I pay my people back with free makeup, skincare and business advice. Every single one of my female friends and all of the aunts and female cousins I’m close with have hit me up with a “Is this the right brush to use for blending eyeshadow?” or “How do I get rid of this zit?” type of text, and I get business questions from lots of my peeps. I am more than happy to share what I know because these people have supported me as I’ve gained that knowledge.

Having a close friend or family member who is an entrepreneur can be frustrating at times, and I feel for you if you are in those shoes. Hopefully they support you in whatever you do. If you’ve been unsure how to reciprocate that, hopefully this post helped.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder

The waterline liner hero.

Isn’t it amazing how small things can make a big impact? To me, black coffee is gross. But put a little Italian Sweet Cream Coffeemate in it? It becomes my favorite drink. If you tell me I need to sleep in a bed with one pillow, I’m up all night. But two pillows? That’s how I slumber. Wearing my short sleeved, scoop neck black jersey dress with no necklace? Boringgggggggggggg. But when I put on my “Notorious” chain, now we’ve got an outfit.

That’s the one! Made by King Ice.

That’s also how I feel about MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder on the waterline. A matte contoured eyeshadow look with neutral colors? Very nice. But add some of that black kohl liner to the bottom waterline, and you’ve entered Sultry Territory.

Smolder is an intense black shade in a soft kohl pencil form. Because of its consistency, and the surprising longevity of wear from its non-waterproof formula, Smolder is the perfect fit for the waterline. I mainly use it on the bottom waterline as I don’t typically do a lot of top waterline lining (aka tightlining), but it works for that too.

You can use Smolder at the top lashline, but I would seal it with a black eyeshadow. Kohl liners don’t set, which means they can move around on the lid. Tracing over the liner with black eyeshadow will help keep it in place. That technique will usually work at the top lashline, but it doesn’t always do the job at the bottom lashline. Kohl liners are not usually bottom lashline-friendly. You’re better off with a waterproof liner there, because that will stay in place when your eyes naturally water.

That’s the waterline, in case you were wondering.

Smolder on the bottom waterline will immediately intensify a look. Putting black on the waterline makes any eye color pop in contrast to the black, and having black inside the waterline gives more definition to the eyes and makes the bottom lashes look more plentiful (first time I’ve ever used that word in a blog post). But black liner on the waterline will make eyes look smaller, so that’s worth mentioning if that’s a concern.

I keep a Smolder in my pro kit, but if I’m being honest, I more often reach for a waterproof black kohl eyeliner from Topshop that has been discontinued (but I stocked up before that happened). I use waterproof everything for wedding clients, you know? But I use Smolder for waterline lining on myself and non-wedding clients, and I think it’s perfect for regular, non-crying days.

Smolder is a solid MAC eyeliner, and a pro fave for years. If you need to sultry-fy your eye makeup, this liner will do it to it.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Secrets From a Pro Makeup Artist

It’s okay! You can share these secrets.
Hand photo created by asierromero – www.freepik.com

A list of things that are automatic for me:

Sending thank you cards for gifts

Planning things so that they are the easiest and most efficient for everyone involved

Blowing out my hair after I wash it

Scanning YouTube every night for new clips or interviews with comics I love

Tailoring my responses to each person I talk to in my personal life in a way that I know my words will be best received

Cleansing my face every night, without fail

Being extremely attuned to how much space I am taking up in a public space and moving if I think I could be in someone’s way

Answering direct questions (which seems to be a lost art)

I’m so used to the way my personal world works that it never crosses my mind until someone says something to me, or I hear someone else say something, that I realize something I do is weird or I’m not in the majority. That applies to the beauty world too.  I’ve been doing makeup for so long and was obsessed with beauty even before I was a pro artist that I forget that beauty tricks and techniques that are automatic for me are actually unknown for a lot of people.

And how do I know that? Because they tell me. Over the last 10+ years, I’ve shared countless tips and tricks in person, on social media and in this blog. Sometimes I think, I shouldn’t even say this. People already know. Then I get a comment or message that proves me wrong.

So now we’ve got another list. This one is of all things I can think of that I’ve shared over the years and someone has said “I didn’t know that!” or “I was doing that all wrong!” or “Wow, that’s a game changer!” Maybe you’ll see something here that helps you. And that’s all I’ve ever wanted.

SKINCARE

Oil Cleanse The Right Way. Oil cleansers are meant to be applied on dry skin, not damp skin like most cream cleansers. After applying an oil cleanser and massaging it in, you add water, massage it in more, then rinse. If you apply oil cleanser to damp or wet skin, it won’t do its job. I remember putting this tip on the Allison Barbera Beauty Facebook page last year and someone said they were glad they saw it because they had been doing it wrong.

Don’t Forget Hyaluronic Acid’s Soulmate. If you use hyaluronic acid on its own (not already in another product), you have to apply moisturizer immediately after to make it work. For more on that, peep my reviews of The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid.

The ultimate hydrator.

Pretty Much Everything About Retinoids. Just read this, one of my most shared and referenced blog posts.

Patch Test Everything. Got a new skincare product, body moisturizer or self tanner? Give it the ol’ patch test 24 hours before applying it as directed. Applying a small amount of the product before you use the full amount will let you know if there are any ingredients in the product that your skin finds irritating or is allergic to. I do my skincare patch tests behind my ear so the area is hidden if I have a reaction, and my body products and self tanners on my stomach for the same reason. One of the only times I didn’t do this, I had a bad reaction to a St. Tropez tanner all over my legs (red, itchy bumps). Lesson learned.

EYESHADOW & LINER

Crease Work. I do not recommend applying shimmery shadow to the crease of the eye. Shadow is generally applied there to make the crease look more contoured/recessed. If you want an area to look recessed, you use a darker color as it reflects less light. But shimmery shadows reflect light, so they bring things forward or make them look bigger. Since that’s not typically what you want to do in the crease, using a shimmery shadow there defeats the purpose. You follow me?

Waterline Magic. Want to make your eyes look bigger? An off-white pencil applied to the lower waterline will give the illusion that the whites of your eyes are bigger, since you are matching your eyeliner to that color and cancelling out the pink or beige tones naturally present on the waterline. You are welcome.

Eyeshadowliner. All you need is an eyeshadow and an angled brush or a fine gel liner brush for this trick. Simply apply the shadow where you would normally apply your eyeliner and enjoy your soft-focus-but-still-defined liner.

See her bottom lashline? Eyeshadowliner.
Photo: Joe Laurin Photography Makeup: Allison Barbera

Blend It, Baby. The difference between good and bad eye makeup is often in the blending. If I can see where shadow you used stopped, you didn’t blend (or blend it enough). Use a fluffy eyeshadow brush, like the MAC 217, to blend just the edges of where one color stops and the next color starts or where it meets the skin. You don’t need to blend the whole area where you have applied the shadow, as that will fade all of it, which is not the point. This can take a little practice, but I know you can do it.

MASCARA

Mascara Cocktailing. I use two mascaras: One for volume and one for length. I am doubtful of mascaras that claim to do both, so I found that using them together gives me what I want, what I really really want.

Rare Waterproofing. I personally only use waterproof mascara for the same two occasions my father steps foot in a church for: weddings and funerals. I’m likely to tear up or cry at both, so on those days–and those days only–I reach for waterproof. Waterproof mascara requires a more vigorous mascara removal, which is fine once in a while. But that kind of removal on a daily basis will damage your lashes, causing breakage and sadness. If you have problems with mascara smudging, there are other options. Do your lashes a favor and put the waterproof down.

Giving my Maid of Honor speech (not singing) at my brother’s wedding. I definitely wore waterproof mascara that day. Photo: Trevor Holden Photography

Totally Tubular. If every non-waterproof mascara you’ve tried smudges, consider a tubing mascara. Tubing mascaras like Blinc encapsulate the lashes instead of coating them, and whatever it is that makes the product encapsulate also keeps it from smudging. Tubing mascaras typically don’t give as much volume and length as regular mascaras, so that’s something to be aware of. If you want to tube, I suggest first trying it on your bottom lashes, as that may be where the smudging is coming from.

The Mascara Two Step. It’s the easiest dance you’ll ever do. For more volume, wiggle the mascara wand at your top lash roots then pull up. For more length, hold the wand horizontally at the mid-point of your top lashes, then lightly blink into it (which will coat the tips of your lashes). Because I use two mascaras, I wiggle with Diorshow and blink with Clinique, but you could do this two step with one mascara.

FACE MAKEUP

The Waiting Game. Some makeup artists will disagree with me, but I’ve found that a good foundation primer like Laura Mercier Foundation Primer does make a difference in how long face makeup stays on. BUT, you have to let it do its job. That means letting it fully absorb before applying foundation. If you apply foundation immediately after primer, you are likely removing some of the primer as you apply your foundation, as the primer is still absorbing for a minute or so after it’s on. So I do face primer, back to something on the eyes for a minute, then foundation. I suggest you do the same 🙂

Like With Like. Face makeup falls into two main texture categories: creams/liquids and powders. And I’m not saying they’re rival gangs, but they prefer to chill with their homegirls. So primers, liquid or cream/stick foundations, pore minimizers, cream blushes, cream bronzers and contour products and liquid/cream highlighters work well when layered over each other. Powder blushes, highlighters, bronzers and contour products also tend to blend into each other more easily when they’re with their friends. This doesn’t mean you can’t wear both liquid and cream products though. I’m about to give you another tip that some other pros will disagree with: I suggest that you apply setting powder after all of your cream/liquid products are on but before applying powder products. I call setting powder  the great equalizer. It helps keep the cream/liquid products in place so that they aren’t disturbed when a powder product is blended over it. Got it?

Lock In That Under Eye Concealer. If you are using a cream/liquid concealer under your eyes, chances are it will benefit from being set with a little bit of powder. Concealer that has not been set with powder has a tendency to a) Fade throughout the day and b) Eat away at lower lash mascara, causing smudging. Why risk it? Just make sure to be light-handed with under eye powder, as overdoing it can lead to caking.

Get Cheeky. Blush makes a huge difference in a makeup look, but you have to make sure your placement is right. It should go on the apples of the cheeks, blended ever so slightly upwards. You don’t want to apply blush too close to your nose because that can make your features look kind of squished in, and applying blush too low will make your face look droopy. There are slight application variations depending on your face shape, so here’s a picture to help.

LIPS

Whose Line Is It Anyway? When using a lip liner, I line the edges of the lips and fill them in with the liner. Not only does that give the lipstick something to adhere to, but it won’t showcase the telltale “I only lined the edges of my lips” outline that can happen when your lipstick fades off.

The Cupid’s Bow Trick. Want to make your top lip look fuller? Use a lipliner that matches the lipstick you’re going to wear to line over your Cupid’s Bow. So instead of tracing the natural curve most people have there (it can be very slight on some), draw the liner straight across from top of one those little peaks to the other, which gives the illusion of more fullness.

Lipliner Double Duty. Have a lipliner you love the color of? There’s no reason you can’t wear it as a lipstick. Just line and fill in your lips, then top it with a little bit of gloss or balm so your lips don’t feel dry. It’s almost too easy.

Flash That Smile. Lipstick on the teeth–we’ve all experienced it. But there’s an easy way to prevent it. It seems weird, but if you put your index finger in your mouth after you’ve applied lipstick then pull it out, it will take with it the lipstick that migrated to the inside of your lips and would have eventually made it to your teeth. It really works.

This doesn’t need to be your life.

Have you learned anything new today? Sure you have. But if you already knew all of these tips and are not a pro makeup artist, I may have a job for you at AB Beauty…

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

 

Product Review: Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner

Bobbi Brown does it again.

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.

See that soft definition at the bottom lashline? That’s Chocolate Truffle. Photo: Move Mountains Co. Makeup: Allison Barbera Hair: RaNew Salon

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.

Have a beautiful day 🙂