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 🙂

 

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 🙂

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 🙂

 

My Newport Recommendations

The Newport Bridge, aka the prettiest way to get onto Aquidneck Island.

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.

Broadway’s busiest breakfast spot.

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.

It doesn’t get any more New England than that, does it?

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.

And now I’m craving the discontinued Firecracker Omelette.

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.

The perfect we-are-heading-out-of-town-but-want-a-quick-breakfast spot.

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.

Worth the wait.

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.

For the record, I was not that pale and Julia was not sunburned. Weird camera flash situation.

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.

Summer in Newport at its best.

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.

You’d be using good judgement if you went here.

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.

Kickin’ off Summer 2016 at The Deck.

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.

The place to go for casual patio day drinking on Lower Thames.

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.

If you’re standing in front of this, just look to your right and you’ll see the Surf Club outside bar and dining area.

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!

Just look for the red umbrellas.

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.

Talk about a bar with a view!

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.

At the downstairs bar on a freezing winter night with my friend, Carina.

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.

A very nice server at my cousin’s bridal shower a few years ago.

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.

I went here on a first date with a guy who spilled his entire margarita on my lap, but I didn’t mind because he had an English accent and that British sense of humor.

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.

You fancy, huh?

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.

One of the two bars at the Wharf Pub.

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.)

The scene at Dockside.

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.

Dance the night away at Newport Blues.

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.

A Newport waterfront hotspot.

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.

How’s that for thorough? This post took me forever to write, so you better like it 😉

Have a beautiful day 🙂

10 Things People Don’t Know About Makeup Artists

Cleaning brushes is the bane of my existence.

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.)

  1. 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.

    The options though.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.

    Often two of my meals on busy client days.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.

    We have to be sometimes!
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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?

    Give us some time to become human again post-job.

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.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

The Evolution of a Makeup Artist

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.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Winter Faves

My moods used to be dictated by the seasons: Excited, Happy, Bummed Out, Devastated.

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.

Why did you do it, famigilia???

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.

I said wake and bake FOR YOUR TEETH.

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.

Masters of comedy.

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.

It’s like a shampoo and conditioner all in one, but for your laundry.

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.

You could find the Amy to your Tina.

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).

I feel like I’m living that 4 Hour Workweek life during the winter.

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.

I sent my parents this picture and my father responded “Wow! Those are some big ass specs,” and that was the funniest text I’ve gotten all year.

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.

And I’m fine with it.

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.

Making my hair look better since late 2018.

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.

She’d probably have an easier time if she was stretching her hamstrings regularly.

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.

SO good.

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.

My new preferred sound.

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.

Ready to Forrest Gump it now.

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!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

My Charleston Recommendations

Charleston
Several Uber drivers have told me Charleston is “a drinking city with a history problem.” Take that as you will.

Oh, this post? This is for all the brides who are going to Charleston, South Carolina for their bachelorette party. I live in Charleston during the winter months, and I think it’s fair to say I’m madly in love with my second home. Like you might expect from your (Type A) girl, I keep a list of restaurants and bars I like, and I’ve passed this list on to who are going to The Holy City. I’ve shared this list with many an AB Beauty bride, and now it’s time to share it here.

I haven’t been everywhere in Charleston, but these are the bars and restaurants I recommend:

The Rooftop at The Vendue. Charleston has a lot of rooftop bars, but I think the one at The Vendue Hotel is the best. It’s got great cocktails, an awesome view, and two levels of rooftop-ness. It’s right on East Bay Street, near a bunch of other bars, restaurants and Waterfront Park, where you’ll enjoy plenty of photo opps with your girls.

The Vendue Rooftop
An afternoon with friends at The Vendue Rooftop. I wonder why we missed dinner that evening…

The Ordinary. Talk about a cool spot! This restaurant and bar is in an old bank. The knowledgeable servers, ambiance and perfect cocktails are what keep me going back. The Ordinary’s bar is big, so there’s space for a large group. It’s on King Street, right in the middle of downtown, so it’s a great starting point for your evening. (It opens at 5:00pm.)

The Ordinary Charleston
I mean, when’s the last time you drank rum in an old bank?

Prohibition. Another cool King Street spot with AWESOME cocktails. This place was modeled after a speakeasy. They have live music six days a week, and swing dancing lessons on Sundays. It gets pretty bumpin’ in Prohibition at night, so this could be a fun after-dinner spot with your girls.

Prohibition Charleston
Bachelorettes and speakeasies go together like primer and foundation.

82 Queen. If you can get on the patio for brunch, dooooooooooo it. They have delicious food and drinks. I love the Queen’s Salad, but people I have been with who don’t have food allergies have raved about the She Crab Soup and Southern Tomato Pie. 82 Queen is right around the corner from Lower King Street, so if you feel like eating then shopping, get yourself to this (reportedly haunted) spot.

The cute little patio at 82 Queen.

Basil. Great Thai food right downtown on King Street. I had my first spring roll here in 2017 (I know, how is that possible?). Like with any restaurant in downtown Charleston, if you are going there for dinner on a weekend, definitely make a reservation.

Basil Charleston
A solid downtown dinner choice.

Hominy Grill. This was the first restaurant I went to for brunch when I started snowbirding in Charleston in 2017. The food was awesome, the Bloody Mary was on point, our server was wonderful and it was 70 degrees, so a perfect day to sit in their courtyard. It’s no wonder Oprah loves this place! Hominy Grill is a crazy popular spot and they don’t take reservations, so your best bet is to get there early to snag a table.

Hominy Grill
Grits ARE good for you! Or for me/my soul.

Poogan’s Smokehouse. This East Bay Street restaurant is known for its barbeque, but let me tell you, the burgers are bomb too.  And the grits. And the service. If you’re looking for a casual lunch spot on East Bay (close to the Market) with great food, this is a solid choice.

I’m hungry just thinking about this place.

High Cotton. It’s a bit on the fancier side, but not stuffy. They have a great brunch (something you also need to make reservations for in Charleston) with live music. If you’re into Bloody Marys, most of the places in Charleston do them really well, and High Cotton’s Bloodies especially never disappoint.

High Cotton
You can’t go wrong with this place.

Blind Tiger Pub. Now, allow me to take you over to Broad Street. Blind Tiger was the first restaurant I ever went to in Charleston, so it’s got a special place in my heart. This would be a fun spot to go with a bachelorette, especially if you can sit on the patio in back. Some places in Charleston have what I consider weird hours–open for brunch, closed for a few hours mid-day, open again at 5:00pm–but Blind Tiger is open from 11:00am – 2:00am every day.

For extra credit, look up what “blind tiger” meant during the Prohibition.

5Church. You’ll end up by Market Street at some point, and this is a restaurant and bar I definitely recommend going to. It’s in an old church, which I think is really cool (and appropriate for The Holy City). I think this is another spot that would be pefect for pre-dinner drinks.

In the name of the tequila, the vodka, the pinot noir, amen.

Eli’s Table. I’ve been to Eli’s more than any other restaurant in Charleston. This is my favorite brunch spot and I take everyone who comes to visit me there. The food is delicious and consistent, and they seem incapable of making a bad drink. You’ll find fun, attentive, knowledgeable bartenders and servers at most restaurants downtown, but Eli’s excels in that arena. They have my favorite grits in Charleston, which is another reason I love this place. If it’s nice out, they’ve also got a patio out back.

Eli's Table
Everything is good here.

If you end up on Sullivan’s Island, you have to go to Home Team and get a Gamechanger. But just one! Those things will knock you on your ass, for real. Home Team is a casual BBQ place near the beach. It feels a little Nashville-ish, maybe because it’s always fun and always busy.

They don’t call it “The Gamechanger” for nothing! One too many will make it a day you’ll never remember.

Find yourself on Isle of Palms? The Windjammer is your jam. It’s quieter off season, but the perfect bachelorette spot during the warmer months (aka most of the year). If you’re looking for a low key brunch in IOP–maybe if you are staying there and are feeling a little hungover–I recommend The Refuge. They have great food and coffee, and my favorite Avocado & Eggs (with grits, of course.)

If you’re looking for a beach bar, look no further.

Want to go out in Mt. Pleasant? Shem Creek is the way to go. There are a bunch of restaurants in this pretty little subsection of Mt. Pleasant, where you might see dolphins if you are lucky. If you are looking for fun, waterfront bars, check out Red’s and Saltwater Cowboys.

Red's Shem Creek
Livin’ that Shem Creek life.

Hopefully this post is helpful to anyone planning a bachelorette (or a trip in general) to Charleston. If you have questions, please feel free to comment.

Have a beautiful day 🙂