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 🙂

Fall Faves

I’d be the Friend in this situation.

I’m a Summer Girl and always will be. Early fall in Rhode Island is okay temperature-wise, although I don’t like the short days. Other fall things I don’t like are football (never understood it and don’t want to), apples (they hurt my stomach), sweaters (itchy), and “crisp” days (too cold for snowbirds).

But I can’t write off an entire season just because pumpkin patches aren’t my jam. I’m always going to find things I like and things to look forward to, because my life is pretty bomb and to not recognize and enjoy the good things would be foolish.

Sooooo, wanna hear about my new faves? Let’s do this.

Escada Sorbetto Rosso Eau De Toilette. I have been on the hunt for a new perfume for years. I would ideally like to smell like Banana Boat Deep Tanning Oil, but I can not find a dupe for that (although I won’t pretend I haven’t worn it as a perfume before). Until recently, I’d been able to find other scents I liked, but didn’t love. But then I came across Escada Sorbetto Rosso at Ulta, and my search ended. I’m a sucker for cute packaging, especially when it shows the cartoon version of who I’d like to be, but it’s the scent of Sorbetto Rosso that got me. It’s inspired by the Amalfi Coast and mostly smells like watermelon and sea salt, but has notes of pear, amber and praline as well. Normally I have one scent for day time and one for night, but I like this so much I wear it all the time. I keep it on the table next to my front door so I remember to spray some on before I leave. I may never be a carefree, long-legged woman loving life on the Amalfi Coast, but at least I can smell like her.

I may want to be her, but I’ll never sit on a railing like that. Dangerous!

HotPads. I’m searching for both a Charleston winter home and potentially a new place in Newport, and luckily my friend Jenn told me about HotPads. It has way more listings than Craigslist, and that’s good enough for me. It seems more legit than Craigslist (what isn’t?), as I’ve yet to run across anything that looks scam-ish. Jenn also said she has seen the prices lower on HotPads than Craigslist, which is another good reason to use it. Thank you, Jenn!

Hoping to find something like this that’s in my budget…

Plant Snack Super Seeds Mix Cassava Root Mix. I got the cheddar flavor of these chips as a sample at my local health food store, A Market, a while back and loved them. I only ever saw the full sized version of this flavor at the store though and I thought they looked boring. (Because my regular diet is soooo exciting!) I ended up buying them on a whim one day, knowing I would eat them if I was hungry enough even if they were plain, and I friggin’ loved them! Now I buy them whenever I’m at A Market. They are hands down my new favorite snack.

I’ll kill a bag in two days and feel #noshame.

R+CO Neon Lights Dry Oil Spray. A couple of months ago, I was with AB Beauty hair stylist, Emily, when she said “I got this new dry oil spray that I want to try on someone.” In my memory, I raised my hand then jumped into the closest chair to her, but I think it’s more likely that I said “Do you want to try it on me?” Either way, I ended up being her guinea pig. She loved it, I loved it and now we both use it. Y’all know I’m into hair oil, but I hadn’t used a dry oil like this before. I apply it to my hair when it’s dry and looking like it’s been working those 12 hour days with me (which I guess it has). Neon Lights instantly makes it look healthy, shiny and soft. It’s not sticky or heavy and while it’s got a noticeable scent, it’s one I like so I’m cool with that. I like everything about this product except that it always gets this song into my head. (I realize it’s not called “Flashing Lights Dry Oil Spray,” but close enough.) Thanks, Emily!

The closest thing I use to cooking spray.

High Brew Coffee. I prefer hot coffee–two cups of it–every morning. But I’m going to get a little personal here: I have the smallest bladder in the world (not verified). So if I drink my two cups then go to a morning job, things can get problematic. You see, us makeup artists often have to work for several hours straight without a bathroom break. So when I have jobs that start on the earlier side, drinking two cups of coffee (it may actually be more than that, because the mug I use is plus-size) is not an option. I discovered High Brew Coffee at the convenience store next to my studio, and it’s the perfect substitute for the days I can’t drink a lot of liquid but also need my caffeine fix. Yes, it’s not hot coffee but that makes it easier to chug as I mentally scold myself for saying yes to an early job. High Brew has several flavors to chose from and in my opinion, they all taste great. (Black & Bold has the least amount of sugar, so if you’re normally a black coffee drinker, you’ll probably like this one best.) I keep a bunch in my fridge for my early days. They are my Early Morning Helpers, so don’t you dare take them away from me.

High Brew Coffee
And isn’t the packaging great? Love that vintage feel.

Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father. This show, featuring well known British comic, Jack Whitehall, and his father, now has two seasons on Netflix. It’s a reality show about this father-son duo’s travels throughout Europe and Asia. Jack is fun and outgoing and interested in really immersing himself in new cultures, even if that means kind of roughing it. His father, Michael, is what I think they call “posh” in England. Give this man a 5 star hotel, gourmet meals and good wine or give him nothing. And he is HILARIOUS. Michael has that dry, English sense of humor that I love so much and Season 2, which was recently released on Netflix, showcases that even more than the first season. If you are looking for something good to watch on Netflix, here you go.

Travel over to Netflix and watch their show, but only if you want to laugh.

Olaplex Shampoo & Conditioner. My hair, you see, is not allowed to be its actual self. I’ve been straightening it several times a month for a decade, erasing any trace of the Italian ringlets that naturally spring forth from my follicles. I’ve got some grays, but those get covered by a semi-permanent dye every six weeks or so. And five years ago, I decided my natural very dark brown (which most people think is black), was good enough for the top 2/3 of hair but not the bottom. That section gets bleached then dyed blue twice a year, with color touchups–no bleach–once a month or so. I also use a curling iron a few times a month to put in a looser curl or wave. (This confuses my father to no end when he sees me doing it. “But sweetie, why are you putting curls back in your hair when you already have curly hair?” “THEY ARE DIFFERENT CURLS, RAY.”) While it may seem like I am hiding the real Allison (hair), everything that I do to it makes me feel more like the real me, who as you know is part Woman From The Sorbetto Rosso Packaging. But all of the color and heat styling does a number on my hair. I am careful to use heat protectants before heat styling, and I use oil on my ends to keep them from getting too dry. Back in I think 2015, I also started using Olaplex No. 3, a kind of souped up leave in conditioner type product that repairs the bonds that are broken during chemical, thermal and mechanical damage. AB Beauty makeup artist and licensed Cosmetologist, Kristin, recently told me about the Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo and Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner. She said they were amazing, and right she was! Even after one wash, my hair felt softer and healthier. I also love the look of their packaging. I wouldn’t mind an apartment that looked like their labels, if that makes any sense. Anyway, I’ve been trying samples of different shampoos and conditioners for a while, but these two are champs, so my search is over. Thanks, Kristin!

Olaplex Shampoo and Conditioner
Word is bond. (Clever LL Cool J reference.)

Going to Bed Earlier. In my Summer Faves, I said I loved sleeping in. And I still do, but there’s now a house being built across the street from my bedroom window, so I don’t always get to do that. I’ve been falling apart a bit physically lately, so I decided I would experiment and see if my new issues of pulsatile tinnitus, weight loss and racing heart were being impacted by my long work days (an experiment sparked by three of my doctors saying long hours were causing stress–which I haven’t been mentally or emotionally feeling). So whenever I can, I stop my work day by 9:00pm and get into bed soon after, even if I know it will be a few hours before I go to sleep. And you know what? That shit helps. It also makes it so I sometimes get enough sleep to naturally wake up earlier than usual, and before the beeping of trucks reversing and calming sound of hammering begins. I’m going to keep going to bed early whenever my schedule allows in hopes that it will make my body stop putting in requests for a break.

I’m not quite at 9:00pm yet, but doing better than before.

Daniel Sloss. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you might have picked up on the fact that I love comedy. Specifically, standup comedy. That’s why Netflix alerts me anytime a new special comes out. If I’m familiar with the comic, I probably already know about the special. If it’s a comic who is new to me, I have a rule: if they don’t make me laugh in the first 10 minutes, I’m on to the next one, on to the next. (Jay Z lyric, not a written stutter.) Daniel Sloss is a Scottish comic who I had never heard of until his two part special came out last month. Not only did I laugh in 10 minutes, but I LOVED the first special and LOVEDDDDD the second one even more. Daniel is not only a fantastic storyteller and (somehow at only 28) a seasoned comic, but he is smart and his material is new and fresh. I immediately became a big fan and his website is now on the list of comics’ websites I check weekly to see if they are doing any dates in my area. Go on now, check out the special. You’ll love it.

You can just tell he is funny.

MAC 24 Hour Smooth Wear Concealer. Just when you thought MAC couldn’t come out with any more concealers! This new matte concealer is pigmented, longwearing and comes in a lot of shades. I’ve been using it on clients for a month or so now, and I’m loving how it both blends and covers easily. I use it mostly on the face, as whatever makes it long-lasting also seems to be a little to dry for some people’s undereyes. But if you have an oily undereye area, you could probably use this there. As far as the rest of the face though–where the skin is different than under the eyes–I’ve found this to work well on all skin types.

Smooth (long-lasting) operator.

That’s a lot of good stuff, right? While “Fall” might not be on my list of Fall Faves, it’s better than winter (which yes, I know I don’t experience much of anyway). My new faves are all either making me laugh more, making my body happier, or upping my beauty product game. I love hearing about other people’s faves, so if you’ve got any you want to share, you’re only a comment away.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

I Would Nail That Interview Question

That’s me on the right, baby wrists collapsing under the pressure.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these “getting to know your blogger” posts. And because I’m an introspective, open book person who loves writing, this idea came to me. If you’re a regular reader of this blog or follow me on Instagram, you know that I’m an entrepreneur and a makeup artist. You also probably know that I love Biggie Smalls, tequila and Charleston, SC. But maybe you don’t know about my minimalist tendencies or how well I fare in a directions situation, or some of the other things I’m wicked good at (and notoriously bad at). So I present a small sampling of my strengths and my weaknesses.

Strengths

Getting Rid of Stuff. I donate, throw away or recycle things I don’t use on a weekly basis. You will not find expired medicine in my house, nor will you find a shirt I bought three years ago but never wore. If I don’t actively use it or enjoy looking at it, it’s out. Junk drawer? I don’t think so, homey. If I can’t remember the last time I used or wore something, it’s gone. The only knickknacks I have in my house are things that were given to me as gifts and have sentimental value. (And after a few years, many of those get the boot too.) I get so happy getting rid of stuff I don’t need or love. It feels like it gives me clarity in my life, and who doesn’t want that?

Planning. I am the illest at planning things. It doesn’t mean I love it, but I am damn good at it. My brain has a very easy time figuring out what needs to be done when, then actually doing it. I’ve planned more parties than I can count, and if there is a trip I’m going on with other people, I am the one booking the Airbnb, researching and making restaurant reservations and emailing the group (then inevitably following up with them) to see if they want to do any of the fun outings they spewed out of their brains then left there for me to organize. It doesn’t happen often, but when someone else takes the lead on plans (“I’ll buy the comedy show tickets,” “I got us in for brunch at 12:00pm on Sunday,” “I booked a car to the airport”), I want to cry tears of joy. But because I’m good at planning and the people around me know it, it usually falls on me. We all have our lots in life.

Proofreading. Give me a restaurant menu and I will find at least one typo, inconsistency or unnecessary capitalization. (I love cheese, but I would have a difficult time eating “Spring salad with goat Cheese.”) I proofread my blog posts, social media posts and emails several times before I publish/post/hit send. Sometimes I miss things–which I think happens when you read the same thing 19 times–but if I notice a typo after I’ve posted, I always go back and correct it. My mom is an Eagle Eye too, so she’s my backup proofreader. How did I do with this post, Beensa?

That’s a lot of Irelands!

Reaching Small Things That Fall Behind Bigger Things. The good Lord blessed me with five inch wrists and child-sized hands, so I am the go-to girl when something falls behind the couch at my parents’ house or behind the vintage dresser we use as a makeup station at my studio. I’ve got a slim ulna and a svelte radius, so I will retrieve the lost object for you. You can thank me by giving away that juicer you bought and never used or making sure your professional copy is beautifully typo-free.

Being On Time. Nay, early. I was born early and I like to say I’ve been early to everything since. I spend a lot of time waiting for people, and the chronic Lates in my life either get it together when they have plans with me, or we don’t really hang out anymore. I think being on time shows that you respect the other person’s time, and you don’t think your time is more important than their’s. And being early is just leaving a little buffer for traffic/getting lost/your underestimation of travel time. I’m going to stop this one here so I don’t go off on a tangent.

Identifying The Years Golden Era Hip Hop and R&B Songs Came Out. The ten year span from 1996 – 2006 had some of the best hip hop and R&B music. (That’s a fact.) That decade also eclipsed my high school and college years, when (at least for me) everything was so intense. Just like how I feel like I’m at The Rhino Bar with my best friend, Jess, in 2003 whenever I smell Victoria’s Secret Love Spell, I am transported back to 1996 when I hear “Return of the Mack,” sitting in the backseat of my friend Heather’s sister’s boyfriend’s car while he drove endless loops through downtown Worcester. Or to my cute but palmetto-bug infested one bedroom apartment in West Palm Beach in 2005, listening to “Let Me Love You” by Mario while getting ready to meet Shannon at Blue Martini. Popular songs and songs I love are so strongly tied to my memories from my teens and early 20s that it’s easy for me to think, Who was I hanging out with? Where did I live? Which joker was I dating? when I hear a song from the past, then easily figure out what year that would have been.

1998. How do I know that? Because I remembering singing it with Melissa and Carina in Driver’s Ed, which I took the spring I turned 16.

Weaknesses

Reading Maps, Retracing Steps & Anything That Requires a Sense of Direction. I’d like to think I have a moral compass, but that’s where my sense of direction ends. I am so bad with figuring out where I need to go that if my gut instinct tells me to turn right, I know that means I should turn left. I use Waze for driving new places and Google Maps for navigating a new area by foot, but it takes me embarrassingly long to figure out how to get around areas I have been to several times. My brain is missing that directional section, so I try to befriend people who have it.

Keeping Plants Alive. I’ve never been able to do it! I like the look of plants so I wish I was better at this, but I’m not. My mom has a real green thumb, but I didn’t inherit it. At one point, I was even putting reminders in my calendar to water a plant someone got me, and I still killed it! Maybe self tanner fumes are toxic to plants?

Remembering Scenes From Movies. There are several movies I have seen multiple times, but with the exception of Grease and The Godfather, I remember nothing more than the basic plot (and sometimes not even that). My sister-friend, Danielle, will often quote or reference something from a movie we watched a million times as kids, and 95% of the time, I will look at her with a blank stare (or a “?”over text). Then she’ll say “Spaceballs!” or “Back to the Future” or “Opportunity Knocks!” I envy Danielle and others like her. My film amnesia is bad, but I can sometimes redeem myself with my Rain Man-like memory of Golden Era hip hop and R&B song release identification. (Catch my film reference? Give me props!)

Watched this movie every New Year’s Eve for years. Remember nothing about it.

Calculating Tips. I always tip at least 20%, and I know that means $10 on a $50 check and $20 on $100. Everything else though is just guesses. I completely zone out when I tell someone I’m not good at calculating tips and they say “You just move the decimal…” Whatever I do come up with using my own techniques (based roughly on the fact that since I know how to divide numbers in half, then 20% is less than 50%, so I can get close), I add $2 to account for my probable miscalculation. If you are my server, you will always be over-tipped. If you are my accountant, you will be baffled.

Taking Photos. I fail at this, both in terms of quality and remembering to do it in my personal life. It’s weird, because back in the day I always had a disposable camera on me. I have photo albums from each year of my life from 7th grade until about 2008. Part of this weakness may stem from the fact that I hate being in pictures (most unphotogenic person ever), and it feels like everyone wants to take goddamn selfies with their friends all the time. I would also just rather enjoy hanging out or being in the moment when I go somewhere new instead taking pictures, seeing if they are good, editing them and posting them. Too much work! But, I do like looking back at old photos and remembering good times, so I should try more with this. (I won’t.)

Closing Drawers Fully. I don’t do this on purpose, but I have a tendency to not completely close drawers. I don’t leave them sticking halfway out, but it’s like when my eyes see that my hand has closed a drawer 80% of the way, they say to my brain, Good! Shut it down. I have been doing this since I was a child, so I think it’s just part of who I am. I’m sorry to anyone who has ever gotten an ankle, knee or hip bruise due to my gross negligence.

I’m not THAT bad!

I could add lots more to this post (especially to the Weaknesses list), but six for each category seems like a solid amount. Do you feel like you know me better now?

I hope you’ve liked reading this one. It was fun to write!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Choose Your Own Adventure

Which path do you want me to lead you down? Winged liner tricks? Cream blush how to’s? Face mask reviews?

The point of this “Pretty Addiction” blog is to give you tips, tricks, how to’s and recommendations to improve your beauty life. Several of the posts I’ve written have been upon request, and I hope they have been helpful. So I gots to know, what kinds of posts would you like to read in the upcoming months?

Please, comment on this post or on Facebook, Instagram or wherever you see this and tell me what you want, what you really really want. Which of the current categories do you dig the most? These are the options:

Boss Life. These posts are all about that entrepreneur life. I talk about my experience and things I’ve learned as a small business owner. Have a question as a business owner or aspiring business owner? I’d be more than happy to give my take on it.

Decades of Beauty. A series covering looks from the 1920s – 2010. Each decade has had several different popular looks, so I could go more into detail about a specific look or looks if that’s what your little heart desires.

Look Breakdowns. I find photos of popular looks or looks I love and give my best guess as to what products and techniques were used. If you want me to do a breakdown of a particular look, send me the photo and I’ll have at it.

Makeup Looks. Here’s where I talk about different looks (i.e. natural, 5 minute makeup, dewy skin) etc. in detail and explain how you can do it (and if you should). If you have a look you want to know more about or try, the suggestion box is open.

My Other Ramblings. If you want to read my rant about Instaglam makeup or know what I’m loving lately, you’ll find it here. And if you have a request for a post that doesn’t fit into one of the other categories, it would go here.

Pro Tips. Similar to the Makeup Looks posts, but more broad. For example, a Makeup Looks post might be about an Old Hollywood red lipstick look, but a Pro Tips post would talk about red lipstick in general, and how to choose the shades and textures that might work well on you.

Product Reviews. Self explanatory, I hope.

I want to hear from you! Please let me know what you want to read about so I can grant your wishes. I’m here to be your personal beauty expert, so you tell me what you want. I am nothing if not accommodating….

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Things I Love: The Summer 2018 Edition

Those look like some other summer things I could love.

Summer goes by way too fast! Why does that happen? June comes along, then you blink once, Fourth of July. Blink twice, mid-August. If only miserable things would go by that fast…

Summer is my favorite season, and I’ve got some new favorites to go along with it. Read on to find out what I am summer lovin’.

Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops. I have been on a quest for the perfect self tanner for years. The Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops, which you add into your face and body moisturizers, deliver the glow. I am giving them my pale girl stamp of approval. For more details, read my review of them here.

Drop it like it’s hot.

The Anniversary Love. I started Allison Barbera Beauty as a one woman show back in the summer of 2008 and it’s grown to be a 17 person team that is doing 100+ weddings this year. I did my first wedding on 8/2/08, so even though I had the structure of the business up and running before that, I consider August to be the AB Beauty Anniversary Month each year. I posted about it on Facebook and Instagram recently, and I am really feeling the love and support. That makes this little entrepreneur very happy. Thanks, everyone!

“Nanette.” Have you watched Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette” comedy special on Netflix? If you haven’t, go watch it.  Yes, right now! If you have any sense of humor, it will make you laugh. And if you have any empathy, it will make you cry. Hannah is an incredible comic and, I think, person in general and she deserves all of the recognition and praise she is getting. (I was in an elevator with her at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival last month, and I’m kicking myself for not telling her how awesome I think she is.)  She doesn’t have a website, but if you want to show her some love on Facebook, do it to it.

Sol De Janeiro Copacabana Bronze Glow Oil. Yup, talking about my tan obsession again. I bought this product before the Isle of Paradise drops and it works well on its own (but looks even better over my fake tan from the drops). It’s a bronzing oil that you apply to your body and it comes off in the shower. It is a little sticky (though not horribly so) but it smells great and gives a true bronze color–not orange or yellow–so I think it’s worth it. This is by far the best bronzing oil I’ve ever tried. It’s limited edition, so cop it and cop it soon at Sephora.

It works great and smells awesome. A keeper.

Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss Cheese. These little wedges of soft cheese heaven aren’t new to me, but I seem to forget about them for months at a time, then they become a mainstay in my fridge for a while when I do rediscover them. They are delicious and only 50 calories per wedge, so a perfect small snack. I’m not going to fact check this, but I think most grocery stores have them.

This Bomb Ass Arm Workout. I’ve been doing an arm workout with free weights for years, but it seemed like it recently stopped having any effect. I found this video on YouTube and I shit you not, my arms starting looking a little more toned after I did it three times. Maybe that’s my wishful thinking or a positive kind of body dysmorphia, but I can definitely feel the workout as I’m doing it and I swear I see the results, so I am sticking with it.

Celeb Luxury Viral Blue Colorditioner. I have had blue balyage on the ends of my hair for five years. I like my blue to be vibrant, but it has historically faded pretty quickly. Jennie Kay Plumb, one of the hair stylists I go to (of course I go to a few) suggested the Celeb Luxury Viral Blue Conditioner to extend my color between touchups, and it has made a huge difference. I use it as a regular conditioner when I’m pinched for time, or leave it on dry hair for 20 minutes when I can. With both techniques, my blue is revitalized, but the 20 minute technique yields better results. They make this conditioner (and its shampoo partner) in a variety of colors. Jennie told me not to buy it off Amazon, so your best is to get it from a salon. This stuff is so good that I haven’t had to do an actual blue touchup since I got it. I think I can now get away with just using this conditioner for touchups between my twice-a-year appointments for the balayage.

Blue balyage forever.

Queer Eye. I mean, how awesome is this show? I binged the second season when it came out on Netflix in June, and I am in love with the Fab Five. Jonathan, the groomer/beauty expert on the show, might be my favorite person ever. I watched him do a live podcast at the Just For Laughs Festival and he was like a gorgeous ray of sunshine. The guys from the Fab Five seem like they have great hearts and truly care about people, and the show seems to really help people. I can’t wait for the next season.

V Clear EPs 7630. I can not get sick, especially during wedding season. I don’t have sick days, and I can’t send anyone to cover me for many of my jobs. My miracle worker MD/ND, Dr. Abbas Qutab, told me about V Clear (previously called “Vira Clear”) a few years ago. I take it as soon as I started feeling any symptoms of a cold or flu, and I end it the day after I stop feeling symptoms. I swear it has saved me from getting full blown sick many times. My whole family takes it, and we call keep it stocked up. It comes in a dropper and tastes like a strong cough medicine, but you can handle it. It’s out of stock on Amazon, but you can get it here. (Disclaimer: It looks like they only make a cherry flavored one now and I have it but haven’t tried it yet, so it may taste better than the original flavor.)

Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter in Vanilla Apricot. Smells amazing, softens my skin, and is vegan, cruelty-free, synthetic-fragrance-free, paraben-free, GMO-free and formaldehyde-free.. What else can you ask for in a body moisturizer? It does leave a non-sticky sheen to the skin, so if you like fast absorbing, matte moisturizers, this may not be your jam. But I think a lot of people would love this. Here’s another one for Sephora cart.

Whip it real good.

Pandora Comedy Stations. I know, it’s not cool to listen to Pandora and I’m old. Don’t care. This one isn’t new to me, but I’m a huge comedy geek and I’ve found myself listening to more of the Pandora comedy stations I like (the Sarah Silverman, John Mulaney and Chris D’Elia stations are my favorites) lately. I put these stations on the way other put background music on. What can I say? I love to laugh.

Sleeping In. On one hand, I love the days when I naturally wake up before 7:00am, because I get SO MUCH work done before it’s even 10:00am. But on the other hand, how good does it feel to sleep in? One of the perks of owning my own business (and, I suppose, not having kids or pets) is that if I don’t have any morning clients, meetings or appointments, I can wake up whenever I want. We are having a record-breaking year with team size, wedding bookings and revenue so I am working stupid long days. (I haven’t had time to eat dinner until 10:00pm the last two nights, if that tells you anything.) So when I can, I reward myself by sleeping late. Of course I feel some guilt for doing it, but I’m not the best entrepreneur, friend, relative or makeup artist I can be when I’m tired and dragging.

Ice Cube On The Face Trick. Sometimes I wake up with a puffy face, undereyes or eyelids. It’s not cute, but there is a way around it. Lisa Eldridge explains it best in this video. I’ve been doing this a lot more lately, and it really does make a difference.

That’s all for now. It’s back to work for me, but I would love to hear some of your faves!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

My Beauty Philosophy

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably pieced together my philosophy on beauty in regards to makeup. It comes through a little at a time in most of my blog posts. But today, I’m going to share with you the five tenets of my beauty philosophy.

Am I doing this because I know I can crank this post out somewhat quickly and if I don’t do this now I won’t have time, and I don’t want to ruin my perfect streak of one blog post per week since January 1? That’s in the realm of possibility.

Here.we.go.

The Five Tenets

Skincare is Queen. If you are not taking care of your skin, your makeup will never look its best. You can buy all the makeup that MAC can make (props if got that TLC reference), but if you don’t regularly cleanse, moisturize, exfoliate and properly treat your skin, you can only get so far. Yes, it takes some effort and some cheddar to make sure your dermis is living its best life,  but it is more than worth it.

Do You. If you want to try a makeup trend because it looks fun, by all means, do it to it. But if you want to try a makeup trend because you think you are supposed to have very thick eyebrows or matte lips, stop right now. The only thing makeup is supposed to do is enhance what you already have and give you an outlet for self expression. If that means you rock a thinner brow because it’s more flattering to your bone structure, or you like a bright pink lip gloss when the trend is a wine matte lipstick, GO FOR IT. Don’t let what’s in right now dictate your look.

Branch Out. A lot of people get into a rut with their makeup routine. It’s great to know what works for you and what you like, but there are probably a lot more looks and products out there that would work on you than you think. Sometimes you’ll be shocked about what looks good on you. If you’ve always wondered if you could wear an electric blue eyeliner or a liquid foundation instead of your trusted Bare Minerals, stop wondering and start playing around. Here’s the great thing about makeup: it washes off. So you’ve got a world of possibilities and no real reason why you can’t explore them.

Know Thyself. A lot of choosing the right makeup comes down to knowing what you need and what would be most flattering on you. Figuring out your skin type, undertones, eye shape, face shape and eye color (that last one should be easy, I hope) will make the beauty world a little less intimidating for you, because that knowledge will allow you to choose the type of products that will work best on you.

Don’t Be a Hoarder. Still using that mascara you got for Christmas…two years ago? THROW IT OUT. When I do makeup lessons with clients, I have them bring their makeup bags so we can see what’s salvageable. These bags almost always contain at least a couple crusty old products. Beauty products have expiration dates for a reason–they lose their efficacy after a certain point. And some products, like mascara, can collect gross amounts of bacteria after a while that can cause irritation if applied to the skin or eyes. Get rid of the products that are old, never worked for you or you just don’t like, and you’ll have a fresher perspective on your makeup routine.

I think I’ve covered all of my basic core beauty values, and I’ve finished this post in time. I am feeling oh so productive.

Have a beautiful day 🙂