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.
I like the construct of seasons. (Have you ever heard anyone say that?) I don’t care for the fact that the weather gets cold during some of the seasons in most parts of the country, but I like the idea of having time split into four sections based around Mother Nature. As as a business owner, I never know what day it is, so if I at least know what season we are in, I feel like I have some kind of grasp on life.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen the silly little “Look Forward” lists I do for each season. Those started before I spent my winters in Charleston, SC. When I lived in RI year-round, I dreaded the cold weather months. So in 2016, I decided to write a list of things to look forward to that winter–trips, comedy shows, events–on a whiteboard I would see every time I opened the door to my apartment. I thought that would help dull my despair when it was icy and frigid and I was cursing my ancestors for leaving the warmth of Italy to migrate to America and settle in the Northeast.
However, I’m not one to just look forward to things but not appreciate them when they are happening. No, ma’am. I’ve read too much Eckhart Tolle to do that. I like to take it a step further and not only be thankful for the good things, but learn from and be thankful for them. And that’s where my “Favorites” posts come in. I like to share the things I’ve been loving, as the things I love–whether they are actual objects, shows, new habits, exercises, etc.–make my life better by either making it easier or making it more joyful, and I thought maybe you could benefit from them too.
That was one hell of an intro, wasn’t it? Now we can proceed.
First-Thing Teeth Brushing. I’d like to think I’m great with my chompers. I get cleanings every five months, I brush for the suggested two minutes each time and I always brush after drinking coffee or any other known teeth stainers. Until recently, I did my first teeth brushing of the day after I drank my coffee each morning to help prevent coffee stains on my teeth. But my cousin, St. Maria–who has given me loads of great beauty and life advice–told me it’s better to make brushing be the absolute first thing you do after waking up. It’s like wake and bake, but for your teeth. Brushing and rinsing out your mouth straight away removes the bacteria and plaque that builds up overnight. Not only is getting that out of your mouth first thing good for your teeth, but good for your system (so you’re not swallowing the bacteria). So now I brush as soon as I get out of bed and again after coffee and breakfast. I use an electric toothbrush and my teeth are too sensitive to use it twice in a short period of time (morning and night is fine though), so I turn it on for my first brushing and keep it off for my second brushing.
I’ve also learned that you should wait 30 minutes after drinking coffee to brush your teeth, as coffee temporarily softens the enamel, so similar to the skin’s acid mantle, it needs time to re-build itself or it can get softened more by the brushing. If any dentists or dental hygienists have input on this, I’d love to hear it. Until then, I’m sticking with my new routine.
Bumping Mics with Jeff Ross & Dave Attell on Netflix. My love for comedy is no joke. I go to as many comedy shows as I can, and there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t watch a comedy special or a video comedy podcast. Even the last three books I read were written by comics (Patton Oswalt, Demetri Martin and Sebastian Manascalco). I’ve become a bit of a comedy snob–if I’m watching a special from a new comic and they don’t make me laugh within the first 15 minutes, I turn it off–but I really appreciate the seasoned pro comics.
So when Bumping Mics hit Netflix, I knew it would be good. I mean, Jeff Ross and Dave Attell? These guys are veteran comics. The show exceeded my expectations and had me laughing out loud. During each set, they’re on stage together, roasting each other and the drop-in guests (like Amy Schumer, Paul Rudd and Bruce Willis), and it’s hilarious. The title comes from how they bump each other’s mics when the other person says something really funny. I binged all three episodes and I wish there were 50 more. If you need a good laugh from two guys who know exactly what they’re doing, check out this show.
Insight Timer App. I know, I know–I’ve said many times in this very blog that meditation is not for me. And I still don’t enjoy doing it on my own, but after several months of health issues that some of the doctors I went to said were probably caused by stress, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give meditation another try. (I’m quite certain my health issues were not caused by stress, for the record. Because as I kept telling everyone I AM NOT STRESSED.) I had a feeling I’d do better with guided meditation, so that’s the route I went.
Part of my health issues include frequent heart palpitations/heart racing, which I know can be related to anxiety (but in my case are likely tied to the middle ear infection I’ve had since October). Even though my palpies and heart racing bouts are positional and don’t come on when I’m feeling a little stressed or anxious, I figured even if meditation didn’t help with those, it would be a good thing to do anyway.
I started with the Headspace app, which I liked but didn’t love. Hatch Tribe founder, Hilary Johnson, recommended Insight Timer to me and I like it a lot better. I loved their Intro course, and I like that they have a variety of free categorized meditations for stress, sleep, anxiety, fear, etc. My heart is still actin’ a fool, but I do feel like I’ve been more patient lately. Maybe that’s because I don’t get the opportunity for road rage, or because of my shorter work weeks (more on that below), but think this app gets some credit too. Thanks, Hilary!
Washer/Dryer Combo. During my last snowbird winter in Charleston, I only filled up my gas tank twice in the entire three months I was in town. And most of my mileage was from driving to a laundromat I liked, 20 minutes away in Isle of Palms. So when I saw that my new apartment had a washer/dryer combo, I thought, Do I even need to bring my car? I decided not to bring it, and it’s been working out fine (more on that below). And this washer/dryer combo thing is working out even better. Sure, it takes twice as long as your traditional separate washer and dryer situation, but it eliminates the need to take laundry out of the washer and put it into the dryer. You can also set it to just do a wash, if you’re like me and have clothes you don’t dry because you don’t want them to shrink and make you feel like you’ve gained weight. When I do a load of laundry that also goes in the dryer, I just set it and forget it. (That tagline isn’t already taken, right?) I love not having to stop what I’m doing to move a bunch of stuff from one machine to another machine. It’s small and efficient (since you don’t have to transfer from washer to dryer), and those are words people use to describe me, so I feel like it’s my kindred spirit of appliances.
BumbleBFF. Y’all know about Bumble, right? (“Yes!,” said all my single ladies. “You mean like the bee?,” said my marrieds.) They have the dating app, which I have used, but that’s not what I love. What I love is the BumbleBFF part of the Bumble app. It’s the same swipe-right-if-you’re-into-them-left-if-you’re-not thing, but it’s for women who want to make some new friends, and I don’t mean “friends” in that wink-wink way. I’ve found that during college and when I was working at different schools/offices/restaurants, it was easy to make friends. There was almost always someone who I clicked with, and we automatically had something in common. But once I graduated college and no longer had tons friends living in my dorm or near my apartments, and after I became a solopreneur whose only coworkers are Coffee, Laptop and Phone, things changed. I’ve still retained a lot of my friendships from college and my pre-AB Beauty years, and I’ve made some great friends since, but many of them don’t even live in the same state as me, nevermind the same town.
I went on BumbleBFF in January 2017, at the start of my first Charleston winter. I met up with three potential new gal pals that winter, and one of them became my one of my closest friends. I’ve met up with a couple more this winter, and I can see a real friendship coming out of at least one of them. Thanks to Hatch Tribe, I already have more friends in Charleston than I do in Newport, but you can never have enough friends, right?
Like any kind of people-meeting app, you’ll have more people to swipe through in a bigger city. There aren’t a ton of people on BumbleBFF in Charleston, but there were maybe two when I looked in Newport, where the population is much smaller. So I think the chances of meeting a friend from BumbleBFF here are higher than if I lived in a smaller place, but I can see this app being especially helpful for those who live in big cities.
My Charleston Work Schedule. I used to hate deep winter–aka the months of January, February and March–but now those three months are some of my favorite months of the year, thanks to my Charleston Winters. Not only do I love my Charleston Winters because I love Charleston, its warmer climate and my friends here, but it’s the time of year when my workweek gets cut almost in half because I don’t take many clients, train makeup artists or work on set here.
It feels like heaven to only work 40ish hours a week, sometimes less. It’s a busy time of year for me with wedding bookings and trial scheduling (we easily get double or triple the amount of inquiries between January – March than we do between June – August), but I can usually get that work done in a normal-length workday. The lack of weddings, trials, shoots and trainings also gives me more time to work on the big picture stuff for my business. AND it gives me more time to have a personal life too, which can be challenging during the rest of the year when I’m so friggin’ busy.
While I’m still as responsive as I am the rest of year during my Charleston Winters, things move a little slower here, and I like that. I don’t feel so crunched for time every day. I’m more relaxed because my workweek is much shorter. I sometimes feel a little guilt about that, but I can usually push it away with grits and 65 degree winter days. I have yet to take a full day off since I started AB Beauty, so these Charleston Winters are probably essential for my health (and sanity).
Blue Light Blocking Glasses. We’ve all heard about the blue light from computer and phone screens, right? It can cause damage to the eyes and has been known to disrupt sleep. I log in a lot of screen time, and I’ve noticed that it does affect my sleep (I find it harder to fall asleep when I’ve been in front of the computer for hours). I also often get headaches from hours of looking at my laptop. So when a friend of mine posted about her new blue light blocking glasses, I thought, I’ll give these bad boys a try. I ordered these ones from Amazon and have been wearing them for a few days. And guess what? No headaches.
It’s hard to say if they have helped with me falling asleep, because the night time heart palpies have been keeping me up. Once those go away, I’ll be able to get a better read on if the glasses are helping with the blue light sleep disruption. Even if they’re not, $12.99 is a fair price to pay to get rid of the headaches, right? The answer is yes.
Not Having a Car. I bought my first car when I was 16. And other than freshmen year in college, when we couldn’t have cars on campus, I’ve never not had a car. I walk to most of errands in Newport–it’s not unusual for me to do 3 or 4 miles round trip when I have a lot to get done–but I need a car for most of my makeup jobs. I needed wheels my first winter in Charleston, because I lived in an apartment complex 20 minutes away from downtown that was off a highway, so it wasn’t a pedestrian-friendly area and wasn’t in walking distance of anything anyway. I lived downtown last winter and could walk to most things I wanted or needed to do, but I needed my car to get to the laundromat.
This year, I took several things into consideration before deciding if I’d even need my car. 1) The washer/dryer combo in my apartment 2) The fact there is no onsite parking at my apartment. 3) How there is no parking allowed on my street. 4) The lack of street parking in my neighborhood. 5) The annoyance of having to remember to go outside each night and put a new visitor’s pass in my car (which I had to do last winter). 6) The cost of driving down from RI and back at the end of my trip, with one hotel stay each way and flying a co-pilot friend back to RI or MA and down from RI or MA compared to the cost of one flight each way for just me and a couple suitcases.
Seeing as though I am once again downtown and can walk to a zillion places, I thought, Forget it. I left my car at my parents’ house (a win-win, since they now have a car to use if one of their’s is in the shop) and I haven’t looked back. I don’t have to worry about parking, filling up my tank, oil changes, or any maintenance or repairs. I also think I’m going to come out of this a better person, as I won’t be experiencing road rage for three months. Sure, I’m spending some cheddar on Ubers and Lyfts a few times a week, but I think it will end up being less expensive than what it would have cost for the trips to and back from Charleston. And it’s so freeing not to have to worry about a car! This was definitely one of my better decisions in life.
Blo Charleston. I like my hair and I’m happy I have it, but it’s a bitch to blowdry it straight (the only way I wear it). I only wash it once a week and while I can and do usually blow it out myself, I like to outsource the job when possible. The problem is that I don’t usually love the professional blowouts I get. Let me revise that: I don’t usually love the top part of the blowouts I get. The bottom 2/3 usually looks way better than what I could do, but the top part is often too smooth and flat for me. Because of my face shape, I like a lot of volume at the crown. My face is wider than it is long, so adding volume at the crown gives the illusion that my diamond shaped face is longer, which, trust me, is flattering. When someone gives me a silky smooth or pin straight blowout, I hate the way my face looks. (That’s also why I don’t use a flat iron.) At the same time, frizz is my nemesis so I like my blowouts to prevent or minimize the frizz without compromising the volume I want. That’s a tall order, huh?
Luckily, like any good Southern city, Charleston has a few blowout bars. I wanted to try one in walking distance of my house, so I chose Blo at 430 King Street, and I’m very happy that I did. Shayla has done my hair twice and she is awesome. She listened to everything I said at my first appointment, and I left there with the perfect blowout. I had volume at the crown, big curls at the ends and no frizz. Shayla answered all of my questions about which products to use and she said she would record it all in my file. And she did, because when I went back the second time, she gave me the same perfect blowout without me saying anything. She’ll be sick of seeing my diamond shaped face by the end of winter, but I’m so glad I found Shayla and Blo.
This Hamstring Stretch. A few months ago, I was having pain while running. Every time I stepped down, I felt a jolt of pain in my right foot. My family chiropractor, Dr. Pete, fixed me and I was able to get back into my marathon-like running routes (just kidding, more like two miles) the next day. He said that part of my problem was that my hamstrings were tight, so he told me to get some rope and do this hamstring stretch every day. It was hard to do at first, but I’ve noticed a difference since I started. Ten reps on each leg every day keeps the foot pain away.
The Fix on Netflix. Yes, another comedy show on Netflix. It’s not a standup special though–it’s a panel show hosted by British comic, Jimmy Carr. Every episode features comics D.L. Hughley and Katherine Ryan, as well as two guest comics. They break off into two teams to debate and come up with a (usually joking) solution to hot topic issues. Then the live studio audience votes for the solution they like best, and the winning team gets…nothing.
I laughed out loud–a lot–at every episode of The Fix. I think it was one of the funniest shows–including standup specials–to hit Netflix in 2018. Every guest was hilarious, and I wish this could be a weekly show. I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but I already want to go re-watch it. If you have any sense of humor at all, you’ll love it too.
White Noise Machine. In 2010, I moved into a third floor apartment in Newport. My second floor neighbor was an elderly night owl gentleman who loved watching The History Channel. Why do I know so much about him? Because on my first night there, he had his television on alllllll night, turned up so loud that I could hear every word on every show about wars that he watched. It didn’t take me long to buy a sound machine to (try) to block out my forced nocturnal history lessons. The machine I bought had a few options: Rain, Rainforest, Beach, White Noise and Heartbeat. Rainforest and Beach had too many annoying bird sounds, and White Noise sounded scratchy. The ominous thumping of Heartbeat would surely make me dream of murderers, so my only option was Rain.
That was almost a decade ago, and I still have to sleep with some kind of non-History Channel sound on. I downloaded the Relax Rain app a while back because I got sick of bringing my sound machine (when I love something I love it) every time I had to sleep somewhere else. Relax Rain is a good app, but sometimes it doesn’t block out noise as much as an actual sound machine.
When I moved into my Charleston apartment this year, I discovered I have a loud upstairs neighbor (or did at first). Relax Rain wasn’t cutting it and my sound machine is packed in my storage unit, so I did some research and discovered this white noise machine. It’s got 20 white noise and fan sounds, so there’s something for all of my fellow light sleepers and HSPs out there. I (thank the Lord) have not heard any thumping around from the upstairs neighbors since I got the white noise machine, but I have used it to block out the construction sounds from my across-the-yard neighbor’s house, and it’s working surprisingly well. I now prefer white noise to rain sounds, which I didn’t expect. What can I say? I’m always evolving.
Fleet Feet. If you are a hardcore runner like me (I joke, I joke), you have to wear good sneakers. I’ve worn crap sneakers in the past and ended up with foot pain, back pain, knee pain, and of course, blisters. A few years back, I found a pair of Asics that I loved, and I kept buying the same ones each time I wore out a pair. When I went to buy them last summer, I was told they had been discontinued. I bought what was supposed to be the most comparable pair, but they were wack. My toe busted through the top after only two months–it usually takes about a year for me to wear them out that much–but worse than that, they were squeaky. Each step I took, squeak, squeak. It was embarrassing!
I threw the squeaky sneaks out and asked around for a good sneaker shop in the Charleston area. Several people directed me to Fleet Feet in Mt. Pleasant, and I’m so glad that they did. Not only do I love my new, quiet kicks, but the whole experience was great. Chris H. greeted me soon after I walked in and explained the process. He had me take off my shoes and socks and walk about 10 feet (I don’t really know how much 10 feet is, so that could be wrong) and back a couple times. Then I stepped onto a machine that scanned my feet and measured the size, width and arch of my feet. My left foot is a 5.5 and my right foot is a 5.8 and I wish I didn’t know that, but Chris said it was normal.
After my foot scan, Chris brought out three pairs of shoes for me to try. He then said I could take a little run in the parking lot to test them out, which I did. I’ve bought a lot of sneakers in my life and no one has ever suggested I run in them, so I loved that. Chris was super knowledgeable and nice, and not at all pushy, which I appreciated. My new sneakers (Nikes, because I’m mad at you, Asics) are comfortable, squeak-free and cute. I had an awesome experience at Fleet Feet and would recommend it to anyone who needs good sneakers sold by people who know what they are talking about. They have locations in most of states in the US, so just go there already.
AND NOW FOR THE OUTRO
I know it’s weird that this is a beauty blog and there is only one beauty fave in here, but I’ve been sick for a couple months so I wasn’t really in the trying-new-products mood. I’ve been feeling, if not fully human, at least halfway there lately, so I’ll make a point to review some new beauty products soon. Until then, I hope you’ve found this post helpful, or at least entertaining. And if you live in an area of the country where it’s cold right now and you need something to look forward to, there are only 62 days left until spring!
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 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!)
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 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!
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh, money. We need it, but damn, it can really make life hard for an entrepreneur (or anyone, but you’re in business owner territory here). So let’s talk about it.
This was originally part of one really long blog post, but I split it up into two. If you want to read what became the first post, the rest of this might make more sense to you.
Everything is going beyond great now, but that wasn’t the case in January and February. I hit a real rough patch financially, and I was not expecting it. Happy New Year to me, right? I wasn’t bouncing checks or not paying bills or anything, but I built myself a lovely little psychological prison where the bars were made of Fear and Sadness and the ruthless guard looked suspiciously like me. (Spoiler alert: It was me.)
I’ve owned my company for ten years and have grown it from a one woman, part-time gig to a seventeen person, full-time-and-then-some-for-me company. I’ve never been shy about the fact that the first five years were a struggle financially. But I knew I had to push through those and get into the part of entrepreneurship where you not only make a profit, but you can do things again. I turned down countless invites over my first five years because I knew I had only enough money to pay for my business expenses and barebones personal expenses. And when I got through it, it was glorious. (The other post goes into details about just how glorious it was, and how I view money.)
If you are a new reader (in which case, welcome!), let me first tell you about my ridiculous life. From April until January, I live in Newport, RI. That’s my college town, and as my friend Amanda and I say, that’s where my soul is. It is where I have lived for the bulk of my adult life, and even though I didn’t grow up in Newport, it is my home. In the winter–and I am not retired or a trust fund baby–I live in Charleston, SC, which is where Amanda and I decided my spirit is. (My heart is in Nashville, if you’re wondering.) Living in Charleston during the winter is one of my favorite things about my life, but it is not cheap.
That’s okay though, because I know how to save and budget. I don’t buy a lot of “stuff” for myself, because I’d rather put money towards the perfect winter apartment and plenty of spending money for grits and Bloody Marias. I did my first snowbird winter in January and February 2017, and although my rent was so expensive I almost lost my lunch when they told me the price, it worked out perfectly. I had saved enough for both rent and spending money, so I was completely fine.
This past year, I leased an apartment in a way better Charleston location. And even though it was a 3.5 month lease, it ended up actually only costing a few hundred dollars total more, taking all expenses into consideration. I had saved like crazy again in 2017 to prepare for snowbirding in 2018, but the perfect storm of expenses hit me hard at the worst time.
About three weeks into my 2018 snowbird winter, I noticed that my bank account was looking very lean. It was normally 5 – 10x larger (depending on the time of year) than it was this past January. At first I thought Oh, we just need to book five or six more jobs and things will be normal, but it was a quiet month in terms of booking and big month in terms of expenses. I had to dip into my savings–something I haven’t had to do since I started even having a savings account four years ago–to pad my account. And that killed me.
How could this happen to me?, I thought. I’m the person does a monthly budget and knows exactly when each dollar goes out. The person who use pro discounts and coupon codes and could make a dress out of the CVS Extra Bucks coupons she has used. Sure, I spend money on going out and treating my friends, but that’s not every day (or even every week) and I don’t spend a ton when I am out. I realize paying for three rents (Newport apartment, Newport beauty studio and Charleston apartment) during my snowbird winters is crazy expensive, but I had pulled it off in 2017 with zero issues, so I assumed 2018 would be the same.
After some thinking, I identified a few causes of my bank account blues. It came down to a lethal combination of unexpected expenses and timing. My attorney increased her rate right before I needed some legal work I didn’t anticipate done in December, so that was a big chunk. My website domain cost jumped up and my studio rent always increases in January, so even though I knew to budget for one, I didn’t know that the domain would increase by so much. I also had a sizeable security deposit for my Charleston apartment temporarily out of my bank account, which is something I didn’t have to pay during my previous snowbird winter. And, I had taken my “Find a Winter Home” trip to Charleston in November plus another trip in mid-December to get my keys and get my apartment set up for my drive down in January. The previous year, I only took one trip before January, and I had stayed with a friend. In November, I stayed in a hotel, and it wasn’t cheap. The costs from that trip had to be paid in December, which is typically not a high revenue month for my company.
But still, I was surprised. It’s not that I go around spending money on whatever I want, but I really hadn’t had to worry about my bank account for a while. I’m talking for several years. Sure, I had some expense-heavy months in the past few years, but there was always enough cash moola, baby, to absorb those hits. I looked at my company’s wedding bookings in January, worried that maybe business wasn’t as good. But it was great! We actually had more weddings and other jobs booked for 2018 than we had in January of 2017 for that year. The difference was that for the 2017 season, the bulk of our bookings starting coming in in December 2016 and January 2017. For the 2018 season, the bulk of our bookings started coming in in September of 2017. So although business was better, a large amount of payments hit the bank account during my snowbird winter in 2017 but before it in 2018.
Also, when comparing our 2017 numbers to this year, we had more corporate work in January of 2017. Most Januarys are not that busy for corporate work, so 2017 was kind of a fluke. But between that and all of the December 2016 and January 2017 payments, the beginning of the previous year had nice little cushion, which allowed the normal expenses and the Charleston expenses to land nicely. It just wasn’t the case this year.
This year, January was the perfect shitstorm of high expenses and a lower income month. Either one on their own would have been fine–and looking back at 2017, I had encountered those exact factors without even really noticing, since previous months had padded the bank account–but together this January, they made an impact I actually felt. All bills were still paid and I wasn’t late with anything, but I did not like the way my business bank account was looking.
So, I did the only thing I thought I could do–I starting a spending freeze (for non-essential items). I only know how to do things in extremes, you know? And I am well aware that the the small things add up. Dropping $50 on dinner and drinks may not seem like anything when I compare it to my regular income, but that was equivalent to my electric bill in Charleston. I held off on going out to eat, meeting friends for drinks and buying anything I didn’t absolutely need. It was a huge bummer, but it felt foolish to me to spend when things were lean. I still don’t take full days off when I’m snowbirding, but in 2017, I was able to take a decent amount of half days off and I loved it. My Charleston life is generally a little slower paced, business-wise, so that I am able to take half days off more often. But for the first six weeks of 2018, I didn’t do much socializing because of the freeze, and that really bothered me. It felt like I was wasting my snowbird winter, but my financial state made me feel paralyzed.
Maybe this all sounds crazy because I was not technically broke. I had money in savings and room on my credit cards (since I pay them in full every month) if things got really bad. But the savings money was my Charleston in-case-of-emergency-fund (the emergency being a slow business year that didn’t leave me with enough to snowbird off that year’s income) and I had worked so hard to get out of that credit card debt. So while those solutions kept me fed and housed, I was still scared. I kept having this irrational thought of What if we stop booking?. Not completely, as that’s highly unlikely for a company that’s been in business for ten years with yearly growth. But I started thinking What if we start booking half of what we usually do? What if I burn through my savings and wrack up credit card debt? Then I would be the 2012 Allison who constantly checked her mail for client payments and reluctantly maxed out her credit cards because she had no other choice. She lived with constant financial stress and fear that one big unexpected expense could wipe her out.
On top of the stress of waiting for a higher income month to balance out the bad months and replenish my savings, I also felt embarrassed. How could I be in this position after a decade in business, the past four of those years being virtually financially worry-free? I thought I was a better business person than that. I really beat myself about that, and it felt so shitty. A lot of it came from this fear of being back in the true broke days of my early years in business, when I carried around so much financial stress that I’m surprised I didn’t fall over. When that stretch of bank account blues ended, I was elated. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I told myself I would never be back in that position again.
On my rare good days (more like scattered hours) early this year I thought, Maybe it’s actually impressive that I had such a good four year run of no financial stress. I don’t know what other small businesses encounter in terms of profit and loss ebb and flow, so I started to think what I was experiencing could be normal. That thought sent me on a search for stories of other established small business owners who had been in this position (and ideally, a happy ending of them getting out of it!), but I couldn’t find many that went into detail about how they felt during their rough patch. They were mostly information on how to solve the problems (which is valuable, but not what I was looking for) or quick mentions of bad times/failures that were overcome prior to great successes. So the idea for this post was born.
When I’m in any type of shitty position, just knowing that other people have been in my shoes helps me feel better. Since other entrepreneurs may also be looking for financial struggle stories that they can relate to, I this could maybe make one person feel better.
It’s not considered polite to talk about money, right? Then fine, don’t read this. (Too late if you’re already this far into it, you weirdo.) But I think especially as an entrepreneur, it is important to talk about it. Unless your business is in the accounting or financial advising industry, money might seem scary and confusing to you. But if you run a business, you have to really understand it. And it’s hard to understand something that many consider tacky to talk about, since that can prevent us from asking for help and advice. If you are an entrepreneur without a good grasp on finances, I think it’s easy to make a lot of mistakes. It’s also easy to feel like you are the only business owner going through a financial struggle, but honey, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I started this post in mid-February, as I was emerging from my spending freeze, and am finishing it now in June of 2018–a record-breaking month for sales for my company. This is likely going to be our best year ever, breaking revenue, booking and company size records. It started out rough, but has completely turned around. Having the rough patch happen forced me to take a really hard look at my monthly income fluctuations and expenses, and I now understand them in a way I didn’t before. That is an extremely valuable realization. It’s allowed me to devise a new plan to prevent anything similar from happening next winter, and I feel confident that it will work.
If you are an established business owner going through a rough patch financially, I feel your pain. I feel your fear, your anxiety, your stress and your embarrassment. If you can figure out the causes of your financial rough patch, there’s a good chance you can correct them and/or prevent them going forward. In the meantime, try to recognize the fact that it’s probably just a tough couple of months. Business ebbs and flows but unless we are talking about some disaster that hit your business or a disruption in your industry that negatively affects your company, you are going to be okay.
There are professional makeup artists and there are beauty gurus. Sometimes a person is both, but that’s not who I’m referring to here. I’m referring to the beauty gurus who do Instaglam makeup (which they often do on both Instagram and YouTube), primarily on themselves but sometimes on others as well. I’ve been looking through some of their Instagram posts and watching as many of their tutorials as I can handle, and I feel compelled to make sure everyone is aware of what is really going on a lot of the time.
This post is for those of you who follow gurus on Instagram or subscribe to their channels on YouTube. How things look in photos or on camera can be very different than what they look like in real life. Like shockingly different.
This post is also for beginner makeup artists, because after a decade in this industry, it is my duty to make sure you know the difference between beauty guru makeup techniques and professional makeup artist techniques. It’s fine to know how to do both if that’s what you like and you have a clientele who likes beauty guru makeup, but you have to know when to put on your professional makeup artist hat and when to do the typical guru type of makeup.
I’m going to go through some of the techniques and behind the scenes stuff so you know what’s really up. I can’t watch every video or story and comment on every technique, but these are the ones I see most often.
Baking. Baking is a drag makeup technique that calls for copious amounts of a lighter-than-your-skin loose powder to be placed onto areas you want to highlight. It is then left on the skin for 20 minutes to “bake.” This is HEAVY makeup (if you didn’t pick that up when I said “drag makeup.”) Mario Dedivanovic did this for a while on Kim Kardashian, but cautioned that it is not an everyday technique. Here’s the thing about powder: it sticks to texture. Dry patches? It’s grabbing onto them. Pores? It will happily fill them in and announce their presence to the world. Fine lines? Treats them just like it does pores, but has the fun effect of adding years onto your face.
Drag queens can get away with baking because they are performing, so they are far enough away where you can’t see any skin texture. But if you are baking your makeup then sitting outside for a lunch date with your friend at 1:00pm? She’s going to see everything. Unless someone has no visible pores or fine lines–so basically, infants–that much powder is super obvious in person. Most clients who sit in my chair tell me they don’t want their makeup to look caked on, which is why I stay away from baking.
Tip of Nose Highlight. This highlighter craze has gone TOO FAR. This particular trend drives me insane, because it’s really common with beauty gurus, and it is bad. I believe it started because some gurus said it would make the nose look upturned and like, so cute. And I’ve seen some people say they do it because they have a bump on the bridge of their nose, and highlighting the tip makes the bump seem less noticeable in comparison. And others say it makes a flat nose look more narrow, which makes zero sense. Highlighting anything will make it stand out more and look bigger. Do you want the tip of your nose to look bigger or bulbous? I didn’t think so. Plus, part of this trend is to use shimmery highlighter, and shimmer makes things shiny. When did having a shiny nose become desirable?!?! Lastly, shimmer particles fit very nicely into pores, and many people already have visible pores on their nose. Why would you want to point those out? If you insist on doing this technique, fine. Just know that it is obvious and not flattering in person.
Tip of Nose Blush. This shit is baffling. It’s not unusual for a pro makeup artist to use some bronzer or blush across the bridge of the nose when doing a sunkissed or beachy editorial makeup, but tip of the nose? I don’t get it. I’ve always applied makeup to cover red or pink tones on the nose, not bring them out. Blush is meant to meant to mimic the natural flush you get on your cheeks, not your nose. A red or pink nose used to mean someone was sick, crying or had rosacea. I don’t know the reasoning behind this one, and I don’t want to.
Contouring for One Face Shape. If you look up contouring and highlighting tutorials, 90% of them will be for an oval face shape. That’s great if you’re an Oval, but what about the Hearts, Diamonds, Triangles, Rounds, Oblongs and Squares out there? And what about those with features that they are better off not highlighting or contouring? If you are going to venture into the world of highlighting and contouring, you have to first identify your face shape then learn how to contour and highlight for that shape. If you are a Square with prominent cheekbones and you contour like you’re an Oval, you’ll be putting the focus exactly on the areas you don’t want to draw attention to. For more on face shapes and how to sculpt your’s in a flattering way, check out my Shape Up series.
Product Dripping. I don’t know what this technique is called, or if there is even a name for it, but I’ve seen it in several tutorials. This is when the guru takes a liquid production (foundation, luminzer, primer, etc.) that comes in a bottle with a pump or dropper and dispenses product directly onto the face. I’ve been doing makeup professionally since 2008, and I had never seen anyone do this until recently. The pro artists I know will dispense product onto their hand or a palette before applying (as do I). I can’t imagine what the benefit would be of applying it directly from bottle to face. And in many of the tutorials I’ve seen with people who do this, they use a ton of product. When I use Armani Luminous Silk or Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundations, I dispense one pump–sometimes a pump and a half–to do an entire face. I’ve seen gurus use 4-6 pumps on themselves. That is bananas! That’s a crapload of makeup, and it’s completely unnecessary. There is zero chance of that much product not caking up on the skin, especially after powder is applied. And good luck blending! The skin can only absorb so much. It’s also a giant waste of product. Please do not do this.
Emphasizing All Features. I went over this in my Which Team Are You On? post, but here’s the recap: editorial makeup (and pro makeup in general, up until social media) focused on one feature, but Instaglam makeup does them all up. Full coverage foundation, heavy contour, blinding highlight on several features, cut crease eyeshadow, winged liner, thick brows, false lashes, overdrawn lipliner and matte or intense lipstick colors. It is essentially drag queen makeup, which I love when done well on actual drag queens. But drag queens are men who transform themselves into ultra-feminine women. Women already naturally have some of the features and bone structure drag queens emulate, so putting extra emphasis on those features can backfire and make a woman look masculine. (Fine if that’s your thing, but I have a feeling it’s not what those following beauty gurus are going for.)
So Much Product. With the emphasis on all features, beauty gurus are already using a lot of different makeup products. And the actual amount of product they use is insane to me. Let me break it down.
I’ve already covered drip foundation, and this triangle-of-concealer-under-eyes application makes no sense, as Wayne Goss explains. Every good pro makeup artist I know works in thin layers of concealer and foundation, which allows them to blend easily and use only as much as they need to blur any imperfections and let the skin show through.
The amount of powder used by many gurus–whether or not they are baking–is borderline obscene. Powder is meant to set foundation and minimize shine, using the least amount of product you can. Lots of any kind of powder product is guarantee to cake up on the skin.
You don’t need to use three contour products and a bronzer. If you want to sculpt, a cream contour and a powder contour are the absolute most you would need to use. I’ve seen gurus use concealers, stick foundations or contour sticks, powder contour and bronzer layered over each other. Unnecessary!
If you think layer upon layer of glittery highlight will look like anything other than a stripe of shimmer on your face in natural light, you are mistaken.
Overdrawn lips plus lipstick plus lipgloss plus highlight over and under the liplines? Again, drag makeup. If that’s your goal, proceed.
If you want to use as much product as many of the gurus do, be my guest. But know that a) It’s going to look super heavy in real life and b) Your beauty product spending will increase, as you are using way more product than you need to.
And now for the behind the scenes stuff. Beauty guru tutorials and photos can be very deceiving. I was talking to a friend of a client at a bridal trial recently, and she said she went to a meet and greet for a well-know guru, and could not believe how much makeup she had on. I wasn’t surprised at all! It’s because of those things I just mentioned, as well as:
Lighting. I’ve worked on a several films, commercials and television shows over the years. So I can tell you from experience that lighting makes a huge difference. If a person is lit well, their skin will look smoother, younger and more even toned than it really is. You can absolutely manipulate lighting to be mega-flattering and soft on camera. But beauty gurus don’t have a lighting crew on set! you say. True, but many of them use ring lights, which can make even the most hack blending job look gorgeous on camera. If they did the same makeup in your bathroom that has those yellow lights you hate, things would look at lot different.
Filters. You probably know about Instagram filters, and the editing you can do there. There are also digital filters that many beauty gurus use to make the skin look impossibly smooth and perfect in videos. Don’t feel like reading anymore about this? Then watch Wayne’s video on what he calls live Photoshop.
Editing Out Steps. A full face of makeup–especially the way some of these gurus do it–often takes way more time than the length of the video. Application steps, blending and product absorption time can easily be edited out. Sometimes a guru will tell you that, but other times they keep it to themselves. A winged eyeliner alone can take the length of some of these tutorials, so don’t think that you’re doing anything wrong if you can’t do a full face and lashes in 10 minutes and 19 seconds.
If you are aware of all of these factors and you love guru/Instaglam makeup, then do you, babygirl. I’m not trying to dissuade you from doing looks you like on yourself. I just want you to know the reality of what you see so you don’t think you’re doing it wrong when it looks heavy or unflattering on your own face.
However, if you are a pro makeup artist and you try to do this type makeup on a commercial, film or at a corporate shoot, you’re probably going to get fired. If whatever you are working with is filmed in HD, heavy makeup is going to be magnified and it will not look good. Think back to the last movie or show you watched. Did you see obvious contour? Tons of disco ball highlight? Heavy, dark brows? Nope. You have to know how to do clean makeup if you want to work in on those types of shoots.
I could go on and on about this topic, but I think I’ve covered the basics. If you’ve got questions or comments, you know what to do.