Don’t Be Intimidated: A Foundation How To

Getting that foundation perfect for my bride. Photo: Rupert Whiteley

Let’s talk about something else–anything else–than the “C” word. (Takes on a different meaning in spring of 2020, doesn’t it?). You’re in the right place/looking at the right screen! This is primarily a beauty blog, so let’s talk beauty.

If I were to pick the makeup product people are most scared of, it has to be foundation. From choosing the correct color match and formulation to how to best apply it, I understand why it can seem like an overwhelming product to start using. But listen, I’m here for you. I’m going to guide you through each step of the process so by the end of this, you’ll have a great foundation–and I do mean that literally and figuratively.

Let’s get to it!

What’s Your Type? The first thing you should consider when buying a foundation is your skin type. Do you have dry skin, oily skin, normal skin or combination skin? Certain foundations work better on certain skin types. Foundations that have a dewy or luminous finish are typically better for dry or normal skin, as oily skin already has its own shine. Matte foundations are normally better for oily skin, as they tend to be a heavier formulation, which can latch onto dry areas. Because they are heavier, it’s hard for the oil to get through the product and because they are matte, they don’t add shine to already shiny skin.  I’m not a huge fan of powder foundations (I normally only use them in place of my usual setting powder to get more coverage on clients with acne), but I definitely avoid them on dry skin, as they can cake up when they encounter dry patches. You can check beauty blogs and reviews for the best foundations for different skin types, but I’ll tell you what I like.

For normal and dry skin, MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation is the bee’s knees. For oily skin, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation  or Armani Luminous Foundation (it’s not that luminous, so it’s fine for oily skin) with Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer underneath does the job. For combination skin, I use MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation with Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer underneath and MAC ProLongwear Concealer on the T-zone or oily areas. I realize I’m recommending more than just foundations for two out of four of the skin types, but in my eyes, makeup is a team player situation.  Knowing the right kind of foundation for your skin type will help keep your foundation from looking too shiny or cakey.

Throwing Shade. Finding the right foundation shade is key if you want your foundation to look like skin and not makeup. So, here’s how you find that right shade. First Step: Eyeball it. If you look at a row of foundations, you know roughly where you fall. I have faith that you can rule out some shades that would be too light and/or too dark for you.

Second Step: Get samples of 3 – 5 shades that you think could be your perfect match. Stores like Sephora will give you samples, and most chain drugstores will let you return opened beauty products so you can sample by buying a foundation then returning it if it’s the wrong shade. Just keep that receipt, boo boo.

Third Step: In natural light, apply a vertical stripe of  foundation on your jawline (not om your neck or your hand, which can each be a different color than your face). If you’re testing a few shades, stripe them next to each other. The right shade for you will disappear on your skin when you step back and look in the mirror. You might find that some shades are not darker or lighter than your skin, but look too peach, pink/red, yellow or olive. That’s an undertone issue, so your best bet is to try to find out which undertone the “off” foundation has (some makeup companies will list the undertones of their foundations on their website) and then avoid that undertone when testing foundations going forward, if you can find out that information.

Following these three steps should help you find your Prince or Princess Charming of foundations, but if you’re really stuck, booking a makeup lesson with a pro makeup artist (when life gets back to normal) is an option.

When your foundation is undetectable, you’ve done it right. Photo: Sarah Bastille Photography
Hair: Emily Buffi for Allison Barbera Beauty
Makeup: Allison Barbera

Tools of The Trade. Okay, so now you’ve got the right foundation for your skin type and it matches you perfectly. Congrats! You’re doing better than a lot of YouTube beauty gurus. To really get this right, you have to make sure to apply it in a way that will even out your skintone without overloading the skin with product. There are a few ways to go with this, but I’ll tell you what I prefer to do, as a makeup artist who likes skin to look like skin.

When using a liquid foundation on clients, I use a flat foundation brush to apply the product to the forehead, cheeks and chin. I apply a big dot of it on the center of each area, then use a buffing brush to blend it outwards. On myself, I use my hands to apply liquid foundation, then I use a buffing brush to blend it out. In both cases, I use what’s left on the buffing brush to go over the nose. The skin on noses is different than the rest of the face and it can get quickly overloaded with product, so I typically don’t apply a dot of foundation there. I have combo skin and I get pretty dry in colder, non-humid climates, so when I’m dry, I take a few seconds to press my (clean, washed) hands on each section of face to help the foundation further absorb into my skin via the body heat and the pressure from my hands. I don’t do this when I’m in warmer, humid climates because the oils from my skin already help my foundation absorb.

When I use powder foundations on myself or on my clients, I apply them with a sponge (sometimes the flat one that came with the foundation if I like it, sometimes a wedge sponge). I dip the sponge into the foundation and use a stippling motion to apply to one section of the face. I repeat until I have all of the areas covered. I’ll sometimes lightly go over it with a buffing brush if I think it needs a blend, but I rarely use a brush to initially apply powder foundation, as that can lead to an uneven application.

If you choose the right foundation formulation and shade for your skin and you apply it correctly, you’ve mastered it! Want a job with AB Beauty? 😉 With a little bit of trial and error (and isn’t this a great time to try things out at home?), I know you can do this.

If you need help, comment away.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Undetectable Makeup: How To Avoid Cake Face

Nothing cakey about this makeup! Photo: East Passage Photography Makeup: Allison Barbera

There have been a lot of makeup trends over the years, but there’s one we’ve never seen and probably never will: cakey makeup. I’m talking visible foundation and/or powder that looks like it’s an inch off the skin, with product settling into lines, pores and other textured parts of the skin.

There are different choices that lead to caked up makeup, and I’m here to help you not make those mistakes.

Shed The Dead (Skin). It all starts with skincare. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells that haven’t shed themselves from the surface of the skin. If you’ve got too many dermis corpses hanging out on your skin, foundation will cling to those, which will cause your makeup to look caked on. A regular exfoliation routine (unless you’re using something that’s contraindicated with exfoliation) will help eradicate this issue.

Moisture Matters. Foundation applies much more smoothly on a moisturized skin, so make sure you’re not forgetting this important step. Just let it fully absorb before applying any face makeup.

Hydration Nation. Dehydrated skin causes fine lines to show more prominently, and when makeup settles into those fine lines, instant caking. To help keep skin hydrated–which is different than moisturized–I recommend regularly using hylaluronic acid after you shower or wash your face (it needs to be applied to damp skin).

I Got You Covered. Foundations can generally be categorized as Sheer/Light Coverage, Medium Coverage and Full Coverage. For liquid foundations, the more coverage they have, the thicker they tend to be. Powder foundation coverage is partially due to the pigments and ingredients in the products, and partially due to how you apply it (which I’ll get to). The important thing to know is that the fuller coverage you use, the higher the chances that your makeup will get cakey wit it. And if I may give my two cents on full coverage foundation, I don’t think it’s necessary unless your entire face is covered in acne (and even then, I have some other ideas). If you have generally clear skin with only a few blemishes or some minor discoloration that you’d like to minimize, you’re better off using a sheer foundation all over and concealer and/or color corrector where needed.

Everything in Moderation. A good pro makeup artist will tell you they use the minimal amount of foundation needed for each. They don’t use eight pumps worth of foundation on one face, like I’ve seen many a YouTuber do. Listen here, my friend–the skin will NEVER absorb that much foundation. And if it can’t be absorbed, it’s going to sit on the skin and be noticeable (and probably distracting) to anyone you have a conversation with. Cake City, USA, baby!

I didn’t even use a quarter-sized amount of foundation, which is why my skin looked like skin.

A Layered Story. Much like foundations, concealers come in different coverage types. The best way to avoid caking is to start with less concealer than you think you need. Apply it in thin layers to build up your coverage, as there’s no coming back from thick layers without removing them. If you start with a too thick concealer or use too much at once, your skin won’t absorb and it will sit on the skin, lookin’ all obvious and shit.

Minimize Your Risk. When makeup settles into lines and pores, it looks cakey. If you fill in those lines and pores before you apply your foundation, though…well, we’ve solved that problem, haven’t we? Just make sure to give the pore minimizer a minute to absorb before applying your beautifully thin layers of foundation and concealer.

A No Bake Makeup. Powder is often a culprit in the ol’ cake face dilemma, so beware. It’s not that you can’t use powder, but do so with a light hand. Don’t bake your powder (putting a bunch on the skin then letting it sit there for a while before brushing it off.) Baking leads to caking, darling. Start with less powder than you think you need, then add more if you still see shine. A thin layer is all you really need to set your foundation, so there’s no reason to go overboard.

I said USE SPARINGLY.

The Right Tools. When I use foundation on clients, I apply it with a flat foundation brush then I blend it in with a buffing brush, using circular motions. In this case, the flat foundation brush is the vehicle but the buffing brush does the driving. When I apply it on my own face, I use my hands then blend it in with a circular motion using a buffing brush. I think these two techniques allow for the most natural finish. Using a Beautyblender type sponge to stipple on foundation can give you fuller coverage, and that can lead to caking if you haven’t prepped your skin well or are using a heavy foundation.  Using a buffing brush to blend, blend, blend tends to give the most natural finish.

Set It Off. Occasionally, even though I’ve done everything right with the makeup, I’ll notice some low level caking on a client’s face due to lack of exfoliation or hydration. But once I apply setting spray, the minor caking goes away. I’m not suggesting you ignore skincare, layer on full coverage products, bake your powder and think you can you fix that all with some setting spray, but if you have a tiny bit of caking–I’m talking a 1 out of 10–a spritz or two of setting spray may take care of your problem.

Cake face doesn’t have to happen to you. With the right choices and precautions, your foundation, concealer and powder will absorb nicely and look seamless. And don’t we both want that for you?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Oily Skin Help

I could have done a little better with my shine control that day.

Everybody’s skin produces sebum (an oily substance) via the sebaceous glands. But for those folks with truly oily skin, their sebum production is kicked up a notch. Oily skin is primarily caused by hormone fluxations and genetics, so it can be something a person experiences for certain periods in their lives when hormonal changes are happening (like puberty, pregnancy or menopause) or it can be their type for life, as dictated by their DNA. Some people age out of oily skin, as our bodies produce less sebum as we get older, but I’ve had clients in their 50s who still have it.

The good thing about oily skin is that excess sebum often slows down the appearance of fine lines, as the sebum acts as a mega moisturizer. The bad thing is that it can cause breakouts when the excess sebum mixes with bacteria and/or clogs the pores.

Don’t you worry, though. As a licensed esthetician, makeup artist and combination skin human, I know the tricks of the trade for both dry and oily skin. I already told you about dry skin, so now it’s oily skin’s time to shine (pun intended).

We have to start off with cleanser. For dry, normal, and combination skin types, cleansing once a day (at night) is really all you need to do, as long as you use a good oil cleanser or a cleansing balm like Farmacy Green Clean. But if you wake up and your face looks like it could sing the theme song to Grease, go ahead and give it another cleanse. The key here is to use something light and gentle, as you only need to remove the excess surface oils, not a face full of makeup, sunscreen and the debris of the day like you encounter at night. I’m not a big proponent of Cetaphil for night time cleansing, but I think it’s fine for a morning cleanse on truly oily skin.

This thoroughly cleanses the skin without stripping it.

Another good option is the Fresh Soy Cleanser, which is gentle and calming. No need to scrub your face in the a.m. (and in fact, massaging the skin can rev up sebum product). Please don’t go the way of many of your oily-skinned brethren and use a harsh, oil-free clarifying type of cleanser–you know, the type that makes your skin feel squeaky-clean. Those cleansers strip your skin of all of the surface oils, which signals to your sebaceous glands that the oil is gone, so they need to produce more. Counter-productive, you see? If you cleanse correctly, you should see an improvement in your skin.

Cleansing isn’t all there is to it though. Don’t assume that you should skip moisturizer because your skin is oily. You just need to choose the right moisturizer for your dermis. I’m a big fan of Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture because it gives the skin just enough moisture without making it look or feel greasy. It’s a no-frills, reasonably priced product that I’ve personally been using for years.

Since excess oil on the skin can clog pores, exfoliation (unless you use a prescription retinoid) is essential. Exfoliating helps remove the dead skin cells that can get trapped by sebum inside of the pores, as those trapped dead skin cells mixed with sebum is what causes blackheads. If you have oily skin, you can exfoliate two times a week with a quality exfoliant like Kate Somerville ExfoliKate. Or, if an every day exfoliation routine suits you better, I recommend Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. Whichever exfoliant you choose, consistency is key. So set it as a reminder, leave a Post-it note on your mirror or rename your dog “Exfoliant” if that will make it happen.

No skincare routine is complete with a mask. Charcoal masks, clay masks and mud masks are great for oily skin, as they pull out and/or absorb those surface oils. Boscia Luminizing Black Charcoal Mask is a cult favorite peel off mask, and one that I hear really works (I’m not oily enough to benefit from it myself). If you don’t love a peel off, a clay mask like Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask or a mud mask like Shea Moisture African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask might be a better option. Whichever mask you end up with, please patch test it first to make sure you aren’t sensitive to any of the ingredients. Masks can have some pretty strong active ingredients, so if you’re allergic to one, it’s probably best to find that out before it’s been on your face for 15 minutes.

If you’re a makeup wearer with oily skin, you’ve probably noticed that your makeup can fade quicker than your normal and dry skin counterparts. That’s because oil melts away makeup (hence my love for oil cleansers). A setting spray for oily skin–like Urban Decay DeSlick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray–will work wonders. This particular setting spray should be used before and after your apply your face makeup. You simply spray it on–no blending or brushes needed–so it’s foolproof, as long as you know where your face is.

Set it and forget it.
Photo: Samira Rabinowitz Photography
Makeup: Jennifer Smith for Allison Barbera Beauty

Whether or not you wear makeup, you’ll see some areas of shine throughout the day if you have overactive sebaceous glands. Oil blotting sheets are a quick fix that anyone can use. They typically come in a slim package that fits in a back pocket, the little bit of space you have left in your top desk drawer and even in the tiniest of clutches. Oil blotting sheets are thin, lightweight little guys that simply absorb oil when pressed onto the skin. I give a pack of Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets to each one of my brides. Their makeup is built to last, but if they or anyone else in the bridal party have truly oily skin, they may see some shine 12 hours after I’ve done their makeup. But with the oil blotting sheets, no one needs to know about that shine.

I hope these suggestions help you keep your oil at bay. Your sebaceous glands don’t need to win this battle. With consistency and the right products, you can dull your shine (in a good way).

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Dry Skin Help

Back when I used to live in RI all winter, I had dry skin. So I know what I’m talking about!

Dry skin. You’ve heard of it, right? Hell, maybe you even have or have had it. But why does it happen? And how can you fix it? Let’s start at the root of the problem.

Normal skin has enough sebum (oil) to form the lipids that create protection against external influences. Dry skin lacks that sebum, making it feel rough, as well as making it prone to cracking and peeling. Dry skin can be caused by genetics, illness, medications, hormonal changes, aging, dietary deficiencies, weather, skincare products and heating units.

Now that you know about dry skin, let’s talk about products that can help restore some moisturize to your poor little dermis.

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm. If you have dry skin, the last thing you want to do is use a cleanser that strips your skin of moisture. Green Clean does no such thing, which is why it’s perfect for dry skin. If it’s in the budget, I highly recommend switching to this cleanser. If you already use it, bravo!

Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream. Back when I lived in RI during the winter, my combination skin would get some serious dryness once temps dropped below 40. This was the first moisturizer I used that made any difference. I’ve recommended it to a lot of my dry skin friends and clients, and they’ve all loved it. It contains mango butter, which I know to be an effective moisturizer from my teenage obsession with The Body Shop Mango Body Butter. That stuff made my skin so soft it was almost criminal, so I believe in the power of mango for dry skin.

Embroylisse Lait Creme Concentre. This French moisturizer is a long-time makeup artist fave. It works wonders on dry skin without leaving a greasy film. It feels lightweight but still packs a punch with its hydrating shea butter and skin firming soy protein. I’m recommending two dry skin moisturizers because, you know, preferences.

Josie Maran Argan Oil. Dry skin lacks oil, so add some back in! You can use this Argan Oil over your moisturizer (oil molecules are hefty, so it’s better to apply moisturizer first so it can penetrate the skin) or as an overnight treatment. You can also use it to spot treat dry patches. It works miracles, I’m telling you.

Fresh Rose Face Mask. Using a hydrating mask once or twice a week will help you on your quest for softer skin (and boy, does this make your skin feel soft). The Fresh Rose Face Mask provides hydration without leaving a film or causing the skin to feel tight. If you have an allergy to floral ingredients or fragrances though, I would try looking for masks that contain avocado, Vitamin E, shea butter or honey instead.

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment. If you have dry skin and you want it to feel soft, you HAVE TO exfoliate. Dead skin cells don’t shed themselves as easily on dry skin because there is less oil there to loosen them up. Exfoliants will melt them (if they are enzyme exfoliants) or slough them (if they are physical exfoliants) right off. ExfoliKate is a enzyme exfoliant, so you apply it, massage it in for 30 seconds, then let it sit for two minutes while it melts the cellular glue, if you will, that binds dead skin cells to the surface of the skin. I would recommend using this twice a week on dry skin.

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. If physical exfoliants (aka scrubs) are more your thing, you might like the Daily Mic (as we used to call it in Esthetics school). It’s a powder that turns into a paste when you add water. It’s gentle enough for every day use, so if you are someone who might forget to do something twice a week but can stick to a daily skincare routine, the Daily Mic might be a good option for you.

The Ordinary Hylaluronic Acid 2% + B5. Technically, dry skin lacks oil and dehydrated skin lacks water, so dry skin needs oil. But you can have both dry and dehydrated skin, and many people do. For that reason, I have to recommend the world’s best hydrator, hyaluronic acid. You can use a moisturizer or serum that includes hyaluronic acid, but it usually not an active ingredient. My suggestion is to get the purer form of HA–one that is undiluted by lots of other ingredients–to reap the biggest benefits. The Ordinary’s version has been my go to for a couple of years, and I recommend it for all skin types.

So, there you go. Is your skin feeling more moisturized already? Good! If you’re going to try any of these products, please, for the love of Biggie, patch test each one first and introduce only one new product a week if you’re thinking about testing out a few. Overdoing it with several new skincare products all at once is like starting a diet on January 1st–it ain’t gonna work.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Fall Beauty Tips

Thinking about changing your beauty regimen for the fall? I can help.

Well, it’s officially fall. That makes some people giddy, and fills others with a sense of impending doom, as they know which season comes next. (Guess which category I’m in?) With the shorter days, cooler temps and darker colored clothes in rotation, some skincare and makeup changes might be in order. You don’t have to make changes, but if you want to, here’s what this licensed esthetician and makeup artists suggests.

Re-hydrate. If you live in a part of the country where temps really drop in the fall, you may notice that your skin looks and/or feels dry. That’s caused by the humidity drop, which makes the water in your skin evaporate more quickly. To combat this drying attack on the skin, I recommend using hyaluronic acid twice a day. It has to be applied to damp skin (and immediately followed by moisturizer), so I use it once in the morning after I shower, and once at night after I wash my face. I also start working in a face oil (I like Josie Maran Argan Oil) in early fall, before my skin has too much of a chance to dry out. And if you don’t already use one–especially if you have dry skin year-round–I would switch to a cleansing balm or oil cleanser, like Farmacy Green Clean or Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil. If you want extra credit (aka better skin), throw in a hydrating mask like Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask or Fresh Rose Face Mask once or twice a week. Adjusting your skincare routine seasonally makes a big difference.

Lip Service. You may find that in addition to your skin getting dry, your lips feel dry or chapped (also due to the lowered humidity). This seems to get worse for most people later in the fall into winter, but why not stay ahead of the game? I am all about keeping my lips hydrated with Glossier Balm Dotcom. Even if they don’t feel dry, I apply it a few times a day. The other thing that can cause dry lips is dehydration. I think some people drink more water during the summer, so it would make sense that they are less hydrated in the fall. I do notice a change in my lips on days when I haven’t had much water. So if your lips are dry or chapped, try upping your water intake and applying Balm Dotcom a few times a day. Or you can use whatever lip balm works for you, but be aware that wax-based balms don’t really correct the issue on the deeper level. They do surface work, and you deserve better than that.

Shed Some Skin. Dry patches can creep in once the weather changes, so unless you’re using a product that is contraindicated with exfoliation, you might want to use an exfoliant twice a week. Exfoliating removes the dead, dry skin from the top layer of your epidermis, making your skin smoother and more receptive to skincare products. What’s not to love? Kate Somerville Gentle Exfoliating Treatment and Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant Exfoliant are both great options for exfoliants.

Amp Up Your Makeup. Make no mistake–I love summer. I get pretty angry the first day I have to switch from sandals to close-toed shoes.  But I will admit that summer clothing that has light colors or patterns can sometimes limit your makeup options. I’m not saying you can’t wear a vampy merlot lipstick with a blue and white romper, but I personally think it looks better with, say, a light gray sweater dress. I also find myself doing darker eye makeup during the fall than I do in the summer, because it tends to go better with my colder weather clothes. Heavier clothes and heavier eye makeup, right? It makes sense to me. Do what you want with your makeup, but if you have a bold lipstick or a metallic eyeshadow you’ve been wanting to try out, you might find it works better with your fall wardrobe.

Bring Out That Self Tanner. Sun exposure is minimized as the shorter days roll in, and that means reduced Vitamin D. That can cause some skintones to appear sallow. If that bothers you, try applying some self tanner. I don’t do it every day, but I do use self tanners a lot during the colder months, as I’m already very fair skinned and the darker colors of my fall wardrobe make my skin look even lighter in contrast. Also, I know a lot of women either have hair that gets lighter during the summer, or they dye their hair darker in the fall, so they might feel their skin looks lighter due to the darker hair contrast. Some people like that contrast, and if that’s you, go on with your bad self, Snow White! But if you feel pale either due to a fading tan or your hair contrast, self tanner can be your best friend.

There’s no rule that says you have to switch up your skincare and makeup routine as soon as the leaves start changing color. But if you feel so inclined, hopefully my tips will help.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Pro Makeup Artist Essentials: Part 2

On an overnight shoot for “Whaling City” in 2010. This was the first feature film I worked on, and I learned a lot.

Now that you’ve read Part 1–thank you–and know what you need in your kit, it’s time for the rest of the list. This list covers the items I think you need to make your day easier and more comfortable, as well as some essential intangibles. This is just as important as the list in Part 1, so listen up, friend.

Snacks. You can usually get a hold of water on a corporate or commercial set, but the food available (called “craft services” or “crafty” on a film or on a job with people who work in film) may not always be to your liking. I’ve seen it range from tables of crappy junk food to corner of a counter with a few sad looking pieces of fruit and some crackers. I have a gluten allergy and a list of other things that bother me, so I always bring snacks with me. You might want to do the same on set, and at a wedding job if you’ll be there for long enough that you’ll want to eat. Sometimes there’s a big wedding-morning-spread or a bride asks what you want when lunch is ordered, but usually you’re on your own.

Phone Charger. A “full day” on a commercial or corporate set is generally considered to be anywhere from 4 – 10 hours, and it’s not unusual to go over the 10 hour mark. I don’t know about your phone, but mine will start draining battery after a while, especially if I’ve been answering emails during breaks. That’s why I always bring a phone charger to set. As long as the makeup is being done inside (I’ve done my fair share of parking lot, field and garage makeup setups), you should have access to an outlet. If you’re doing a wedding and will be with the bride all day, I would also recommend bringing a charger and plugging it in whenever you can.

The Right Clothing. I’ve worked in freezing cold warehouses, on exterior shoots in January in New England and blazing hot houses in August where the a/c couldn’t be turned on because it would affect sound. And some studios are kept icy cold even in the summer, which is great for the talent because it keeps them from sweating, but unbearable for people like me who get cold if they hold a drink with ice in it for two minutes. So, I suggest bringing a sweater in the summer and if you are going to be in a studio, and always have a jacket with you if you might be outside and temps are cold enough for one. As far as being too hot, tank tops, shorts and sandals are not appropriate for corporate or commercial work, so lightweight clothing is key. At a wedding job, you can get away with a light dress as long as it’s not revealing (and not white!). Sandals are also fine for weddings.

I was wearing that dress with sandals. Appropriate wedding outfit, inappropriate corporate or commercial shoot outfit. Photo: Brittanny Taylor Photography

Business Cards. As a makeup artist, you will meet a ton of people. If they are in your chair, you might be having anywhere from a 5 minute to a one hour conversation with them. You might find that the talent you are talking to has a daughter getting married next year who needs a makeup artist, or the bridesmaid you’re clicking with owns a real estate company and wants makeup for marketing photos of her team. You’ll also meet crew members who might work on a future project that needs a makeup artist, and if they have your card, they can easily refer you to a producer. All of these people are unlikely to remember your name (sorry) without a business card, so why risk it?

Contact Info & Parking Instructions. Before you go to any job, make sure you have a contact phone number, parking information, building name or hotel room number and any location/entrance details ahead of time. If you wait until you get to a location to try to find out this information, you might be S.O.L. There’s no reason you can’t request this info a few days before a job. Clients like prepared makeup artists and your stress level will like that too.

A Full Gas Tank. You’ll do some jobs where you stay in one location all day, and others where you drive around to several locations. Unless you know for sure that you won’t be changing locations, make sure you have a full tank (especially if you have a long drive home). I’ve done political campaigns ads that required stops at five different locations in a day, some with 30 minute drives in between. You’re not going to have time to stop for gas in that type of situation. In fact, I don’t even recommend stopping for gas on the way to a job. Why add something your plate the day of when you might need that extra time if you get caught in a traffic jam or the parking lot you were told to park in is full? Fill up the day before and give yourself five points for preparedness.

A Book. On some jobs, you’ll have a lottttt of dead time. You may also be in a location where you have no signal and there’s no WiFi around (like working on a commercial in a field for 12 hours, which I’ve done).  Maybe you’d be fine using that time to re-organize your kit, talk to someone (if there is anyone around) or, I don’t know, meditate, but I usually have a book with me in case my phone is useless and I’m in a far away hair and makeup room by myself. That way I don’t die of boredom during an hour-long camera and lighting set up or wedding ceremony (waiting for the bride to get back for a pre-Cocktail Hour touchup).

If you’re sitting in the makeup room for an hour during a set up and you can’t use your phone (or even if you can), this is a great read.

Set & Wedding Etiquette. This is a monster of a topic. Set etiquette covers who you talk to, when you talk to them, the lingo you use, where to position yourself, when to move, what to wear, etc. If you want to work in film, this is a good read. It’s a little different on a corporate or sometimes commercial job, but these worlds often cross over. There’s no set at a wedding, but there is wedding etiquette. Like say “Happy Wedding Day!” or something similar when you see the bride, don’t wear a white dress, don’t take food or drinks without asking, don’t move things without asking (if you need the space for your setup), don’t talk about breakups/divorces, don’t drink on the job (you will be offered mimosas at some weddings), etc. Some of it is common sense and manners, but you’d be surprised what I’ve seen and heard about from other companies and in reviews I’ve read.

Professionalism. That means always be on time, don’t have inappropriate conversations, don’t take care of personal To Do list at a job, don’t disappear from set or while you’re supposed to be working on clients, invoice accurately, clearly and quickly, etc. You can be the best makeup artist in the world, but if you get a reputation of being unprofessional, you won’t get far. I either have to stop this paragraph here or write 97 more paragraphs about it, so let’s stop.

Between this post and this last one, I think I’ve covered all of the big stuff. Being a makeup artist–at least a successful one–means doing more than evening skintones and filling in eyebrows. It requires preparation, tact and professionalism. The beauty industry has become a very competitive place to work, so my recommendation is to learn everything you can before you start so that you can be more prepared than the other newbie makeup artists. I hope this helped, and I wish you the best of luck in your career.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Pro Makeup Artist Essentials: Part 1

My set up at the PBS station I regularly work at in Providence, RI. Ready for anything!

Starting out as a makeup artist? Welcome to the club! When I started out, I not only had no idea what I was doing but no clue what I needed in my kit. Now I’ve got a fully stocked kit (as well as an overflow bag…and two set bags) and my makeup artist luggage is so heavy I sprained both wrists one summer. So I think I’ve got a good grasp on everything you need for products, tools and supplies.

I will say that what you carry in your kit depends on what part of the industry you work in. I primarily do makeup for weddings, commercials and corporate shoots, but have done film and photoshoots as well. I can’t speak on runway or special effects makeup, so I’m afraid I’m no help there.

I’ll break it down into the two subsets I do the most work in–weddings and corporate/commercials–to help you be as prepared as possible should you want to work in those arenas. I’m not going to list every product, tool and supply you need, but will focus on some really important ones as well as some things you might not think of unless you’ve been there, done that.

WEDDINGS

I have a Zuca bag and an overflow bag filled with tons of eyeshadows, eyeliners, lipsticks, blushes, mascaras, concealers, foundations, powders, highlighters, brushes, sponges, cotton swabs, etc. Those are the basics for any non-special effects makeup job, but what I’m listing below are the things I’ve found to be extra important for wedding jobs.

Eye Primer, Foundation Primer, Lip Primer & Setting Spray. You won’t always be around for touchups after the initial makeup services are done, and you want to make sure the makeup you apply lasts. Primers and setting sprays will help lock it all in.

Small Scissors. The technical use for small scissors is to trim strip lashes and long brow hairs, but you’ll probably find they get used most often for cutting bridesmaid dress tags and those little loops that you use to hang dresses on a hanger.

Safety Pins. Another bridesmaid dress helper. Safety pins have nothing to do with makeup, but it’s nice to keep a few in your kit to help a girl out.

Hand Mirror. And make it a pretty one! Photographers loooooove to take photos of brides looking at their makeup in a hand mirror, so if the mirror has a nice design on it, it looks better in photos. That makes your client–and the photographer, who you may be requesting photos from after–happy.

See what I mean? Photo: Joe Laurin Photography Hair: Alexandra Wilson for Allison Barbera Beauty Makeup: Allison Barbera

Waterproof Mascara. Because weddings make people cry! And humidity, sweat and eye drops make mascara run, so the self proclaimed non-criers are not exempt. Why chance it?

Disposable Mascara Wands. You best not be touching anyone’s eyelashes (at a wedding or any other job) with the wand that comes in the tube unless it’s their own mascara or you’re giving it to them. That’s Makeup 101.

Plenty of False Lashes. I use individual (aka cluster aka flare) lashes on 90% of my wedding clients, so I always have several packs of varying lengths and thicknesses in my kit. It’s not unusual for me to go through a full pack of Mediums and a full pack of Shorts at one wedding. I say stock up on these if you plan on working weddings.

Two Kinds of Lash Glue. Duo is the pro fave, but it contains latex, which some folks are allergic to. So you’ll definitely need a non-latex version in your kit too.

Tweezers. You might use them to apply false lashes (I do) as well as to pluck the rogue eyebrow, upper lip or chin hairs. Just make sure to keep them sanitized.

Scotch Tape. Glitter abounds at weddings. It’s sometimes found on decor, shoes, morning-of mimosa glasses, etc. And where there is glitter on an object, you’ll find glitter on nearby faces. Scotch tape is great for lifting glitter off the skin, so I always have some in my kit.

Paper & Pen. The Maid of Honor is going to love the lipstick you put on her, right? So when she asks you what you used on her so she can buy it after the wedding, why not be a good person and write it down? Not only is that a nice thing to do, but the better a client’s overall experience is with you, the bigger chance that will come back to you in the form of repeat work, referrals and glowing reviews.

CORPORATE SHOOTS & COMMERCIALS

I bring my Zuca bag and my set bag (the bag you bring on set for touchups and makeup emergencies) to all corporate shoots and commercials. If I’m trying to make my Zuca lighter, I take out things I know I won’t need–shimmery highlighters, foundation primers, some of the false lashes (which I rarely use on commercials and never on corporate shoots). Everything else pretty much stays in. And a lot gets added.

Anti Shine. I use some anti-shine products at weddings too, but they are extra important for video and film shoots, where shine is the enemy. I’ll put some on a bald head too, as those domes can get shiny.

Pressed Powder. For the same reason, pressed powder is key. When it’s time for a touchup, powder is imperative. The person or people looking at a monitor probably won’t notice the perfect shade of blush you chose, but they will notice a shiny nose or forehead. I keep one pressed powder inside of each pouch I have in my set bag (each person on camera–called the “talent”–has a pouch with the products I might use to touch them up during a shoot).

Lip Balm. Lips can get dry during a long shoot, so keep some lip balm on you. You can either have a stick or pot of it that you apply or dip into directly then give to the person at the end of the shoot, or you can use one that you can squeeze or scrape out.

Body Lotion. As a makeup artist on set, you are expected to be able to handle issues on all of the exposed skin–not just the face. If the talent has dry hands, arms, legs, etc., they may ask you for body lotion. Be prepared for that request!

On the set of my first film job ever for the 48 Hour Film Festival in 2009. I had no idea what I was doing.

A Handheld Fan. The lights used on set can get very hot. And what do people do when they’re hot? They sweat. And what does sweat do to makeup? Wears it off. A small, handheld fan will help keep the talent cool, but if there is a hair stylist on set, he/or she will probably hate you for using it. The fan will cool the client but might move their hair as well, so if you’re not responsible for their hair (more on that below), make sure you consult with the hair stylist first.

Makeup Remover Wipes. A long day on set means several touchups, and that can be a lot of makeup. Some people want to get it all off before they leave for the day, so makeup artists are expected to have makeup remover wipes on hand. Always keep more than you think you’ll need, because you’ll go through them quicker than you expect.

Gum, Mints & Cough Drops. If there’s something someone needs that’s on the face–even it has nothing to do with makeup–people will go to the makeup artist for it. So make sure to keep some gum, mints and cough drops in your set bag, but also make sure the talent doesn’t have anything in their mouth when they start filming.

Tissues. If the talent needs a tissue, the makeup artist is expected to have that too. So keep some close to your set up in case they need one during the makeup application, as well as some in your set bag in case of a sneeze or runny nose mid-filming.

Dental Floss. You might get some requests for floss after lunch breaks. I keep the individual floss picks in my set bag. Because, yes, teeth do fall under Makeup Artist Territory on set…

Eye Drops. And eyeballs do too! I keep eye drops for redness, allergies and contact wearers in my set bag. Somewhere along the way, I acquired some single use eye drop packs that are great for that #setlife.

Nail Polish Remover. Were you under the impression that makeup artists didn’t have to worry about nails? Maybe on a big film set, but it’s all on you on most commercials and I would say all corporate shoots. Chipped nail polish or bright colors won’t fly on most commercial or corporate shoots, so I always have some nail polish remover pads on me.

Nail File & Clippers. If the nails are too long or jagged and there’s going to be a close up of the hands, it’s up to the makeup artist to get those claws camera ready.

Lint Roller. If there’s Wardrobe on set, this won’t be your responsibility, but if not, keeping a lint roller in your set bag will make you the temporary hero of the day if there’s some lint on the talent’s clothing.

I’ve done makeup in classrooms, churches, hospitals, dental offices, parking lots and many more locations. You may never know what setup you’re walking into, but you should always be prepared with a fully stocked kit.

Makeup Cape or Paper Towels. If the talent is already in wardrobe when they come to Makeup, you’ll need to be careful not to get any makeup on their outfit. You can protect their clothes with a makeup cape (think a hair stylist cape, but shorter) or paper towels tucked into the collar or neckline of their top or suit jacket.

Razor & Clippers. Sometimes male talent facial hair needs to be trimmed or shaved off (usually just trimmed for commercial or corporate), so be ready!

Hairspray, Pomade, Comb, Brush, Hair Dryer, Curling Iron, Flat Iron & Bobby Pins. Ohhhhhhhh, you thought makeup artists just did makeup? Sure, that’s the case at wedding jobs, runway, editorial and film jobs, but at most corporate shoots and on commercials with smaller budgets, the makeup artist is at least expected to do some hair grooming. That means getting rid of flyaways, pinning back pieces of hair, sometimes giving a once over with a flat iron, etc. If you’re not a licensed Cosmetologist, I recommend finding someone you can hire to teach you some hair grooming basics.

Other makeup artists may look at these two lists and think I’m missing some things (in which case, please comment away!). But I think this is a good, solid list to work off of as long as you have a fully stocked kit and brush cleaner.

If you want my full lists with every product, tool and supply I use, please email AllisonBarbera@gmail.com for details.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Under Eye Love: How To Keep The Thinnest Skin On Your Body In Good Shape

I see you, pulling on that under eye skin. Knock it off!

You read the overly long title–that delicate area of skin under your peepers is oh-so-thin. That means it can easily show signs of wear and tear, which can make you look older than you are. But there are some things you can do to keep that thinny thin thin under eye area looking smooth and tight for as long as possible.

So, what’s up? You want to know my tips? Then keep on reading.

Protect. UVA rays break down collagen and elastin, which are the good little doobies your body produces to keep skin taut. Using SPF on that area helps stop that breakdown. I use a moisturizer with SPF 35 under my eyes before I apply my concealer (which also provides some physical protection from the sun). You could use a sunscreen alone, but just test it out first to make sure it doesn’t get into your eyes and make them sting. I almost always have my SPF moisturizer and sunscreen on, but there have been times when I’ve just had Glossier Invisible Shield on my face and under eye area, and it was sting-free.

Shield. You know what else gives you sun protection? Sunglasses. (Duh.) Not only do they stop those rays of sunshine from directly hitting your skin, but they keep you from squinting. Repeated squinting will expedite the appearance of crow’s feet, and if you don’t believe me, Google “Robert DeNiro 2019.” Now all you need to do is not lose your sunglasses at the beach and avoid putting them on the passenger seat in your car, almost immediately forget they are there then crush them with your purse.

Prevent & Treat. Eye cream will provide moisture to the under eye area, and a moisturized, plumped up skin will show less lines and wrinkles than a dry skin. Some moisturizers also contain anti-aging ingredients which can help boost collagen production. I use a tiny bit of my prescription Trentinoin (a retinoid) under my eyes every other night. On the other nights, I use Lancome Advanced Genifique Eye Cream. I strongly suggest consistently using eye cream before you see any signs of aging, as it will delay the appearance of those lines, wrinkles and loose skin. But if you’re already there, getting into the habit of using eye cream now will help, especially if you choose one that contains retinol. When applying eye cream, use your ring finger, as that is the weakest of the phalanges so it automatically applies less pressure to the area. And I think it’s best to apply eye cream to the under eye area starting from the outside of the eyes (towards the temples) in towards the nose. That’s the way that skin grows, so doing that keeps you from pulling skin in the opposite direction.

Be Gentle. I’m going to need everyone to stop pulling on their under eye skin RIGHT NOW. Skin only has so much elasticity, and pulling, rubbing or stretching that skin when applying or removing makeup or putting in contacts will cause the skin to sag. I use a very light hand when I apply makeup on my own under eyes as well as on clients, and my nighttime eye makeup removal consists of placing a cotton pad soaked in BIODERMA on each eye for a minute, gently wiping away the makeup, then using a cotton swab dipped in Bioderma to clean up the aftermath of the eye makeup party. I treat my under eye area as carefully as I would hold a newborn, except I don’t do that because I get nervous about their wobbly necks. Think of your under eye area as the most delicate thing you own and proceed accordingly.

If you stick with these tips, your under eye skin will thank you by living its best life and looking fly. And I don’t even need any credit! Just tell everyone you know to read this blog

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

The Brutal Truth: The Makeup Artist Edition

That’s me in the background, doing touchups on the set of the first feature film I worked on. That one was overall a good experience with a nice cast and crew, but not all of my jobs have been that good.

Every industry has its pros and cons. Teachers may have summers off, but they also have to put up with some bratty kids and nightmare parents. Real estate agents may have the potential to bring in a lot of money, but they also have to deal with demanding clients and buyers who disappear after showing them eight houses a week for two months. And bartending may seem like a fun, social job, but would you want to cater to drunk people every time you went into work? Let’s not forget that people throwing up on a bar is a thing.

Working as a makeup artist is no different. Sure, we get to make people look pretty (or look the part) and that in turn helps them feel more confident. We are able to flex our creative muscles, which you don’t get to do in a lot of jobs. We get to meet a lot of people and work on cool projects. And some of us get to see our names in movie and television credits, which is a good feeling. But it’s not all glowing skin and long lashes (the makeup equivalent of “puppies and rainbows”). There are some negatives to being a makeup artist, and if you’re considering working in this industry, it might help you to be aware of what you could be up against.

Gossip Girl. When I interview Independent Contractors for AB Beauty, I always make sure to tell them we are not a catty, gossipy company. I say that because unfortunately a lot of salons and makeup and hair trailers on set have that atmosphere. And it’s not just a behind the scenes thing. Have you ever been at a salon, getting your hair done while your hair stylist or one next to you talks crap about a fellow employee or a client? Sure you have. I think we all have. I’m not saying every salon is like that–and I’ve been in plenty that are not–but it’s a reality if you’re working in the industry.

It’s not just salons either. I’ve worked with many awesome hair stylists and makeup artists on different films, commercials and television shows over the years, but I’ve also worked with a few who would talk badly about someone the second they walked out of the room or trailer. That makes me so uncomfortable and is part of the reason I no longer take certain jobs. If you’re thinking about working in the beauty industry, my biggest piece of advice to you is to stay out of the drama. Don’t badmouth coworkers, bosses, clients, other crew members–really anyone. It may feel like it’s making you closer to the person you’re talking with if you gossip with them, but it will come back and bite you, either when what you’re saying gets back to the subject of your tirade, or in the form of other people viewing you as a shit talker.

Don’t be a 10 year old girl. Save the drama for your mama (or better yet, avoid it entirely.)

When I’ve been face to face with a shit talker in the past, I’ve always tried to find a way to change the subject. For example, if Nice Person #1 leaves the room and the S Talker says “Nice Person is so full of herself. And she’s not even good at her job,” I would say “Have you worked with her before?” (a neutral question). If the S Talker said “Yeah,” I would ask what job they were on together. Then I would say something like “Oh, was that the one that went a week over schedule and messed everyone up?” or “Did you have a million overnights on that one?” or something off topic but in a natural way. Or if they hadn’t worked together before, I might say “I haven’t either,” then pull from my memory something that I meant to ask them at some point anyway. Like “Oh, I keep meaning to ask you! Have you tried that new Ben Nye powder? I heard it’s really good and I know you like that line.” You feel me? It’s a way out without joining in the gossip or walking away (which isn’t always possible). In this industry, your professional reputation is part of what gets you hired, so why risk losing opportunities because of badmouthing, which adds no value to anything anyway?

The Professional. The beauty industry has a reputation of being unprofessional. That’s not true of everyone in the industry, and those that I am friends with and associate with are professional. But the truth is, many people in the industry are not. I know this from personal experience and what I’ve seen and been told by other beauty service company owners and makeup artists. Over the course of the almost 11 years AB Beauty has been around, I have received several panicked calls from brides whose makeup artist or hair stylist cancelled weeks or days before their wedding. Can you imagine?!?! (I’m writing this on a Monday and got a panicked call from a bride whose makeup artist cancelled on her for this Friday.)

Professionalism encompasses not just showing up for a job–which you’d think would be a given–but arriving on time, being prepared and having appropriate conversations. It would be a) crazy to go out and get wasted the night before a job and b) tell that to a client, right? I’ve heard of hair stylists and makeup artists who have done just that. I’ve also heard of people who were dressed inappropriately, drank on the job (we get offered mimosas at most weddings!), left without finishing their work, etc. The good news is, if you can act and speak appropriately, show up on time and complete your work, the people who can’t or won’t do those things help you look better.

Are you one of those “I’m already running late but lemme grab a coffee” people? If so, stay out of the beauty industry. You won’t regularly get hired if that’s how you operate.

Even if you are professional, there are people who will assume you’re not, just based on the industry you’re in. It’s a stereotype you have to fight against, but you can prove people wrong. You’ll likely encounter others who decided to play into that stereotype and sometimes that will have an effect on you if you’re working with them, but if you show up on time, are prepared and have appropriate conversations, it will become pretty obvious that you are a true professional.

Noses Up In The Air. For whatever reason, some people look down at makeup artists. Those snobs don’t take our jobs seriously, and for no good reason. I think they think “How hard can it be to put lipstick on someone?” (First of all, no paying client wants just lipstick. And secondly, I’d bet all my money that they couldn’t do a perfect red lip on someone with uneven lips who tries to talk while lipliner is being applied.) People think a makeup artist’s job is just putting on makeup on others–which, by the way, most people couldn’t do without experience–but a) it’s not that easy and b) there’s more to a makeup artist’s job than just applying makeup.

If you’re going to be a makeup artist, you might encounter this even with people in your personal life. The mother of a friend of mine once said “Your parents must so happy that they paid for your college tuition and now you’re a makeup artist.” I thought, First of all, bitch, my parents did not pay for my college tuition, so don’t make assumptions, especially when your eyeliner is as jacked up as it is. But I said nothing, and went on to build a successful company and a lifestyle that she would surely be jealous of if she has to live in New England during the winter, which I believe she does.

If someone looks down on you because of your profession, hold your head up high, look them in the eyes and say “You have lipstick on your teeth.” Even if they don’t or they don’t wear lipstick, it’ll feel good to watch them squirm or be confused.

My advice to you if you want to be a makeup artist is to grow some thick skin (but keep it moisturized). If someone thinks they’re better than you because of their job, don’t let that affect you. What they think of your profession has zero impact on your success, so let them use their energy judging other people while you work a job you love and potentially make more money than them. (The average full day rate for a commercial makeup artist is anywhere between $500 – $1000, depending on the market you are in. So take that, snobs!) If someone thinks less of you because you’re a makeup artist, take solace in the fact that they are wrong, you are right and your face will always look better than their’s.

D-I-S-R-E-S-P-E-C-T. You’d think when you’re on set at least, other people you were working for or with would understand the importance of your job, right? WRONG. The snobs you find looking in from the outside and judging you without really knowing what you do aren’t as bad as the ones who judge you and treat you disrespectfully, even though they are on a set or at a job with you. I’m talking about directors, producers, photographers, wedding planners and others who rush us makeup artists even when we are on time. Or stand in our way/our light while we are working. Or pull someone we are about to do makeup on for a 15 minute meeting then get mad when we are not done on time, etc. Yet we are expected to have the utmost respect for everyone’s job. Know what would happen if a makeup artist walked in front of the camera mid-shot? All hell would break loose!

There’s also sometimes just a general sense of “we’re better than you” that you can feel at some jobs. What the people who are giving off that vibe don’t realize is that the actor/bride/client/model/politician we are doing makeup on is not going to want to be on camera or in front of a crowd without spending some quality time with a makeup artist first. Trust me, no one wants to be filmed or photographed with dark undereye circles, redness or a shiny T-zone.

I’m lucky enough to work with a great crew, producer and hosts on the TV show I work on, and most of the wedding planners I work with at this point are respectful and protective of my time and set up area the day of. I sometimes get to work with awesome wedding photographers, and I love it when they are there. But I’ve also been on jobs with several photographers and videographers who try to move my makeup while I’m working (not my fault if I bite your hand as an automatic response to that), turn off lights while I’m working because they need different light for their shot of a wedding invitation, hit my shoulder with their camera lens while I am applying lipstick, etc.

I once had a photographer move a couch in front of my set up while I was working, essentially boxing me in, and when I asked them to move it after they were done getting a picture of the bridesmaids’ dresses, they looked at me, said “No,” and walked out of the room. I had to climb over the couch and then lift my heavy kit over it to be able to leave. The photographer had left some camera lenses on the couch and I thought “I could ‘accidentally’ pour my brush cleaner on these lenses and ruin some very expensive equipment,” but I let my Professional side overrule my Sicilian side, and I walked out. (Then I texted my photographer friend, Joe Laurin–who would never treat a makeup artist like that–to vent.)

On the set of short film “His Take On Her.” That was another great cast and crew and a fun job, if a little bloody.

If you want to be a makeup artist, you’ll work some great jobs with people who respect and understand the importance of your work, just as you (should) respect and understand the importance of their’s. But you’ll also inevitably work with some real jokers who think your job isn’t important and that you’re not smart or professional. These assholes have their minds made up about you before they meet you, so pay them no heed. Just try to not let it ruin your day when you do have to interact with them. It’s your job to do your best work and be professional, no matter what kind of jerks you encounter along the way (barring of course inappropriate or abusive behavior). You can bitch about them to someone in your personal life after you leave the job. I once told my father about an assistant director was who was rude and disrespectful to the female crew members on set, and for some reason described what the guy looked like. My father’s response was “Guys who look and act like that usually get punched.” Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but it made me feel better. So if it makes you feel better to think that a person who is rude is to you on a job is the type to get punched, imagine them getting clocked and see if that helps.

Trade Off. When you start out as a makeup artist, one of the most important things you’ll need to do is start a portfolio. But how do you get pictures of your work when no one is going to hire you because you don’t have a portfolio? The answer is trade work (aka “testing”). Find a photographer, hair stylist and model who are all also starting out and collaborate on a shoot that you can all use the photos from in your portfolios. I recommend doing that as often as possible until you build a portfolio that shows potential clients a good selection of your work. It’s smart to do these type of trade shoots when you’re starting out, as they will set you apart from the “makeup artists” who just have Instagram accounts with non-pro photos of makeup they’ve done on themselves and friends.

Trade work can also be something like doing makeup for the cover of a local magazine who doesn’t pay you but gives you free advertising in their publication, or doing makeup for the owner of a clothing boutique’s branding photos in exchange for a gift certificate to their store. This is part of the bartering world, and as long as you think the exchange is worth it for your time and level of experience, it’s not a bad thing.

Evidence of some 2013 trade work I did. Worth it. Photo: Jacqueline Marque Photography
Hair: Alexandra Wilson for Allison Barbera Beauty

But there’s another type of “trade” work that will surely be offered to you, and it’s less “trade” than “volunteer” work, except it’s not true volunteer work that is done for a good cause (like the Look Good, Feel Better program.) What I’m referring to is a job that is offered to you for no pay, but with the promise of “good exposure” (cue eye rolling from any veteran makeup artists reading this). If you are going to be a makeup artist, you’ll likely field several offers from people who want you to do makeup for a shoot, small fashion show, competition, etc. for free, but with the guarantee that you’ll get good exposure from doing the job. I don’t know if it’s common to be asked to work for free outside of the beauty industry, but it is very prevalent in this industry.

I took some of this “good exposure” work when I started, partly because I didn’t know any better and partly because I needed the practice. I don’t think I ever directly got any work from those type of jobs, but I did gain some experience, which has its own value. After a while, I realized I didn’t need those types of jobs. I’ll still very occasionally do a trade shoot if it’s with an AB Beauty hair stylist, a photographer I love and a model whose look I like, but that’s it. For anything other than that, unless you are my mother, my sister in law or select cousins, if my foundation brush touches your face, you’re paying me. This is my livelihood, and my time and my products–along with my 10+ years of experience–are worth more than one million exposure “dollars.”

When you are starting out, it may be worth it to take some exposure jobs to get experience, but I wouldn’t take this type of unpaid work past your first year as a makeup artist. I also wouldn’t do it that often, as your time would be better spent doing trade shoots and taking classes.

This ended up being a lot longer than I intended! Surprise, surprise, I have a lot to say about my career as a makeup artist. For me, the pros heavily outweigh the cons, and even my worst day in this career is better than my best day in my previous careers, as I’m doing something I enjoy, and on my own terms.

If you are starting out as a makeup artist or thinking about becoming one, I think it makes you better prepared if you’re aware of some of the not-so-great things you may encounter. No job is perfect, but if you love what you do, are good at it and are professional, this job can be damn close.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The Eyes Have It

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

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

Too Faced Shadow Insurance. The best eye primer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful day 🙂