Product Review: Glossier Balm Dotcom

Three of the fruit flavored Balm Dotcoms. Aren’t they cute?

I thought I did this review ages ago! I use Balm Dotcom every day on my myself, as well as on every wedding and event client and I’ve sung its praises in many an Instagram post. I’ve written about it in other blog posts, which might be why I thought I had reviewed it. But I didn’t, and so now, here we are.

Like any other human, I get dry lips sometimes. Part of it is probably due to dehydration (I’m not the best water-drinker some days) and part to the sometimes-drying lip products I test out (occupational hazard). Whatever the reason, I can not stand the feeling of dry lips. I’m from the Lip Gloss Generation (shoutout to my other 90s Girls). We were brought up on Lip Smackers, then we graduated to lip gloss in middle school and kept that going through our mid 20s. Our lips didn’t have a chance to be moisture-less! I have always kept a lip balm in my purse, and another on my nightstand. Because what kind of maniac goes to bed with dry lips?!?!

But if I’m being honest, I was never 100% happy with any of the lip balms I tried. Chapstick, Burt’s Bees, Rosebud Salve, Fresh, Aquaphor Lip Repair–I made the rounds. Some worked better than others, but none really did the trick. Then I discovered Glossier Balm Dotcom. Like many of my favorite products, it was a gift from my cousin, Saint Maria. This was back when Glossier only made one Balm Dotcom, so we’re talking original flavor here.

I was immediately impressed by this universal salve, as they call it, so I kept buying it and have now tried most of the flavors. I mainly use it on my lips, but I’ve also used the original one on areas where I’ve got little burns (via a curling iron, usually). It does seems to help the burns heal quicker, which is great. But what I’m really impressed with is how well it hydrates my lips. The only time they are ever really dry anymore is after I’ve worn a matte lipstick. As long as I apply Balm Dotcom several times for 24 hours post-lipstick, my lips revert back to their normal state.

Balm Dotcom now comes in eight flavors: Original, Birthday, Rose, Cherry, Mint, Coconut, Mango and Berry. Berry is new so I haven’t tried that one yet, but I plan to. I have not tried Mint because I don’t think I’d like it, but my borderline OCD brain can’t stand the thought of trying seven out of eight of the flavors, so I’ll probably cave in. I’ll update this post as I try those two flava flaves, but in the meantime, I’ll tell you what I think of the other six, in order of how much I like them.

Put that stick of wax down and get yourself some Balm Dotcom.

Original. It’s perfection. I keep one on my nightstand because I have to apply it before I go to sleep, and I have another in my pro kit. Like all of the Balm Dotcoms, it comes in a squeeze tube and it is takes surprisingly long to use up all of the product. I find the Original to be the most hydrating of all of the flavors. It has no tint to it, so you can use it anywhere.

Mango. This Balm Dotcom came out this year, and with my penchant for tropical scents, I knew I had to try it. It has a sheer coral tint, which I love. It seems maybe a tiny bit less hydrating than the Original, but it’s still more hydrating than other lip balms I’ve tried. Mango currently resides in my purse, and I will be buying a new one when this tube crosses over.

Coconut. Coconut is one of the untinted Balm Dotcoms, and it is 99% as hydrating as the Original. I love love love coconut scented things, which is why this was my dream balm…at first. For the first week I had it, it smelled beautifully coconut-ish. Then after that, it started to smell like–I swear to you–buttered popcorn. I thought I was going crazy, but I have since talked about this with other Balm Dotcom fans and they agreed with me about the popcorn transition. That’s not really a scent I care to have on my lips, so I didn’t end up buying a second tube. But in terms of hydration, it is really good.

Rose. Rose has a “barely there pink tint,” which I know a lot of people like. In terms of hydration, it’s as hydrating as Coconut. I’m just not a big fan of the rose scent in my lip balms (but somehow like it in Diorshow Mascara). If you like rose-scented products, I would definitely recommend this.

Birthday. Birthday smells like cake, and has the perfect amount of shimmer. If we were going off just scent and appearance, this would hands down be my favorite. But when it comes to hydration, it’s not there for me. I actually find it to be a bit drying. I like it the look and scent so much though that I still wear it. I just prep my lips first with the Original, wait for that to absorb, then apply a thin layer of Birthday. There’s a work around for everything, if you want it enough.

Cherry. I like cherries and I often wear red lipstick, so you’d think I’d like this cherry scented lip balm with a sheer red tint. Sadly, I do not. I think it smells like cough medicine, I don’t love the tint, and I find it very drying. Sorry, Cherry. I really wanted this to work out.

For the most part, I love the Balm Dotcoms. I find several of the flavors to be superior when it comes to hydrating. None of them feel sticky or heavy, and they all have great packaging. The caps stay on, and the product doesn’t leak out. They are $12 each (or $30 for three), which can seem like a lot if you compare it to $2.94 for a three pack of Chapstick. But the difference is, Balm Dotcoms work. If you have constant dry lips, you might find that $12 (or $30) worth it.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

My Top 11 Products: The Hair Edition

I have “We’re going to need extra time with this client” type of hair.

Full disclosure: I’m not a hair stylist. I have no professional background, and any knowledge I have comes from AB Beauty hair stylists or from hair stylists I’ve gone to. But I do have a lot of hair! It’s naturally curly and dark brown (most people think it’s black) with blue on the ends. It’s prone to frizz and my scalp is more dry than oily. I have gray hairs in the front, and while I don’t have a ton of them, I have enough to be annoying, so I get a color touchup every 5 – 7 weeks. My hair grows crazy fast, which is good for the times I’ve gotten a bad haircut and bad for the roots touchup schedule. My locks are long and I’ve got follicles a plenty, so for most of my life, hair stylists have needed to schedule extra time for me.

Due to my hair type and the fact that (not to be cocky) I get a lot of compliments on it, I think I’ve been using the right products. I’m giving all of the credit to the pros who have guided me, but I think they would be good with me sharing my Top 11. So here we go.

Olaplex No. 3 Hair Protector. I put my hair through a lot. Twice a year since 2013, I’ve been having the bottom third of my hair bleached and then colored blue. Blue touchups follow every month or two, and gray coverage color every 5 – 7 weeks. Up until June, I blew my hair out straight (or someone more qualified than me did it for me) once a week. I now occasionally let it air dry and rock my natural curl, but it’s usually blown out. And when it is, I sometimes add in big curls with a two inch curling iron. So between the bleaching, hair coloring and heat styling, my hair can show some damage. Olaplex 3 repairs that damage, and it does it well. I use it 2 – 3 times a month, and my hair looks and feels better every time. I’m convinced this product is saving my hair from looking and feeling like hay.

Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo. This shampoo came out after Olaplex 3, and was recommended to me by Kristin, one of the licensed AB Beauty cosmetologists. When I use it (before Olaplex 5, which I’ll get to next) after an Olaplex 3 treatment, the combination of all three products does something magical to my hair. Before this came out, I used Olaplex 3 with whatever shampoo and conditioner I had, but it didn’t feel or look quite as good as when I do the 3, 4 and 5 together.

Olaplex 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner. This could have been grouped in with Olaplex 4, but hey, I needed 11 products! This conditioner is part of my Olaplex Dream Team, so I love it. Some conditioners leave a film on my hair, but Olaplex 5 does its job then rinses away perfectly. Bravo, No. 5.

Moroccan Oil Treatment Original. I first used this for a while in my early to mid 20s, before I started straightening my hair. I thought it made my hair feel heavy, but I suspect I was using too much of it. A few years ago, I started using it again to prevent the frizz I get some days during my winters in South Carolina (I get Brazilian Blowouts to knock out the frizz during my summers in Rhode Island, but I try to keep those to twice a year). I now use the correct amount on damp hair prior to blowing out my hair or letting it air dry, and I can tell it helps with the frizz. It’s a hair stylist favorite for a reason!

Sachajuan Volume Cream. It gives volume and protects the hair from hear styling damage? That’s all I need to know! I’ve been using this for a couple years and I haven’t been tempted to switch yet. I apply a little to each section after the Moroccan Oil but before I start blowdrying. Simple as that.

Pssst Dry Shampoo. You can’t expect a girl who only washes her hair once a week to not use dry shampoo, right? This stuff works, it’s cheap and it doesn’t have a strong scent, so what’s not to like? And should I continue to only ask questions about this product? What do you think?

DryBar Triple Sec. I like messy, textured, bedhead kind of hair on myself. Too smooth or polished is not my jam. I love Triple Sec because it gives me that type of look without having to use multiple products or tools. The original Triple Sec had a strong scent that I loved, but a lot of people didn’t, so they now have a unscented version which I accidentally ordered then got mad about. Even without the scent though, it’s a stellar product.

R + Co Dry Oil Spray. Another AB Beauty team recommendation, this time from hair stylist, Emily. My hair can get a little dry looking, and nothing brings back moisture like oil. I’ve found some hair oils to be too heavy, but this spray oil is lightweight and fast-absorbing. Love.

Living Proof Humidity Shield. I like humidity for my skin, as it reacts well to that kind of moisturize, but my hair is a different story. I get Brazilian Blowouts in May and July and they keep me virtually frizz-free for the highest humidity months, but I’m still prone to frizz once my Blowouts have washed out. That’s where this hairspray comes in. A light mist of it before I leave combats mid-level humidity. My hair type needs the Blowouts for the kind of humidity that makes people complain on Facebook, but this hairspray is good for the other times.

Living Proof Nourishing Oil. This no frizz nourishing oil is heavier than the R + Co Dry Oil Spray, but I use that more for shine and this more for frizz control. A little goes a long way, and I appreciate that in a $38 hair product.

Celeb Luxury Viral Colorditioner in Blue. My hair stylist friend, Jennie Kay Plumb, recommended this to me to use as a conditioner between blue retouch appointments. It can also be used for color touchups if you leave it on for 30 minutes. I really only use it for that now. I didn’t think it was the best as a conditioner because my hair didn’t feel as soft after as it does with Olaplex 5, but as a blue color touchup, it’s one of my favorites (and I’ve used a lot). It also comes in silver, rose gold, coral, lilac, turquoise, green, red, magenta and purple, so pretty much anyone who has fun colors in their hair is covered.

And that’s it! Thank you to all of the hair stylists who have helped make my hair a better person.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

 

 

My Top 11 Products: The Skincare Edition

My dermis crew.

You know what I say–the skin is the body’s largest organ, so friggin’ take care of it! Here’s how I do it.

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm. Talk about a luxurious cleansing experience! This cleansing balm feels like heaven, smells divine and removes every trace of makeup. It’s a new-ish addition to my beauty life, and I am grateful for its existence.

Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micelle Solution. My eyes can be a little sensi to eye makeup remover, but the original micellar water doesn’t sting, burn or otherwise irritate my peepers. I have been using this product for years, and I can’t stop, won’t stop.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. Hyaluronic Acid is the MVP of hydrators, and this obscenely inexpensive one from The Ordinary is the bomb. Everyone I’ve recommended this to has told me they’ve noticed results within a few weeks of using it. It’s great for all skin types, so just get some already.

Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture Broad Spectrum 35. You know, I’ve tried a zillion moisturizers, but sometimes its best to keep things simple. This is a no frills moisturizer that does the job on my combination skin, and occasionally helps me get Extra Bucks.

Josie Maran 100% Argan Oil. Yo, you like moisturized skin? Of course you do. This Argan Oil is idea for facial massage, post retinoids application and elimination of dry patches. If you’re super oily, they have a Lite version too, so no excuses.

Trentinoin Cream 0.05%. It’s the Fountain of Youth in a tube if you start on it early enough. My 37 year old face is often mistaken for a 27 year old face, and I think a big part of that is due to Trentinoin. If you can get a hold of this stuff before the fine lines get too deep, you can seriously slow done the progression of those lines. Some people call it magic, I call it science.

Hydroquinone 4%. I have melasma, a section of hyperpigmenation (dark patch of skin) above my upper lip. It gets worse when I’m in the sun so I make sure to protect my face with sunscreen, but the only thing that fades it is prescription hydroquinone . So I use it, and it works, and it makes me less self conscious about my melasma.

Lancome Advanced Genifique Eye Cream. I don’t use this as much as I once did, solely because I now have two nightstands and it’s on the one opposite the side of bed I sleep on, so I forget about it. (Weak excuse, and I’ll move it to the bathroom tonight so it goes on post-face cleansing.) When I was being smart, I used it every other night, as I use the Trentinoin as an eye cream every other night. It’s a great eye cream–no stinging, burning or irritation and it really seems to hydrate and plump up the fine lines nicely.

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. If you’re thinking “Wait, didn’t you put this in your last post about makeup products?” I did, you astute little blog reader, you. That’s because it can be used as a foundation primer and as a face mask. When I’m on top of my game, I use it as a face mask every week. It brightens and refreshes dull skin

Glossier Balm Dotcom. They call it a “universal salve,” but I only use it on my lips. I’ve found the Original and Mango shades to be the most hydrating of the ones I’ve tried. They are truly the best lip balms I’ve ever used. Nothing heals my lips like the Original and Mango Balm Dotcoms. I use the Original on every wedding client, and so many of the remark on how good the balm feels. This universal salve is a staple for my pro kit and my personal life.

Glossier Invisible Shield. A serum-like sunscreen that protects my skin, doesn’t leave a white cast and doesn’t make me break out? I’m in.

And that’s how I keep my skin in good shape! I’d love to hear about your faves too.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

 

My Top 11 Products: The Makeup Edition

It’s basically a common law marriage at this point.

In honor of 11 years in business for AB Beauty, I figured I’d do some Top 11 lists. And naturally, we’ll start with makeup. Here we go.

Dior Diorshow Mascara. I’ve been using this mascara for a decade, which makes it the longest relationship I’ve ever been in. Nothing gives my top lashes volume like Diorshow, and until I find something better (and to be honest, I’m not even looking) I stand by this mascara.

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. Disclaimer: Only use this primer if you want your foundation to glide on nicely and last all day.

MAC Face & Body Foundation. I use this foundation on myself and the majority of my clients. It lets the skin show through while giving a nice glow. It transforms from a sheer to medium coverage the more you work it in, so it’s really like having two foundations in one bottle.

MAC ProLongwear Concealer. This is the Holy Grail of concealers, as far as I’m concerned. Its acrylic paint-like consistency makes it buildable, and its pigment and range of shades makes it ideal for both under eye coverage and spot concealing. It’s a gem.

Blinc Mascara. I started using this mascara on my bottom lashes this summer because the Clinique mascara I was using was smudging in the heat and humidity. Beauty tubes mascara do not smudge, and since this is the OG of beauty tube technology, why wouldn’t I use it? It’s called a no-brainer.

Benefit Hoola. Some cult favorites get hyped up for no good reason, but Hoola is as good as they say. This neutral matte bronzer now comes in four shades, as it should. It’s blendable, matte and just the right amount of bronze. It’s the only bronzer I’ve found that works as a contour too. If they ever discontinue Hoola, there will be a revolt.

MAC Eyeshadows. I rarely use any other powder eyeshadows on myself or my clients because these are just the best. And that’s all.

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk. The lip pencil allows you to overdraw the lips without looking obvious, and it’s the only shade of pink I like on myself. She’s perfection.

Glossier Cloud Paint. Don’t have a Cloud Paint? Go get one. They’re easy to use and there’s a shade that works for every skintone. Bravo, Glossier, bravo.

Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray. If you want your makeup to stay on all day, this should be your last step. I don’t know how they do it, but it really works.

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. When my face is looking a little dull and tired, I use the Beauty Flash Balm before foundation. It tightens, brightens and makes me feel like a new woman.

It was hard to narrow it down to 11 products, but these ones are the cream of the crop in their respective categories. Give props where props are due. That’s what I say!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Product Review: Glossier Cloud Paint

I’m on cloud nine with these blushes.

Cream blush, liquid blush, gel blush–give ’em all to me. I use and wear liquid foundation and I’ve found that liquids, cream and gels work beautifully when placed over a liquid foundation before powder has been applied. I still use a powder blush over the cream blush (after setting powder has been applied), but that’s not the star of today’s show.

For years, I used Make Up For Ever HD Blushes (the cream ones in the small compacts, not the liquid ones they came out with later). I found them to be pigmented and blendable, and they came in a wide range of shades. I’m talking in the past tense here because a few months ago, I discovered that my go-to cream blushes had been discontinued. I had tried–and not loved–several other cream blushes, so I was mildly panicked.

I’d heard a lot about Glossier Cloud Paints, and have liked most of the other Glossier products I tried, so I thought I’d start my new cream blush search there. The Cloud Paints are more of a gel-cream than a cream-cream, so they’re packaged in a tube instead of a compact. They come in six shades “inspired by the gradient pink NYC sunsets”–a warm rose (Storm), a sunny coral (Dawn), a light cool pink (Puff), a brownish nude (Dusk), a deep berry (Haze) and a soft peach (Beam). I have Storm, Dawn, Puff and Beam and have tried Dusk.

It took a few tries for me to figure out the best way to apply Cloud Paints and how much I needed, but I’ve got it down now. They’re pigmented, so you don’t need much. A little dab’ll do ya (and by “a little dab,” I mean about the size of a pomegranate seed). You can use your hands to apply the product, but I prefer to use a foundation brush then blend with a buffing brush. Cloud Paints blend really well and are buildable, so you can add more product without caking or streaking.

I’ve found Storm and Dawn to be the most flattering on medium and deep skintones. Storm gives a pretty, romantic flush to the skin. I love Dawn, and while it can look intimidating because it appears to be straight out orange when you dispense it, it gives a beautiful beachy glow on medium and deep skintones. Beam is the perfect soft peach color for light and medium skintones, and Puff is gorgeous on light to medium skintones.

Any type of cream blush is great for dry skin, and won’t catch on dry patches like powder blushes can. I’ve always used an oil-free primer on clients with oily skin before I’ve applied a Cloud Paint, and I’ve had no problem with it staying on. Basically, I think these blushes are appropriate for all skin types, but if you have oily skin, an oil-free primer should be in your arsenal anyway if you want your makeup to last.

Cloud Paints give a beautiful flush to the skin without completely covering it. So you can still see the skin (and freckles, if they’re on the cheeks), but it’s got a pretty, natural looking finish. This is one of the “instant pretty” products in my kit. As soon as I have it blended, I think “Ooooh, so pretty!” and I’ve have clients who have seen me apply it actually say that out loud.

You can buy Cloud Paints on Glossier.com. They are $18 each if you buy them individually, or you can choose two shades and get a duo pack for $30. If you’re a makeup artist or want to be one, I definitely recommend these. And if you’re a makeup civilian who likes blush, chiggity check these out.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder

The waterline liner hero.

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

That’s the one! Made by King Ice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner

Bobbi Brown does it again.

There are 397, 845 (made that number up) eyeliners on the market. And a lot of them are crap. Yeah, I said it. I’m frequently disappointed when I try a new eyeliner. I often find liners to be too smudgy, not pigmented, or, if they’re a pencil or crayon, too uncomfortable to use. What, you’ve never felt the cruel pull of a too-hard pencil or crayon liner on the delicate eye skin? Then consider yourself lucky.

When I found the Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners though, I was impressed. I keep Scotch, a brown with bronze gold shimmer and Chocolate Truffle, a dark brown, in my pro kit. I buy several at a time because there’s not a wedding that goes by when I don’t use at least one of them.

The Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners are not gel liners in the traditional sense. They’re more what I consider to be crayon liners, but I guess Bobbi Brown considers them to be a sort of solidified gel liner. Semantics, you know?

I use these liners primarily at the bottom lashline because not only do they give soft definition, but they stay in place. Bottom lashline liners are generally more prone to smudging because when the eyes tear up or water, that thing called gravity pushes tears over the ridge of the bottom lashline, passing over any makeup there. But the Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners are waterproof, so once they are on and have set, they are there for the long run.

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

I say “once they have set” because you do have about 30 seconds after applying the liner to soften or smudge it with a brush. I like to do this with a small pencil brush, as I’ve found that gives me the control I need to soften the liner without removing it or dragging it down and thickening the line. Especially at the bottom lashline, I think it generally tends to be more flattering to have a soft focus effect than a harsh line.

The Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners are not too hard, so no pulling on the skin. And they are not so soft that they break off when you apply the tiniest bit of pressure. Their consistency is just right, says Goldilocks. They are also pigmented enough that you don’t have to draw them on six times to see color payoff. (I will say that Scotch is the much more subtle of the two, but it is pigmented.)

You can use the Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners on the top lid too. For my client purposes, I usually prefer a gel liner at the top lashline, as it’s more intense and helps give a more flattering shape to the eye in photos. But you could certainly use these liners at the top lashline.

They are $27, which I know seems pricey if you’re used to $9 drugstore liners, but if you’ve been struggling to find a long-lasting, comfortable, pigmented liner, maybe it’s time to try a Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner. They’ve got six colors to choose from, and you can find them at Bobbi Brown counters and online, as well as at Sephora and Sephora.com.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: MAC Pro Longwear Fluidline in Blacktrack

A makeup artist fave.

Another week, another MAC product review. What can I say? They make good makeup.

I’ve been using MAC Pro Longwear Fluidline in Blacktrack, a flat black gel eyeliner, for years, so I was surprised to find that I hadn’t done a post about it. It’s a pro makeup artist fave and every MUA I know has it in their kit.

The Fluidline liners come in a little glass jar with a black top. A word to the wise with any gel eyeliners or cream shadows that come in similar packaging–once air gets into the jar for too long, the product will dry out and become useless. So make sure you close the lid tightly after using, unless you like to be wasteful. A tiny bit of gel liner goes a long way, so this little jar should last you a while if you keep the lid closed tightly.

The most hygienic way to use a gel liner is to scrape some out with a clean spatula, put it on a palette and use a fine liner brush to apply it. That’s the way I do it 100% of the time for clients, absolutely no exceptions. But most non-pro’s will dip directly into the jar with a brush, load the brush up with liner then apply. This will not only usually give you more product than you need (and good luck coming back from a too-thick line of gel liner), but unless your brush is always sanitized and you don’t double dip, it means you are transferring the bacteria from your lid into the product. And guess what happens when you securely close the lid, as you have been taught, after that? I’m not saying anything bad about bacteria molecules’ lifestyles, as they can be with whoever they want, but these gals and guys get down, and they multiply in that dark, enclosed environment. So if you double dip and/or use a dirty eyeliner brush, the next time you use your gel liner, say hello to their (millions) of little friends, who are now going to live on your eyelids and lash roots.

A Ben Nye makeup spatula.

But let’s pretend you are applying your gel liner correctly. Fluidline liners are great because they can give you a very defined look or a soft focus look, depending on how you apply. You can get a graphic, liquid liner type of look if you apply it perfectly then let it set (dry). Or you can apply a thin line then pull it up with angled brush before it sets, diffusing it but still keeping definition. That is my favorite way to use Blacktrack, as soft focus is generally more appropriate for the type of makeup I do. I then usually top the liner with black eyeshadow to give it more intensity with the blackness without making it too harsh.

Blacktrack is definitely black, but it’s a soft black, which I like. I’d rather have the option to make it more black with shadow than have it look too harsh, which is how an intense black liner can look on those with lighter coloring.

Some gel eyeliners (honestly, usually the cheap ones) are not very pigmented, so not only will you have to apply a few layers to get the color payoff you want, but you’ll see a kind of watered down or patchy looking line if you draw it on thick. Blacktrack won’t do you like that. The pigment is there and you’ll get a consistent line as long as your brush is properly coated.

I used Blacktrack on this beautiful bride then traced over it with black eyeshadow. Photo: Sarah Bastille Photography

Fluidline in Blacktrack is one of the staples in my kit, and I think it has a place in everyone’s kit or personal makeup bag. But what do I know? I’ve only been doing this for over a decade…

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

My MAC Eyeshadow All Stars

One of my many MAC eyeshadow palettes. Photo: Rebecca Arthurs Photography

I’ve been using MAC eyeshadows since the beginning of my career as a makeup artist. Especially with an eye primer underneath, I’ve found these shadows to be the longest lasting, most pigmented powder shadows in the game. But if you’re at a MAC store or counter or on their website, the sheer selection of colors (currently 108 of them) can be daunting.

So allow me to present my go-to’s and thoughts on who I’ve found they work best on. I’ll include the shade descriptions MAC gives for each, but I won’t be shy in voicing my opinion if I see them differently.

All That Glitters. Beige with gold pearl. To me, this looks more rose gold than beige gold on most people. I think it works best on light and medium skintones. It’s pretty shimmery, so stay away if you’re a Matte Girl.

Photo: Temptalia

Antiqued. Ash brown with bronze. This is gorgeous on deeper skintones with any eye color.

Brown Script. Warm chestnut brown. Works especially well on medium and deeper skintones, either on the lid or in the crease. It’s matte, so it can work for either. (I stay away from shimmer in the crease, as it defeats the purpose of making an area look recessed.)

Photo: Holy Grail Nails

Brule. Soft creamy beige. One of my matte go-to lid colors for fair, light and light-medium skin.

Brule on the lid. Photo: Meagan Emilia Photography   Hair: Emily Buffi for Allison Barbera Beauty     Makeup: Allison Barbera

Brun. Muted blackish brown. I use this cool, matte shade as a liner on light and medium skintones, any eye color. I also use it to fill in brunette brows.

Carbon. Intense black. Everyone should have a good black eyeshadow, and this is my favorite. I mostly use it at the lashlines, as it’s pretty rare for me to use black on the lid or in the crease unless it’s for an editorial look.

Charcoal Brown. Muted taupe brown. I use this a lot at the lower lashline on light and medium skintones. It provides soft definition. It also works as a neutral matte lid color on deeper skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Club. Red brown with green pearl. Club is a really unique shade. Depending on the skintone and the lighting in a room, it can look green, silver, gray or brown.

Photo: Makeup and Beauty Blog

Coquette. Muted grayish taupe. I like this as a lower lash liner on green or hazel eyes, as it brings out the green.

Photo: Tempatlia

Cork. Muted golden brown. Another lower lash liner choice for light to medium skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Embark. Intense reddish brown. Really pretty on deeper skintones and on green eyes (green and red are complimentary colors, so the red undertones makes green looker greener).

Photo: Temptalia

Era. Soft golden beige with shimmer. Works well as a lid color on medium and deeper skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Espresso. Muted golden brown. I use this warm brown a lot as a crease color on deeper skintones, or an outer V color on light and medium skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Goldmine. Intense gold with shimmer. It’s a very yellow gold, so I tend to use it over other golds (from different lines, sorry) or over a darker shimmery color that I want to lighten. I find it usually pulls too yellow to wear alone.

Photo: Temptalia

Mulch. Red brown with bronze pearl. Gorgeous on green eyes, but it can be too dark on fair and some light skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Naked Lunch. Minimal pink with shimmer. Pretty on fair and light skintones with any eye color. Can look frosty on medium and deeper skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Nylon. Pale gold with icy shimmer. This one can get intense, so I mainly use it for inner corner highlight or as part of the look for a shimmery gold lid. It’s pretty in small doses.

Photo: Temptalia

Omega. Soft muted beige taupe. I mainly use this for brow fill-in for blonde brows, but have also used it on medium and deeper skintones on both the lid and the crease.

Phloof. Frosted off white. Similar to Nylon in my application of it. I also use it with a light hand on the lid for Flower Girls.

Photo: Temptalia

Ricepaper. Peachy gold with shimmer. This works on light skintones, but is especially pretty on medium and deeper skintones. It’s what I reach for when a client shows me an inspiration photo with a very shimmery lid.

Satin Taupe. Taupe with silver shimmer. Great for light and medium skintones. It can get a little ashy (due to the silver) on some deeper skintones. Especially flattering on brown eyes.

Zero in on the bottom right. Photo: Makeup Alley

Scene. Muted blue gray. I work this into gray smokey eyes, as it tends to look more gray than blue when blended into other grays. Works with all eye colors.

Photo: Temptalia

Soba. Gold brown with gold shimmer. Really pretty in a subtle way on medium and deeper skintones.

Soft Brown. Soft golden peachy brown. This is gorgeous on those with blue eyes, as it’s got an orange undertone and orange and blue are complimentary. It can pull too orange on fair skintones though. Also pretty on deeper skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Wedge. Soft muted beige taupe. This is my go-to crease color for fair, light and medium skintones. If this one ever gets discontinued, MAC and I will have a problem.

Wedge in the crease. Photo: Joseph Laurin Photography http://www.joelaurinphotography.com Makeup: Allison Barbera

Woodwinked. Warm antique gold. Perfection on medium and deeper skintones. Can pull orange on light and medium skintones. Flattering on green eyes.

Photo: Temptalia

Yogurt. Soft pale pink. Very pretty on fair and light skintones with blue eyes.

Photo: Temptalia

MAC has discontinued some other shades I use and have backups of so I’m good for a bit, but I won’t tell you how great those ones are since you won’t be able to buy them. I mean, I’m not a jerk!

If you have any MAC shadow faves, I’d love to hear. Comment away.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Product Review: Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk

Isn’t she pretty?

Some makeup products become instant classics, and Charlotte Tilbury’s nude pink lipliner, Pillow Talk, is one of them. The color is gorgeous on many different skintones, and if you don’t believe me, check out the “See it on your skintone” section of this page.

Something about the smooth-but-not-slippery and waxy-but-not-overly-so formulation allows this lipliner to glide over the lips perfectly. For whatever reason, that consistency also allows you to (slightly, please) overdraw the lips without being as obvious as other lipliners. It’s also waterproof and long-lasting, because who wants to worry about touchups?

My favorite way to wear it is as a lipstick. I line and fill in my lips with it, then top it with some clear lip balm. I like the color of Pillow Talk so much that I’d rather not hide it under a lipstick. I do realize Charlotte makes a Pillow Talk lipstick, but I’ve seen it and it looks different than the liner, so I’m sticking with my liner.

The nude pink shade works well with a lot of lipstick colors, so it’s a versatile liner if your lipsticks range from nude pink to pinky nude (aka all of your lipsticks are basically the same shade). It also works great under mid-tone pinks, and if you have a nude that is too brown or beige, if you layer Pillow Talk under it, it will warm up the lipstick.

I always think of Pillow Talk Lip Cheat as the makeup equivalent of that simple but perfect casual outfit that everyone has. The one that isn’t necessarily a show stopper but looks great every time. For me, that’s skinny jeans, a plain white tank top and neon pink Old Navy sandals in the summer, and black skinny jeans, a fitted white t-shirt, a tan long cardigan and black wedge boots in the cold months. (Of course I have two.) Both Pillow Talk and my favorite casual outfits make me feel pretty, but not too done up.

It’s $22, which might seem like a lot when compared to some other lipliners, but it is really good. And it will last you a long time, so that’s worth something too. It’s vegan, paraben-free, sulfate-free and not tested on animals, so nothing to feel bad or be concerned about! If you’re looking for a new liner that will work well with a variety of lipsticks as well as on its own, consider Pillow Talk.

Have a beautiful day 🙂