If you’re a loyal reader, you’ll remember I mentioned that I’ve been using castor oil on my lashes and brows lately. (If you’re not a loyal reader, you should re-think your priorities in life.) I’ve been using castor oil for a few months on my eyelashes and eyebrows, and I’ve seen a definite difference.
Got questions? I’ve got your answers right here.
Where do I get castor oil?
I found mine at a local health food store, but Amazon carries a ton too. Just make sure to get organic 100% castor oil. You don’t want to mess around with castor oil that is packed with chemicals or additives because the product is going on your eyes, and peepers can be sensitive. I’ve been using the Now Solutions Castor Oil, which they have on Amazon.
What does this stuff even do? And how?
Well, that’s two questions but I’ll let it slide. Castor oil nourishes the eyelashes and eyebrows and encourages growth of new lashes and brow hairs. It is packed with antioxidants, fatty acids and proteins that strengthen the lashes and brows and make them less prone to breakage. The molecules in this oil are teeny tiny and therefore able to get into the small lash and brow follicles. When the lashes and brows are able to be this healthy, they can reach their fullest and longest potential. If the lashes and brows you grow naturally are not healthy, they might be very slow to appear or only grow to a certain length and thickness. But because castor oil gets down deep in that follicle and creates a healthy environment for lash and brow hairs, they are able to flourish.
How much it is going to run me?
A 16 ounce bottle shouldn’t cost you more than $15, and that will last you for-freakin’-ever. I bought mine in mid-April and have barely made a dent in it.
How do I apply it?
All you’ll need is a disposable mascara wand and a decently steady hand. Dispense a small stripe of product on one side of the wand. That should be enough to coat both sets of lashes. You don’t need to completely saturate the lashes–just coat them enough so that they look shiny but not slicked back. I use what’s left on the wand on the front of my brows, where they are sparse. Some people prefer to use an eyeliner brush to apply the castor to the lash roots, which makes sense. But I apply castor oil like I apply mascara, so it gets to the roots. I also like the idea of coating the length of the lash with the product so that it nourishes and hydrates the entire lash, not just the root.
When should I use it?
At night, fo sho, unless you want to look like a little wet lashed weirdo. I’m a firm believer in applying products that need to penetrate/absorb at night. Skincare products in that category work better when your skin doesn’t have to also be on guard against the sun, pollution and bacteria you are applying to your face when you touch it. And unless you rub your eyes constantly while you are sleeping, the castor oil will have more of a chance to do its job while you’re in dreamland.
How often should I use it?
You only need to apply castor oil once a day. I think overdoing it could potentially have the opposite effect of clogging the follicles, which would inhibit growth. I know that when it comes to beauty and skincare products, some of you impulsive folks think “Oh, I’ll just do double the amount, twice a day!” That’s not how it works, and overdoing beauty product usage can sometimes cause more harm then good. So have patience and do as I say (and as I do).
Do I have to remove it?
Yeah, man. A cotton swap saturated in eye makeup remover will do the job. Run it gently on the underside of your lashes the morning after you’ve used castor oil. This will remove the oil that is left, which would otherwise get into your eyes/contacts and wreak havoc on the eye makeup you wear during the day.
How long does it take to work?
I started using castor oil on my brows and top lashes on April 13. (What kind of a inconsistent beauty blogger would I be if I didn’t record these things?) By May 1, I noticed a difference in my brows. They use to be very sparse at the front, but now they are much fuller there. It took closer to two months to see a difference in my lashes, but it’s definitely working. They look fuller than before, and I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on them lately.
Are there any weird side effects?
Negative. I started researching lash serums last year because I had seen some great results on friends and clients. But I learned that with serums, there is a high probability that the regrowth will fall out as soon as you stop using the product. Oh, so NO THANKS. I’m fantastic at thinking of the worst case scenario for all situations, and my worst case with a lash serum would be this: I use the serum, love it, it gets discontinued, and the relationship ends with me in tears, new lashes shedding as I sob. The way I see it, using a lash serum when you know what it can do is like re-dating the joker who broke your heart two years ago. You know what the outcome will be, but you do it anyway because it might be good at the beginning. When you stop using castor oil, the new lashes you’ve grown do not fall out right away.* They just chill. What I’m really saying is that you should date castor oil.
If you want better lashes and thicker brows, I absolutely recommend castor oil. It’s an easy, effective, affordable product that does not have any side effects. That’s as close to magic as you’re going to get in this life.
Have a beautiful day 🙂
*All lashes eventually fall out–c’mon, they’re not immortal–but lash serums can make your regrowth fall out as soon as you discontinue use.
When I love something, I really love it. Things are either my favorite or they are dead to me. It’s part of my charm! So for your reading pleasure, I present the current Things I Love.
Tequila. It’s a tale as old as time: I once had a bad experience with tequila then didn’t touch the stuff for ten years. I slowly started getting into it again last summer and now it’s become my favorite. I feel fantastic after I drink this nectar of the gods. All other alcohol gives me a foggy kind of buzz, but a tequila buzz makes me feel sharp. Vodka Allie makes half-assed plans and loses lip balms. Tequila Allie will create a Google calendar and schedule your dentist appointments for you. I almost never have more than three drinks (my max is normally two), but when I have even one vodka cocktail or glass of wine, I can feel it the next day. It’s not a hangover, but I wake up and I think Oh, I had a drink last night. When I wake up after drinking tequila, I feel great. Also, anything but tequila makes the faint lines on my face much more noticeable for a few hours. Those lines aren’t as noticeable post tequila. Tequila Allie runs shit and her skin looks good doing it? That’s a win-win.
The Moto Leigh Jeans by Topshop. There are certain clothing styles that do not work on my body. Cap sleeves, A-line skirts and peplum dresses are not for me. And until (somewhat) recently, jeans were in my “What Not to Wear” category. I had tried on rough 7,000 pairs in my adult years, but could never find any that didn’t make me look ten pounds heavier and unhappy. Then one summer day a while back, Vodka Allie went shopping. She bought an animal print winter coat that she felt very boss in. It fit great in the store, but when I (back to regular Allie now) tried it on the next day with a sweater–as one wears in the winter underneath a coat–I discovered that the sleeves were too tight. So I returned it, but could only get store credit. As someone who believes that if you put enough effort into something you can usually succeed, I decided to use that store credit to give jeans another try. I approached the store’s display of jeans with trepidation and a sliver of hope. I tried on a gray pair of Topshop Moto Leigh skinny jeans and was shocked. They fit! And looked good! They became a staple in my wardrobe and were later joined by their sisters Moto Black Leigh jeans and Moto Dark Blue Leigh jeans. I wear the hell out of these pants and I’m going to order some more right now. Interested? Let me save you some Googling: The Perfect Jeans
Drybar Hair Products. Last year, some kind soul gave me the Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo. As a once-a-week-hair-washer, dry shampoo is an essential in my hair product arsenal. Some dry shampoos are garbage, but the Detox is a keeper. Next in my foray into Drybar products was the Triple Sec 3-in-1, which extends your blowout, gives a tousled look and adds texture. Oh, so the trinity of hair perfection? I’m sold. Their Detox Dry Conditioner, my most recent acquisition, makes Day 6 of my blowout look polished and smell fantastic. I’m not usually big on hair products because I’ve got enough steps in my beauty routine, but these products are so good and so easy to use that I have no excuse.
My Coffee. I’m about to get real basic on you. I drank coffee throughout college and in my early 20s but stopped in my mid 20s because the caffeine was triggering panic attacks. So then I was tired and anxious, but no more heart palpitations! Two years ago, I was often exhausted from working a ton (status now: the same) and since I hadn’t had a panic attack in years, I thought I would give coffee a try again. I started by getting half decaf coffees, then small regular coffees and eventually worked my way up to mediums. Once I realized how much money I was spending at coffee shops, I decided the smart choice would be to buy my own coffee pot. I went with an old school no frills Mr. Coffee model. And now coffee from pretty much anywhere else tastes sub par to me. I drink New England Coffee Colombian Supremo with Coffee-mate Italian Sweet Creme (give me a break, it’s the one bad thing in my diet). I’m embarrassed to say how much I look forward to this magical beverage. Sometimes when I go to bed at night, I actually think I can’t wait to drink my coffee tomorrow! Maybe that’s ridiculous, but I’d much rather go to bed excited to wake up for something then go to bed dreading what I have to wake up for.
My Morning Ritual. I’ve read several articles/posts about rituals and habits in business, and how starting your day off the same way every morning makes a huge difference. That makes a lot of sense to my Type A personality. So unless I have a job/clients early in the morning and only have time to shower and put on a little makeup before I get on the road, I follow the same ritual. My eyes open and I check my phone to make sure my personal and career worlds have not fallen apart in the last seven hours. I take my probiotics, some supplements, then make my coffee. While my coffee is brewing, I do some crunches, lunges, squats and a quick arm workout with weights. Then I work on a blog post–I’m in the middle of this ritual now–while I drink two cups of coffee. After the post is done, I drink my whey protein shake while watching some kind of comedy–a standup special, an interview with a comic or comedic actor I like, part of an episode of a funny show–because I like to start my day off with laughter. I used to dive right into emails (and I still answer anything urgent when I wake up), but I now prefer to ease into the day. If I’m laughing, I’m in a good mood. That makes me much better equipped to handle the work day. I take the rest of my supplements during this time, then figure out how the remainder of my day should go. There are certain tasks I do on designated days, but I can’t put too much structure into my day because it really depends on the emails and calls that come in. I really enjoy my morning ritual and believe it starts my day off right.
Castor Oil. Over the past year, I’ve noticed that my eyelashes and eyebrows have been thinning out a little. I looked into lash serums, because I’ve seen great results from them, but learned that many of them have the terrifying aftermath of lash loss when you stop using the product. I had heard about using castor oil on lashes and brows for a while and after my research confirmed that there are no side effects, I went for it. (I also ran it by my ophthalmologist and we had a great five minute conversation about eyelashes.) I started using it on my lashes and brows in mid-April. I’ve done it most nights since then and sure enough, it’s working. It’s not a huge change, but I can see a difference in both my brows and my lashes, and I get more “Are your lashes real?” questions/compliments that I used to. I’ll write a detailed blog post about castor oil at a later date, so keep an eye(lash) out for that one.
“Congratulations” Podcast. You know how I said I love to laugh? I wasn’t joking. I have a blog post in the works about my favorite comics, but I love comedy so much and want to do that post justice, so it’s taking me forever to write. When I finally finish it, there will be a big section about Chris D’Elia, because he is one of my favorites. He has a podcast called “Congratulations” that comes out on Monday nights. I listen on Tuesday mornings while I’m doing my makeup and I look forward to it as much as–maybe more than–my coffee. I laugh out loud several times each “Congratulations” episode, and I know you will too. If you’re looking for a great podcast, this is the one.
Relax Rain App. Two apartments ago, I had an elderly downstairs neighbor who was hard of hearing. He looked like Santa Claus and was very nice, but I hated him at night. He put his TV on full volume and it sounded like the History Channel (his channel of choice) was filming a show in my kitchen. SO LOUD, and it made me have nightmares about World War II. I bought a sound machine, but I would sometimes forget to bring it to overnight trips. My friend Jen told me about sound machine apps, which would solve my problem. I’m partial to rain sounds so when I found the Relax Rain app, I knew I had to download it. It’s got all of the basic rain sounds you could wish for (“Rain on Leaves,” “Rain on Window,” “Light Rain at Night”) plus some for the more adventurous rain listener (“Home in the Rainforest,” “Tent in the Rain,” “Inside the Caravan.”) Now I am safe from loud neighbors and am always surprised when I wake up and see that it has really rained overnight.
Mermaid Kisses Body Wash by Shore Soap Co. This body wash smells fantastic but not in an overpowering way, and due to the absence of sulfates, it doesn’t strip the skin dry. It’s also paraben-free and won’t break the bank at $12 a bottle. For those of you who know what these things smell like, here’s the list: golden amber, musk, sparkling citrus, pink jasmine and lily of the valley. All I know is that that combination is amazing and I will keep buying this body wash. (Along with a lot of other people, as it’s Shore Soap Co.’s most popular body wash.) If you’re in Newport, you can stop by their cute little shop at 302 Thames Street. If not, it’s 2017 so you can order it online.
My Standing Dates. I’m not proud of this, but I’ll work until I drop unless I have plans with someone. For that reason (and because I love them) I very much look forward to the time I spend with my friends and family. But you know how it goes–it can be hard to get together because of work schedules and family obligations. I have a few friends I have standing weekly plans with and we really try to stick with those commitments. These hangouts go in my calendar like work appointments, because I take them that seriously. On Tuesday nights, I chill with my friend (and awesome insurance agent), Julie. We order Thai, watch Southern Charm on Bravo and catch each other up on what’s happened in our lives since the previous Tuesday. On Thursdays or Fridays, I meet up with my friend Greta for late afternoon/early evening drinks. Her boyfriend, Chris, who I’ve also become friends with, meets us after he’s out of work. I always leave our weekly hangouts with my face hurting from laughing so much (and also usually with a little buzz). I really love these “appointments” and I think they save me from small business owner burnout.
My Two Homes. Ever since I opened my business, I knew that I wanted to live somewhere warm in the winter. No one appreciates the summer and fall like a New Englander, and I don’t think there is anywhere better to be than Newport during those six months, so that’s absolutely where I want to be for part of the year. But winter and that bullshit called “spring” that is really just winter with more daylight? No thanks. This past January and February, I lived in beautiful Charleston, SC. (Okay, Mt. Pleasant if we’re being technical.) I can run my business from anywhere and I had coverage for my makeup jobs thanks to my rockstar team, so there was no reason not to go. I already had a crush on Charleston after my visits there over the past few years, but I fell in love with the Holy City after living there for about 12 hours. The people, the weather, the architecture, the grits. You ever get that “This is exactly where I’m supposed to be” feeling? I had it for two straight months. But Newport was my first true location love, and that love is still going strong (for half of the year, anyway). I feel incredibly lucky that I’m able to live in what I think are two of the best places in the country. Working snowbird 4 lyfe.
My Life. This is not a new Thing I Love–it’s a constant. I have a dope life. Part of it comes from luck/circumstance/birth and part of it comes from hard work. I’m grateful for my supportive, loving, funny and smart family and friends. I’m grateful for my team at AB Beauty and the success my company has had. I’m grateful for my health, for the fact that I can walk and my life isn’t filled with doctor’s appointments and hospital visits. I’m grateful for the circumstances and career success that allow me to run from the cold in the winter. Whenever I catch myself bitching about something, right after I’m done with that (or sometimes halfway through) a little voice in my head says, Are you kidding me?!?! I know that I have it good. Like really good. Part of me feels bad saying this because I know lots of people don’t have it so good, often due to factors they can’t control or change. But to deny what I have would be absurd. I’m not trying to rub it in, but I don’t see anything wrong with acknowledging and showing gratitude for what I have.
I would love to hear other people’s favorite things too. (Unless one of those things is “Tupac’s albums.” If so, you’re reading the wrong damn blog.) So go ahead, leave a comment.
When the Netflix show Girlboss came out this spring, I was bombarded with texts and emails from friends asking if I had seen it. And of course, I had. I will watch or read anything about entrepreneurs, as I’m fascinated by other people’s career paths, particularly when they run their own business. I also like Sophia Amoruso–the woman who coined the term “girlboss”–who this show is loosely based on. (The main character is named “Sophia,” but has a different last name.)
Did I like the show? Absolutely. It’s entertainment so it has to have storylines about the main character’s relationships with other people. But it also did a good job of showing Sophia’s journey as an entrepreneur. The struggles, the joys, the way it consumes your life–it’s all there. It doesn’t show a lot of the nitty gritty admin end of things, but it would be pretty boring to watch people print checks and file paperwork. It glamorizes entrepreneurship somewhat, but not to a ridiculous extent. But I think it’s an inspiring story and anyone considering entrepreneurship should check it out. Britt Robertson, who plays Sophia, is great, although I think she would be too cool to be my friend.
There have been a ton of characters on television and Netflix shows who are entrepreneurs, but their career is usually not the focus of a show. Often when a character is known to be their own boss, you don’t see them working much. I’m a business geek and always want to know more about them. What made them start their own business? When did they open? How many people work for them? What’s been their biggest struggle? Most shows don’t answer or only touch on those topics, but Girlboss answers all of my questions.
If you want to start your own business but are not sure exactly what you want to do, I’m a big believer in immersing yourself in stories from entrepreneurs in all industries. Read, watch and listen to how they got to where they are. They might say something that strikes a chord with you. So if you’re thinking about being your own boss, go to Netflix (or borrow your sister’s account password, like you usually do) and give Girlboss a try. I really think it’s worth the watch.
It’s been a minute, but I’m back with a Look Breakdown. Here’s what I think she is wearing for makeup.
Foundation: Medium coverage. Concealer under eyes and where needed.
Powder: Matte powder minimally where needed.
Contour/Bronzer: Light contour under cheekbones.
Cheek Color: Tiniest amount of light pink powder blush, in a shade similar to Dandelion from Benefit. It’s not apparent in this image but can be seen in the print ad.
Eyebrows: Very small amount of brow powder filling in sparseness. This follows the natural shape of the brow–nothing overly drawn in here.
Eye Makeup: Light matte brown shadow (like MAC Wedge) on lids, blended into crease. Dark brown eyeshadow (like MAC Brun) at upper lashline, winged out and softened. Chocolate brown pencil liner smoked out at top lashline, following shadow shape. Slightly lighter brown eyeshadow (like MAC Espresso) applied thinly at bottom lashes. Pencil liner dotted at lash roots and blended. This may have been a retouching effect in the ad, but her waterline looks white. You can get the same effect using and off white pencil liner, like MAC Chromographic pencil in NC 15/NW20 on the waterline.
Mascara: Yes, top and bottom. Not heavily applied.
False Lashes: No.
Lipliner: Most likely, same color as the lipstick. It is softened around the edges.
Lipcolor: A light pink with some small shimmer particles. It looks different in this image–it’s definitely more pink in the print ad. MAC Sandy B would have been a good match but it’s sadly been discontinued.
This look would work on a lot of people. The brown eye makeup works especially well with blue eyes. You can get the same natural effect if you have darker skin than Alexa by choosing an eyeshadow that is a few shades lighter than your skin. MAC Era is good option. It has a little shimmer but not an obvious amount. Also, if you have medium or dark skin, you’ll want to go a little deeper with the pink lipstick. Light lipsticks can be too much of a contrast on darker skin. The shape of this eye makeup works well on those with hooded lids. If you have almond shaped eyes that you don’t want to visually extend the length of, you can eliminate the winged part of this eye makeup.
I’m super tight with Future Allison. I consult with her every day about a variety of things. What should I do when my lease is up? What’s my next big business move? Can I take a trip to Ireland soon? (Please say yes.) I look at the facts and the financials and sometimes bring in Past Allison to remind me of previous mis-steps. Future Allison is good at showing me a pretty clear picture of what’s ahead. I may not always know the details of my next decision, but I have usually have an idea of what my life will look like later on, thanks to Future Allison.
I also seem to have a little bit of the sixth sense. (Anddddd several readers just closed this window.) I think we all have it, but skeptics would disagree. I occasionally get premonitions about things or dream situations that actually happen, so I can’t write it off. I’m no Rhode Island Medium, but between Future Allison, this minor crystal ball ability, my almost nine years in the beauty industry and what I think is strong intuition, I feel like I have a little peak into what’s ahead.
And so I bring you my long term beauty trend predictions. Here’s what I see for our collective faces (and bodies) in the next decade.
Eyebrows. They are absolutely going to shrink. Five years from now, we’ll look back at the dark, thick, blocky Instaglam brows and the less-stylized-but-still-full-editorial brows and say “Oh my God, so 2017.” I don’t think we go back to the pencil thin brows of the 30s or early 90s anytime soon, but some celebrity or model who has naturally thin brows will come onto the scene, and people will start tweezing a little more.
Highlight. Shimmery highlight/illuminator is just about at the top of its bubble, and bubbles always pop. (Science.) Shimmery highlight will still be on the scene in a few years, but in a much more subtle way. Something so overly trendy can’t not implode. It may first happen by people switching to matte highlighters, then forgoing them completely. Anti-shimmer talk will abound. Mainstream American cosmetic wearers will learn that shimmer particles settle into fine lines, blemishes and scarring and accentuate them and people will get skirred.
Lips. This has already started—glosses are getting popular again. In ten years, I say we are back to the every- female-over-14-has-a-lipgloss-in-her-bag days of the late 90s and early aughts. The futuristic glosses will claim to do several things—hydrate, plump, provide sun protection, do your laundry—and cosmetic companies may finally find a way to make glosses shiny and long-lasting but not sticky.
Blush. Cheek color has been quiet for some time now, so I predict that will change. Blush will become more obvious and will be touted as the number one way to look more awake and youthful. Powders, creams, gels and liquid formulations will continue to be available, along with some new formulations like spray. There will also be some tool or technique that is said to be new, but is probably something only new to the masses.
Mascara. More ridiculous wands will be created. Bottom lashes will get a little more love. People will still want long, full lashes, but I also foresee glossy top lashes becoming a thing. That’s right–shiny, vinyl finish black lashes. Mascara wands and different shades have been done to death, but textures–other than fiber formulations–have not been explored as deeply. So that will happen.
Contour. Contour is already gone from some circles but in 10 years, you will rarely see contour tutorials and cult favorite contour kits. Professional makeup artists will still use it in a more subtle way–as they have been doing for decades–but the average woman in 2027 won’t be all about it.
Eyeshadow. Cream shadows will become more popular for the everyday woman, as these formulations are easy and quick to apply. There will always be more complicated Instaglam eye makeup looks but if we are talking real life, the easier a product is to apply and the less time it takes, the more the average American woman will like it.
Eyeliner. Eyeliner will always be a staple and for good reason–it’s a product that can really define the eyes, which are the feature many women want to draw attention to. Formulations will continue to be improved to make the liners last longer, as smudging is still the number one complaint from eyeliner wearers. I predict a trend of colored eyeliners at the bottom lashline in shades that bring out people’s eye color.
Skincare. There have and will always be two camps of skincare maintenance: The Diehards and The Little As Possibles. The Diehards will continue to try new products and regularly say things like “regimen,” “serum,” and “hydrating mask.” The Little As Possibles will continue to try products that claim to “do it all,” allowing them to spend minimal time on their skincare routine. Lasers, Botox and procedures like microneedling will become more commonplace as we head into the future.
Body Makeup. Mainstream America will start embracing body makeup as cosmetic companies find a new way to capitalize on insecurities–bruises, redness and dull skin on arms, legs, back and decolletage–that we didn’t even know we had. Body makeup will become more available at the drugstore level. Highlighting and contouring the face might be less prevalent, but get ready for some collarbone highlighting and contoured cleavage tutorials.
Hands vs Brushes. There are a million brushes and sponges on the market, and now some beauty influencers and YouTube product junkies are using things like hard boiled eggs (gross) and condoms (more gross) to blend their foundation. I’d say the ridiculous point has already been reached, and I do hope you agree. Something that’s so trendy–in some circles, anyway–will eventually implode, and this will. I predict that more people will start using their hands to apply face products, cream shadows and even lipstick.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Who wants to check back with me in 10 years to see what I got right?
I’ve mentioned this topic in some blog posts and Allison Barbera Beauty Facebook statuses, so it’s time to explain myself. Or rather, explain the current division between Editorial makeup and Instagram makeup. I’m not going to disclose which team I’m on right now (but a quick glance at my work would clue you in). My goal is to make this post as objective as possible and help clearly explain the differences between the two types. This will probably be most helpful to beginner makeup artists and Cosmetology and Esthetics students. You’ve got to know your craft, my friends. Types of makeup might be referred to by a client, photographer or director–either as something they want or do not want–and it’s your job to know what they are talking about.
Before social media, editorial makeup was really the only reference. For the purposes of this post, editorial makeup encompasses not just what you see in magazines, but runway and red carpet makeup as well. I would also include most feature film and non-reality television makeup. If you love the work of Lisa Eldridge, Pat McGrath, Billy B, Mary Greenwell, Val Garland or Charlotte Tilbury–all veteran professional makeup artists with decades of experience–you’re on Team Editorial. Not sure what Editorial makeup is? Let’s break it down in everyone’s favorite list format.
I’m Focused, Man. Editorial makeup typically focuses on one feature. There may be a “supporting actress” feature as well–the peachy cream blush that compliments the smoldering, beachy, bronzey eye–but that generally means the rest of the makeup is downplayed. (Think a sheer foundation and muted lip color with that bronzey eye and peachy cheek.)
Do You. Editorial makeup takes the individual into account. Their coloring, skin type, features, eye color, etc. are all taken into consideration when the look is created. Even on the runway when each show has a certain look, one model may have, for example, the yellow eyeshadow that is the focus of the look winged out a bit to flatter her eye shape.
For Real. In this type of makeup, skin looks like real skin (or it did before some overzealous retoucher got a hold of it). You may see some freckles, pores, evidence of the eye sockets most people have, texture of the skin, etc.
Texturize. Not only is there balance between the focus put on each feature, but the textures used. Unless it is to spotlight a trend, you don’t see a fully shimmery or a fully matte face. So you may see a matte wine colored lip but the foundation has a glow to it or the eye is glossy. Or in that bronzey eye example, the lip is probably if not matte, at least not glossy or shimmery. Mixing up the textures “anchors” the face.
Below are some examples of editorial makeup.
Instagram makeup, aka Instaglam makeup, encompasses both Instagram and many YouTube tutorial looks. It tends to be the domain of newer or younger makeup artists and product junkies. There are also “beauty influencers,” who are usually not trained makeup artists, but people who create and post looks they’ve done on themselves. If you’re on Team Instaglam, you may follow people like @amrezy, @iluvsarahii and @mac_daddyy. Want to know the basics of Instaglam? Read on.
I Just Can’t Choose! Instaglam focuses on several features at once. Looks featuring full coverage foundation, heavy contour, strong highlight, a majorly shimmery or cut crease eye, winged liner, thick brows, overlined lips and matte lipstick seem to be the norm.
We’re All One. Instaglam makeup tends to assume everyone has the same face shape, skin type and features. So contour is often placed under the cheekbones, jawline and down the sides of the nose regardless of bone structure and face shape. Brows are typically thick and stylized, with less fill in at the front. Highlight is normally very generously applied to the cheekbones, Cupid’s bow and tip of nose. The Instaglam lip that I see most often is matte, ombre and overdrawn to varying degrees. A grayish lilac shade seems to be popular, but reds and deep or intense colors are big too. Winged eyeliner is prevalent with Instaglam makeup and false strip lashes are usually included. Foundation is matte and full coverage (regardless of skin type) and “baked” with powder, disguising the skin’s natural texture.
Photo Ready. Instaglam makeup is meant for Instagram. These looks are created with the sole intention of being photographed, so the creator can influence lighting and posing, as well as retouching and filters. I’ve read posts where Instaglam beauty influencers were interviewed, and they’ve said they don’t wear the looks they do in “real life” because it doesn’t translate well. It’s similar to theatre makeup, which looks fantastic on stage but crazy town in person.
These are some examples of Instaglam makeup. I’ve chosen popular photos on Instagram which best illustrate the things I’ve mentioned.
Hopefully you now understand the differences between Editorial and Instaglam makeup. Feel free to comment with questions.
I recently received a request to write a blog post about which pimples can be popped (the technical term is “extracted”). I’m nothing if not accommodating, so here we are. I’m not only going to help you identify which pimples can be extracted, but will very begrudgingly teach you how to properly do extractions, because I know that you will do them with or without my guidance. I’ve heard stories of people extracting with their fingernails, with safety pins, with needles, etc. And that’s not extracting–it’s tearing the skin and causing damage. I’m like the mother who lets her teenager and their friends drink at her house because “they’re going to do it anyway and it’s safer at home,” except this blog post is legal and does not contain questionably bad esthetician-ing.
It is always preferable to have extractions done by a licensed esthetician. These skincare experts have been trained in the proper techniques for extractions. They know which pimples are the right candidates and how to extract without scarring the skin. (I’m saying this as a licensed esthetician who did extractions almost daily during my six months of schooling.) Acne scarring is often caused by people incorrectly doing their own extractions. Textured acne scarring can not be fully covered by makeup, and scarring that causes hyerpgmentation (dark spots) is a bitch to cover with makeup. Widespread acne scarring can really only be removed via lasers and other in-office dermatologist treatments, which are considerably more expensive than going to an esthetician for a facial. So that’s something to keep in mind if you pick and pop without abandon.
However, I understand that facials are not in the budget for everyone. So I’ll admit that extractions can be done at home but only only only if you know how. If you have true acne–not just an occasional blemish or two–I’d suggest putting your focus on clearing up your acne instead of extracting every day for eternity. (Maybe even read my Breakout Star blog post for tips on how to treat and prevent acne.) But if we’re just talking a few blackheads on your nose or a whitehead every couple of months, those can be taken care of at home if you absolutely can not get to an esthetician.
I’m going to Glamour style Do’s & Don’ts you here, but please leave a comment if you need clarification.
The Do’s & Don’ts of Extractions
Do thoroughly wash your face and hands first. (No halfass five second cleansing. Because I’ll know.) You will be opening up the blemish and your poor little pore will be vulnerable, so you don’t want any dirt, oil or makeup pushed into it. If that happens, another blemish or an infection can occur. And that’s on you.
Don’t attempt to extract any papules, cysts, nodules or milia. If a blemish does not have a white head or black head, it can not be extracted. The sebum/dirt/bacteria in these types of blemishes is several layers down and impossible to reach via extractions. If you try, you will likely cause some serious damage to your skin and end up with scarring. Need help identifying them? Here are some pretty pictures for you.
Do know which blemishes are okay to extract. Blackheads, which are most commonly found on the nose and chin, are fine, as are whiteheads and pustules. End of list. Pustules and whiteheads are “ready” when the white area is raised, soft and very pronounced. Attempting to extract before the white area is at this stage is futile. You can attempt a blackhead extraction if you see one, but some blackheads are too deep and can not be extracted, so don’t force it.
Don’t forget to steam first. After cleansing your skin, put a warm washcloth on the target blemish. (I prefer to do extractions after a shower when my skin has already reaped the benefits of some steam.) Leave it there for 10 minutes. The steam from the washcloth will temporarily open the pores and soften the sebum inside the blemish, making the extraction itself easier. This is an essential step in the process. If you skip the steam, you risk the scarring.
Do wrap your extracting fingers in tissue first. I use my two index or my two middle fingers for extractions, depending on the area where the blemish is. Use whatever digits you want, but keep your fingernails the hell out of it. If you prefer, you can use two cotton swabs instead.
Don’t force it. Start by gently applying pressure on either side of the center of the pustule/whitehead or blackhead, by first pushing downward then upwards on the area. Some articles tell you to use a needle to pierce the center of the white area, but absolutely do not do that. For whiteheads/pustules, if they are ready to be extracted, applying pressure as described will cause the center of the white area to burst open and the pus/debris will come out easily. Keep gently applying pressure until no white pus comes out. For blackheads, the black area turns white once it has been released from the pore. Keep gently pushing until it comes out completely.
Do stop after five minutes if nothing has been extracted. This either means the blemish was not ready, or it was not the type that can be extracted. This is not one of those situations in life where extra time and effort will yield the best results. Show some restraint, my friend.
Don’tforget about the Golden Age of Hip Hop. Biggie, Big Pun, Nas, Jay-Z, Li’l Kim, DMX, Foxy Brown, Mobb Deep, Busta Rhymes, Noreaga, etc. This has nothing to do with properly performing extractions but is equally important.
Do use an astringent on the area post-extraction. Witch hazel or alcohol free toner on a cotton pad works great. This helps wipe away any bacteria that came out during the extraction.
Don’t put makeup on after extracting. You’ve opened your pores after steaming and slightly irritated your skin by pushing on it, so leave it alone now. It might be a little red and definitely mad at you, so step back. I do my extractions at night so my skin has time to calm down while I’m snoozing.
Doknow that extractions are not the answer if you break out a lot. If that is happening to you, you’ve got to address that first. I said this earlier in the blog post, but my how people have short term memories/retain what they want to retain.
Don’t just not wash your makeup off every night then extract the inevitable whiteheads and blackheads. That’s lazy, bro. If you get your skin into good shape, extractions will be something you only have to do once in a while. And even then, at home extractions should be a last resort if you can’t get to a licensed esthetician.
This is the first blog post I haven’t felt 100% great about because I know that going to a pro is the best route for extractions. I might catch some heat from fellow estheticians for this, but I maintain that it’s better than people doing extractions at home incorrectly. If I can save someone from bad extraction skin scarring, I feel like I’ve done my job.
So you’ve identified your face shape, know where to sculpt if desired and have learned how to minimize features you don’t love. Now it is essential that you choose the correct products and tools so no one knows what you’ve been up to. Obvious contour and highlight is about as flattering as harem pants.
The Products: Contour
Contouring products come in powder, cream and liquid formulations. You can use whatever best suits your skin type or layer them (but use restraint, please). As previously discussed, contouring makes areas recede, sometimes giving the illusion of a shadow. Because actual shadows are gray and cool-toned, you want to make sure your contour product(s) are also on the cool side. Anything too warm–think orange-y bronzers–will look off. Bronzers are for bronzing, which is different than contouring. And definitely stay away from any contour products with shimmer, as that defeats the purpose. Shimmer brings light to an area, which will make it look larger–the opposite of what contouring is supposed to do. Using a shimmery bronzer to contour can also make your skin look muddy, aka streaky, aka dirty, aka not a good look.
So, what should you use? For powder contour, I swear by Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit. It includes a matte contour and a matte highlight and comes in different shades for different skin colors. This bad boy has been my go-to for years.
If you like cream products (typically good for normal to dry skin) and have light skin, check out Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow. It is taupe with gray undertones, so it doesn’t look obvious on fair skin. Jen, one of the AB Beauty makeup artists, uses this and swears by it.
For medium to dark skin, I use MAC Matchmaster Concealer. I know it’s not technically a cream contour, but it’s a stick concealer and works just as well. The shades I use tend to be a little more warm than I would normally go for, but there is a reason the rule can be bent. The kind of face sculpting I do is not as aggressive as current day contouring, so using something slightly warm-toned on medium to dark skin (it would be too obvious on light skin) works as long as it is blended well.
For very dark skin–like the gorgeous blue black skin that some people have–you can skip the contour. To shape your face, you would apply highlight on the areas you want to bring out and the contrast of the natural skin color against the highlight will create a sculpting effect.
The Products: Highlight
Highlight–particularly of the shimmer variety–is crazy hyped up right now. If I can see your cheekbones, Cupid’s Bow and tip of nose (remember–don’t do that!) glowing from across the room then sweetheart, you’ve done too much. Subtle highlight, whether shimmer or matte, is infinitely more flattering. You can believe me, or you can regret it when your Facebook memory selfies come up in five years.
For cream and liquid highlighters with some shimmer, I like Benefit Watts Up (stick highlighter) and Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Skincare Primer (liquid). Yes, Wonderglow is meant to be a primer, but I think it works beautifully as a highlighter. (I’m having a hell of a time trying to insert photos of those products into this post but Google images will hook you up.)
For powder highlight, I typically reach for the highlight powder from the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Duo. I apply it with a very light hand, as a little goes a long way.
You for sure want to avoid placing shimmery highlight on skin with fine lines or visible pores. If you want to highlight those areas, use a matte highlight. The highlight powders from the Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kits are great if you prefer a powder formulation. For a matte cream highlight, you can really use any concealer that is lighter than your skin. I prefer ones with a thinner consistency, like MAC Select Moisturecover Concealer.
You can also highlight and contour using foundation. For this technique, you would use your regular foundation around the edges of your face and on any areas you would want to contour. Then a lighter foundation with the same undertone in the same formulation would be used on the areas you want to highlight (but use concealer–not foundation–under the eyes). If you’re someone whose skin color changes throughout the year, this is a great way to use your “winter” foundation during the summer.
The type of product you are using should dictate the tools you choose. I always use a brush for powder products. For creams and liquids, I apply with my hands so my body heat–of which I have none of lately in New England, even though it is MARCH–breaks down the product. When it is broken down (melted a bit) that allows it to apply more evenly. I then blend it with a buffing brush if needed. My go to buffing brush is the one from the Real Techniques Core Collection.
Any contouring and highlighting you do should be blended well. That’s such a huge thing with highlight and especially contour. A foundation buffing brush is great for blending larger areas, and a fluffy-but-not-too-soft eyeshadow brush like the MAC 217 is perfect for blending highlight or contour on the eyes and nose. A sponge of your choice can also be helpful for blending out larger areas of contour.
If you want to see some pro highliingghting and contour in action, check out these tutorials. (By the way, I miss the days when WordPress would let me hyperlink.)
In my experience, makeup civilians–the non-makeup artists of the world–are more interested in minimizing or emphasizing certain features as opposed to sculpting their face shape. If that sounds like your jam, read on.
But first–you look fantastic! Like body shapes, “desirable” female features change with the years (and the culture). In ancient Rome, an aquiline nose was the ideal. A rounded eye shape was considered attractive in the 1920s. Full lips became a trend when Angelina Jolie came onto the scene. I think the idea of any physical ideal is bullshit. If you are reading this post because you feel like you are supposed to look a certain way, STOP. Don’t let anyone else dictate what you should or shouldn’t look like.
However, I realize than many people have a feature or two they would like to minimize or alter with with makeup. If there is something that bothers you–not because a magazine says it should but because you don’t like how it looks–some of the tips below might help. (This is also good for makeup artists who will undoubtedly have clients with some of these areas of concern.)
Prominent Cheekbones: Well, lucky you! Skip the cheekbone highlight and don’t contour under your cheekbones, because it can make your face look un-proportioned. You basically have a natural cheekbone highlight built in, so rock it.
Flat Nose: Contouring down the sides of the nose will give dimension to a flat nose. No highlight is needed.
Wide Nose: If your nose is wider at the bottom than at the top, contour the sides of the nose from the bottom third down and bring that contour around the tip of the nose. Highlight at the top, right up to the start of the browbone, to widen the most narrow part of your nose and bring in balance.
Narrow Nose: Apply two thick lines of highlight down the sides of your nose. No contour is needed.
Crooked Nose: This is when the nasal bone is crooked, sometimes because it has been broken. Starting where the base of your nose meets the beginning of your brows, draw two straight lines of contour down the sides of the nose and bring it around the tip. Apply highlight down the center of the nose, stopping before the tip.
Indented Nose: An indented nose may look similar to the crooked nose, but in this case, it’s the skin–not the bone–that changes the shape of the nose. You’ll want to highlight just the indented part and contour the other sections of the nose.
Prominent Nose Bridge: If the base of your nose (right below the space between your eyes) protrudes, you have a prominent nose bridge. If you apply highlight from right above that into the section between your brows, it will make the prominent area recede.
Bulbous Nose: Starting at where the base of your nose meets the beginning of your brows, draw two straight lines of contour about 1/3 of the way down. Then contour around the bottom third and tip of the nose. Apply highlight to the center section.
Close Set Eyes: A little bit of highlight (shadow with shimmer or a matte shade lighter than your skin if you have fine lines there) on the inner corners will make the eyes look further apart. I also recommend keeping eyeliner thickest at the outer corner and using some shadow on the outer V to draw attention outwards. Concentrate your mascara on your outer lashes.
Deep Set Eyes: Instead of applying a darker shadow in the crease of the eye like many eye contouring tutorials will tell you, apply it slightly above the crease. This one can be tricky because you don’t want to go too high and hit the browbone–unless it’s 1989 and you’re going to do some Glamour Shots–so read this blog post for further tips. https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/big-up-to-the-deep-set-crew/
Thin Upper Lip: A little highlight above the Cupid’s Bow (or center of the top lip if your’s goes straight across) will add the illusion of fullness. If you’re confident with makeup, you can also slightly overdraw the top lip with lipliner, but make sure to blend it onto the lip. You can also use a lighter shade of lipstick in the same color family as the lipstick you are wearing on the center of the top lip, which will make it look fuller.
Thin Bottom Lip: Highlighting under the bottom lip will make it look fuller, as will using a lighter shade or some gloss on the center of the lip. You can also slightly overdraw the bottom lipliner if you’ve got the skills.
Full Lips: As a thinned lipped girl, I’m jealous of full lips, but I know some people feel that their’s are too full. In that case, you can draw lipliner slightly inside of the natural liplines then fill in and top with lipstick. That can be hard to pull off though, so practice a bit before wearing it out. If you don’t want to emphasize the fullness of your lips, stay away from light, shimmery or glossy lip colors. A darker matte color–of which there are a million on the market right now–will minimize fullness.
Double Chin: Contouring just under the chin/at the jawline will help minimize the fullness there by bringing definition to the area. Bring that contour down onto the neck and blend, blend, blend. I find that wearing a shade of lipstick also helps bring the attention up away from the chin area.
Here are my thoughts on browbone highlight: no. I know there are some pro makeup artists who disagree, but I also know there are many on my side. If you highlight that area, you are giving the illusion that the browbone protrudes further than it does (particularly unflattering for those with deepset eyes). Especially in photos, this can look masculine at best, Cro-Magnon at worst. If you for some reason feel obligated to highlight the browbone, I beg you not use anything with shimmer. Use a matte shadow that is a shade lighter than your skin. Or don’t do it at all! That would be better.
A highlight trend that I don’t get–highlighting the tip of the nose with a shimmery highlighter. Apparently this is supposed to make a nose look upturned or button-y (I’m making it a word) but instead, it just looks like a white dot on the nose. If anything, most noses are thickest at the tip, so why would you want to draw attention to that area? Not to mention many people have oily noses and/or visible pores on their nose, so shimmer is only going to accentuate that. I say skip this one for real.
If I’ve missed any that you want me to address, please leave a comment and I’ll help you out. And remember–you already look great.
Now that you have read Part 1 (and loved it) and have identified your face shape, I’m going to help you learn how to sculpt it, if you so desire. I want to emphasize that this is not a necessary technique. There’s nothing wrong with your face shape. Really! But if there is an area you’d like to minimize, bone structure you would like to bring out or you’re a makeup artist, you may find this information helpful. I’ll be addressing face shape sculpting in this post and Part 3 will be about emphasizing or minimizing specific features using contour and/or highlight. In Part 4, I’ll walk you through product choices and tools of the trade. And Part 5 will be a request for your resume, since you’ll know enough to be a makeup artist who I can hire. (Kidding. There is no Part 5 but if you’re a makeup artist in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, go ahead and send me that resume.)
Oblong: If you have an oblong face, you might want to make your face look fuller and less long. To minimize the length, you can contour at the bottom of the chin and the top of the forehead, close to the hairline (that part is not on the diagram, but that’s what I sometimes do if a forehead seems “tall.”) To add fullness to the face, applying blush to the apples of the cheeks–blend it well!–will be flattering. Unless you have oily skin, large pores or wrinkles on your cheeks, a blush with a little shimmer in it can help bring light to the apples of the cheeks, making them look more round.
Rectangle: A rectangle face can look a bit sharp around the outer edges, so the idea is to soften those edges by contouring them (which will make them recede). Contouring at the top of the forehead will minimize the height of the forehead if that’s a concern. Blush on the apples of the cheeks can also bring some roundness to the face.
Round: If your face is round, it is wider than it is long. You can minimize that difference by contouring the temples, under the cheekbones and around the sides of the face. Light contour right under the jawline is also flattering. Highlighting the chin and forehead will add some height to the face. Blush looks best when applied a little further out on the apples of the cheeks and slightly–now not 80s style, but slightly–blended upwards.
Square: The idea of sculpting a square face shape is to make the chin and forehead more prominent. Applying highlight to those areas will give that effect, and contouring around the temples and on the jawline will make those areas recede. Contouring under the jawline is not advised unless you want to accentuate the angled jaw shape. This diagram shows highlight under the eyes, which is really more about eye shape and concerns (dark circles vs. puffiness) so ignore that part.
Inverted Triangle and Heart: With inverted triangle and heart face shapes, highlighting the entire chin adds width to the most narrow part of the face. If the chin is pointed though–which is often the case with heart shaped faces–I would not highlight the center of it but rather right around it and onto the bottom of the jawline. Contouring around the edges of the forehead and under the cheekbones on both face shapes is also typically flattering. Often the heart shaped face forehead is short so highlighting the forehead will give the illusion of height there. I don’t suggest doing that if your forehead is prominent/protruding, which is common with inverted triangles. And see the Square Face Sculpting section for my thoughts on highlighting under the eyes.
Diamond: This face shape is widest at the cheekbones, so highlighting the chin and forehead will give balance to the bone structure. Contouring the sides of the face will help minimize the width. I do not recommend any type of highlight on the cheekbones for diamond peeps. Blush looks most flattering when applied on the outer apples of the cheeks.
Triangle: On a triangle face, the forehead is more narrow than the jawline, so highlighting the forehead brings balance. A small dot of highlighter on the center of the chin can be flattering if the chin is weak (meaning in profile, it looks like it is pushed back in comparison to the nose and forehead). Contouring the sides of the face from the cheekbones down will minimize the width there. This is not shown on the diagram, but I would also lightly contour right on top of the jawline (to the right and left of the “Highlight” circle on the chin. Highlighting under the jawline is not advised, as that will only accentuate the width there. Blush looks best when applied on the outer apples of the cheeks.
Oval: Oval faces are generally symmetrical but the chin can be slightly more narrow than the forehead, so a dot of highlighter there is flattering. (This diagram shows highlight on the center of the forehead too, but I don’t think that’s necessary.) Contouring under the cheekbones and highlighting on top of them brings out the bone structure.
I hope this has helped you get a better feel for sculpting your face shape, if that’s something you’re into. There are other factors that can help flatter your bone structure–your haircut, the way you style your hair, your glasses or sunglass frames, even the jewelry you wear–so you can dive in pretty deep if you want. If this is fun for you or there is an area of concern you want to address, I say play around with this stuff until your little heart (and maybe heart shaped face) is content. But remember that there is nothing wrong with your face shape or bone structure so you don’t have to do any of this. It’s optional, like a hair glaze at the salon or leather seats in a new car (heated seats, however, are essential in my book.) Just because an option exists doesn’t mean you have to take it. That’s a good thing to keep in mind if you’re dating too…