Intro to Skincare

I’d love to get you to the point where you gaze lovingly at your skin in the mirror.

Because I’ve been working in the beauty industry for so long, I sometimes forget that not everyone knows to use certain products. I didn’t always know how to, when or why I should use certain products either, but as someone who was obsessed with skincare and makeup from a young age and then started a career in the beauty industry, I’ve learned a lot. Like, a lot a lot. So I’m going to share with you what each product does and the reason I use it.

Ready for this masterclass?

Cleanser. What does it do? Removes dirt, oil, bacteria, and makeup (if it’s an oil cleanser or cleansing balm) from your skin. If you don’t use an oil cleanser or cleansing balm, you’ll want to use a makeup remover before cleansing. When should I use it? Every single friggin’ night. I don’t think a morning cleanse is necessary as well, unless you have truly oily skin and feel the need to use a gentle cleanser to remove surface oils that have built up overnight. Why should I use it? Because if you let the junk from the day stay on your skin overnight, you’re asking for blemishes and irritation. How do I use it? Oil cleansers and cleansing balms go on dry skin, then you massage in, then rinse off. Most other cleansers go on damp or wet skin. Just read the directions on the packaging, boo. Farmacy Green Clean is my go to cleanser and because it’s a cleansing balm, I don’t need to remove and cleanse separately.

Moisturizer. What does it do? The stratum corneum–the very top layer of skin–is there to help protect the layers of the skin below that. Moisturizer does a combination of holding and delivering lipids and water to the stratum corneum. That means that top layer stays strong, which prevent cracks and fissures that can allow bacteria to penetrate the deeper levels of the dermis, causing infection. When should I use it? Every morning. Why should I use it? Because you don’t want your skin to feel like sandpaper, right? Flaky skin isn’t cute, and skin that has visible cracks on it is…problematic. How do I use it? Dispense the recommended amount and slather it on. I’ve found that two pumps worth is usually sufficient. If your moisturizer comes in a jar, use a clean spatula or scoop to take out the product so you’re not introducing bacteria from your fingers into the jar every time. I’ve been using Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF35 for years, but there are lots of good ones out there.

Hyaluronic Acid. What does it do? HA is a substance naturally found in our bodies. It lubricates the skin, joints and other tissues. In skincare products, HA provides the hydration the skin needs and is often lacking. When should I use it? In the morning after you shower and at night after you wash your face.Β Why should I use it? Because dehydrated skin feels rough and looks dull. Plus, lack of skin hydration makes makeup cake and settle. How do I use it? Apply it to damp skin followed immediately by moisturizer. For more HA info, peep this post.

Face Oil. What does it do? It delivers lipids to the skin, helping to keep that stratum corneum strong and free of cracks and fissures. When should I use it? It depends on your skin type. If you’re very dry, you can use it before or in place of moisturizer. If you have combination skin and get dry during the winter, I’d recommendation using it overnight. If you just sometimes get a dry patch, you can use it as a spot treatment. Also, if you use retinoids and experience peeling, you can apply a thin layer of face oil 20 minutes after you ret up. You can also use it for a facial massage, which is great for both dry and dull skin. Why should I use it? Because sometimes, moisturizer isn’t enough. How do I use it? Dispense a drop of the product and apply it with clean hands. If you need more, go for it, but start small and dispense more as needed, since a little bit of oil can go a long way. My favorite face oil is the Josie Maran Argan Oil.

Retinoids. What do they do? Retinoids increase collagen product and new cell growth, and they thicken the deeper layers of the skin where wrinkles start. When should I use it? Always at night. Retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so unless you’re nocturnal and sleep on the beach, you should apply your ret before bed. When you first start on retinoids–and go straight for the prescription stuff if you can, as it’s not diluted by other ingredients–I recommend using it every three nights. After three months, try every other night. Once you’ve used it for a year or so, see if your skin can tolerate it every night. Why should I use it? Because retinoids are the only scientifically proven anti-ager. How do I use it? You’re better off reading my retinoids blog post to find out that answer.

Exfoliants. What do they do? They remove dead skins cells from the top layer of skin, making the dermis smoother and more receptive to skincare products and makeup. Exfoliation also makes skin look brighter and healthier because dead skin cells dull the skin. Exfloliants can help unclog pores, but not in the way that facial extractions can. Physical exfoliants (the ones that feel gritty or textured) slough the dead skin cells off, while chemical/enzyme exfoliants dissolve the “glue” that binds dead cells to skin, causing them to fall off. When should I use it? Two to three times a week, either morning or night. If you’re on the sensitive side, stick with twice a week. If you use retinoids, DO NOT use an exfoliant, as retinoids exfoliate already, and double exfoliation causes irritation and sensitivity. Why should I use it? Because smooth, bright skin will make you a happier person. How do I use it? It depends on the product, so make sure to read the instructions.

Sunscreen. What does it do? It protects your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. When should I use it? Every time you plan on leaving your house during daylight. Why should I use it? Because you don’t want to get skin cancer, and because sun damage is the #1 cause of premature aging. I’m talking fine lines, sun spots, wrinkles and sagging. How do I use it? Dispense or spray on the recommended amount of product prior to any makeup application. My favorite face, neck and chest sunscreen is Glossier Invisible Shield.

If you’re not doing any of this already, this can seem like a lot. But once you get into a routine, it’ll feel like nothing. If you’re worried about how long all this will take, don’t be. Cleansing takes maybe five minutes if you’re wearing a lot of makeup. Moisturizing and hyaluronic acid take under a minute. If you want to give yourself a facial massage with face oil, that could take 10 or so minutes, but the other face oil uses I mentioned won’t take you more than a minute. Retinoids application is done before you can say “I can almost feel my collagen production ramping up!,” and exfoliation should only eat up between 2 – 15 minutes (part of the 15 minute max being passive/wait time), depending on your product choice. So yes, you do have time for that.

A good skincare routine will not only make your skin look and feel better now, but it will slow down the visible signs of aging if you do it right. If you wait until you already have sun damage and visible signs of aging, only a plastic surgeon or dermatologist will be able to rescue you. But if you start taking care of your skin now, you’re helping out your future self. And trust me, 2030 [Your Name Here] will thank you for that.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚


Big Time Writer’s Block

Anyone else feel like their energy has been zapped? I mean, damn. It’s Struggle City over here. I can still proofread and edit other people’s writing (something I’ve been doing since my early 20s) without issue, but my personal written word creativity is at an all time low.

Back in 2018, I made a goal to publish one blog post a week. Because I reached that goal in 2018, I thought, Why not keep it going in 2019? So I did. Then I repeated that thought process for 2020. I’m not saying I regret it, but when I’m experiencing a creativity deficit like this, I curse my ambition and inability to give up on a goal.

Like many other people, I’d like to fast forward to whenever that time is when life will be normal again. I’m nostalgic for the days when my business was running at full speed, when I could hug my friends and family and when I wasn’t constantly worried that I caught a virus that could kill me or cause some serious issues. I had it so good! I knew that on some level and recognize that I still have good things in my life now, but it’s becoming harder and harder to smile. (Luckily, my mouth is covered by a mask anyway when I’m with people, so no one knows the difference.)

I’ve got a skincare post in the works, so you should be seeing that soon. If you have anything you want me to write about, whether it’s beauty or business related, holla at me. Requests are always welcome.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚


My Second Quarter Favorites

Me at Drift Cafe. I was smiling under that mask.

I usually do a “Favorites” post for each season, but I skipped a Spring Favorites post this year because I wasn’t buying or loving much in March and April, and May flew by. So I’m going to approach this as a tax year Q2 Favorites post.

And here we go.

Kitoko Heat Defy Spray. I learned years ago that a heat protectant product is essential if you want to help prevent your hair from getting damage, so I always use one before blowdrying and using hot tools. I switch up the brand sometimes, and when I got to the bottom of my last heat protectant spray in April, I thought it was time for a change. I bought Kitoko Heat Defy Spray, which Jennie Kay Beauty, one of the salons I got to, uses. It doesn’t have a strong scent and it doesn’t leave a weird film on my hair like some products do, so I like it. My hair is in good shape/not damaged, and I consider this to be one of the reasons why. You can support a small business and buy it online from Jennie’s salon.

“#blackAF”. Looking for something to watch on Netflix? Check out this Rashida Jones/Kenya Barris bingeworthy series. It’s funny, thought-provoking and different than anything I’ve ever watched. My friend, Sean, recommended it to me and I’m so glad he did. I can’t wait for the next season!

Cameron’s Highlander Grog Rum & Butterscotch Coffee. I have to avoid caffeine because of my chronic vestibular migraines (a rare nervous system disorder that affects my balance), but I still love coffee, so I drink decaf. I brew it at home, because I almost never like coffee from a coffee shop, and it saves money. My grocery store was out of decaf (and everything else) when I first got back to Newport in March, so I checked Amazon. I found Cameron’s Highlander Grog Rum & Butterscotch and I absolutely love it. It smells amazing, isn’t bitter and is just perfect for me. I’m trying to do less Amazon shopping lately, so I’m going to start buying it directly from Cameron’s.

Friend Happy Hours. I’m safe and careful with it, but I have gotten together with a couple friends (separately) at my house for Happy Hours. I have fans going and windows open for air circulation, plus a big enough living room where we can be spaced out, and I make us each our own separate appetizer plates. I’ve found that I prefer getting together with a friend at my house instead of meeting for a drink, partly because that feels safer right now, partly because I’m not impressed with the cocktails at most Newport restaurants anymore, and partly because I like having conversations with friends better when I don’t feel like a nearby table can hear us (not that they’re really close enough to anymore). These Happy Hours are the highlight of each week, and they’ll hopefully continue well past this COVID nightmare.

Drift Cafe. Here are some things that are important to me: 1) Supporting small businesses 2) Supporting local businesses 3) Eating healthy 4) Staying in touch with past clients. Drift Cafe in Newport, owned by past AB Beauty bride, bridesmaid and makeup model Sam DePaola and her husband, Rob, checks off all those boxes for me. And they show some love to Biggie with their wall art! It’s my perfect place.

The Rhode Island SBA. As a small business owner in events, the first industry to close and the last to fully re-open, my business has taken a big hit since March. I applied for and received a PPP loan and an EIDL, which I’m grateful for. But I had a lot of questions about both, so I’ve emailed the Rhode Island SBA several times. They were always quick to respond, helpful and very nice. It’s a bit of a nightmare being a small business owner who works in events, but the SBA has made it much easier for me.

Seven Minute Workout to Lose Belly Fat. We had a lot of rainy weather in RI in early spring, which prevented myΒ  outside runs, so I decided to add a YouTube workout video to my routine. I found this one from trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read, and I love it. It’s easy to follow and I can feel and see that it works. On my best days, I would do this and the Lucy’s original Seven Minute Workout along with this Tracy Campoli bat wings workout I normally do, and my while-my-coffee-is-brewing hamstrings stretches and crunches. It’s not the same as running a few miles, but it’s an indoor workout routine that I feel good about.

NCLA Nail Polish. Nothing stays on longer than gel polish, but occasionally I come across a regular polish with impressive longevity. NCLA is one of those polishes. I’ve worn it in the shade Call My Agent, a vibrant pinky red, several times. I got it as a gift and it got buried in my basket o’ nail polishes, so I’m glad I uncovered this gem. It’s vegan and cruelty-free, so you feel good about wearing it if you’re an animal lover.

“The Great.”I read a biography of Russia’s Catherine The Great once, and I thought, My kind of woman. This satirical, comedic drama was one of my favorite recent Hulu binges. Elle Fanning was fantastic, and I’m psyched that this show has been renewed for a second season.

Not bad for the quarantine months, right? There’s a lot of bad/sad/disgusting stuff out there right now, but recognizing the things that bring a little joy to my life makes me feel better about this shitshow of a spring and summer.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

This Year Is Half Done: My June Recap

Father’s Day with my family.

In some ways, it’s hard to believe we’re over halfway through 2020. It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was getting emails that started with “Happy New Year!” instead of “I hope you’re safe and healthy.” But at the same, it feels like we’ve lived through an entire year in the last three months alone.

Either way, it’s six months down, six to go with the first year of this decade. June was not a great month for the U.S., but I don’t think you need a recap of current events from me. I know that the tension, arguing and ignorance isn’t unique to my Facebook feed, but Jesus Christ. Can we get a little more empathy and a little less defensiveness? In June, I did a lot of crying and had several “Can I shake some sense into this person? I’ll wear a mask while doing it!” moments.

It feels quite selfish to talk about my personal stuff, but that’s what I’ve done in past recaps, and I’m a sucker for consistency. So, here we go.

In the now rare “good news for my business” category, hair services became allowed again in RI in early June. We’ve been able to do hair-only trials since June 1, so finally my hair stylists at least were able to get back to doing some work. 2021 wedding inquiries started to pick up at the end of June, which is a good sign.

I stopped running The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors Facebook group in June because, as a microcosm of the country, the group was getting divisive about issues within and outside of the wedding industry. I passed off my admin duties to another member and I’m still in the group, but my days of news station interviews and speaking with state reps are over.

Personally, I got to (safely) see some family and friends in June, and each one of those visits was a highlight of my month. I wish I could have a big party where I hug everyone and we all sew our masks together to make a “COVID Is Over” quilt, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime, I’ll take whatever I can safely get.

Some things improved in June (at least in RI), but I’m hoping July brings more improvements and progress.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚


Another Roundup: A Pretty Addiction’s Most Popular Posts

It makes me happy that this blog has been helpful to so many people. Several times a month, someone tells me how they now use a product or technique they learned about in one of my posts, which is exactly why I have this blog. I want to make your beauty life better.

I find myself in a lot of discussions with clients, family and friends which end in me directing them to one of my blog posts. So without further adieu, allow me to present the most popular “A Pretty Addiction” posts.

Forever Young: My Retinol Journey. When it comes to slowing down the signs of aging, ain’t nothin’ better than prescription retinol. Believe that.

Product Review: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. Your skin–whether it’s oily, dry, normal or combination–can only look so good if it’s not hydrated. Hyaluronic acid hydrates like no other product, so why wouldn’t you use it?

Eye Makeup Smudges, Be Gone! One of the most common complaints I hear from people is that their eye makeup melts off after a few hours. It doesn’t need to be that way! Check out this post for tips.

Product Review: Castor Oil. Lash serums can have some pretty gnarly side effects, like reddening of the eyelid skin, yellowing of whites of the eyes and general irritation, which is why I stay away from them. I’ve found organic castor oil to be an effective, natural lash growth stimulator, and I mention this post whenever people compliment me on my lashes.

Skincare Device Review: NuFACE Mini. If I got a commission from all the people I know who bought this because I recommended it, I’d be sitting pretty! I don’t though, and I’m happy enough with my commission of people’s faces looking better πŸ˜‰ The NuFACE Mini is a true gem.

Product Review: MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation. This is the foundation I recommend to pretty much everyone. I like foundation that looks like skin, and F&B does that better than any of the foundations I’ve tried.

Product Review: Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops in Medium. I’ve referred two people to this post in the last week alone. The product is that good.

I think I’ve left you with enough reading. As always, please feel free to comment with any questions.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Eye Makeup Hacks: How To Make Those Soul Windows Look Even Better

Shadow liner and double mascara. What’s up now?

Eye makeup can seem complicated. So many brushes, so many products, so many techniques. But with a little knowledge and some practice, you can really step up your eye makeup game.

You in?

Brush Up On It. Using the right brushes makes a world of difference. A dense brush is best for packing shadow onto the lid, a fluffy brush is ideal for crease work and blending, a pencil brush allows you to easily apply shadow in the hollow above the tearducts, angled brushes and fine liner brushes are best for applying various liners, and a small smudger brush is great for diffusing lower lashline liner and shadow. If you can equip yourself with the right tools, you’re off to a great start.

Prime Time. Why even bother with eyeshadow and eyeliner if it’s going to fade off after a few hours? Using a good eye primer will help your eye makeup stay on much longer. Eye primer is my first step in all makeup applications.

Blackout. Want a sultry eye makeup look? Apply a black kohl pencil liner on your bottom waterline for instant bedroom eyes. Va va voom, baby.

Turn Around, Bright Eyes. The easiest way to make your eyes look bigger and brighter is to apply an off-white pencil or crayon liner to the bottom waterline. That gives the illusion that the whites of your eyes (which are actually off-white) go down further, making your eyes look bigger. It’s easy and effective, so give it a try already!

Double Up. If you expect to get to good length and good volume from one mascara, you’re probably going to be let down. I’ve found that the best way to achieve both is to use a volumizing mascara first, followed by a lengthening mascara layered over that. I’ve used this technique for years, and I think it’s the reason that I frequently get asked if I’m wearing false lashes (I never am).

Shadowy Lady. Pencil, gel and liquid liners aren’t your own only eyeliner options. For a softer but still defined look, try applying a matte eyeshadow with a pencil brush.

Wingin’ It: Part 1. Before attempting a winged liner with a gel, map out your shape with eyeshadow first, then trace over the line with your gel or liquid liner.

Wingin’ It: Part 2. Afraid that you won’t be able to get the angle of your wing right? Put a small piece of Scotch tape at the outer corner of each eye, angled up towards your temples. Then trace above the top part of the piece of tape. As long as you position it correctly, you’ll get a wing that doesn’t wobble.

Crease Work. The whole point of applying shadow to the crease of the eye (in most situations) is to make it look more pronounced/deeper than it is. When you want an area to recede, you use a color that’s darker than the skin. Along those lines, I think it make sense to also only use matte shades when you’re trying to make an area recede, as shimmery shades–even if they’re darker than your skin–attract light to the area on which they’re applied, which is the opposite of what you want if you’re trying to make the crease of your eye more recessed. Basically, find yourself a matte shadow that’s a few shades darker than your skin (I suggest choosing a warm brown shade, whether that’s a light, medium or dark brown) and make that your go-to shadow for the eye crease.

This might seem like a lot, but it’s not like you’re getting quizzed on it! This post is here for you to reference when you want to play around with eye makeup. And that’s they key–play around so you can get used to the different techniques. You’ve got this.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

How To Support Black-Owned Businesses

The last couple weeks have been heavy. I’ve cried almost every day, sad not only for what people of color have been going through since this country was started/taken, but for the inability of some people to grasp that. Social media is a nasty place right now, and if I didn’t own a business, I’d be taking a break from it.

I’ve been listening and learning, and know that one of the actionable steps we can to support the Black community is to buy products and services from Black-owned businesses. Here’s a roundup of resources that will point you in the right direction.

Black-Owned Beauty BusinessesΒ 

Black-Owned Bookstores

Black-Owned Etsy Shops

Black-Owned Clothing Brands

Black-Owned Food & Drink Businesses

Business Owners I Personally Know

Reidy Creative

Brittanny Taylor Photography

MAW Beauty Hair & Makeup Studio

A List Compiled By My Friend Tiffanni Reidy of Reidy Creative


This is by no means a complete list, but I thought it was a good starting point. I know money is tight for a lot of people right now, so if you can’t buy anything at the moment, maybe some social media love would be appreciated.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚


Bookworm Boss: The Business Books That Have Influenced Me

Biz books for the win,

We all learn in different ways. (Can you tell both of my parents have worked in education?) Some people learn best from listening, some from observing, some from doing and some from the written word. While I think I’ve personally learned using all of those methods, I tend to absorb the most information from reading.

As a child and teen, I loved reading. I found that I much preferred it to Math (my nemesis), Chemistry (passed it with a D, which my teacher told me was a “gift” from him because I tried so hard but failed every test) or Gym (my eardrum ruptured once during 7th grade Gym class, and while I was in serious pain, I was mostly happy to get out of playing volleyball).

I especially loved historical fiction and Stephen King books, but I would read just about anything I could get my hands on. I didn’t read much for pleasure in college, as I was too busy drinking Bacardi and obsessing over crushes, but I read a lot for my courses. I’d be half asleep during some lectures but I’d read and highlight the hell out of my overpriced textbooks, which seemed to work out well. (I graduated magna cum laude, baby. And I am bragging.) Later in my 20s, I got interested in self help/intuition/soul type books as well as biographies of Old Hollywood actresses. Once I started my business, it seemed only right that I should read some business books, and so read them I did (and still do).

I’ve read countless business books, and I’ve used the knowledge I’ve gained to build a better business. Reading a good business book is like hiring a consultant for $14.95 (or $22.95 if you like hardcover consultants). To me, that’s worth it.

Let’s get to it then, boss.

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. This is probably my favorite business book. I’ve read it more times than any other biz book I have or have borrowed. It breaks down the difference between doing the technical part of the job (in my case, doing makeup), the managerial part and the true entrepreneur part. Gerber says that to reach your max level of success, you must be the entrepreneur and hire others to be the technician(s) and manager(s). Reading this book changed the way I run my business and my long-term strategy for it.

The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. At first glance, it seems like this book is only for product-based businesses owned by people who want to be digital nomads. But there are lots of great tips and resources given in this book, not only for entrepreneurs but for people who want to convince their bosses to let them work from home. Ferriss’s writing style is conversational and easy to read, which is rare in the world of often-dry business writing.

The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Thing Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan. It’s a simple concept, really–focus on one main thing with your business and everything else will fall in place. My one thing right now–and for the last few years–is growing my team, as that’s what a) Allows us to (eventually) stop turning down business due to lack of makeup artists and/or hair stylists and b) Frees up my time so I can work on location expansion and other projects. This book seems repetitive, but it really made me realize how important is to build everything around my one main thing.

Tools of Titans: The Tactic, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss. While this is technically another Tim Ferriss book, it feels like it’s less by him and more by the people he interviewed for it. Ferriss compiled tips, stories and life advice from his interviews with 114 successful people. I was a little turned off that only 12 of those interviewees were women, but besides that, I found it interesting. I liked getting the perspectives from people in different industries (even if they were mostly male) and I’m always into a success story.

Lessons of a Lipstick Queen: Finding and Developing the Great Idea That Could Save Your Life by Poppy King. This was one of the first business books I ever read. It’s the story of Lipstick Queen (fantastic line, by the way) founder Poppy King and her rise to the top. I of course found it relatable due to the beauty industry connection, but it’s also inspirational and a good read for anyone who’s flirting with the idea of entrepreneurship.

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. If you asked 100 successful people which business books they recommend, I’d guess at least half would mention this one. It was written in 1936, but it’s timeless. Some of the advice in this classic has helped me with sales, networking and in-person communication with clients.

There’s no one set way to gain business knowledge. If you’re putting in any effort to improve your business and become a better entrepreneur by learning from others, you’re doing it right. But if reading is your thing, hopefully this list has been helpful.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Things Are Looking Up: The May Recap

I’ve been trying on dresses from my closet in anticipation of going somewhere where I can wear them. That’s optimism.

I know May isn’t over yet, but it’s close enough! So let me have this one.

In comparison to April, May really flew by. I don’t know if was because restrictions started to loosen up in my state, or because I got to (safely) see my immediate family and two friends, or because I received some grant and loan money or because May is my birthday month, but May kicked April’s ass, as far as I’m concerned. I felt much more optimistic this month, and other than my mid-May eardrum rupture that put me in the (very empty) ER, I’ve physically felt good too. The vestibular/balance issues I’ve been battling for over a year and a half have been good more days than they’ve been bad in this Taurus-Gemini month, and I’m in the low end of my weight range, which always brings me joy πŸ™‚

A lot of 2020 AB Beauty brides sadly had to postpone their weddings this month, but we’ve still been able to accommodate 100% of our reschedules, which I am SO HAPPY about. We’ve booked work with some new brides too, which the whole team is grateful for. We cannot wait to get back to weddings, whenever that may be.

I’ve been busy with The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors, and I’ve come up with a new business idea that you may hear more about in 2021. Even though I had no makeup clients or shoots this month and our next wedding isn’t until mid-July (if we’re lucky), I’ve been a busy little birthday girl.

This summer is going to be a lot different in several ways, but I’m still looking forward to it. The weather will get warmer, restrictions will loosen, and I’m going to be an Auntie for the first time in July! To me–and I realize I’m lucky in many ways–this was the best May could possibly be, all things considered. I’m looking forward to life continuing to get better over the next few months, and I hope life improves for you too.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

You’re Blushing: My Favorite Cheek Color Products

A blushing bride.
Photo: Joe Laurin Photography
Makeup: Allison Barbera

Blush, rouge, cheek color–call it what you will, and wear it if you want. (I’m going to go with “blush” because it’s quicker to type than “cheek color,” and a little more current than “rouge.”) Blush has been getting slightly more love in the beauty world the last few years, but I think it’s still an underrated product. Blush can make you look healthier, younger and it can even help with emphasize your bone structure or downplay things you don’t love about your face shape.

We don’t lack choices in the eye makeup, foundation and lipstick worlds, and blush is no different. There are several blush formulations to choose from. You’ve got your powder blushes, cream blushes, liquid blushes and stick blushes. I generally consider anything that’s not a powder blush to be a cream, in terms of when to apply it and who I would use it on. I work with powders and creams and usually use both on a client and when doing my own makeup.

I’ve become quite fond of several blushes during my career as a makeup artist, and I think it’s time I share those with you.


I’ve been using MAC Powder Blushes since I started doing makeup, and I still use them today. They are long-lasting, well pigmented and come in a huge variety of shades. My favorites are:

Burnt Pepper. A dirty tangerine that looks beautiful on deep skintones.

Fleur Power. A soft bright pinkish-coral that is pretty on those with medium skintones.

Gingerly. A bronze shade that works well on medium and deep skintones.

Melba. A soft coral peach that works well on medium skintones.

Peaches. A pure peach that is beautiful on medium and medium-deep skintones.

Pinch O’ Peach. A peachy pink that I use on many of my clients with light skintones.

Pink Swoon. A soft candy pink that looks great on fair and light skintones.

There are also a couple MAC Mineralize powder blushes that I use. I typically don’t like shimmery blushes, as I think they have a tendency to look fake, and bigger shimmer particles will settle into pores. But Mineralize blushes have just the the right amount of subtle shimmer.

Dainty. This light yellow pink with gold pearl is a favorite of my clients who love blush. It works best on light and medium skintones.

Warm Soul. When I have a client with rosacea, I don’t use anything with red or pink in it on their cheeks because that only brings out the redness I’m trying to cover. So this midtone beige with gold pearl is the perfect choice.


These pigmented, blendable gel-cream blushes come in pretty packaging and man, does a little bit go a long way.

Storm. I’ve used this warm rose on all different skintones. I find it easiest to work with on medium and deep skintones but I’ve used it on light skintones as well (just with a small amount of product).

Dawn. This sunny coral looks pure orange when you first apply it, but then it calms down a little. It’s stunning on medium and deep skintones. I wouldn’t use it on fair or light skin.

Puff. This light cool pink is so pretty! It’s gorgeous on fair and light skintones, as well as light-medium skintones.

Beam. I mainly use this soft peach on light and light-medium skintones. It gives a nice glow without being overpowering.


I discovered these pigmented stick blushes in December, so I haven’t had a chance to try them on clients yet (because I was in Charleston for the winter, then I came back to RI and beauty businesses got shut down).

Halo. A pink shimmer that gives my skin a beautiful healthy glow. The shimmer particles are so fine that they’re undetectable, but they leave a little sheen on the skin.

Flare. A coral shimmer that I like better when I have some self tanner on. Again, I don’t notice the shimmer in this one because the particles are so fine.

I’m sure there are other great blushes out there, but these are my go-to’s. If you don’t already wear blush, give it a try! It can really bring a makeup look together.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚