The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors

It’s been a whirlwind eight days! I’ll tell you how it started.

I got back to Newport on March 18, prepared for the fact that AB Beauty would not have work during the rest of March and all of April due to stay at home orders, group size restrictions and the closure of close-contact business. I also knew that I would not be leaving my house much for that whole time and wouldn’t be able to socialize with anyone in person.

I braced for it, but by mid-April, I buckled. I felt really hopeless and was crying a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. All of our shoots for the foreseeable future were cancelled, and most March, all April and some May bridal trials had been cancelled or rescheduled (RI mandate currently prohibits the operation of close contact businesses, which applies to everyone in the beauty industry, until at least May 8). Not only had March, April and early May weddings been rescheduled, but the remainder of May, most June and some July weddings had rescheduled, many of which to 2021 (and hardly any new inquiries were coming in for 2020 or 2021). Having the majority of our revenue delayed for two or three months was one thing, but having the majority of it delayed for a year plus? That can kill a business.

I was really struggling emotionally and my financial future wasn’t looking too bright either. I had been checking in with my wedding vendor friends to see how they were doing, and on 4/16, I spent an hour on a call with a wedding planner I love and work with frequently. We vented, cried and talked about how hard we were being hit as an industry and how we needed help. Later that day, I talked to my father, who got me laughing for the first time in days. He also suggested doing something to make the state aware of the impact COVID-19 is having on the wedding industry. I spun those two conversations around in my brain and decided to email a very intelligent friend who has worked in politics to see if he thought a letter or petition could be effective. He suggested a letter signed by as many RI wedding vendors as possible and sent to all state representatives.

I figured a Facebook group would not only help me collect signatures for the letter, but it would serve as a forum for those RI wedding vendors looking for guidance, input or wanting to share something they learned. So I started The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors on 4/17. I invited the 35 or so wedding vendors in my Facebook friends and encouraged them to do the same. Eight days and 555 members later, we are a force. With the help of my intelligent friend, a second intelligent attorney friend and my mother (who has written letters to many a state representative), I came up with a letter that I then shared with the group. Whoever wanted to sign it could do so. I sent emailed that letter individually to all 75 state reps, our governor, the head of the Department of Health and some senators. Due to the connections of Intelligent Friend #1 and two group members, three local news channels interviewed myself and some other members of the group and ran stories on the impact of COVID-19 on the wedding industry. I was also part of a conference call with a RI senator yesterday to discuss what is being done on a federal level.

We are still very much hurting as an industry, with little to no revenue coming in and weddings as far out as October being rescheduled. Many of us don’t qualify or aren’t getting approved for the business loans–big or small–out there, no to mention that those funds have been getting depleted very quickly. Some of us have been able to get unemployment, but the payments are a small percentage of what we would normally bring in during our busy season, yet many of our expenses remain the same. That math doesn’t work out.

I realize that we’re not the only industry being affected, and I know that those of us who have our health and our loved ones are very lucky. But for now, other than staying home and following all state mandates, the only thing I can do is try to help my industry (which of course helps my business as well–that is not lost on me). So that’s what I’ll continue to do. It’s given me a purpose and made me so busy that between that and the daily wedding reschedules or back up date checks, I’m as busy as I would normally be this time of year!

And now, back to it. I’ve got emails to read, new wedding contracts to send and maybe, if I’m lucky, an episode or two of something funny to watch.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚



Your Burning Beauty Questions Answered

I’m almost 12 years into being a licensed esthetician and a makeup artist, so I’ve been asked countless beauty questions, and I’ve gotten many repeat questions. In case you share some of the same questions, I’ll post them here.

Bear with me, please. This won’t be my most well-written blog post because I just don’t have it in me.

Where does bronzer go?

If you want to use bronzer for its intended use–to make your skin look sun-kissed–it should go on the “high planes” of your face, aka where the sun naturally hits most. This can vary by person, but in general, the sun hits the tops of cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, the center of the forehead and the center of thin chin. So if I’m trying to create a sunkissed look, those are the areas where I apply matte–not shimmery–bronzer in a shade one or two shades deeper than a person’s skin.

How often should I wash my face?

If you have anything other than truly oily skin, you can wash your face at night only, as long as you use a good cleansing balm or oil cleanser than both removes makeup and cleanses the skin. If you have oily skin, you can add in a morning cleanse to remove some of the excess surface oils, but I would use a gentle cleanser for this cleanse.

Do I need to wear foundation?

You don’t need to wear any type of makeup! But if you want to even your skintone and can’t get the desired results from a tinted moisturizer/CC cream/BB cream or concealer on its on, you might want to try foundation.

How do I cover a zit?

The real answer is that you can’t. Makeup covers color, not texture. So you can color correct the red (from an active blemish) or brown (usually from a blemish that is healing or from an acne scar), but you can’t cover texture. Properly erasing the color will make the blemish barely noticeable, but it won’t make it disappear.

What’s the best way to do mascara?

For volume, hold the wand horizontally as the base of your lashes and wiggle it up towards the ends. For length, hold the wand horizontally towards the tips of your lashes and blink into it. For optimal results–and this seems obvious, but a lot of people don’t know this–use a volumizing mascara for the volumizing wiggle and then a lengthening mascara for the lengthening blink.

What color blush should I wear?

I could tell you by looking at you, but my best advice for you to figure it out on your own by trying different shades. Try a peach, a light pink, a bright pink, a deep pink, a terracotta, a berry, an orange and a red. I’ll give you some guidance: In general, peach will look better on warmed toned skin and pinks and reds are tough for those with rosacea. Oranges and reds are best for deeper skintones. The right blush color will make you look awake and may even make the whites of your eyes look whiter.

Why does my eyeliner always smudge?

I’m going to answer that question with this blog post.

How can I make a matte lipstick not dry out my lips?

Matte lipsticks are often drying, but the formulations have improved over the last few years. Still though, the best way to avoid this is to start out with smooth, moisturized lips. If you know you are going to wear a matte lipstick the next day, use a lip scrub that night, and apply a thick layer of lip balm before bed. Apply more balm in the morning, right up until it’s time to apply your lipstick. Blot off what’s left of the balm, then go for the lipstick. It won’t catch on any dry patches because you’ll have exfoliated them off, and you’ll have some moisture there from the balm so the lack of moisture in the matte lipstick won’t have as much of an effect.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for today.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚


Time Killers: The Beauty Edition

Trying to make the days go by faster so we can get back to normal life when we all didn’t have time to do anything? Beauty distractions can help.

It’s safe to say that some of us are finding ourselves with extra time on our hands this month. You might not be in that position if you work in an essential business (thank you) or have children at home (God bless you), but I know I’m not the only one who is looking for some ways to kill some time. I can only work so much (literally–I have a vestibular disorder that prevents me from looking at screens for too long) and my apartment is already clean and organized, but these days feel long as shit, and I need to make the time pass by quicker and/or keep myself distracted. So naturally, I’ve been upping my beauty game.

I’m going to first tell you about the things I’ve been doing, then give you some other suggestions of things I’ve done in the past or don’t need to do now, but think they could be helpful if you’re looking for some time killers or distractions that will also make you look better or improve your beauty life.

Brushing Up On It. I’ve been using this bath brush on my body a couple times a week before getting into the shower. Dry brushing is supposed to rev up circulation, which I am half sold on, and exfoliate skin, which I am fully sold on. Here’s some info on how to do it. This video doesn’t show it, but I recommend doing your stomach and back as well. I personally skip the chest area because that skin is more delicate, but you do you. Time It Kills: Two minutes.

I’d say there’s about a 50% chance that you own one of these.

Put The Lotion in the Basket (Or On Your Body). Normally, I’m the valedictorian of face moisturizing but am a solid C student when it comes to body moisturizing. I come up with all kind of excuses for myself not to do. “It’s too cold when I get out of the shower!” (in the winter), “I don’t want to to attract bees to my scented lotion!” (in the summer), “I don’t have the time!” (up until mid-March 2020). I did get a little better with it in Charleston this winter because I have more time during my Charleston months and it’s usually not cold, but I’ve been extra good with it since I got back to Newport. I don’t think I’ve missed one day. I’ve been using The Body Shop Body Butter in Coconut, and once I finish that, I have half a tub of their Mango Body Butter to get through. You can’t really see it in my pajamas and hoodies, but I know there’s soft skin there. Time It Kills: Five minutes.

It’s like buttah.

Olaflexin’. I get my roots colored to cover the gray (I don’t have a ton of it, but enough to be obvious), the bottom third of my hair is blue (and needs to be bleached twice a year to get there) and up until recently, I blowdried my hair straight once a week (now I mostly let it airdry and be curly, because no one sees it). That’s a lot of damage to my locks, so I keep them in the best shape possible by using Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 every other time I wash my hair. It’s like a suped up leave in conditioner, but it does more than those do. It rebuilds the broken bonds that are caused by heat styling and hair color. My hair looks and feels considerably better whenever I use Olaplex. It says to leave it on for a minimum of 10 minutes, but I usually do 45+ minutes, and I know people who leave it on for hours or overnight. I sometimes don’t have time for this extra step during my busy season, but since things have changed, I certainly have the time. Olaplex 3 is really a miracle worker, and is one of my all time favorite hair products. Time It Kills: It only takes a few minutes to apply and a few more to wash out, and you can do other things while it’s on. I’ll call it a 10 minute total time investment, since you can multitask while it’s processing.

The good stuff.

Multi-Masking. When I’m being my best self, I do a face mask once or twice a week. I guess I’m being my best self now (minus the daily crying), because I’ve been great with the masks. I alternate between the FRESH Rose Face Mask and Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. I can tell the difference in my skin when I’m regularly masking it, so the effort does pay off. Time It Kills: It depend on the exact mask you use, but the whole process will probably eat up about 15 minutes.

Good cop/good cop.

Keepin’ It Tight. I used the NuFACE Mini 5 – 6 times a week for three months as directed, but now I’m past that and into the maintenance phase, where they say to just use as needed. Once or twice a week seems to keep my face tight and toned, so that’s what I do. Time It Kills: Five minutes to use the device, plus a minute or two before to apply serum or aloe and a minute after to remove it if desired.

Personal training for my facial muscles.

Then there are things I already do regularly but you might not. I’m not calling you out, but as a beauty professional, I do some things now that I didn’t do before I was a makeup artist, so I get it.

It’s Come to an End. No, not the world (although it sometimes feels like that). Some of your makeup and beauty products are expired, and you need to get rid of them. If you don’t know when to toss what, have I got the blog post for you! Time It Kills: I’d say 15 – 30 minutes, depending on how much of a product hoarder you are.

Sort It Out. Now that you’ve thrown out the products that are older than your kindergartner, you’ve got something o work with. I suggest sorting them into two piles–the I Use This and the Forgot I Even Had This pile. Sort your makeup brushes and skincare devices too. I’ve got a project for you after this. Time It Kills: I’ll give you 15 minutes.

Play Time: Part 1. Look at that pile of makeup you don’t use. No, really look. Open each product and ask yourself “Why?” Maybe you’ve got a vampy merlot lipstick you’d never wear, but try it on. Now try it on with a different color shirt. Now try it with your hair up or down. Now blot it with a napkin to make it a stain. Does any of that make you like it? If it’s still not you, try layering a nude or pink lipstick over it to make a new color. You might find a way to wear it that you actually like. You can do a similar thing with eyeshadows and blushes. You can mix two colors together to make a new one. You can play around with eyeshadows and eyeliners, using a light shimmery color that’s too much on your whole lids on just the inner corners, or applying a thin line of the electric blue liner at the bottom lashline but using your regular black liner on top.Β  Makeup comes off, so go crazy! You might find a new way to wear a product you didn’t think you’d like, or you may just realize that no matter how hard you try, terracotta blush does not look great on you. Knowledge is power, boo. Time It Kills: I can see a whole hour disappearing while you play around with makeup.

Go ahead. Have some fun!

Play Time: Part 2. Now it’s time to attack your skincare products, brushes and devices. I’d start by sorting them into three files: Doesn’t Work, It’s Okay and Not For Me. In the Doesn’t Work pile, put your splayed and shedding makeup brushes, your cleanser that never gets all of your makeup off and that Clarisonic that you dropped and has never quite worked the same since. Toss all of that while saying “You’re dead to me.”

The It’s Okay pile should be products and device that work fine, but you don’t really love. So maybe a face oil that makes your skin soft but you’re not wild about the texture, or a body lotion that does the job but takes for ever to absorb. Ask yourself “Can I re-purpose this?” Maybe you designate that body lotion as a foot cream that you use then put socks on, so you can’t really tell how long it’s taking to absorb. And how about using that face oil on your hands, which are dry and cracked from excessive hand washing and will be happy for the healing properties of the oil and won’t care about the texture? (Yes, I did just make your hand sound like their own people.) You can move these products to other places. It’s not a bad idea to have cleanser at the office for a night when you’re working late and know your future self will be so happy not to have to cleanse when you get home, exhausted. Or maybe keep that body lotion at your sister or parents’ house (if they allow it) if you ever spend the night there. Less stuff to pack, you know? If a product or device is good enough for occasional use, keeping it somewhere else (even if it’s just in the downstairs bathroom that you don’t often use) where you may use it is worth it.

The Not For Me pile is for products and devices that you know you will definitely never use or they work but you really can’t get past the scent or texture. If they haven’t been contaminated, you can try passing them off to someone you deem worthy. That’s means don’t give anyone an eyelash serum with a wand that’s touched your lashes or a tub of moisturizer you’ve dipped your hands into, but if you’ve got something that you’ve only touched the outer packaging to–like a bottle of moisturizer with a pump dispenser or a squeeze tube face mask–then go for it. They can disinfect the packaging with a wipe or alcohol, but most beauty products themselves can’t be disinfected. Time It Kills: A good 45 – 60 minutes, depending on how many products you’ve accumulated.

Tubby Time. You should be washing your brushes every 7 – 14 days if you’re using them. You can use a specific makeup brush cleaner or baby shampoo if you only use your brushes on yourself. After you wash your brushes, put them on a counter top or table with the bristles hanging over the edge so they don’t dry with one side flattened. While you’re at it, sanitize any tweezers you have with alcohol. Time It Kills: 10 – 15 minutes.

So fresh and so clean, clean.

New Look. Who Dis? Always wanted to try winged liner, a smokey eye or a red lip? This is the perfect time to practice and perfect! If there’s a technique you want to perfect, there’s a tutorial out there for it. Just make sure you watch tutorials from professional makeup artists, not beauty gurus who aren’t pros. I recommend checking out the YouTube channels for Pixiwoo, Lisa Eldridge and Wayne Goss. KatieJaneHughes on Instagram is also fantastic. Time It Kills: Between watching the tutorial and doing the look, you can easily kiss 45 – 60 minutes goodbye.

Get Buff. Going polish-less while in lockdown? You can still show your nails some love. Buffing is an easy way to make your nails look better without having polish on. Time It Kills: 5 minutes.

It’s your time to shine.

Now Hair, Hair. A leave in conditioner or hair mask can work wonders on dry or damaged hair. If you’re home all day and you’re not in a Zoom meeting and don’t have children climbing on you, maybe you can help your hair out with some repair/moisturizing/color enhancing. There are lots of different hair masks and leave in conditioners out there, so if you don’t have one but want to try one, see if your salon or any local salons have one that you could have shipped to you, dropped off or picked up curbside. Then you can support a local business and improve your hair. A win-win. Time It Kills: 30 – 60 minutes, depending on the products.

I don’t know about you, but I feel better when I look better. I’ve barely worn makeup since March 18, but my skin, hair and nails are looking and/or feeling healthy. And any non-work project–whether it’s using a hair treatment, applying a face mask or buffing my nails–is a distraction and a way to make the day seem a little shorter and a little more enjoyable. That’s reason enough for me to keep up these habits.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Monster: The March Recap

I’m sorry, the post title isn’t accurate. The beginning of March was great for me. I was still in Charleston, having a grand ol’ time with my friends. My parents were in town the first week of March, and we had lots of delicious meals at Charleston restaurants. It was warm enough for me to wear open-toed shoes most days, and that’s one of my favorite things. So March was more “in like a golden retriever” for me.

Of course, things started to change around mid-March. I was supposed to leave Charleston on March 31, but due to the uncertainty of flight cancellations, I left on March 17. It’s heartbreaking for me to leave Charleston each year even when I’ve planned to, so cutting my winter short was really sad. However, it was the smart thing to do, and it’s nothing compared to what a lot of people are dealing with. I got a credit from my cancelled flight and I’m hoping to use that to make a late spring or early summer trip to Charleston once things are back to normal.

So, I’m two weeks into being back in Newport. I’m doing my part and staying home. I’m happy to be back in my awesome Newport apartment (which is 4x the size of the place I was living in in Charleston) and I’m grateful that I can run my business from home. I’ve been dealing with a lot of reschedules for spring weddings and man, do I feel for those couples, as well as for the couples who are holding out hope that they can still have their wedding as scheduled. We’ve been able to accommodate 100% of our wedding reschedule requests, and hopefully it will be the same case for our rescheduled corporate shoots. We’ll take some hits, as all small businesses will, but I do feel that we’re one of the lucky ones in comparison to many other small businesses.

It was quiet for a bit with new wedding inquiries for 2020, but fall inquiries are starting to trickle back in, as are 2021 inquiries. The wedding industry will recover, and those of us who are wedding vendors will likely have a very busy late summer, fall and winter!

There’s no denying that this is a shitty time in the world. But I refuse to believe it’s the end of civilization. So that means that each day is one day closer to things being back to normal, even if that normal is a little different than it has been. Businesses will re-open, postponed weddings and events will happen, and people smarter than me say that the stock market will eventually stabilize.

If you’re in the medical field, work at a grocery store, work for a delivery company or doing any other essential job, thank you for your dedication. This is a scary time to be interacting with the public, and I’m sorry that your job requires you to do so. If you or a loved one are sick, I hope that you recover soon. And if you’ve lost someone, I am truly sorry for your loss.

I’m looking forward to the day when things start to get better for everyone. Hopefully it will come by the time I do my April recap. Until then, I’ll be staying home, keeping as busy as possible and thinking about throwing a summertime combined birthday party for all of my spring baby friends whose birthdays got corona’d.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Don’t Be Intimidated: A Foundation How To

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

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

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

Let’s get to it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you need help, comment away.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

The Lockdown List: How I’m Using This Time To Be Extra Productive

This is some crazy shit, isn’t it? It feels like something I’d read about in a novel I’d buy at Hudson News, which I would then half read while I dozed off on the plane.

But it’s real, as is the reality that many people who didn’t previously work from home are now doing so. When I’m not with clients, which is the majority of the time, I work from home. I’m used to spending entire days working from home, without leaving even once, so it turns out I’ve been practicing (but never hoping for or imagining) a quarantine.Β  I know we’re not in a lockdown–yet–in RI, but “The Lockdown List” is a catchy title, so give me a break, okay?

Working from home is a test of discipline, as I see it. I wrote this post about it in January, so if you’re new to the workplace-free life, maybe check that out. That covers the basics, but seeing as though we might all be stuck at home for a while, I wanted to share the specific things I’m doing (you know, besides dealing with the frequent wedding and bridal trial reschedules) with this time. Now that our peak wedding season is getting pushed back and I’m not training any new makeup artists, I’m going to have time to get to all of those little tasks I’ve been putting off because they’re not time sensitive. I thought other people might recognize some of these things as tasks they’ve been meaning to do, so here we are.

Storage Wars. I’m at 91% of the Gmail storage capacity I have, so I’m going to go on a deleting spree. I file and archive a lot of emails, but many of them really don’t need to be saved or referenced again. This is one of those little piddly tasks I always put off, but it’s time to free up some space.

The Ex Files. No, I don’t keep files on all of the guys I’ve dated. (They don’t deserve my energy, said my mother and every psychic I’ve ever been to.) But I do keep files on my computer for jobs, admin stuff, marketing, etc. Some of them are from a few years back–so the exes of my business–and are doing nothing but taking up space, so they gots to go. That’s deleting spree #2, if you’re counting.

Back On Track. Up until I got sick in 2018 (that blog post will come, some day) I was very good at regularly updating our job tracking spreadsheet. But because that wasn’t an absolute essential and I’ve had to keep my screen time to a minimum the last year and a half, I fell behind. Now that my health seems to be getting better, I can get the tracking sheet up to speed. I’ve chipped away at this a little over the last month, but the next few weeks will likely give me the time to make an even bigger dent in it.

Revision Decision. If you don’t assess and revise your business documents, what are you even doing? Company policies change, business operations change, references change–you get the point. I make important revisions–like a location change or changes due to a new law–immediately, but sometimes my docs just need a refresh. I did this a little bit in January and am going to pick up where I left off this month.

But Of Course. I have some recorded online classes I want to watch or finish watching, and I think this is a great time for that. Self isolate and self educate? I’m in.

The Write Right. If I’m smart, I’ll get a bunch of blog posts written because when things get back to normal, it’s going to be crazy town for me. If you write a blog or write any of your social media content ahead of time, if work is slower for you but you still have to get things done as you work from home, this might be the ideal time to do it.

Lemme Update You. (Sung to the tune of Beyonce’s “Upgrade U.”) I keep my website up to date as far as rates and policies, but I’m going go through the content again and see if anything needs tweaking, and upload some new photos. As a plus, Google likes updated websites as it tells them info is current, so website updates are good for the ol’ SEO too.

Pinteresting. It makes sense for my business to have a Pinterest account, so adding to that might be a good thing to do while social distancing is still a thing. It’s also one of the easiest business tasks I have, so I can make some progress with it even after my brain has half melted from all of the wedding and trial reschedules. Who’s to say you can’t pin and have a Quaratine Cocktail (that’s any drink you’d like, when you’d like it)? I won’t tell.

Did that help? Yes? Great! I thought that was what you’d say πŸ˜‰

We’ll get through this, and I know that because Sylvia Browne predicted that we would…

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Drugstore Makeup, Part 3: My Haul Reviews

Found a new favorite lipstick from my haul!

You’ve been waiting for this, haven’t you? Okay, then. Let’s do it!

I bought a foundation, blush, concealer, lipstick, cream eyeshadow and mascara. I tried each one at least a couple of times. Here’s what I thought of each one.

Revlon Colorstay Foundation Matte Finish in 200 Nude. When I first starting doing makeup in 2008, I had some Colorstay Foundations in my kit, left over from Esthetics school. I was on a waitress’s salary and needed something to practice with at school that wouldn’t break the bank, and I had heard good things about these foundations. I remember thinking they were a little too thick, so they didn’t last long in my kit. Fast forward 12 years later and…still not loving them. It might have been because I chose the matte version and I’m used to the healthy skin glow I get from MAC Face & Body Foundation, but I felt like my skin looked really dull and the foundation felt heavy. It didn’t look horrible and the shade itself was good, but it was too heavy for me. I come from the school of makeup artists who like skin to look like skin, and I unfortunately didn’t get that with this foundation. I will say it lasted long, even without a primer, but length of wear alone won’t hook me. Did I keep it? Nope. I couldn’t imagine a world in which I would want a heavy foundation on my face.

Too heavy for me.

Maybelline Fit Me Blush in 25 Pink. This powder blush was a very pretty shade and it blended well. I was impressed by the level of pigment. However, it faded extremely fast compared to the MAC powder blushes I use. I think a primer would have helped, but I don’t wear foundation primer on a regular basis because I don’t need it with the products I use. Did I keep it? No, but I might have if it lasted longer.

Not the best fit for me.

L’Oreal Infallible Pro Glow Concealer in 01 Classic Ivory. I bought this in a shade that would work under my eyes but I knew was too light for the rest of my face. It was a good undereye color match for me and did a solid job of minimizing my undereye darkness. I first tried it under my eyes without any moisturizer there, and I found that it got very cakey. The second day I put a thin layer of moisturizer under my eyes first (which I normally do anyway), and it applied very nicely. This concealer is well pigmented and covered my undereye darkness almost as well as my usual MAC ProLongwear Concealer in NW20. The length of wear was very good as well. When I tried it on my face, I found that it caked up quickly, but it was great for undereye coverage as long as I applied a thin layer of moisturizer first. Did I keep it? Kind of. I didn’t return it and I used it pretty regularly for a couple weeks (just swapped it out with my regular ProLongwear when I wanted more coverage), but I ended up giving it to my mother because the concealer she was using wasn’t working well, and I knew this was a good one.

A little moisturizer prep did wonders with this concealer.

CoverGirl Exhibitionist Lipstick in Hot 105. I love a red lip. If I’m wearing lipstick at all, 8 out of 10 times, it’s red. I loved the red of this lipstick, which looks orange-red in the tube but more pink-red on. It lasts for an impressively long time without drying out my lips. Sure, it transfers like most lipsticks will do, but what do you expect? Did I keep it? I certainly did! And I wear it at least once a week.

Too hot to trot…back to CVS.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Socialite. Cream eyeshadows are underrated. They’re quick and easy to apply, and if you’re lucky, they’re pigmented and stay on well. I wasn’t so lucky, particularly in the longevity department. I tried Socialite, a bronze shade that caught my eye. I first tried it with no eye primer under, and it faded after a few hours. The next time, I used Too Faced Shadow Insurance under it, which made a big difference, although I still didn’t find it to be very long-lasting. The level of pigment was decent and it didn’t crease, but I’d go for a Laura Mercier Caviar Stick or a MAC Paint Point over this product. Did I keep it? That’s a negative, Nancy.

I’m as tattoo-less as I’ve ever been.

L’Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara. My feelings about this mascara fluctuated as much as spring temperatures in New England. The first day I tried it, I didn’t like it at all. I thought it gave my lashes zero volume, and it smudged a little. To be fair, I was in a rush so I didn’t have time to separate my lashes like I usually do, and I didn’t have translucent powder on my browbone like I often do (to prevent smudging when lashes touch my browbone). I tried it the next day with my typical lashes separation and translucent powder, and I liked it a lot better. Ditto for the next few days. This mascara has a spiky, rubbery wand, which I find uncomfortable to use, but I was really liking the formula. Then I compared it to my beloved Dior Diorshow (one on each eye) and it lost. Diorshow gives my lashes more volume, and there’s no denying that. It’s not a drastic difference and I do think Voluminous Million Lashes is a good mascara, but it didn’t win the battle with Diorshow. Did I keep it? No, but I might have if it had a better wand. I find spiky, rubbery wands really uncomfortable to use. I am picky about mascaras, so I will say this is a good one for most people.

A great mascara at the drugstore level.

So that’s it. Two out of five keepers, and I didn’t even expect it to be that high. I think drugstore makeup has overall improved since I last really used it, but when it comes to pigment and longevity, I think the higher end lines are still where it’s at.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚




The Shortest Month Recap

February went by in the blink of an eye, didn’t it? When I lived in New England year-round, I used to despise February. I thought it was the shortest yet cruelest month, with its dark, short days, cold temperatures and inevitable snowstorms. But now that February is the middle month of my Charleston winters, I wish it was longer. By like 30 days. At least I’ve got March, I guess…

February was the only month in 2020 with no weddings for AB Beauty, which is a weird feeling. But we made up for that with lots of trials, some corporate shoots and a healthy amount of wedding bookings. On the makeup front, I tried some new drugstore products, and a new lip product, all of which I’ll review soon. On the business front, I put a little more thought into some new ideas for AB Beauty and brainstormed with some entrepreneur friends.

Personally, I had a lot of fun in February. Brunches, Happy Hours, ghost tours–it was all very Charleston-y. I took some time to relax in the hopes that I could start to heal some health issues, and I think it helped. I finally got Hulu and made my way through several series (The Mindy Project, Shrill, Broad City, Harlots and High Fidelity) that I enjoyed.

February, I’m sorry I resented you for so long. In the right climate, you are really quite nice.

I hope y’all had a good second-month-of-this-decade too!

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Drugstore Makeup, Part 2: My Tried and True Faves

This is a bad picture of some good products.

I rack up CVS ExtraBucks like you wouldn’t believe. Sure, part of that comes from the regular purchasing of toothpaste, contact solution, gum, etc., but a good chunk comes from makeup and beauty products. And you’re dying to know what those products are, aren’t you? Okayyyy….


Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder. I don’t use this on clients because it’s not as long-lasting as the MAC powders I use, but I use it on my own face for day to day use. I have combination skin that gets super shiny in the T-zone in warmer weather, so I’ll usually have to touch up once or twice a day, which doesn’t bother me. The Stay Matte Powders feel lightweight and aren’t as quick to cake up as other drugstore powders. I’ve been using Stay Matte Powders for several years as setting powder, and I think they’re great for everyday use on normal and combo skin. $3.95 at CVS.

Neutrogena Shine Control Powder. I use this powder for on-set touchups, and it works really well. It mattifies the skin without making it look dull or caking up. If you’re a shiny gal, this is a great one to keep in your purse for touchups throughout the day. $14.99 to erase shine on to the go.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick. I don’t have any Revlon lipsticks currently in my own personal makeup bag, but I do have one (Choco-Licious) in my pro kit. I’ve a 90s Girl, so I’ve been into Revlon lipsticks since the days of Coffee Bean and Blackberry (which has sadly been discontinued). Some of the shades can get pretty frosty, but there are also some great shades in the line. I’ve always found these lipsticks to be well pigmented and non-drying, two important qualities for a lipstick to have. If you’re drawn to one of the 72 shades in this line, I’d say give it a try. $8.79 a pop.

Revlon Super Length Mascara. I’ve tried higher end waterproof mascaras, but found that the waterproof version of this mascara works just as well as the waterproofs I’ve tried in the $20+ range. And for a makeup artist who goes through a tube every two – three weeks during wedding season, a lower price tag for a just-as-effective product is well worth it. I don’t suggest waterproof mascara for daily use and in fact, I forbid it. Daily waterproof mascara removal is tough on the lashes, which can lead to breakage. But special occasions, photoshoots or long work events that you want your makeup to stay put through? Go for it. I’ve also used this mascara in a punch to cover grays between color touchups. $8.99 isn’t bad to keep your mascara from running, in my humble opinion.


Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF35. I’ve been using this moisturizer on myself for years, and I’ve yet to find one that tops it. It absorbs quickly, doesn’t leave the skin feeling sticky and doesn’t have a strong scent. It also works well when mixed with my Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops. This moisturizer is one of my staples. $11.99 at CVS.

Clean & Clear PERSA-GEL 10. Got a blemish? Watch it shrink down or disappear after applying this benzoyl peroxide spot treatment. The first time I tried this, I had a monster blemish on my jawline. I applied a tiny dot of PERSA-GEL on it before bed, and woke up to a blemish that was 50% smaller. You can use it up to three times a day, but be aware that it will leave a white film after it dries. Benzoyl peroxide is a strong ingredient, so only use a little of this spot treatment at a time on active blemishes only. It’s typically around $8.00 a tube, depending on where you buy it, and especially if you only get the occasional blemish, it will last you a while.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. If you need a good body moisturizer for dry skin, Palmer’s has got you. I’ve used this stuff for years, and I love it. It really moisturizes and has what I consider a pleasant (but not overpowering) scent. If you can’t tell, I hate when a moisturizer is slow to absorb or leaves a sticky film, but I have no such problem with this cocoa butter dream. At $6.50, I consider this a steal.


Revlon Nail Enamel in 680 Revlon Red. Back when I lived in Florida in my early 20s, some guy I was talking to at a bar told me he thought it was sexy when women painted their toenails red. I didn’t know this guy and never saw him after that drunken conversation, but he must have said it right when the “nail polish color choices” part of my brain was impressionable, because I’ve been painting these little piggies red since. I bought a bottle of Revlon Red several years ago and found that it stays on my toenails really well. It doesn’t last half as long on my fingernails, but it’s worth it for the toenail polish longevity. $5.99 is a hell of a lot cheaper than a pedicure!


L’Oreal Elnett Satin Hairspray. I’d read about this hairspray in interviews with many a celebrity hair stylist, so when I found myself in need of some hairspray while I was in Ireland last fall, I picked this up at a pharmacy. I don’t love the scent of it, but man, does it work. Unless it’s mega humid out and I haven’t gotten a Brazilian Blowout recently, it holds down my strands so they don’t frizz up. It’s a pretty strong hold so I don’t go crazy with it, which might be why I haven’t noticed any stiffness, stickiness or buildup from it. $14.99 for all of that? I’ll take it.

Psssst Original Dry Shampoo. God bless the person who invented dry shampoo. And Psssst Dry Shampoo is as good of a dry shampoo as I’ve ever tried. It’s not overly scented and as long as you rub it in–which you need to do with any dry shampoo–it doesn’t leave white residue, even on raven-haired beauties like myself (kidding about the “beauties” part but serious about the absence of residue). $7.29 for a bottle of this instant hair refresher.

I’m looking forward to hopefully adding some new favorites to my list after my Drugstore Haul #1 testing is complete. In the meantime, if you’ve got some drugstore favorites, comment away.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚




Drugstore Makeup, Part 1: My Philosophy

Proof of my recent drugstore haul.

I recently asked for suggestions for drugstore makeup products, so here we are. I understand the request for this type of blog post, as non-drugstore makeup can get expensive. I went out and bought a few makeup products from CVS to test out, but before I start using those and before I give you a list of drugstore beauty products I’ve liked for a long time, I need to explain my philosophy on drugstore makeup and why I can only take testing products so far.

Let me first say that just because a product is pricey doesn’t mean it’s good. I’ve tried makeup, skincare products and hair products that were $$$ and were crap. However, it’s true that some of the ingredients and/or processes used to make a product last longer, absorb quickly, apply more smoothly or make it pigmented are more expensive, and that is typically reflected in the pricing of those products.

I haven’t tried every drugstore product out there, and there will be some that I don’t like that work great for other people. In general though, I have some thoughts on each type of makeup that you can find at a drugstore. I may change my mind after testing out the products from my CVS haul, but I’m writing this before I test anything out.

Foundation. I’ve always told clients that if you can only splurge on one makeup product, make it a foundation. I’ve yet to try a drugstore foundation that comes anywhere to close the quality of the foundations I like best (MAC Face and Body, Armani Luminous Silk Foundation and Make Up For Ever HD Foundation). I find that drugstore foundations often have weird undertones and/or limited shade selections, and the ones I’ve tried don’t blend or absorb as easily as the higher end foundations. The biggest difference I’ve noticed though is the length of wear. Every drugstore foundation I’ve ever tried has worn off wayyyyyy quicker than the non-drugstore foundations I use. Maybe that’s fine with people for their everyday use, but in my line of work, I require products that stay on well. I would think though that most people would want their foundation to still be on by their lunch break, and I’ve had clients tell me that a disappearing act from their foundation was their biggest gripe. So between length of wear, color matching and blendability, I haven’t historically had any love for drugstore foundations. I picked up a Revlon Colorstay Foundation in my recent drugstore makeup haul, so I’ll be testing that out.

Concealer. The drugstore concealers I’ve tried all either wore off very quickly or were thick/quick to cake up. There also seems be an issue with undertones and/or selections of shades in some lines. I think drugstore concealers are similar to drugstore foundations in these ways. Also in my recent haul is the L’Oreal Infallible Pro Glow Concealer, so we’ll see if that one is better than the ones I’ve tried in the past.

Blush. I’ve tried drugstore cream and powder blushes, and I’ve yet to be impressed by any of them. I’ve found drugstore blushes to fade much more quickly than higher end blushes. I also think they tend to have a limited shade selection, although that seems to be getting better the past few years. I picked up a pink Maybelline Fit Me blush in my haul, so I’ll review that in an upcoming post.

Primer. It’s been a long time since I’ve tried a drugstore primer. The last time I looked for one, they were all silicone based, and silicone based primers can ball up and cause foundation to roll off the skin. That happens because silicone doesn’t interact well with the ingredients of some foundations. I’ll test a primer next time I do a drugstore haul, but in the meantime, I’m sticking with my tried and true non-silicone primers.

Powder. I think drugstore powder is fine for everyday use, and I use one myself (details in an upcoming blog post). I don’t use it on clients though because I don’t think it lasts as long as a MAC or Laura Mercier powder. If you’re not super oily and/or you don’t mind touching up a few times a day, I think a drugstore powder can work fine for you.

Eyeshadow. I think you can sometimes get a decent drugstore cream eyeshadow, but I’ve never been impressed by drugstore powder eyeshadows. The color payoff tends to be weak, meaning it takes several applications of shadow to achieve the same intensity you would get from one or two applications of, for example, a MAC eyeshadow. That’s the pigment in drugstore powder shadows being weaker than its higher end counterparts, because the pigments and/or processes used to intensify the pigments are more expensive. So whether it’s the actual type of ingredient used for the pigment or the ratio of non-pigmented ingredients to pigmented ingredients, you’re ending up with a weaker product. Think of a drugstore eyeshadow like a watered down gin and tonic–it’s got more tonic than gin. If you only wear eyeshadow once in a great while and you don’t mind having to apply several layers to achieve the intensity you want, go for it. But if you’re a regular eyeshadow wearer and you think you’re saving money by going the drugstore route, you’re probably not. You’ll likely have to use at least twice as much (probably more) eyeshadow as you would if you bought a higher end powder eyeshadow, so you could end up spending the same as you would have had you bought the higher end eyeshadow first. I picked up a cream eyeshadow and will buy a powder one for my next haul, but I have a feeling the drugstore powder eyeshadows are still weakly pigmented.

Eyeliner. I didn’t pick up any eyeliners in my recent drugstore haul, but I’ve tried enough in the past to have some perspective. I’ve found drugstore pencil eyeliners to either be dry and uncomfortable to use, or extremely smudgy. The crayon and gel liners I’ve tried have all been weakly pigmented or quick to wear off. I do think it’s possible to get a good liquid liner at a drugstore. I don’t personally use liquid liners and it doesn’t make sense to use them on clients because I can’t use the applicator directly on them, but for your own personal use, I think you can find a good liquid liner at the drugstore level.

Mascara. I like waterproof drugstore mascaras and have found one that works better than the high end waterproofs I’ve tried (keep your eyes peeled for the next post in this series). For non-waterproof though, I’ve yet to find one that’s as good as my beloved Diorshow. I’ll be testing a L’Oreal mascara from my haul, so we’ll see how that goes…

Brow Powder and Gels. I’ve found the drugstore versions of these products to be weakly pigmented and quick to wear off. Two things you want opposite of in a brow product! I’ll test out some new ones in my next haul.

Lipstick. I think you can get a good lipstick from a drugstore. I especially like Revlon lipsticks, both for their shade selections and their textures. I’ve tried some drugstore lipsticks that were weakly pigmented or quick to wear off, which again, I think comes down to the cost of certain pigments, processes or long-wear ingredients. But out of all of the drugstore makeup products, I’m most likely to buy a lipstick. I picked up a pretty red CoverGirl lipstick in my recent haul, so I’ll review that soon.

Lip Liner. There are good lip liners at the drugstore level. They don’t tend to have the color selection that a company like MAC does, but with the exception of a few high end lines, I don’t find drugstore lip liners to be that drastically different than many of their higher end counterparts.

We’ll see if I change my tune after I test out the products from my recent haul, but for now, I’m not sold on the quality of drugstore products. Pigment, length of wear and blendability are three very important factors for professional makeup artists, and I think those are the three areas that drugstore products tend to fall short in.

I’ll do another drugstore makeup haul at some point, but I can’t make it a habit. I’m primarily a makeup artist, not a beauty blogger, so I can’t have a kit full of drugstore makeup to use on clients. But because I want to give the people/readers what they asked for, I’ll keep it in mind that people are interested in reviews of drugstore makeup products.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚